Well, today's preview card is okay. I guess. I mean, it's not great. But, you know, if you like Serra Angel, and don't mind paying one more for an extra point of defense and general snowiness…well, then, you know, you might like this card.
It also does something with dead creatures; but since white isn't really that good at killing creatures, it's not that important to go over, is it?
Okay, in all seriousness. What a freaking fantastic card. A year from now, we're going to be able to count on one hand the number of sanctioned Limited tournament duels people lost after this thing showed up. And in four out of those five cases, it's going to be because the other player got another one out first.
Constructed worthiness is a topic for another, more interested soul. I will suggest that tourney jockeys will take a moment to think about this one, before deciding it's a smidge too expensive. But I hope I'm wrong, and that one or two Constructed environments can support a deck that uses it.
Let's go over a few rules issues:
- "Snow creatures" are creatures in every sense, and are affected by the same things that affect creatures unless explicitly noted on a given spell. So a snow creature is just like any other creature except, um, it's snowy. Those of you looking for more details on what it means to be snowy can read Rosewater's article from yesterday.
- Unlike most "graveyard recursion" cards, the Valkyrie can use its ability before the resurrected creature dies. In fact, it has to. You can target the desired creature with lethal combat damage on the stack; you can target it immediately after blockers are declared; you can target it after someone plays Terror on it; you can target it after someone plays Counterspell on that Terror (though I'm not sure why you'd want to). Whether you feel it's going to die or not, or whether you're right or not, makes no difference. You target while the other creature is still in play. Which brings us to the next tricky rule.
- If the Valkyrie's ability resolves after the creature is dead, you don't get the creature. Example – if my Ravenous Baloth runs into your Valkyrie, and lethal damage goes on the stack, and you target my Baloth with your Valkyrie, I can sack the Baloth in response to gain life and prevent you from resurrecting it.
- Two Valkyries may target each other. The rules text that refers to "Adarkar Valkyrie" applies only to the card itself, not to another card with the same name. (If it read "…target creature other than an Adarkar Valkyrie…", that would be different. Who knew articles were so important? I mean grammatical articles, not Magic articles. Though Magic articles are pretty darn important, too. After all, where else can you learn about both kinds of articles?)
- You will never get a Darksteel Colossus with something like this. Not even if it's your own. Cards that get shuffled into libraries instead of going to the graveyard are influenced by a replacement effect. They never went to the graveyard. So, the Valkyrie has no power over them. (However, she can probably keep resurrecting large chump blockers, which is much better than a full poke in the eye with a sharp colossus.)
- In multiplayer games, creatures require both an owner and a controller. So if you acquire a Serra Angel using the Adarkar Valkyrie, and then the owner of the Serra Angel dies, you will lose the Serra Angel.
Here are six random ideas out there for use with this card. "Random ideas?! Geez, the guy's not gonna think this through?" Folks, I can be this messy and it won't matter: the card is a freaking avalanche.
Random Idea #1: Pair with another Adarkar Valkyrie.
Since we just mentioned it in the rules section above, we might as well get this one right out of the way. How sick is this? While not quite invincible, having two Valkyries on the table just makes your opponents' jobs twice as hard. It also makes most mass removal virtually worthless, since you will be able to respond to a Wrath of God (or whatever) by tapping both Valkyries and having them target each other. Wrath of God resolves and then hey-lookee-here, they're both back in play. (You can also opt to bring back one Valkyrie and one other creature, or just two other creatures, if you can find a pair that's better than having two Adarkar Valkyries in front of you. I guess anything's possible.)
Random Idea #2: Fall in love with Goblin Flectomancer.
A less expensive way to protect your Valkyrie is the Flectomancer. The two play off each other nicely:
STEP ONE: Someone targets your Valkyrie with Terminate.
STEP TWO: You tap the Valkyrie in response, and she gives a promise to the Flectomancer: save me, and I'll save you.
STEP THREE: The goblin, lovestruck, flings himself into the graveyard and sends the Terminate somewhere else. (Of course, you can have the Valkyrie target the new destination of the Terminate, instead…but let's keep this a love story between a snow angel and a goblin with a freaky hat.)
STEP FOUR: The other creature, whatever it is, dies while the goblin comes back from the grave. He's immediately ready to save his love again, even if she doesn't have time to reciprocate.
While you're playing a Red-White-and-Blue deck (Happy Fourth of July, my fellow Americans!), you might as well throw the Lightning Angel in there as well, since she's a frequent target of spells and fits neatly in the mana curve between the Flectomancer and the Valkyrie.
Random Idea #3: Untap it with Seedborn Muse.
There are certainly other ways to untap creatures (please, don't email me all of them – I know untapping is good). This is the obvious frontrunner, since the Muse is already among the highest stars in the constellation of good multiplayer cards. I would imagine the most common use of the Valkyrie in the near future will be as yet another target in Tooth and Nail decks, to revive key creatures like the Muse and Akroma, Angel of Wrath. This sort of thing will be crawling all over the casual and multiplayer rooms of Magic Online. Be ready for it.
I would encourage players to be more creative than that. If the Muse and Valkyrie must be in the same deck, why not start a European mythology theme instead? You've already got Greek and Norse; it shouldn't take much to find icons from other places. It would still be a great deck, and it would certainly be more interesting to the people around you.
Random Idea #4: Give her rocket fuel for her wings.
During Akroma week, I talked about how haste is an underrated ability in multiplayer. It throws off opponents' math. What I didn't mention that week (since that angel has no abilities that require tapping) is that giving your creatures haste endows some fantastic multiplayer creatures with even more power.
Think of it this way. How many times have you played a decent creature with a tap ability – anything from Minister of Impediments to Avatar of Woe – only to see it get flamed out before you get to your next turn? Well, the Valkyrie is the same way. If you play her, you can expect your opponents to either (a) kill her quickly or (b) if she's too tough, kill another creature of yours before the Valkyrie can save it.
But if your creatures have haste (and I recommend either Anger, Lightning Greaves, Whip Sergeant, or Fires of Yavimaya as the four best solutions here), the Valkyrie can come out, swing for four in the air, and give your creatures a warm and fuzzy feeling right away. Haste is huge for her.
As a bonus, any creatures you resurrect with a tapping ability (yours or your opponents) can also have haste if you use any of those four suggestions, or any of a number of other cards.
Random Idea #5: Boost whatever your teammate is playing.
Is the Adarkar Valkyrie a good team format card? Oh yes it is.
Is it an absolutely stellar emperor format card? Absolutely.
Does it even matter if you coordinate decks with your teammates? Not really. Whatever they're playing is probably good to save, and whatever your opponents are playing can end up going to the graveyard very easily.
More than in other formats, it's probably important to make sure you pack enchantment/artifact removal, so that graveyard destruction strategies like Night Soil or Scrabbling Claws don't wreck your Valkyrieffic fun. You will also have to keep an eye out for Nezumi Graverobber, which can complicate the Valkyrie's work before he's flipped and compete with her afterward.
Random Idea #6: Play with your opponents' minds.
Stay home, Mr. Dragon
This has nothing to do with what cards you use with the Valkyrie, and everything to do with how you play her. Honestly, this is where I see the most potential. Imagine the following: you are in a three player game. One of your opponents has a huge creature – a Shivan Dragon, perhaps. Your other opponent has a snake token, but not much else. You have the Valkyrie – impressive at 4/5, but unlikely to warn off a dragon with its combat stats.
You've got a couple cards in hand and plenty of white (and/or red, and/or black) mana available. You're not showing anything else on the board that can stop a dragon…
…but you tap the Valkyrie, and target the dragon. Before it can even attack.
Then you sit there with a quiet smile on your face.
Folks, this is how dragons learn how to stay home. (Though I suppose it might try flying over that snake's head.)
I can't believe he forgot…!
- comes-into-play creatures (especially ones with echo!) like Keldon Champion;
- graft creatures like Helium Squirter;
- absolute freaking bombs like Rith, the Awakener;
- really super-cool creatures with elegant abilities, like next Tuesday's card preview;
- whatever else is roiling about your lovely, pointy little heads.
I can't believe it either. But do you know what's amazing? Sending me an email and telling me I forgot your favorite card… will actually make my memory worse. Strange but true. In fact, your brilliance will probably cause my mind to implode, and I don't have a Valkyrie handy to recreate it. So please save my brain, and post your idea to the message boards. Thank you.
Anthony Alongi has been playing various Magic formats for over eight years, and has been writing for much longer than that. He writes the JENNIFER SCALES book series with his wife, MaryJanice Davidson.