Living Large

Posted in Serious Fun on March 27, 2007

By The Ferrett

Magnae clunes mihi placent, nec possum de hac re mentiri.
– Inscription found outside the walls of an ancient Latin games hall

Call me a chubby chaser, if you will. But I need the biggest girls to swing with.

It's not my fault, though; it's because of the games I play. See, in the kinds of casual games I swing in, a little 4/4 butt won't do it. Someone's gonna bust out a 6/6 or a 9/9 trampler, and at that point you'd better have someone who can go toe-to-toe with the biggest Godzilla in town.

And who doesn't want to? Who doesn't feel that shiver of delight when they whip out that Timmy-sized monstrosity and turn it sideways? Onslaught Block Constructed proved that even tournament players love to use the big dudes, when they can. Even if you're losing, you still feel that little happy thrill when you see your 8/8 dude take on a 12/12 guy.

Pull up a seat, my friend. There's a monster movie on the tube, and you're invited to watch Clash of the Titans.

Rock Hydra
] I'll bet that almost everyone remembers the first big guy they opened in a booster pack – mine was Rock Hydra, OMG, IT'S SO BIG! – and they secretly still wanna break it out. (G'wan, tell me what yours was in the forums. You know you're burning to share that first huge rare you opened, and how it worked out in real life. Believe it or not, I like hearing these tales.)

Fatties are one of the seminal experiences of Magic. Every new player wants to have the biggest guy... and so for Fatty Week, I wanted to list the Top 10 Fatties Ever. But there's a problem with that:

It wouldn't be that interesting.

You new players may not remember the bad old days, but there was a time when you couldn't play fatties in tournaments. The cards were too overpowered for their cost; the six-mana fattie you could bust out wasn't three times as powerful as someone's two-mana spell. The only way you could get to play with big men at your local Constructed tournament is if you cheated with something like Grim Monolith into Covetous Dragon.

The only place you saw the big dudes was in multiplayer. Which made multiplayer, at least for awhile, a kind of game preserve for ludicrously large animals.

Fortunately, Wizards learned their lesson and made fatties much more playable, while watering down the power of cards on the lower end of the mana curve. Now, everyone plays with huge dudes – you'll routinely see gigantic Angels and Dragons taking to the air at tournaments. Thus, to list the top fatties of all time would mean that, well, I'd be discussing a lot of the same cards that other people would be covering this week.

I mean, honestly. Akroma, Angel of Wrath? Man. She's the ultimate fattie, and so horrifically powerful that I kind of feel dirty mentioning her again. She's like that really popular band who everyone knows is good and she's on the radio all the damn time and on the cover of every magazine, and do you have to keep talking about her? Suffice it to say, it's hard to imagine more bang for your buck for eight mana, and for a brief time she single-handedly turned Condemn into a must-play card in Standard.

It wouldn't be a fun list to discuss the old favorites. And it wouldn't be right to list the best fatties of all time without giving at least some mention of, say, Angel of Despair's current (and much-deserved) popularity. But fortunately, I had a way around it.

Interestingly enough, since I'm a programmer and webmaster for, and has a handy-dandy deck database containing over 16,000 decks, I ran a query to find out what the most popular tourney fatties were. Taking my database for a spin, I found the most-played fatties (defined here as "creatures with both a power and toughness of at least 5") in all Standard, Legacy, Vintage, and Extended decks. The results were interesting:

Number of decks playedFatty Fat Fatty
1,082Darksteel Colossus
900Sundering Titan
659Eternal Dragon
642Akroma, Angel of Wrath
580(Name omitted)
349Keiga, the Tide Star
317Yosei, the Morning Star
304 Visara the Dreadful
258Angel of Despair
254Phyrexian Negator

Oh, so these are the cards that everyone knows are good! And it's certainly no challenge to see why; Darksteel Colossus is so powerful (especially when blazed out on the third turn with Tinker) that people have written whole articles on how to destroy him. It's a little easier in Vintage, where you have access to Swords to Plowshares, but still. He's a nasty one...

Likewise, Sundering Titan is especially popular is Vintage, where everyone plays with lots of non-basic lands and thus Tinkering a Titan out early is often Game Over, man, Game Over. Eternal Dragon? Well, it gets you endless Plains, and it flies for a lot, and it was heavily popular in Onslaught Block's White and White-Red Control Decks.

I've mentioned Akroma already. And the next card, I'm omitting, because, well... It's a card that gets even better in multiplayer, so I'm gonna put it on the multiplayer list anyway. Just keep reading.

Keiga and Yosei are both dragons with solid leaves-play abilities, and they're great in controllish decks. No wonder tourney players love 'em; when you have one opponent, they decimate him. While Keiga makes the cut in multiplayer, where barring an untimely Wrath you're always going to get something good, Yosei sadly doesn't quite expand to deal with three or more opponents.

Visara kills things. So does Angel of Despair, a relative newcomer who's shot up the charts with the quickness; she's really only in Standard decks and some in Extended, but look at how many of them she's in these days! And we wrap up with the once-quite good Phyrexian Negator, which used to be a staple in Suicide Black builds that would power out a Negator on the first turn with the no-longer-printed Dark Ritual and hope to God the opponent didn't have burn (though sacrificing Sarcomancy was usually not a horrific problem).

Now. What's left over are the cards that aren't quite as popular – our table has a lot of Keigas and Akromae smashing face (and there seems to be some overlap here between Fatty Week and Angel Week and Dragon Week, but what the heck), but those are cards you might see down at your local Constructed event. What we want is to find the best multiplayer-specific guys.

Which I will do. With one exception. And so, may I present to you...

Top 10 Multiplayer Fatties That Aren't Tournament Staples, Except For One That's So Crazy It Had To Be On There!

Krosan Cloudscraper
10. Krosan Cloudscraper

This gets the nod over Krosan Colossus only because it's bigger, but both will do fine because both have morph, making them handy if you draw them early on in the game. Though the Cloudscraper is a generic 13/13 dude with an upkeep cost, it can be quite nice in the right decks because a) it's a Beast, and b) it thus has amazing synergy with Contested Cliffs. As witness this rough skeleton of a deck, which different players keep bringing to our table because, well, it's just that fun to play:

Cliff Divers

Download Arena Decklist

Get used to this phrase: "At the end of turn, Contested Cliffs your creature." Contested Cliffs turns any large beast into a multi-cannon, shooting everyone else with abandon.

But because Contested Cliffs seems to confuse everybody, as does morph, two things you should know:

  1. Damage does not go "on the stack" the way that it does during combat with Contested Cliffs. Once Contested Cliffs' effect pops off the stack and resolves, thanks to that ever-present bugaboo "priority," your creature will die before you have a chance to save it with a spell or an effect. Play all Healing Salves and Giant Growths before Contested Cliffs resolves.
  2. A morph creature flipping over does not trigger "comes into play" effects. Thus, if you flip over a Krosan Cloudscraper, you don't get to draw a card with Wirewood Savage. Isn't having a 13/13 guy enough, though? Sheesh.

Also, if you're playing this deck, keep a close eye on everyone else's creature types if you have a Savage out. There are a lot of Beasts out there, and a lot of them are "stealth Beasts" – hey, I wouldn't think that Aquamoeba or Fledgling Mawcor was a Beast, but they are, so draw your card.

9. Spiritmonger

Spiritmonger is one of those cards that feels like it should be more powerful than it is. I mean, it's absolutely gigantic for its cost, and it's hard to kill. That makes it a huge threat.

The problem is that it has no evasion, which is what kept it off the top tournament decks at the time. It made an appearance in some Rock decks when Extended rolled around, but when you have an ever-growing 6/6 that can be chumped endlessly by a regenerator, that's a problem.

But it doesn't take much to make Spiritmonger a ruthless madman – and because he's so cost-efficient, you'll have the mana left over to protect him. I personally prefer my 'Mongers to be wielding Loxodon Warhammers for maximum carnage (and the biggest life swings), but you might try old favorites like Rancor or Fists of Ironwood or O-Naginata or Gruul Warplow or.... You get the picture.

Sol'Kanar the Swamp King
8. Sol'Kanar the Swamp King

Hard to cast? Absolutely! Bang for your buck? Sure!

Yeah, getting three different mana on turn five is difficult for a lot of decks, especially when none of those colors involve the word "green." But the advantage of being at a multiplayer table is that someone invariably has a Swamp, because someone else is playing black. And then you not only have an unblockable beatstick, but you have a tiny source of life whenever he tries to kill your guy.

Plus, come on. He's Sol'kanar. People go nuts for Sol'kanar. There are guys with Sol'kanar tattoos, and why the heck not? That may be one of the best illustrations of a complete badass out there in Magic (barring, of course, the frightening and alien Dakkon Blackblade).

One of the joys of fatties is that you want to feel like you're sending something huge and massive at your opponent's head to get that Vorthos rush of, "Ah, my minions are pounding the castle gates!" Look at that crazy expression. That club made of, what.... Teeth?

Now that's a minion, baby. You're not cowering from this nut in a darkened alleyway; no, he's working for you. And that is the miracle of the fatty.

7. Gleancrawler

Dredge decks are very popular in our neck of the woods – and why not? Not only did we have a whole set devoted to the green-black megastuff, so the cards are freely available, but if you can dip back you can get access to other potent cards from Invasion, like Pernicious Deed!

The thing about Gleancrawler is that you almost never want to attack with it. Yeah, it's a 6/6 monstrosity, but the coolness of Gleancrawler is that it brings everything else back. You don't need to smash face with it yet; recur that Endrek Sahr a few times to play some big spells (and get massive numbers of tokens in the process)! Chomp some guys with that Drooling Groodion! Draw some cards with Grave-Shell Scarab! Stockpile your hand for the inevitable exhaustion of your opponents.

The reason Dredge works so well is that you can reuse your cards; whereas your opponent plays his guy once and it's gone for the rest of the game, your guys come back. So re-use the ones you have, fetch 'em back with that big, slick wall of yours, and when their hand is empty and they have nothing else, then attack.

It's all good. Trust me.

Avatar of Woe
6. Avatar of Woe

Sure, Visara's good in duels, where paying six mana for something that kills anything is a bargain. But multiplayer battles tend to be charnel house of destruction, with guys hitting the bin right and left – in a five-player game, surely you'll be able to get an Avatar at its oh-so-discounted cost....

...The trick is, of course, that you're not going to get the Avatar out on turn four. Ain't gonna happen. Don't try for it. The benefit of Avatar with a full graveyard is that you can play it for cheap and have the mana left over to do other stuff. Playing a white-black deck? You'll have some white mana left over to Momentary Blink her out against the inevitable destruction that will be aimed at her head! How about blue-black? Yes, you can play this and Cancel that!

Once she's on the board, of course, she is walking devastation. In fact, she's so devastating that she rarely survives, which is the interesting thing about power; the better the creature, the less likely it is to survive in the long run. But that's a topic for another time....

Forgotten Ancient
5. Forgotten Ancient

Okay, I'm cheating here... Kinda. Because Forgotten Ancient isn't technically a fatty. It starts out as a meager 0/3 – just out of Lightning Bolt range (because you can put a +1/+1 counter on it in response) – but if you're playing with any number of people at all, there will be other spells played, at which point it rapidly swells to become something larger than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

He's not a fatty by nature, but I will say that he has definite signs of weight gain. Left to his own devices, he'll swell to Galactus-sized proportions.

But if that was all he did, fine. You could dismiss him (or, perhaps, Dismiss him – or even Terror him). But it's that ability to make all of your other guys larger that makes him a force to be reckoned with. Suddenly, your meager 1/1 is a 4/4 permanently.

Forgotten Ancient was decent in Scourge (when you designed him), but ever since then he's been overshadowed by larger and flashier guys. But honestly, with the advent of these cool new Simic creatures, there's nothing better than combining a Forgotten Ancient with, say, an Assault Zeppelid or a Cytoplast Root-Kin or a Cytospawn Shambler to make the game absolutely nuts.

You know what's really mean? Forgotten Ancient and Triskelion. Oh, don't even think about it. And if you were to think about combining that with, say, Doubling Season, then things would get awful. Especially since you're playing blue, and will no doubt be packing permission of some sort.

Best not to think about it. It's too evil. Really.

Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
4. Multani, Maro-Sorcerer

The problem with Multani, like Spiritmonger, is that it can be chump-blocked. But whereas the meager Spiritmonger arrives as a paltry 6/6 – and 6/6 can be paltry next to all these titanic Beasts and Forgotten Ancients – Multani shows up as a frickin' titan. If you're playing with four or more players, he's going to do enough damage to take people out in one shot.

Are you playing with Mister Blue "I Counter Everything" Guy? You can punish him quite nicely for playing those near-creatureless decks; just pop this guy out when Mister Blue is tapped out, and then watch him panic as he can't target it. And then he falls the next turn.

(Unless he has Dominate, of course. Or Bribery. Razzinfrazzin game with an answer to everything....)

Multani is one of those creatures that scales very well, becoming psychotically dominant in the early game (especially if you cheat and pop him out with something like Natural Order, as I do). He may not trample, but this is green; I'm sure you have ways of giving trample to everything, or perhaps you'll just use him as a nigh-unkillable blocker. I myself am inordinately fond of the Incarnations. Brawn seems pretty nifty right about now....

Crater Hellion
3. Crater Hellion

If you're gonna have a 6/6, you wanna clear the path for it. And at twelve mana over two turns it's a bit pricey... But slamming a Hellion down on the table has won the game for me more than a few times, punishing opponents for overcommitting by wiping out their armies of small men.

The best Crater Hellion play I ever had?

First turn with my new Crater Hellion:

"Because I have Anger in the graveyard, I wipe out all of your guys and then attack you for 6. You, take 4 thanks to this Stuffy Doll."

Second turn with my new Crater Hellion:

"I'll pay the echo cost and attack again. Take another point from my Stuffy Doll."

Third Turn With my not-quite-so-new Crater Hellion:

"I'll Clone my Crater Hellion, wiping out the few blockers the other guy has played, and kill you, Josh, with the damage to the Stuffy Doll plus a point of pinging. Thanks to Anger, I'll swing now for 12 damage, doing the final 6 points of damage to you and putting you at 3 life. Lightning Bolt. GG."

Don't get me wrong; in a pinch, I'd definitely use Volcanic Hellion, since that is one awesome card (especially if you can bounce it). It's not a bad substitute at all. But while Volcanic Hellion hits one guy, the mighty Crater hits 'em all.

Verdant Force
2. Verdant Force

Famed writer Jamie Wakefield called this "The Greatest Fatty of All Time," and he would have been right except the fact that the next card – the #1 card, mind you – was printed. And, like Multani and Spiritmonger before him, the Verdant Force doesn't have trample. It doesn't fly. It doesn't do anything good.

Except that it provides you with a never-ending stream of attackers and blockers. One for every upkeep, from anyone.

In a six-player game, this can get rapidly out of hand. And while you're not likely to destroy people with a horde of 1/1s, you can put those guys to interesting use. I've seen multiplayer Glare of Subdual decks, Verdant Force/Overrun decks, Skullclamp-based Verdant Force decks, black-green "sacrifice a guy for some hideous effect" Verdant Force-based decks abusing Recurring Nightmare....

There are a lot of uses for Verdant Force, and for seven mana he's cheap for his effect in a large game. If you need a stream of chump-blockers, he's yours. Heck, I once played a game where I Last-Ditch Efforted someone out of the game.

Remember, the Force is with you. But alas.... The Dark Side is stronger.

Kokusho, the Evening Star
1. Kokusho, the Evening Star

Oh, you groan at seeing this here... At least those of you who know its power already. "I'm sick of Kokusho," you say. "It's the fifth most popular card in Constructed, for God's sake," you say. "Can't you let it rest?"

But that's just a sign of its sheer power. Of course you're going to see it! It's flat-out buh-roken in multiplayer! I mean, Kokusho alone is a 5/5 flier, which isn't too shabby on its own. But it's what happens when it dies that's of interest.

That's right, my friends: Kokusho is the most suicidal dragon in the whole world.

Other creatures hang on to life by their fingertips, clawing and scratching for every ounce of life they can get. Even the ones with fading don't go quietly into that good night; they hold on until that last counter has been plucked off of their body, and then they quietly expire.

But the minute Kokusho hits the field, it's a race to see how quickly you can get him to die. He makes suicidal charges into ludicrous trade-offs, encourages awful blocks, inspires Damnations with a smile. In a pinch, he looks at himself in the mirror and quietly kicks off with a smile, knowing that his best trick is best done on the way to the graveyard.

Oh, Kokusho. We're bitter when we don't have you, and envious when we do. It's tough to compete with you, because you're not really a fatty; you're a combo walking in a big 5/5 body, ready to go off at a moment's notice.

We hate you. But we love you. Oh, Kokusho.

(To the rhythm of "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys:)

Off a four and two Bs
There's a beast called Kokusho
That's who you wanna get to yank all the life when he falls

Bodies in the yard
Another dragon in your hand
We'll be sucking life hard
To the whines of all your friends
Down goes Kokusho

Arashi? Golgari? No need for Multani
Balduvian? Ojanen? We don't need those weak men
Draco? Living Inferno? Baby, why don't we go
And use Kokusho

Ooo I wanna take you down, oh Kokusho
We'll get there fast
And then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down with Kokusho

(Thankew! I'll be here all week! Well, actually, just Tuesday. But it'll feel like all week.)

And two extra-special lists!

The Crappiest Fatties of All Time

5. Taniwha
I'm sure someone can do something creative with its drawback. The rest of us can marvel at the way it takes our land away from us.

Veldrane of Sengir
4. Lichenthrope
An interesting way to try to create a creature that regenerates from combat... But it's still not very good.

3. Skyshroud Behemoth
Yes, I would like a fatty that dies really quickly. And I can't block with him the first turn. And he costs as much as Verdant Force. And he has no trample. There's literally no end to the things this guy can't do!

2. Chaos Lord
You know what's fun? Counting everyone's permanents constantly in an eight-man game. That happened to me. Once. Then we buried the body somewhere out in the mountains.

1. Veldrane of Sengir
I pay how much to get forestwalk?

The Coolest Fatties With Drawbacks That Render Them Almost Useless For Play, But We Love Them Anyway Because Wow, They're Flavorful

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