Note to my gentle readers: This will be a short article, because I'm planning a tenth anniversary (my marriage, not Magic) trip to Alaska. (By the time you read this, I'll be back, so hold the advice!) A good time as any to encourage all Magic players to find balance in their lives – for the first time in about five years, I won't be within twenty miles of at least one Magic deck I own. (Hmmmm... maybe I can find a store and do a draft...well, if I don't come back and no one finds my body, you'll all know I succeeded...)
he excitement about Eighth Edition voting and new card design put a lot of focus on Thorn Elemental (which served as a showcase for how the new design will look). But as Eighth Edition continues to be examined, I hope one or two folks will notice a card that in many ways has served as the next evolution of Thorny.
Rhox may be a Grizzly Bear short of his taller cousin, but this first-time core set entry from Nemesis has other things to love. I'll run down the list:
It survives lethal damage.
No big surprises, here. This is the obvious edge it has, and what makes the Rhox unique. No other creature can guarantee a full delivery of damage, and survive as many blockers as your opponent cares to throw at it.
It costs only six mana.
Six mana is doable for a strong win condition – this isn't Upheaval, or even Rith, the Awakener; but as the game has continued to get slower and favor more large creatures, Rhox is certainly worthy of consideration, even in local tournaments.
Bear in mind that six mana is also enough to trigger the new Scourge creature enchantments, such as Dragon Scales. (I actually prefer Multani, Maro-Sorcerer for this trick, since the enchantments' ability doesn't target; but there's no reason you can't put both creatures in the same deck!)
It's a Beast.
If your Beast deck can't fit in black for a Spiritmonger, Rhox may be the best bet for casual (and rogue tournament) players who would like to see the ultimate victor of Contested Cliffs. Nobody contests these cliffs anymore, baby.
Whether the beast designation means any more than that depends a lot on where Mirrodin goes. We should all keep our expectations realistic: Odyssey did not continue the color-fest of Invasion, and Onslaught largely abandoned graveyard tricks. Mirrodin will have its own identity. But I can't help but notice that Lone Wolf, Rhox, and Thorn Elemental all got into the basic set. Far be it from me to speculate (and as usual, I have no helpful inside information here), but sometimes the good people at Wizards do things for a reason. Let's wait and see where this goes.
I do have enough time and energy to show you guys a variant of a red-green deck I used to have based in Might of Oaks. That deck used Thorn Elemental, Lone Wolf, and Rhox as alternate paths to victory. The primary path? Mogg Maniac. The idea was to attack with the Maniac, let someone block, and then pump his creature.
This in turn was a variant of a white-red deck I had done a couple years previously – in fact, one of the first decks I'd ever created. Since I'm pretty sure I've told this story before (certainly in my Casual Fridays columns, if not here at Serious Fun), I'll limit my reminiscing to that joyous moment when a Paladin en-Vec blocked my Mogg Maniac and I played Righteousness on the Paladin. My confused opponent told me that "I couldn't do that," because the Paladin had protection from red.
"I know," I replied. "Your Paladin just kicked the daylights out of my Maniac. My Maniac has never been more dead. Also, you take nine."
Anyway, here's the red-green descendant, as I'd build it today, if I was a millionaire and had all these rares. (Plenty of uncommons and commons will pinch hit in many places; but it's up to you folks this week to research the alternatives...)
That's all for this week. Thanks to my readers, and Wizards, for allowing for other priorities on this happy occasion. I'll be back at full power next week.
You may reach Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regretfully, Anthony cannot help with decks any more. But he loves hearing from fellow players on just about any other topic. He also checks the message boards regularly for reader ideas and comments.