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By Dodo Bird Commander writer Josh Jurgensen

Greetings again, readers! I hope you’ve have been able to get out and get some great games in with your pals since you read the last article. I’ve been able to spend quite a few evenings with buds slinging cards around – and I’ve been on a bit of a hot streak lately.

I’ve got 10 decks that I typically keep together at any time that give me a variety of styles of play to keep any one approach from getting repetitive. It’s been pointed out to me that with my Erebos, Kamahl, Fist of Krosa and Krenko decks, that I’m not afraid to try monocolor strategies – and indeed I am not. I feel like there’s some pretty fantastic synergies to explore and great cards to include that really only gel with one-color decks. I get to do some of my deepest digging for great cards in monocolor strategies – and this week is a great example of a card that’s become somewhat infamous in my weekend group.

 

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Spotlight: Ifh-Biff Efreet

This relic from Magic’s first expansion takes us back to when Magic was still so new, no one was quite sure what direction it would take. In the process of writing this, I researched this and other specific Djinni to see if they were actually mentioned in 1001 Arabian Nights. They were not, but there were pretty fascinating premises behind how Ydwen, Ernham and the Ifh-Biff all got their names (they were transliterations of names of people close to Garfield at the time [1]). Stories like that really personalize a game a great deal more for me – so it’s great to be able to relive some of that and showcase this great card that hasn’t ever quite had a home until now.

 

Analysis

Let’s get to know this jolly green genie.

efreet

 

Card Name: Ifh-Bíff Efreet
Mana Cost: 2GG
Converted Mana Cost: 4
Types: Creature — Efreet
Card Text:
Flying
G: Ifh-Bíff Efreet deals 1 damage to each creature with flying and each player.
Any player may activate this ability.
P/T: 3 / 3

If you’re wondering – yes, more than three activations of this card will resolve (with last-known info) after it has taken lethal damage – so feel free to bleed everyone for twenty if you so desire. When this card was made, it was likely based on a combination of Pestilence and Hurricane – two cards that saw far more play back then than they do now. Currently, I have seen Crypt Rats and Pestilence Demons in decks occasionally – but never any Squallmongers – so why do I seem to be the only one playing this thing? It’s doubtful that you’re going to want to be swinging in for a paltry 3 damage a turn – unless you’ve got a sword or other bit of useful equipment attached – but we’ll get to than in a little bit.

 

Applications

Creature Removal – There’s clearly a certain sense of fragility imposed onto all flyers as soon as this hits the board. It’s safe to presume that no flying creature is safe while this is in play. The fact that any player can activate its ability (if they have green mana) makes it akin to a Nevinyrral’s Disk ready to go off at any moment – and can turn games into a real standoff. Used politically, you can always state “Don’t come at me, bro and you can keep your flyers” – in the hopes that it keeps you safe from those flyers. This leads us into:

Attack Deterrent – This guy should work wonders at a table with multiple green decks. The threat of attacking with flyers into an 8-point hurricane is enough to keep plenty of dragons at home. Couple this with the very real possibility of punishing players with lethal direct damage as they attack the wrong player, and Ifh-Biff Efreet’s attack deterrent capability can really put you in the driver’s seat.

 

mace

 

Life Gain Machine – Simoon isn’t anything to write home about. But when you’re sitting at a table with five other players and attach Basilisk Collar to this dude or have a Whip of Erebos in play, you’re really making it difficult for opponents to want to activate this. I’ve gotten myself into the hundreds of points of life with this and a batterskull before – and having a three-digit life total is something people usually don’t expect out of a green deck.

Ticking Clock – If you’re brave, you could activate this for 2 once per turn to lower life totals without killing the 3/3 body – but make certain you’re aware of your opponents’ ability to generate a green mana to put the third (and lethal) activation on the stack.

Doomsday Device – As long as you’ve got the most life (or close to it), there’s another option of activating this to kill as much of the table as possible. I’ve found that people don’t always like a tie, but sometimes everyone really just wants to start a new game anyway. This card works pretty perfectly here: you put enough activations of the card onto the stack as you can – and as long as you’re still alive after an activation, the next one will resolve. Once you take lethal damage from it though, you’re through and all of your leftover activations are exiled from the stack (other players’ remain on the stack as long as the players who activated them are still alive) – but you’d never get in that position in the first place right? You’d take safety precautions and Crop Rotation a Glacial Chasm into play first, right? And you’re certainly above equipping Grafted Exoskeleton or playing Triumph of the Hordes before his activations begin resolving too, I’m certain.

 

Political Hijinx

There’s few abilities in the entire game that anyone at the table could theoretically activate. Let’s presume that there’s a Mycosynth Lattice in play alongside this Ifh-Biff – and anyone could threaten to use all of their mana at any time. The third resolved activation will kill the Efreet – but any further activations will continue to resolve until players start dying. This definitely can bring an atmosphere of a standoff – all players waiting, with itchy tapping fingers – to see who flinches first. I can’t tell you what to do in this situation—that’s up to you—but I can say that the outcome will be partially be due to your personality and how you can influence the rest of the players to act according to your will.

 

Technical

If you’re familiar with Crypt Rats in your group, many of the same tricks apply here – giving it Lifelink (even if they’ve taken lethal damage, its effects use last-known information), Infect, Protection from Green (or Creatures) or making it lose flying with something like Phyrexian Splicer or Magebane Armor. As I mentioned earlier, damage prevention methods like Glacial Chasm or Urza’s Armor would be hugely useful if you anticipate seeing this card show up on your tables frequently.

 

technical

 

In addition to the tons of life you can gain from him, you can generate a pile of draw triggers with Keen Sense or Snake Umbra – or use Neko-Te to lock creatures down and add life loss to each activation. I’m also certain that there’s some pretty incredible synergies with Vigor and this card also – but I’ll let you figure out which ones you like the best.

No matter what, the Ifh-Biff will likely wind up in it’s owner’s graveyard before too long – and green has cards like Hua-Tuo, Nim Deathmantle, Genesis and Mimic Vat to make sure that your opponents can’t keep a good card down.

Lastly, we should make note of this rule:

112.8. The controller of an activated ability on the stack is the player who activated it. The controller of a triggered ability on the stack (other than a delayed triggered ability) is the player who controlled the ability’s source when it triggered, or, if it had no controller, the player who owned the ability’s source when it triggered. To determine the controller of a delayed triggered ability, see rules 603.7d–f.

If you paid the Green mana for it, you control the ability. If there are enough activations of Ifh-Biff from the controller’s opponents to resolve and kill the controller, the remaining activations (that were activated by players who are still alive) stay on the stack and continue to resolve. That is worth knowing – as it might come in handy more often than you’d think when playing this card in 4+ player games. If you’ve got access to green and the most life, you’re definitely pleased to see an opponent play this card.

 

Dealing with it

Utilizing the same methods one would to minimize damage taken if they owned the card would be a good starting place – so the owner and others would spend their mana and weaken everyone else while leaving you untouched. Exiling this card is probably a good idea – but one that requires patience. The obvious play if you were to try to exile the card would be for the owner (or anyone else) to activate it in response for enough damage to kill it to counter the exiling effect – so you’ll need to take care to exile it after all players have tapped their mana and don’t seem to be able to activate it any further.

Bear in mind that it’s entirely possible that this card could cause a chain reaction of all players dumping a ton of green mana into it if it looks like it will be leaving the table.

Note that the controller will usually have a somewhat-diminished life total after a few activations – you can simply gun for them with instant speed burn now that they’re in the red zone.

 

Financial

There’s currently plenty of $10-and-under copies of this card out there. I prefer most of my older cards with lots of play on them – they acquire a unique story of their own and they’re easily distinguishable. They also work just fine for all of my EDH needs since I don’t anticipate reselling them any time soon.

 

8

 

If you’re ok with that, then you can likely find them for cheaper than the retail price of a modern masters pack – and those are odds I definitely like. Getting a great old card for cheaper than what many standard rares go for is a great feeling for me – and I hope it will be for some of you out there.

 

End Step

So think it over a bit. Do you have a green deck that makes gobs of mana? Are you looking for style points for your local game or league? Are you looking for a deep way for the table to politically interact? Or are you looking for something other than the same old tired Avenger of Zendikar + Craterhoof Behemoth win condition? Give the old Ifh-Biff a shot and showcase a great piece of arcana at your next game.

 

[1] http://oldschool-mtg.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-fire-of-sri-lanka.html

 

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