There’s an old adage with writing: start with what you know. Not only does this provide a degree of comfort whilst trying to find your own voice, but it also ensures that you’re conveying a sense authenticity, which is paramount if you want your words to be taken seriously. When someone attempts to write about something they don’t understand, it can completely derail whatever story is being told or topic discussed. If you want to write about a car mechanic, for instance, one should know a little something about the inner workings of a typical car. If your character can’t tell the difference between a muffler and a brake pad, that’s a glaring inattention to detail that risks the immersion and believability of your entire scene – or worse, the entire body of work as a whole.
The solution, as you might expect, is to do your research. When you don’t know enough about a topic to feel confident including it in your material, the most prudent decisions are either to avoid using it altogether or, well, go out and learn about it. When weaving a proper narrative or presenting a specific argument, nearly all writers ultimately pull from some combination of real world experiences and a meticulous study of new topics and settings. This is true whether you’re a sci-fi writer attempting to address the social issues of our time, a mystery writer concocting their next great twist, or the nonfiction writer assessing the long term ramifications of the Vietnam War.
It’s also true even when talking about something as mundane as a card game.
Case in point: outside of the occasional news tidbit or historical anecdote, I rarely discuss the Organized Play side of Magic: the Gathering. Part of this is by design, as this series is aimed at a casual Magic audience that rarely gets much written about content directed solely at them. Most of the major Magic-centric sites will shower you with articles discussing the Pro Tour, the latest Standard metas, or how the inclusion of the latest set will affect the current top decks ruling Modern at that time. Monday Magic by contrast contributes a voice to the multiplayer casual (and predominantely EDH-centric) sphere, which is a much, much larger contingent of the player base, even if it gets little in the way of coverage.
Moreover, it would be disingenuous of me to write about a part of the game that I admittedly don’t have a deep wellspring of knowledge about. While I pay loose attention to the various format transpirings, I’ve never had much interest in the Constructed world, and although I could certainly immerse myself into those facets of the game, I generally prefer to leave those discussions to others who can speak about it much better than I ever could as an outside observer.
That said, if I write a fiction story about the mysterious death of a Magic Pro Tour player, that could all change…
“Devon was found unresponsive in his room, but in reality there were five murders that night. For littered around his body in a near-perfect circle were the remains of four copies of Tarmogoyf, which had been shredded into tiny pieces of cardboard confetti…”
In fact, I’ve only ever entered one Legacy tournament, near the end of the Onslaught block. At the time a friend insisted on wanting to experience a Legacy event to see what it was like, building two decks to that end. The first was a Black / White deck that revolved around Spirit Link and Crypt Rats. The other, which he gave to me to use, was a five-color Sliver deck. Both of us knew that it was unlikely to go very far, and…it didn’t. It was knocked out in the first round by one of the myriad Phantatog decks that were all the rage at the time.
What makes the story pertinent today, aside from recalling how laughably ineffective the deck turned out to be – at least for that format – is its origin. Ironically his original idea for his five-color Sliver deck didn’t stem from Slivers at all, but from an overlooked and underutilized tricolor enchantment that had come out just a few sets before. And just as he stubbornly had tried to make Slivers tournament worthy (in Legacy no less), so too was his determination to include this card in a deck at a time when 3+ colored decks weren’t nearly as commonplace as they are now.
And so, in honor of that dogged tenacity, and for his well-intentioned attempts to learn something new, we have this week’s pick:
Today we have: Fervent Charge
Name: Fervent Charge
Focus: Creature Buffing
Highlights: Although tricolor Magic cards have existed since the time of Legends, they had always been exceptionally rare until the advent of the Alara and Khans blocks for shard and wedge combinations, respectively. Because of that, they tended to stand out anytime they appeared in a set prior to them. Fervent Charge is particularly noteworthy as it was the very first and only ‘Mardu’ colored wedge card printed until Planar Chaos appeared many years later.
Fervent Charge is not a complex card, but it illustrates once again that a complex card isn’t always necessary to be useful in Commander. This flavorful enchantment is the epitome of an amalgamation card, whose abilities can be directly attributed to its color contributions. White is known for balanced (i.e. +1/+1) creature buffs whereas Red’s buffs tend to be power-based (+N/+0) or restricted to combat. Black’s contribution to this card is largely obfuscated but is tied to the card’s overall casting cost.
Together, Fervent Charge provides a combat-centric +2/+2 bonus to all your attacking creatures for the amazingly cheap cost of just four mana. That’s decent enough on its own right, but it’s particularly impressive outside of Green (or monowhite at higher costs). With just one Fervent Charge you can make a handful of mid-sized creatures into a massive threat and turn even minor handfuls of token creatures into potentially game-ending routs. Fervent Charge is certainly not a defensive card by any means.
Of course, there are a couple minor limits. For one, while only four mana, it does require three different colors to cast successfully, which can be tricky in the early phases of the game. Second, you will naturally need creatures to make full use of its effect. But if you don’t have any creatures on the battlefield to benefit, you’re probably already in trouble.
And sure, there are a handful of new enchantments that are arguably more powerful for just an extra mana or two, but the cost-to-benefit ratio is still worth consideration. Also, the fact that it’s a combat only buff often helps reduce its board innate threat compared to a similar static buffs.
At least that’s what my research has shown me.
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