I hate this card. I think it represents all the worst of recent Magic design. Maybe it’s not the worst design ever, but hyperbole and Top Ten Lists bring readers! Are here you are! Aren’t you sweet. Here’s the sour grapes you ordered!
10 – Garth interacts with multiple Reserved List cards. Black Lotus and Braingeyser are supposed to be locked in the vault. But if you hate the RL, and want cards like this to be freed, you probably don’t care. One thing they do point out, so long as we have the RL, is how absurdly expensive this game is, and how difficult it is for the average person to consider it as a hobby.
9 – Garth creates yet another ‘other’ space, or sideboard. Sideboards, Wishboards, Exile, The Command Zone, and now, the Garthboard. Of course the Garthboard is optional, but if you’re playing with this card in paper, are you seriously not going to have a pile of proxies at the very least? Or is that potato chip your Black Lotus? Additionally, if you want accurate representations of these ‘cards’ to play with, you’re very limited. Having accurate reps of tokens and other things you might get into play is usually a good idea since Comman… I mean Modern is a complicated game and having a pile of ‘Copy’ tokens is a recipe for confusion. But with Garth, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have to proxy out Black Lotus and Braingeyser, because they’re absurdly expensive. If a game requires you to go out and make your own pieces for some stupid reason like this, it’s a fail.
8 – Garth is a 5/5 human wizard. This has to stop. A Shivan Dragon is also 5/5.
7 – Garth copies permanent spells. This is still a new ability, and while it’s not so likely to be broken in Modern, it is a massive pain in the City of Ass waiting to happen. It’s really confusing just on the cast/copy song and dance, but also on how the copies work once they resolve. Are the new spells tokens, cards, or something else? Judge! Oh wait, I’m at my kitchen table. I guess I better consult the online manual for my 2.5″ x 3.5″ game card.
6 – Garth casts the copies. One of the big saving graces of copied spells is that the copies are normally not cast. Ugh, what a sentence. Basically, obnoxious mistake mechanics like Storm count spells that have been ‘cast’. Prowess, too, is a powerful ability that has been big in nearly every format, where a creature like Monastery Swiftspear gets a sweet buff with casts. These mechanics might get out of hand if they counted spell copies that weren’t cast. And there are thousands of potential loopholes to help make massive quagmires of spells and copies that will encourage entire tables to quit in disgust. How soon until a combo is found that makes this card even more reviled? Also, slippery slope on cast copies, Wizards.
5 – Garth cannot reasonably be played without Oracle. Forget all the cast/copy jive, can you tell me exactly what Terror does? Are you sure? Can it target Black and Artifact creatures or is it just unable to destroy them? Was ‘buried’ carried on through the post-revised versions of the card? Can regeneration be activated in response, and is it cancelled by a timestamp if so? Do you have to check? If you did, that’s a fail, Garth. I had to check, because I remember having several different copies of Terror throughout my Magic playtime. Of course veterans and pros and Judges will shrug off knowing the ins and outs of the six additional bonus cards, but how much rules lawyering do you want to do on the kitchen table with your friends?
4 – Garth’s stack interaction is really confusing. Garth’s tap ability is an instant-speed activation that puts the ability on the stack to create a copy, then cast that copy, of 4 different kinds of spells, at 2 different speeds. Stack ninjas will have no problem. Most of the time it will probably be fine, but this is Magic. How complicated do you want to make it to cast a Disenchant?
3 – Garth works best online, with a computer doing all the stack work for you. Why is that an issue? I’ve heard clicking madly on MTGO sucks, but how about that Garth will not be available on the primary, flagship Magic interface that Wizards has been pushing since it incepted? That’s Arena. Maybe this will enter the Historic pool at some point, but will anyone care by then?
2 – Garth may not have a very good payoff. It’s very possible that your only option to win the game with this card is making an 11 mana Shivan Dragon. Providing you didn’t also pay some Commander tax.
1 – Garth seems almost unplayable in Modern. Imagine being an enfranchised Modern player cracking packs of MoHo2. Oh a sweet Mythic! Oh, but it’s designed for the casual format that isn’t the one displayed on the box. And it’s likely bulk. Thanks Wizards! Garth is several cards (7 at least) worth of text masquerading as a fun Vorthos Commander… in a set that is billed as pushing the Horizons of Modern. This is one of the rare releases of the year that doesn’t have a Commander product tied to it in some way, and yet, here we are in a Mythic slot. What Modern deck wants this? What decks can cast it? Why would you reanimate this over something like Griselbrand? Does humans want it…? As a one-of…? So you can flash it in with Aether Vial and then cast a sweet Regrowth or something the next turn? I’m baffled. If this wasn’t in Commander Legends because it’s been designed in totality since, I’m really scared.
Boo Garth. But not Garth, just Garth’s specs and text. What about Garth the character?
I read the book Garth’s from (Arena) when it was new back in the day, and I don’t know if Magic would want it to represent them now. But it was still a pretty cool book, if you can get past the adolescent male perspective on women. The Magic parts were exciting, and it represented the cards and the spells and creatures on them well. There was even a sweet climactic scene, where Garth has won the biggest tournament on his plane, and claims his prize – dueling the local Planeswalker. Garth pulls out a big surprise. I don’t know if it was ever mentioned by name, but it was Word of Command, and he casts something from the PW’s vast library of available spells. Then he literally rides off into the sunset with a Benalish Hero.
The most recent spoilers have stopped my enthusiasm for this set in my tracks. Garth here, more 3 mana PWs with walls of text and static abilities, and squirrels. I like real squirrels, and have no issue with magic producing a cutesy creature for those that like them, but the squirrels so far are reskinned elves. They’re also Golgari, like many recent elves. Even having a base 0/1 power and toughness or being green and red would be something. A slightly different base to build on.
Of course the underlying complaint here is not that some cards suck because design, but that Hasbro has stepped on the production gas pedal when it comes to Magic, and there’s no way any collection of Earth-minds can be up to designing what they want to vomit forth without stretching the product thin and making some glaring holes. I’m tired of ‘something something stockholders,’ in every facet of that inference, but that’s driving the game right now. It sucks to watch a game you love just keep tightening and tightening the vise on their golden goose, but a few games with good friends and you can at least ignore the frantic desperate honking.
Thanks for reading!