Home > Musings > Musings: Tarmogoyf in Innistrad?

Musings: Tarmogoyf in Innistrad?

Several weeks ago, Bigheadjoe mentioned to me that he thought there was a possibility that Tarmogoyf would be reprinted in the upcoming Innistrad block. At the time, my reaction was along the lines of, “Sure, anything’s possible.” (I learned a long time ago to never say “never” when it comes to WotC.)

Since then, my mind goes back to that conversation every time someone mentions Tarmogoyf. So, yesterday morning I posed the question on Twitter.

Not surprisingly, I got a wide range of answers. Points against the reprint were that ‘Goyf was a “mistake” and would be “overpowered” and “format-warping.” @leet32 mentioned “Time taken to determine p/t. Awkwardly bounces off other copies.”

(Also not surprisingly, most all of those who seemed absolutely sure that Tarmogoyf would not be reprinted offered zero support for their argument. I’d guess these are the same people who shot down the idea of time-shifted cards in Time Spiral and the “priceless treasures” of Zendikar. Like I said before: Never say “never.”)

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying there’s a good chance Tarmogoyf will be reprinted. I’m not guaranteeing it, predicting it, or vowing to eat my hat or eat a Jace if Tarmogoyf doesn’t show up in Innistrad block. I’m just saying, if ‘Goyf is ever getting reprinted in Standard, this seems like a swell time to do it.

First, let’s address the naysayers. In the four years since Tarmogoyf first appeared in Future Sight, we’ve seen some of the strongest creatures ever to be printed in Magic’s 18-year history. Wild Nacatl. Goblin Guide. Baneslayer Angel. Knight of the Reliquary. All five Titans. Pro Tour Hall of Fame hopeful Mark Herberholz remarked recently in an interview on the Top 8 Magic podcast that while he was active on the PT the game was spell-based, but now, “creatures are king.” A Tarmogoyf in Standard in 2011 would not be the same Tarmogoyf we knew in 2007 (which, by the way, was not deemed so powerful as to be ban-worthy). Wizards has shown us that they want creatures to be good. Tarmogoyf may have been stronger than was intended for the time (rumor has it that it was originally costed at 1GG instead of 1G), but in the context of today’s creatures, it fits right in. Overpowered? Hardly. Not in 2011.

Time taken to determine power/toughness? Creatures with variable P/T are fun and have been staples of the game since its inception. The time it takes to determine P/T is negligible in my opinion. People made the same “time” argument against the reprinting of fetchlands, but current Standard has those, plus a ton of other shuffle effects that add to the time a game takes. Squadron Hawk, Ponder, Primeval Titan, Birthing Pod…just to name a few off the top of my head.

Awkwardly bounces off other copies? Consecrated Sphinx has a pretty awkward interaction with other copies too, and not only because it bounces off itself. That didn’t stop Wizards from printing it. According to this argument, Wizards should never print creatures with toughness greater than power. You know, because it’s awkward.

In fact, the best argument that I could come up with myself (and I’m a little surprised no one mentioned it) is that Tarmogoyf is a Creature—Lhurgoyf. Not Creature—Werewolf, —Vampire, —Zombie, —Spirit, or —Human. “Lhurgoyf” isn’t “classic horror,” which is Innistrad‘s apparent theme. Then again, I don’t recall seeing any Planeswalkers hanging out with Frankenstein or Dracula, either.

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, why would Tarmogoyf be a good fit for this block? As mentioned, Wizards has been pushing creatures lately. They’ve also been upping the power level of green as a whole (a color that revolves around beefy creatures). With both the Zendikar fetchlands and the Worldwake manlands rotating out, mana fixing is taking quite a hit. While Innistrad will likely give us something to replace them, there’s a possibility that splashing for ‘Goyf won’t be so easy, thereby forcing more of a commitment to the color.

Innistrad is rumored to be a graveyard-based block. We already know that the flashback mechanic is returning, and we’ve seen several “plants” in M12 that will play nicely with graveyard strategies. Wizards loves to create tension in their designs. Cards like Visions of Beyond and Tarmogoyf want cards in the graveyard, and they want them to stay there; Grim Lavamancer and flashback also want cards in the graveyard, but work against Visions and ‘Goyf by emptying the graveyard. Jace, Memory Adept has synergies with all of them. If Innistrad is all about interacting with graveyards, Tarmogoyf is a great fit, as all its strength comes from what resides in that zone. Every time a Grim Lavamancer is activated or a card is cast for its flashback cost, there is the potential to change a ‘Goyf’s effect on the board.

Mark Rosewater and company have told us that Innistrad has a tribal sub-theme. This being the case, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing some Tribal card types, even if it’s only a small handful like we saw in Rise of the Eldrazi. This would make it so that all cardtypes are present and relevant to boost a Tarmogoyf in Standard (unlike ‘Goyf’s first few months of existence, when there was no such thing as a Planeswalker card type, and only one Tribal—Bound in Silence).

Tarmogoyf is also legal in the recently-announced Modern format, and if Wizards wants to give this format a push, helping players get into the format by reprinting what will likely be a format staple seems like a splendid plan of attack. Tarmogoyf’s price is currently hovering in the $55-$70 range. A reprint would go a long way towards changing that, giving newer players easier access into a format which is likely to replace Extended.

And don’t forget, Tarmogoyf was a future-shifted card from Future Sight, a set whose timeshifted cards were intended to give us a look at potential futures.

Future Sight is not a peek into a single future but instead glimpses into a myriad of possible futures. Some of these futures are going to come to pass, while some of what you see in this set you’ll never see again. (- Mark Rosewater, April 2007)

While it’s perfectly possible that ‘Goyf falls into the latter category, it is always exciting to get cards from the former. With every new set, people clamor to find out if any cards from Future Sight have been reprinted. Since 2007, we’ve only seen 5 future-shifted cards show up (Rites of Flourishing and Foresee don’t count, as they weren’t actually future-shifted), and only Graven Cairns saw any serious play. There’s a sort of joy and satisfaction in discovering what sort of world the future-shifts originated from, at least on the flavor side of things.

So, while it may be unlikely, I think it’s entirely possible that we get Tarmogoyf back at some point in the next year (for those wondering, I’d expect it to be a Mythic, although I wouldn’t be too surprised to see it at Rare). To quote Matt Kranstuber of In Contention, ‘Goyf is “on theme, not overpowered by today’s standards, and [will] sell packs.”

I, for one, would welcome the return of our little green buddy.

Special thanks to everyone who shared their input on Twitter!
@_timmclaren
@Fenaris
@triforc3
@wortwelt
@NicholasAtSCG
@simongoertzen
@magnusmagicus
@dustyg013
@kstube
@vicious_bomber
@AllSunsDawn
@shameless_geek
@setzerg
@CapnTopDeck
@BigPReilly
@RealEvilGenius
@mikelinnemann
@BoltTheBird
@herodotusjr
@A_Magrini
@travishall456
@inSketch
@norbert88
@Antknee42
@dastels_mtg
@leet32
@ThaGatherin
@drsylvan
@thewachman
@chrisrossdipd
@Waldolio
@mixedknuts
@Kengy5
@WillieGMyPrez
@beardsonfire
@Daiches2
@mlanier131
@Schaf1
@TheCravenOne

Follow me on Twitter @affinityforblue.
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  1. August 14, 2011 at 8:13 am

    To elaborate on my comments regarding Tarmogoyf, the power-toughness issue becomes tiresome in the repetitive world of constructed magic. An experienced legacy player might agree with this. The shuffling effects we see in standard indeed do take time, and I suppose its wizards job to account for some of this in their designs. Awkwardly bouncing off each other seems trivial, but encourages complex board states or stagnant ones. Consecrated sphinx does not command the same amount of play as Goyf. I’d like to add that Goyf is an incredibly complex card, where players infrequently realized that shock could rarely kill Tarmogoyf. Shock goes to the graveyard, so Tarmogoyf becomes bigger before he takes his damage. Great article by the way, cheers.

  2. @Nizaster
    August 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Actually there are six future shifted cards. Ghostfire was reprinted in knights vs dragons.

  3. Meh
    August 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    My friends and I were thinking about the possibility of goyf being reprinted but the biggest hang up we had about it was that green sun’s zenith would be in the format. Looking at a deck that had 4 goyf and 3 zenith would be a lil much in our opinion and was kind of the nail in the coffin for that debate. While I would like to see it get reprinted, I’m seeing another stoneforge incident if it comes in this next block…

    • August 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      That’s a pretty good point. Although I’m not totally sure it would keep ‘goyf from showing up, I agree it’s a really strong play, and likely something that would be a staple interaction in Standard. That said, Goyf is still just a dude. No evasion, and can be hated out with graveyard hate—something that will almost certainly show up in a graveyard-based block. This sort of thing will go a long way towards keeping Goyf balanced, and won’t be so narrow considering there will be plenty more graveyard interactions in the format.

  4. August 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    You forgot about Mass of Ghouls. It was reprinted in Tenth Edition, only a few months after Future Sight.

  5. Richard
    August 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Lhurgoyfs all live on Dominaria. That’s a bit of a problem..

    • August 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Um, the thought process would have been that Vedalken only lived on Mirrodin, but they sure as hell showed up on multiple planes. I smell a troll…

  6. DDDDDER
    December 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Bant Pod would be a very strong deck with gofy in it because of inkmoth and stuff llike solemn simulacrum.

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