irst, a confession. Blue beasts have always been a bit of a sticking point for me. When I think of "beasts", I think of primal forces of nature. That puts me in the mind of red and green, where brute strength has more value than rational thought. Blue beasts? Doesn't seem right. Blue beasts would think too much. You might as well put thick glasses on a Riptide Mangler and give him a physics textbook.
Wizards seems pretty intent on making some beasts blue, anyway – and since I rather like Riptide Mangler and his half-brother, Aquamoeba (where else can you find two casting cost beasts that aren't Skyshroud War Beast?), I suppose we should all cheer on the intellectual development of these fine fellows.
And a good thing, too, because evolution just threw us a curve. (Or do I mean forkball?)
Here in the center ring, ladies and gentlemen, we have a blue beast with decent starting stats – 3/3 upon morph, which is better than Spined Basher anyway – who not only flips over to cast a red spell, but then lands squarely on the balls of his feet and…upon command, mind you…does a backflip so that he can do the trick all over again. That, my friends, is one seriously well-trained circus beast.
While good enough to pass a smell test for limited tournament play (morphs are generally decent anyway, and a 3/3 body that can trade a card for a card always gets extra attention), the only constructed decks likely to play Mischievous Quanar are casual ones. He's just too mischievous, don't you know – and he's also still fragile, since his trick usually takes more than a single turn to repeat.
So now that we've got this clever fellow in our hands, whatever shall we do with him? I've got two paths in mind – one specifically for multiplayer, and one for just about any casual format. Let's take each in turn.
HE PLAYS WITH YOUR PALS!
Mischievous Quanar is going to have some survivability issues in group play. Many controllers won't want to put him on the table until turn six, so that he can set off a Fork at least once. Others may even want to wait until turn eleven, so that the morph, trick, and re-flip can all happen before your next turn. But that seems so long!
Better, I think, to make targeting the Quanar less attractive – and do it before turn five, if possible, so that you can play him out with some level of comfort.
By sheer dumb luck, I have four Cloud Cover. (Imagine how fruitful my Invasion block drafts must have been!) I've been waiting for this card to be useful, and now I think we may finally have it:
Let's list all of the reasons why no one should be stupid enough to make a go at your Quanar. First, you'll just return it to your hand with the Cover (if targeted removal) or Shield or Recantation (if global removal). Second, it may not even be the Quanar – it might be the Willbender, which would backfire on them; or the Wall of Deceit, which would embarrass them. Third, if they do find the Quanar, the Echo Tracer and Daru Mender will help the beast survive. Fourth, Ixidor's pumping that face-down puppy up to a 3/3 (3/4 with a Shield out)! Fifth, everyone will be focusing too much on the Exalted Angel to care.
Rare replacement thoughts: Seal of Removal for Recantation (or Cloud Cover, though I think you should have at least two of those), and any decent white/blue bombs for Ixidor or the Angel. The Quanar seems kinda important, and this is his article and everything, so bear with me there.
This deck likes to put all its marbles on the table, which always attracts the nasty side of at least one player. Someone will doubtless try to fool you by playing something that you'll respond to, and then come up with something worse when you're tapped out. Or they'll only play spells with two targets, the dorks. It's a shame you're not smart enough to put Foil (or Thwart) in your deck, isn't it?
Bear in mind that you have to play these morphs honestly. With all the flipping up and down, you can't go three-card-monte on your friends and make them think the Quanar you just flipped back over is really your Wall of Deceit. Please clearly mark the order of the morphs you played, whether they flip up and down or not. (Of course, after a morph has bounced to your hand, you play it as an entirely new morph, with no memory of its past life. Again, this is an opportunity to play dumb, and "leave the wrong amount of mana untapped" for your Quanar, which is really still in your hand and replaced by a Willbender. That sort of thing is fine, and in fact rather humorous.)
Note that this deck doesn't sport any sorceries itself, and only Foil as an instant. You'll be using the Fork ability on other players' spells; and how often you have to save the Quanar depends on which spells you pick, and where you fork them.
HE SWALLOWS YOUR ENEMIES!
Of course, you'll also want to use the Quanar's ability yourself, from time to time. For that, you should worry less about protection, and more about style.
I'm going to keep the Willbender, because that's just such a cool card to pair with the Quanar. But beyond that, we're going full sorceries and instants. That's why the deck is suspect in multiplayer – it won't have a lot of staying power – but there's nothing to say you shouldn't give it a whirl, and see if the deck's inherent, um, forkiness can't help you push through an additional opponent.
I know Radiate has a reputation for multiplayer, not duel; but I'll be darned if I'm going to let this theme opportunity slip by. It'll have its day in the sun, believe me. In the meantime, you can substitute just about anything for the rares I list – basic or cycling lands for the Reefs, the damage spells of your choice for Prophetic Bolt, Dominate for Bribery, and simple Counterspells for Suffocating Blast.
And yes, you can play Lightning Bolt, Radiate it, Fork the Radiate, and then flip the Quanar over to make a copy of the Fork (which is welcome to target the Fork, the Radiate, any one of the Lightning Bolts, or whatever Counterspell your hapless opponent has thrown upon the stack). I've seen worse plays for 11 mana. Certainly none as mischievous!
Anthony may be reached at email@example.com.