I don’t actually obsess over new set spoilers beyond what I actually have to know in order to write things that make half an ounce of sense, you know, professional-like. However I was visiting DailyMTG on September 15th in order to check the forum responses to ye olde Top Decks The Best Card Ever… Plus or Minus One, and I saw “Card of the Day” Falkenrath Marauders.
If you didn’t saunter over to the mother ship that day, here be it / them:
I thought this was an interesting card, so I immediately checked the rarity… Yep, rare. This might do.
Flying, haste guy in Red, for five mana? It gets how big how quickly? What does this card make you think of?
For me, the answer was Demigod of Revenge, a creature so good it bent Standard mana bases all around itself, and grew into a key player in Extended’s All-in Red. Some of you are going to have the gut reaction that Falkenrath Marauders just isn’t as good as Demigod of Revenge and call it a day; I mean all things held equal, Falkenrath Marauders probably isn’t as good. It doesn’t re-buy on a cast, and it is 2/2 instead of 5/4. Check. Roses are red, water is wet, and Falkenrath Marauders ain’t no Demigod.
And they — gasp — cost the same amount of mana. How dare Falkenrath Marauders even exist?
Who cares if Falkenrath Marauders isn’t the equal to one of the best creatures of its kind ever printed? Is that a useful conclusion in the abstract? Does it mean we should never consider a Falkenrath Marauders? I mean a 2/2 for five… Who would ever consider playing one of those?
Falkenrath Marauders’s double-Dervish ability actually closes the Demigod of Revenge gap to a surprising degree… I mean, did you bother to do the math?
- First hit in, Falkenrath Marauders is in for two, but becomes a 4/4 afterward.
- Now a 4/4, Falkenrath Marauders is nigh-Demigod size, and ends combat a 6/6.
- Third attack is for six, putting Falkenrath Marauders on 8/8.
- Finally… Actually, look at this pretty simple spreadsheet comparison I set up:
No, F does not equal D. However, that doesn’t mean that F might not find a viable place in the universe.
While Falkenrath Marauders doesn’t have Demigod of Revenge’s resilience, and instead of being awesome against Counterspell it is actually poor against Mana Leak. It is also weak to removal… Even a humble Shock will knock it out of the sky on the first attack.
That just means you have to work a little harder to stick it.
I remember when Stupor appeared the first time, and the powers that be restricted Hymn to Tourach. I thought of Stupor as a more expensive, less powerful, Hymn. So for my first Pro Tour, I played the one Hymn to Tourach they let me play in a pretty non-strategic role… whereas eventual champion Paul McCabe embraced the opportunity to play both Hymn to Tourach and Stupor (and two Mind Warps) in his heavier Necropotene deck.
Eric Taylor later won a PTQ with a Mono-Black Stupor Necropotence deck, and I asked him about playing the substandard version. He explained that Stupor was more strategic. You could play for it because you had more discard. And while it wasn’t Hymn to Tourach, it certainly wasn’t a “bad” card. In fact, you could wait until the opponent had two or four cards, and then set him up with Demonic Consultation to empty his hand. Years later, Brian Hacker played one of my all-time favorite matches of Magic to watch, again with a Stupor Necropotence deck (this time in Extended).
Falkenrath Marauders might be Demigod of Revenge’s Stupor. It isn’t as good, you might have to work a little harder to stick it the first time, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to pay you back.
One thing to keep in mind: Demigod of Revenge is next-to-impossible to cast from a colors standpoint. Even Mono-Red decks of the Demigod era couldn’t play Mutavault!
On the other hand: It’s a vampire! Who knows what kind of bonuses that is going to get us?
Where can I see this fitting in?
I would guess this card would be the top end of a Mono-Red or G/R beatdown deck, presumably with some way to get small flyers out of the way. It is also possible that we could see some kind of Blightning Beatdown redux (minus the Blightnings, as far as I know)… If you empty the opponent’s hand before turn five, he isn’t going to have any way to stop your 2/2 the first time, and will have less of a chance to deal with your subsequent 4/4 or 6/6 versions.
Snap Judgment Rating: Role Player
No, I don’t think this is the best card in Innistrad or anything, but I did think it was interesting enough to spend ~800 words on; especially around the reality of how quickly Falkenrath Marauders can kill relative to good old Demigod.