I actually didn’t get a Berserk in the Unlimited Starter Decks I started off with, so I had to trade my way up to one. This was one of those clear cut great cards and unbelievably it was an uncommon card! Also, it only cost 1 Green of all things! One green to double a creature’s power… crazy. Before it became restricted in the early days, I would hear of people stacking on multiple Berserks to get phenomenal amounts of damage. Of course, even when restricted you could do as I did and Fork your Berserk which only cost a bit more.
Green was never a stranger to increasing the power of a creature, as most people used Giant Growth to pump up their attackers +3. It cost the same, it was a common, and you could have 4 in a deck. The real power of Berserk was in the fact that it gave the trample ability. I mean you can Howl From Beyond all you want, but if it’s blocked it stays blocked (unless of course you pulled a False Orders). You could Howl your War Mammoth (or later, your Yavimaya Wurm), but Beserking a creature just proved to have a bigger element of surprise.
Card Name: Berserk
Set: A,B,UL,not reprinted
Card Cost: G
Card Type: Instant
Artist: Dan Frazier
Text: Until end of turn, target creature’s current power doubles and it gains trample ability. If it attacks, target creature is destroyed at end of turn. This spell cannot be cast after current turn’s attack is completed.
Rules Text (Oracle):Play Berserk only before the combat damage step.
Target creature gains trample and gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is its power. At end of turn, destroy that creature if it attacked this turn.
Of course the downside of Berserk is that it destroys the creature if it attacked. It is truly a one time, “go for broke” thing (barring some sort of Unsummoning of the creature). So you mainly wanted to be able to damage your opponent so badly that the loss of your creature afterwards would not have that much of an effect. (cont. below)
Early on I found one particularly effective thing to do is to attack with something like a Craw Wurm, Berserk it, and then sac it to something beneficial since it was going to be destroyed anyhow. The prime candidate? Why Diamond Valley, of course!
One thing I always thought was interesting is that Berserk has the same sort of “background” as Healing Salve; I guess Dan Frazier was under pressure to produce multiple pieces of artwork? You’ll notice this also occurring in various other cards from the original set as well. This was back when there weren’t billions of Magic artists like now so they probably had to take care of the artwork for more cards. Or maybe he just had a theme going. Interesting, because many times cards with re-used artwork are the same color or at least have a similar theme. Hm…Healing Salve and Berserk; I guess one cures the other?