Long time readers will be aware I think that cantrips are highly useful spells. [Niveous Wisps, Nighthaze, Scout’s Warning] Over Magics multitudes of sets many of them have been printed, and they are played in every format. Panic received it’s last printing back in 1997 with 5th Edition, making it only legal in the eternal formats. I think that it is a great and underplayed card in both Commander and Pauper.
Panic is an Instant for a single Red mana, the oracle text can be found here. It can only be cast in the Combat step before Blockers have been declared. It prevents target creature from blocking, and draws you a card at the beginning of the next upkeep. The downside of this spell is obvious, the restrictive casting timing. This means that you cannot cast it do dig for answers, and instead will have to wait for the appropriate time. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t just use it as a cantrip to draw a card. As each turn has to progress through all steps and phases.
On the other hand you get quite a powerful effect from a single mana. If an opponent knows they are likely to be attacked they are going to leave up blockers. As we know the best type of removal is player removal and ignoring blockers is going to expedite it. Removing a blocker from the equation could completely change the combat, possibly leading to a knockout. It also has great synergy with decks that are utilizing attack or damage triggers and are looking to protect their creatures.
Additionally it can be a very useful political tool. Removing a blocker can be just as beneficial for an opponent as it is for you. You can gain a favour, deal with an opponent and draw a card all for a single mana. Finally it draws you a card.
Panic is at its best in a deck that is looking to turn it’s creatures sideways. In Decks such as Feather, the Redeemed or Zada, Hedron Grinder it can provide large amounts of value. Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin could take advantage of removing a blocker to swing safely. Any number of Xenagos style Gruul stompy decks could use it to ensure they can trample over the creatures or just hit directly. It could also be used in Prowess decks such as Elsha of the Infinite to trigger prowess and draw a card.
This card just makes me think of the following scene from Dad’s Army:
Cpt. George Mainwaring: I could have sworn that they would never break through the Maginot line.
Sgt. Arthur Wilson: Quite right sir, they didn’t.
Cpt. George Mainwaring: I thought not. I’m a pretty good judge of these matters you know Wilson.
Sgt. Arthur Wilson: They went round the side.
Cpt. George Mainwaring: I see… they what!