When we’re growing our creatures, it doesn’t usually make much sense to lean heavily on “until end of turn” effects. Unless the goal is to kill our opponent immediately with infect creatures, this strategy is often laughed at and simply forgotten by most players. That’s why I’m here to tell you about Wild Defiance.
A repeatable Giant Growth is nothing to balk at, and the fact that it is an addition to the effects of the instant or sorcery spell that’s targeting our creature is just icing on the cake. It doubles the effects of Giant Growth, makes Vines of Vastwood not necessarily need the kicker, and makes Become Immense immensely stupid. It also gives burn a hard time as they now can’t Lightning Bolt our creatures to death: Since it triggers upon any instant or sorcery targeting our creatures, they will grow before the damage is dealt. That’s all well and good, but what can we do with Wild Defiance to really make it useful?
Holding On for a Hero
Theros block introduced the “Heroic” mechanic, which is an ability which triggers when we target the creature with a spell. A large majority of Heroic cards, like Centaur Battlemaster, buff themselves whenever we target them. Whether it’s temporary or permanent, this allows us to play cards like Defiant Strike without feeling underwhelmed by its value. Wild Defiance partners well with Heroic creatures, giving us a Giant Growth as an additional trigger whenever we target the creature with an Instant or Sorcery.
It’s a Shotgun, Baby
Whenever temporary buffs are being played, Kiln Fiend typically enters the chatroom. Brewers everywhere have wanted to slap Brute Force and Assault Strobe onto this elemental beast ever since it was printed, but Wild Defiance never seems to show up alongside this strategy. This is most likely for two reasons: it’s a green enchantment, requiring a shift toward a multi-color strategy, and it has three converted mana cost, meaning it would be played the same turn the Brute Force and Assault Strobe combo could straight-up kill opponents. But an argument can be made for Wild Defiance: When the huge turn three swing inevitably fails (and trust me, it will), having a fallback plan is essential. Wild Defiance prevents Kiln Fiend from dying to most burn spells, and it turns any other creature into a decent knock-off of the elemental beast. The card adds redundancy, which is often much more effective than “Magical Christmasland”.
Similar, But Deadly
Gargos, Vicious Watcher, the rare counter-free Hydra, triggers every time Wild Defiance does. Each time one of our creatures (including Gargos) becomes the target of a spell, Gargos can fight an opponent’s creature. If we target Gargos with our spells we have a decent chance to clear our opponent’s board completely without Gargos dying, since Wild Defiance will give Gargos three extra toughness for each spell we target it with. This strategy requires plenty of cards in hand, and enough mana available to cast them, but the result is worth it. We can pull off a one-sided board wipe, then attack with a massive Gargos into an opponent whose blockers have all been eaten by a Hydra.
For strategies like this, the major drawback is that the effects of our spells only last one turn and then we run out of cards. Season of Growth fixes this problem simply and effectively: we cast a spell targeting a creature we control, we draw a card. This plays perfectly into our Wild Defiance strategy, adding a Giant Growth and a re-draw to the effects of each spell we target our creatures with. Additionally, if we draw creatures when we want to draw targeted spells, Season of Growth lets us Scry 1 when a creature enters the battlefield to help us find them.
If we go into three colors we can utilize Feather, the Redeemed‘s ability, which gives us ridiculous card advantage over time. Each spell that targets a creature we control is returned to us at the beginning of the next end step! That means we can use it on our opponents’ turn if it is an instant, and if we control Season of Growth (or the card is a cantrip inherently) we can start drawing even more cards. Hopefully we can draw a Reliquary Tower and not have to discard to hand size!
In the original Ravnica block, we were introduced to the Nephilim: Four-colored creatures with unusual abilities. Many players wished these were Legendary so they could be played as commanders, but many a playgroup had the discussion about Ink-Treader Nephilim being allowed. The other Nephilim are interesting but manageable; Ink-Treader turns one-mana cantrips like Defiant Strike into absurd value engines. Imagine there are five other creatures on the battlefield and we control Ink-Treader Nephilim; we cast Defiant Strike targeting the Nephilim, and draw six cards for one mana? Sign me up. The Nephilim copies the spell for each creature it could possibly target, so we have to be careful with what we copy, but it will usually help us much more than it helps them.
Wild Defiance allows for some serious growth on our board since it doesn’t require the spells to be cast targeting our creatures, only that they become the target. If we add Wild Defiance to our previous example with Defiant Strike, our creatures get +4/+3 and we draw six cards! Drawing into Assault Strobe just closes out the game instantly at that point. Flipping the script a little, we can also use the Ink-Treader/Wild Defiance combo to wipe our opponent’s board! Targeting Ink-Treader with a Lightning Bolt deals three damage to each creature, but our creatures get +3/+3 from Wild Defiance. We can clear out our opponent’s blockers, then attack with our up-sized creatures to finish them off.
Zada, Hedron Grinder is very similar to Ink-Treader Nephilim, only she’s mono-red and she only copies spells to target our creatures. This means if she’s the commander of our deck, we cannot run Wild Defiance. But if that isn’t a restriction or we have a commander that allows for her and Wild Defiance to co-exist, then all bets are off!
Defy It All
Ultimately, Wild Defiance is not a game-breaking card. It is, however, a great value when added into the right shell. Instant and Sorcery spells that target our creatures are plentiful, meaning all we need to do is build the proper supporting cast and start defying all expectations. Join me next time when I use Mindslaver to make my opponent spend all their spells on my creatures so I can draw cards with Shapers’ Sanctuary.