Grading Mirrodin: The Secret Agenda Of The Evil Replicator People

Be warned: This article will not make you a better player. It will not tell you what to pick in Mirrodin Limited or how Block Constructed is going to shape up. It contains no theory, no playtesting, nothing useful in anyway. No, let’s let our inner casual players loose and talk about something else entirely. Let’s talk about flavor, world building, and why the hell that guy is standing so close to Triskelion in the first place.

By now, you’ve either read or ignored a dozen articles reviewing the set in Limited, another half-dozen reviewing it for Constructed, several analyses of its impact on Standard, and enough prerelease reports to choke a Vorrac. I wrote several of these things, and then said,”Screw it,” because there are just too many of them out there.

Mirrodin’s great. Good mechanics, serves its theme very well, lots of fun, cool cards, and decks that slot together nicely but don’t seem pre-made. Blah blah blah blah blah. I’m not here to talk about any of that crap, because many others already have, and many others will continue to, and most of them can do it better than I could. Some of them can’t, but that doesn’t mean I feel the need to look like an idiot, too.

Not that I can’t write a serious Magic article, mind you. I’ll show you sometime – you’ll see! But for now, be warned: This article will not make you a better player. It will not tell you what to pick in Mirrodin Limited or how Block Constructed is going to shape up. It contains no theory, no playtesting, nothing useful in anyway. No, let’s let our inner casual players loose and talk about something else entirely. Let’s talk about flavor, world building, and why the hell that guy is standing so close to Triskelion in the first place.

New Races (Sorry, I mean”tribes.”)


Pros: Cat people are always cool, and it takes a badass to live in something called”razor grass.”

Cons: Cat people are always cool… Every time we see them. Again and again and again. And why the hell do so many of them have or gain flying? Yeah, yeah, skyhunters, blah blah blah. The fact is, it seems like their riding awesome dragon-things is way more important than their being cat people. Oh, wait…

Pros: They ride awesome dragon-things.

Grade: B


Pros: Look pretty cool; must be terrifyingly large; name actually based on the scientific name of elephants; apparently make good hammers.

Cons: Their hammers may be nice, but boy, they suck. Look at our options: Loxodon Mender, a six-mana 3/3; Loxodon Peacekeeper, a card that fills me with rage; and Loxodon Punisher, who is by far the best of the bunch, but somehow lacks when compared to his old enchantment-counting counterpart, the inexplicably-named Rabid Wombat. I mean, it’s a wombat! With rabies! If they’d called this card”Rabid Loxodon,” I’d have been all over it.

Grade: C


Pros: Totally original, not Merfolk; four arms; spacesuits.

Cons: They’re mentioned all over the place as some important, big-deal race, but near as I can tell, there are only two of them- Lumengrid Augur and Vedalken Archmage, who also appears on Thoughtcast and Rustmouth Ogre (more on that later). There’s also one on Assert Authority, but it might be one of the others in a different spacesuit. Hell, maybe there’s only one Vedalken with three spacesuits and he’s playing this huge trick on all of us.

Grade: A


Pros: Cool, simple name; pretty damn freaky

Cons: Well, they’re just zombies with a different name. And blindfolds. Plus, I’m left sitting here waiting for the inevitable pun: a card called”Rats of Nim.” Oh, and they eat the Necrogen Mists? That sounds kind of like the dragons from Reign of Fire eating ash. As in, stupid.

Grade: B


Pros: Cute as buttons; many of them are quite useful; tend to have pretty good flavor text.

Cons: Some of them totally suck, I want them to pun Tolkien with a”Mirror Myr,” and I can’t look at the mana Myrs without feeling that they should be attacking the Ninja Turtles.

Grade: A-


Pros: Freaky as hell. I mean, look at them! Good name, too.

Cons: Flavor text doesn’t make much sense to me. If their function is determined by the sun under which they’re born, then why is there a green one… Aren’t there only four suns at the moment (not that we can’t guess what happens in Fifth Dawn)? And how are they born under a certain sun, if they incubate in the Great Furnace and emerge when all four suns align? What does it all mean? Tell me, Rei Nakazawa! Tellll meeee!

Grade: B-

New Mechanics


Pros: Flavorful; versatile; really cool; pretty good name

Cons: Blah blah blah card disadvantage blah blah blah (at least with the ones that Imprint a card in your hand… the other ones lack this problem).

Grade: A

Affinity for Artifacts

Pros: Really cool, interesting, and fun; begs to have a deck based around it; subsequent sets are clearly left the option to develop Affinity for all sorts of things. Also named well… the name pretty much says it all.

Cons: Well, no good if you don’t have any artifacts out. Duh.

Grade: A+


Pros: Flavorful (sometimes); interesting; playable; everything creature enchantments should have been but never were, at least in competitive circles. Interestingly enough, I predicted almost this exact card type nearly two months before the set came out, but called it”gear.” Not to say I’m a genius… I just think”local artifacts” are a pretty natural progression for the artifact set.

Cons: Easy to get carried away with, and occasionally completely out of flavor, as when you’re forced to wonder how your Leonin Elder– who is already depicted as wielding an axe – is also saddled with a Leonin Scimitar, a Bonesplitter, and a Fireshrieker. Or when you can’t tell how the hell an Ornithopter or a Clockwork Beetle is holding all this crap in the first place, much less wearing armor.

Grade: A-


Pros: Lots of play options; very simple; elegant.

Cons: Well, maybe this doesn’t belong in the new mechanics section at all. I mean, it’s a modified Kicker. Which isn’t to say I think it’s bad. It’s just not terribly original. The most compelling reason not to just bring back Kicker and put it on modal spells is that”Kicker” was – and is – a terrible, stupid name. Props for coming up with a better one, but it’s awfully narrow. Oh, and it has jack crap to do with artifacts, which bugs me in the same way that Storm’s complete irrelevance to creatures, numerous or massive, bugged me in Scourge.

Grade: C+

Individual Cards


I’ve heard some complaining, but I like the new picture. Really creepy and cool. I also like the flavor text… but then, I find the idea of magical ecologies really interesting, because I’m even more of a nerd than you are.

Blinkmoth Well

The flavor text sounds like a scientist trying to be poetic. Nice try, Vedalken Archmage!


One thing I couldn’t help but notice with this and a lot of other equipment (as well as the Talismen and some of the other artifacts) is that it’s shown on a blank background, exactly as if it were a prop being photographed for one of those card games that use photos from a popular license for their illustrations. Coincidence, conscious emulation, or subtle preparation for when they switch all the illustrating to PhotoShop and turn Magic into the D&D Movie CCG?

Bottle Gnomes

Glad they’re back! They’re just so adorable – and then you get to imagine twisting their cute little heads off and drinking them! Twisted.


It’s nice to see Cathodion get a real picture this time around, instead of some kind of crazy, incomprehensible close-up of an idiotic science fair project.”You turn the gears and these little bulbs light up!” Whatever, kid.

Chrome Mox

All I have to say is, I keep looking for M.C. Escher’s reflection in there. Oh, and chrome? What’s next, Mox Wood Paneling?


Forget for a moment the fact that it’s terrible in Limited and has dubious Constructed value… Man, what is that thing?

Cobalt Golem

I can imagine that giant stone Golem doing many things… but flying is not one of them. A victim of color-cycle”logic.” Like the rest of the colored-ability Golems, though, I like the flavor text.

Consume Spirit

Renaming an old favorite just to get X into its casting cost… I tell you, that’s crazy.

Electrostatic Bolt

Whatever that critter is, it looks to me like somebody tried to make a Tetravus out of a Star Trek tricorder and gave up before they did the second set of wings.

Galvanic Key

Its flavor text is so apt, I can only assume it was meant ironically.”A solution in search of a problem” is exactly what Galvanic Key is, and I don’t see it finding one. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it- and if it is broke, make a version of it that’s unplayably bad. Although I guess you could tap and then untap your Gilded Lotus. Woooooooo.

Wizard Replica

“Lessee… Bulging, asymmetrical head… six eyes… yup, looks like a wizard to me!” Seriously, the Evil Replicator People (who I assume are also the Golem’s Vanished Masters, the Myr’s Mysterious Creators, and the Others Whose Hand This World Reeks Of) should fire whoever designed this thing. That’s not fooling anybody!

Goblin Replica

That’s more like it! They took the basic goblin design and improved it into a spiky, badass, scary-lookin’ metal thing. Way cool. I also like the flavor text on the whole Replica cycle.

Grid Monitor

“The Vedalken protect the Knowledge Pool at any cost… Even being unable to play creature spells.”

Icy Manipulator

Thank God it gets a decent picture again, although I’ll concede that the original is better. Seriously, though, the Ice Age one was terrible.”The scavengers who first found it called it the ‘Bone Crank,’ cause they couldn’t figure out what the hell it was supposed to be, either.”

Krark’s Thumb

I am already working on the deck: Fiery Gambit, Chance Encounter, Impulsive Maneuvers… It amuses me that they made this a Legendary Artifact, since, as Randy Buehler put it,”There was only one Krark and he only had two thumbs.” But where’s the other one, smart guy?

Leonin Elder

So if”the wisdom of the elders is just as much a weapon as a sword or spear,” why does he have that giant axe? Is”wisdom of the elders” some kind of euphemism for”huge, skull-splitting axe?” If so, then sign me up. On a side note, Bonesplitter has a new nickname.

Leonin Skyhunter

Whatever that thing he’s riding is, I want one.


Add The Leveler’s Unseen Master to the list of what the Evil Replicator People are probably up to. And I’m willing to bet that they can unravel the mystery of the Slith’s Contradictory Flavor Text, too. In any event, it sounds like these guys run a tight ship – Duskworkers emerge every night to clean the place, Frogmites deal with that obnoxious blinkmoth problem, and the Levelers come out once a century to scrape the place down like Zamboni machines from hell.

Lightning Greaves

Looks suspiciously like something Link would wear. As does most of the equipment, actually. Once you’ve gone into the Equipment subscreen and equipped the Boots of Fastness, the Big Stone Gauntlets, and the Master Scimitar, you’ll be ready to take on the Fire Temple and free the land from the curse of the Evil Replicator People.

Lumengrid Sentinel

If there’s one thing that separates the Neurok from the other humans of Mirrodin, it seems to be really big hats. Quite the fashion statement… Possibly meant to suggest swollen, throbbing braincases like in Return to the Planet of the Apes?

Malachite Golem

This is when you can tell they’re scraping the bottom of the precious minerals barrel. No doubt in Darksteel we’ll see Feldspar Myr and Zinc Golem, right up there with Mox Fuzzy Dice.


What a cool card. But has anybody noticed that thing that looks like a curved straw coming down the left side of the headgear? The legendary Mindslaver is a beer helmet! That’s how they get you to put it on!

Myr Mindservant

For all that it’s a useless, useless card and all, the picture and flavor text work pretty well together. That little guy looks exactly like he’s just jumped out from behind a rock and exclaimed in a shrill, strident voice,”I know what you’re thinking and do not approve!”

Neurok Hoversail

Want one.

One Dozen Eyes

Wins the award for”Card name that sounds most like a Yu-Gi-Oh! card.”

Plated Slagwurm

At first, the art for this one left me dissatisfied. Where’s the sense of scale? Then I realized that those little specks on the tree-platform are people. Don’t bother looking at the scanned image – you can’t even see them. But if you have one in person, look for them… That thing is huge. Good flavor text, too.

Rustmouth Ogre

He’s eating the Vedalken Archmage’s staff. How cool is that?

Rustspore Ram

Flavor text on this has a”Well, duh” quality to it… Something called”rustspore” leaves piles of rust in its wake? You don’t say!

Seat of the Synod

Wins the award for”Card name that sounds most like a Star Wars card.”

Spoils of the Vault

This may be the only unaided first-turn loss I can think of. Play it in your mono-black deck on turn 1, name Exalted Angel, game over. For when you want to throw a game without being obvious.”Ohh, shoot, I thought I put those in!”

Tel-Jilad Exile

Maybe he’s outcast because he’s so much worse than Troll Ascetic. Just a thought.

Tel-Jilad Stylus

Okay, so the Evil Replicator People are also the Scrubbers of Tel-Jilad’s Trunk. Maybe they could even tell you the Mystery of the Shards’ Origin, or where a body can get some Tang.

Wanderguard Sentry

Someone pointed out to me that this could easily be a Merfolk in an encounter suit. Vodalia lives!

Yotian Soldier

Big props for using the word”otherplanar.”

And that’s the end of our light-hearted glance through a forbidding, deadly plane created by mysterious, shadowy figures and filled with razor-sharp poky bits that could probably put out somebody’s eye.

In all seriousness, I love the set and the world in which it’s set. I intended only to amuse, and if my ranting has offended, I apologize – especially if the Evil Replicator People are listening.

Kelly Digges

[email protected]

P.S.- Special bonus if you can tell me how many copyrights this article violated!

P.P.S.- Yes, I have way too much time on my hands. If you are interested in employing me and rectifying that situation, please email me.