YT (me): Super bored already. Also this NBA season is totally a drag. How about I finally do that Untold Tales that Teddy Card Game was bugging –
I mean begging – me to do since before I came back next week.
Steve Sadin (Content Manager): Are you crazy?
YT: Crazy about Landry Fields! I mean from the story you know the answer to that question, actually. But what about it? Seriously. Tired of writing
these madly awesome technological marvels or whatever that everyone likes. I’m thinking: make fun of you, get a rib in on Johnny on account of I
am madly jealous of him IRL, and it makes me feel better about myself, stuff like that.
SS: No, no… That’s all fine. I mean don’t you know what week it is?
YT: My anniversary is next week! Thanks for remembering.
SS: Four words: Mirrodin. Besieged. Start. Writing.
YT: Did you just hang up? Hello?
As you know from this article and other of
my recent writings, my present deck design algorithm focuses closely on identifying and playing the best cards available in a format. As you probably
know, a bunch of us actually just sit around and argue about which the Top 10 cards in a format are. So I figured, maybe I’d write about the Top 10
cards in Mirrodin Besieged. Unfortunately, I couldn’t cut to ten. So instead, I decided to write about the Top Twenty… one :)
This list is a combination of cards that I am 100% would be Top 10 in the set (Inkmoth Nexus or Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas) and cards that I just thought
deserved discussion (Hero of Bladehold, Blue Sun’s Zenith) because they either do or echo stuff that is either awesome or meant to be awesome
(and might be awesome).
I broke down my Top Twenty-one thusly:
• The River Boas
• The Sweepers
• The [other] Big Spells
• The Attackers
I only listed cards once each, though some of them could fall into more than one category.
The River Boas:
Longtime readers know my favorite set of all time is Visions. Visions was awesome because it was all Man-o’-Wars and Impulses, River Boas and
Nekrataals… You know, somewhat unspectacular but super attractive action cards that either do a ton in one card or just aren’t very expensive.
I realize these examples are kind of ironic given that most of them would be tough sells for Standard today.
… but you get it.
Go for the Throat has everything. It’s mostly just better than Doom Blade. You know how everything dies to Doom Blade? Even more stuff
– Malakir Bloodwitch, Grave Titan, even Creeping Tar Pit – die to Go for the Throat.
Neither Wurmcoil Engine nor Molten-Tail Masticore is an attractive target for Doom Blade anyway. If Inkmoth Nexus gets as popular as we all think it
will be, Disfigure’s two-of-ish status might stand pat for that… But otherwise? Look for a large-scale migration to Go for the Throat.
Interestingly, I think that we might see Precursor Golem start seeing more play given this projected popularity as a metagame shift.
Where will Go for the Throat see play?
Super widespread play… It will be a two-of or better in most black control decks that would presently use a Doom Blade and will be played up to a
four-of as a maindeck card or maindeck plus sideboard card across many different kinds of decks: beatdown, control, and even some combo.
What is interesting to talk about is Viridian Corrupter’s costing. Essentially we have a reprint of an existing card, plus infect added on at the cost
of one colorless mana being converted to a colored one; look for similar commentary around superstar-to-be Phyrexian Vatmother.
Where will Viridian Corrupter see play?
Though it might be a one-of bullet in maindecks with Fauna Shaman or Green Sun’s Zenith, given the absence of popularity for Keldon Vandals even
in green decks that can make R, I’d guess that Viridian Corrupter will be relegated to sideboard.
Caveat: Might be a maindeck miser in infect decks; obviously look for this to jump in value in infect-based sideboards.
Just a cool and creative card; fast, replaces itself, and opens up whole worlds of development with one small clause.
Obviously this is just a two-mana cantrip when you play it the first time, but you can bonus up in decks that can take advantage of the second ability.
Examples would be Tezzeret decks (attack with Ichor Wellspring as a 5/5, hope to get it killed) or probably – and most immediately – Time
Sieve Extended decks.
Where will Ichor Wellspring see play?
Snap-include in Time Sieve! Right now, Time Sieve will play any old two-mana cantrip. This has got to be better, drawing you into Time Sieve, old
Tezzeret, or Time Warp, then keeping you going when you work the Sieve… Nothing like cozying up to your free turn, one card closer to an Open the
What I like about this card is that you can run it in all-animals decks like the Jund variant I’ve been playing on MTGO recently. I was never a big fan
of Pithing Needle even in Trinket Mage decks, but this card is combined with one of Magic’s classic one-liners:
“Attack for two.”
Holy Invasion Block, Batman!
Where will Phyrexian Revoker see play?
I actually think that this card will have more significant life in larger formats than it will in Standard (though I can see it as a bullet for certain
green decks in Standard if not a four-of after boarding). For example… Affinity anyone? Straight in! It will be like when Canali won Columbus but not
hard to cast.
Basically a perfect card.
If you want to attack with it, it’s a 2/1. If you don’t (and you usually don’t), it makes a turn-three 8/5.
Auto-include in both aggressive and midrange Mono-Black Infect decks for Standard, strong consideration for any Infect deck.
Where will Plague Myr see play?
Classic example of a four-of in-archetype but quite restricted by archetype, a la Pyromancer Ascension. Not that Plague Myr is a Pyromancer
Ascension… Just that it will see about as much play in its niche as Ascension saw in its; that is, 100% four-of but not really played anywhere else.
Where will Phyrexian Rebirth see play?
The issue here is competition. If there were no Day of Judgment, this card would be very attractive to, say, U/W decks. As it is, many U/W decks are
not even playing four copies of Day of Judgment. However, because Phyrexian Rebirth doubles as a finisher (it gets better the better an
opponent’s board), you could see it as a one-of or even two-of in decks that don’t even play four copies of the four-mana version.
Decks that can buy more time (or cats crazy enough to go Mono-White Control in Standard) might like this… But the big competition is actually from
the next card.
White Sun’s Zenith
Probably my favorite card in the new set.
This card is like a Decree of Justice… But usually awesomer. Is losing the ability to cycle on turn 3 worth doubling the power of your token
attackers? How about looping your deck so that your only kill card is also a Waylay that gets insanely bigger as the game goes on and re-buys over and
over as you use it more and more?
You can pick a fight with blue decks at the end of their turn (leaving up Leak mana if you’re fancy), literally Waylay White Weenie attackers, and
grind out games like you were in control of a certain The Mind Sculptor.
At six mana, you’re basically in Dragon / Titan range (six mana, six power, plus “card advantage”). At eight mana (aka one past an
Ultimatum), you are in two-strike kill range, which is kind of awesome.
Where will White Sun’s Zenith see play?
I think that most white decks that can reliably play this for six mana will run at least one copy. It seems like a godsend to U/W Control, doubling as
a mid-combat defender and a powerful way to win. Just one of the best cards in the set.
Black Sun’s Zenith
This is a conversation Patrick and I had over this card last week:
Patrick “the Innovator” Chapin: What do you think of Black Sun’s Zenith.
PC: Um, what is your definition of “awesome?”
YT: I mean it re-buys itself so I can save a slot by playing two copies of a sweeper
instead of three.
YT: No… More like a worse Consume the Meek that’s kind of better but definitely saves
Where will Black Sun’s Zenith see play?
I assume the metagame-smashing Mono-Black Control decks that I keep reading about in the forums will play four copies. This seems like it will do
exactly what those decks want to do and perform against the kind of decks those decks want to beat.
In terms of decks that are more popular in the metagame, I would assume this is Staple in B/U Control (at least in the sideboard) as a two-of at a
minimum. Midrange-y B/G decks, B/W, whatever, will like this as well, for all the same reasons… Strong potential effect, little deck space.
What I like about Massacre Wurm is how unfair it is.
Unlike most effects like this, Massacre Wurm is a one-sided effect. I think that this will see a lot of play, but different play than a Grave
Titan or Wurmcoil Engine. Like, this is a six, but it can demolish an Elves deck, for instance, instead of giving you a false sense of hope. If the
opponent is doing really well – but isn’t big – he can just die on the spot.
In fact, I think Massacre Wurm may be the misplay magnet champion of all of Mirrodin Besieged. I mean can you imagine the “whatever”
comments of people ignoring this coming down, not realizing it’s going to brain them for a ton? Pro Tip: Get foreign copies.
Where will Massacre Wurm see play?
I used to play control decks where I would side in more six-drop finishers against beatdown. Under the theory that I could block their 2/2 or
whatever, and they would still need to spend a Volcanic Hammer, or I would crack back for more. Massacre Wurm is better for those purposes than Yosei
ever was for me.
Additionally, you have the option of just going bigger than the other guy. You can run out Massacre Wurm pre-combat to generate devastating combats or
post-combat to mop up the mess left after a onetime creature standoff. Basically, this creature seems mad disgusting to me.
Possibly the best overall card in Mirrodin Besieged… I think BDM (Brian David-Marshall) said it best. This card will be Staple in the decks that want
to play it for as long as it’s legal in whatever formats it is legal. Slagstorm gives U/R Control a combination of an upgrade over Pyroclasm in
Standard and a new way to win some games. Red Decks will just say “huh” and brain you for three. Remember last summer many Red
Decks were playing four Earthquakes just to fight green mana accelerators (and get in some bonus licks when the curve was right)… Slagstorm does this
job better than Earthquake a lot of the time, actually hits Birds of Paradise too, or can just hit players when you have the better board.
I don’t know if Slagstorm is a strict upgrade to Firespout because it’s harder to play and less customizable (you can’t pick if you only
want to hit Faeries – I mean fliers – the way Firespout lets you), but it is at least competitive.
Just a fantastic card that will be played across many different kinds of decks.
Where will Slagstorm see play?
Like BDM said: Staple in decks that want either a Firespout or a Hammer of some sort (or either, or both), as long as it is legal in whatever formats
it is legal.
First up will be U/R Control a la GerryT circa States 2010, but it will probably legitimize some old or new strategies all by its lonesome.
The [other] Big Spells:
Blue Sun’s Zenith
I ended up including four of the five Zenith spells (cleaving only Red from the list), but I was a bit iffy on Blue. I mean, is this card really going
to make a huge splash? My guess is “probably not,” but BDM pointed out that any deck that could break Stroke of Genius at 2UX could have
played it at UUUX… making Blue Sun’s Zenith a theoretical upgrade with the re-buy built in.
Blue Sun’s Zenith is only one more mana than Mind Spring and is an instant. Think back just a few months when Mind Spring was a U/W breaker and
think about how fun it would’ve been to play a slightly smaller Mind Spring during the opponent’s end step… when there wasn’t any Mana
Leak yet. Heck, at the last Star City Open, Nick Spagnolo didn’t even play Mana Leak in his U/W deck!
Point being, this card might have some awesomer possibilities than it immediately seems to have.
Where will Blue Sun’s Zenith see play?
Two different kinds of decks seem like immediate candidates:
1.Combo Decks – Both decks that used Stroke of Genius as a kill and decks that are willing to play Jace’s Ingenuity might consider this card.
Green Sun’s Zenith
I think this card is the most interesting of the Zeniths. I don’t mean that in the way you probably think I mean it… I mean this card is
actually interesting to think about and interesting in the possibilities that it exposes.
I mean Red Sun’s Zenith is not interesting at all. It is hella straightforward; there is only one deck I can think of from the last five years
that would consider playing it in Standard, and only then given a very specific framework.
Black Sun’s Zenith is very good but not particularly interesting. What makes it tick is pretty straightforward… inefficient Infest; will kill
Thrun, the Last Troll at six mana; might be better than Day of Judgment when you have enough mana; lets you shave numbers from your list.
Blue Sun’s Zenith is less good but much more interesting than Black Sun’s Zenith. More interesting because you need to chat and brew and
figure out where it will be awesome; less good for the same reasons.
White Sun’s Zenith is only interesting the first time. You tell your buddy all the awesome stuff you can do with it, how many you should play (at
least), and roll from there. After that: mono-good.
But Green Sun’s Zenith is both pretty good and ever pregnant with stuff to talk about. You can play it on turn 2 to make sure you have the mana
accelerator you missed on turn 1 so that you can hit your four-drop on turn 3. This undoes your first turn Khalni Garden or Stirring Wildwood. Go
You can play it on turn 3 (turn 2 some games) to ensure you have a Fauna Shaman. Some decks play like completely different engines of awesome when they
have a Fauna Shaman… and much less impressively without one. Ding!
In bigger formats, or with bigger mana available, you can get a much bigger monster. Primeval Titan? Wouldn’t you pay seven mana for a Primeval
Titan… especially if you didn’t already have one? All kinds of awesome possibilities given green men and 187s.
Where will Green Sun’s Zenith see play?
I think this card will see play in decks with 30 creatures, and in decks with just one kind of creature (for redundancy), and many decks in between. I
think it may be redundant in Fauna Shaman decks but probably not in ones that play Bloodbraid Elf.
I have no opinion on this card, actually, at this time.
I just read it and filed it away for future use.
You would not believe the emails Patrick Johnson and I exchanged in 1998 over Yawgmoth’s Will. It took almost two years to fully realize how to
break that card, and we had Dark Ritual, Duress, and Vampiric Tutor back then.
All I know is it ain’t hard to get to nine mana for a Genesis Wave, and Praetor’s Counsel only costs eight.
Where will Praetor’s Counsel see play?
Like I said – filed away for future use. Pretty sure there will be
more than one.
Already wrote a one-of on
This card is very good, but unlike some other very good planeswalkers, it is a centerpiece, not a joiner. You don’t necessarily have to build
around Tezzeret, but you have to acknowledge Tezzeret’s presence in building your deck. Lots of artifacts. Ways to get blockers out of the way.
Always be closing.
Where will Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas see play?
Artifact-heavy, likely Tezzeret-centered decks; probably control decks with plenty of mana and a bad attitude.
I rate this as better than Sword of Body and Mind but worse still than Sword of Fire and Ice. As much as I never liked Sword of Body and Mind, Sword of
Body and Mind was still a format staple, if never a four-of.
Why is this card good?
Card advantage is good.
Forcing the opponent to discard a card is less powerful than drawing a card but still desirable.
Making DI mana is good.
I would rather untap 3+ mana than either Shock my opponent or make a Wolf. Generally, this effect is also mightier than a Raise Dead, so huzzah! Those
effects are worth R, W, or B, respectively; whereas this card’s “green” trigger is probably worth at least two mana. Even if you
don’t have a great way to break the untap, you can at least move around your Sword to a defender.
Where will Sword of Feast and Famine see play?
Sword of Fire and Ice saw lots of play in Extended and decent play (mostly competing with Umezawa’s Jitte) in Standard. In Extended, it had
maindeck four-of status at Pro Tour Columbus and was run in Red Decks as well as green creature decks. Sword of Body and Mind has been played as a
silver bullet (at least) in Stoneforge Mystic decks and has seen sporadic additional play.
I can see this card as a bullet in Stoneforge Mystic decks, either alongside or as an upgrade over Sword of Body and Mind. Because it doesn’t
kill creatures directly, I can’t see this Sword reaching Sword of Fire and Ice numbers… but it’s still gas.
Mirrodin Besieged has got a bunch of two different kinds of awesome cards; one of those groups is the sweep cards – your Slagstorms, your Black
Sun’s Zeniths – but the other chunk of significant worth is around the attackers. The Blight Dragon has some real backup, and we learn
about yet another green 3/3 for three that is much, much better than a Gnarled Mass. Let’s go!
First strike + infect makes a monster. Against creatures that are a bit bigger, Phyrexian Crusader will leave scars. A 3/3 will fail to kill this 2/2
(and would splatter its white counterpart); and while the Phyrexian Crusader will be fresh as a daisy for the next round, the next turn, the onetime
3/3 will be relegated to 1/1 chump-block duty. An infect creature with this much text for three mana will go straight in at that point on the curve…
Remember, two power of infect is like four power when applied to an opponent’s face.
Protection from red is very attractive on this body… Phyrexian Crusader will dodge Lightning Bolts as it runs by Wall of Omens. Only issue is that
new card Go for the Throat will lift a lot of the historical durability against Terror / Doom Blade-type effects black creatures have enjoyed for the
past 18 years, but it’s not like that’s a liability.
Where will Phyrexian Crusader see play?
Initially, I would say Infect only. Mono-Black Infect for certain and possibly other color combinations, should we see any. This creature is good, but
unless there is some compelling reason for such a specialized card against Boros, I don’t think that the protection from red and protection from
white abilities will demand inclusion in other decks’ sideboards.
Let me tell you the story of maybe my third ever tournament. I had played in one or two tournaments, ever; local-store tournaments at a time when there
were no defined Type I, Type II, and so on… I played with some Standard land destruction cards in my first tournament against a legion of Mister
Suitcases with their Antiquities and Arabian Nights cards and still managed to win maybe five or six rounds (thanks in part to mana screw and the
ability to field four Black Vise).
I was basically hooked at that point, and I wrangled up a bunch of kids at what you would today call FNM, and we organized a small tournament at one
friend’s house. It was at that homebrew tournament (we even had a prize for “most creative” deck) that I saw my first Erhnam Djinn!
A year or so later, Erhnam Djinn would become part of the Standard landscape thanks to Chronicles, but at the time, it gave much reason for oohs and ahs. It was huge!
Flash forward to Odyssey Block, and the onetime best offensive creature in Standard couldn’t even make the cut in Block Constructed anymore!
Well, I think with Phyrexian Vatmother, R&D has done a good job updating the classic. Again, as with Viridian Corrupter, we see one colorless mana
shifted to one colored mana as infect is tacked on. In this case, there is also a shift in color from green to black (and the removal of the once
infamous forestwalk line), but to longtime players: this is our Erhnam Djinn, anew.
I like how Phyrexian Vatmother is even twice as suicidal – its point being applied via poison this time around, which makes sense – but in
a way that doesn’t really aggregate with most decks’ damage sources.
On offense, this is an 8/5 creature for four mana. If you fight with it, it will tear up your marriage contract and burn down your house. Sorry,
that’s just how Phyrexian Vatmother rolls.
Just a superb creature that is going to have applications beyond strictly the Mono-Black Infect deck.
Speaking of which…
Where will Phyrexian Vatmother see play?
The first place is obviously in dedicated Infect. Phyrexian Vatmother is the patron saint of Infect decks, whether Mono-Black, B/G, or whatever colors.
The second possibility, I think, is in Abyssal Persecutor’s old spot (wherever that is). Unlike Abyssal Persecutor, Phyrexian Vatmother
won’t trade straight up with a Titan or barrel into a Baneslayer Angel, but it’s actually a swing faster on offense and possessed of a far less
treacherous collateral damage clause. For control decks that want a busty guy and don’t particularly care about the details, this card is a
Already did a whole preview on this at the Mothership, but of course it bears a mention! Top 10 card.
Where will Inkmoth Nexus see play?
• Mono-Black Infect: 4-of
• Other [polychromatic] Infect: 2- to 4-of
• Random control deck with Contagion Clasp: 1-of (or more) (mise!)
The agenda on this card is pretty clear.
The goal is to make battle cry look good; the challenge is that most players know better than to commit a hundred cards to the battlefield in the hope
of attacking with them via a cool and flashy new card / mechanic.
Solution? Make a card that itself facilitates the cry of battle, without the commitment of lots more cards.
From that perspective, I think Hero of Bladehold may be a success. I mean there are lots of uphill issues for this Human Knight. It costs four. It has
no ready-built home. Exalted already taught us to attack with only one guy, which is the reverse. None of these are lethal for the card’s
playability… But I am skeptical about saying it’s an A+, even if it is the coolest of the battle cry cards so far.
Where will Hero of Bladehold see play?
Tough to say. Nobody wants this right out of the box; and I’m having problems imagining an archetype battle cry deck… But the card seems good
enough that it will see play; just don’t see which, yet.
It’s so good!
Everyone loves a Thrun!
What will Tom Martell do now that there are no more Trolls?
Thrun is obviously good, good for what it costs, and poses potential problems for blue decks. By the way, cards that are good against Go for the Throat
(*cough* this one *cough cough*) will probably be particularly good.
As strong as Thrun looks on paper, I have reservations about getting super excited by a midrange green creature when so many current strategies are
built to go over the top. Most of the best creatures in Standard are 6/6 or thereabouts, so even if Thrun is hard to deal with one-to-one, it
shouldn’t be impossible to go over, go around, whatever.
Now on the other hand, Thrun, the Last Troll is quite the swordsman. You stick a weapon on this guy, and he is going to get from the red zone to the
end zone, and it isn’t going to be easy to stop him. In that case, your best bet is to either go way over the top, or race.
Patrick Chapin challenged his Twitter followers to find 60 Standard answers to Thrun. I’m going to just list 20, but the point is this guy
shouldn’t be able to close it out by himself.
1. Day of Judgment when Thrun doesn’t have 1G available.
2. Black Sun’s Zenith for six, basically any time.
3. Battle it with a Phyrexian Vatmother.
4. Battle it with a less awesome infect creature to slow it down, like a Phyrexian Crusader.
5. Battle it with a less awesome Crusader that just happens to have protection from green, viz. Mirran Crusader.
6. Chump it with White Sun’s Zenith tokens until you draw another, you know, White Sun’s Zenith.
8. Make it get past your Inferno Titan.
9. Make it get past your Grave Titan (which might actually just be attacking and chumping indefinitely).
10. Make it get past your Frost Titan.
11. Make it get past your Wurmcoil Engine. Let’s see how long this lasts!
13. Play Avenger of Zendikar. Block. Either way.
14. Play Eldrazi Monument. Attack him to death; or block. Either way.
15. Annihilate it. Or block first and annihilate it. Whichever one is fine (Kozilek,
Ulamog, Emrakul, whoever, whichever, whatever).
17. Get past it with your Sword of Body and Mind; sacrifice your freebie Wolf token. Rinse.
19. Green Sun’s Zenith up a copy of Thrun, the Last Troll. Legend rule!
20. Play your own Thrun, the Last Troll. (ditto)
That list took me five minutes to compile. Thrun is good, but the sky isn’t falling.
Where will Thrun, the Last Troll see play?
Everywhere efficient green creatures see play! (At least wherever fours see play). I mean, let’s not go crazy here.
Stuff you probably didn’t miss:
• 3/3 for three
• Basically wins any fight with anyone due to deathtouch + first strike
• Doesn’t die to Doom Blade (sorry, buddy)
• Both tougher and cheaper (and dead-er!) than the last Glissa.
Super Facebook combo:
• Executioner’s Capsule + Glissa, the Traitor! (not Standard legal)
Where will Glissa, the Traitor see play?
I think Glissa may see play just like Teysa, Orzhov Scion saw play. Super-efficient three-drop legend with some amount of upside? Run her even when
don’t have a million synergies going on? Check!
You can literally run Glissa with no artifacts in a B/G creature deck, and she isn’t that bad. She might in fact be better on average –
with no artifacts in your deck – than a maindeck Great Sable Stag. Glissa certainly knocks down Wall of Omens instead of bouncing off of it and
rumbles, tussles, and brawls with anyone short of Mirran Crusader, walks away from anyone short of Baneslayer Angel. This chick does not play with kid
Now what happens when you start adding artifacts? I think that their level of specialty has to exceed those linked to Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas if you
want to take advantage of her. I think that people who are dead set on playing the Scars of Mirrodin Spellbombs will have a good buddy in Glissa. Nihil
Spellbomb might be the better option as it’s so fast… The point is to get artifacts in the graveyard for Glissa, after all. Another option, which is
conveniently in-color and a source of card advantage – hated incremental card advantage in fact – is Horizon Spellbomb. That card is the
kind of card everyone wants to try to play but is about one mana too slow. I think that you might be able to afford it with Glissa, as it enables her
(and can enable you to play her), plus gives you the ability to generate card advantage long term, after you have loosened up mana in the
Or, The Rock + artifacts.
Because You Twisted My Arm:
10. Black Sun’s Zenith
6. White Sun’s Zenith
5. Green Sun’s Zenith