Welcome back to week forty-five of Monday Magic: COVID Edition. It’s been 352 days since my last summoning, which at this point feels like a cross between comically inept planning and the potential prelude to a retirement of that activity. Admittedly, if you had an activity you enjoyed partaking in regularly but then abruptly stopped doing for nearly a year’s time, there’s a certain inclination that starts to creep in where you may simply be done with being interested in that activity. If one was steadily into knitting, or hiking, or performing daring train heists for years on end but then suddenly ceased doing so for 11.5 months, a reasonable argument could be made that they might have simply given it up. Realistically speaking, there likely will be a percentage of the gaming community who likely won’t take up the Magic banner again once the dust settles – or at least not to the same degree. I just hope I don’t know too many of those people.
Granted, the entire CCG model is predicated on creating products that will entice new people to pick up the game and retain the interest of existing players – in that order – so it’s entirely likely that Wizards will continue plodding along with new releases as if the pandemic simply doesn’t exist with the intent of bringing in replacements for each person who may hang up their hat.
Which of course ties into the biggest MTG news in quite some time: the announcement of their new Universes Beyond series of cards. Besides the whole Arabian Nights set, some card promos, and some early Magic use of public domain material, the game has long resisted the lure of using another brand’s IP as part of its identity outside – even extending to the company’s other major product with Dungeons & Dragons. That barrier was battered down in recent months with word that a D&D based set would at long last be forthcoming, followed by the now rather infamous release of the Walking Dead Secret Drop set, which stirred up a lot of, shall we say, fervent responses. Universes Beyond finally tears the barrier down completely and codifies a new reality for the game: Magic products featuring other brand licenses will become a regular thing, with word of Warhammer 40k and Lord of the Rings products already in the works – and more to come. While there are certainly many who are not fans of this development (and after some deliberation I have to include myself as being opposed to it), the company’s formal response as you would guess is to say “if you don’t like those cards, don’t play with them” (as if it’s that simple), as well as point out that there are many others who are fans of this news and such a move will potentially bring in new players based on this brand audiences as well.
So, yes, while I am now on the record as against such a move, I’ll admit that my biggest reaction to the news is wanting to sit down and play the excellent CCG simulator game Millennium Blades again. Because this super meta board game really sums up the UB vibe to me more than anything else.
Granted, at the moment all of this is a big tempest in a teapot, because paper Magic, in any form, is still hard to come by right now. You know, due to the still prevalent pandemic. Numbers continue to drop steadily almost daily now, and that’s highly reassuring that there is a likely end to all this in the not too distant future. But we’re not there yet. And thus the wait continues.
In the meantime, as has become the standard format of the last year with this series, rather than diving into Magic-related topics writ large I’ve mostly showed off Magic cards I’ve wanted to put into an EDH deck for some time but haven’t for one reason or another. This week’s pick is no different in that regard, with the exception that it at least is a card that I have used to much success in other decks before. In fact, eagle-eyed readers of the series may even recall during my Alesha deck creation article series that it was among the list of spells initially under consideration. It didn’t make the final cut there sadly, but that was due to having a lot of competition. Which just goes to show that any time you have the right color identity to consider it, it’s a card you shouldn’t easily dismiss. Even if it is a common.
Today we have: Boros Fury-Shield
Name: Boros Fury-Shield
Focus: Damage Prevention / Damage Dealing
Highlights: Damage prevention from combat has been a staple effect in White since the game’s very early days, and even if prevention writ large (outside of the umpteenth Fog variant) has taken on less of a role in recent years than in the past, it’s never completely gone away (and likely won’t). Such cards often make excellent defensive spells when needed, stopping would-be attackers looking for a devastating blow in their tracks. By itself, the Fury-Shield only negates a single creature, which would seem overly restrictive by Commander standards. But its color-based rider more than makes up for this limitation by turning an otherwise unassuming Ravnica common into a dangerous counterpunch maneuver.
For three mana, Boros Fury-Shield is a handy combat trick that simply prevents all damage from a single creature in combat, be it one attacking or defending. Although it doesn’t go wide in its damage prevention, EDH has enough sizable creatures lumbering about that stopping a single massive creature on the attack from doing damage can make the difference alone between surviving or not. Even under its most basic function, a case can be made for its efficacy in the format. And in a pinch, it can be utilized for such.
However, the reason it makes such an efficient and scary card in Commander is its secondary effect, stating that if at least one Red mana was spent to pay for Fury-Shield, you’re not just preventing the damage – you’re also returning it to sender. By adding Red into the mix, the Fury-Shield not only stops combat damage from a single creature, but it also then deals damage to that creature’s controller equal to the offending creature’s power. It’s one thing to stop a 10/10 creature in its tracks. It’s another for its controller to take that damage instead. For just three mana, it can be a devastating one-two defensive punch to contend with, and easily makes it highly efficient for its cost. Moreover, Boros Fury-Shield can also be utilized on offense under the right circumstances, such as if you were to attack an opponent and they were to block with said big scary creature. Not only would the blocked creature not be hurt, but the creature they relied on to protect them then suddenly swats them instead. Even if it’s not necessarily crippling, such a move would be insult to injury, and it can be a tricky way to get in some extra damage.
Of course, no card is perfect, and the Fury-Shield does have its obvious limitations that have already been mentioned: it’s only useful in combat, only targets a single creature, and requires Red mana to be properly leveraged. However, all of these are situational in nature and minor compared to the amount of potential it can unleash on your behalf, making it a great spell for many Commander decks to overlook at their detriment.
Assuming, that is, that you don’t walk away from the battlefield before we’re all able to resume the fight.
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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