Swing and a Hit

Posted in Serious Fun on February 8, 2011

If the rumbling stampede of creatures didn't tip you off already perhaps the piercing burst of voice should: it's Battle Cry Week here, celebrating one of the newest mechanics to join Magic. In the face of the enemy, Mirrans charge forward and attack!

Of course, with just seven cards to work with it's a less-than-tricky proposition. Since the answer to "How many ways are there to let loose a battle cry?" is pretty dull, the question then naturally becomes "How much fun can we really have with these guys?"
Answer: more than you'd suspect.

    Whiskey Tango

Let's be honest: battle cry wants bodies. Bigger, smaller, numerous, or a handful all work as descriptors here. At a Sunday Prerelease for Mirrodin Besieged I opened the following battle cry creatures in a Mirran Sealed pool:

And if you read last week's Prerelease recap trust me, I can hear the mutterings of "lucksack" from over here.

But what I mean to highlight here is that I had more than ample opportunity to experience what battle cry could do from almost every member representative. While a sealed deck might be suggestive of a potential final form, I'll cut right to the chase:

Bizzaro Zerg Rush

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Yes, yes, putting Flayer Husk into a "Mirran deck" is a little duplicitous but hear me out first. The goal of this deck is as straightforward as battle cry: make dudes and come swinging! Just about everything in here is or basically counts as creatures.

Raise the Alarm, and the more modern take Master's Call, provide some end of turn creature plopping with Icatian Crier giving the same effect for extra lands, spells, or whatever else is in hand along the way. Fellow magical goodies creator Hero of Bladehold is the two-in-one package, overflowing with the urge to come tapping with a few friends to every combat party.

Accorder Paladin and Signal Pest are quick to the call, and a lonesome Loxodon Partisan can come along if the game is taking longer. The remaining head scratchers can be explained quite simply:

  • Leonin Relic-Warder benefits from battle cry but can remove a pesky artifact or enchantment.
  • Strider Harness lets us drop a battle cry body and swing immediately.
  • Martial Coup is a way to clear the board or just make tokens, or both, when it comes up.
  • Flayer Husk serves as an early creature but can continue to buff later in the game.

Ideally, our Crier would pound out some extra Citizen tokens every turn as we send a continuous stream of battle cry boosted beaters across the board. Extra lands or spells you can't cast are pretty sweet when each of them becomes an additional Raise the Alarm.

Of course, feel free to shape this kind of deck any way you'd like. Glorious Anthem, Honor of the Pure, or True Conviction can fit in nicely, with more explosive effects like Celestial Crusader or Fortify leading to slightly different routes of attack.

You can even completely change color.

The Red Revolution

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While it may not be as swift as its white cousin it makes up for it with the hilarious-for-you-alone Wave of Indifference. As your army of little green (red) men builds up, your opponents will be sure to take notice as well. The Wave ensures that when the time comes they won't have a choice about caring. And since we're creature type focused here, Slate of Ancestry can also let you "preload" your hand full again before pulling the trigger on going to battle.

Everflowing Chalice may seem like an innocuous addition but the bonus mana that one, two, or more counters on it would provide helps fuel some of the sneakier shenanigans: Warbreak Trumpeter can turn over at an end of turn to flood a few more friends to the battlefield. Empowering the growth potential of Goblin Warrens serves a similar purpose. Goblin Offensive? I'm sure your opponent will think so too.

And while Hero of Oxid Ridge isn't a Goblin, it's certainly one at heart. After flipping, dumping, or "producing" a surplus of the little ones, our Hero comes to the rescue to give them a 1-power salute. It's villainy for your opponent at its finest.

    Check Under (and Over) the Sea

Decks that deliver a firm message (a punch square to the jaw) can be fun, sometimes you do want a little different approach. A feint before the hook, so to say. Battle cry can be just the kind of kick an opponent wouldn't be expecting.

How? Like this:

Cured Global Warming

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It's a little shaky but I'm sure some of you out there can nudge this where it should go. The goal is pretty simple: be sneaky. Not actually, as once your friends see the surprise they'll be a little wiser, but at least a little sneakiness is vital here.

We have just one battle cry creature: three copies of Signal Pest. Trinket Mage can grab up our little friend if needed but instead we should be mana-ramping. Benthicore and Sharding Sphinx can help us make a few tokens, and the long forgotten Spiny Starfish is actually the perfect creature: it gums up the ground while giving us tokens for doing so.

A handful of countermagic that also make creatures, Summoner's Bane and Repel Intruders, are paired with other blue staples in Preordain and Rite of Replication. The sneakiness comes when we stumble into Leyline of Anticipation (or find it in our opening hand). Once we've amassed a token army, at the end of an opponent's turn we can flash in Trinket Mage for Signal Pest (or just cast a Pest we've been holding) and let the ringing of "Boosh!" commence!

Pro Tip: For added hilarity, ask your friends to use Forbidden Orchard in their decks. Signal Pest will be the last thing on their minds seeing a blue deck.

And if that makes you green with envy you may want to try a different approach:

The Danger Zone

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Sit back. Relax. Play it cool. Then drop a turn that ends in "Ka-kow!" upon your unsuspecting friends. Aside from our requisite battle cry keyworded creatures, Accorder Paladin and Signal Pest, all our other creatures help us fill our hand with more. As we cast our creatures we'll want to run a Crop Rotation or two to grab one of our handy lands:

The real trick is to delay and hide the smaller creatures in our hand until we can go grab an Aluren: slipping several battle cry bodies, or a Squadron Hawk or three, right before we want to launch an all-out assault is pretty slick. And if we can get Concordant Crossroads onto the battlefield first we can even do this during our own turn!

Looks like we had it the whole time! Ka-kow!

    I'm Helping! I'm Helping!

While these were just my takes on getting battle cry to hit home hard, there are more than a handful of others cards and effects you might want to consider.

If making tokens is your bag then these two spells are right up your alley. Decree of Justice gives you 1/1 white Soldier tokens, and a card, or 4/4 white flying Angel tokens, while the White Sun's Zenith offers the compromise of 2/2 white Cat tokens. The fact that you can cycle Decree of Justice or just cast White Sun's Zenith at the end of a turn for surprise is especially appealing.

Since white and red (with one artifact) is where all the battle cry action is at, the lords of Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran and Balefire Liege offer a sweet chance to play all of battle cry together. Agrus Kos triggers the same way as battle cry so there's no confusion there. Balefire Liege gives nearly anything you'd pair on color a sturdy power and toughness boost. For bonus points you can play Rise of the Hobgoblins or Goblin Trenches too.

Aggression will ensue.

Striking hard and fast is pretty sound with battle cry. Striking harder may be the order of the day. If you're going down the route of using a lot of creatures that share creature types, Coat of Arms will make a much bigger bump along the way. Beastmaster Ascension is something that certainly likes to see your creatures turn sideways; why not add another layer of "I'm definitely coming swinging!" to the mix?

If striking harder is exciting perhaps striking faster is. Knighthood, Chieftain en-Dal, and Bloodmark Mentor can boost your creatures with first strike, adding a keyword that works quite well with power bumps. And while Bloodmark Mentor and Chieftain en-Dal may only provide the bonus conditionally, each is also a creature, and benefits from battle cry! The buddy system works!

Want to turn your battle cry up a notch? Dolmen Gate ensures that whatever your creatures in battle run into, even vile Phyrexian invaders, you'll come out with what went in. Márton Stromgald is an oldie but, as you can see, makes battle cry looks like child's play.

You may only get one swing out of him but what a swing it is!

    Stopped Short

As someone who reflects fondly on bashing with tokens, battle cry is something I can really get behind. I hope that some of you, too, think battle cry is worth shouting about. If you have a clever, cool, or creative use for yelling out by all means, email it over or send it off in the message boards!

Join us next week when I get persecuted. Really.

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