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Leonin Skyhunter

Comic book superheroes are often a great source of “rediculosity” as I call it. While I’d love to lay claim to inventing such a peculiar word I can’t, but I’m also way to busy to source it. Instead, I’ll let it speak for itself: the rate at which heroes (and villians) live, fight, die, and return to life is so astonishing that it’s a staple of the genre. And the source of much of the non-comic culture’s lampooning thereof.

My point is that this cycle of life, fight, death, and return appears in Magic as well. Sometimes it’s an entire mechanic (persist). Other times it’s absurdity compounded (Vengevine). Today, I’d like to touch on that “back from the dead” trope in a slightly different way: a card being reprinted. Let’s look at one reprint appearing in Mirrodin Besieged, Leonin Skyhunter:

Leonin Skyhunter, common from Mirrodin Besieged

Now, isn’t that a thing of beauty? It’s quite a fine Cat Knight of a friend we have here, loaded with both symmetry and history:

  • The cost of WW is standard white weenie fare
  • We get a 2/2 with an ability for two mana, the “value bear” standard
  • The ability is flying, an excellent ability in Limited

What makes this average looking guy so interesting (You do remember Kemba’s Skyguard, right?) is that this reprint is now a common, rather than the uncommon it was previously.

Talk about coming back for second life.

Like the reboots of comic history, our former uncommon Limited beater is our current pauper value: dropping two mana for 2/2 and flying is absolutely a solid idea. I mean, Stormfront Pegasus is a champ in my pauper cube. Why is this any different?

Double Mana? What Does it Mean?

There’s just one small catch about our value bear: that double white mana cost. In almost any white-inclusive deck you’ll have no toruble dropping the Pegasus. One white mana is, after all, pretty easy to come by if you’re building your deck right.

But when we start to talk about two white mana, things get a little more complicated. A guy like this is best on turn two, early. You want to be swinging and swinging hard. For a white-focused deck this is a snap. Any other pairing is going to run into issues.

The differences between Kemba’s Skyguard and Leonin Skyhunter are that little one colorless mana and life gain trigger. The Skyguard is still solid later on as it regrows 10% of your life total. You don’t mind including it in a U/W or B/W deck because that life gain is a well-desired feature, especially with bounce, blink, and graveyard recursion effects. The value isn’t entirely based on aggression.

The Skyhunter is for aggro, pure and simple. This guy was made for bashing. Playing it during the same sequence of turns you could also play the Skyguard is obviously not optimal. Still good but it’s missing that extra gravy you want.

Answer: Awkward

What would the Skyhunter replace? Where does this fit into a pauper cube? As an advocate for smaller cube size I find myself faced with a difficult decision: either find the right spot for this guy to fit in, or rationalize clearly why it doesn’t. Whatever the end result is it won’t be a simple “It’s an auto-include so do it!” or “Too much effort to figure out; skip it.” cop out.

After all, sometimes when a hero comes back it’s better than before – but not always.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,
  1. January 28, 2011 at 3:14 AM

    I replaced Raise the Alarm for it. The WW cost is troubling, but it’s a very nice size that’ll still be relevant if I stagger on my mana for a turn or two. Anyway, I have a larger list with some chaff I need to cut, so I don’t have the same problem as a leaner 360 list. xD

  2. MGrenier
    January 28, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    I too am running a larger list, but I had to basically make the same decision concerning this guy (that is, Skynight or Stormfront). I actually opted for an alternate with Darklit Gargoyle, who’s more interesting and interactive than the other two. Skynight’s a champ when you pay 4 of them and 4 bonesplitters with 32 other white cards, but in a highlander format that’s difficult to pull off mono-color in, he’s just too many intensive.

  3. Rubin8or
    January 29, 2011 at 6:30 AM

    This guy’s great. Not amazing compared to every other option, but extremely solid. There are few White Weenie cards that beat it out, though the pegasus is one of them.

    I’d cut any of these guys and never look back:

    Veteran Armorsmith (Same cost, worse body, seems simple?)

    Glint Hawk Idol (Very inefficient compared to it, is even worse on the mana)

    Benalish Cavalry (Flanking is not very good evasion)

  4. Rubin8or
    January 30, 2011 at 6:37 AM

    No, Armorsmith is great in your cube, I didn’t realize that.

  1. April 19, 2011 at 12:47 AM

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