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Spoiler Spotlight – Chromanticore

I have a new love in my life, and this one has it all. Not just beauty and brains. I’m talking flying, first strike, vigilance, trample, lifelink, and bestow.

calemanticore

Beautiful, eh? Before you ask, it was me that gave it the heart-shaped box of chocolates and roses. So back off, buddy.

Sadly, the actual casting cost is not “HUGS,” however much I want it to be. Instead, it’s a reasonable WUBRG. That’s a lot of colors, and it’s our natural tendency to write off cards like that as unplayable and not worth the effort. In this case, that would be a mistake. Not only is this card fun and super flavorful, it’s also awesome. Just look at those abilities! In general, the more things your creature can do, the better it’s going to be in a game of Magic. [card]Morphling[/card], [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], and [card]Akroma, Angel of Wrath[/card] are some examples.

The bestow is only two more than the mana cost, and seven mana isn’t that difficult to reach in a game of Magic, especially when your deck is filled with ramp. In comparison, a [card]Batterskull[/card] equip costs five mana, but you have to spend another five to get it into play. Not only does [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd] pump a guy for three less, it also jumps it and gives it trample and first strike as well.

There are some downsides, of course. Aside from the constrictions it puts on your mana base, a base 4/4 is vulnerable to [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card], and it also gets hit by random enchantment hate like [card]Wear // Tear[/card]. Also, none of [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd]’s abilities let it tussle with a larger creature, so if the opponent is playing [card]Desecration Demon[/card] things could get awkward. On the plus side, if they’re the only two creatures in the skies, the Demon player won’t be able to attack because he’ll be doing 2 damage and taking 4 on the exchange thanks to [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd]’s lifelink. If your opponent has a Demon in play, you have the option to wait a turn or two to bestow onto some creature that lets you attack through the 6/6 body. Stacking [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd]s will come up, and it will be awesome.

As far as formats go, it might be a bit ambitious for Legacy, though pitching to [card]Force of Will[/card] and being tutorable with [card]Academy Rector[/card] is interesting. In Modern, I like the idea of a [card]City of Brass[/card] + [card]Reflecting Pool[/card] mana base, but even then Baneslayer Angel only sees a little play and this guy probably isn’t worth the extra trouble. One place it could fit is AJ Sacher’s Tallowisp/Academy Researchers deck.

In Standard, we have access to all of the duals we need, and [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd] and Sylvan Caryatid will be friends. While there are some five-color control decks out there, control isn’t the best fit because it doesn’t have the bodies to reliably take advantage of bestow. The trick is trying to figure out what a five-color creature deck looks like.

chRomantic Beats

[ccDeck]4 Temple of Mystery
4 Temple of Plenty
2 Temple of Abandon
1 Temple of Malice
4 Blood Crypt
3 Watery Grave
2 Stomping Ground
2 Godless Shrine
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Temple Garden
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Manaweft Sliver
4 Desecration Demon
4 Chromanticore
4 Courser of Kruphix
2 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Prophet of Kruphix
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Domri Rade
3 Abrupt Decay[/ccDeck]

My first step was figuring out the base colors. Green was the natural pick because I wanted [card]Sylvan Caryatid[/card] in my [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd] deck and I always follow the “don’t splash for fixing” rule. Since I needed green on turn two for the mana guys, I favored green Temples.

Once I added the mana guys, I realized I’d be ramping to four mana a good amount of the time, and knew picking the right 4-drops was important. Since I was already green, [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] was a no-brainer as a way to take advantage of the ramp. I chose [card]Desecration Demon[/card] because it’s so beastly and flying is big game. Sometimes they can tap it down, making it awkward to bestow onto, but being able to brick [card]Nightveil Specter[/card] and race in the skies is worth it.

There are a ton of great four-drops in this format, and they all lead the deck in different directions. [card]Alms Beast[/card], [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card], and even the various gods are options. [card]Reaper of the Wilds[/card] is frustrating to deal with, but it would be so much more so with a [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd] bestowed onto it.

Sadly, we can’t bestow [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd] onto [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card] due to the protections, but Baron is still worth running because it’s Baron.

I can’t wait to untap with [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] and [card]Domri Rade[/card].

[card]Prophet of Kruphix[/card] lets us do some interesting things with [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd]. Since you don’t choose whether it’s going to be a creature or enchantment until the spell is already on the stack, effects that let you play creatures as though they had flash will let you bestow at instant speed. This hasn’t come up in Constructed because we haven’t had an exciting enough bestow creature, but [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd] changes that. Giving a creature +4/+4 and this specific set of abilities will make for some huge blowouts!

The mana base took me a minute, and while it’s serviceable, it probably needs tweaking.

When figuring out the color requirements for a deck like this, it’s important to remember exactly what you’re using the mana for. Two mana bases can have the same color counts and yet one could be better than the other due to the needs of the deck. In our case, we want to cast [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd]. We’re base green, with some heavy black, and we want to cast Domri somewhat early. With those needs, a card like [card]Hallowed Fountain[/card] is worse than a basic land. Most of the time we’ll need white or blue mana, it’ll be for [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd] when we need white AND blue mana.

That makes this configuration:

2 [card]Hallowed Fountain[/card] 2 [card]Overgrown Tomb[/card]

Way worse than this:

2 [card]Temple Garden[/card] 2 [card]Watery Grave[/card]

Both have two of each color, but the second configuration has a much better chance of making blue and white mana at the same time. Since our deck has way more black and green sources since they’re the main colors, we don’t have to worry as much about hitting them for [ccProd]Chromanticore[/ccProd]’s casting cost.

With five colors, the sideboard has a lot of options. I like the idea of more resilient finishers for the control matchups, with the extra two Blood Barons for Mono-Black and some [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card]s for UWx. Due to the shock-filled mana base, the early game against aggro needs help, and [card]Centaur Healer[/card] would help with that. I could even see maindecking some number.

Do you have any ideas for this busted mythic? Am I blinded by love at first sight, overlooking some fatal flaw? Feel free to chime in the forums and tell me what you think!

Caleb Durward

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