Notorious Throng - Illustration by Thomas Denmark

Notorious Throng | Illustration by Thomas Denmark

Hello planeswalkers! I know you’re always on the prowl for great information. I needed to get out one terrible joke, and I promise it won’t happen again. Today we take a look at the uncommon mechanic, prowl. With a total of ten cards with the prowl keyword, is it even worth knowing about?

Well, I always think that knowledge is a good thing and any advantage helps. No matter how obscure the keyword is, it may have value to you in certain builds. Heck, it may just be a fun endeavor to check out new rules and cards. Whatever reason brought you here is okay with me, so let’s check out how this mechanic works and if any of these cards below can help you to victory.

How Does Prowl Work?

Earwig Squad - Illustration by Warren Mahy

Earwig Squad | Illustration by Warren Mahy

Prowl is an alternative casting cost that requires a condition to be met. You may cast a spell for its prowl cost if a rogue or sometimes tribal creature like goblin or faerie has dealt combat damage to an opponent. For all the cards except Notorious Throng, the prowl cost is lower than the cost of the spell. Many of the prowl cards also have different effects or triggers that can only be used if you pay the prowl cost.

There are also a few nuances to this mechanic to explain.

If a rogue, or creature that shares a creature type with the card with prowl, has dealt combat damage, you can cast a card for its prowl cost, even if the creature that dealt the damage has been removed.

Using the prowl cost doesn’t change the timing rules of cards.

If a creature with prowl has its creature type changed in your hand, so is the condition that allows you to alternatively cast it. An example of this would be Conspiracy changing your creatures into a different creature type.

The prowl casting cost is optional, but some ETB triggers can only be triggered if the prowl cost is paid.

The History of Prowl in MTG

The prowl alternate casting cost was introduced in the Morningtide set. The mechanic wasn’t used on any cards or in any sets after Morningtide, except Enigma Thief. There have been reprints of some of the prowl cards in the Modern Masters and Zendikar Rising Commander sets. This mechanic wasn’t popularly received but does have some value in rogue, goblin, or faerie decks.

Is Prowl an Alternate Casting Cost?

Yes, it is. You may alternately cast spells with prowl if a rogue or creature that shares a creature type of the prowl card has dealt combat damage to an opponent. For the sorceries and instants with prowl, the condition is met only when rogues have dealt combat damage to an opponent.

Is Prowl an Additional Cost?

No, it isn’t. Additional costs add some sort of cost onto the normal mana value (MV) and always contain the word “additional”. Prowl is an alternate casting cost, which means it’s a different cost than the normal MV and not additional.

Can You Reduce the Prowl Cost?

Yes, you can. As the rules read for alternate costs, “If an alternative cost is being paid to cast a spell … cost reductions that affect that spell are applied to that alternative cost.” When you declare you’re using the prowl casting cost, all reduction effects then reduce the amount of mana you’re alternately paying for the spell, not its original MV.

Gallery and List of Prowl Cards

Best Prowl Cards

#4. Enigma Thief

Enigma Thief

Enigma Thief is the one non-goblin or faerie prowl card, so get your sphinx cards ready. You can stay ahead of the curve by playing a 5/5 flying creature for 4 mana. Not to mention you can also bounce a card back to all of your opponents’ hands. This is a solid playable card you can build around.

#3. Stinkdrinker Bandit

Stinkdrinker Bandit

Stinkdrinker Bandit can be a cheap way to pump your hard to block rogues. Rogues are often small but hard to block, which should make Stinkdrinker Bandit cheaper and then a good pump. Get your hard to block rogues like Soaring Thought-Thief, Rankle, Master of Pranks, and Thieves' Guild Enforcer ready for attacking!

#2. Knowledge Exploitation

Knowledge Exploitation

Knowledge Exploitation has so much upside value if you can understand your opponent’s deck. This is where all your research and gameplay pays off! With the prowl casting cost of 4, you can potentially steal a bomb instant or sorcery from an opponent. Stealing a Temporal Mastery or Breach the Multiverse on turn 4 can be a game-ender.

#1. Notorious Throng

Notorious Throng

Notorious Throng is the one prowl casting cost that is more than its normal MV, and this is to your benefit. The normal interaction with this spell can give you a ton of 1/1 flying faeries, but we all know your goal should be the extra turn. If you can get a wide board presence of weenie flying creatures, two turns may be all you need to finish a game.

Decklist: Modern Prowl Deck

Stinkdrinker Bandit - Illustration by Brandon Dorman

Stinkdrinker Bandit | Illustration by Brandon Dorman

I found a nice Modern deck that combines the prowl and cipher technique for a fun playing style. This was posted on Tappedout by the user mctomek. The deck focuses on using weenie unblockable creatures to quickly play prowl cards or repeatedly use cipher triggers.

This deck can be very effective because it’s so curve efficient and gets repeated value from its cards. Weenie decks are often destroyed by board wipes, but you may have already gotten a ton of value from the prowl and cipher effects and can bounce back the following turn. Swing fast with your hard to block weenie creatures and take advantage of prowl and cipher.

Wrap Up

Enigma Thief - Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Enigma Thief | Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Thank you very much for reading about this obscure MTG mechanic. If you’ve played this game for a while, you know prowl isn’t an overly good mechanic. It can be clunky and there aren’t many options. However, MTG is about having fun and I think that if you can build creative decks using obscure mechanics, you’re doing it right! So, have fun with the prowl mechanic, because I know I will. At least a little.

If you liked this article please go check out all the wonderful articles on Draftsim. If you need even more content and engagement then follow us on Twitter (or X, whatever you want to call it) and join the official Discord channel. Have fun and stay on the prowl for the cards that will bring you to victory!

See you next time!

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