In a crime filled plane like New Capenna, you’d best be ready to defend yourself in a fight. Whether it be big creatures, removal spells, or ways to strengthen your army, green has got you covered. Check out these new tools for Gladiator decks!
Bouncing in Magic usually just returns a creature to hand, but this card sends them all the way to exile! The current rate for green creature removal is one or two mana, but this card has three notable upsides over the current options. The first is that it can target planeswalkers, which only Master’s Rebuke currently does efficiently enough to see play. Thus if you want a density of planeswalker removal this is a slam dunk regardless of the increased mana value. The second upside is that it does not target your own creature, meaning that if your opponent has removal they can only weaken Bouncer’s Beatdown, not fizzle it. However in many cases this will effectively do the same thing since your creature with the next greatest power may not be big enough to remove the intended target. The damage being marked can still be relevant in the turn’s combat step though. The third upside is that it exiles the target. This shuts off death triggers and recursion, which is relevant against a small but notable portion of threats in the field. Altogether, in most cases these upsides won’t be as powerful as a lower casting cost, especially in Aggro decks, but I would definitely include this card if you are expecting Black decks and recursive decks across the table.
In Magic you only start fights you can win, so Fight Rigging is just the industry standard. Of the Hideaway cycle, this is by far the most relevant in Gladiator due to its low mana value. Curving a creature into this spell is great since you can make use of the counter right away. Seven power is difficult to obtain in Aggro decks, but in Mono-Green Stompy cards like Elder Gargaroth and Kogla, the Titan Ape trigger this the turn they enter play. I think Mono-Green Stompy will still prefer a creature or removal spell to a pump spell most of the time, but in synergistic counter strategies like Abzan and Naya this could be a powerhouse. However, this is still nowhere near as powerful as Hadana’s Climb, so make sure if you are in Simic you slot this one in second.
I certainly don’t want to be greeted by this guy at the beginning of combat. In most creature decks this will act a lot like a Luminarch Aspirant that can only target itself, however in Tokens and Elves it will get out of control fast, triggering multiple times per turn. The fixing provided by the Treasures will help enable strategies like Naya tokens and Abzan Counters to cast spells of all colors, and the life gain will help stabilize against Aggro. I expect in most cases the best way to use this will be to choose the options in the order they are listed on the card.
This fight is even more rigged than the last one, as you get the Treasure token whether you win or lose! This is the going rate for green fight spells, so the question is how the Treasure token compares to the current available upsides of other instant green fight spells: the other modes of Inscription of Abundance, the card draw of Skyshroud Ambush, hitting planeswalkers with Master’s Rebuke, or hitting face with Ram Through. I think that it could be better than the last two, but only if you aren’t worried about planeswalkers and have fewer creatures with trample. It is definitely better in decks with higher curves to help accelerate into a Kogla, the Titan Ape or Elder Gargaroth a turn early or with multiple colors for the fixing, but I think our existing options are still better. Overall, I think this will see some play depending on the needs of your green creature brew.
Titan of Industry
Looks like the office itself is taking the day off. At seven mana, this card is more expensive than even the top end of Mono-Green Stompy, but it definitely has the stats, keywords, and ETB power and versatility to justify it. Reach, gaining five life, and making an additional blocker will help you stabilize after casting this while behind, so if your deck can ramp this out it’ll make for great top end against creature decks. Destroying an artifact or enchantment is great versatility to have, as against nearly any Gladiator deck you’ll be happy taking out mana rocks, Equipment, Oblivion Rings, or whatever else you see. The shield counter is a great way to protect your current creatures as they head to the red zone, but notably it can also put the counter on itself making it very difficult to remove. Since that is part of the ETB trigger though, a well timed Murder will still take out the Titan. Overall I think this card is too slow for Stompy, but just right in Midrange and Ramp.
This creature is the star of Jurassic Park 6: Jurassic Bark! A wonderful new take on Wayward Swordtooth, this Topiary will make a great addition to Lands and Ramp decks alike. It offers fixing and ramp straightaway, and a defensive threat once you make it to seven lands. To really make this card shine you want to follow it up with an Hour of Promise or kicked Grow From the Ashes to make it active right away. I would not play this unless you have some ways to get it active by turn five and can get it active consistently by turn six, though if you are happy casting Cultivate this will usually be good enough.
Vivien on the Hunt
Yet again Vivien returns to Gladiator, but will this iteration be as good as in the past? With a high mana value and plus abilities that don’t impact the board, it’ll be tough. Even in creature Combo decks, we have tutors with less restrictions at lower mana values. The second ability seems most useful in graveyard decks, and although it has a fun synergy with Syr Konrad, the Grim there are better card draw options available in green. I think the best line of play with this card is to repeatedly minus one to amass an army of 4/4 Rhino Warriors, but I would much rather play a singular powerful threat with a bigger immediate impact like Kogla, the Titan Ape or Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. Still, if you want a way to refill your hand with gas continually in the late game while also stocking your graveyard, Vivien On the Hunt will work for you.
If Vivien’s Rhino Warrior was this good, my evaluation of her would be totally different. Although it has an extremely low toughness for a five drop, this card more than makes up for it in other ways. Trample means it’ll force damage through, the life gain means it’ll help you when behind, and the death triggers means it’ll keep on coming right after a wrath. The best part is the Blitz ability though, as this gives it the ability to deal damage immediately. Normally the downside of Blitz is that the threat doesn’t stick around, but the death trigger negates that while still letting you draw a card. Overall, this new take on Thragtusk is certainly going in Mono-Green Stompy and probably other two color Midrange decks as well.
I’m sure after reading these new cards you can’t wait to slam them into your decks! I’ll certainly be bringing them into the upcoming Gladiator Games. I’ll see you in the looking for games queue!
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I am an avid Gladiator player who wants to support the community! I’ve been playing Magic since 2007, and Gladiator since Season One of the AM League. My favorite Gladiator deck is Green Aggro.