I’m always late with the consumer trends. And not fashionably late, like a Versace-armored drama queen waltzing into the social event of the season at ten o’clock. No, I got my Pumps after it was cool. I started liking Nirvana after Kurt was dead.
The stuff where I did get in on the ground floor? It always seemed to turn around and bite my already shaky reputation in the meaty bits. Case in point – I still have MC Hammer’s first cassette tape. Ditto Vanilla Ice. Historically, these early adoptions of classic artists haven’t really helped me much in social circles. How many romps with a comely lass have ended with sad abruptness at the sight of that weathered “Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em” dust jacket? More than one.
You’d figure that women would all but fudge their frillies at the chance to sip cognac with a gent who once owned an album featuring such soulful ballads as “Soft & Wet.” But no. I get the sort of look usually reserved for child-molesters, and their legs close so fast you can hear knees knock together down in Ann Arbor. I should just get rid of the thing, throw it out the 2nd floor window. Heck, ol’ Hammer would be fine even after falling a great distance. What else are parachute pants for?
I keep it around, though, as a reminder of mistakes made, and that it’s hell being an early adopter.
I’ve resolved not to lodge myself similarly out of the loop when it comes to Limited Magic. When a new set comes out, you basically have to learn to draft all over again, and I try to get in there and run team drafts as soon as possible, usually starting off by using product that was won at the prerelease. Well, I didn’t attend a prerelease this time – I was otherwise occupied (and keep your smart remarks to yourself). It had to do with my sister’s wedding. No, I was not spanking, whacking, jerking, choking, or pulling it. Regardless of the reasons, the point is that I couldn’t attend, and no one from Sarnia won any product, so I’ve had a much harder time than usual practicing. It took a lot of work in an Olive Garden bathroom to get even one draft set.
With a little bit of MD5 draft experience under my belt, then, let’s go over some cards from Mirrodin and Darksteel that are going to fluctuate in value with Fifth Dawn!
There are lots of cards in Mirrodin that, while previously useful, have now become”archetype” cards with the release of Fifth Dawn, in much the same way Thoughtcast is an”archetype” card. Chromatic Sphere is one such card. Basically, you get all the things you used to get with Chromatic Sphere – a thirty-nine card deck, affinity help, early Slith color-fixing, an easy fit into most glove compartments – and then on top of those juicy benefits, you can add”one extra counter for all Sunburst cards.”
I used to get packs with Chromatic Sphere, Steel Wall, and maybe a Great Furnace, and I’d have to think hard about which one to take. It would depend on my mana curve, number of Viridian Longbows (get in there, Steel Wall!) and whether or not I had Sliths or tricky casting costs like Domineer. Now, the choice will be easy. Out of the three, Chromatic Sphere is far and away the best for proactively creating picks – Skyreach Manta most of all. If you can reasonably expect to cast it as a 3/3 or more, it becomes much easier to know when to take it.
These are also excellent with one of White’s best commons – Leonin Squire.
Iron Myr/Silver Myr/Leaden Myr/Copper Myr/Gold Myr
You can now take them over any comparable card regardless of color, unless you’re Green, in which case you’ll be able to wrangle yourself a couple of Sylvok Explorers. In many cases, the off-color Myr may be preferable to the on-color ones, which is why it will be important to keep careful track of the cards in your pile, looking for those double casting costs and other awkward color requirements.
Green, White, and Black will have the toughest decisions here, as all three colors are famous for having color-intensive cards.
I guess I shouldn’t say”over any comparable card.” because you still need firepower to win a game, not just enablers. The key, again, is to weigh how many future picks will be made viable against how much it will inconvenience you to take the Myr over, say, the Krark-Clan Grunt or Cobalt Golem.
If you don’t have a Myr, it’s probably an easy answer. Once you have a couple, you have to watch that you don’t water down your deck so much with mana producers that you have no action. Skyreach Manta is good, but not good enough to justify diluting your lineup like so much Dutch Boy paint. You might not even see any Myr, actually – you can expect to have your on-color Myr taken from you by just about anyone, especially U/x affinity decks.
Pyrite Spellbomb/Aether Spellbomb
Should move up accordingly in pick orders for White decks, again due to synergy with Leonin Squire, and of course Leonin Salvagers. Just spend a few mana per turn, and you’ll be recycling like an 80’s baby boomer. White decks are getting better at buying the time to set up such loops, too.
Much like the old Chevy of the same name, this Nova has been getting worse and worse in my eyes for a long time. First it was great, with the potential to knock out two cards. Shiny and new, right? Then it was slow but playable – a few flakes of rust around the wheel housings. Now I never take it because I like to cast spells instead of sitting around with five mana open. Up on blocks.
So here comes a set where you can move around the common Equipment at instant speed. Soul Nova has hit a new low. The bottom line is that this card is no longer something you want in your deck if you’re playing an aggressive game. It’s possible, however, that some much more defensive W/x decks might spring up, decks that get a lot of use out of the new Loxodon Janitor. I’m sure they’d be happy to have this card to bolster the already formidable defenses they can lay on the table.
These work in much the same way as the Myr. Many decks want them anyway- especially U/B/x decks. Now, those off-color artifact lands that used to power up Nim Shriekers and power out Myr Enforcers can be used to cast Sunburst spells. And Affinity/Black as a draft archetype is still going strong. You might think you lose a lot, but really, you can still make a go of it. Some cards that fit really well into the archetype:
Darksteel – Quicksilver Behemoth
The pickings get slimmer, but you can fill in the gaps with more traditional artifact creatures and such Sunburst beaters as Suntouched Myr and Skyreach Manta. Especially if you grab those off-color artifact lands.
Big surprise, huh? This will be the mana acceleration of choice for any deck that wants to make sure it can pick and play those Suntouched Myr (still fine as a Hill Giant) and Skyreach Mantas. Moves up because of these synergies and more. So how many can you get? Grab ’em up those ‘gots!
How many ‘gots could an Ingot get if an Ingot could get ‘gots?
Great with Sunburst, has the nice side-effect of being insane if you happen to open Ion Storm. Not that Ion Storm isn’t already ridiculous in the right deck. It’s the new Lightning Rift, except instead of drafting around it, you have to hope to get lucky. Mirrodin’s Core is already drafted fairly highly though, so I don’t expect you’ll see much of it during your Limited travels. In that way, it’s like a hotel with reasonably-priced vending machines. A nice find, but as rare as spun gold.
Excellent with Baton of Courage (which is common) and Infused Arrows, this little guy is already fine with cards like Spawning Pit and Talon of Pain. It was always marginally playable in most decks and a fine enabler in others. I expect Coretapper to see more play than ever in the coming months. It’s not as good as Energy Chamber, though (man I love that card!). You’ll still probably get it late.
Land Affinity Golems
The land affinity golems are directly at odds with the Sunburst mechanic. This presents an interesting choice for you, the drafter. These men are most overpowering when played on the third turn, but that same sequence of land drops will lead to 1/1 Suntouched Myr and other unfortunate misfit Sunburst cards. The off-color artifact lands that fuel some U/x and B/x decks are equally lacking in synergy with Spire Golem and friends.
Because the Darksteel pack comes before the Fifth Dawn pack (I hope I’m not moving too quickly for you here, this is advanced stuff, I know), you’ll have a good idea of just how realistic a pick the Suntouched Myr, Batons of Courage, and Skyreach Mantas will be for you. If you managed to snag a couple of Tangle Golems, it might be time to bid Sunburst a fond adieu and concentrate on picking up more conventional Green cards.
So that’s it. Another week, another article. It’s been fun as usual. If you have any thoughts about Mirrodin or Darksteel cards that have changed with the advent of Fifth Dawn, chime in on the forums or drop me an email. I’ll be back next week!
In like Flint (Golem),