In my final week of booster packs it seems like I’m doomed not to find any new cards! Today saw more copies of Slimebind, Wrecking Beast, and Judith, the Scourge Diva so I’m going to take a look at a common Gruul combat trick:
Savage Smash is a sorcery that gives one of your creatures a +2/+2 until end of turn and makes it fight a creature you don’t control.
One of the things I like most about the Ravnica blocks is that the identity of each guild is so defined and unique; you can look at just a handful of cards from a guild to instantly know what they are like. This card definitely fits into that description with the amazing artwork by Zoltan Boros1 and the flavour text that sums up perfectly what it is to be a member of the Gruul clan. Boros has been illustrating cards for years but you may recognise the similarity between this card and Gruul Spellbreaker; both use similar colour palettes and contain an explosion of liquid! I’m also a big fan of his artwork on Carnival // Carnage which is more cartoony, almost in a Borderlands style.
In any case, this card is a typical Gruul combat trick allowing you a slight buff that should allow you to destroy a creature either before or after your attack phase. As it runs at sorcery speed, there is no opportunity to use this during your opponents turn; I would have preferred this to have been at the uncommon rarity level and be castable at instant but it is what it is.
As with all tricks of this nature, one thing you need to watch out for is that you do actually fight another creature, emphasis on the word fight. This means that your health will likely be reduced going into your attack phase or that you may be casting it at a point where your health is already lower due to a previous attack. There are cards which specify that you just deal damage equal to your power, for example Rabid Bite, but this is specifically a fight and so any damage you take will stay with you until the end of your turn.
There are quite a few cards that are of a similar nature to this in that one of your creatures fights an opponents creature:
- Ancient Animus : instant that gives your creature a +1/+1 counter if it’s legendary
- Hunt the Weak : sorcery that gives your creature a +1/+1 counter
- Savage Stomp : as above; costs less if your creature is a dinosaur
- Pounce : instant fight with no additional benefits
- Prey Upon : as above, but cheaper due to sorcery speed
- Titanic Brawl : instant that costs less if your creature has a +1/+1 counter
- Undercity Uprising : sorcery that gives all your creatures deathtouch until EOT and then you choose one to fight an opposing creature
As you can see, there is a wide variety of these “fight” cards crossing a range of mana prices and casting speeds2. Savage Smash slots in nicely by giving you a larger buff than the others but it is only a sorcery and that buff does only last the turn; for my money, Savage Stomp is the superior card as the +1/+1 it confers is permanent and the casting cost can be ridiculously cheap if targeting a dinosaur which I nearly always would be in a Gruul deck3.
With that said, I could definitely recommend this card in the limited environment as it is effectively removal; there aren’t many creatures that’ll survive a buffed Gruul clansman head-butting them…
This post is part of a weekday series where I open up a booster pack and pick a card to discuss. Whilst these are often the best cards from the set, I'll often pick one that is a bit niche or one that has cool artwork or flavour text. If there's a particular card you want me to take a look at, get in touch or join my Discord community.