A Darksteel Review with Snark Part 1b: More Artifacts and Lands

Wirefly Hive – 3

Artifact (U)

3,T: Flip a coin. If you win the flip, put a 2/2 Wirefly creature token with flying into play. If you lose the flip sacrifice all Wireflies.

At long last another card to use with Krark’s Thumb. I’d rather use another appendage for this card, if you catch my drift.

Serum Powder – 3

Artifact (R)

T: Add 1 to your mana pool.

Any time you could mulligan and Serum Powder is in your hand, you may remove your hand from the game, then draw that many cards. (You can do this in addition to taking mulligans.)

Color me intrigued. I just wonder if this card is going to be the next Upwelling (break a fundamental rule of the game, but otherwise be unplayable) or the next Living Wish (break a fundamental rule of the game, be highly playable). I lean towards the former, since the card is decidedly unsexy aside from the free mulligan.

Shield of Kaldra – 4

Legendary Artifact – Equipment (R)

Equipment named Sword of Kaldra, Shield of Kaldra, and Helm of Kaldra are indestructible.

Equipped creature is indestructible.

Equip 4

As an added bonus, we now know what the first card in Fifth Dawn is going to be. But what I want to know is who is the Kaldra dude, and why does he get all the good toys?

While not as outwardly jaw-dropping as Sword of Kaldra, the Shield, granting indestructibility to even non-artifact types, is going to be good. Really good. Expensive, but for the price of either an eterna-blocker or someone you can throw into the attack endlessly.

It’s also an unplayable rare in Constructed environment and one you probably won’t see in draft unless you find it in the pack you open.

Skullclamp – 1

Artifact – Equipment (U)

Equipped creature gets +1/-1.

Whenever equipped creature is put in a graveyard from play, draw two cards.

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.)

Forget the Warhammer. Forget the Bonesplitter. Lightning Greaves? Pshaw. This is the best piece of Equipment in the game right now, the one that might make Equipped White a Constructed contender (but that’s another article), and a virtually automatic first pick in draft. That’s how highly I think of this card. ‘Nuff said.

Spawning Pit – 2

Artifact (U)

Sacrifice a creature: Put a charge counter on Spawning Pit.

1, Remove two charge counters from Spawning Pit: Put a 2/2 Spawn artifact creature token into play.

We have playable, and we have cute. This falls into the cute category. It’s like Drudge Spell, from way, way back in Homelands, and that sure saw a lot of play, didn’t it? Worth playing in Limited, though, since you can feed it creatures dying from combat damage, but not much else.

Specter’s Shroud – 2

Artifact – Equipment (U)

Equipped creature gets +1/+0.

When equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card from his or her hand.

Equip 1

What makes the best Equipment? I look for two things: Firstly, a neat ability, preferably something provides a plus in the power column. Secondly, an inexpensive equip cost. If it’s too expensive, it’s just not that playable, in my view. Slagwurm Armor, for example, is a good card, but that equip cost of three makes it virtually unplayable. The Warhammer gets around that problem by just being so darn good.

Specter’s Shroud has a neat ability. It’s also cheap to equip. What it doesn’t grant, however, is a power or toughness bonus or an evasion ability. But let me tell you, slap this on a Leonin Den-Guard, Neurok Spy or Skyhunter Cub, and the good times, they shall commence to rolling.

That kind of goes without saying, but I thought I’d point it out anyway, which should give you some idea of what draft archetype you could slide it in.

Spellbinder – 3

Artifact – Equipment (R)

Imprint – When Spellbinder comes into play, you may remove an instant card in your hand from the game.

Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, you may copy the imprinted instant card and play the copy without paying its mana cost.

Equip 4

It taunts you, this card, with how good it could be. With a Terror, Regress, Electrostatic Bolt or somesuch, but that unfortunately requires two things. Having said card in your hand when Spellbinder is imprinted (not easy in Limited), and a creature to put it on. And the casting and equip costs! It’s a wonderful, wonderful card for casual play, but the Spellbinder will not be seeing much play in either Limited or Constructed, methinks.

Spinecrusher – 2

Artifact Creature (U)

Whenever Spinecrusher blocks, put a +1/+1 counter on it.

Remove a +1/+1 counter from Spinecrusher: Spinecrusher is unblockable this turn.


Why would Wizards waste a perfectly good name like”Spinecrusher” on a horribly bad card like this? I suppose with a Leonin Scimitar or Battlegrowth you’d have a decent card, but if you are hoping for another card to make a suboptimal one better, you’d be better off with something else to begin with.

Spire Golem – 6

Artifact Creature – Golem (C)


Affinity for Islands


Do you think mono-Blue control decks might be able to make a comeback, like the classic Draw-Go of yore? We’ve got Stalking Stones. We’ve got a replacement for the Disk. Now we have this thing, which would be a free 2/4 flier with six Islands in play. Being able to drop a threat and not tap any mana for it is pretty darn impressive in my book.

In draft, just being a 2/4 that can hold off Skyhunter Patrols is good. Especially if it only ends up costing me three mana. Draft ’em early and draft ’em often if you’re going to Neurok Spy route.

Sundering Titan – 8

Artifact Creature (R)

When Sundering Titan comes into play, choose a land of each basic land type, then destroy those lands.

When Sundering Titan leaves play, choose a land of each basic land type, then destroy those lands.


Where was this guy during Invasion block when I had to worry about all those crappy domain decks?

What you are getting is a 7/10 body that, at best, might take six lands with him, not to mention he hoses your basic lands as well. Doesn’t even have trample. It’s a fat body. That’s about all I can that’s positive about it.

Surestrike Trident – 2

Artifact – Equipment (U)

Equipped creature has first strike and”T, Unattach Surestrike Trident: This creature deals damage equal to its power to target player.”

Equip 4

I’m very dubious of Equipment that grants nothing to a creature it is attached to. Heartseeker is not only powerful but at least gives the creature it’s stuck on a little boost. This doesn’t even target creatures! I’m sure it will see some play, but as equipment goes, this is starting to get down into Vulshok Gauntlets range, great on the right creature, pretty bad otherwise.

Sword of Fire and Ice – 3

Artifact (R)

Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and has protection from red and from blue. Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card and have it deal 2 damage to target creature.

Equip 2

Sword of Light and Shadow – 3

Artifact (R)

Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and has protection from white and from black.

Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, you gain 3 life and you may return up to one target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.

Equip 2

The standard”rare you won’t see in draft very often” disclaimer goes here. That being said, these are game breakers that should win you the game if you start getting in hits with them. Of the two, Fire and Ice is probably the best of the lot, but the ability to bring back creatures from the graveyard is powerful in its own right.

Man alive, those Neurok Spies are really, really looking good to me now.

Talon of Pain – 4

Artifact (U)

Whenever a source you control other than Talon of Pain deals damage to an opponent, put a charge counter on Talon of Pain.

X,T, Remove X charge counters from Talon of Pain: Talon of Pain deals X damage to target creature or player.

More charge counters! By God, Wizards is going to make us play that Coretapper yet!

This one isn’t actually too bad, and as an uncommon, you’ll see it more often in a draft than a Heartseeker. It may be mana intensive, as we’ve learned from your friend and mine, Spikeshot Goblin, permanent and reusable sources of damage are very, very good in this environment.

Tangle Golem – 7

Artifact Creature – Golem (C)

Affinity for Forests


You’d think he’d at least have trample. Every other affinity Golem has an ability. I guess we must be happy he’s a beefy 5/4 and not complain. Odds are when you can first cast him, he’ll be a four mana 5/4, which ain’t bad. I’d have to say that no matter what colors I’m playing in draft, I’ll want one or two affinity Golems. In a Constructed environment, however, this guy is the worst of the lot.

Who plays mono-Green these days, anyway?

Thought Dissector – 4


X, T: Target opponent reveals cards from the top of his or her library until an artifact card or X cards are revealed, whichever comes first. If an artifact card is revealed this way, put it into play under your control and sacrifice Thought Dissector. Put the rest of the revealed cards into that player’s graveyard.

We’re seeing all sorts of old favorites being reincarnated in new forms. Like this. Now, where oh where have I seen it before…a little thing called Helm of Obedience. This pales in comparison to the mighty Helm, one of the true chase cards from Alliances. The Helm only hit creatures, and was a potent Millstone to boot – you could get a tasty Balduvian Horde or Ivory Gargoyle quite frequently. With this, you’re more than likely to get a Seat of the Synod or Leaden Myr or otherwise unimpressive artifact, rather than an Oblivion Stone or Myr Enforcer.

Right idea, wrong time for this card.

Thunderstaff – 3


If Thunderstaff is untapped and a creature would deal combat damage to you, prevent 1 of that damage.

2, T: Attacking creatures get +1/+0 until end of turn.

I’ve always like cards that give you an either/or, like this one. But let’s face it, the”prevent damage” bit is rather pedestrian compared to ability to globally pump up attackers.

A for effort but C- on achievement with this one.

I will leave it to the reader to make”thunderstaff” jokes involving your pants, however. I have some standards, low as they might well be.

Trinisphere – 3

Artifact (R)

As long as Trinisphere is untapped, each spell that would cost less than three mana to play costs three mana to play. (Additional mana in the cost may be paid with any color of mana or colorless mana. For example, a spell that would cost 1B to play costs 2B to play instead.)

Well, this is a new concept, clearly made to punish weenie decks, but would also negate Affinity and the Goblin Warchief bonus, if I’m reading it correctly. Paging Sheldon Menery, Mr. Sheldon Menery, please come to the white courtesy phone…

Where would this fit? Most likely a control deck running lots of expensive creatures, like U/W Control, but that’s already so tight there’s no room for it. So most likely some form of control deck for Mirrodin block or perhaps something brand-spanking new – it’s going to be in somebody’s sideboard, that’s for sure.

Ur-Golem’s Eye – 4

Artifact (C)

T: Add 2 to you mana pool.

Oh, boy. They reprinted Sisay’s Ring. I am just so excited. Can you tell? [No. – Knut]

Voltaic Construct – 4

Artifact Creature – Golem (U)

2: Untap target artifact creature.


At least you could play Galvanic Key as an instant. Then again, when’s the last time you ever saw anyone play Galvanic Key?

Your honor, the defense rests.

Vulshok Morningstar – 2

Artifact – Equipment (C)

Equipped Creature gets +2/+2

Equip 2

It’s no Empyrial Armor, but you don’t have to hoard cards to maximize it. Better than the Battlegear, reasonably and reasonably priced, and only a common. Now I won’t feel so bad about passing Bonesplitters in draft. Definitely in the top one-third of the best Equipment in the game.

Wand of the Elements – 4

Artifact (R)

T, Sacrifice an Island: Put a 2/2 blue Elemental creature token with flying into play.

T, Sacrifice a Mountain: Put a 3/3 R Elemental creature token into play.

Now this is a card I like, although far more in Limited U/x rather than R/x (it goes without saying that U/R is the most optimal home). Just be careful you don’t run out of lands, but if you end up doing that, you deserve to lose. Nothing personal, that’s just the way it is.

Well of Lost Dreams – 4

Artifact (R)

Whenever you gain life, you may pay X, where X is equal to or less than the amount of life you gain. If you do, draw X cards.

I’ll give R&D credit for attempting to give you a reason to play life gain. I might even dare to say (Dare! Dare!) with the new”charms” in this set. I’m sure I’ll see someone trying to make a combo with Life Burst or Sun Droplet, to which I reply, godspeed, hearty soul, and I’ll see you at the tables at the crappy end of the room.

Whispersilk Cloak – 3

Artifact – Equipment (C)

Equipped creature is unblockable and can’t be the target of spells or abilities.

Equip 2 (2: 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.)

This is a tricky one. On the surface, it looks completely bombalicious. What’s not to like? It makes a creature untargetable, unblockable and unstoppable! And I’m not denying that. I compare it to the similar Lightning Greaves, and I see a card that gives you haste, untargetability but is far, far cheaper, especially when you look at the equip cost.

I’m not saying this is a bad card, far from it. But given a choice in a pack between Skullclamp and the Cloak, I’ll take the Skullclamp.

The three mana to cast and two to equip takes this card out of consideration for Constructed, and I wouldn’t run multiples in Limited, either. One feels about right in my draft deck, and I’d rather draw it late than drop it early.

I realize this is a rather controversial statement (I’m sure either Mike Turian and/or Ken Krouner will be taking me to task), but I stand by it, and we’ll see if history bears me out as prophetic or just dumb.

Wirefly Hive – 3

Artifact (U)

3,T: Flip a coin. If you win the flip, put a 2/2 Wirefly creature token with flying into play. If you lose the flip sacrifice all Wireflies.

At long last another card to use with Krark’s Thumb. I’d rather use another appendage for this card, if you catch my drift.

Wurm’s Tooth – 2

Artifact (U)

Whenever a player plays a green spell, you may gain 1 life.

See… oh, why bother anymore. If R&D is going to mail it in, so am I.

Blinkmoth Nexus

Land (R)

T: Add 1 to your mana pool.

1: Blinkmoth Nexus becomes a 1/1 Blinkmoth artifact creature with flying until end of turn. It’s still a land.

1, T: Target Blinkmoth gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

Ah, Mishra’s Factory, I have such fond memories of thee. What we have here is the same principle, not as powerful, but now it flies.

It’s not going to be a draft powerhouse, that’s for sure, not as a rare. But what about in Constructed? I can think of any number of decks that could use this card, most immediately U/W Control and MBC. Trouble is, in MBC, Stalking Stones is the better card, requiring only a one-time use of mana, and U/W Control doesn’t necessarily want to tap out for a tiny flier when it can tap out for a gajillion Soldier tokens.

That being said, I think it’ll definitely have a home in Mirrodin Block Constructed.

Darksteel Citadel

Artifact Land (C)

(This is not a spell.)


T: Add 1 to your mana pool.

It combos with Glimmervoid very nicely. But does Affinity need an indestructible land – heck, does any deck? It might live through a Vengeance, but nothing else will. Maybe if Ponza decks make a comeback. Otherwise, it’s a future Question Mark entry.

Mirrodin’s Core

Land (U)

T: Add 1 to your mana pool.

T: Put a charge counter on Mirrodin’s Core

T, Remove a charge counter from Mirrodin’s Core: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Again with the charge counters! I’m detecting a trend here.

As five-color lands go, I’d have to put this up there with Gemstone Mine – not as good as City of Brass, but it sticks around and provides pain-free mana. This card is definitely Constructed-worthy… where I’d put it, I’m not quite sure… is 5cG playable again? If it was, this card could go there. If a three-or-more color deck is in the works (besides Affinity, anyway), this card would go there.

So that’s the artifacts and lands. I am trying to refrain from using the words”sorry lot,””pile” and”horrible,” but it’s very, very hard. I don’t think I’m going to have too much trouble trading for the cards I’ll want or need, because so far, I don’t see many that fit that criteria.

I hope the five colors, which I’ll examine in Part II, are better. If not…well, Homelands may have some company.

* – Prize is not fabulous