I know what you’re probably thinking: “Not another one of Adam’s soft sells for Un–Magic. He’s going to point out a card that effectively exists in normal Magic but comes with a little wacky flavor of the Un side.”
Not today. Shocking, I know.
Lies, Damn Lies, Stybs-isms
First, what kooky card are we looking at exactly?
Carnivorous Death-Parrot is a clever twist on a steep drawback for an efficient blue creature. The “steep drawback” here is having to say the flavor text, cleverly written to trigger several powerful gotcha cards, like Deal Damage and Creature Guy. This means in Unhinged Limited, this guy is both efficient and very risky.
Obviously, the circumstances change dramatically outside of that environment. There are no gotcha cards in my pauper cube, and the relevant ones are uncommons anyway. That said, does removing the risk associated with “paying the upkeep trigger” warrant removing the trigger altogether? I don’t believe so as this guy would then be better than something like Leonin Skyhunter.
I believe that in bringing this guy into “normal” Magic, we can reach a clean decision on how to deal with the upkeep trigger in one of two ways:
- Ignore it (the option that doesn’t make sense)
- Adopt some sort of “Pay 0 or this is sacrificed.” errata.
As I’d already ruled out the first option, I settled on this errata:
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may pay 0. If you don’t, sacrifice Carnivorous Death Parrot.
I will always personally say the flavor text, and most other players who run into it will as well. However, the upkeep trigger stated here is the effective equivalent: if you don’t pay an optional cost of nothing you lose the creature.
“I thought you weren’t trying to sell us on adapting Un cards!” I’m really not. If you’ve played a more traditional cube you may have run into something like this:
You play it then have to pay an upkeep trigger. Recalling a singular upkeep trigger is a less mentally taxing than a continuous one (although the Pact cycle comes with a much steeper clause in the event that you can’t pay it).
Our Bird isn’t so generous, and playing it requires the mental effort to always pay for the trigger. It’s certainly more demoralizing to straight up lose the game for being a little forgetful, but the oddity of having an upkeep cost of 0 is enough to make our bloody parrot the more difficult one to remember.
That said, this guy is a solid value in blue at that expense of significant mental complexity. Both the Pacts and Death-Parrot come with upkeep triggers, but one also comes with a level of complexity uncharacteristic of commons. The net value added may be less than the complexity incremented for your cube.