Determined Dude

Posted in Serious Fun on March 10, 2015

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.

Some preview cards desperately want you to just drop it right away and let everyone glory in its obvious awesomeness. Others want you to stop and think. Those cards are often every bit as amazing, but you need to really look at it closely to realize just how cool they really are.

Enjoy the slow roll!

Garruk's Companion is a solid card. A 3/2 body for only two mana is very solid. It gives you a chance to beat down early. When an opponent drops that 2/2 creature (morph, manifest, or otherwise) you can still get another point of damage in while trading creatures. The trample even lets you pump Garruk's Companion so it doesn't slip quietly away with only a point of damage to an opponent to show for it.

Avatar of the Resolute is strictly better, offering up exactly the same stats, while adding reach to the 3/2 body. Reach offers a different plan than Garruk's Companion. While Garruk's little buddy screams out at you to attack every turn for as long as you can, Avatar of the Resolute offers a way to stop the early flier beats. Those 1/1 Spirits and Birds that your opponents like to play early on, getting in a few points of damage, are not a problem now. The Avatar, unlike the Companion, plays offense and defense in the early game.

The problem for those of us playing casual games with multiple opponents is that our games tend to go long. The early game is only the first ten minutes of a game that goes for an hour or two. A cheap 3/2 creature is appreciated, but most times ends up getting cut while you are putting your deck together, they just don't have the oomph in the long game to be worthwhile. Avatar of the Resolute may be able to chump a Dragon in the late game, but there needs to be more.

Avatar of the Resolute has more:

The Determined Dude is one of those special cards that scale up as the game does. If you put the Resolute One onto the battlefield in the second or third turn, you are likely getting a 3/2 with reach and trample that your opponents will moan about. You'll likely hit for 9 or 10 points of damage with it since someone will end up being unable to block and kill it. In the midgame, you will likely have a couple of creatures with +1/+1 counters, so you can expect to see a 5/4 Avatar of the Resolute. Toward the endgame, Avatar of the Resolute takes a board state where you have horizontal strength[1] and gives you the option of vertical strength as well. An 8/7 with trample and reach continues to offer the option of offense or defense to whoever controls it.


The obvious issue with the card is how big it can really be. To get something more than a Garruk's Companion you'll need to control other creatures and you'll need them to have +1/+1 counters. This asks for two limiting factors to be present before you get a benefit. Not only that, but you'll need to have them in order. Getting cards that give creatures +1/+1 counters before getting the creatures isn't really helping. You'll need to play creatures, get the counters on them, then cast Avatar of the Resolute. Then you need your opponents not to cast any mass removal, or you'll need a way to protect your stuff. Every time you add a step, the likelihood of the card working the way you want it to gets less and less.

Assuming you can make that happen, the next question is why you'd want Avatar of the Resolute at that point. If you already have five creatures with +1/+1 counters on them, wouldn't you be better off continuing to work on that advantage?


While this is not a card for every deck, it will work in more decks than you may realize. As each set comes out, more and more cards offer ways to add +1/+1 counters to your creatures. Ignoring cards that simply say, "target creature gets a +1/+1 counter," a short list of keyword abilities that involve putting +1/+1 counters on creatures include: bolster; evolve; reinforce; amplify; bloodthirst; graft; devour; undying; scavenge; and unleash. More and more, +1/+1 counters are making their way into your decks. You'll find yourself including these cards more and more.

There is definitely a benefit to having both vertical and horizontal strength in a game. Most players have ways to deal with one type or the other, but handling both happens less often. Forcing your opponents to deal with two different threatening scenarios is a delightful prospect.

Determined Dude and Friends

So what are some ways to maximize the Determined Dude? Personally, I think the Avatar works particularly well with a friend from Zendikar who continues to seek vengeance. Avenger of Zendikar brings many Plants with him, and all of them will get the +1/+1 counters Avatar of the Resolute asks for simply by playing a land. Avenger of Zendikar is a house all on its own, but it makes the Avatar of the Resolute a force that must be reckoned with.

Another card I like with Avatar is Sylvan Offering from the Commander (2014 Edition) set. Sylvan Offering provides a handful of Elves that are ready to get bigger on a moment's notice. White Sun's Zenith also does the trick, but I expect you'll be interested in the card that is the same color as the Avatar, as opposed to one that has three white mana in the casting cost. Although instant speed is a wonderful thing.

Ajani is a Planeswalker that is bound to be good friends with the Avatar of the Resolute. Ajani Steadfast and Ajani Goldmane can both give a +1/+1 counter to every creature you control, while Ajani, Mentor of Heroes can help out three creatures at a time.

Like many other cards with "enters the battlefield" abilities, Avatar of the Resolute pairs well with Deadeye Navigator. If you find yourself playing the Avatar early, you can pair it with the Navigator later on and flicker it when it can come back bigger and better than ever.

If you are looking for something a little more current, check out the bolster mechanic. Once you have a few 1/1 tokens on the battlefield, every time you bolster, you'll be giving +1/+1 counters to another creature you control. It shouldn't be too many turns before you are getting a 7/6 trampling creature for two green mana.

To give you a few ideas, check out this decklist for the Determined Dude:

Determined Dude

Download Arena Decklist

The list includes the Avenger of Zendikar and Sylvan Offering I've already mentioned; as well as Darien, King of Kjeldor. The King is a master recruiter for Soldiers and he can set up a base quickly. If things are getting out of hand, a large Martial Coup will wipe the board clean and leave several Soldiers behind.

I've included a few ways to add +1/+1 counters to the creatures in play. Mikaeus, the Lunarch taps to give your other creatures +1/+1 counters, creating a potentially huge Avatar of the Resolute very quickly. Daghatar the Adamant snatches extra +1/+1 counters off of one creature and puts it on one that needs it. Even better, Daghatar can take the counters your opponents are creating and give them to your creatures. Dromoka offers a significant bolster effect. My personal favorite is Forgotten Ancient. A multiplayer house, Forgotten Ancient builds counters at a breakneck speed, then lets you spread them around on your upkeep. Doubling Season with Forgotten Ancient will end games very quickly.

With Martial Coup and Sylvan Offering in the deck, we'll want ways to get plenty of mana quickly. Gyre Sage, with its evolve trigger, and Map the Wastes, with bolster, will ramp your mana base to give you plenty of mana while pumping the creatures you have on the battlefield.

Avatar of the Resolute doesn't need to have a deck built around it either. As soon as I can get a copy, it will be going into my Vorel of the Hull Clade deck. The deck tries to double token creatures and +1/+1 counters, so Avatar of the Resolute seems an easy fit in a deck that occasionally would like to see some early defense, along with another body that can threaten a quick finish.

The People's Vorel

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Vorel of the Hull Clade
99 Cards

Avatar of the Resolute promises to bring your counter decks to a new level of insanity!

Bruce Richard



[1] Horizontal strength implies that your strength lies in the fact that you have numerous creatures in play, generally smaller ones. With horizontal strength, you can attack profitably into a player with only one or two larger creatures. You’ll lose a couple of creatures, but still hit for significant damage. Vertical strength implies a single (or two) creature that can do significant damage all by itself. Fifteen token creatures is horizontal strength. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn offers vertical strength.

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