Mining The Crystal Quarry: Casual Eye For The Magic Guy, Part 2 – Lands And Color-Related Artifacts

Artifacts – arguably the hardest cards to design – are plentiful in this set, and there are tons of new and innovative ones just waiting to be broken. This set, however, had so many artifacts, I’ve split them into two categories: Color-enhanced and color-independent. The latter kind is included here; the former will be in the next and final installation. Once again, I’m not going to waste my time with ho-hum or obvious cards, so here we go!

When we last left off, I was praising Mirrodin for all the new toys this set gives casual players and tournament players alike. Artifacts – arguably the hardest cards to design – are plentiful in this set, and there are tons of new and innovative ones just waiting to be broken. This set, however, had so many artifacts, I’ve split them into two categories: Color-enhanced and color-independent. The latter kind is included here; the former will be in the next and final installation. Once again, I’m not going to waste my time with ho-hum or obvious cards, so here we go!

The Artifact Lands

What do these lands power up? Metalworker, Tolarian Academy, Affinity Spells, Goblin Welder, Glimmervoid, among others. What’s the problem? Pernicious Deed, Shattering Pulse, Shatterstorm, Nevinyrral’s Disk, Akroma’s Vengeance… You get the idea. They certainly can get around the problem of basic land hate, but at four of each in a deck max, don’t expect them to be a major solution to that, and don’t expect them to be so abundant that the above spells are going to cause you major heartache when they come down. Fun lands, innovative and balanced. I worried for a while, but it turns out those worries were unfounded.


I’m certain there are going to be more land – locus types. This one is best described as a variation on the Urzatron (Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Power Plant, Urza’s Tower), and it’s going to get better as more Locii come out. If your deck won’t need that mana right now, or can afford to wait a turn, then this land is for you. Mirrodin has many mana-accelerating effects, and this is one of them.


If nothing else, at least it sticks around until the end of the turn. But with said artifact lands, and a ton of artifacts seen in casual like Zuran Orb, Sol Ring, Fellwar Stone, so on and so forth, this is for the most part going to be a painless City of Brass. Unfortunately, unless you’re running quite a few artifacts, you’re not going to be able to lay this down early, which is definitely a bad thing. A quality card that will certainly refine your deck construction skills.

Stalking Stones

One of the first manlands (predated by Mishra’s Factory) that didn’t require an external spell, Stalking Stones is notable because its cost is significant, but at a one-time investment. This is tied for second largest animated lands with Treetop Village, exceeded only by an activated Nantuko Monastery. Unlike those lands, this land is not subject to Terror, but it is subject to sorcery-speed removal. Additionally, playing this land doesn’t lose you a turn on mana, as it comes into play untapped. That’s quite a significant point, and once you get to six mana to start beating down with this thing after gaining control of the board, you’ll be glad you didn’t have to lose any tempo.

Altar of Shadows

An interesting combination of abilities, this one is a self-providing mana sink. Not too many creatures out there have protection from artifacts, so this one is a costly but efficient way to take out creatures. In longer multiplayer games, this card provides a recurring source of removal and some mana. It’s got a mana sink built into it, so it’s not so bad, and at worst, it can be used for colorless mana.

Bosh, Iron Golem

He’s huge, for a reasonable cost. That extra power doesn’t go to waste either, with trample. When you’ve got red mana, Bosh becomes even more dangerous. The kids are going to love this card, but the mana restrictions on the converted casting cost of the artifact sacrificed means that it’ll see limited casual play. That said, again, he’s large with trample, for an almost reasonable cost.

Crystal Shard

If you’re playing a mono-blue deck, this is a slightly better Erratic Portal. If not, then this is strictly worse. That said, this thing can force your opponent to keep two mana open (one at the end of his turn, and one during yours) to prevent something from being bounced, or allows you to reuse a creature with”comes into play” effects. It’s versatile, but not too powerful.

Goblin Charbelcher

Everyone’s dreaming of the high impact, high damage deck with this artifact, and as such, it is certainly worthy of consideration. It’s a colorless source of damage, but you need to really be able to set it up to make it work. Finally, a use for Mana Severance! Keep in mind that it won’t go infinite, but only until your deck runs out.

Granite Shard

A half-assed Cursed Scroll without the card selection problem, but at a much higher initial casting cost. This is, of course, assuming you’re running red. Otherwise, it’s not much better than a Rod of Ruin, and we all know how often those are used. Red did get some ways around Protection from Red this set, and for the game in general, so that helps what I feel is a very narrow color.

Nim Replica

3/1 for three is par for the Black course, but like all the other replicas, this one gets around the color problem nicely. Its ability is also nice for combat, making for a very solid”black” creature.

Quicksilver Fountain

Using this in a mono blue deck or a mono-artifact deck reduces the drawback (eventually turning your lands into islands), as does destroying it once all your opponent’s lands have flood counters, and with all the new artifacts as well as old, then building a deck around artifacts isn’t too bad. Additionally, this improves islandwalk abilities, and notably, islandhome and Sea Monster-style creatures.

Skeleton Shard

Despite its restriction, with the right creatures (Bottle Gnomes and the like) this card is in some intents a reusable Raise Dead. That’s nothing to shake a stick at. Very useful. Cheap. Exceptional in an artifact creature-based deck.

Chrome Mox

Is there anything that needs to be said about this than what’s been said already? It’s a nice bump in mana acceleration to cast that spell that needs to be cast now (or really, really soon). The card advantage loss is best made up with drawing and other such spells, but beyond that there really isn’t a major drawback to this artifact. Well worth its value right now.

Elf Replica

The only thing this thing has going for it is being colorless, so at least it doesn’t die to Perish. But given that, it’s something to consider when building your new Elf Deck. If you need something that can destroy enchantments in green, consider Druid Lyrist or, in the Elf deck, Elvish Lyrist first. Generally speaking, the same is true for the Goblin Replica as well-there are better options to be found unless you need a colorless solution.

Isochron Scepter

In every format, this card is making everyone go nuts – Timmies, Johnnies, and Spikes. The list of painful cards goes on and on… Fire / Ice, Mana Drain, Ancestral Recall, Orim’s Chant, Abeyance, to more mundane but nonetheless more powerful cards like Impulse, Brainstorm, or Accumulated Knowledge. There are too many possibilities (among them Imprinting Vampiric Tutor or the other Tutors to set up your draws) to consider this card as anything less than … well… revolutionary. I guess it’s a good thing that Cunning Wish costs three, and that Burning Wish and Living Wish are sorceries.

Leonin Sun Standard

Gerrard’s Battle Cry was an interesting little enchantment, but the difference in activation cost may just put this thing into the spotlight. One more to cast but one less to use could mean a huge difference, letting you pump twice two turns quicker, and three times three turns sooner. That’s a huge advantage – but can this take the place of Glorious Anthem, which requires no added mana investment? Actually, this card can serve to supplement it, providing temporary boosts when resources allow without additional card investment.

Mourner’s Shield

An interesting variation on the Circle-type enchantments, it’s a little more costly to activate, but still more flexible than Circle of Solace. It’s not as color-intensive as Story Circle, but at the same time, you’d need to feel some pain before taking advantage of its ability. But then again, if you imprint something of all five colors, then… Well… It’s good times.

Nightmare Lash

Much like Cabal Coffers, this is almost useless outside black-light decks, but this thing gets pretty nuts in a Mono Black deck, making almost any creature a beating. If you somehow manage to get a Spirit Link effect on your creatures, then this thing? Oy.

Proteus Staff

Creature tutor. A mini-Oath of Druids. Stack your deck. This card is turning heads in so many ways.

Completely dependent on blue mana for activation, this card is only by its colorless mana cost not a blue card. It’s nice to see blue diversify and get interesting new abilities (first demonstrated on Show and Tell, then Metamorphose, but restricted only to opponents) that don’t involve plain ol’ countering and card drawing. The staff is fascinating, especially if you’re willing to sacrifice creature tokens, which would guarantee not drawing them off a Staff activation again. If nothing else, you can kill negative enchantments on your creature, or beneficial ones on theirs.

Pyrite Spellbomb

Out of all the Spellbomb, this one is notable for the same reason Serrated Arrows, Barbarian Ring, and Aeolipile was – it gets around Circle of Protection: Red and other such problems. Of course, unlike Serrated Arrows, it still doesn’t get around universal damage prevention like the kind Dawn Elemental has. Given that, however, it’s always a valuable thing for red to have things like this.

Soldier Replica

A pretty pathetic card without its white ability, and with, it’s middling at best. Good in Limited – but in Multiplayer, this card is a mild deterrent. Much like Elf Replica, this is best used to get around color hosers, such as Dystopia and Execute. Sadly, this also misses out on Crusade effects. When you have Swords to Plowshares, Exile, Smite, and so many other quality removal cards available, one is hard-pressed to include this card.

Wizard Replica

Again, like other replicas, next to useless outside its colors, but this creature is something that Blue decks may want to use. Somewhere between a Spiketail Hatchling and a Spiketail Drake, and an ass large enough that doesn’t die to a cycled Slice and Dice, with a pretty good ability to boot (and evasion too!). Making your opponent play around this ability isn’t bad at all, and if nothing else, it’s a decent creature to have in blue.

Artifacts being tied to, or enhanced by, colors, is an interesting and fascinating new possibility (Okay, fine, Gauntlet of Might was the first, but you get my meaning). This is a new era for Magic players, especially in a few years to come.

Next, back to regular artifacts, though they’re no less interesting!

John Liu

“I imprint my proxy Time Walk.”

“You can’t. It’s not an instant.”

“You’re just a sore loser!!!”

– Overheard at a local store

(Don’t you wish you could smack someone every now and then?)