A Beginner’s Guide to the Inspired Mechanic in Magic: The Gathering
Welcome ladies and gents to another Beginner’s Guide to. After the success my previous article on Madness, I have decided to focus mainly on the style I used previously, providing an in-depth view on a mechanic and including my very own suggestions as to how to to exploit said mechanic in your deck building.
So this time around, I’m going to talk about a mechanic that has slightly less history than Madness – Inspired. You ready? Let’s go.
So, what actually is Inspired?
This ability was released in Theros Block and, honestly, didn’t see much competitive play. The reason for this is because in a vacuum? The mechanic isn’t particularly strong. The theme behind the ability is a creature being inspired by the divine beings in Theros coming from the world of dreams. Statistically, Inspired is mainly a Blue and Black mechanic, but actually branches into all five colours in the game.
Inspired is a triggered mechanic (one that only activates when a certain criteria is met) and in this case, the trigger is a creature becoming untapped.
The Inspired Rulings
Now this ability doesn’t require a creature with it to untap due to your Untap Step. As long as said creature untaps, it’s ability will trigger. This however, will not work with flicker effects such as Cloudshift, because flicker effects don’t take into consideration whether a card was tapped or not before it flickers, the card never officially “untaps” and therefore will not trigger the ability.
In Born of the Gods, Wizards of the Coast released a cycle of Uncommon creatures that allow you to pay 2 generic and one coloured mana as part of their Inspired ability to put an Enchantment Creature onto the Battlefield. They are:
- White: God-Favored General
- Green: Pheres-Band Raiders
- Black: Forlorn Pseudamma
- Red: Satyr Nyx-Smith
- Blue: Aerie Worshippers
When these cards’ Inspired costs are paid, the ability is placed on the stack in the beginning of the upkeep phase because nobody holds priority during the untap phase. Therefore, unless they are given haste in some way (like Satyr Nyx-Smith does, or via Hammer of Purphoros), the token creatures will not be able to attack that turn due to them not existing under your control since the beginning of the turn. Remember that you do not have to pay the Inspired cost for the creature, in which case, they just untap as normal with no further effects.
If a creature with Inspired has been tapped since your last upkeep, but somehow is untapped through an effect, then the Inspired ability will still trigger, regardless of the Inspired creature’s state.
Finally, if the Inspired ability requires a cost of some form (such as the creatures featured above), you decide whether to pay the cost as the ability resolves, not when it is triggered. Because of this, even if the creature leaves the battlefield in response to Inspired being triggered, you can still pay the costs because the creature is not a target and therefore can resolve.
How can we use Inspired in a game?
What I want to make regular is this. A deck that can give an example of how to use the mechanic. So here’s a list of a deck of my own invention that tries to make use of the Inspired mechanic in a Tasigur, the Golden Fang EDH deck.
Commander Inspired Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Yes, I know the deck is in 3 pieces. It’s supposed to be like that so that you lovely lot can always see a preview of the card. Thank me later…
The obvious goal of this deck is to produce an ever-increasing card advantage through using the Inspired mechanic. From generating tokens with cards like Pheres-Band Raiders and Skirsdag High Priest, to card draw from Pain Seer, and non-interactive damage with Servant of Tymaret.
Alongside this, we need ways to actually tap them outside attacking, as this isn’t a super aggressive deck, and therefore we have utility creatures like Bramblesnap and Mossbridge Troll that can tap for effects.
As of this article coming out, all of the Shadows over Innistrad spoilers have been released. The only card that immediately catches my eye is Cryptolith Rite. Using this gives another method to tap out our creatures as well as produce a resource, much like Citanul Hierophants.
Finally, in order to make the most of the mechanic, I have chucked in a bunch of things that allow you to untap during opponent’s turns for maximum inspiration like Murkfiend Liege and Seedborn Muse. Unfortunately Prophet of Kruphix works so well in this deck, however Sheldon Menery deemed, in all his greatness, to ban it. Therefore the cards suggested here are pseudo- versions.
In order to upgrade this deck, I suggest finding some fun Convoke cards to run alongside the creatures. Stuff like Chord of Calling and Nissa’s Expedition can have mad value if paired with our favourite tap- loving friends. Maybe we don’t even need to tap them seeing as it doesn’t matter if the card is untapped when the Untap step comes around. Therefore ways to flicker the tapped creatures allow you produce blockers seemingly out of nowhere. You could also find ways to slot in cards that just have ‘when this creature becomes untapped’ effects as well. By thing I mean cards like Fallowsage, Hollowsage. Maybe you can even run some shenanigans using Relic Putrescence and Opposition or the like… Abusing the fact that you don’t have to tap via the Combat Step is imperative to making full use of the ability.
My other suggestion for the deck is the Chief Engineer route. Being able to convoke out artifact creatures can be really good, especially with creatures like Hangarback Walker or (budget permitting) Wurmcoil Engine. Imagine this: A 6/6 with Lifelink and Deathtouch all for maybe 2 mana. And then you get to untap and gain a secondary effect. Mental.
Even the most Inspired have to struggle sometimes…
In my opinion, the reason Inspired never really took off was the lack of support it had. Born of the Gods was a far weaker set than Theros and didn’t provide many ways of tapping your creatures outside of combat. In this regard, the creatures were therefore made weaker in order to give pause for thought about actually blocking them.
Instead of making the cards stronger with incremental advantage, people would just block the creatures or kill them off before they could untap. Remember that cards such as Bile Blight, Hero’s Downfall, Magma Jet and Lightning Strike were all legal at that time and run in 3-4 of in all decks that could accommodate them.
Take Forlorn Pseudamma as an example for this point: Paying 3B for a 2/1 isn’t great unless you’ve got some major and swingy upside. Unfortunately, until the combat step on your next turn, it is a totally vanilla creature… To put it in context, during the same time, you could pay a single white and drop Soldier of the Pantheon, a creature with the same stats and a more immediate upside, for 3 generic mana fewer than the Pseudamma’s token.
What we can learn is that the Inspired mechanic maybe wasn’t designed to be applied through the combat step. It’s “Method of tapping #2” if you will. Therefore to make use of this ability, we need to find other ways to abuse the mechanic. An example of this is: Finding methods to tap the creatures in ways that maybe produce an ability itself. Springleaf Drum is pretty much a perfect example of this last point. Being able to tap a creature and produce mana lets us do something alongside the first mechanic, therefore turning the Inspired mechanic into a secondary awesome effect.
To go more into depth on this, let’s take Pain Seer as the creature we’re going to tap with Springleaf Drum. Combining these cards on turn 1 and 2 respectively means that we effectively make our own Dark Confidant. Now if that’s not a super-cool budget version with an upside of 1 more toughness then I’m really not sure what is…
So, we come to the end of Inspired for now and just go back to our normal lives. Hopefully you guys have been Inspired by some of my points, but let’s get to our actual conclusion:
- You don’t have to trigger it through your combat step – find ways to abuse this and generate card advantage through alternative methods to tap your creatures (like our Springleaf Drum into Pain Seer combo).
- Inspired could have been far stronger if enough support was put in to aid it. There was some aid, but not enough to make the ability strong or consistent enough.
- King Macar, the Gold-Cursed was actually based on the story of King Midas from Greek Mythology, who had the ability of being able to turn whatever he touched to gold. The more you know…
- There are multiple ways to use the mechanic, but it is primarily a midrange ability, so use it to generate advantages.
Thanks a lot for reading through this installation of A Beginner’s Guide to and I really hope that you came away learning something from it. Please look out for my next article, take a listen to the Converted Mana Cast on Soundcloud, and may all your packs contain a Black Lotus.
Community Question: Have you made a deck based around Inspired? What cards did you play, and what is the best card for the mechanic? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.
(In regards to this, I will endeavour to respond to comments as soon as possible and with as much clarity. If you have anything you don’t want to comment, or have an article suggestion, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll take a look at what you’ve suggested)
‘Till next time,