Commander Spotlight: Rapacious One

Welcome back to week forty-nine of Monday Magic: COVID Edition. It’s been 380 days since my last summoning, which in and of itself isn’t all that different than the week preceding it.  Things are largely the same. Vaccinations continue to roll out, with each day millions of people are getting them. Meanwhile others are being stupid and either refusing to get a safe, free, and life-saving shot because of unscientific nonsense they’ve been fed, or they’re flouting the reality that a pandemic exists with irresponsible behavior and keeping the overall infection rate at a frustratingly steady plateau. People writ large are pent up, fed up, and largely still holed up.

So, yes, while progress is being made over time, it’s kind of status quo. This week’s vantage looks mostly identical to the week before, with nothing particularly new to add to the conversation. Decide for yourself whether that is good or bad.

The only kernel of thought floating by in going from 373 to 380 days without a game of in-person Magic is trying to guess whether or not I will reach my longest game-playing break record, which happened from approximately Fifth Dawn through the Kamigawa block – a period of roughly 15 months. Although most of that interlude was out of my hands due to many in my gaming sphere at that time giving up the game entirely, going through various life changes which made playing difficult, or had a general disinterest in the Kamigawa block. I do sometimes wonder if that break would have lasted longer had the next set not been Ravnica, which generated massive rejuvenated interest in the game from said parties.

We’re already into my second longest forced break from the game. I’m not eager to break such my record, and I’m betting we won’t. But at this point in time, I also can’t entirely rule it out.

In the meantime, we, quite literally, sit and wait.

Which, as has been par for the course in our COVID-driven interlude series, means that rather than discuss Magic-related topics or a specific discussion point leading into the card of the week, we’ve been looking at 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, except for the fact that unlike some previously chosen cards, I happen to know firsthand what it’s capable of. It’s just never made the leap yet from casual multiplayer to Commander…

Today we have: Rapacious One

Name: Rapacious One

Edition: Rise of the Eldrazi / Commander 2013

Rarity:  Uncommon

Focus: Token Generation / Mana Generation

Highlights: While it’s true that the player base overall has had a mixed reaction to the Eldrazi in their several appearances, this was especially true when they first debuted. They were particularly polarizing in casual play thanks to the Annihilator mechanic, which can just be absolutely brutal to face, and most ended up on one side of the love/hate divide. However, although the vast majority of the attention was paid to the Big Three and a couple of the other gigantic monstrosities, some of the smaller but still appealing Eldrazi cards had a tendency of getting overlooked. Rapacious One is one such instance.

Even taking into account that it made it into the first Wizards-produced Commander decks, Rapacious One didn’t see widespread use – often because only 4 of the original 27 Eldrazi-based cards were Red; players had a habit of either going full colorless with them or focusing on the handful of Green Eldrazi instead while taking advantage of that color’s ability to quickly ramp up mana. It’s understandable if you’re trying for a more aggressive approach, but doing so means leaving this potential token-generating critter on the sidelines.

Also, yes, the irony is not lost on me that a Red Eldrazi benefits from a slower format pace.

For an otherworldly beast, Rapacious One by itself is pretty straightforward. At its most basic you get a 5/4 Trampler for six mana. Some tend to hesitate slightly due to its midrange size for a six mana investment, but that can be a little shortsighted. Not every 6-cost creature is necessarily going to be a massive dragon or fiery elemental. In Commander it’s hard not to make such comparisons, but a 5/4 is still not something to take lightly whether on offense or defense. Plus its ability generally offsets its size in terms of usefulness.

Rapacious One states that whenever it deals combat damage to a player, you create that many 0/1 Eldrazi Spawn tokens. Like all such Spawn tokens from this set, each of them are capable of being sacrificed for 1 mana. These Spawn tokens are especially helpful to a deck because they serve multiple purposes. For one, they can be sacrificed at any time you need them to temporarily ramp up and fuel other spells (such as more Eldrazi or something large and fiery). These could be used immediately after combat or it could be several rounds later, giving you ample flexibility on how you’d like to spend them. Alternatively, because they are creatures, they also can be used as fodder when blocking in combat, giving you basic defenders against quick, painful attacks from your opponents. Given the right conditions, it’s possible to achieve both at the same time, furthering their underlying value.

What makes Rapacious One so useful in this regard is that unlike other Spawn generating cards from the set, it’s not a fixed small number either from entering the battlefield or during upkeep. Rather, the amount of tokens you create is entirely dependent on how much damage it can do. The best targets are therefore undefended players or those with only minimal blockers, making it card that particularly favors attacks of opportunity. Luckily in EDH such windows tend to appear regularly, even if briefly. Connecting just a couple times to full effect can generate quite a few mana-token creature at the ready and can lead to some explosive temporary mana boosts. Just one successful unblocked attack practically pays for itself, and even only partial token payouts can be lucrative over time.

On the other hand, one does need to be mindful that such explosiveness isn’t without danger. In order to create the tokens Rapacious One, you know, needs to attack, which can make it vulnerable to combat surprises or being killed off – the odds of which increases the more frequent you attack with it. But then again, what creature in Commander doesn’t? A full-sized Eldrazi it is not. But that still doesn’t make it a bad choice in a deck. Free mana is free mana no matter how you get it.

Plus it has the added advantage of being able to cast a handy Eldrazi creature without immediately becoming The Problem on the board. You know, unless you’re still harboring an Eldrazi-based grudge or two…

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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