Check out this little fellow from Fallen Empires.
For two mana, you are getting a creature that allows you to bank those two mana and use them later. You can't use it in some sort of storm deck, since it requires you to tap the creature to use the mana, something you can't do unless you jump through the hoops necessary to give the Basal Thrull haste. The creature's basic stats are rather unimpressive; two mana for a 1/2 creature is nothing to write home about.
I enjoyed using Basal Thrull. He and his little buddy, Blood Pet, would sit innocuously on the battlefield until a Dark Ritual, a sacrificed Basal Thrull, a sacrificed Blood Pet, and four mana would let me play out my Spirit of the Night. Admittedly, my deck was very much an "all your eggs in one basket" kind of thing, but it was fun to see Spirit of the Night hit the board, even if it did cost me three cards to get it there.
Lately, we are more likely to see a Burning-Tree Emissary. You don't get to store up your mana for a sweet flying, trampling, first striking (sort of), protection from blacking Spirit of the Night, but you end up getting the BTE and its ETB right away. This works with storm decks and gives you multiple spells in one turn, if you play your cards right.
Soulbright Flamekin is another little dude that keeps on giving. This Elemental gives you extra mana, but only if you have six mana already. It also doesn't hold it for you until you need it. When you have the mana, you have to hope Soulbright Flamekin is there and ready for you. I've been using Soulbright Flamekin in my Dragonstorm deck for a while, along with Seething Song and Desperate Ritual, to build up the mana to cast Dragonstorm. Giving all my Dragons trample is a beautiful bonus!
Here, on Canada Day, it seems particularly appropriate to focus on such friendly creatures. Canadians are known to be helpful and polite, doing what we can when possible and offering up an "Excuse me" or "I'm sorry" to diffuse uncomfortable situations. On that note, pardon me for the delay in presenting what I like to think of as an honorary Canadian: Generator Servant.
If you are going to compare it to any one of the cards I've mentioned, the closest has to be Basal Thrull. Both cost two mana and require the creature to tap and sacrifice before you can use the card. The Generator Servant, like MacGyver's Swiss Army knife, offers a variety of key benefits that the Basal Thrull lacks. The first is a 2/1 body instead of a 1/2. While the Basal Thrull could deter the occasional 1/1 creature, you really weren't going to use it to block. You were playing Basal Thrull for its ability to hold the mana, so you weren't going to risk it to prevent 1 point of damage. In the early game, you can look at your hand and determine if you want to sacrifice the Generator Servant or not. If you choose not to, you are free to attack for 2. This is far better than simply sitting there and not blocking. The downside to attacking is it eliminates the chance of using the mana Generator Servant can provide. However, if you want to hold it up and threaten a spell on your opponent's turn, you can do that. It just seems likely, given the bonus it offers to creature spells, that you probably won't be using Generator Servant until your next turn, so swing for 2.
The second benefit is the hasty part. Assuming you played the Generator Servant on turn two, on turn three you now have three lands and two mana from your Elemental to use for a large, nasty creature. And it will have haste! Or you can just use the extra two mana for an expensive, vicious noncreature spell, but giving up the haste part is going to be pretty unlikely for me. Why not take full advantage of the card?
An interesting comparison comes from Hall of the Bandit Lord, known throughout Canada as the Igloo of Painful Hastiness. Both cards offer some mana and will give a creature haste. While Hall of the Bandit Lord occupies a land slot in your deck, the Generator Servant takes up space among the creatures. Neither of them can be used for mana the turn they enter the battlefield, and both give haste when the mana is used to cast a creature. Of course, the Hall deals 3 damage to you, while the Servant can be used to deal 2 damage to an opponent.
How is this going to play?
I am not a talented tournament player like Alexander Hayne or gifted Limited specialist like Rich Hoaen, so I can't tell you if Generator Servant is going to be a tournament staple. Generally, a 2/1 creature for two mana with upside is playable in drafts and can fit nicely into the right Standard deck that wants the mana bump and/or the haste gift Generator Servant offers.
In multiplayer casual games? Oh, we have a winner here! Multiplayer games are all about playing the big game changers. Spells that cost six mana or more make the battlefield shift dramatically, and promise all sorts of fun. Mana accelerators show up in plenty of decks, whether as sorceries (Cultivate), artifacts (Signets), or creatures (Solemn Simulacrum is a regular here). Generator Servant only offers up a one-time, two-mana bonus, but often, that is all the push you need.
Generator Servant | Art by Mathias Kollros
For those of you who were thinking this would work awesomely with one of M15's feature mechanics, convoke, think again. You can't tap a creature to pay more than one cost, any more than you can sacrifice a creature to get two effects. If you cast Return to the Ranks with a Generator Servant in play you can tap and sacrifice the Servant to pay two generic mana of Return to the Ranks's cost, or you can tap it, getting one generic mana toward Return to the Ranks's cost, using convoke. You can't do both. And to throw a little salt in the wounds, if you sacrifice Generator Servant to help pay for Return to the Ranks, the creatures that enter the battlefield don't get haste from Generator Servant. That only works for creature spells, not for a sorcery that brings creatures to the battlefield.
The benefit a creature offers that sorceries and artifacts don't is the ability to block and attack. When your creature is as pleasingly costed as Generator Servant, you can get it out early and enjoy the options available to you. The early game usually involves at least one player who is wide open, so a Generator Servant can generate some damage in those early turns when players are spending their time getting more mana on the board. You can choose to sacrifice it right away, ramping up into a big fatty that is going to get the job done.
My personal "Fatty Recommendation" is Sun Titan. Tap and sacrifice the Generator Servant, then spend two white mana and two more to get a Sun Titan with haste. Oh look, you can get the Generator Servant back to the battlefield! Swing with your vigilant Sun Titan, bringing a second creature back (perhaps another Generator Servant). You now have two Generator Servants and a Sun Titan to protect you. The Generator Servants now offer a four-mana discount for the next turn! Somehow, a red-white deck seems very appropriate for Canada Day. Best wishes to all my compatriots in the Great White North!
The deck looks to win in a rush, using Generator Servants and Treasonous Ogres to bring out hasty three- and four-mana creatures for only one or two mana, or less if you are willing to pay the life to make it happen. Treasonous Ogre can provide some of the red mana while keeping you away from dethrone, the mechanic du jour in many groups that have been enjoying Conspiracy for the last month. Unfortunately, his nickel cost means you won't be getting him back with Sun Titan.
Sun Titan looks to repeatedly return the Generator Servants to play, among many other targets in this deck. Almost everything in the deck is a valid target for Sun Titan, so attacking early into losing positions is a chance you can afford to take.
Mentor of the Meek, like Wayne Gretzky, can make a lot of moderately talented players into all-stars. The danger of the Mentor is that it can be dangerous in some decks, encouraging you to hold all your spells back for a turn so you have the mana to get the benefit. In this deck, you should have plenty of mana with Generator Servant and Treasonous Ogre out there. This will let you fully, completely, use all the mana you save to draw more cards, speeding things along at an even faster pace.
Firemane Angel, Foundry Champion, and Angelic Skirmisher all look to hit the ice a little faster. Battalion can be achieved by surprise with all the hasty creatures this deck will produce. The Banisher Priests will open the way for the rest of your deck, while Lavacore Elemental and Aven Riftwatcher enjoy an extra round of attacks before losing a single counter through vanishing.
The deck is obviously rough around the edges, but it gives a glimpse at some of the possibilities available with Generator Servant.
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