Let’s take a look at the Oracle text for Animate Wall from the Gatherer, as it is a bit clearer now as to what this card actually does.
Enchantment – Aura
Enchanted Wall can attack as though it didn’t have defender.
This specifically means that the creature must have the creature type of Wall. There was confusion at one time with this card, as all Walls became “Defenders” after a rules change, but not all Defenders technically count as Walls.
So are there Walls that you would actually want to enchant with this card? In fact, there are!
There was a time where Blistering Barrier and Animate Wall would have been good friends, as they were both in Standard together for some time. A 5/2 for 2R is pretty aggressive, and to play a one-drop Enchantment that suddenly makes it a creature is pretty strong. Alas, it doesn’t have any evasion of its own, making it a very aggressive, but very fragile attacker. The good news is that since it was designer to be a powerful defender, it serves that purpose, as well. Not that I would suggest actually playing Constructed with this card, but it’s an interesting interaction.
Carnivorous Plant is perhaps a better option for Animate Wall. They actually were printed together in Fourth Edition. Originally printed in the Dark, Carnivorous Plant is a 4/5 Wall for 3G. Those are very solid stats, especially if it can suddenly attack.While this wouldn’t be so strong in today’s game, at the time, this would’ve made for a very strong combination.
Illusionary Wall is another contemporary of Animate Wall. It’s a 7/4 for for 4U! 5 mana for a creature of this magnitude was not bad at the time, especially since it had flying and first strike. However, it does have a considerable downside, and that’s its cumulative upkeep. Yeah, one blue mana to keep it around doesn’t sound bad. The problem is that with each passing turn, it costs one more blue mana to keep it around. That means two blue on the second turn, three blue on the third turn, and so on. So you definitely get diminishing returns with this card. It was still a pretty decent Constructed combo at the time, though.
That 7 damage in the air, especially first strike damage, could deal with the best flyers at the time! It was pretty good even without the Animate Wall, but with that cumulative upkeep, it was not a bad idea to strike with it as soon as you could!
But perhaps the best target in the game for Animate Wall would be Sunweb from Mirage:
While Sunweb can’t block creatures with power 2 or less, you’re not going to be caring if you’re swinging with this 5/6 flyer for 3W! A four-drop 5/6 flyer is extremely strong, even if you have to pay W to Animate it.
Also, we can’t forget Wall of Swords, a 3/5 flyer that was printed in Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited, as well. It was actually printed in Magic 2014, and was quite a strong Limited card! But it’s not nearly as powerful as Sunweb,although it can hold the air better against smaller creatures.
Honorable mentions include: Carrion Wall, Cinder Wall, Crude Rampart, Mirror Wall (which had a White activated ability), Wall of Pine Needles, Wall of Razors (a 4/1 with first strike)
One other honorable mention would be Ageless Sentinels which is a great target, as it’s a 4/4 flyer. The only issue is that this card was printed in Scourge, which was in 2003. The last time Animate Wall was printed was in 1999. Still, it’s a good use of the Aura if you happen to be building a “Walls” deck.
So if you did like to build a walls deck, what might you want to do? First of all, you would include this enchantment:
Rolling Stones was around towards the end of Animate Wall’s time in Standard. It does the same thing as Animate Wall, but better. Best of all, it’s technically in Modern, since it was reprinted in Eighth Edition, although Animate Wall is not. Also, another card you may consider is Doran, the Siege Tower.
Since most of the best attacking walls are in Green and White, you won’t mind playing a single black to get a copy of Doran out. While Doran doesn’t help your Walls attack on his own, he does make other Walls that have 0 power and lots of toughness into extremely powerful weapons. He himself is essentially a 5/5. While this could technically help your opponent, it’s more likely than not that it won’t.
Writing this article has made me really appreciate Walls. It is totally possible to build a Wall-based Modern deck. Yes, it won’t have Animate Wall, but talk about a defensive deck that can beat you out of nowhere! Yeah, you could build a Legacy deck, but there’s just not enough power in this deck to compete in that very top-heavy format.
Doran, the Siege Tower EDH anybody? Such a fun deck.
Well, that’s my review of Animate Wall. I hope you enjoyed my rather brief but extremely informative trip through the history of Magic’s walls!