When it comes to a recurring series such as this, most authors will tell you that sometimes it can be entertaining to periodically shake up the normally abstracted subject matter with something a bit more topical. There have been numerous occasions over its nearly five year lifespan where I’ve made card selections for Monday Magic that have tied in to the week’s holiday or some Magic-related announcement.
Of course, accomplishing some of these have been more successful than others. And sometimes, what initially seems like it should be an easy association are more prohibitive than it seems at first.
Case in point: you have no idea how much every year I want to choose All Hallow’s Eve as a Halloween card. It has the name, the picture, the in-game flavor, and it’s one of those cards that nowadays would never be played outside of casual formats.
Unfortunately, I generally avoid picking cards for this series that go over the $5 range, let alone one that routinely sells for well over $100.
Sure, there are tons of cards that deal with fright, terror, and all manner of things that go bump in the night. Hell, the entire plane of Innistrad essentially is Halloween World due to its heavy emphasis on gothic horror. But it isn’t quite the same as that specific card.
Like it or not, every Magic player has to contend with aftermarket prices as part of their deck building decision-making. Your budget will undoubtedly vary depending on the format you’re playing in and how much disposable income you can (and are willing) to devote to the game, but money is unfortunately an inescapable facet of the CCG model. If you can’t easily get access to a particular card, then chances are it probably isn’t going in your deck. As such, price is just one of many factors that determines how the final makeup of your deck is going to look – doubly so in casual formats such as Commander.
Another one of those factors is finding cards to make your deck work. With 60 or so cards to work with and multiple opponents to manage, every card slot matters. The last thing any EDH player wants is to draw a card that will be completely useless. Which is why, unless the card is included for flavor purposes, most cards fall into three overarching categories: function, power, and utility.
Function cards help ensure the deck is able to do want it to (i.e. card draw, land fetch, Sol Rings, etc.). Power cards are what the deck does to be a proactive threat, be it via individually scary cards or those that combo well when paired together. Utility cards, by contrast, tend to be more reactive – your Fogs, Counterspells, and what have you.
Yet what makes utility cards particularly tricky, as opposed to the other two, is that they’re by their nature, situational. Therefore, to ensure that it’s worthy of your deck, you want it to be as useful as possible the most amount of the time. Deathmark may be an incredibly cost effective spot removal, for instance, but is it still worthwhile if it’s only useful against two specific colors? That may depend on your play group and table size.
This, of course, is why modal cards – good ones anyway – are so common. Their multiple options gives some extra versatility to a card already designated for that role. Whether it’s one color or three, modal cards significantly increase the odds that it can help you at any given moment. We’ve showcased a few of these before. But since I can’t do a Halloween card proper, this week’s pick will settle for a utility card that looks like someone carved a jack-o-lantern face on a demon’s chest.
Today we have: Golgari Charm
Name: Golgari Charm
Edition: Return to Ravnica / Commander 2015
Focus: Creature Removal / Creature Protection / Enchantment Destruction
Highlights: Golgari Charm is one of the more popular charms from the Return to Ravnica block, in part because it provides a decent variety of effects to work with – depending on your circumstances – all while maintaining the very essence of what the Golgari do best: destroying other creatures whilst protecting their own.
Like most charms, Golgari Charm comes with three distinct options, each with a modest but potentially game-changing effect if timed right, and all for two mana.
The first option provides an instant speed Nausea effect, reducing all creatures on the battlefield by -1/-1. This can be used either to fend off an army of token attackers from doing massive damage, or more likely, picking off any creature on the battlefield of toughness one or less, which often can be a devastating blow to unbuffed token armies. While this may hurt all creatures equally – including yours – being able to clear the board of many tiny threats at once can be quite handy.
The second option is the most straightforward, providing a Demystify-esque spot removal on any one troublesome enchantment on the battlefield. If nothing else, Golgari Charm on part with other two mana enchantment destruction cards, which in EDH rarely goes to waste.
Finally, is its third effect grants Regeneration to your entire army. Potentially the most advantageous of the three options in the right setting, this allows you to keep all of your creatures on the battlefield in the event of a massive board wipe, damage effect, or the outcome of combat going heavily against you. In the former cases it has the potential to bestow commanding table presence for swift retaliation, and in the latter it allows you the means to soak up substantial damage with minimal costs. Yes, Regeneration may be going the way of mana burn, but Golgari Charm is definitive proof that when done right, it’s just as powerful as ever.
Ultimately, Golgari Charm doesn’t have the problem of a neutral to negative mode, making it an easy utility card contender for just about any Black / Green deck. And since it’s been reprinted a couple of times at this point, you don’t have to worry about pesky things like cost or availability. Rather, it’s whether it’s how reactive you want your deck to be.
Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.
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Do you have a particular Commander card to suggest for us to shine a future Spotlight on? You can send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org