Today on Gemstone Mining, we’re going to take a trip to Valor’s Reach stadium and the world of Battlebond! This set was released with a set of very valuable reprints and a cycle of dual lands that are in high demand, but the other cards in the set fell by the wayside because they weren’t played in any competitive formats. Our gemstone Generous Patron is an Elf Advisor that seems to encourage giving away +1/+1 counters to other players’ creatures, but a more insidious plan is possible if we look a little deeper…
Sharing is Caring
When Generous Patron enters the battlefield, we get to put a +1/+1 counter on up to two other creatures. That isn’t an incredible value, but it’s not bad considering this is a 1/4 creature for three mana. If we control two other creatures, this card adds six toughness and three power to the battlefield for just three mana. All this is to say that if we were playing a totally fair game of Magic, this card would be a decent value. But we’re not here to play fair Magic!
Generous Patron‘s second ability is what really gets the ball rolling for us. Whenever we put one or more counters on a creature we don’t control, we get to draw a card. For example, if we used the Patron’s first ability to put a counter on two creatures our opponents control, we will draw two cards. Making our opponents’ creatures bigger is not usually a good idea, but giving a single counter to draw a card is almost always going to be advantageous for us.
The sneaky thing about Generous Patron is that its card-drawing ability does not specify a type of counter. No matter what the counters are, if we put them onto an opponent’s creature, we get to draw a card. That means we can hurt our opponents’ creatures with counters, and our Patron will keep our hand full so we can keep up the pressure.
Very Mean Gifts
Archfiend of Ifnir is a very powerful card in any circumstance. It has a large flying body, it has a powerful triggered ability, and we can cycle it if we can’t cast it or we need to find something else. Combined with Generous Patron, this Demon gets elevated to a new level of powerful! Every time we discard a card, the Archfiend will put a -1/-1 counter on each creature our opponents control. Generous Patron will then trigger for each creature we put those counters on, and we will draw that many cards. All we have to do is keep discarding cards to trigger Archfiend of Ifnir and draw more cards until our opponents run out of creatures!
Archfiend of Ifnir is the best card to use for this particular synergy, but any card that deals in -1/-1 counters gets enhanced by Generous Patron. Grim Affliction will let us draw at least two cards, because the initial effect and the proliferate are two different instances of putting a counter on a creature. If our opponents’ other creatures already have counters on them, we can proliferate those as well for even more card draw (any card with Proliferate is great with Generous Patron). Blowfly Infestation can make sure that even if our opponents have a ton of creatures, the addition of a single -1/-1 counter can cause a chain reaction that will fill our hand and clear the battlefield. We have to be careful, though! Blowfly Infestation is mandatory, and it doesn’t only target our opponents’ creatures, so if we clear their side of the battlefield we may end up killing our creatures as well. However, even if our battlefield gets cleared out, the number of cards we’re drawing should keep us in the lead.
Everlasting Torment turns all damage to all creatures from all sources into that many -1/-1 counters. That means the more individual sources of damage we have, the more cards Generous Patron will let us draw. Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons and Nest of Scarabs create 1/1 creature tokens each time we put a -1/-1 counter on a creature; if we combine one of them with Everlasting Torment, every time our creatures get into combat with another creature, we draw a card with Generous Patron and get a replacement creature token!
There are many more -1/-1 counter synergies to find, but I want to move on to my favorite topic in Magic: Cards that make our opponents say “Sorry, what does that do again?”
We can tap Bomb Squad to put a fuse counter on target creature. That counter doesn’t actually do anything, but our Generous Patron doesn’t care; any counter at all lets us draw a card. The fun doesn’t stop there either! At the beginning of our upkeep, we put another fuse counter onto each creature that has a fuse counter on it. Pro tip: if we activate Bomb Squad in response to that upkeep trigger, we can put two counters onto a creature in one turn. With Generous Patron that means we’re drawing at least two cards per turn, probably more because we can spread our fuse counters across several creatures to maximize the upkeep trigger. Oh, and I forgot to mention, as soon as a creature gets four fuse counters on it, we destroy it and hurt our opponent! It’s not a terrible payoff, but it would honestly be better if it was optional so that we could keep the creatures around to put more counters on them.
Freyalise’s Winds and Temporal Distortion (if we’re playing blue) are bad Magic cards. They harm us nearly as much as they harm our opponents, and they make the game slow down in a way that really only delays what is inevitable. Unless…
These enchantments have one saving grace, and that is the fact that when a creature becomes tapped it gets a wind/hourglass counter on it. With a Generous Patron on the battlefield, any time our opponents’ creatures are tapped for any reason we get to draw a card! That’s a pretty good value in my book. We can also use cards that untap our permanents like Wilderness Reclamation and Murkfiend Liege to counteract the enchantments’ effects on our things.
With Tetzimok, Primal Death in our hand, we have the ability to pay a black mana and put a prey counter on a creature. Combined with Generous Patron that translates to one black mana to draw a card, any number of times! At this point it’s just gravy that we can also play Tetzimoc and destroy those creatures.
Other weirdo counters include:
- Bounty counters (Bounty Hunter, Mathas, Fiend Seeker)
- Gold counters (Aurification)
- Petrification counters (Xathrid Gorgon)
- Paralyzation counters (Dread Wight)
- Music counters (Musician)
There are more, mostly counters with uneven power and toughness boosts (+1/+2, -0/-1, etc), but they aren’t weird or useful enough to talk about in much detail.
Kulrath Knight is a devastating card. In a deck specifically created to sling counters onto opponents’ creatures, this is the finisher that will end the game. Even if we aren’t killing creatures with -1/-1 counters, Kulrath Knight makes it so that our opponents won’t be able to attack or block using a creature with any counters on them. This should close out a game very quickly, especially if the game is multiplayer and you can pit another opponent against one who can’t block.
Melira, Sylvok Outcast can be very useful in a -1/-1 counter deck: If we have Everlasting Torment in play, she prevents ll damage that would be dealt to creatures we control. In situations where our Blowfly Infestation gets out of hand, she draws the line at our side of the battlefield and keeps our creatures safe.
With all the cards we’ll be drawing, Psychosis Crawler can kill our opponents without actually having to attack at all! Spiraling Embers can finish off an opponent after a big turn, and Sunbringer’s Touch can turn any creature into a gigantic finisher.
One weakness of our strategy is that it relies on our opponents having creatures in order to put counters on them. If they won’t play enough themselves, we just have to help them along! Genesis Chamber will pump out a creature every time our opponent plays one. Hunted Troll and the new Clackbridge Troll create tokens for an opponent when they enter the battlefield. Grismold, the Dreadsower tosses a token to each player each turn, and gets bigger when they die.
‘Tis Better to Give…
…Especially when you’re giving gifts like these. By the way, make SURE you have enchantment removal in your deck, because some players keep a Solemnity on hand, and if you can’t deal with it you are going to have a very sad game. Anyway that’s all I have for you this week, tune in next time when I use Soul-Scar Mage and Form of the Dinosaur with Nest of Scarabs to generate 13 Insects every turn!