Explain to me the entirety of Newtonian Physics, with diagrams. You have 20 minutes until pencils down…
Okay fine, I won’t actually ask that of you – today.
But you do remember Netwton’s Third Law of Motion at least, right?
If you did, bully for you. If you didn’t, you get a pass this one time. Brush up on your science, though. Science is awesome. Anyway, it’s the whole ‘for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction’ thing.
Granted, Newton was talking about the physical forces of the world around us, but you’d be surprised how often that one can be applied to the competitive nature of humans as well. It’s depicted in all manners of everyday life. Games are merely one possible expression of those competitive tendencies.
As Magic happens to be a game, then, it only makes sense that the analogy works for our purposes here. Indeed, watching multiplayer games of Magic can reveal all sorts of behavioral cues in people, and the action-reaction mannerisms are so prevalent that they’re directly built into the rules. Really, how many times have you heard the phrase, “In Response…”? I’m fairly certain that’s the first real test of skill in Magic is learning how to properly utilize that phrase. It’s like saying “abracadabra”, but have it actually do something.
Yes, reactionary cards are available across all five colors, albeit there’s more in some than others. In Commander, there’s usually a healthy amount of them to choose from. And we’re going to add one more to the mix here.
Today we have: Ragged Veins
Name: Ragged Veins
Edition: Champions of Kamigawa
Focus: Life Loss
Highlights: It comes as a shock to many that not every card Black will use to screw with creatures is in the form of Doom Blade. Yes, killing creatures is sort of Black’s specialty, but sometimes you want to skip that and go right for the source, by making that creature’s controller suffer instead. The fact that it’s an Aura with flash helps alleviate the issue of similar cards like Binding Agony or Spiteful Shadows. That is, those cards just make the player not want to block with that creature. Ragged Veins can put them in an bigger lose-lose situation.
You can attack with a giant vanilla creature, and should they throw a cheap blocker (like a token) in the way, they will take the damage all the same. Consider Ragged Veins as a more situational but far more brutal form of trample in that case.
Or you could use it when two other players are going toe-to-toe, and you prefer one to emerge over the other.
Ragged Veins has the potential for a few different tricks as well. Should someone use damage-based board wipes like Chain Reaction or Pestilence for example, flashing this in on a creature about to take a ton of damage is not only unexpected piling on, but it’s potentially a way to knock a player out of the game.
And if you don’t want to be purely reactionary, there are advantages at times of casting this first on something, usually as a deterrent. Nothing says “stay on your side of the field” like the threat of a painful, agonizing demise.
Just be wary of such maneuvers, however. As with many surprise kill moves, other players may not react well to them. It’s sort of a human nature thing.
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