Come Prey With Me

Posted in Limited Information on September 13, 2011

By Steve Sadin

Limited formats are defined, in large part, by what each color is able to do. If black and red are the only colors that are able to actually kill creatures outside of combat, then it will become extremely important for players to play (or at least splash) black and/or red so as not to lose whenever an opponent plays a bomb or a strong utility creature.

When just about everyone is actively fighting over red and black so they can get their hands on at least a little bit of creature removal, then red and black become less desirable base colors (as you have little chance of getting passed high-quality cards late), but remain excellent splash colors as you will be able to easily add whatever Lightning Bolt / Doom Blade type cards you open to your deck.

But when white, blue, and even green have ways to kill (or shut down with cards like Pacifism) creatures outside of combat, then players will have a lot more freedom when deciding what colors to draft.

While the Innistrad Card Image Gallery is still incomplete, we already know that white will have access to Fiend Hunter, and every color will be able to play with Blazing Torch. Plus, my preview card for today gives green a way to kill just about any creature in the format.

Ready to see what it is?

A solid spot removal spell that can easily deal with utility creatures, and evasion creatures? In green? Yes please!

No, Prey Upon is not the kind of card that you're going to excitedly first pick—but it should make the main deck of almost any green deck that you put together when you're playing Innistrad Limited.

Prey Upon might not be the kind of card that you would want to splash in your white-blue evasion deck full of (relatively) low power creatures. But if you're playing green in Limited, odds are you have some big creatures on hand (if you don't, you should probably take a step and ask yourself why you're playing green in the first place).

If you have a creature that is just flat-out bigger than the creature that you want to kill, then Prey Upon will be an all-purpose removal spell that costs only a single green mana, which is simply fantastic.

The fact that you only have to spend a fraction of your turn casting Prey Upon means that you can use it to get way ahead of your opponent. You can cast a large creature and use it for Prey Upon all in one turn. Or you can equip something, and then have it Prey Upon a creature that it now towers over.

Prey Upon has a lot going for it, but it also has its limitations.

The fact that Prey Upon is a sorcery means that you won't be able to use it to punish people who are trying to blow you out in combat with tricks like Spidery Grasp, nor will you be able to use it in response to players who are attempting to attach a piece of Equipment onto a creature, or supersize something with an Aura like Wreath of Geists.

If your opponent has an instant-speed removal spell, bounce spell, or pump spell, then he or she will be able to shut down your Prey Upon (or worse). For this reason, you should look to cast Prey Upon when your opponent is tapped out, and thus unable to disrupt you.

You've Got to Do What You've Got to Do

If your opponent has a gigantic creature that you need to deal with, you can run one of your little creatures into a battle that it can't possibly win... then follow up your attack by having one of your remaining creatures fight against that menacing threat on the other side of the board. Yes, you will need to three-for-one yourself to do this, but that's much better than just losing outright to a Dragon or some other gigantic bomb rare.

Prey Upon | Art by Dave Kendall

Prey Upon can be used to get you out of tight jams (at least for a little while), and it can also be used to press advantages that you already have.

Just because Prey Upon can be used to kill just about anything doesn't mean that it will always be able to deal with your opponent's deadliest threats, especially if your opponent knows to play around it. Consequently, you should keep your eyes peeled for situations where you can use Prey Upon profitably.

So while you might feel inclined to save your Prey Upon until you can use it to kill an opposing bomb rare, you shouldn't be afraid to use it to kill of a 2/2 flier on turn four if you have the spare mana lying around, and you know that your opponent's evasion creature will have a continued impact on the game.

Or you might use it to kill your opponent's only blocker, so you can continue punching through for damage with your smallest creatures.


Because most removal spells cost enough mana to take up the bulk of your turn, it is quite difficult to use them to set up morbid effects (which care whether a creature died this turn). This means that you will often need to rely on creature combat to turn on your morbid effects.

But since Prey Upon costs only a single green mana, it is a great way to turn on morbid. Even if your opponent has a trick to save his or her creature, your creature will still die... and while it would normally be a Very Bad Thing™ for your creature to die to your own Prey Upon, without taking out anything of your opponent's, you will, at the very least, have turned on morbid.

Was that example too morbid for you? All right, let's look at a situation where you blow your opponent out of the water thanks to Prey Upon.

Can you imagine how far ahead you'll get when you use Prey Upon and Morkrut Banshee to kill your opponent's two best creatures?

I can. And it's awesome.

You get to flat-out kill two creatures that were making their presence felt and add a 4/4 to your side of the board. If the game was even remotely close before that point, your opponent will need a miracle to get back into it after the one-two punch of Prey Upon and Morkrut Banshee.

Over the Top

If you have Prey Upon in your deck, then you want creatures that have high power (so you can kill bigger threats), and high toughness (so that you can kill opposing creatures without losing your own creature in the process).

The easiest way to satisfy both of these desires is to fill your deck with creatures that have both high power and high toughness, but that won't always be possible, especially at lower points in your curve.

What does this mean for you?

It means that you should look to prioritize taking cards that have somewhat disproportionate power/toughness ratios (like 5/1s and 2/5s) instead of including a bunch of creatures with flat power/toughness ratios (like 2/2s and 3/3s).

It also means that you should look for cards that will allow you to make your otherwise similarly sized creatures just a little bit bigger than your opponent's.

I'm not sure how effective of a card Travel Preparations will be on its own. Green-white has traditionally been a weak color combination in Limited (in large part due to the fact that green and white tend to have very few removal spells), so it has that going against it. And if you're not playing white, and thus only going to get one use out of Travel Preparations, then it probably won't be worth playing.

However, the fact that Travel Preparations could boost a creature that is naturally the same size as your opponent's creature (which you really want to kill) to a point where it will be able to Prey Upon that creature and live makes Travel Preparations a far more desirable card than it would be otherwise.

If you have two or three copies of Prey Upon in your deck, then you should strongly consider playing Travel Preparations even if your only white source is a single Avacyn's Pilgrim that you're playing "just for the acceleration."

Prey Upon will reward you for having creatures that are strictly larger than your opponent's creatures... even if they aren't "better" than the forces that your opponent is putting forth.

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