When it comes to customization and ever-expanding content to incorporate into your gameplay, Magic is about as robust a game as you can possibly get outside of traditional pen-and-paper RPGs. With 70+ expansions, dozens of supplementary products, and over 10,000 different cards, there is no shortage of possibility when it comes to conceiving and constructing a deck that fits your ambitions.
All of this freedom and flexibility comes with a cost, however. And a literal one at that.
For all of its laudable traits and warranted praise, the one inescapable fact about Magic is that, at the end of the day, it’s going to cost you money. At best, it’s a pay to play system where it’s going to cost some modicum of spending in order to craft the deck you want. At worst, its detractors label Magic a ‘pay to win’ game, where those who invest in the most potent and powerful cards their format allows will, if not outright guarantee them the win, at least give them a significant advantage. And while I personally think that criticism has more truth to it than most players care to admit, I also think the reality lies somewhere in the middle.
For instance, there’s no rule that you have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to have interesting and creative decks – especially in casual formats. I’ve partaken in plenty of Commander games where unmodified precons and those whose combined street value is under $40 have soundly defeated decks worth ten or twenty times that amount. Competitive formats may foster the need to fork out your next paycheck to be a contender at the highest levels, but at the kitchen table, there isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) any shame in simply playing what you have or can easily afford. That’s a mantra I’ve tried to instill in every casual Magic playgroup I’ve ever been a part of, and with rare exception, that philosophy has won out over the need to constantly min-max a deck’s efficiency over all else.
I also practice what I preach when acquiring cards. While I occasionally throw down more than a few bucks for a single card, it’s nearly always for set collecting purposes more than using them in any particular deck. Though I’ve been playing for over 20 years, it’s rare for me to spend $10 or more on any one card, and I can still count on one hand the number of times I’ve spent over $25 on a single piece of Magic-branded cardboard. It’s simple math, really. Because the whole of my deck playing experience resolves around casual formats, I’d much rather buy ten $1 cards than a single $10 card, as I’m going to get far better use of my money that way in the long run.
And that’s just for rares. When it comes to commons and uncommons, I’m usually even more stingy. With rare exception, I don’t like paying the same prices for commons and uncommons than I would for most cheap (sometimes called “junk” or “bulk”) rares.
As it happens, however, this week’s pick is one of those exceptions.
Today we have: Druid’s Call
Name: Druid’s Call
Focus: Token Generation
Highlights: In truth, Druid’s Call isn’t that expensive, but I didn’t even own any of this great Aura for years because I disliked the idea of spending $1-2 on an uncommon – even one as versatile as this. Part of the price is due to the novelty of creating Squirrel-based tribal decks, but a large portion also resides squarely with the fact that Druid’s Call in the right situations can be devastatingly useful.
For a mere two mana, Druid’s Call can be put on any of your creatures. (Yes, it can go on any creature, but for now let’s set aside the corner cases where you’d want your opponent to gain tokens instead of you.) The effect once on the battlefield is simple: any damage done to your creature will in turn generate 1/1 Squirrels. The more damage taken, the more Squirrels show up.
The most obvious use for becoming a Squirrel Whisperer, then, is during combat. While on defense, the mere presence of the enchantment on a creature will temper the desire by many opponents – especially those with sizable creatures – from blithely attacking you at will. After all, the last thing you want to do is turn your attack into an their advantage.
Likewise, attacking with Druid’s Call on a creature puts the defending player in a no-win blocking position. Do they not block your creature at all and simply take the damage? Throw a small creature in the way and allow you to net a handful of tokens? Or block and kill the Aura-infused attacker, knowing that they’ll be handing you a bunch of tokens as replacements? Choices, choices…
Moreover, the fact that the damage isn’t limited to combat can also be a particularly helpful deterrent against damage-based creature removal, where picking off even a moderately sized creature could simply replace one larger threat with many smaller ones.
All of this is possible for just two mana, making this card well worth the investment – even if its time on the battlefield isn’t terribly long-lived. Indeed, if you can net a smattering of small triggers (or one large one for that matter), Druid’s Call will more than make up for its casting cost.
Druid’s Call won’t singlehandedly win you games, but what it does do is exemplify the often-overlooked credo that you can most certainly play (and even win!) games of Magic without shelling out lots of money. For those who have felt the ire of a horde of angry squirrels, they’ll attest that the table advantage this Aura generates certainly earns its modest price tag. Even if I still think spending a few bucks on an uncommon is a little nuts…
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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