Phyrexia: All Will Be One is a set for which Standard players have been waiting quite a long time. While Standard is starting to see some life with the appearance of some non-midrange archetypes in the format, this set looks leagues ahead of what is already Standard legal. To highlight just how far power creep has come, older MTG players are flagging a recent spoiler as one of the most ridiculously under-costed creatures they’ve seen in a while. It’s no Tarmogoyf, but has a 4/4 for three with an upside ever been so easy to cast? Let’s look at Migloz, Maze Crusher!
Migloz, Maze Crusher
This unassuming Legendary creature may actually mark one of the most powerful Standard-legal creature cards ever printed. Generally, if we have something printed with a 4/4 stat line at three mana, it’s either more difficult to cast than two colors and a generic mana or has some downside in its text. Migloz, on the other hand, has a suite of incredibly powerful abilities that may even make it Pioneer playable.
Migloz enters the battlefield with five Oil counters, currency needed to activate his abilities. His most basic ability grants him Vigilance and Menace for one mana and an Oil Counter. This ability allows Migloz push damage in combat without worrying about losing tempo on board. Two Oil Counters and Two Mana ensure that Migloz attacking is a threat since, with five mana available, Migloz is capable of swinging for eight with Menace while leaving itself untapped. This, of course, can also be used for blocking.
Of all of Migloz’s abilities, his third is the one that has most players excited. Removing three Oil counters and paying three mana allows Migloz to become a two-for-one card that presents a threatening body while destroying an artifact or enchantment. Considering these are all over Standard right now, Migloz’s potential is exciting. Gaining a 4/4 Body and removing a Fable of the Mirror-Breaker or something just as devastating is an incredibly powerful effect in the current Standard format. This is also a clean answer to many of the vehicles running around in Pioneer, putting a stop to Greasefang’s Parhelion antics without resorting to Scavenging Ooze. That said, if Phoenix decks start to make a comeback, Ooze may continue to see play.
What Can Migloz Deal With?
Standard is likely to change in a big way with the introduction of Phyrexia: All Will Be One. While that format will be pretty difficult to assess as a result, there should be a healthy dose of artifacts and enchantments for Migloz to interact with. Pioneer is also likely to see a massive shakeup with the introduction of ally-colored Fastlands, but there, at least, should be some more consistency between Pioneer’s before-and-after states. With that in mind, here are some of the more common threats that Migloz can deal with:
- Parhelion II
- Esika’s Chariot
- Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
- Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
- Leyline Binding
- Enigmatic Incarnation (and all the other Enchantments in this deck)
- Fires of Invention
- The Chain Veil and the rest of the Karn Wishboard
- Rest in Piece and other sideboard tech if that’s a relevant thing (which may not be in a deck that plays Migloz)
While Migloz’s tertiary ability is not relevant in every matchup, his other abilities tend to become more relevant in the matchups, whereas his enchantment-destroying ability is not. Against Lotus Field Combo, for example, being able to pump Migloz and give it Menace is very important for pushing damage. The only deck that Migloz seems pretty useless against is Angels.
In terms of where Migloz will see play, it’s easy to see this card appearing in Pioneer Gruul Midrange. While Migloz could replace Scavenging Ooze, as mentioned before, that will likely be meta-dependent. Because that deck typically runs eight mana dorks, you will be casting Migloz on turn two most of the time, which makes the mana value difference between Migloz and Scavenging Ooze pretty irrelevant. Additionally, Gruul will now have access to Fast Lands, which should be a significant upgrade to the archetype.
It probably does not need to be said that Migloz can likely do some damage in Standard as well. There isn’t a lot in the format at a better rate than this. Whether or not a deck will appear that this can slot in to is more of the concern here.
Power Creep Demonstrated
To illustrate just how significant Migloz is as a landmark in the power creep of MTG recently, let’s compare Migloz’s stat line and mana value to other creatures that share the same thing. You will find that, in all these examples, the creature in question either has a downside or is much more difficult to cast. Note that we are only looking at cards that were Standard legal in their lifetimes. We will also only be looking at things with fixed power and toughness. While this may seem like a lot of strict guidelines, a surprising number of cards still qualify, so we will only be looking at more relevant examples. There only seems to be one infamous card that is better than Migloz in every way that popped up through this argument.
One of the more recent examples of a card that fits our categories, Acererak is easier to cast and has more power and toughness than Migloz. The downside, therefore, comes in Acererak’s abilities. This card only sticks around once you’ve completed the Tomb of Annihilation dungeon, which turns Acererak into an infinite combo piece most of the time instead. This is an entirely different functionality than being a powerful body on curve with an upside.
Anafenza is also a three-mana 4/4 creature with pure upside. The only significant difference between Anafenza and Migloz is that Anafenza is much more challenging to cast. Two and three colors are a huge difference in difficulty, but Anafenza offers more value in longer games.
In many cases, Faithbound Judge is easier to cast and has permanent evasion. The card still has a slight downside since it cannot attack for the first few turns, but the Disturb side of Faithbound Judge does function as a relatively slow win condition. Not being able to pressure opponents for three favors is an undeniable downside, however.
Lovestruck Beast is an incredibly popular option in Pioneer and Explorer that is within the terms of this argument. Obviously, Lovestruck Beast’s ability is a glaring downside, but this is mitigated by the card solving its own issue with the Adventure side of the card. This is generally played alongside mana dorks, so it’s not too difficult to keep the downside of Lovestruck Beast in check. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed a downside.
Loxodon Smiter is an extremely close comparison to Migloz, as it is a 4/4 for two colors with only upside on the card. That said, Loxodon Smiter’s upside positions it more as a sideboard card since it doesn’t affect every matchup. The text where Loxodon Smiter is a strong option, however, makes it incredibly powerful, especially if discarded by an opponent’s effect.
Another case of a 4/4 creature with only an upside, Old-Growth Troll’s restriction appears in its casting cost. Three green mana is pretty restrictive, ensuring that the deck playing this card needs to be predominately green. However, the advantage for doing so is a creature that remains useful even after dying.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, is undeniably stronger than Migloz, but it does technically come with a downside in the card’s abilities. The issue is that the upside of the card is so obnoxiously powerful that the downside doesn’t really matter. The fact that you can endlessly recur this card from your graveyard to circumvent its downside arguably even makes the downside an upside. This is banned in Pioneer and Modern for a reason, and is the only card that clearly beats Migloz in the terms of this argument.
The three-mana God cards are also in the realm of comparison to Migloz. Like Uro, these cards function differently than what Migloz is intended to do since something like Klothys isn’t supposed to come down on curve and start bashing heads. Klothys instead offers a reoccurring advantage until the conditions are met for the card to start bashing heads. This, technically, puts a restriction on the God cards, which demonstrates the point made about power creep. Besides Uro, which feels like it may have been a design mistake, Migloz may be the most powerful standard-legal three-drop creature we’ve ever seen.