Too-Specific Top 10 - Wall Drawl
(Flumph | Art by Brian Valeza)
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Flumph is the only 'Wall' that lets you draw a card off of an Enrage trigger?)
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms spoilers have brought a lot of treats, but I don't know that there was one that made me smile quite like Flumph. It's cute, it's iconic, and it's got a unique ability that is just as at home in Group Slug as it is in Group Hug. While not everyone is a fan of the semi-symmetrical draw that white is getting on cards like Flumph and Secret Rendezvous, I personally love it for its ability to equalize at tables that are lopsided in one way or another. It might be a death sentence to give other players cards at higher-power tables, but for everywhere else, there is always a land-light player who needs a hand to actually get to play the game, or a temporary alliance to be made against the archenemy.
Strategy and politics aside, however, the true reason I wanted to talk about Flumph is that it joins a very exclusive group. So exclusive, in fact, that it's only the 11th card to have ever been printed into this club.
Top 10 'Walls' That Draw
That's right, Flumph is only the 11th defender ever printed that has the means to somehow draw you a card. This fact astounded me so much that I knew I had to immediately do a Top 10 on it, so here we are, and here we go!
Criteria: Creatures with defender that, by some means on the card, have the ability to draw a card. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
10. Bonded Fetch
(223 Inclusions, 0% of 299,864 Decks)
A more expensive Merfolk Looter doesn't seem like anything to write home about, but Bonded Fetch's haste actually does some work. Or it would, if there was a defender deck that was more interested in the loot ability. Bonded Fetch coming down to draw you a card in Arcades, the Strategist and then immediately being available to swing or loot is pretty cool, but with only 2 toughness and no real need to get cards in the graveyard, even Arcades kind of shrugs at this option. For now, at least, you'd much rather pay two to go slower and scry with Patrick, and even that is just so-so when there are so many huge-bottomed options for cheap in a defender deck.
Still, maybe someday we'll get a Sultai Walls commander, and Bonded Fetch will have its day to shine. Until then, with a bigger rear end, cheaper cost, and actual avenue for card advantage, expect Flumph to vault right past this little Homunculus in play numbers very soon.
9. Psychic Membrane
(381 Inclusions, 0% of 299,864 Decks)
Psychic Membrane actually reads very similarly to Flumph at first glance, only without the selfless half of the draw ability that grants your opponents cards. In reality, however, it's much more difficult to strategize around blocking than it is dealing damage. Sure, the "Attacks Matter" decks are getting more and more support these days, but even in those you're usually forcing or incentivizing opponents to attack each other rather than to attack you, resulting in no cards drawn from the Membrane. With Flumph, you can easily plop down a Pyrohemia or a Pestilence and start drawing three cards a turn while wiping out everyone's utility creatures, and all the while, you'd still be able to do exactly what Psychic Membrane can do, and leave a blocker up that opponents will have to think about attacking into, especially if it means a card for you and one of their opponents.
8. Portcullis Vine
(901 Inclusions, 0% of 283,854 Decks)
With the worst of the worst draw-Walls out of the way, we now get to an absolute staple of the defender archetype: Portcullis Vine. For one mana, you get a 0/3 that can draw you a card for any of the dozens of defenders in your deck. While the two mana to do so isn't something you can just hold up anytime, it's far from prohibitive, and also allows you to fake a combat trick or a Counterspell (or a place to use your mana if you end up not using the tricks and counterspells you actually have). If anything, my surprise is really that Portcullis Vine isn't more popular. It's currently not even in the Top Cards section of Arcades EDHREC page, instead languishing halfway down the creature section under such questionable inclusions as Glacial Wall, Fortified Rampart, Wall of Glare, and Geist of the Archives. Don't get me wrong, 26% is a respectable inclusion rate, but in this case more people need to be making room for this one-mana option that will draw you a card on entry, draw another whenever one of your defenders is about to die, and can swing in for three at a moment's notice. As for how it compares to our pet card for this article, Flumph? I think it will get surpassed by our new favorite Jellyfish, but that it absolutely shouldn't, because more people should be playing Portcullis Vine in the first place.
7. Walking Archive
(934 Inclusions, 1% of 136,493 Decks)
There is a popular lamentation that Group Hug decks don't have a win condition, and while this is sometimes the case, it's more often that people just never see their win condition because they're correctly sticking to the mantra of "kill the hugs deck first". For those not aware of the various ways that Group Hug decks try to close out a game, let me introduce you to one: Walking Archive! Group Hug decks are all about flooding the entire table with resources that the hugs deck is built to use, but other decks can't fully take advantage of. That means a lot of control spells to keep others from winning the game, a lot of political tools to keep your opponents at each other's throats rather than at yours, and finally, a lot of mana sinks that you can dump a late-game mana surplus into. In the case of Walking Archive, it can provide advantage and win games, by granting a ton of cards every upkeep, or pumping tons of mana into at the end of your turn to draw the entire rest of the table out during their upkeeps. Sure, it could all backfire on your way to getting the table to draw 30 cards every turn, but that's what those five Counterspells you just drew are for, isn't it?
6. Orator of Ojutai
(1,214 Inclusions, 1% of 263,737 Decks)
Do you know what's even better than drawing a card off of your Wall coming into play with your Arcades the Strategist? Drawing two of them! Orator of Ojutai can do just that for the low, low cost of only two mana, while also being a huge aggro threat in the air as a 0/4 flier for only two mana. That's a lot in a small package! However, I would have to hand in my fanboy status if I didn't note that Flumph is also a 0/4 flier for two mana that can draw you (and admittedly, an opponent) some cards on its own. I actually expect this to be an interesting competition between the two as far as total inclusions go in the Arcades deck. With Flumph also being an option in Repercussion decks, Group Hug decks, and mono-white decks in general, it should be able to easily surpass the Orator, which really only fits in one niche deck.
5. Jungle Barrier
(1,696 Inclusions, 1% of 151,673 Decks)
The first of our Walls to just draw a card when it enters the battlefield, no questions asked, Jungle Barrier also comes with a large, relevant body while doing so. With 6 toughness to survive as a blocker and 2 power to dissuade attacking with precious utility creatures, Jungle Barrier is a great body that will put in good work, in addition to replacing itself even without Arcades. Still, it does cost four mana, which makes it a bit too pricey to see play outside of Walls decks, unlike our pet card of the day, which may not guarantee us a card, but is still a nice two-mana body.
4. Wall of Mulch
(1,736 Inclusions, 1% of 283,854 Decks)
Speaking of two-mana bodies that can possibly draw a card, Wall of Mulch! Given how high I was on Portcullis Vine, it should come as no surprise that I see Wall of Mulch as a must-play in the Walls decks of the world. Two mana for a 0/4 is decidedly middle-of-the-road, but responding to a board wipe by tapping all available green mana to recoup the losses from dying defenders is absolutely essential. Flumph may have similar stats, and may see some play in the Walls decks, but it will never see as much as this does, nor should it. Still, it will be interesting to see if our Jellyfish friend can beat out Wall of Mulch's inclusions via its additions to other archetypes.
3. Carven Caryatid
(2,153 Inclusions, 1% of 283,854 Decks)
While it may seem like Carven Caryatid also has some promise outside of the defender decks, the current numbers show otherwise. Of Caryatid's 2,153 current inclusions, 1,767 of those are from Arcades, the Strategist decks. The next greatest rate of inclusion comes from Thantis, the Warweaver, where the Caryatid appears in... 24 total Thantis decks. In other words, brewers have found that three mana for a 2/5 that draws a card is actually a bit pricey, unless you can turn around and swing for five with it the turn after. I still don't think we've found the top end of Flumph, which will very possibly replace Carven Caryatid's slot in a lot of Arcades decks, given its ability to fly in addition to drawing cards.
2. Wall of Blossoms
(8,194 Inclusions, 3% of 283,854 Decks)
Here at 8,000+ inclusions, we've finally found the hard line. Wall of Blossoms sees play in all sorts of decks across the board. It's an easy creature to lay down for two mana that replaces itself instantly. Sure, Flumph may fly and possibly draw cards with the same power and toughness, but that in no way compares to a guaranteed card all to yourself. When it gets down to brass tacks, Wall of Blossoms is exactly what it has always been since its original printing in Stronghold: the best way to get a defensive body down early that doesn't stop you from having cards to play late.
1. Wall of Omens
(9,121 Inclusions, 3% of 263,737 Decks)
Except it isn't. Don't get me wrong, Wall of Blossoms is exactly the same card as Wall of Omens. It doesn't do anything better or worse, but rather, exactly the same. The only difference? Wall of Omens is in a much worse color. With no solid means to reliably draw cards in white, Wall of Omens cantrip ability has become an essential means of card advantage in white, particularly because white is the color of blink shenanigans. While Flumph may get some shared glory in this area because it flies and could be repeatable card advantage, it will never reach the heights of this uncommon Wall that just comes down as a blocker and draws you a card. It may be less flashy and less enticing for Johnnies & Jennies, but it's also just better. That tends to be the difference in a vacuum, no matter the power level we're talking about.
First off, Sliver fans have probably been giving their obligatory harumphs about Dormant Sliver, and as a person who brewed a Pauper EDH deck around the card, I don't blame them. Still, it didn't technically meet the criteria, as it has all Slivers gain defender instead of having defender itself. I know, I know, that's splitting hairs, but that's what we do here. So as a consolation prize, have a look at said Pauper EDH Dormant Sliver deck!
Pacifist SliversView on Archidekt
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
Finally, what are your favorite defenders that draw? Do you hope we see more unique options that would fit on this list at a later date?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table in the breakroom where we constructed a makeshift barricade around to make sure no one bugs us during our Commander game.