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Serum Raker

Hi. My name is Adam, and I’m a trigger fiend.

Hi Adam!

Let’s start at the beginning. I used to enjoy keyword creatures. You know, like Yavimaya Wurm or Assault Griffin. They’re easy to understand. The ability is often relevant. Nobody balks or gets confused why the Wurm tramples over things or the Griffin flies past blockers.

It’s simplicity at work that drove my heart.

Adam, why don’t you share how things changed?

Yeah, sure. Well one day I found this creature called Sakura-Tribe Elder. I was taken aback: lose a creature? But I like creatures! “Why would I want to lose one?”

But in draft all my green friends were doing it. Blocking a creature, then sacrificing – Killing! – their own creature for a land. They told me it was good. “You should try it!” they implored.

So I did and I’ll never forget that heady moment; the soaring height of cleverness. “Your creature doesn’t deal any damage, my creature does and gets me a land.” I felt smart. I felt powerful.

I felt good and, well, we all know what happened after that.

(A chorus of “Uh-huh.” “Yep.” and “Mm-mmm.” from the circled members.)

I began to look for other things: Yavimaya Elder, Ghitu Slinger, Ravenous Rats, Temple Acolyte, and Man-o’-War were littered across my decks. And not just commons, but uncommon and rares too.

And even when they banned “damage on the stack” I kept at it: Augury Owl, Borderland Ranger, and Sylvan Ranger. Even the Titans of Magic 2011 were part of my obsession.

But it got old, I mean real old, comparing every plain or French vanilla to a similar guy with extra text. Yeah, it’s nice to get a bonus but sometimes I just want more power and toughness. I kept spending three mana to get a 2/2 body only to be disappointed to see something with three toughness across the way.

I know it sounds silly but I wanted something different. The value of a sometimes extremely marginal effect just didn’t work when I needed the pizzazz of a buffer body. The day I realized that a simple Centaur Courser would often do so much more for me in most green decks than the Civic Wayfinder I always picked over it was the best day of my life.

Amen brother!

I had mana fixing. I needed incremental power along the curve. I had a splashy spell to include. I needed something stronger to do along the way.

How are you now? What about today?

Today, I’m looking through Mirrodin Besieged for new common creatures. There are so many with triggers and things, like this Serum Raker.

Serum Raker, common from Mirrodin Besieged

A year ago I’d be hot to trot for a flying creature like this. I don’t mean to say that it necessarily doesn’t belong in my cube but that the trigger for when it dies is something that made the old me salivate with hunger. The old me would be quick to point out:

  • It creates a two-for-two almost every time, a way to leverage attrition mitigation in a longer game.
  • Three power of flying with a double blue cost keeps this out of decks just splashing Islands.
  • Feels better to trade with when paired with disruptive effects (Duress, Hymn to Tourach).

It seems immediately powerful with only an incredibly narrow way to result in a two-for-one for your opponent. But before I throw it in perhaps I should consider some very similar alternatives:

(The murmur of the crowd is audible but indistinct.)

I like “on death” triggers because it gives you something to look forward to if you have to trade your creature away. Of course, it can also be devastating if you have no alternative and don’t have a superfluous card in hand.

Tell’em how it is!

Instead of a trigger to try and be too smart, greedily trying to punish my opponent, I’ve begun to think that perhaps presenting difficult decisions, like those that Illusionary Forces or Wayward Soul provide in resisting removal (that is, why waste it on a cumulative upkeep or self-bounce guy?), is better.

“Begun?”

Yeah, because maybe it is still better to have the trigger guy here. I mean, making someone discard a card is pretty sweet when-

Get out. You don’t belong here anymore.

But wait! Just think about it! Triggered discard during the combat step! It seems awesome!

(A few attendees immediately adjacent rise, reaching out to grab Adam. He backpedals rapidly.)

Alright! Alright! I’m going.

Geez.

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