Eulogy for a Flyin' Lion

Posted in Serious Fun on July 8, 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.

Friends,

We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of a friend. Krond the Dawn-Clad was many things to many people, but to me, he'll always be the "Flyin' Lion." His golden coat, flowing in the wind. His massive paws. The ridiculous wingspan. You don't know exhilaration until you ride, blindfolded, on the back of an archon dropping a lion-sized doody from a thousand feet. Krond promised crazy adventures! Those promises brought us close together. We tried and tried to make it work, but it just never seemed to work out the way we thought it would. I blame myself for this failing. I brought us together with support and friends in a variety of ways, but it just never seemed to work.

Our last time out together looked something like this:

Krond—Clothes in a Bag

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This ragtag bunch managed to win some games, but nowhere near as many as a casual multiplayer deck should. This was my fault again. I mixed and matched the cards, hoping to get to experiment my way to a streamlined version that would allow Krond to shine, but it wasn't meant to be. Some cards were all-stars one game, then simply lousy the next. I was ready to pull Sigil of the Empty Throne after one game, then it earned a win all on its own the next time out. Krond was tired and things weren't looking good. Krond's coat had lost its luster for me. He was looking tired, scruffy, and bedraggled.

Then Theros came along. The promise of a block that would really focus on enchantments! All the Auras that would come over the next year! Perhaps these new cards would breathe a fresh spark into Krond! I knew he could be an all-star and Theros promised the tools to make it happen! Bestow could be just the thing Krond and his motley band of misfits needed to all come together! Krond perked up at the possibility of a fresh start. That backlit glow from the sun seemed to shine just a little brighter.

The first bunch of bestow cards I looked at were the straight-up power and toughness pumpers. Nyxborn Shieldmate and Eidolon of Countless Battles offer different levels of size boost. Boon Satyr does much the same, but it has flash, so the enchanting can be at instant speed. None of these were particularly helpful. Krond is already a 6/6 and doesn't really need much help in the size department. Making him a 10/8 sounds fun, but leaves him just as vulnerable to removal as he was before. Enchanting him at instant speed doesn't really do anything, since the bonus he gets for attacking while enchanted demands that he be enchanted before attacking. Not really a need for instant speed there.

Another problem was the cost. Getting an Aura that becomes a creature means that the cost of the Aura will be a little higher than it would for just the creature or just the Aura. Paying five mana to bestow a Boon Satyr or even four mana for Eidolon of Countless Battles would often mean using up a turn to cast Krond and another turn to enchant him. That's an awful lot of eggs in one basket. On the back of a lion. At one thousand feet. This is an egg-delivery system obviously fraught with peril.

The next bunch of bestow cards were the ones that offered a combat benefit in addition to a power and toughness boost. Observant Alseid offers +2/+2 and vigilance. Neither benefit means all that much to a 6/6 creature that already has vigilance. Nylea's Emissary offers +3/+3 and trample. I'm usually a fan of trample, but the Flyin' Lion flies. There really isn't much of a reason to add another level of evasion to a creature that already flies. And besides, Krond's ability goes off when it attacks, so whether it tramples over a 1/1 flier or not doesn't mean much. Krond can simply remove the potential blocker and do the damage. Trample gets to be repetitively redundant on a flier.

Celestial Archon offers a significant size increase and flying, neither of which are all that relevant for Krond. First strike is nice, but it shares the same limitation that I looked at with Nylea's Emissary. Giving a combat benefit is nice, but Krond gets his benefit when he attacks. He will likely be able to clear out any potential defending creature on his own, without first strike. This also applies for Ghostblade Eidolon. There are creatures out there that offer a benefit when they do combat damage. Ghostblade Eidolon and the double strike it offers are great in those situations, but unless you are running Krond as your commander and looking to win with commander damage, Ghostblade Eidolon just doesn't do enough. Hopeful Eidolon is more of the same. Getting lifelink is wonderful on a card like the Flyin' Lion, but it doesn't protect Krond. Paying four mana for that benefit is just too much.

The kind of bestow card Krond is looking for is something that protects it. Unfortunately, the only card that comes close to doing that in white or green is Heliod's Emissary. Tapping a creature an opponent controls can open the path for Krond to attack practically anyone, since few players will have more than two flying creatures back to block. While this is nice, as it offers some protection during combat, it really isn't what Krond is looking for.

After bestow I kept looking. Hero of Iroas provided a genuine boon to the deck, making Auras cost one less. This provides a benefit, but I'm not sure if it is enough. Most of the Auras are already inexpensive. Making them cost one less is more of a benefit for Auratog and the other creatures in the deck that want to see Auras cast and recast multiple times in a turn. I could see the Hero of Iroas working well in a deck with bestow creatures, but in this deck, with Krond, it falls just a little flat.

The card that I particularly liked for Krond was Gift of Immortality. This is exactly the sort of thing I wanted for Krond! It protects Krond, bringing him back whenever the Flyin' Lion dies, and both cards are back in play and ready to go on short notice. The only ways to deal with this is by exiling Krond or destroying the Gift of Immortality first, then Krond. If someone has to use two cards to solve the Krond puzzle I'd be okay with that. If someone is willing to sink two cards into dealing with Krond, when you consider some of the true terrors that show up in multiplayer games, then Krond must have been making someone's life miserable!

Given Theros block, I'd make these changes to the deck:

Krond—Clad in Sunset

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I basically just tightened up the options from the first deck, added four Temple of Plentys, and four Gift of Immortalitys. In spite of the new deck, a deck that is certainly better than the previous one, it is still time to lay Krond to rest. I tend to keep decks alive as long as they fulfill at least one of two requirements:

The first requirement is winning. This deck, even in its new format, is not a winner. The problem with the deck isn't really with the Auras. The problem with the deck lies in Krond himself. When a creature costs six mana, you want a 6/6 creature that does something amazing. Primeval Titan and Wurmcoil Engine come to mind. For Krond to do his thing, you need to add an Aura to the mix. Even when that happens, Krond needs to attack, and the result is an ability that isn't as dominant as Prime Time or Wurmcoil. You could replace Krond the Dawn-Clad with either of those cards in this deck and it would simply be a better deck.

The second requirement, the most important requirement, lies with fun. If the deck isn't fun, it is time to put it away. Krond promised giggles and glee when he flew at opponents, holding his Aura, that gave him magical strength to destroy opponents' permanents. I expected him to wreak havoc, the image of a Flyin' Lion ripping opponents to shreds. This looked like it could be a lot of fun. Instead, too many games were spent watching Krond die as I was enchanting him. This felt too much like that sad moment in your Disney movie. I don't want to watch deer, elephants, and lions die repeatedly. Too many games were spent waiting for the right opportunity to play Krond; the opportunity that never came. Too many games were spent going with Plan B: relying on support players to get the job done on their own. While this made for interesting games of strategy, why struggle to get full use out of just a portion of the decklist, when I could run a deck where every card carries its load? Playing a deck that ran as intended and was fun to play just made more sense than continuing to struggle with the Flyin' Lion.

Without wins or fun, it is time for Krond the Dawn-Clad to set into the sunset. Perhaps he'll reappear in another deck. Perhaps he'll play a supporting role in a future deck. For now, Krond will rest, and give others a chance to shine in the bright lights. I have this idea for a Bruna, Light of Alabaster deck I want to show you. Instead of paying to play enchantments, Bruna can put them directly onto the battlefield from your hand...

Bruce Richard

@manaburned

mtgseriousfun@gmail.com

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