For seven mana, we've come to expect a massive
impact on the game (and possibly the secondary
market too), and Garruk does not disappoint.
Considering that by the time you reach seven
mana, the table is probably pretty well
developed, his abilities can all be seen as
variants of killing things, either directly or
in roundabout ways (counting his 3/3 beast token
as a blocker). However, the spread of ways he
does so makes him more flexible than it appears
at first glance, and when other control decks
are relying on planeswalkers as late-game cards,
he can be quite difficult to deal with short of
playing him yourself.
The number four card of the year is Garruk,
Apex Predator which is a seven mana Black and
Green planeswalker with five loyalty. The
first effect of +1 that destroys target
planeswalker is very situational, but when it
can be activated it is a huge benefit with the
only possible drawback being one less usage of
the other +1. The second effect for +1 gives you
a 3/3 with Deathtouch, which is an excellent
effect to use as even two tokens from it
justifies the seven mana cost. The -3 of
destroying a target creature and gaining life
equal to the toughness isn't bad, removal with
another benefit is efficient, but unless the
creature is a major threat that can't be handled
by the 3/3 Deathtouch tokens it is much better
to build up to the ultimate. The -8 is
fantastic, particularly in Multiplayer, as it
makes any attack a serious threat and any player
can take advantage of it. Overall this is
a very strong card in slower formats, though the
higher mana cost will keep it from seeing much
play outside of Commander and Multiplayer.
In Limited this is a clear first pick in Booster
even as a two color card and one can be splashed
to support the other. 3/3 creatures each
turn alone is enough to win games and the
biggest threat an opponent may have can be
handled by the -3 or other +1 if a planeswalker.
In Sealed it is a card to build your deck around
and barring a truly atrocious Black and Green
selection it should be the cornerstone to a
winning build more often than not.
For Multiplayer, the emblem produced by the -8
may be the single most effective bargaining chip
in the entire game as the threat of it and
inability to remove it once applied should
concern almost any opponent.
At 7 mana, this version of Garruk is quite an
investment. Most of the time planeswalkers are
valuable because you can get them out relatively
early and use their abilities multiple times.
But when it takes 7 mana to get him out, its
immediate impact should be pretty big. His
immediate +1 of either destroying a planeswalker
or making a 3/3 deathtouching beast do fit the
bill. Or, you could get rid of that problematic
creature before someone has the chance to take
out Garruk - because, make no mistake - once
you get Garruk out, someone will be doing
anything they can to take him out, because if
he's left to use his ultimate, the game's over.
If you can manage to get him out in a timely
fashion and someone doesn't kill him
immediately, he's right up there with Nicol
Bolas as the most powerful planeswalker. But to
me, I'd usually rather play a less expensive
planeswalker and get more early use out of him.
The Apex Predator, unfortunately, is going to
rot in your hand far too often.