Three Dimensions of Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Yesterday I saw Garruk, Caller of Beasts spoiled on MTV.

I meant to write something at the time but I was distracted / delayed / apprehensive for a couple of reasons. Was this a real Planeswalker? A real Magic: The Gathering magical spell (that spits out DI fantastic creatures) or some kind of hoax? Was a well-meaning editor hoodwinked by a 5th Dimensional Imp? I mean it was on MTV. And in fact Tweeted about by an MTV Verified Account. Real? Real World?

Also I had to go to a dinner party.


So in the last couple of months I have been feeling somewhat inordinately good about myself.

I wrote down a sort of foreseeable future not-bucket list in 2008 (a variation of a technique I wrote about in the last chapters of The Official Miser’s Guide actually). I liked this song The Hudson by my favorite songwriter; I wanted to live by the Hudson. Actually this is the view outside my new apartment:


I wanted to live by shenanigans. Pulling shenanigans. More shenanigans in the hopper. I wanted to eat better, work out more, spend more time with my family and play more Magic tournaments. I’m running close to a marathon a week; not at fighting weight yet but my resting heart rate is below 60. My kids are in love with me and I can’t remember a better time with my wife. I’m not back-to-back Legacy Open Top 8 grinder Chris Pikula or anything but I’ve played a nice run of Magic tournaments this year with several cash finishes.

So I have been [virtually] patting myself on the back. Yeah life! Yeah MichaelJ! I have been crossing off good stuff left and right off of my life-list. I have arr…

I have not arrived quite yet.

I walk into this apartment (which has its own elevator). It is one continuous hallway that is the city block long. You look out the window from one side and there is the Angelika theater. On the other side… Whatever is on the other block (I never made it that far actually, de-railed by the wall-installed temperature regulated wine rack and Next Level 3D art on the walls. An entire city block. The idea of this is just baffling to me; but I was there. The space was like nothing you have ever seen in a Manhattan apartment (there were rooms attached to the hallway on either side but I didn’t go into any of them).

Gotta sell lots of The Official Miser’s Guide still!

So anyway I go to this dinner party, come back for a short run, work on Top Decks, zzzzz eventually re-watching the season finale of Mad Men.

More distractions than your average iPhone.

So: Garruk, Caller of Beasts.

Well the alternate art is pretty cool I think you will agree!


My impressions:

[+1] This will put Garruk to five and possibly out of range of the first swing in. Possibly. The card advantage is obviously potentially bonzer. Frank Karsten is 4-0’ing tournaments left and right playing nothing but creatures.

If you play nothing but creatures you might actually hit three cards on this (but then again you would probably have to re-work more than a little to accommodate the cost). A sub-Frank (but still reasonable) number of creatures for a Ramp deck — say 20 — is still going to net you 1-2 creatures on average. The down side is that a lot of times those creatures are going to be like Arbor Elf. At the point that you are rolling sixes I don’t know that this is what you want to be doing in a game under pressure. Then again there is probably nothing you would rather be doing in a grind situation. That said, I am not convinced this is all that much more powerful than either of the first two abilities on Garruk, Primal Hunter, especially given the extra mana investment; six over five being like ten over five under pressure.

Now speaking of the mana, six is a lot for a Planeswalker that may or may not be doing anything proactive on the battlefield. Six is in fact only one under Karn Liberated. Karn Liberated not only can directly and immediately affect the battlefield, but he is essentially the end game of an actual Modern deck. Cautiously optimistic on this one to start.

[-3] Now we’re talking!

I actually love this [-3] (leaving Garruk at 1 loyalty). You get to keep Garruk and you can use the ability to net mana. I am a big fan of tapping six to play Angel of Serenity* or Griselbrand** at a discount. Why think so small? In Modern you might be able to run Garruk, Caller of Beasts as a six mana redundancy on Primeval Titan and cheat out Emrakul, the Aeons Torn***. Could be a thing. Thanks Obama Lotus Cobra.

Taken another way Garruk, Caller of Beasts is only one more than Through the Breach but you don’t run out of it after one use. I am a buyer here, even if you don’t necessarily net mana. For instance I am not above playing Garruk, Caller of Beasts [back in Standard] to drop a Thragtusk (who can now double-defend Garruk). I can deploy multiple cards, not waste my mana, and use the [+1] to re-up the next turn. Like I said: Buyer.

[-7] Just want to throw it out there that I have played a lot of Garruk, Primal Hunter and have never in my life made Wurm tokens. Not even one time in the MTGO Tournament Practice Room. I think that if Garruk, Caller of Beasts starts calling up the beats it is going to be riding the incremental card and mana advantages from the first two abilities, not necessarily winning via the Ultimate.

Some interesting personal anecdotes about Planeswalker Ultimates:

  • I have beaten Jace, the Mind Sculptor‘s ultimate in tournament play.
  • I have beaten Domri Rade’s ultimate in MTGO play.
  • I have both lost after activating Ajani Vengeant’s Ultimate and beaten Ajani Vengeant’s Ultimate in MTGO play.
  • I have not only lost after activating Liliana of the Dark Realms‘s Ultimate, I have had enough loyalty to activate it more than once and still lost in both Grand Prix [paper] and MTGO play.
  • I have tried really, really hard to beat Tamiyo, the Moon Sage’s Ultimate through means various; but apparently infinite card advantage > cleverness.

Going to go out on a limb and say I am unlikely to activate Garruk, Caller of Beasts’s Ultimate in paper.


* EDIT: Can’t do that.
** Or that.
*** Or that, either! “Green” — my archenemy. It is known Khaleesi. Imagine I got it right the first time and said “Progenitus” or something. Obviously missing that particular chromatic adjective lowers my rating of this a bit will have to think on it more. What is there awesome in Standard for 7+? Can’t see Sylvan Primordial being good enough.

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