Looking at a Random Card: Tireless Missionaries
(What am I doing here? Read here!)
Tireless Missionaries: Okay. I do not know the exact creature/non-creature ratio among all Magic cards. I realize that 20 cards is quite a small sample. And I won’t bother to do the math needed for a chi-square test. But 90% creatures convinces me that I need to give Gatherer an infraction for insufficient randomization! While variance happens, of course, we’ve reached a point where it is more reasonable to assume that the random card feature simply doesn’t work correctly. I have no idea why that would happen, if it was unintentional, and not even a theory really making sense to me why this should be intentional, but here we are. I will think about how to adjust my card selection in the future before I write my next entry.
The card itself is a lot less interesting. Yes, the more or less expensive, defensive creature which gives you back some of your life lost while waiting to cast it has a place in limited. However, I consider this execution to be a failure: For one thing, it is pathetically weak – it’s not as if Staunch Defenders had ever been a bane in limited environments. Then, it is too expensive for a defensive creature for my taste (that’s why I don’t use Staunch Defenders either): A 5-mana creature should push the game towards its conclusion, not just grind it to a halt. It’s fine if an expensive card plays a role in both offense and defense, like Angel of Mercy or Shepherd of the Lost, but the Missionaries are far away from being able to do that. I’m generally wary of loading an environment with too many defensive creatures – they lead to ground stalls, which in turn lead to too many games being decided by a good topdeck. A Teroh’s Faithful here and a Wall of Swords there can help drafters diversify their strategies, enabling slower, controllish decks, but if too many creatures feature higher toughness than power (or have defender), deckbuilding degenerates into looking for a way to integrate as many power cards as possible (in other words, it plays like the typical sealed environment).
Thus, the Missionaries are useless to me for three reasons: 1) There are numerous better alternatives available. 2) Even if there weren’t, the Missionaries would still be too weak. 3) Even if they were stronger, I wouldn’t want them in the 5-mana-slot.
If they happen to be included in a limited environment, they of course won’t ruin it (at least not by themselves), and might under specific circumstances even prove marginally useful. They also have a relevant and fitting creature type (I mean cleric, not human). Therefore – and noting that they are, of course, useless in constructed, and that their flavor is okay, but not really convincing – they do a little better than an E, earning an E+.