Aw, heck. Why waste your time with an extended intro? We all know
That's right, folks; now your creatures don't have protection from red. You do. Which means we finally get to answer the eternal question:
What does having protection feel like?
As a strong Vorthos player, I've always wanted to know. Was it, like, a big shield that hovered over you like an invisible umbrella? Or were you encased in a magical bubble wrap that boinged away any attempts to pour molten lava on your head? Or maybe it was a big, hard-to-put on suit of armor that clanked a lot and upset the wife when you walked around the house.
I can tell you, though, finally having experienced it, that having protection is like sliding on a set of warm pajamas, fresh out of the dryer. With a hint of mint. Mmmm, that's good stuff, baby.
Seriously, though, this is a pretty awesome card, and kudos to Wizards for printing it. Unfortunately, since "protection from X" is something that routinely confuses the heck out of new players (I know—I edited StarCityGames.com's "Ask The Judge" section for years, and eventually added it to our Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions), let's start off by discussing the things that Seht's Tiger cannot do:
It cannot save your creatures from mass destruction. Just because you’re safe from red damage sources does not mean that said protection extends to your creatures (any more than your Soltari Priest having protection from red keeps you safe from a Disintegrate to the head). So if someone plays a Volcano Hellion and targets your Akroma, Angel of Fury for 6 damage, Seht’s Tiger will not save your pretty little unmorphed angel from her inevitable tumble to the graveyard.
It cannot save you from non-targeted effects. A Blood Knight is safe from a Sunlance because “protection from white” means that you cannot target a creature with a white spell. Simple, right? Ah, but Wrath of God does not say “destroy target creature,” it says “destroy all creatures”! Thus, your Blood Knight’s protection does not prevent it from being destroyed. Likewise, there are many spells and effects that do not target players, but affect them nonetheless; Mindlash Sliver says that “each player” must discard a card, so Seht’s Tiger will not prevent the effect. (Mindstab or Haunting Hymn, however? They do say “target,” so Seht’ll keep your hand safe.)
It cannot save you from things that don’t target you, the player. Extirpate? That’s targeting a card in your graveyard, not you personally. So Seht’s Tiger cannot protect you!
It cannot do your laundry. Seht’s Tiger is a good card, but thanks to protection from colors, it never gets the whites separated.
It cannot do Sudoku puzzles. It’s a cat.
It may not pass “Go,” nor may it collect $200. It does, however, prefer to be the shoe.
BULLETIN FROM WIZARDS HEADQUARTERS
We're trying to get players excited about the new set here. Why are you spending all this time listing the ways that Seht's Tiger is insufficient? You're making the Tiger feel bad, and we can't afford that much kibble.
The Big Mucky-Mucks at Wizards
All right, all right! And the truth is that Seht's Tiger is a very good card (particularly in multiplayer). For it's got a pretty solid body at 3/3, and the whole "flash" thing is awesome. But the danger of Seht* is that beginning players who do not understand the rules may think it is a Swiss Army Knife of protection spells.... Whereas actually, it's a beautifully crafted dagger. It can do some things very, very well.
So let's talk about the things that Seht's Tiger can do!
- It can save you from a fatal alpha strike. Because when you have protection from a color, all sources of damage from that color are reduced to zero! Nothing! Nada! They do zip to you! So if someone’s attacking with his horde of Thallids and Saprolings, give yourself protection from green and you’re utterly safe!
It can put you in the catbird’s seat (heh) when choosing to block. “Ah ha,” says Mister Ugly Opponent. “I’m going to be mean and send my huge 9/7 Greater Gargadon at you, along with this handy pair of 2/2s! You only have one creature out, and you have to block my 9/7 or you will die, and… What? There’s a 3/3 there now to block one of my 2/2s? And since you now have protection from red, you can afford to let my Gargadon through to your face? And that means you can block my other 2/2 with your remaining guy, meaning that… Yeah, my offense just got obliterated. Dang!”
It can save you from silly combo decks that target you. “Hi, I have an infinite storm count. I think I’ll cast Tendrils of Agony, and now there are ten copies of it, each aimed straight at you…. Whuh? Protection from what? I can’t target who? Dang.”
It can counter spells with a single target. Cast that Corrupt at me? Fine. Now I have protection from black, so the spell fails and you gain no life. Sorry, sucka.
It can save you from spells that do damage to you. Squall Line does X damage to each creature and “each player,” which means it doesn’t target you. As mentioned before, protection won’t stop a spell from affecting you if it doesn’t target. But one of the cool things about “protection from a color” is that all damage from sources of that color is reduced to zero. So the Squall Line will do, say, 15 damage to everyone else and none to you, which means that you’re probably the last man standing.
It affects multicolored cards, too. Don’t forget; a green-black spell is both a green and a black spell, so protection from green will protect you from a Gleancrawler. Most of you probably know this, but what the heck.
In a pinch, it can be a surprise attacker. Don’t get greedy; sometimes, you just need a 3/3 body to finish someone off. Remember, you don’t always have to use the protection effect, and it’s perfectly okay to play it at someone else’s end of turn so that you can bum rush the show with your spanking-new Hill Giant.
It can cause any “enchant player” cards to fall off of you, sending them straight to the graveyard. Which sounds cool, but considering there’s a sum total of one enchant player and it’s a spell that you probably play (Paradox Haze), it’s not something that’s very useful…. Yet. Who knows what future spells are coming? (NOTE: Astute readers have noted that there is only one "enchant player" card, but another card enchants an "opponent," which Seht's Tiger would also cause to drop off were it attached to your face: that card is Psychic Possession. Still, the threat of Psychic Possession decks at this point in time is not so terrible that you're looking for an out.)
It’s a Cat. Cats are a cool creature type. Ask Selina Kyle.
It can save your place in a book. “That’s not very impressive, either, Ferrett,” you say. But merely by lodging Seht’s Tiger in between the two pages you last finished, you can open up a book and resume your reading at the point you left off! And you can do it at instant speed thanks to its flash!
(Oh, you may not think that last one is critical, but you try reading a lapbreaker like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell without a bookmark. But yeah, I acknowledge that's probably not going to win you many games.)
Still. What we have here is a solid catch-all combat trick. In the worst case, you've just spent to get a 3/3 and fizzle a single spell from an opponent. But in the best case, you've just stopped some combo player cold by preventing them from targeting you in the turn they go off, or you've just foiled someone's all-in attack, or you've just frozen a last-ditch Corrupt to your head.
Gosh, that sure sounds like a good card. If only there was some cheap way to return it to your hand again, to be reused at your leisure... Something that was... I dunno, maybe catlike....
BULLETIN FROM WIZARDS HEADQUARTERS
Whitemane Lion, you idiot. Here's a picture of it.
The Big Mucky-Mucks at Wizards
Ah yes! And what other cats might we combine with this to create a silly kitty deck? Hmm. We all know that Tribal is a pretty darned strong theme in creature-based multiplayer games (at least the ones that haven't been taken over by combo and endless mono-black decks), so you might try this:
The idea behind this deck is as simple as a kitty's mind: Generate a large and threatening army of kitties, protecting yourself when necessary with Seht's Tiger. When you're ready to explode, do an end-of-turn Congregation at Dawn for Raksha Golden Cub (hopefully with a Ronin Warclub out) and attack in with your large and very threatening kitties.
You could put in a Wrath of God, I suppose, but you don't need to fear global destruction; between your Penumbra Bobcats and your Arctic Nishobae, you get a benefit when your guys die (and you can save the ones you want with Whitemane).
Normally, the problem with this sort of deck is that while you're on the offense, you're going to be taking it in the shorts back home. There's no one left to block! But with Seht's Tiger, you now have a way of blunting those nasty attacks when people think you're vulnerable...
That's not the end of it, though; Seht's Tiger is an awe-inspiring combat trick that may be a little too expensive at four mana to make the grade in two-player Constructed... But in multiplayer, where you have a little more time to set up, and need to squeeze a little more bang for your buck?
Oh, I love my kitty. Pretty, pretty kitty.
For Those of You Who Care: An Explanation of Last Week's "Deck"
Many of you emailed me to note that Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker doesn't fit in the "Improved" Jack's deck from last week; since Heartless Hidetsugu and Kumano are both legendary, the only target for Kiki to copy is Hearth Kami—which is not, needless to say, a card you're going to win the game by duplicating.
The flaw lies in my deck "improvement" method; I cut-and-copied Jack's deck and then upped the quantities of some lines while deleting others. What was supposed to get deleted was the singleton Kiki-Jiki, while I changed the number of Jaya Ballard, Task Mage to 4. Instead, I accidentally deleted Jaya Ballard, and raised it to four Kiki-Jikis, thus creating a very bad deck... And worse, when I looked it over before I sent it, I saw Jaya Ballard, not Kiki.
My apologies for that. Stupid cut-n-paste.
* - The danger of Seht's Tiger for you, that is. For me, since I write a webcomic that features a lead character called "Seth," my danger is that I've written "Seth's Tiger" at least seventy times in the course of writing this column, and then had to go back and redo every one of them. Don't even get me started on "Faith's Fetters," which because of my name I still automatically type as "Faith's Ferretts."