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I have Bind the Monster. I really don't see a use for it. Is it useful, and how?

It's an Aura Enchantment for {U} with

Enchant creature

When Bind the Monster enters the battlefield, tap enchanted creature. It deals damage to you equal to its power.

Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step.

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    soft removal in blue for 1! at common! sounds like a pretty solid card in limited formats – bengoesboom Mar 14 at 21:53
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Bind the Monster is the newest card from a decent list that both taps the creature when you play it, and keeps it tapped. Most of these that do only that cost 3 or 4 mana, the ones that cost only 1 have significant downsides to them:

  • Tangle Kelp only works at most every other turn - since it keeps it tapped only if it attacked last turn.
  • Paralyze lets them pay mana to untap it, they can decide if it's worth 4 mana to have their big threat back for the turn.
  • Bubble Snare doesn't tap unless you kick it, making it a 4 cost.

And then we have the new 1 cost, Bind the Monster, which also has the creature do damage to you when you use it. It does that damage only once however, then it can't attack, it is also not combat damage - so effects like Fynn, the Fangbearer giving poison counters, or Master of Cruelties setting your life to 1 point won't happen. The creature being kept tapped means it won't be able to attack or block, or use any effects that require it to tap, so no more using Elvish Archdruid to generate a ton of mana in an elf deck.

Most of the time it's easy enough to remove a creature instead. Most kill spells cost 2 or 3 mana like Poison the Cup, most spells that exile cost 3 or 4 - neither of these are things that blue tends to do, kill spells tend to be black, exile spells tend to be white. Blue usually deals with creatures three ways:

  1. Countering them before they resolve - this is very time specific, you need to do this when the creature is cast, but it's usually the most efficient and permanent solution.
  2. Unsummoning them. This sends the creature back to the hand, so it's only a temporary fix, your opponent can usually just play it again next turn, but this tends to be the cheapest option at 1 or 2 mana.
  3. Tapping the creature and keeping it tapped. This is the middle ground. The creature is still on the battlefield, but it can't do much while there. It usually costs about the same as more permanent removal in black or white.

There's a few bad habits and ways of thinking that tend to take players a while to get out of, I suffered from these myself when I started:

  • Avoid losing life - life is a resource just like mana, and it's only the last point that matters. Winning with 20 or more life counts just as much as winning with only one point left.
  • Play the strongest cards - It's really a balance between how much it costs and how much it does. Low cost spells that have good, if not spectacular effects can often be better in the long run, you can play them easier when you need them.
  • Auras on my own creatures - Auras can go on whatever they say they can go on, when it says "Enchant Creature" that means it can enchant any creature you can target - not just yours. Most of the creature auras in Magic are meant to give a boost to creatures, but there are still a good number meant to weaken or hinder a creature, those ones you want to put on your opponent's creatures.
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One point you might have missed is that Bind the Monster can target any creature in play. So at least one use for it is to enchant an opponent's creature, which forces it to become tapped and get stuck like that, meaning that:

  1. It can't attack you.
  2. It can't be assigned as a blocker against your attacking creatures.
  3. It can't use any activated abilities that involve tapping it for its cost.

All three of these are very good reasons to want an opponent's creature to be tapped.

There may also be occasions where you want one of your own creatures tapped or where you want to take damage for some reason, but those will be very combo-specific.

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    Something that's probably worth addressing is the fact that Bind the Monster deals damage to you, the caster, thanks to that sentence at the end of the second ability. A player might see it and think "wait, so either it attacks me and I take damage, or I use this to stop it attacking... and I still take damage. What's the big idea!?" – doppelgreener Mar 12 at 0:38
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    @doppelgreener this is incorrect - the damage is dealt by the creature, not the aura - this is clear in the rulings on gatherer ("The enters-the-battlefield ability triggers even if the enchanted creature is already tapped. That creature will still deal damage to you.") and in how the card is written (self references use the card name, references to 'it' are used for the targets of the spell or ability) – Andrew Mar 12 at 3:21
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    @Andrew I know that. The source of damage here is nitpicking, what's important here is the aura results in you taking damage as though the creature had hit you anyway and that factors into evaluation of the card's usefulness. I am suggesting the answer may want to comment on that. – doppelgreener Mar 12 at 11:43
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    @Andrew I am directing you to the fact that nitpicking on the source of damage is not important to me providing this feedback, and this correcting me is beside the point of it. – doppelgreener Mar 12 at 15:29
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    To be completely explicit, the key point is that binding a creature causes you to take damage only once (when you cast it), instead of the likelihood of taking damage turn after turn as the creature continues to attack. It's a low-cost way for blue to neutralize a threat. No, it doesn't completely nerf every possible creature, and yes, it has drawbacks (the damage, for one), but its a tool in the blue player's arsenal. – BradC Mar 12 at 16:31
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What you have there is an aura that can make a lot of creatures almost useless.

Whatever creature you enchant it to will become tapped, and won't untap like normal at the start of its controllers turn. So it basically stays untapped, unless some other card untaps it. A tapped creature cannot attack. It cannot block. It cannot activate abilities with the tap symbol.

The fact that you're dealt some damage is balanced by it only costing a single mana (compare to e.g. Claustrophobia). That does mean you'd be more inclined to use it on a small creature with an important tap ability or a low-powered blocker than on a large creature that wants to attack you.

The creature isn't gone, so there are ways to get use out of a Bound monster. For instance, abilities that don't have tapping as cost are still present and can be used, the Binding can be destroyed bringing the creature back into full use, or the creature could be sacrificed if its controller is asked to sacrifice a creature. Also, if the creature's controller can find any other way of untapping it, then it can be used entirely as normal until it is tapped again.

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  • It certainly doesn't "make a creature basically useless", because there are a lot of cards that cannot be answered by Bind the Monster (or is only partially answered). Many of these are top threats too, such as Walking Ballista, Noble Heirarch, Dark Confidant ... I would amend the first sentence. – Allure Mar 12 at 2:55
  • @Allure I said "can make", not "makes". Also, I did list a number of ways that a creature may still be used. But sure, I can make it clearer. – Arthur Mar 12 at 4:34
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    @Allure Your nitpick is silly: Bind the Monster shuts down the two main threats from the vast, vast majority of creatures: conventional attacks and tapping activated abilities. Of course there are always exceptions in magic, but I'd say "making most creatures basically useless" is a decent summary for a beginning player. – BradC Mar 12 at 17:14
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    @Allure Maybe. But again, I think you're overthinking this, applying way too much cutting-edge theory. The point isn't "Why would a top 8 modern deck ever use this?", but rather "Why is this even printed?" – Arthur Mar 12 at 20:09
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    In fact this is an extremely playable card in Kaldheim draft or sealed, as it is one of only a couple of creature "removal/shutdown" cards in blue (all the appropriate caveats that it doesn't work for 100% of effects on 100% of creatures, even in Kaldheim). But yeah, this is not a "Pro Tour Constructed" deck tech question, this is a "why would I ever play this" question, presumably because the poster didn't understand we are intended to play this on our opponent's creatures, not our own. – BradC Mar 12 at 21:06
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Bind the Monster is useful because it can shut down(*) an opponent's creature.

First, note that while some auras (like Setessan Training) can only enchant creatures you control, auras that simply say "enchant creature" can be played on creatures controlled by any player. Clearly some (like Arcane Flight) make more sense to play on your own creatures, and others (like Withercrown) make more sense to play on your opponent's.

When you play Bind the Monster on an opponent's creature, you take a single shot of damage, but then that creature gets (and stays) tapped as long as the aura is on it. Tapped creatures can't attack or block, and can't play any activated abilities that require tapping (like the abilities on Axgard Cavalry or Frost Augur).

So for the cost of 1 blue mana (and the downside of taking some damage) you've effectively neutralized(*) one of your opponent's creatures.

(*) Caveats:

  1. Can it shut down all possible abilities on all possible creatures? No, many creatures have other abilities besides attacking (or tapping). If you play this on Toski, Bearer of Secrets, it won't be able to attack, but Toski's ability still lets your opponent draw cards when other creatures deal combat damage to you. If you play this on Koma, Cosmos Serpent, then Koma can't attack, but you're still likely to lose to all the 3/3 serpent tokens Koma keeps making.

  2. Will the damage hurt? Of course! But so does taking attack damage! So only play this on creatures you can't block or handle in other ways.

  3. Are there better ways to destroy/remove/neutralize creatures? Probably! Depends on what format you're playing, and what other cards (and colors) you have available. But if you're playing blue in a Kaldheim-only draft or sealed deck, then this is a very playable card!

  4. Can your opponent remove the enchantment? Maybe they can, but hopefully they missed a turn of attacks. Or perhaps you just needed to sideline that one pesky blocker so you could attack for the win!

  5. Other caveats apply: Only useful when playing blue. Not useful against decks without creatures. You can't play this card on creatures with hexproof or protection from blue. This card is better in limited (draft and sealed) than in constructed play. There are other ways to untap tapped creatures. Playing this card on creatures with built-in untap abilities like Battered Golem won't do anything useful. Definitely don't play this on your own Serra Avatar or Soul of Eternity.

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