Normally, I’d write up a pre-release report for a new expansion. I greatly enjoy playing in prerelases. Unfortunately, I’m not going to the Darksteel prerelease. For one, I had a choice between visiting the girlfriend (who lives far, far away working on her master’s degree up in the isolated confines of Pullman, WA). For two…well, let’s just say I strongly dislike the”flight” system. I don’t like driving three hours to wait three hours to get to play five crummy games for exorbitant prices. Me, grumpy? No!
Ergo, with spoiler in hand, my trusty laptop turned on and a cup of steaming hot coffee nearby, I thought the least I could do is give my general impressions of the set and how it will impact Standard – Regionals is only three and a half months away.
Aether Vial – 1
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a charge counter on Aether Vial.
T: Put into play a creature card from your hand with converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on Aether Veil.
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about young (say, pre-teen) Magic players, it’s that they a) like to play big creatures and b) love cards that let them play big creatures very cheaply. Enter Aether Veil. This is a wonderful Timmy card. Now you don’t need City of Brass or Birds of Paradise to play your Sliver Overlord or other eight-mana-plus behemoth.
For the rest of the non-Timmy world, this card is going to be too slow or simply extraneous. Pass it to the nine-year-old in draft and make a friend for life.
Angel’s Feather – 2
Whenever a player plays a white spell, you may gain 1 life.
Me and my imaginary friend were having a heated conversation over this card. I said it sucks, that it’s too slow and would only be usable in a control-ish Mirrodin Limited deck, either B/x or U/x. Rodrigo, on the other hand, said it could be very powerful in a W/x weenie deck which doesn’t need more than three lands at any one time. I was winning the argument until Rodrigo pointed out that I originally called Broodstar”one of the worst cards ever printed,” at which point I brained him with a shovel.
I lose more imaginary friends that way.
Arcbound Bruiser – 5
Artifact Creature (C)
Modular 3 (This comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it. When it’s put into a graveyard, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature.)
With all the Arcbound creatures, the ability to throw around +1/+1 tokens like nickels is what makes them attractive. With the Arcbounds, however, be aware that he can only give them to one creature, so a timely Shatter, Oxidize or, God forbid, Shunt, can negate that bonus entirely.
Barring that, there’s a real chance that the heavy hitting Arcbounds, going from Bruiser here on up, will become virtually unblockable depending upon what the board looks like – I don’t think you’ll want to trade in combat with this fellow if your opponent has, say, Golem of the Cobalt or Pewter variety. A 5/6 flier or a 7/5 regenerator are bomb-a-licious in Mirrodin these days. Even a simple mana Myr gets ugly with three +1/+1 counters.
The Arcbounds increase in value depending upon the number of artifact creatures, so the more of these you have, the more artifact creatures you’ll want. Ergo, it may not hurt to suck up those Omega Myr towards the end of those Mirrodin packs.
A 1/1 for four better be pretty darn good and… hello, nurse! This is definitely not a card I’d want in a speed deck, however, in an Affinity-based deck, or even your average Mirrodin Limited deck, which should have between seven and thirteen artifacts, this guy could get ugly. Note the word”could.” It’s going to take time for the Crusher to get up to being dangerous – perhaps as little as one turn, maybe five or more – so keep that in mind before falling in love with him. I’d probably draft him fairly high, though.
In any other environment, Dross Prowler would be a good card. But, in this environment, fear has proven to be, shall we say, less than optimal. And the”move counters to” ability isn’t going to be that great if there are no other Arcbounds in play (although the ability to mess with your opponent’s creatures does sound deliciously fun).
For the same mana, I could have a 5/3 trampler. Unless you are really short of creatures, I’d pass this guy along for a better Arcbound.
Arcbound Hybrid – 4
Artifact Creature (C)
Modular 2 (This comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it. When it’s put into a graveyard, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature.)
Here’s where the Arcbound ability gets interesting. A 2/2 for four mana, even with haste, is decidedly unsexy. But what if you drop it on turn 3 with a mana Myr in play? Does your opponent block, trading another 2/2, say, and create a 3/3 Myr, or take the two damage. Two isn’t that much, after all.
Arcbound Lancer – 7
Artiface Creature (U)
Modular 4 (This comes into play with four +1/+1 counters on it. When it’s put into the graveyard, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature.)
I’d probably dismiss this guy out of hand with that casting cost a poor man’s Myr Enforcer – but the modular ability makes him a little more interesting. Seven mana is still a lot of invest, but he’s going to invite a lot of chump blocking, that’s for sure. For seven mana though, I want a bomb, and this is merely solid.
Arcbound Overseer – 8
Artifact Creature – Golem (R)
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature with modular you control.
If I had a deck with a lot of Arcbound creatures, and if I had them all in play, and if I got this fellow into play, boy howdy, I’d have something. And if I still had a full head of hair, and if I had a lot of acting talent, and if I moved to Hollywood, I could be waiting tables waiting to be discovered as the next Tom Cruise.
I’d be happy to be discovered as the next Jeffrey Tambor, though.
This guy is like a week-old baby. He’s going to be cranky until you feed him, and you are going to have to feed him a lot before he’s not cranky. And let me ask you, do you like cranky babies? This guy is going to want a lot of artifact lands for breakfast, so be forewarned.
Unlike the Moriok Scavenger or Skeleton Shard, this can recover non-creature artifacts, so lost goodies like Loxodon Warhammer, Bonesplitter or Granite Shard, which can be gamebreakers in their own right and merit immediate destruction, can be recovered at the cost of a draw step. With a few Spellbombs and other Arcbounds, you have an unsexy but efficient card drawing engine.
This guy ain’t the sexiest of the Arcbounds, but he may prove to be the most versatile and in the end, the best of the lot.
Arcbound Slith– 2
Artifact Creature – Slith (U)
Whenever Arcbound Slith deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
Modular 1 (This comes into play with one +1/+1 counters on it. When it’s put into the graveyard, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature)
Rating the Mirrodin Sliths, I put the Ascendant first (evasion ability), then Bloodletter (regeneration), Firewalker, Strider, and Predator. The trouble with the Sliths is that double-color requirement in their casting cost, which, in Limited, makes them difficult to cast on turn 2 or 3 – not impossible, but not easy, which is why the Firewalker isn’t a house in Limited but is considered fairly playable in Standard.
Where does this guy fall? Being an artifact, he is very easy to cast. Being a 1/1, however, he is also very easy to deal with. But the Modular ability and the Slith”gains counters” abilities work very well together and if you can get a hit or two in with him, ugliness will ensue. It might see a little play in an Urzatron deck in Standard, and in Limited, I’d rank him below the Bloodletter, but not by much. Not a first pick, but they won’t stick around for long.
Arcbound Stinger – 2
Artifact Creature (C)
Okay, it flies, and we’ve established that evasion abilities – besides fear, at least – are huge in Mirrodin. Slap on a Bonesplitter or Leonin Scimitar and it gets a little more nasty. It’s a fragile 1/1, and if I was playing U/W – the flier-heavy colors – I’d have much better fliers available to me, and if I was playing a non-flier combination – the Clockwork Condor-loving B/R, for example – well, I’d rather have something else than a suboptimal flier. If it was a 2/2 modular for four mana, it might be a bit more playable.
Arcbound Worker – 1
Artifact Creature (C)
Hey, look everyone, it’s the Spike Drone! I remember Spikey… the picnics, the softball games. Those were good times.
How much play did Spike Drone get in the heyday of the Spikes? A-yup. That’s what I thought.
Six mana is a lot of mana to pay, and I usually pass on Malachite Golems. The Siege-Sled is a solid body, with the ability to eat mana Myr and ignore Steel Walls. Yeah, that sounds exciting, doesn’t it? That sums up my initial evaluation of the card. I could be wrong, but this card doesn’t make me leap from the chair shouting”Holy jumping up and down, Martha!”
Chimeric Egg – 3
Whenever an opponent plays a nonartifact spell, put a charge counter on Chimeric Egg.
Remove three charge counters from Chimeric Egg: Chimeric Egg becomes a 6/6 artifact creature with trample until end of turn.
Our first candidate for a potential Standard card. It sure looks like a good card against Goblins, barring Shatter from the sideboard. Goblins, sans the Goon, aren’t too fond of creatures the size of a Hunted Wumpus, and the little Red men will have the Egg being triggered at least once or twice. Affinity can either counter it, bounce it or throw an 8/8 Broodstar in the way. U/W Control has Vengeance or the O-Stone to deal with this, besides a few counterspells.
In Limited, how often are you going to be able to use this creature? Twice, maybe three times over the course of a game, barring artifact removal. It’s a 6/6 trampler, will that be enough? My initial feeling is”maybe.” I’d rate it as a third to sixth pick in a pack.
It definitely has a future in my Rukh Egg”Omelet” deck, at the very least.
I’d like this a lot more if it was just an artifact, not a fragile 1/1. The value of this beastie increases with the number of cards you have that require charge counters. At present, that includes Chimeric Egg, Mirrodin’s Core, Talon of Pain and Darksteel Reactor. The best combo is clearly with Chimeric Egg, unless you want to make a Darksteel Reactor deck work, and you know who you are.
If you have a lot of cards that need charge counters, then you might have a place for this guy. Otherwise, you must ask yourself,”Would Omega Myr be better in this slot?” If the answer is yes, pass it and see what the next pack has, or start hoarding them for your Reactor deck.
Now we come to the”Indestructibles,” sadly sans Robert Stack. U/W Control decks are not going to like these (but that’s why we have Wing Shards, no?). The Brute is the cheapest to cast, but requires mana to activate, a healthy three mana. That’s a lot of tempo to lose in the early game, and a 2/2 isn’t going to make that much different in the late game. I tried comparing this to Nether Spirit, another 2/2 that was the staple of many a control deck, but that didn’t require three mana a turn to use. This guy’s cheap, for a reason – it’s just not that good.
Darksteel Colossus – 11
Artifact Creature (R)
Darksteel Colossus is indestructible (“Destroy” effects and lethal damage don’t destroy it.)
If Darksteel Colossus would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, reveal Darksteel Colossus and shuffle it into its owner’s library instead.
Now, as an old art director of mine would say, we’re cooking with gas. We have indestructibility combined with the Serra Avatar’s nigh-impossibility of being removed from the game. We have a prohibitive casting cost of eleven. We also have Urza’s lands and Cloudposts. Urzatron rides again?
Let’s put it this way. There will be Timmies out there building Urzatron decks with this monster for Friday Night Magic, and they’ll be winning. You will have to be aware of this deck, because it will be out there.
Every set has its monster that the Timmies chase, and there will be a few Johnnies after this one, too.
Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] – 9
Artifacts you control are indestructible. (“Destroy” effects and lethal damage don’t destroy them.)
What a tremendous defense against Akroma’s Vengeance and Oblivion Stone. Unfortunately, unlike the Colossus, we don’t have an 11/11 body to go along with it. In draft, I’m highly dubious of cards that cost this much, as you’ll often lose before you get to nine lands.
That being said, in draft, there’s a good chance this becomes an”I win” card once cast.
Jus’ sayin’, that’s all.
Darksteel Gargoyle – 7
Creature – Gargoyle (U)
Indestructible (“Destroy” effects and lethal damage don’t destroy it.)
On the one hand, we have a 3/3 flier that can’t be destroyed. In a format where fliers are often king, that’s impressive. On the other hand, we have a seven mana 3/3, and one that enters an eternal standoff with Tel-Jilad Archers. That’s not so impressive.
There’s no home for this in a Constructed deck, but the indestructibles may find homes in the slower Mirrodin draft archetypes – B/x control, maybe?
An indestructible Sol Grail!
Hey, I’m doing my best to add some excitement here. My powers are limited.
Darksteel Pendant – 2
Darksteel Pendant is indestructible. (“Destroy” effects and lethal damage don’t destroy it.)
1, T: Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.
This card would probably be playable even if it wasn’t indestructible. Can’t kill it? That’s just gravy.
Opt, the card this doohickey mimics, was considered highly playable back in the day. Of course, it was a one-mana instant. This requires a bit more mana-investment, and possibly relinquishing the ability to counter spells in the early game. Still, you’re generating a lot of card advantage in the long term, cycling away lands you don’t need in favor of better spells. I’d definitely play this in Limited, and there may be a home for it in some sort of Constructed deck – not U/W, but maybe U/B.
Darksteel Reactor– 4
Darksteel Reactor is indestructible. (“Destroy” effects and lethal damage don’t destroy it.)
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a charge counter on Darksteel Reactor.
When Darksteel Reactor has twenty or more charge counters on it, you win the game.
Death-Mask Duplicant – 7
Artifact Creature – Shapeshifter (R)
Imprint – 1: Remove target creature card in your graveyard from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.)
As long as an imprinted creature card has flying, Death-Mask Duplicant has flying. The same is true for fear, first strike, double strike, haste, landwalk, protection, and trample.
As I said earlier, for seven mana – at least eight, actually – you’d better be getting a bomb. This is close. Very close. Tantalizingly close. There’s just one teeny little problem.
In Mirrodin draft, how many creatures have any of the above abilities? First strike? A handful. Haste? Two. Landwalk? Zero.
The only valid ability is flying, which isn’t too hard to come by in certain colors. And those are the colors you’ll have to play in order for this card to be good.
Demon’s Horn – 2
Whenever a player plays a black spell, you may gain 1 life.
See Demon’s Horn.
These strike me as being playable, especially in multiples, especially in draft colors that aren’t particularly flier-heavy. Problem is, you can’t equip them and get their ability, too. Much as you want to have your cake and eat it too (I’ll settle for just eating), you can’t put a Bonesplitter on one of these creatures unless he’s by his lonesome. If you need fliers, you could do worse – not much worse, though.
The land-affinity cards I suspect are going to see a fair amount of play, in draft, Mirrodin Block Constructed, and maybe even Standard. This guy isn’t too impressive in draft, as it’s already been noted that fear in Mirrodin = next to useless. I could, however, foresee a control black block archetype (MBC in MBC?) – Consume Spirit, Barter in Blood, Oblivion Stone, Extraplanar Lens, Terror, Grid Monitor, Stalking Stones, Dross Golem? Looks like a pretty solid backbone for a block deck.
Speaking of Timmy cards – yes, you can Stifle the CIP ability. I can’t wait to see what happens when and if somebody actually tries to do that. I will happily trade these for Darksteel Colossi until the cows come home. This might be playable if you didn’t have to worry about Oxidize, Naturalize, Shatter, Arrest, Altar’s Light, Icy Manipulator… I think you get the picture.
Gemini Engine – 6
Artifact Creature (R)
Whenever Gemini Engine attacks, put an attacking Twin artifact creature token into play. Its power is equal to Gemini Engine’s power and its toughness is equal to Gemini Engine’s toughness. Sacrifice the token at end of combat.
Actually, this card isn’t half-bad. The idea may be half-baked. But you could definitely make a twin killing with this card, perhaps in an aggro B/R deck. Two attackers is always better than one.
I’m always extremely dubious of cards that give my opponents free creatures. I’m sure there’s some sort of combolicious goodness this card was made for. I just don’t see it.
Geth’s Grimoire – 4
Whenever an opponent discards a card you may draw a card.
Now I finally have a reason to find space for all those fifteenth pick Wrench Minds I get.
Heartseeker – 4
Artifact – Equipment (R)
Equipped creature gets +2/+1 and has”T, Unattach Heartseeker: Destroy target creature.”
Equip 5 (5: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card comes into play unattached and stays in play if the creature leaves play.)
Insanely expensive, but you definitely get the bang for your buck here. Would I first draft this if I opened it in a pack? Oh hell yes! It’s a rare, though, one you won’t see very often, takes two turns to use and is very vulnerable to the massive amounts of artifact removal lurking in the set. But if you get to use it more than once, you have no excuse for losing the game.
Remember when this card was banned, along with the likes of the all-powerful Dingus Egg? That takes me back… back when I still had a hairline.
The question here is: Has the game evolved to the point where this once-banned card is no longer any good? Is it a tyrannosaur or a trilobite?
Kraken’s Eye – 2
Whenever a player plays a blue spell you may gain 1 life.
See Dragon’s Claw.
Leonin Bola – 1
Artifact – Equipment (U?)
Equipped creature has”T, Unattach Leonin Bola: Tap target creature.”
Equip 1 (1: Attach to target creature you control. Equip only as a sorcery. This card comes into play unattached and stays in play if the creature leaves play.)
My initial reaction to this was,”Cool! It makes every creatures into a Whipcorder.” Well, I didn’t actually say”Cool!” More along the lines of”eh” or”hmm.”
But I digress.
I kept trying to think if I could work this into a Constructed deck, squeezing it into Equipped White. Then I came to the realization that if I wanted the Whipcorder effect, I’d be better off just playing a Whipcorder.
I could see this being very useful in Limited, though, keeping attackers at bay a la Master Decoy or, better yet, setting up for a monstrous alpha strike once you had creature superiority. If you had creature superiority. I’d be happy to keep that annoying Tel-Jilad Archer tapped down.
Lich’s Tomb – 4
You don’t lose the game for having 0 or less life.
Whenever you lose life, sacrifice a permanent for each 1 life you lost.
My question is, can you even make a Lich-based deck anymore? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
The other question would be,”Why would you want to build a deck around this card, being as it is so bad?”
Memnarch – 7
Artifact Creature – Wizard Legend (R)
1UU: Target permanent becomes an artifact in addition to its other types. (This effect doesn’t end at end of turn.)
3U: Gain control of target artifact. (This effect doesn’t end at end of turn.)
This is one of those”if he lives to my next untap step, I win cards.” Plain and simple. And, like I said, for seven mana, I’d better be getting a bomb, and Memnarch is one of the hydrogen variety. This guy is Visara-good – at least in Limited. He might be a bit pricey and a bit fragile for the world of Constructed.
Mycosynth Lattice – 6
All permanents are artifacts in addition to their other types.
All cards that aren’t in play, spells, and permanents are colorless.
Players may spend mana as though it were mana of any color.
I read this twice and it started to make my head hurt. Really bad. I suppose I should be thankful that at six mana, it’s pretty much unplayable. But I can tell you right now I know of several nine- to twelve-year-olds who are going to lust after this card so they can play every since overpriced gold rare they own.
Myr Landshaper – 3
Artifact Creature – Myr (C)
T: Target land becomes an artifact in addition to its other types until end of turn.
When all is said and done, I suspect that this will be one of the signature cards of the set. While it’s expensive, any Mirrodin Block control deck is going to want to run this – heck, I think Standard MBC would like this a lot. You can get rid of it, and it keeps pumping out 2/2 creatures. Add a few Cloudposts or stick it in the Urzatron, it’s just going to churn out Myr the same way I churn out bad puns. Get ’em now while the price is cheap.
The first person to find me a good use for this card in a deck wins a fabulous prize.*
Nemesis Mask – 3
Artifact – Equipment (U)
All creatures able to block equipped creature do so.
Whereas Loxodon Warhammer is a very angry Spirit Link, here we have Lure-on-a-stick. I’d venture to say it’s almost as broken the Warhammer, as it sets you up for a huge game winning alpha strike the same way Lure could. Just be careful of instant-speed artifact removal. While it sucks to lose the Warhammer to a Turn to Dust, it would really suck to commit to a huge attack only to get this vaporized.
Definitely the weakest of the affinity-for-land Golems. If I’m playing mono-Red, I want Goblins, not this guy.
Panoptic Mirror – 5
Imprint — X, T: You may remove an instant or sorcery card with converted mana cost X in your hand from the game. (That card is imprinted on this artifact.)
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may copy an imprinted instant or sorcery card and play the copy without paying its mana cost.
This card looks really, really great at first glance, until you notice that you have to pay an X cost in addition to the five mana that the Mirror costs. That really limits what you can imprint on it, and that basically turns the Mirror into a slightly-more-versatile but humongously overcosted Isochron Scepter.
Playing with this mirror will definitely bring you several years of losing drafts.
Quite possibly the best of the land-affinity Golems. In a mono-White deck, he’s basically a Serra-ized Phyrexian War Machine, which was quite playable back in the day. I could see him being played in something like the Urzatron-White control deck, or a mono-white aggro block deck. He’s just all around goodness, and I won’t complain about that.