A Flavor Review Of Mirrodin Besieged

Friday, February 4 – Geordie Tait does his own set review – but you’ll find little strategic content within – Geordie reviews the flavor of Mirrodin Besieged and evaluates what went right and what went horribly wrong.

“’Jin-Gitaxias’? Eat a gun and kill yourself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” – Dan Skinner

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Mirrodin Besieged flavor review. Before we get started talking about the card names, art, and flavor text in the set, I
wanted to point you to some of the flavor resources that Wizards of the Coast has already made available. For example:

WAR! By Doug Beyer

Doug Beyer explains the conflict and narrative transition between Scars of Mirrodin and Mirrodin Besieged.

Phyrexia, the Strong and the Scattered by Doug Beyer

Doug Beyer explains that Phyrexia is turning into a Baskin Robbins of evil, with thirty-one different flavors.

Corrupted Conscience by Jenna Helland

This short story details the predicament of Karn, creator of Mirrodin.

Scarred by Doug Beyer

This comic series recounts the investigative efforts of Venser, Koth, and Elspeth as they investigate and address the Phyrexian threat.

You can either read those or not – I’ve always been of the opinion that cards should speak for themselves as a self-contained entity, but
supplemental information certainly can’t hurt. Now, let’s talk about some general flavor topics related to Mirrodin Besieged.

1. The infect flavor model has made a transition.

A lot of information about exactly what’s going on with Infect can be found in the article “ Spreading the Infection” by Doug Beyer.

Flavor-wise, it seems like Infect is now a general keyword for Phyrexian influence. In earlier sets, I thought the keyword was a lot less general,
simply because of the way infect cards worked.

In the article, Doug talks about creatures like Contagious Nim and Cystbearer as “living disease vectors,” which is how I always envisioned
infect. Larger-scale, insidious corruption was more of a “proliferate” thing. The way the cards worked mechanically, the stinging, biting,
clawing creatures would start a player off toward ten poison counters, and the inexorable creep of Phyrexian influence would finish the job.

(Does ten poison counters represent turning into a Phyrexian? Does it represent death, after which they can choose to make use of your corpse or not? I
don’t know. I guess it just represents defeat by Phyrexia.)

With the size of creatures like Phyrexian Hydra, Phyrexian Juggernaut, and Blightsteel Colossus, I’m not exactly sure what infect represents
anymore. No longer do I envision a pest like Plague Stinger, attempting to inject me with Phyrexian glistening oil. What is infectious about a
Phyrexian Juggernaut hit? This huge, rumbling machine certainly isn’t a “living disease vector.” Compare to “Skithiryx, the
Blight Dragon,” a powerful creature that nonetheless clearly has noxious fumes emanating from it.

On Phyrexian Juggernaut and Blightsteel Colossus especially, infect is a largely flavorless mechanic. There are no cysts, no gaseous emissions, no
disease/cancer/venom visual cues of any kind. I almost feel like Scars was a set they used to transition poison counters from the accepted flavor idea
of vipers, assassins, and insects to a new MBS state of affairs that makes infect metaphorical for a broader range of Phyrexian mischief.

I’m not sure what I think of this, but there’s no doubt that a switch occurred. Time will tell whether it plays better or allows for
aesthetically better cards.

2. The format of the Prereleases, despite logistical problems with players wanting to draft true MBS, is a creative idea that is more right than wrong.

I want to thank all the drafters out there for taking one for the team during these Prerelease events. The flavor team, I mean. I know, faction packs
made it miserable to try to put drafts together at events, and that was an inconvenience. Your sacrifice wasn’t in vain, though. The decision to
do the MBS Prereleases as “Mirran vs. Phyrexian” is exactly the sort of creative organized play solution that gives me faith in game

There’s no better way to de-marginalize the flavor of a set than to make the storyline a part of the gaming experience, and Mirrodin Besieged has
taken the centerpiece conflict of the set and brought it right to the forefront. This wasn’t just some half-assed effort, either, but an
implementation that required considerable expense on the part of WotC, to the extent of printing “Prerelease only” faction packs.

I’ve said before that as a content writer, I’m haunted by various sad truths about the job, one of which is the possibility that none of
the work I do actually matters. The format of these Prereleases is a strike against that idea, and I would love to see more intelligently implemented,
storyline-driven, organized play of this type.

I think WotC deserves a lot of credit for doing the Prereleases this way. Congratulations to everyone involved with the planning and execution of the

Okay. Now, on to the cards.

As usual, most of them are fine, and any problems with the flavor text are subjective and will be transparent to 99% of players. I’m only doing
this because I’m operating on the pretense that content writing actually matters, so I can feel like my career as a content writer for games
isn’t completely without redeeming value. (Yeah, I know – good luck with that.) Even the cards I have complaints about don’t come
close to ruining anything – they’re just bad relative to what they could have been. With all that in mind, let’s dig into some


Gore Vassal

“Rid them of their unfaithful organs. Bring new hearts to the unbelievers.” —Tome of Machines, verse 1703

Phyrexian flavor is a strange juxtaposition of technological, theological, and biological concepts, and when these elements are interchanged properly,
new turns of phrase appear that can be quite compelling. Religion that seems organic, physical processes that seem mechanical, base functions expressed
with biblical floridity.

Gore Vassal is a good example of this concept used effectively. The indoctrination of unbelievers is a concept all of us can understand. Is the Tome of
Machines talking about changing minds…or literally changing organs?

With Phyrexia, it could be either or both. That interchangeability is part of the Phyrexian charm. This text contains an idea – conjuring the
mental image of minds being converted by physical organ replacement (or at the very least, that act used as a metaphor for changing minds), and proper
density of ideas in a text is all I ask.

Leonin Skyhunter

“The infection has spread farther than we could glimpse from the heights of Taj-Nar.”

I like the art on this card. It’s very similar to the original in terms of proportions and what is being shown, but the edges of the frame use
palette choices that aren’t generally found on a white card. By doing little to change the subject of the image but making an interesting change
to the surrounding features, Phyrexian corruption is well demonstrated.

This card could have just been a Leonin Skyhunter in a different pose, from a different angle, perhaps fighting some Phyrexian guy, and it would have
been just another average piece of art.

The way they chose to go with this art description was a very good idea.

Phyrexian Rebirth

As long as one drop of the oil exists, the joyous work continues.

Again, Phyrexian flavor is about the juxtapositions that would come out of an alien mind. “Joyous” mass murder is a perfect example of
this, as no human being outside an utter sociopath would have that feeling. The texts that convey the alien nature of the Phyrexian mind are the ones
that succeed best.

Priests of Norn

“May our blessings sever the tongues of the forsaken.”—Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Count the alien concepts and tech/bio/theo crossovers here: Blessings that sever tongues? If you actually read deep into what Elesh Norn is saying, it
takes a while to figure out what it even means. Normally that would annoy me, but the fact that it’s an attributed quote makes me give it a
little leeway and assume Norn is just batsh-t insane. The Phyrexian mind is one that we’re not really supposed to understand at first glance.

Who are ‘the forsaken?’ What ‘blessing’ is Elesh Norn talking about?

I actually think this means “we will make them Phyrexian, and they will take their places in the Grand Machine and be silent,” but it could
also mean “we will kill all who reject us.” This flavor text was well executed by a writer who understood how to do Phyrexian flavor and
the leeway granted by an attributed quote. (Namely, the fact that the speaker could be out of his mind.)


A golem’s hands know no tenderness.

One-liner texts are often stale or contain no insight, but I like this one – it almost seems like a lamentation. That sad note gives it enough
density of ideas to be a compelling text.

Fangren Marauder

“The fangren fight without comfort of any kind. We can ask no less of ourselves.”—Tilien, Sylvok partisan

Unlike a ton of other attributed texts, this one sounds like something a leader would actually say. It’s not some attempt at being witty but
rather a statement holding each Mirran accountable. The goal of an attributed quote for a character is to encourage a player to respect and like the
character, and this succeeds. I wish I could read more about Tilien and his resolute allies, instead of listening to Ezuri tell me to “Use the

Darksteel Plate

“If there can be no victory, then I will fight forever.”—Koth of the Hammer

A terrific quote that shows heroic obstinacy, an admirable unwillingness to admit defeat. You can’t help but admire Koth’s determination,
and as I said before, quotes that make me respect or admire their speakers are exactly the sort of quotes that key characters should be uttering.

Something else is going on here though, something subtle. You see, the art and subject of the card really has nothing to do with Koth, yet he’s
the quote, and his quote still applies nonetheless. Sure, it takes an extra step to see the connection, but as you guys know by now, I think
that’s good.

The connection between Koth’s quote and this card is similar to the connection between the card Wasteland and the T.S. Eliot quote that was
featured on the Promo version of it, in that they’re related only by general concept. I think that’s terrific, and it opens the door for
more texts of that type. Such quotes aren’t straightjacketed by having to refer to the latest spider-tank or Phyrexian snot-fly but rather just
relate heroes being heroes. These can then be added to cards where the sentiments and concepts indirectly apply. The result is a more elegant text than
would normally appear.

This is the most underrated text in the set and might actually be my favorite flavor text just because of the method it represents. Kudos.

Decimator Web

Mycosynth grew unfettered beneath the black lacuna, metastasizing into a matrix of noxious energy.

A really flavorful design. I doubt this name changed much from conception to printing.

Living Weapon (Mortarpod, Skinwing, Strandwalker, Bonehoard, Flayer Husk)

All of the living weapon cards are the true flavor triumphs in the set. These were executed perfectly, despite not having any room for flavor text.
I’d love to know who came up with these names so I could give them a pat on the back.

Mortarpod is the best of the four – the combination of art, name, and rules text tells a hilarious tale. With careful reading, one can see that a
“mortarpod” is actually an armored vehicle that you can load yourself into (it gives +0/+1 while you’re in there!) and, if worse
comes to worse, fire yourself out of. It comes preloaded with a Germ, but any creature can just climb on in later once the Germ gets launched.

All of the others are executed really well, too. Skinwing, Bonehoard, Strandwalker, and Flayer Husk all perfectly adhere to the convention of names
that are suitable for both a creature and a piece of equipment. The introduction of the Germ creature type was another terrific touch and fits
perfectly with the Phyrexian aesthetic. I really just have nothing bad to say about any of these cards. I remember my own suggestions for them, and
they were terrible. So somebody obviously picked up the slack.

Absolute A++. Mortarpod is my choice for overall best flavor in the set.

Phyrexian Revoker

Basic senses like sight and taste are reserved for those in power.

I’ve said it a thousand times – all I want is ideas. I’d like to thank this text for helping me to imagine a world where the very
senses are doled out only to the worthy. A very nice text.


Ardent Recruit

“We lost our homes and our kin. We won’t let those rotters take our future as well.”

Thoughts on “rotters” as a pejorative term for “Phyrexians?” On one hand, I see what they were going for (considering the
Phyrexian link with overall Mirran decay, the name makes sense), and I appreciate the attempt. On the other hand, the fact that it’s archaic British
slang makes me read those flavor texts in a Cockney voice that probably wasn’t intended. While I certainly get behind the “making up”
of colloquialisms as a method of injecting personality into a given fantasy populace, I wouldn’t consider this a success. I feel like subjects of
each related art piece should be wearing top hats, grooming sideburns, and challenging each other to bareknuckle fistfights using the Marquis of
Queensbury rules.

Take it to those Phyrexian gits, guv!

Tine Shrike

A new bird of prey—one that hunts sentience.

First and foremost – great name. Neither word is oft used on a Magic card (“shrike” has been used one other time, as the suffix in a
compound word), and both words work perfectly to describe something that would poke about five-hundred holes in your hide if you were to wrap your arms
around it. Kudos to whoever came up with it – “Tine Shrike” has my vote for best name in the set.

The flavor text, on the other hand, isn’t so great. It hunts sentience? Does it kill Phyrexians too, then?

The word “sentience” can mean one of any number of things, and none of the three really works if the text is to be taken to mean that the
(Phyrexian faction) Tine Shrike hunts Mirrans and not Phyrexians – and that’s certainly what my first impulse told me as I read it. Perhaps
this text suffers from the factionalization of MBS, in that we read it as “It hunts only Mirrans” no matter what the designs intended.

Sentience can refer to the ability of a being to have subjective experiences. Subjective experiences are things like the pain of a stubbed toe, the
blue of a sky, the taste of food, and so on. If this is the meaning of the word here, it would suggest that Phyrexians don’t have subjective
experiences. While this is an interesting concept, it isn’t explicitly supported anywhere in lore.

Another meaning of sentience (this time from Eastern philosophy) is “the quality of having senses.” We have already seen that Phyrexians
have senses – the flavor text from Phyrexian Revoker tells us that they do (and, in fact, they dole these vital spiritual functions out to those
in power!). So again, if this were true, the Shrike would hunt Phyrexians as well.

Finally, the fudged, technobabble use of the word is as a synonym for sapience – “possessing human-level intelligence.” This also
doesn’t really work, as Phyrexians themselves possess at least human-level intelligence. So either Tine Shrike feeds on Mirran and Phyrexian
alike, or the flavor text doesn’t quite work. (A predator that just kills intelligent humanoids isn’t exactly “new” in fantasy
fiction, either.)

I think what’s actually going on here is that the flavor text writer is using a mishmash of these concepts, trying to tell us that Tine Shrike
hunts his or her own version of “sentience” – those beings who are not amoral, alien-killing machines but rather human-like in their
ability to feel pain, fall in love, and empathize with others.

Good idea, but the text takes too many shortcuts to get there. I suspect they just thought this text “sounded cool,” didn’t really
think about whether it made perfect sense or not, and sent it on through.

Spire Serpent

A mirror to draw its eye, a rod to rouse its rage, and a sword to break its bonds.

I had to read the flavor text of this card twice to figure out what the hell was going on. Then I realized “Oh…it’s flavorizing metalcraft.”

 If cards are going to add flavor to metalcraft, then this implementation is certainly one way to do it and executed pretty well. Still, tons of
other metalcraft cards forego any explanation whatsoever, and that makes me wonder about the wisdom of including this outlier.

I don’t think doing all the metalcraft cards this way was ever an option – you can only do so many “The precise alignment of the
three artifacts added power to Burza’s spell!” flavor-burglars before people fall asleep mid-sentence. So yeah, what is this doing here?

Oh well, if you take it just on its own, it’s a pretty cool text.

Corrupted Conscience

Karn’s creation is now his master.

After saying so many times that it’s fine to ask your readers/players to take that extra step, I’ve been hoisted by my own petard. I think
this flavor text just expects too much of the reader.

“Karn’s creation?”

“Karn created Mirrodin. So, Mirrodin.”

“It’s his master?”

“Phyrexia is Mirrodin now. In the core, I mean. Where they are.”

“So Phyrexia is his master?”


“But Karn didn’t create Phyrexia, right?”

“No, that was Yawgmoth.”


Ugh. I think less was gained by this fragile chain of discovery than was lost. Still, I hope they keep giving readers the benefit of the doubt, so I
can’t give it a complete “thumbs down.”

Magnetic Mine

I have a tiny nitpick – the card doesn’t sacrifice itself. (Yes, I realize they would need to change the card quite a bit to make this part
of its effect and still have it at an appropriate power level.)

While I certainly understand the concept of mines that don’t simply explode but rather shoot projectiles at or otherwise impede targets in
proximity (I played T.I.E. Fighter!), I just think a card conceived as a “mine” should explode. In Magic, at least. Perhaps not when
you’re piloting a T.I.E. Advanced.

A fine card, though.

Silverskin Armor

Partisan spies warned that no armor would protect the body from Phyrexian infection. Neurok strategists took that as a challenge.

Love the art. I would like to see more Magic art in this vein, especially for equipment – art pieces that represent blueprints or schematics are
an untapped resource in the card game community. This piece is the opposite of slick, muscled, commercial art – it looks like a page out of an
artificer’s text. (Thopter Assembly could have benefitted from this treatment.)


        Rage H

Minor point, though. Silver could just be referring to the appearance of the armor rather than its composition. Overall, a good card.

Training Drone

“Vulshok flail, Viridian shield, loxodon blade . . . Tazzir, bring the Moriok hook and assemble the rookies.”—Vy Covalt, Neurok agent

Again, I love the art and concept – and the text is playful, with a ton of personality. Unfortunately, Vy Covalt isn’t distinguishing
himself in the annals of warfare with this training program.

“Okay, you Mirran united forces are going into battle against Phyrexia! The first thing you’re going to do is fight a construct
that’s armed with the weapons used by all of your allies.”

“No offense, sir, but can we break out the robots that teach us how to dodge stingers, cyst explosions, and colossus fists?”

“Listen, you Leonin punk, this is how we learned in the first war. I spent two years creeping through the Tangle with a unit of Sanctive
operatives, until a booby-trapped Loxodon prostitute turned me into a Hypnotic Specter from the waist down. Her name was Rotunda Ronnie. She charged
twenty-five bucks for a tusk-sounding and fifty for her specialty, which she called the Hum of the Radix. The Salvage Scouts found my balls in a Glint
Hawk nest.”

Goblin Wardriver

“A true warrior fights with whatever’s handy.”—Qerk of the Secret Warren

This flavor text is one exclamation point short of being just fine. As it is, it’s mediocre.


Phyrexians research with the grace of surgeons and the finesse of butchers.


“elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action”


“extreme delicacy or subtlety in action, performance, skill, discrimination, or taste”

Technically, they’re two different words. However, I think the difference between the two is over the heads of most. It certainly was over my
head. I said to myself, “Grace and finesse are almost the same thing, right?” and then looked up both words. Sure, there’s a subtle
difference, but the difference isn’t meaningful in the context it’s used.

The text is just poorly constructed. I understand the basic idea. “Phyrexians are brutal and matter-of-fact in their work, like butchers, but
they have the precision of surgeons.”

In other words, Phyrexians have the A of Up and the B of Down.

But the flavor text is “Phyrexians have the A of Up and the A of Down.” The grace of both surgeons and butchers.

Putting it that way and repeating the word, without presenting some sort of false dichotomy, would have been far superior.

I like the name a lot, though.


Horrifying Revelation

“Ours is a glorious transmission! Behold a future where all bow to the Father of Machines.”—Isila, Priest of Sheoldred

The directive to mix biological/theological/technological can overwhelm content writers sometimes. This text makes me imagine Isila in a closet-sized
room somewhere in the Vault of Whispers, fiddling with the Squelch knob on an ichor-fueled ham radio.

Used ambiguously, the word “transmission” opens a sci-fi sort of door to radio waves and frequencies and communications lines that just
isn’t really present anywhere else, even on the most technologically themed cards. I suppose it’s possible they they’re referring to
the transmission of disease, but I don’t think that’s clear here.

Morbid Plunder

Even the dead are raw materials for the Phyrexian vision of perfection.

In addition to possessing no quality of articulation beyond the very basic, I also don’t feel like this flavor text is breaking news.

Hellkite Igniter

Its flight sets the sky itself on fire.

“Hey, do any of you old-timers have a copy of Firestorm Hellkite’s flavor text as submitted, before we polished it up and added character
voice and setting-specific inflections? A card just came in with almost the same concept, so I want to do it again but in the most boring way

My candidate for worst flavor text in the set.

Blightsteel Colossus

You guys already know how I feel about this dude. I should mention
that I agree with the people who suggest that the art doesn’t do the card many favors – it’s too stocky, has no infect visual cues
(unless you count general Phyrexianism as an infect cue), and resembles Platinum Emperion more than the original Colossus.

No surprise that I think this is the worst card in the set for overall flavor.

Copper Carapace

“We will fight as they do: our flesh protected behind metal.”—Tae Aquil, Viridian weaponsmith

I’m sure glad Tae Aquil was around to pioneer the revolutionary concept of protecting flesh with metal. Not sure how that one slipped past the
Viridian Elves, considering the mycosynth within Mirrodin had been causing them to grow plates and copper outcroppings from their bodies for
generations. What a mad genius.

“I’d just been chiseling off my pectoral plates, grinding them up and using the fragments to demarcate the Tangle bike paths. This use is much better. Thank you, Tae Aquil!”

This text is a good example of a writer forgetting what world he’s writing for. Some generic comment about fighting metal with metal
doesn’t work when you’re a member of a race that literally has metal growing out of its flesh. It would work fine for a race to which the
idea of thick armor was a novelty.

Hexplate Golem

“Use everything. Iron, rust, scrap . . . even the ground must join our cause.”—Ezuri, renegade leader

The named characters in Magic, for the most part, aren’t pinnacles of oratorical prowess. Ezuri is no exception, falling flat here with an
exhortation to “use the ground.” Ooooooookay. I’ll get right on it. Also, how are we supposed to use rust? Should we be snorting it
to fuel those all-night salvage parties?

I know – the point of this is to show that Ezuri is resourceful and determined. But this isn’t exactly a Great Plains Indian weaving three
teepees out of a buffalo penis – he basically just says the same thing four times.

Iron, okay. Pretty general, but…

Rust – that’s oxidized iron.

Scrap – that could also be iron.

The ground – in Mirrodin, could also be iron.

I don’t know…I could explain in further detail why this list of items doesn’t really work and how Ezuri’s verbiage
doesn’t really approach the level of inspirational, but I think it just speaks for itself.

So many of these texts are an otaku’s idea of what a hero would say in his favorite video game or D&D campaign, rather than something a hero
or orator would actually say. It isn’t just the fault of the people who submit them – sometimes they just want to get a submission down for
a chance at payment. It’s also the fault of the people who select them.

Piston Sledge

Only the goblins could make a simple machine so complex.

Only the Neurok could make a simple machine so complex.

Only the Vedalken could make a simple machine so complex.

Only the Phyrexians could make a simple machine so complex…

You can make a case that the text works on an ironic level, but I’m pretty sure it’s interchangeable and meaningless. An attribution could
have fixed this problem, turning the statement into a subjective opinion.

Psychosis Crawler

“If that brain can’t figure out the secret of the serum, then add more brains.”—Rhmir, Hand of the Augur

Massacre Wurm

These two are probably just my subjectivity talking, but…

I really prefer names that people in-world would plausibly have come up with, but these are a couple of real noun-noun roulette jobs. Psychosis Crawler
is a total disconnect between a mental condition and a physical action. Massacre Wurm sounds like a playtest name, so unabashed is the card in its
affiliation with the namesake sorcery.

The flavor text and art actually do a pretty good job of salvaging the name Psychosis Crawler, but really it should have just been called “Mind
Crawler,” two words that are slightly more connected. (“The mind crawls” is a turn of phrase that has been used before.)

Massacre Wurm is just an action-RPG-level name. As I explained last week, I’m fine with that. I just thought maybe we were trying to do better
with Magic. I don’t know – maybe Phyrexians really do name their creations in this way. It’s not like “Phyrexian
Denouncer” was any great shakes – perhaps we should blame the Praetors.

Shimmer Myr

It evades Phyrexians by hiding in the spaces between seconds.

A whimsical text that doesn’t belong in the set. This isn’t Tolaria. Rather, this text should be on a Vs. System card, namely “The
Flash.” That’s no coincidence, as Shimmer Myr is built like The Flash, striking a pose like The Flash, has Flash, and during playtesting
was named “Wally West.”

flash myr

It just doesn’t work for me without an attribution to help ascribe some of the eccentricity of the statement to the speaker. The text sounds like
an old boxing coach talking about Muhammad Ali’s jab, or something, not the workings of an actual machine. That’s why you need to attribute
it, so the weaknesses can be attributed to the speaker.

Sketchy statements can make characters seem real (all real people have faults), but unattributed, it just makes content writers seem stupid.

Myr Sire

For the Phyrexians, death is not an end, nor a one-time occurrence.

Tangle Hulk

“A true Phyrexian predator. It will never know death, just as nature intended.”—Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger

Read one and then read the other. It’s fine to talk about the Phyrexian concept of what constitutes true death, having Vorinclex address it, but
turning around to contradict his interpretation of it on another card is pretty loose. If both of these cards are talking about the same concept (the
idea that Phyrexians don’t truly die), they shouldn’t be using the word “death” in two different ways. If these cards are
simply contradicting each other, that’s even worse.

I’m pretty sure the explanation is that two writers wanted to say cool stuff about death, and nobody bothered to reconcile the two texts.

Sword of Feast and Famine

I just don’t like the name or the fact that the abilities on the card contradict the order of the name (the “black” abilities are
listed first). I really think this card should have been called “Sword of Life and Death” or something similar. No matter what you do,
without a straight creature kill or raise dead effect for the black half, the name is going to have a disconnect, so I think you just have to grin and
bear it and use the best possible name regardless.

Thopter Assembly

The art looks like a top-down view of a garbage bin after someone threw out a sandwich wrapper. I think the art description was: “Draw what would
result if a lamp shade had sex with ‘The Collector’ from Star Trek: Insurrection.” Instead of a sketch, I’m guessing the artist
sent along an image of his maid tying off the top of a Hefty bag filled with Christmas lights.

Tangle Mantis

The fiercest hunters in the Tangle don’t seek out the mantises. They are the mantises.

I get what the writer was going for here; it’s just 90% less clever than he or she thought it was. The text is just flat and tells us information
that seems dubious.

Vedalken Infuser

“All plans begin as dreams. I intend to awaken them.”

This text doesn’t make much sense because you don’t awaken dreams; you awaken the dreamers themselves. This text intends to say that the
Infuser means to allow plans to come to fruition – to turn dreams into reality. In fact, it comes close to saying the exact opposite and could be
taken to mean that he intends to wake people from their dreams and send them crashing back to reality.

This is similar to the “its venom drips with Phyrexia’s hate” text from last set. Venom can’t drip with anything, and you
don’t awaken dreams.

I suppose there’s a chance that the verb “awaken” was chosen to mean “causing to bloom or flourish” here, and if
that’s the case, it’s the worst word choice possible given the use of the word “dreams” elsewhere in the text.


MBS is a set with high points and low points. Many of the Phyrexian quotes were chilling and inspired, while other attributed quotes seemed dull and
undermining to their speakers. Some texts seemed to go the extra mile while others like that of Hellkite Igniter seemed to do the least amount
possible. The subtle greatness of the flavor text for “Darksteel Plate” is offset by several failed attempts to be clever.

On a more macro level, while I loved the story-driven organized play of the Prereleases, I’m not sure about the current status of infect as a
mechanic and how it works, flavor-wise.

Relative to almost every other product on the market, this set is a creative success. Relative to what I think could have been done, I give it a B

See you all next week.

Geordie Tait

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BONUS SECTION: MOCS Season 1 Championship Mini-Report!

Last month, since I had some winnings and QPs (qualifier points) under my belt from my recent PTQ performance, I decided I wanted to try to play in the
Magic Online Championship, or MOCS, for Season 1. My timing couldn’t have been better – not only was the promo card Pernicious Deed, but
the TSE queues were in full swing and paying out handsomely in packs, qualifier points, and sellable Oath of Druids.

I was able to rack up 1-2 points/day just by drafting, as my opponents couldn’t seem to grasp the fact that all you have to do to win in TSE is
play a Youthful Knight and then put Conviction on it. Okay, sometimes it wasn’t Conviction but Kor Chant, and usually there was as Spirit en-Kor
involved at some point, but that’s pretty much how all my drafts went. As a change of pace, I eventually decided to open Equilibrium twice,
leading to two further draft wins and six cases of opponent Tourette’s Syndrome. I ended up with twenty QPs, enough to enter and grab a Pernicious Deed
but not enough for any byes.

I woke up the day of the event feeling hopeful. Traffic on the way to the venue was miserable, as a semi had jackknifed on the freeway:


The detour took a while. Even leaving at 6:58, it took me a good ten to fifteen seconds to make it to the venue. Once there, I immediately saw Tim Aten
and decided to pick his brain about the format.


In terms of eliciting excitement, my pool wasn’t exactly a negative paternity test. I paired my most solid color with the color that contained my
highest-power cards and came up with the following deck:

Black Air Elemental

22 Non-Air Elemental

10 Mountains

7 Swamps

I started off 1-1. In between the second and third rounds, I was famished and decided to visit a vendor in order to pick up some food:


It’s about the level of nutrition I’ve come to expect from a Magic tournament. Unfortunately, the chick running the booth didn’t
speak much English and seemed preoccupied with licking her own genitals. (These convention center employees, I’ll tell you…) I decided on
the lone “powdered sugar” donut hole and sat down to resume play.

Round 3 my opponent didn’t have Air Elemental.

Round 4 I was beaten down by Air Elemental.

Round 5 my opponent didn’t have Air Elemental.

Round 6 my opponent didn’t have Air Elemental.

Round 7 my opponent didn’t have Air Elemental.

Round 8 I was beaten down by Air Elemental.

Oh well. At least I got a promo Pernicious Deed out of the deal.