here's an adage of encouragement that goes something like this: "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Ostensibly, this reflects the knowledge and personal development achieved through facing down challenges. As you conquer adversity, your capability should grow.
Realistically, incremental doses of something (like, say, poison) will kill you. Dead. Passed on. No More. Ceased to be.
But the land of tropes is plentiful and rich. Last week's vision of shared hope in the face of certain doom was a positive spin in Dark Ascension. Rally. Battle. The faithful will prevail. There's an opposing trope that, literally, eats that stuff up. The more you throw at it, the stronger it becomes. Conventional weapons are useless. Those who move to waylay the onslaught fall prey to it senselessly. Self-sacrifice, while noble, is ultimately fruitless.
It's a monster of unbelievable power and usually one that hunts without intelligence: When you devour everything you come across, "hunting" is more akin to casual buffet grazing. As such monsters might be wont to say, "Humans (and everything else) are quite delicious."
Here's something only a doctor (assuredly mad) could love:
This is a vile bile you really can't touch!
On the Hunt
Predator Ooze eats. As it eats it grows. As it grows it eats bigger things. As it eats bigger things (among the smaller things too), it continues to grow. Endlessly.
And it's actually a clever little bugger. Let's look at its first ability.
You can't kill it, at least normally. Even jumping is useless. (I guess flying would help a little.) While Innistrad packs a few ways to stop the predation—through Fiend Hunter, Claustrophobia, and other friends—the vacuum of Magic is far wider. Venerable mainstays like Doom Blade and Day of Judgment just tickle our gelatinous gorger. The wider you go, the odds of indestructible becoming more terrifying get way better.
The biggest backstops can only buy time. Normal combat damage won't strike it down, but when the Ooze slinks over it picks up girth along the way. Every time it slides along, it absorbs from the surroundings. Thanks to being indestructible, you can count on it making those attacks at every opportunity.
Tokens, small fries, and those weak of toughness should avoid all contact with Predator Ooze. While the ability seems to align with a combat-based approach, it's worded in a way that makes our Ooze a little more insidious: regardless of how you got nicked, your untimely death only makes it stronger.
The first way to play with our eager Ooze is a very traditional approach.
Yep. It's attacking. Since our Ooze loves to trigger its way into combat, I paired it with a few fellows who roll the same way:
The last group in particular is a troublesome set for opponents to contain if it's given a chance to attack multiple times in the same turn. So the selection of spells that net us an extra attack step do just that. Going (almost) all-in on creatures helps tie together everything into an aggressive little package, particularly the suite of mana-ramping helpers: when you're casting Dragons and Comet Storm, some extra mana goes a long way.
But we can be a little more clever than that.
The first rule of fighting with Predator Ooze is you do not fight with Predator Ooze. That said, we're more interested in jumping to the eighth rule and making sure your opponent's first time is a fight.
- Deathtouch, in Ambush Viper and friends, makes fighting more fun. Predator Ooze will have a heyday of triggers if it's fitted for a Basilisk Collar.
Master of the Wild Hunt makes Wolf tokens that can, essentially, fight for you. Garruk Relentless can fight for you too... or just make more Wolf tokens for the Master, like Howl of the Night Pack.
Prey Upon and Arena are ways to make Predator Ooze do the heavy hitting in the ring. But if our slimy devourer isn't up to the challenge, these also turn Hornet Queen into a whirlwind of wrath for opposing creatures.
- And if all else fails, a surprise Overrun can make the most of a hard-fought battlefield (or late surge of tokens).
Green and mean have never looked so ugly.
I Will Never Die
Predator Ooze does all sorts of nasty damage and combat-related things. It's great for being on the hunt. But when I read cards like Predator Ooze, my thoughts are sometimes more eccentric than I'd prefer to share.
Here's a sample.
Predator Ooze glided down the street. Its bulbous, amorphous head was cast downward, leaving the distinct impression of sorrow.
Opposite, heading down the street towards the Ooze was Novablast Wurm. It, too, looked sullen, gloomy, and completely ignorant of its direction.
In a matter of moments, the two bumped directly into each other in a head-on collision.
"Ow! Watch where you're going!" the Ooze snapped in a warbled drip.
"You watch where you're going!" the Wurm roared.
The Ooze shimmered right into the eyes of the Wurm. "Hey. Back off, Bub. You don't want to mess with this."
Coolly, the Wurm responded. "Oh yeah? You don't know what you're messing with. It would blow you away."
Undaunted, the Ooze continued. "I've eaten Dragons for breakfast. What have you got?"
Fueled with rage, the Wurm's retort faded as the magical illumination grew. "Your total destruction..."
The flash of light burst across the street, filling the entire area in an unnatural glow. Death was all that awaited those whose day was brightened. And, just as fast as it started, it was over. Wisps of smoke from the vaporized remains of everything around the Wurm created a thick haze.
When a gentle breeze picked up, the haze parted, and the Wurm was shocked. "You... you're alive?"
"Of course I'm alive," the Ooze returned, "Why would you think I would be dead?"
"When I move around or get angry, everything always dies. It's miserable. I sidle up to some good-looking Wurm and the next thing I know—Poof!—everybody's gone."
"I hear you. When I hang around people I can try to be nice and friendly. But a few quick touches later and, well, instead of them growing on me I've grown through them."
"Say, uh, you know. I didn't catch your name."
"Ooze. Predator Ooze."
"Well I'm Novablast Wurm, and I think we started off on the wrong foot."
This story is preposterous. The realist in me balks at two forces of nature interacting like two random Joes in a city. (And, for some reason, I wanted to shove a "bro" into the dialogue.) But it's through silliness like this that my ideas grow into something more concrete.
Scorched Earth is not a particularly diplomatic policy to strive for. Of all the choices available at any given time, "destroy everything" usually ranks fairly low on the list. However, there are times when it's entirely appropriate to kill a fly with a sledgehammer. Welcome to the world of wiping the battlefield.
Novablast Wurm will destroy all other creatures when it attacks. It's a tried and true method of madness. However...
- Pairing the Wurm up with things that can't be destroyed—like Predator Ooze and Stuffy Doll—ensures that it will have friends that don't waver. Especially...
- Through repeat applications of Wrath of God-type effects, the battlefield will be clear sailing for our humble Ooze to go to town.
Predator Ooze | Art by Ryan Yee
There's definitely room to switch up a few things. For example, there isn't equipment to help Darksteel Myr be anything other than a small blocker for you. The idea, however, has merit. When you have an unkillable monster, it's only natural to pair it with a friend that absolutely kills everything.
The Idiot's Guide to Surviving on Innistrad
Last week's poll was just for laughs:
|Survive! I'd battle the darkest forces triumphantly.
|Vampirism! Through my guile and potential, immortal life would be granted.
|Lycanthropy! A Werewolf would make me one of their kind.
|Spiritualism! I'd be killed but, somehow, the force of my personality would persist.
|Blessed Sleep! Through any of the innumerous means of death, I would fall yet stay still, achieving a peaceful rest as the world is destroyed about my corpse.
|Zombification! I'd bravely fall in battle, only to rise dishonorably.
While some of you had more unique ideas about making it on Innistrad, including a few suggestions of submitting to the influence of Demons, everyone had a plan in mind for the story they wanted to tell. My story would be one of becoming a Werewolf. While I normally work to keep my rage in check, I'm also the kind of person to willingly rage when there's a purpose at hand.
The silver-and-blessed confinement of the collar of Avacyn, when imposed by others forcefully, is something I could see resisting. Adding fearsome power and paws seems like the kind of bonus that would work in my favor.
This week's poll, however, is grounded firmly in reality:
Are you planning to attend a Dark Ascension Prerelease or Launch party?
You know my answer, but it's you who I hope to see tearing into packs and happily devouring the turn of darkness! Join us next week when we stack things up 99 cards high!