I woke up one morning (or afternoon, but whatever), and it suddenly occurred to me. I made a cursory search, checking to confirm my suspicions, and it was as I feared. Not just, “There are no wombat-based articles on this entire site.” Oh no, even worse than that. “There are no wombat-based articles on this entire site, and if I don't write one, there probably never will be.” Fortunately, I have a functioning keyboard and a few hours to kill in an ill-advised attempt to write what will hopefully be the first of many wombatastic articles on the only Magic website that has no editorial standards whatsoever (Spiderman is actually a sophisticated computer program written by CPA-founder Ed Sullivan). And not to belabor the point, but it's actually a bit depressing that the Casual Players Alliance, which does have the word “casual” in its name, doesn't have any articles devoted exclusively to Rabid Wombat. If I were to make a list of the most casual cards ever printed in the history of Magic, Rabid Wombat would rank—I don't know, like really highly or something. But more on that later.
Before I proceed, I should take the opportunity to shame those of you (and I know you're out there) that don't know or don't remember what Rabid Wombat is. So consider yourselves shamed. This is also the part where I would have a picture of the card if I were Eric Turgeon. If that example seems nonsensical to everyone (possibly including Eric Turgeon himself), well, I recall that some number of units of time ago, I read an article on this site that was written by Eric Turgeon and the article had pictures in it. So Eric Turgeon knows the arcane secrets required to insert images into CPA articles. I can't recall anyone else having actually used images, although it's possible that everyone else knows how to do it and I'm the one clueless person here that always wanted to have articles with pictures, but couldn't figure it out. I bet it involves tags though. Everything involves tags. Anyway, I can't be bothered with such frivolities. I'm a writer, not whatever you call someone that is competent enough to insert images into articles (note: I am not actually a professional writer). So here's Rabid Wombat in a familiar, albeit lazy, form.
Creature — Wombat
Vigilance. Rabid Wombat gets +2/+2 for each aura attached to it.
The rabies virus is the type species for the genus Lyssavirus (which basically means that when biologists were formulating the genus, this species was chosen as a template, in this case probably because of its significance to human health). The virus infects the central nervous systems of mammals (it incubates in muscle tissue before spreading to the nervous system). Humans commonly contract the disease when bitten by infected wild animals. This happens because the saliva of an infected mammal contains a significant amount of the virus. Contact with the saliva of infected mammals generally doesn't transmit the disease if the saliva doesn't break the skin. There have also been cases of infections in humans from organ transplants. If left untreated, infection is often fatal. Bats are the main reservoir for rabies and generally tolerate infection moreso than other mammals. Often, although not in all cases, humans and other mammals with brains damaged by rabies become confused and enraged. This can help the virus to spread, as these victims are more likely to bite other animals. This rage is the most famous characteristic of rabies. In fact, the word “rabies” comes from the Latin word for “rage.” Other symptoms of the disease include paralysis, hallucinations, hydrophobia, and insomnia. Also, there's the whole “dying a horrible death” part. But for the humble wombat, a squat marsupial normally content to burrow through soil and gnaw on plants, rabies synergizes with magical auras. Weird, right? I mean, who knew? Deadly brain virus that kills most mammals turns wombats into powerful monsters, apparently. Magic: how does it work?
The combination of “rage disease” and “chubby marsupial” for a Magic card is actually quite clever. I mean, rabies is a terrible disease that kills tens of thousands of people every year in the real world. Wombats are fat and not particularly intimidating in the real world. No one would be interested in a “Rabid Bat” or a “Grey Wombat.” But somehow, “Rabid Wombat” is just the right amount of silliness without actually being an Unglued card. So yeah, I can poke fun at the notion that viral destruction of a mammalian nervous system is supposed to have anything to do with enchantments, but that sort of thing has been all over the game from the beginning. And that's fine. Crushing opponents with my diseased marsupial (uh, I hope that's not a euphemism for anything) is more fun than watching generic sword-wielding hero #45 charge in for the kill. So even if Rabid Wombat wasn't as good as generic sword-wielding hero #45, I'd still expect to see Rabid Wombat pop up in casual play because dammit, it's a rabid wombat. It's rabid. It's a wombat. It has rabies. It carries its young in a pouch. It eats grass. It is foaming at the mouth and is going to kill, kill, kill. What more do you want? It gets better, though. Rabid Wombat isn't the most broken creature ever printed, but its aura-boosting ability is pretty good and well worth either building a deck around or including in a deck that uses lots of auras.
To Spiritdance or Not to Spiritdance
Rabid Wombat has the much desired combination of of being both funny and totally viable, at least to a certain extent. Veteran casual players likely remember other cards that looked so fun that they just had to go in decks, but were functionally terrible, such as Ovinomancer. For most of the game's history, Rabid Wombat has been the best at what it does. Older cards, and especially older creatures, have been hit hard by the power creep in recent sets (and to a lesser extent by rules changes). Many creatures that were dominant a decade ago just haven't aged well. Rabid Wombat has seen some competition, specifically these guys...
Creature — Beast
Creatures with power less than Aura Gnarlid's power can't block it. Aura Gnarlid gets +1/+1 for each aura on the battlefield.
Not bad, but by no means a replacement for Rabid Wombat. It starts out bigger and gets a boost for every aura on the battlefield instead of just the ones enchanting it. The evasion is nice, as is being one mana cheaper, but the real advantage is correcting for one of Rabid Wombat's greatest deficiencies: if an opponent manages to kill this thing, the card disadvantage isn't necessarily so severe, as not all of the auras need to be attached to it in order to make it bigger. However, it only grows half as quickly as Rabid Wombat for each aura.
Creature — Elemental Spirit
Flying. Evershrike gets +2/+2 for each Aura attached to it. (X)(W/B)(W/B): Return Evershrike from your graveyard to the battlefield. You may put an Aura card with converted mana cost X or less from your hand onto the battlefield attached to it. If you don't, exile Evershrike.
Rabid Wombat's ability and flying, along with a built-in recursion ability. On the surface, this seems superior to Rabid Wombat, but the recursion ability is only helpful if the thing actually dies, which means that all the enchantments that were on it before are also dead, a real worst-case scenario. It's also useful for cheating the creature into play, but then it still probably ends up costing more than it would have to play it from your hand. Flying is more desirable than vigilance most of the time and the extra starting power and toughness are advantages too, but costing one mana more often means coming out a turn later, and the minor size advantage that Evershrike has initially is insignificant compared to what these creatures should be getting from auras. Also, Rabid Wombat is green, which is probably the best color for this ability, although white is very good too. In the right deck, Evershrike is the better card, but Rabid Wombat isn't completely outdone here.
Gatherer of Graces
Creature — Human Druid
Gatherer of Graces gets +1/+1 for each aura attached to it. Sacrifice and aura: Regenerate Gatherer of Graces.
Like Aura Gnarlid, this would be better than Rabid Wombat if it grew as quickly. It is cheaper, starts out bigger, and has a decent secondary ability (although it would be best not to have to actually use that form of regeneration). But getting +1/+1 for each aura instead of +2/+2 means that while Gatherer of Graces isn't strictly inferior to Rabid Wombat, it's no replacement.
Uril, the Mistwalker
Legendary Creature — Beast
Hexproof. Uril, the Mistwalker gets +2/+2 for each aura attached to it.
This thing is monstrous. But Uril is completely different from the other Rabid Wombat clones. It costs six mana and has a severe color requirement. Still a good creature, but with a bit of a different role.
Creature — Kor Wizard
Kor Spiritdancer gets +2/+2 for each aura attached to it. Whenever you cast an aura spell, you may draw a card.
Oh. Seriously? Rabid Wombat has finally met its match, and it's generic magic chick #alreadymadethatjoke. Let's break it down into pros and cons.
Kor Spiritdancer pros:
-It costs half of what Rabid Wombat costs.
-It only has a single colored mana requirement.
-It has an extra point of toughness.
-It gives you the option to draw a card whenever you play an aura.
Kor Spiritdancer cons:
-Not a wombat.
-She's a rare from Rise of the Eldrazi. Rabid Wombat was printed in both Chronicles and Fifth Edition. Statistically speaking, you're using one as a coaster right now.
So yeah, Kor Spiritdancer might be better, but Rabid Wombat still has its niche uses for those that want to go mono-green, those that can't afford to buy a playset of Kor Spiritdancers, and those that insist on using Rabid Wombat because Kor Spiritdancer is either not rabid enough or not, uh, enough of a wombat.
And now for some wombat facts.
-Rabid Wombat is the only wombat in the game. Apparently one was enough. And who wants to bother with a non-rabid wombat anyway?
-Rabid Wombat is illustrated by Kaja Foglio. Of course.
-If you made a list of the most casual cards ever printed, Rabid Wombat would rank—I don't know, like really highly or something.
-Rabid Wombat isn't just a casual favorite. It's also a totally legitimate tournament card that has been in winning decks (citation needed). Rabid Wombat: tournament powerhouse.
-Other rabid creatures include a wolverine, an elephant, and rats. Not only is the wombat the funniest, it's also the best. Apparently the rabies virus affects elephants and wolverines in a similar manner to each other.
-There's also Flock of Rabid Sheep from Unglued, because apparently sheep with rabies are too silly even for Magic sets (canonical ones, that is).
-Rabid Wombat once had a tournament deck named after it, but the deck didn't actually contain Rabid Wombat. It was a joke. Hilarious, right? No, it isn't.
-A Rabid Wombat enchanted with four Ancestral Masks is a 32/33, assuming that there are no other enchantments on the battlefield.
-If you are attacked by a wombat in real life and suspect that it might have rabies, be sure to seek medical attention.
-Kaja Foglio went to the same university that I attend, but she actually graduated.
What kind of deck should you build for your wombat?
The simplest way to use Rabid Wombat is to put it into a green or green/white deck that has lots of auras. Armadillo Cloak is particularly good. This strategy can quickly ramp up and kill opponents, but it's not all that robust. Using auras that protect Rabid Wombat from removal somehow (Greater Auramancy, perhaps) helps, but you're still putting all your metaphors in one basket, which some players might not like.
Another option is to use Rabid Wombat as part of an Enchantress deck. Argothian Enchantress and Enchantress's Presence draw lots of enchantments, which can make the Wombat bigger. The biggest problem with this option is that even though Enchantress is a good way to make Rabid Wombat powerful, Rabid Wombat isn't a particularly good finisher for Enchantress, which can be a very explosive deck. For players on a budget, keep in mind that statistically speaking, you're using Verduran Enchantress as a bookmark right now. An old-fashioned Enchantress deck with Rabid Wombat as one of the offensive outlets isn't as impressive as a finely-tuned Legacy tournament Enchantress deck, but it can still be fun.
Although it's not a particularly obvious synergy, Auratog works well alongside Rabid Wombat. Attack with both and even if the Wombat eats a removal spell, those auras can be used to fuel Auratog. In fact, once upon a time, I had an Enchantress deck with both Auratog and Rabid Wombat. Rancor is the trick to making this work.
Finally, the best option is to come up with your own awesome Rabid Wombat deck. That way, you can write an article about it and post it here at the CPA. Then we'll have two wombat-based articles instead of just one. Do it. Do it now.