The festive season is well and truly upon us once again, and with it comes a great exchanging of gifts and presents. But you don’t have to wait until December to do this in Magic – there are plenty of cards that enable generous and thoughtful gift-giving in game. And, much like the new socks that many of you will receive this weekend, they’re often gifts you don’t necessarily want. Let’s get across some of the most famous MTG gift giving cards!
“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” Virgil tells us in the Aeneid, but it looks like Theros’s Akroans fell for the age-old ruse just as the Trojans did. This card is a pretty spot-on execution of one of the classical world’s most enduring stories, although I’m still really unsure how the Trojans fell for it. The army that was besieging your city for years packs up and clears out, leaving a wooden horse behind, and you… wheel it inside your impregnable city, without suspecting a thing? I’m amazed the Trojans lasted as long as they did, if they were that thick.
Can’t find your loved ones a gift this festive season? No worries, just give them something you’ve finished with. Treacherous Pit-Dweller is the classic regift – you get something brand-new, enjoy using it until you don’t want it any more, and then give it to someone else. Except… now it’s a 5/4 and better than it was when you had it, rather than being a rubbish secondhand gift? And they probably killed it in order to gain control of it? Okay, the metaphor kinda falls apart a bit there, I’ll admit.
And it doesn’t stop with Treacherous Pit-Dweller – Endless Whispers turns all creatures everywhere into pseudo-Pit-Dwellers. Why get a new gift for someone when you can just recycle the same ones over and over again? It reminds me of these two brothers, who have sent the same birthday card back and forth between them for four decades. Reduce, reuse, recycle – even when it comes to presents for your loved ones.
Sometimes you get a gift that is more trouble than it’s worth, like a bonsai tree, and you find yourself wishing you could just palm it off on someone else to make it their problem. Jinxed Idol is that bonsai tree, and along with the other Jinxed cards – Jinxed Choker and Jinxed Ring – are enticing baubles that you’d much rather admire from afar, while they’re in someone else’s possession. Sure, it’s nice to go around to someone’s house and admire their bonsai tree, but having one yourself? I mean, who’s got the time these days, right?
You have to have a lot of confidence that a five-mana 8/8 flyer is going to close the game to cast Sky Swallower, as you end up being a bit of a Diogenes, spurning material wealth, freeing yourself from the shackles of worldly possessions, happy to live in your barrel. But again, you have to be very confident your massive flyer is going to get there, because you’re a single Doom Blade away from total ruin. As nice as it is to give things to people, Sky Swallower might ask just a little bit too much of you this giving season, I reckon.
Wishclaw Talisman isn’t so much a gift as it is lending the sweet loot you were given to a mate for them to have a go with it. You get a sick remote control car for Christmas and your friend want a turn, hey, sure, enjoy yourself – but just remember I’m getting it back at the end of the day, and you better be careful with what you tutor up with it, because the two cards I’ll get will win me this game. Once again, the metaphor falls apart a little bit.
A one-mana 3/3? For me? Oh, you shouldn’t have. No, really, I mean it – you shouldn’t have, because this thing is clipping me for two damage a turn and I hate it, please make it stop. Remember, everyone – a Sleeper Agent isn’t just for Christmas, and if you do decide to give one to someone this holiday season, make sure they’re going to take good care of it and not just sacrifice it to a Village Rites or something.
The gift that keeps on giving! Bazaar Trader helps you disseminate your wealth, generously redistributing your artifacts, creatures and lands amongst those at the table, the less fortunate who don’t have a copy of Jinxed Idol or Ankh of Mishra for themselves. Just quietly, however, this Goblin isn’t much of a trader. Typically, traders… well, they trade, don’t they. They don’t just give things away. Ah well, never mind – ’tis the season, after all!
Donate was the classic “give my stuff away” card for years and years, causing new players to scratch their heads in confusion as to why you’d ever want a card like this in your deck. Then you learn about cards such as Illusions of Grandeur, Delusions of Mediocrity and Demonic Pact, and it all starts to make sense.
Zedruu is very much the Santa Claus of Magic – all she does is give things away, before reloading with more cards which she can then give away all over again. And sure, while most Zedruu decks are filled with gifts you don’t really want – Steel Golem, Rust Elemental, Bronze Bombshell – it’s not all that different from Christmas in real life, is it? Steel Golem is about as useful (and about as nice to look at) as the horrible jumper your aunt gave you, and you have to sit there and just pretend to be thankful. Season’s greetings, everyone!