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Simply Momir - Luke Collins (6/13/2009)

The Magic Online avatar Momir Vig reads as following:

X, Discard a card: Put a token into play as a copy of a random creature card with converted mana cost X. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery and only once each turn.

It also grants +4 to the starting life total, but nothing to the hand. When it first came out, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
Momir Vig, Simic VisionarySet: Dissension
Color:
Multicolor
Rarity:
R
Number:
118
Artist:
Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
wasn’t much applauded. The Vanguard deck format was just starting out, and there were avatars which certainly had a lot better ability than “get a random creature.” But some smart guys figured out that if two people had decks with Momir and nothing but basic lands, they would have a fantastic random-critter-off. And thus the Momir Basic format was born.

Momir Basic has been around since 2006, but it’s still one of the more exciting (if somewhat under represented) formats. It’s fun, inexpensive (all one has to do is buy a copy of the Momir avatar) and delightfully random. A lot of players have tossed it aside because they feel the totally random nature of Momir means there is no strategy involved, but anyone who plays Momir Basic long enough will find that it’s not actually all that random.

The basic way to win at Momir Basic is to throw down men until you get something that is so big or so evasive that it can’t be stopped and it wins the game. But this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Since there is parity of creature casting cost (but not creature quality) it’s impossible to race an opponent, and often you will find yourself with a respectable army standing down your opponent’s respectable army, with no real way to make significant progress on either side. There’s a lot of luck involved in breaking this stalemate and plowing ahead to victory, but there’s some strategy too.

The first point is the deck itself. Many people choose to simply throw in 12 of each land or 60 of the same land and call the job done. This is wrong. There are many creatures with activated abilities that are relevant, and the player who understands how to make the most of these abilities is invariably the player who wins. While using such an ability generally means forgoing a 6 or 7 drop creature, sometimes paying a cumulative upkeep or activating an ability is all it takes to remove a key blocker or force in a little damage. The relevant abilities are most likely in Black and Red (the creature killing colors, of course) and so an ideal Momir deck should look something like this:

1x Momir Vig
20x Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.

20x Swamp
Swamp
SwampSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add B to your mana pool.

7x Forest
Forest
ForestSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add G to your mana pool.

7x Island
Island
IslandSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add U to your mana pool.

6x Plains
Plains
PlainsSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add W to your mana pool.


This allows a player to have some access to all mana, yet have the mana to pay for things like the upkeep on Kuro, Pitlord
Kuro, Pitlord
Kuro, PitlordSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
9
Color:
Black
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Demon Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
123
Artist:
Jon Foster
Power:
9
Toughness:
9
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Kuro, Pitlord unless you pay BBBB. Pay 1 life: Target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.
or other gigantic monsters.

The next key thing to remember is when to hold lands and when to turn them into creatures. Very small creatures tend to be useless in this format, and there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to creatures with a casting cost greater than seven. So here is a quick rundown of what sorts of creatures to expect at each casting cost.

One or two mana – These creatures are almost always too small to matter. Occasionally, you might get something with an evasion ability, but in general, one and two mana creatures are too small for this format. Mana producing creatures are relevant here, as are cards like Ravenous Rats
Ravenous Rats
Ravenous RatsSet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Rat
Rarity:
C
Number:
68
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Ravenous Rats comes into play, target opponent chooses and discards a card from his or her hand.
, but in general a one or two drop will be a waste and it’s not worth risking it.

Three or Four mana – Originally when the format started, three and four were not great spots to be, since most of the creatures (excepting Terravore
Terravore
TerravoreSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Lhurgoyf
Rarity:
R
Number:
278
Artist:
Jim Nelson
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Trample Terravore's power and toughness are each equal to the number of land cards in all graveyards.
and Psychatog
Psychatog
PsychatogSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
U
Number:
292
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
) were too small to matter. The Shards of Alara block has changed that, by offering up very aggressively costed multi-color three and four drops. As such, turn three or four is about when you should start dropping men. They may end up not being too relevant, but often you will get a big man or someone with Flying or Shadow that can bring on the hurt while the bigger men wait their turn.

Five mana – Things start to get serious around five mana, but five is actually a rather dangerous spot. There are a lot of “dud” creatures at five mana (ones which self destruct or which require something special in order to work) but there are also a lot of 3/3 flyers and other relevant creatures. Five mana is usually the first turning point of the game, and a player who gets a very solid five drop can usually pull ahead.

Six mana – Six mana is generally considered to be the best spot for creatures. Most of the best combat-oriented creatures are located at the six-drop spot, since that’s a good point for a large creature to be in Limited and Casual formats, which is often what Wizards builds large creatures for. Six mana is when the real combat begins, and creatures start fighting and trading instead of trying to sneak past one another.

Seven mana – Seven mana is where a lot of the best creatures are, but there are also a lot of “just big” creatures. The holy grail of seven mana is Platinum Angel
Platinum Angel
Platinum AngelSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
7
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
R
Number:
228
Artist:
Brom
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying You can't lose the game and your opponents can't win the game.
, which, due to the minimal removal in the format, usually guarantees a win all on her own. There are also a number of seven mana Dragons which can really bring on the hurt, especially since they can fly. Serra Avatar
Serra Avatar
Serra AvatarSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
7
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Avatar
Rarity:
R
Number:
45
Artist:
Dermot Power
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Serra Avatar has power and toughness each equal to your life total.When Serra Avatar is put into a graveyard, shuffle Serra Avatar into owner's library.
also comes out at this point, and since there is a lot of parity in the fighting, she often has as much power as your opponent does life. Sundering Titan
Sundering Titan
Sundering TitanSet: Darksteel
Cost:
8
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
146
Artist:
Jim Murray
Power:
7
Toughness:
10
Text:
When Sundering Titan comes into play, choose a land of each basic land type, then destroy those lands. When Sundering Titan leaves play, choose a land of each basic land type, then destroy those lands.
also comes into play here, and a Sundering Titan
Sundering Titan
Sundering TitanSet: Darksteel
Cost:
8
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
146
Artist:
Jim Murray
Power:
7
Toughness:
10
Text:
When Sundering Titan comes into play, choose a land of each basic land type, then destroy those lands. When Sundering Titan leaves play, choose a land of each basic land type, then destroy those lands.
may destroy up to five of your opponent’s lands, hopelessly crippling them and winning you the game much more easily. Seven mana is also the casting cost of Phage the Untouchable
Phage the Untouchable
Phage the UntouchableSet: Legions
Cost:
7
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Minion Legend
Rarity:
R
Number:
78
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
When Phage the Untouchable comes into play, if you didn’t play it from your
hand, you lose the game.
Whenever Phage deals combat damage to a creature, destroy that creature. It
can’t be regenerated.
Whenever Phage deals combat damage to a player, that player loses the game.
, who will cause you to lose the moment she comes into play.

Eight mana – Things begin to diminish at around eight mana. While there are certainly some all-stars like Benthic Behemoth
Benthic Behemoth
Benthic BehemothSet: Tempest
Cost:
8
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Serpent
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Jim Nelson
Power:
7
Toughness:
6
Text:
Islandwalk (If defending player controls any islands, this creature is unblockable.)
(often unblockable due to his Island
Island
IslandSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add U to your mana pool.
walk) and Avatar of Despair (which eliminates your opponent’s creature parity) most creatures at eight mana are just plain big. They may or may not have a relevant ability or evasion, but in general, they are just large.

Nine mana or more – The point of diminishing returns makes itself evident at nine mana and above. It’s simply not worth holding on to lands in order to get men which are huge but don’t have any significant advantages over their predecessors. The one upside is that there are very few creatures with a casting cost of nine or above, lowering the probability that certain relevant creatures will appear. The best one, of course, is the eleven mana Darksteel Colossus
Darksteel Colossus
Darksteel ColossusSet: Darksteel
Cost:
11
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
109
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
11
Toughness:
11
Text:
Trample. Darksteel Colossus is indestructible (Destroy effects and lethal damage don't destroy it.) If Darksteel Colossus would be put into a graveyard from anywhere reveal Darksteel Colossus and shuffle it into its owner's library instead.
, which can’t be killed or stopped. There aren’t many other creatures at 11 mana, so when the 11 drops come down, it’s usually one of them. The problem is that surviving until a player has eleven lands out is usually difficult without the use of card draw.

Besides understanding the probabilities of getting a good creature, it’s key to understand how to work with the weaknesses of certain creatures. Up until recently, Wizards was worried that very large creatures would ruin the game, since they can’t be killed by combat damage easily and are capable of taking out huge chunks of an opponent’s life total. As such, most of the big creatures from the days of yore (especially those from the Masters Edition sets) cost more than their size, or have serious drawbacks (Lord of the Pit
Lord of the Pit
Lord of the PitSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
7
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Power:
7
Toughness:
7
Text:
Flying, trample You must sacrifice one of your own creatures during your upkeep or Lord of the Pit does 7 damage to you. You may still attack with Lord of the Pit even if you failed to sacrifice a creature. Lord of the Pit may not be sacrificed to itself.
and Minion of Leshrac
Minion of Leshrac
Minion of LeshracSet: Ice Age
Cost:
7
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
R
Artist:
L. A. Williams
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Protection from blackDuring your upkeep, sacrifice a creature or Minion of Leshrac deals 5 damage to you. If Minion of Leshrac deals damage to you in this way, tap it. You cannot sacrifice Minion of Leshrac to itself.T: Destroy target creature or land.
come to mind). It’s key to learn how to work around these shortcomings in order to maximize their effect.

As an example for this, the other night I was playing Momir and I ended up with a Minion of Leshrac
Minion of Leshrac
Minion of LeshracSet: Ice Age
Cost:
7
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
R
Artist:
L. A. Williams
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Protection from blackDuring your upkeep, sacrifice a creature or Minion of Leshrac deals 5 damage to you. If Minion of Leshrac deals damage to you in this way, tap it. You cannot sacrifice Minion of Leshrac to itself.T: Destroy target creature or land.
. I had some three and four drops that were no longer relevant, but I couldn’t keep sacrificing creatures to him forever. Luckily, by chance, it ended up that my opponent had only black creatures and creatures with less than five power. As such, I was able to use the Minion
Minion
MinionSet: Phyrexia vs. The Coalition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Minion
Rarity:
C
Number:
2
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
to trade his small men for my small men, and eventually he was unable to block the Minion
Minion
MinionSet: Phyrexia vs. The Coalition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Minion
Rarity:
C
Number:
2
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
. Many players would have simply despaired and either conceded or let the Minion
Minion
MinionSet: Phyrexia vs. The Coalition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Minion
Rarity:
C
Number:
2
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
kill them, but I knew that if I pushed ahead with him and fed him my least relevant creature each turn, the other 8-drops I was playing would wheel me to victory.

Momir Basic is a fun and inexpensive format which is ideal for those who’ve always wanted to play with Magic’s biggest and most exotic creatures. It may be random, but with careful plays and a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each creature, it’s a surefire winner.


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