And yet, never, before today, has my editor ever felt the need to amend his plaintext email describing a new preview card with the words...
And when you see this card, really, there is nothing else you can think to say (after you are finished double-taking, looking more closely, and scratching your temple) but "yes, really."
So just when it looks like R&D has removed the fastest one drops – Kird Ape and Savannah Lions – from Standard rotation, they go and print another two power creature for a single mana. More than that, this particular 2/1 for one has perhaps one-half the color discipline of Tarmogoyf (which is not very much at all)! What will, what can, hold back the turn one iron horse, that locomotive of lacerations, this up-and-coming engine of excitation, Tattermunge Maniac? At least they gave him a drawback, such that it is.
Why does a creature like Tattermunge Maniac need a drawback at all?
Numerous analysts "in the know" from the ancient "O" at CMU to the obscure and smoke-filled secret halls in Renton, WA, have maintained for years that Jackal Pup was superior to Savannah Lions... just because it was red, even with the drawback.
As Tattermunge Maniac is even easier to play (even in a red deck), there has to be some kind of tradeoff given the creature's speed and power [-to-mana cost ratio].
Even without the speed and power of the modern dual land, Tattermunge Maniac has essentially no color discipline. In Standard last year, testing Gruul, we had to play a certain number of Forests in order to hit our second turn Scab-Clan Mauler and Tarmogoyf, but it seemed losing with Gruul often went hand-in-hand with drawing too much green and not enough red. Tattermunge Maniac allows the red-hungry Gruul deck to reduce the number of Forests required for first turn action... and that's in Standard. Put another way, you can play him on a Pendelhaven!
It's a 2/1 for
So... Wild Dogs. No one ever gamed with Wild Dogs for the Cycling 2. Yes, the ability to get rid of it via cycling when the opponent has more life is nice, but the bet you make with Wild Dogs is that when you play a 2/1 creature for a single ... The opponent doesn't usually have more life than you do and you clock the hell out of him starting with turn two, hopefully having garbed up your Dogs with the in-Block Rancor or some other impressive accoutrement.
No, Tattermunge Maniac doesn't have a fall back plan, but what is the difference in drawbacks? Wild Dogs's drawback is pretty steep. A surprise block and a nicely placed Shock and you might just lose a Dogs covered in all kinds of awesome to the fiery hands across the table.
Tattermunge Maniac... has to attack every turn. Which is exactly what you intend to do with a 2/1 creature for one mana. What's the point of that drawback anyway? You were going to attack! Sure, there are awkward board positions. Sometimes you will end up throwing away your card for free. But Tattermunge Maniac is going to have two things going for it as long as it is legal in any relevant format: 1) People don't really block that much in Constructed, and 2)...
It's a 2/1 for
The obvious question is how Tattermunge Maniac matches up with superficial reference point, the dangerous and iconic Jackal Pup... But the real question is how much better is Tattermunge Maniac than the original?
Let's talk drawbacks. Tattermunge Manic has to attack every turn, which means that after the first turn it is played, the newest member of the efficient beatdown family will not be eligible for blocking; sometimes having to attack is just going to be a waste of card economy. How does this stack up to Jackal Pup's drawback? It's not quite as bad in my estimation. The two cards match up similarly with a superior ground force. Neither one wants to rumble there. Tattermunge has to attack, and will likely meet a quick end. Jackal Pup doesn't want to attack, probably won't unless there is a good reason (and that same good reason would likely apply if the Maniac had taken the Pup's place), but if Jackal Pup doesn't attack... It's probably pretty worthless on defense. Trading using a Jackal Pup is usually a sign of a poor hand, and most of the non-trades a Jackal Pup is typically utilized for tend to be against creatures like Ophidian (which brings up a completely different set of headaches), and blocking there is really just an exploration of options, not a reason to raise the victory banners most of the time.
It's a Goblin
It's a Warrior
Just as Tattermunge Maniac is a Goblin from the red side, it is a Warrior from the green. This is a creature that could be at home with an Obsidian Battle-Axe in hand, setting the opponent up starting turn two for a game ending Profane Command rather than a flurry of red cards.
It's a... Goblin Warrior?
You may not have noticed it but the kings of old school are quietly taking (back) over from their perch in the Greatest City in the World. Following his Hall of Fame induction, Zvi Mowshowitz put up a nice finish at the World Championships. Fellow Hall of Fame player Jon Finkel is a Pro Tour Champion again. Onetime US Open winner Jamie Parke just snuck into the Top 16 of Grand Prix Philadelphia, qualifying for Pro Tour Hollywood... and you might even be able to make an argument for the surprise Grand Prix finals appearance by Meddling Mage Chris Pikula at the last GP Philadelphia… For his part, Chris actually put a fair bit of testing and preparation into this year's Extended PTQ season; many of them own their own Tarmogoyf.
But what about the guy who was, at his height, considered perhaps the most popular Pro Tour player in the world?
Might this new Jackal Pup-like creature be an invitation to return for Pikula's old running mate, the King of Beatdown Dave Price? I remember a few years ago, Randy Buehler, before he was in charge of the digital side of Wizards, before he was in charge of Magic development, whispered that he snuck Goblin Warrior Goblin Raider into the then-new base set "so Dave would have a two-drop to work with" following the success of his Mono-Red Rage Weaver / Firebrand Ranger deck in the summer of 2001 (when everyone else was playing with Blastoderm, Saproling Burst, and Opposition). Well, with Tattermunge Maniac, Dave (should he choose to make a triumphant return) doesn't get quite a two drop… but instead a superb one drop in the tradition of the creatures that helped him to achieve his 1998 Pro Tour victory on the Boat.
Firestarter: What do you think? Will Tattermunge Maniac help to light a fire of success for young mages everywhere?
Can’t wait for Shadowmoor’s release on May 2? Don’t miss your first chance to play with Shadowmoor cards at the Prerelease on April 19 and 20!