Chances are you’ve come across articles or forum posts on the concept of color pie philosophy. If you haven’t, it’s discussions of what certain colors can do versus what they can’t. It’s the discussion on what colors are the best at something and others less so. It’s the discussing the motivations behind each color’s attitudes depicted on in-game cards we see. If you find designing cards fun, are really into the game itself, or just like the idea of seeing what others think on the matter, it’s an informative area to mine for understanding the game’s past as well as its future.
Tying effects to specific colors hasn’t always been as structured as it is now, however. Early sets are fraught with abilities and cards that would never be printed today. That’s fine in and of itself: the design process became more refined as the game evolved. Issues arise though when people mistakenly think that because a card once did something in the wrong color by today’s standards, that new cards should continue to do so. But Fast mana effects aren’t in Black any more. Blue doesn’t get direct damage. Fine tuning these avenues of design helps give each color identity. It’s not to say that just because those cards don’t meet today’s templating that we can’t use them, but you want to be careful that you – or the format you’re playing in – doesn’t become a little too fixated on them.
As we just stated, there’s usually some exception to the rule. Let’s look at the exception to the mindless slaughter of Red’s domain.
Today we have: Mogg Infestation
Name: Mogg Infestation
Focus: Creature Destruction
Highlights: On the surface, this looks like any other mass board wipe, but what makes it special is that it’s targeted. In this case, only one player is going to suffer having all of their creatures transformed into Goblins. Now Red can do what we call “Flame Wave” effects (doing X damage to each creature target player controls) just fine. But the idea of turning one creature into another (or in this case two) is referred to as polymorph effects, after, uh, Polymorph. That ability has been very Blue for a long time*. They get Goblins sure, but that’s just flavorful window dressing for a card with more finesse than Red usually gets. Is it out right breaking the color pie by today’s standards? We’d say not necessarily, but it’s probably close.
So of course there is the obvious when it comes to Commander use: wiping out the player you’re most afraid / angry with and replace their army of Flying Giant Unblockable Stompy Creatures of Doom with some relatively harmless 1/1 tokens. Trading their 15/15 for two 1/1s is more than adequate for Red removal – unless they’re running a token army. However, Mogg Infestation has more uses than simply wiping one player’s armada away. It’s also Johnny combo-card material galore.
Playing a Goblin deck? How about using it on yourself with something like Boggart Shenanigans or Kyren Negotiations? Maybe you want to just be a jerk with Grave Pact. Perhaps you are trying to get around some restriction your creatures are currently facing. There are dozens of possible uses, and having to “just” use it as a targeted wipe is a pretty phenomenal fallback.
The first time we ever saw this card was in a casual game many years ago, and it was based around a combo involving it, Aether Flash and Dingus Staff. Pick a player: if they had more than three creatures out, they died.
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.
* [Editor’s Note: As of this writing, there has been some philosophical talk with R&D about temporary polymorph effects in Red, but at this stage it is purely conceptual.]
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