By: Jason Waddell
There’s a new zombie in town.
Lifebane Zombie is quite the shadowy figure. Let’s say a Zombie came to my house and murdered my pet baloth, I would not be able to pick the guy out of a line-up. Not unless he was still carrying around his two-handed axe. Some interesting artistic choices here. Maybe Min Yum simply isn’t a fan of drawing faces? For all I know he skipped out on face day of art school, and has since been relegated to drawing shadowy figures.
Where’s the light source here? I see some light emanating from behind his ghastly physique, and a single spot of light illuminating his chest. There’s been recent discussion by MJ Scott over at GatheringMagic about the visual portrayal of women on Magic cards. I don’t think we’ve seen that last of cleavage windows or Nin, the Pain Artist style aesthetics from Wizards of the Coast, but maybe this is their way of attempting to level the conversation? I mean, it’s not as overt as the Hawken prank, but as I’m standing there in the police station on the wrong side of town, how am I to pick out the baloth slaughterer? “Have them take off their shirts, I need to see which one has the gnarly pecs.”
Oh, Lifebane Zombie is a Magic card too.
Let’s start with the obvious. He’s a Zombie, the most relevant creature type in my cube. Any card that can help bring Gravecrawlers back online is at least worth consideration. Further, he’s a black three drop. This is perhaps the weakest spot on the curve in all of cubing, so the bar for admission to the cube league is absurdly low. As long as you get to the ball, right Mr. Lifebane? I mean, if I were interested in competing in the UEFA World Cup qualifiers, I’d start by applying for citizenship to the Faroe Islands. Well played Señor Zombie, you found the path of least resistance.
Lifebane Zombie’s stats are passable, considering the fact that Intimidate is functionally Unblockable in most cube games.
Last and possibly least is his enter the battlefield trigger. Lifebane Zombie continues a long heritage of enemy-color hate cards, and as far as effects go, the “exile a creature” clause is far more interesting than something like Protection. Not that since he exiles the card from the hand and not from the battlefield, you don’t gain any tempo the way you might with a hate card like Devout Lightcaster. But, when you’re trying to hold back cards like Thragtusk and Vorapede, a preemptive strike is perhaps the best course of action.
Just how narrow is the trigger? My 360 cube is host to 74 white or green creatures, or about 20.5% of all cards. Of course, many of those creatures will have already hit the board by the time you reach 1BB mana. I expect the trigger to be situationally relevant, but if prodded to name the colors that need extra hate in my current environment, neither white nor green would be at the top of that list.
All in all, Lifebane Zombie looks like one of those marginal cube cards that will enter a list only to be inevitably replaced in the ensuing 12 months. I’ll test Lifebane Zombie, but I don’t expect him to stick around for long.
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