Timmy, Power GamerTimmy, in case you're not familiar with Wizards' psycho-demographics, is the type of player who wants to swing with big men. Huge men. He gets off on gigantic power plays, adores his 13/13 islandhome guy, and likes it whenever he can use his Elvish Piper to plop a Scourge of Kher Ridges straight into play.
Timmy, as the saying goes, wants "all upside," and he's willing to pay mana through the nose for it. Other players will accept drawbacks in exchange for a guy they can play before turn five, but Timmy? Timmy is pure. Timmy doesn't want to have the fun of casting some splashy spell dampened by having to discard a card or limiting his options—Timmy wants the unalloyed pleasure of gigantic, board-swinging moves.
I am a Timmy.
Today's preview card makes me happy.
I'm not a total Timmy, of course; in the parlance of Mister Mark Rosewater, I am a Timmy / Spike. I want to win, and I'll try to make my decks as efficient as possible, but I want to win with flair and bone-crushing moves. You can tell what kind of a player someone is by the Magic stories they tell, and my stories always involve these crazy reversals where someone casts a spell at the right time that steals the whole game.
Today's card is a card that will give Timmy, perhaps, the best chance he's ever had to have the hugest guy he's ever had. And it's just Spike-ish enough that it could work.
Hamletback Goliath is one of those cards that scales extremely well to multiplayer games. The more people are playing creatures, the faster that durned Hamletback grows—and it's not just playing. The Goliath says "comes into play"—and since many multiplayer games involve an unfeasible number of tokens, that's even better. Suddenly, you're piggybacking on your opponents' spells, gaining power with each new dude who hits the field.
It's not unreasonable, given a single late-game turn in an eight-man multiplayer game, that you could have a 50/50 Hamletback Goliath to swing with frightful smashery!
Even the most desiccated of tournament players still feels that little first-pack trembling at the back of his knees when he thinks about a 50/50 guy. That's stupidly large. That's so gigantic it doesn't seem real.
But it could happen.
Imagine it! Every creature your opponents create makes your Hamletback larger! A few turns unhindered, and your Hamletback could be larger than both halves of a B.F.M.! This thing could be so large, it would be buried in counters! You'd have to use dice—and three dice at that, three fat ten-siders that go all the way up to 999!
Gargantuan combat-smashy maneuvers! Creatures so large they're silly!
What's not to love? Hamletback is made for multiplayer, and it shows. It's the kind of card that anyone who builds multiplayer-specific decks is going to at least experiment with.
The obvious downside, of course, is that Hamletback Goliath costs seven mana—which is a lot. But as some wag noted when Simic Sky Swallower arrived on the scene, "Seven is the new six," which is to say the top end of castable these days; the game has slowed a bit. And in multiplayer, which tends to be slower, you'll have more time to get to your men.
No, the cost isn't as big a drawback as you'd think (at least for the games that this Giant was designed for). Speaking as a quasi-Spike, the real deckbuilding issues with Hamletback Goliath are that he a) can be chump-blocked endlessly by a measly Drudge Skeletons, and b) since his only ability is the +1/+1 counters, he's vulnerable to a large number of "destroy" effects. (Thankfully, he starts out large, so he won't get popped by the first Lightning Bolt in hand.)
That's actually kind of a good thing, though, in some multiplayer metagames. People packing black destruction effects may look at the Hamletback and say, "Well, he's gigantic, but he doesn't trample—maybe I should hit something else." And blue stealy-players may let it live long enough to attempt to steal it.
- If you're worried about the cost, it shouldn't be too hard to build a Reanimator deck with Hamletback as one of the targets. Hamlet's an excellent target for a late-game Exhume (assuming nobody has a Nekrataal or the like in their graveyard), because he will see all of the other creatures coming into play at the same time and get the +1/+1 counters from them. Plus, assuming you do something tricky like Buried Alive for an Incarnation like Brawn (which gives Hamletback some much-needed trample), then we're doing fine. Let us not discuss the heights that your Hamletback will reach if something like Living End or Living Death resolves and several graveyards get dumped rudely onto the field....
- If you're worried about Hamletback getting chump-blocked ad infinitum, cards like Fling and can ensure that a very large Hamletback will do a very large amount of damage to someone's face.
- What's that? You don't want to sacrifice your Goliath to have it do damage? Oh, you are a Timmy. Well, how about pairing it with an Arena? Surely, the Hamletback will best anyone in the Arena.
- What's that? You don't want to pick off guys at end of turn with an Arena, you want to attack? Oh, surely you are the Timmiest Timmy of 'em all! Well, in that case, there are a ton of enchantments that give trample, from the classic Rancor (get a set of four today!) to Fists of Ironwood. Or you could just play with Baru, Fist of Krosa—or any Overrun effect, really...
- Since there will be many +1/+1 counters on a Hamletback, and since as we noted a Hamletback will be likely to attract, shall we say, attention, you might want to consider playing him with the Simic guild. Not only will a flying Hamletback courtesy of a Helium Squirter be more of a threat to everyone, but the protection a Plaxcaster Frogling provides will be essential. (Alternately, Sporeback Troll, but that's not as fun.)
- If you want to spread the love, the little-used Spike Cannibal can give you two large men (and one's immune from Terror effects). Giant Fan (from Unglued) and Power Conduit (from Mirrodin) also work, and Ion Storm can convert those counters into damage.
- You know what other seven-mana card would be hysterical with the Hamletback? Boldwyr Intimidator. You know your opponents' creatures are cowards, amiright? (Lovisa Coldeyes? Less fun, probably more efficient, but the Hamletback isn't a guy who benefits unduly from haste.)
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Hamletback Goliath is one of those cards that I know I'll be experimenting with—it's splashy, filled with potential, and heck of a lot of fun.
Next week's card is even better. It's gonna be a fun time for Timmies—and really, really good times for multiplayer!