Stop! Thief!

Posted in Serious Fun on April 15, 2014

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

So what is my preview card for this week? What sort of goodness do I have to share with you? Check out Daring Thief!

Merfolk of the Pearl Trident

Many of you may have noticed the card above is not Daring Thief. It is an unexciting card that I gave you in exchange for the preview card. While it does share a card type with Daring Thief, and I did give you something, it leaves you disappointed. The whole purpose was to see Daring Thief! Now you're starting to see the value of a card that lets you swap away your lame card for an opponent's more awesome card. You probably even have a pretty good idea what Daring Thief does now, and you haven't even seen the card! You should probably know exactly how Daring Thief works before we go any further.

The first time I saw the card, I was picturing Indiana Jones, swapping out the priceless artifact for a bag of stones approximately the same weight. Swap the item you have you don't mind giving up for the valuable item someone else has.

There is a lot going on here. When I get a card with this much text, I like to break it down into small parts so I don't miss a thing.

The Basics—A blue, 2/3, Human Rogue creature, for .

A 2/3 creature for is not going to blow anyone away, but the idea is that you want this card to stay in play for a while. Its 3 toughness leaves Daring Thief vulnerable to some burn, but strong enough that a puff of wind isn't going to put it in the graveyard. The casting cost means you'll be able to splash the Thief in decks with very little problem.

How it Works

We have seen inspired cards and we know the problem. To get an inspired creature untapped can be difficult, mostly because you need to tap it first. The most common way to do that is to attack. On your following untap step, you'll get the inspired benefit. The problem is that you are sending a 2/3 creature on the attack. That may be fine in the early game, but even in multiplayer games, you are likely going to be unable to do that for too long.

In the end, you will play Daring Thief. You may wait a turn, then attack with it. Then you wait a turn and untap it. Then you can exchange your crappy nonland permanent for an awesome nonland permanent, of the same type, an opponent controls. Turn three, you play it. Turn four, you attack with it. Turn five, you untap it and get to use it. This isn't exactly the fastest ability.

Preferably, you'll want another way to tap your creature (and ideally untap it so you can tap it again...) that doesn't involve it having to deal with other creatures, potential combat tricks, and other interactions that put Daring Thief at risk.

...you may exchange control of target nonland permanent you control...

There are two parts here that need to be highlighted. The first part is the "may." You don't have to do this. If the only permanents you have in play are the Daring Thief, some land, and a Simic Signet, you may not want to swap. The Signet and the Thief may both be more valuable to you than anything anyone else has. This also means that if you miss it, you miss it. Some casual groups may let you go back and do it, but in many others (mine included), "may" means "you have to remember this and when you forget to do it we'll all laugh at you."

Daring Thief | Art by Johann Bodin

The second part is "target nonland permanent." You can't dump your extra land in an attempt to take a Maze of Ith or a Hallowed Fountain, or to run someone out of Plains. However, you can trade a creature that will die at the end of the turn. You don't have to be nice, but you can't be completely nasty.

...and target permanent an opponent controls...

The obvious limitation here is that you have to be able to target the permanent. This is not going to be a sneaky way to steal someone's Thrun, the Last Troll. You can't take someone's Akroma, Angel of Fury, either. Thankfully, most players prefer Akroma, Angel of Wrath, and stealing that is no problem.

Thrun, the Last Troll
Akroma, Angel of Wrath

For those of us who play a lot of team formats, Daring Thief won't let you exchange permanents with your partner. Most times, that isn't an issue, but there are instances when your partner has ramped beautifully and has enough dangerous creatures that giving one to you would be handy, because your board has developed much more slowly. Daring Thief isn't going to be helpful there. In the end, though, one of your opponents should have something for you to steal, or you probably wouldn't need to take anything in the first place!

...that shares a card type with it.

If you are anything like me, you started picturing all the creatures you could steal, and really weren't thinking about the other card types. This would be silly, since we would be giving up so much of the benefit offered by Daring Thief. Stealing an opponent's Akroma's Memorial or that Propaganda that has been saving him or her for the last several turns are both options that shouldn't be tossed by the wayside.

This does mean that you'll be needing to pack a variety of card types in your decks if you hope to make that an option. Or perhaps you'll want to run Mycosynth Lattice or Enchanted Evening as a way around those limitations. I do like the idea of exchanging my 1/1 creature late in the game for an opponent's Planeswalker!

Mycosynth Lattice
Enchanted Evening

Zedruu

I'm certain that every Commander player out there has already determined that this should go into the Zedruu deck. While Zedruu the Greathearted allows you to give away any permanent, Daring Thief lets you get one of the opponent's permanents as an added bonus, while still giving you the life and card drawing from Zedruu. Most Zedruu decks have many permanents that give you the benefit you want, no matter who controls the card. Giving an opponent your Dictate of Kruphix costs you nothing.

Brandon Isleib was kind enough to send me his Zedruu list.1 Daring Thief would fit nicely in the list:

Give up the Monk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)

Planeswalker (1)
1 Chandra Nalaar
99 Cards

An ability like Daring Thief's would be best if you could use it at instant speed. Exchanging permanents is valuable all by itself, but the threat of being able to do it at any time makes it so much more interesting. When an opponent announces an attack on you, responding by stealing his or her best creature, or taking the best creature on the board, can be backbreaking. Just knowing that you can do this will make most players reluctant to attack you.

To make this happen, you'll need a way to untap (and tap) Daring Thief. While there are a handful of way to do this, I recommend Aura of Dominion from Champions of Kamigawa. For one mana, you can tap and untap Daring Thief any time. In fact, you can do it as often as you have mana and something to trade. You might even consider running a way to cast multiple small token creatures. I'd chose Master of Waves. Giving 1/0 tokens to your opponents in exchange for their best creatures, repeatedly, at instant speed, seems like a very good plan.

Aura of Dominion
Master of Waves

Master of Your Domain

Another alternative is simply adding ways to get your permanents back. Cards like Homeward Path, Brand, and Gruul Charm will let you trade even your valuable permanents, safe in the knowledge that you'll have them back shortly.

Daring Thief will be a great add-on for several decks and an inspiration for several new ones. I expect to see Daring Thief at kitchen tables for years to come.


1: When I asked for Zedruu lists on Twitter, several people came to the rescue. My thanks to Uriah Oxford, @mediahobbit, Talon Stradley, and Cass (@GeneralDamageControl).

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