Well, Thanksgiving has just past by, so I thought I might take some time to talk about what I'm thankful for in the world of Magic. And what better way to express my thanks than by talking about my favorite Magic card of all time: Takklemaggot. I managed to snag four of these guys way back when the shelves were inundated with Chronicles. Everyone else could keep their Elder Dragon Legends; I wanted those Takklemaggots.
Why do I love Takklemaggot? Let's take a look at the card:
I sure do miss that ultra-tiny font. When I play a Takklemaggot against an experienced player, they have to read it twice, just to make sure they know what it does. When I play it against a new player, they have to read it three times and they still don't know what it does.
Put a –0/-1 counter on target creature during its controller's upkeep. If the creature is placed in the graveyard, its controller chooses a new target for Takklemaggot. If there are no legal targets, Takklemaggot becomes an enchantment and does 1 damage to the controller of the last creature Takklemaggot was on, during his or her upkeep. Takklemaggot does not revert to a creature enchantment even if other creatures are afterwards brought into play.
"What does it do?" they ask. It eats your creatures. It eats your army. Slowly. One by one, they will fall to the Takklemaggot. It will eat them all. And then, and then... it will eat you. Muhuhahahahahaha!
My opponents hate the Takklemaggot. It's not that powerful. It's slow and expensive. But it inflicts suffering. People don't like to see their creatures slowly perish. Terror? No problem. Swords to Plowshares? Yay! More life! Takklemaggot? Nooooo!!!!
The smart people stop playing creatures. They let the Takklemaggot finish its job, instead. The stupid players try to race it. Until two more Takklemaggots come into play. Then the real fun begins.
Maybe I'm sadistic, but I love that the dead creature's controller gets to pick the next target for Takklemaggot. A lot of people don't get that at first, the fact that they get to choose which creature dies next. When I tell them that, they get excited. They point to one of my creatures and say, "I'll put it on that guy." "I'm sorry," I reply. "That creature has protection from black. It cannot be targeted by a black spell." They scan my board one more time and realize what they have to do. "Takklemaggot will eat them all, eventually, but you must order them to their death."
Takklemaggot has its quirks. It doesn't reduce a creature's power, only it's toughness. I used to see that as a bad thing. Then I realized it was irrelevant. My deck had 4 White Knights and 8 pump knights. First strikers don't take damage from low-toughness creatures. Low-toughness creatures also die that much faster to Pestilence. I guess they just can't stay healthy. Not when they're being eaten.
How do you deal with a Takklemaggot? You can't sacrifice your creatures. But you can bounce them. I guess Takklemaggots don't survive the trip back into the aether. It can also be disenchanted. This always felt kind of wrong to me. Takklemaggot should have a new card type: Parasite. This is what the licids always wanted to be. This is what Takklemaggot should be:
Creature – Parasite
When Takklemaggot comes into play, attach it to target creature. As long as Takklemaggot is attached to a creature, put a –0/-1 counter on that creature during that creature's controller's upkeep. If that creature is put into a graveyard from play, its controller chooses a new target for Takklemaggot. If there are no legal targets, Takklemaggot comes into play under that player's control. If Takklemaggot is not attached to a creature, it deals one damage to its controller during his or her upkeep.
Takklemaggot can not attack or block. Takklemaggot can not be sacrificed.
Now that's what I call rules text! Okay, actually, I see why it's an enchantment.
But I don't just love the way Takklemaggot works. I love the art. Let's take another look.
Kind of makes you reminisce about Thanksgiving dinner, doesn't it? Mmmm... turkey. It's sick. It really is. The Takklemaggot embodies everything that gives people the heebie-jeebies. It's a creepy insect, with the compound eye and the mandibles and the segmented body. It's also slimy. It's also bigger than you.
If you look closely, you can see a faint reflection of the victim's skull in the Takklemaggot's eye. Was this the first time he faced his killer? And I love the background: nothing. This little story is about a guy and his parasite. Nothing else is needed. The background color is reddish-pink – not what you'd expect on a black card, but it works. It makes me think of the inside of someone's stomach.
The name, Takklemaggot, sounds like some sort of fishing bait, but it has that ring to it. It's one word made up of two words. Each of these words is centered around double consonants. For some reason, that really enhances the card. Tacklemaggot just looks wrong. Takklemaggot. Now that's what I'm talking about!
It doesn't have flavor text. It wouldn't have room for flavor text, but it doesn't need flavor text. The ability is the flavor. It eats you! It crawls inside your fleshy little creatures and it devours them. It doesn't grow; it doesn't mutate; it just eats and eats and eats. Until all the meals are gone. Then it eats you.
So there you have it: my favorite Magic card of all time. It inflicts pain and suffering and gives me a sick sense of satisfaction. Am I evil for loving this card? Maybe. But Takklemaggots don't mind.