Garruk Relentless // Garruk, the Veil-Cursed
November 17, 2017
Constructed: 3.3 Casual: 4.3 Limited: 4.3 Multiplayer: 4.0 Commander [EDH]: 3.67
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
2011. My friend just got back from Australia after 6 months and we decided to buy some packs for his homecoming. His last booster he opened had a Liliana of the Veil, not a bad pull at all. Then he revealed the next card, a Garruk Relentless. You can imagine our hype, and that is the story of the legendary “Double Planeswalker” booster pack.
Garruk has had an interesting journey. Arguably the most powerful of the original Planeswalkers, he was the poster child for Green Planeswalkers for awhile until slowly being overthrown by Nissa. Now he is the only member of the Lorwyn Five who is not part of the Gatewatch. Not only that but he shares his Green-Black identity with Vraska. Now when you “open the vault” you can get way more than 2 Planeswalkers along with both Garruk and Nissa.
Garruk Relentless is interesting since he is the first transforming Planeswalker. In a perfect world you can use his ult after three turns, but that’s easier said than done. I like how OG Garruk’s ult was Overrun and Veil-Cursed’s is that plus Lord of Extinction. 4 mana for “five” abilities sounds good, but unlike Arlin Kord you can’t revert Garruk so he’s a bit more limited. All of his abilities synergize nicely, you can even have him fight his own wolf to transform (poor puppy.) With only a single tree in his mana cost, Relentless is easy to splash in a Golgari deck that wants token generation or a sacrifice engine.
Our first flip planeswalker, and one depicting Garruk having a very bad day. Good thing his bad day is decent gain for us, right?
Garruk Relentless is an interesting planeswalker in that his front side has no way to gain or lose loyalty, meaning he needs help to get angry and doesn’t work as well with Doubling Season as most planeswalkers do (since his flip condition is a static effect, and he really wants to flip). He does have a way to flip, though, through “fighting” another creature with his first 0 ability. This is a decent bit of potential spot removal that you usually only get once, but paying 4 mana to kill a creature in green is already a decent rate of return. He also can make wolves, which is cool.
Garruk, the Veil-Cursed is where things get interesting. His -1 is a slightly weakened version of Survival of the Fittest, but weakened is still good (especially since he has the ability to churn out an army of wolves to sacrifice away). His +1 also makes a Wolf, but this one doesn’t like people and has deathtouch to serve as an effective blocker. His ultimate, amusingly, goes off at -3, which is surprisingly low, but it basically says “game over” if you have a graveyard and a decent number of creatures.
So, he has powerful effects and a way to flip. Garruk’s issue, though, is his low loyalty leaving him vulnerable to a lot of damage-based removal. He’s going down to 1 or 2 loyalty when he flips, which is perilously low, and he has a hard time protecting himself well enough after he flips to have an impact. He can be great, because all of his abilities when flipped are brutally powerful, but protecting him to where he has space to fire off his abilities is a lot harder than it is for most planeswalkers.
Garruk Relentless / Garruk the Veil-Cursed I know the title goes with a different version of Garruk, but to me, these cards still represent him as an apex predator. He takes out any creatures you want whenever you can, he summons the pack (basically effortlessly, too, regardless of which version of him is active), and he just plain ends games. Unfortunately, the fact that his day side starts on relatively low loyalty and creatures are larger on average than they used to be means that he will sometimes go to the graveyard before he can flip as the result of that first fight. However, the fight action is the best way for mono-green decks to deal with otherwise unanswerable creatures like Shadowmage Infiltrator, and combining that option with the potential for long-term advantage when there isn’t such a card in play is absolutely worth the mana (and the money, for that matter!). Constructed: 4/5 Casual: 4/5 Limited: 4/5 Multiplayer: 4/5 EDH/Commander: 4/5
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