Commander Spotlight: Doomgape

When it comes to diving into the lengthy and wide array of culture that surrounds Magic: the Gathering, new players can find it pretty daunting. Although your focus at the beginning is the immediacy of learning the game itself, once you attain a grasp of the fundamentals (the core rules of the game, how to create a deck, the basic precepts of the colors themselves, etc.) it’s inevitable that those interested in pursuing the game further start exploring the myriad ancillary components, subsections, and factions that exist within the player base.

True to form, one of the first things almost every player learns as part of this exploration is that, no, Magic players are not homogeneous in terms of their game interests or play style. Some players are pulled into the deep wellspring of the game’s lore, digging into the stories past and present over the last 25 years. Others quickly become enamored with the act of creating, tweaking, and upgrading their decks, seeking out the various extensive in-person and online networks that focus exclusively on trying to build the ultimate mousetrap. Others still maintain a laser-like focus on min-maxing their chances at winning and developing whatever strategies are needed in order to accomplish this.

On the other hand, just as many players may only peek into these various areas from time to time – or won’t go down any of those roads at all – leaning instead in keeping their Magic gaming experiences incredibly casually focused.

All of which is fine. Magic’s many side avenues are neither required nor necessary in order to appreciate the game for what it is. Yet the more invested you get into the game itself, the harder it is not to stumble down one rabbit hole or another.

As an example, many players at some point will find themselves reading an article here or there directly from Wizards themselves, with the most high profile writer among the group being R&D head Mark Rosewater. Mr. Rosewater is a longtime veteran designer, knows his craft incredibly well, and has no shortage of opinions on what aspects of the game he thinks are done well and where things can be improved – both on philosophical and practical levels.

One of his most famous content contributions is the oft-mentioned Magic player types of Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. The concept has been updated and expanded upon numerous times since its inception, but the gist of Rosewater’s argument is that designers generally have to contend with three major Magic player archetypes. In the most basic understanding of it, Spike players play the game with a focus on winning and proving their prowess, Johnny players play with a focus on combos and expressing themselves through their decks, and Timmy players play to experience the game, usually involving big, splashy cards. Each are equally important but highly distinctive in terms of how that person approaches the game and what they expect out of it.

The thing is, due to the competitive nature of Magic itself, casual gameplay by the player base itself (despite being the largest contingent of players) is often derided as somehow being less important as casual play isn’t as dead-set on winning in the fastest, most expedient way possible. Which in turn means that Timmy players (who often favor casual gameplay) are sometimes considered less relevant in the greater Magic community.

It’s a sentiment that neither us nor Wizards themselves subscribe to, but it’s an issue all the same.

Luckily, the Commander format is a perfect example of an area of the game where casual gameplay is the central conceit and where Timmy players of all stripes can enjoy the game in the manner they enjoy most.

And to celebrate that fact, this week’s card just happens to be very Timmy friendly.

Today we have: Doomgape

Name: Doomgape

Edition: Eventide / Izzet v Golgari

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Life Gain

Highlights: EDH has no shortage of big, flashy cards. In many ways that’s part of what gives the format its charm. With larger decks and larger life totals comes a slower-paced game that allows for larger more expensive creatures to hit the table for more than a single turn or used as a mere finishing move. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see many creatures with higher converted mana costs and powerful effects take the stage. They’re exciting, dangerous, and precisely the kind of card Timmy style players love. And Doomgape fits right in alongside them.

If anything, the fact that supersized creatures such as Doomgape aren’t as insanely uncommon as they used to be is proof positive that there is an audience and a demand for them. As one of the 35 or so creatures boasting a power and toughness of 10 or higher, Doomgape is positively massive. Any creature of that size hitting the battlefield will get opponents to sit up and take notice, as giant creatures are not something you generally want to be sitting across from. At 7 mana, its casting cost is on par for a creature for that size, and its hybrid mana nature makes it easier to cast not only in Black / Green decks but in tricolor decks as well.

Then factor in the fact that this 10/10 also has Trample. This more than doubles its efficacy as an attacker, as it can’t be easily chump blocked by an expendable creature to avoid taking damage and will usually be able to survive whatever is put in its way.

Finally, there is Doomgape’s primary ability, which can be both a positive and a hindrance, depending on the circumstances. It states that at beginning of each of your turns, you must sacrifice a creature and gain life equal to its toughness. In most cases the idea is to have your own sacrificial token creatures handy to feed to this ever-hungry behemoth, fueling its ability to go on the offense as often as possible. Ridding yourself of a 0/1 or 1/1 token is all it takes to keep it satisfied, though depending on your goals larger creature sacrifices can also be worth it if lifegain is a focus. The main catch, however, is that the sacrifice is not optional. Which means that you could potentially finding yourself in situations where you may have to offer unto the altar a creature you’d prefer not to in order to keep Doomgape alive. Or, alternatively, you may have to (as its flavor text alludes to), ultimately sacrificing the Doomgape to itself. Which would see the end of your 10/10 stompy creature, albeit with a parting gift of modest 10 life.

Doomgape can aid in a number of different deck concepts and strategies, but at the end of the day, the thing it’s best known for is showing up on the battlefield to make a statement. It’s gigantic, noticeable, and certainly can make for some memorable moments. And for the Timmys of the world, that alone is enough to win them over.

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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