There’s this hip internet provider called Xcess4all here in the Netherlands. But there’s this piece of Equipment called Bonesplitter, released around the world, which everybody can profit from as long as they’re lucky enough to open it!
Oh man, that card made my day. I played the prerelease today, which is one week after the rest of the world had played it, yet I didn’t see any kind of spoiler. The only cards that I had seen beforehand were the ones that were reviewed in the columns at Magicthegathering.com [sarcasm], and they were all fun and exciting. [/sarcasm]
No really, they were okay – but it’s the combination of words in fun and exciting that bugs me. Is it regular in England, or in the States? It must be, since all mtg.com columns teem with them. Yet, to my Dutch ears, it sounds so weird. Fun means haha, like in:”A clown! Ha ha.” And exciting means that it’s a roller coaster-like experience, or that your electrons get lifted to a higher-energy valence shell. Heh.
But that’s not the point. I probably have an even more peculiar style of using words, so I’m not in a rightful place to speak about this. But where was I?
I hadn’t seen a spoiler – for the first time ever since I’ve known about spoilers, I haven’t looked at one. Partially because I hadn’t the time, and partially because it ought to be cool to play a prerelease without knowing what was going to come. So I already knew about the previewed cards, and I also already knew about the”broken” cards that were going to plague Type I. I ain’t reading that many articles anymore – yet I am spending even more time on internet-magic than before. And that’s all the fault of the manadrain.com, where I spend all hours that I cannot spend on anything else. I’ve learned about very promising cards, like Isochron Scepter, there.
So I knew all the previews and all the broken stuff. I had high expectations… But not about the set as a whole! That seemed too far-fetched. See the end of this article for my conversion to the crew of Mirrodin-lovers.
It was an in-store tournament, which is very much to my liking – since at an in-store tourney, you know most of your opponents well, which I like. I primarily go to tournaments to socialize. Winning is a nice benefit, yet it’s the interactive part that keeps me coming back. All known opponents soon becomes a nepotic clique, or a pool of competition where everybody has percentages on each match (Ah, Piet beats Werner 40% of the time…) so it’s probably a good thing that there are always a healthy dose of fresh conscripts at each prerelease. There are even some familiar faces that you only get to see thrice a year: At the prerelease. All in all, it’s good.
On to my deck, my performance, my errors and my self-esteem. The last one is a song by the Offspring. I’m just going to comment on the cards in my deck. I’m sure that you’ll hear plenty of stories about good plays from your pals in the future, so I’ll try and spare you as much as possible.
The first card that shined at me was a foiled Yotian Soldier. Why is this good? Well, anybody who’s seen my trade binder will know. On the first page are nine different Yotian Soldiers. English Antiquities, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and English Fourth Edition. I’m only missing the Portuguese one. If one of you happens to have one, please email me and I’ll promptly give out some postal address. Of course I’ll, compensate with something you’d like back.
So the shiny Yotian Soldier could be considered a good omen. It was a beautiful addition to my diverse army of ant-soldiers. The only bad aspect that could be found in this whole conundrum was that the art has somewhat been degraded to something less pretty. But that didn’t matter to me anymore when I also opened a regular Yotian from a booster. Do you know how nice these guys actually are in Limited?
Remember Shandalar – the computer game where you were a wandering mage, playing all sorts of random encounters? You would start out with a really bad deck, and by winning antes and buying cards you would improve it. Yotian Soldiers were very valuable cards in the beginning stadium, where you had a serious risk of losing each game that you started. They blocked all sorts of War Mammoths and Ironclaw Orcs like ’twas no thang, and they could even somewhat swing when you were winning. For three generic mana. It’s a bargain. I was quite sure that I’d love them in this format, where creatures were… Quirky. Some were the incarnation of speedy beats (Tel-Jilad Chosen doubles as hate in this format), while others were slower than light at an event horizon (Chimney Imp? Ridiculous name, unless I’m missing some meaning of the word chimney that’s relevant here. To me, he sounds like”Zwarte Piet,” a Dutch chimney-climbing benefactor.) Yotian Soldiers block everything that’s thrown at them in the first few turns, and sometimes they even get some swing in. And they become ultimately sexy with some Equipment.
In the finals, which I won (yay! I got in first and won a T-shirt and lots’a packs), I swung with a 7/6 Yotian Soldier on turn 4, and it became 11/8 on turn 5. Yeah, I won that one, even though he peeled the Shatter from the top. Shatter rocks in this format – which I didn’t need to say once again since you already knew it, but hey. So the soldiers are good, and get better with Equipment. Now I’ll tell you what Equipment I was blessed with:
Oh weapon of weapons. Who needs Nightmare Lashes or Swords of Kaldra when they could have Bonesplitter instead? Yeah, I think I’d rather open up a Bonesplitter than a Sword of Kaldra. The huge sword is clunky. Bonesplitter is fast and elegant. At the tournament, I and all of my opponents resorted to calling the card a (nasty word used to describe a person who will perform illicit acts for money). She goes to one creature to help on the offense – and when she’s done there, she walks right over to another guy to stay there for the opponent’s turn. Or she gets a quickie in with the Spikeshot Goblin, and then tees off to another guy for attacking once again. She helps everybody, to the ultimate satisfaction of her possessor.
Playing a first-turn Bonesplitter is always a good play. It makes your second-turn Myr a threat, while leaving you mana to cast another one with.
Bonesplitter looks so good on all your flying mates. It looks even better on homies that gain flying as soon as you put something in their hands to smash with. And do you know when it looks best? When it’s turn 4, you have five mana, and you have Taj-Nar Swordsmith in your hand. He is a 2/3 for 3W, but when he comes into play, you may pay X, and then search your library for an Equipment card with converted mana cost X or less. So that’s a Bonesplitter for only one mana. So good.
I always loved playing the Swordsmith. For I didn’t only have the Axe Who Loves All as equipment – I also had two pairs of gauntlets. Vulshok Gauntlets, if that adjective means anything to you…
They cost twice as much as the Bonesplitter, but two times one is still not pretty much. And to hand them over to one of your faithful, you will have to spend even three times as much mana. Yet the effect is respectable. +4/+2? I remember that as being a Wicked Reward. Or as two Unholy Strengths. Or as being Feast of the Unicorn and Holy Armor, but that’s getting far-fetched.
I intend to show to you that +4/+2 is nothing to sneeze at. It brutalizes your attacks, and makes defenders so much more hazardous to opponents.
What’s the downside? Not untapping during an untap step? Oh, if that’s all. That’s, like, nothing. Equip an attacker with it, swing savage and hard, and then hand it over to an untapped blocker. Then it helps on two fronts and the disadvantage is skillfully avoided. And remember my overlong praise for Yotian Soldier? Well, he’s sexy with Gloves on, ain’t he? 5/6-I-do-not-tap-to-attack-and-am-online-at-turn-4-beatsticksz0r. That’s good. I had two of these, so for six mana I would almost always be able to cast a Swordsmith and fetch me some Gauntletly goodness. And the Gauntlets were especially good with my kitten clan, which will soon be introduced.
She’s a kitten. Or a thundercat. Flies on these Nâzgul-wannabe birds, and wields harpoons like she was going to impale Moby Dick. Blocks silly 4/2 regenerating Golems like she was trained to do it. And she flies over to heads, in order to smash them for two, turn and turn again. And give her a Bonesplitter?
Everything becomes better with a Bonesplitter attached to it.
Yes. Of course you can think of examples of creatures that get worse with Bonesplitters attached to them… But I don’t want to hear about them. I’m talking about prereleasey situations, where everything does get better with a Bonesplitter attached to it. +2/+0, no strings attached. She’s just like Rancor, since she comes back, too. She can’t even be countered on resolution by blasting its target away from it while the Rancor is still on the stack. And she can be moved around like the attention whore that she is. And on Skyhunter Patrol, she makes the Cat even better than it already was. The cat is good – yet all my other kittens had special affinity with Equipment, and I daresay that these interactions made me win the whole tournament.
Beta called – it wants its Gray Ogre back. Yet it won’t take the Cub away, since the Cub is indeed an Ogre when it makes its entrance in the in-play zone, but as soon as it gets busy… It will get it on ’till the early morn’. Give her the Bonesplitter? 5/3 flying goodness ensues. That hits just as hard as blue’s flagship, the Wall of Djinn that’s called Mahamoti. On turn 4. Try and find a flyer in this set that can handle that problem in time. Or you’d better have some creature kill at the ready, for this Cubby makes a fine four-turn clock with the Axe for All. And with the Gauntlets, she increases size to a 7/5 soaring leonine titan. Lion-O would be proud of her.
What’s that with not untapping? Reattach them gloves somewhere else, and see her revitalize to a fresh, untapped Ogre. Ogre with improvements. Ready to 747 again. Hard. Yeah.
1/3 for two mana. Well, just like Lumengrid Guardian, isn’t it? Hell no. This is better. This can wield Equipment in a way that would make a 20th level fighter whish that it had the Hide in Plain Sight feat. Equip it, and you will enjoy such face-smashing goodness that your lowly creature will get contacted by the US Marines, asking it to please come and reinforce their ranks. Or refresh their ranks. You never know with that new flavor text for Bottle Gnomes…
In my first game of the first round of the tournament, I had a turn 1 Love-Axe, and a turn 2 Den-Guard. That’s a walking Serra Angel, which is already harassing your opponent on turn 3. Who can dig it? Shaft can’t. I never heard of him having blindingly fast monsters like that, while also having mana open. With gloves, you have a turn four 6/6 vigilant monster. Cat. Lion. Tiger. Thundercat. Roar!
You see what I mean with creatures being quirky in this format? Sometimes you have the insane beatings up and active on your third turn, and sometimes the first guy to hit the board is a turn 4 Frogmite… On your opponent’s side.
So I loved the cats and soldiers and the Equipment. They carried the deck. It was a true backbone that could be trusted. The only games I lost, where the two where I didn’t draw any Equipment, or didn’t draw the Swordsmith to find me some. Luckily, you always play best out of three, so I always got back with a vengeance in third games. I already told you that I had this huge whopping Yotian on turn 5.
Turn 1: Bonesplitter.
Turn 2: Vulshok Gauntlets.
Turn 3: Yotian Soldier.
Turn 4: Equip your Yotian with both weapons. Swing for seven.
Turn 5: Cast Gauntlets, arm’em up on yer Yotian. Swing for eleven.
No wonder I won that one. Props to Bas for making second place. He’s a real nice opponent. Where the semifinals were kind of nerve wrecking, the finals were quite relaxed. We even allowed each other to take back moves. Bassie swung while I have perfect blockers, which he overlooked. So I say:”Bas, you don’t want to do that.” And he takes it back. Then I tap the wrong colors of mana for some spells, and he lets me take it back two phases later. Great games. Good finale. A bit savage about the armed-to-the-teeth Yotian, though.
When I read the card, I thought that it was utter crap. When I read about Equipment, I thought that that was utter crap. Who liked Tawnos’ Weaponry? Who liked Ashnod’s Battlegear? Flying Carpet? Yuck. So yeah, these new cards were bound to be better, but that wouldn’t mean they would be fun and exciting. I thought they would all suck. That’s until I felt the love of a rusty old axe. For we have a saying here in the Netherlands:”It’s on an old bike that you learn best…”
Luckily, I thought to include the Ram in my maindeck, since I read about some huge pieces of Equipment, which I would want to be able to take out. Even though I thought that I wouldn’t like it myself, that didn’t mean that I wouldn’t mind losing to it. So I played the Ram. And boy, was it a blast. Just like Nekrataal. Just like Uktabi Orangutan. Just like any card-advantageous, tempo-winning creature that you have ever loved before. I loved Rustspore Ram just the same. And don’t worry about its meager power of one; with a Bonesplitter, it becomes your regular stomping Hill Giant. Those have never been bad in Limited. Especially not when they took out Fireshriekers or Strange Name Armors with them.
More for killing evil Equipment. All Equipment controlled by any opponent is considered evil Equipment, so there could be quite a lot that you will want to kill. Soul Nova helps you here. And it doesn’t even kill evil Equipment, it also kills the creature wielding it! No – it removes it from the game. And the weapons get removed, too.
So here’s the deal: Remove an attacking creature from the game. That’s good. And also remove all its Equipment. That’s good, too. You used to get to draw a card for this mana cost and effect, but removing Equipment is better than drawing cards – albeit less reliable, since your opponents won’t always have Equipment, of course. But still good enough. I had two of them. Say goodbye to your Trolls of Tel-Jilad. Wave your hand at your Atog with Slagworm Armor and Leonin Scimitar.
Hey, that’s a Tim! It’s a Tim with an extra point of toughness and with one red mana latched on to its activation cost. Seems fair. But lo – what’s that that he so wantonly picks up from the frozen Tundra? It’s a reflecting Halberd, and the Spikeshot Goblin gives a mighty bellow:”I will shoot you so thoroughly that you won’t be able to see straight anymore! I will shoot harder than God ever imagined possible!” Yes. Firing for three damage a turn is nice. Ah, nice. That’s a Lightning Bolt – three damage for R, that is. And Bolt was supposed to be good, especially in Limited. This trick rocks.
Hey, it can be done with the Gauntlets, too! Shoot for five? Don’t mind if I do. Not untapping? I’ll just give the gloves to the Leonine Den-Guard, then, for I’d just love to untap and then Lava Axe you again on my next turn. Or I’d just love to shoot massive Golems stone dead, forever. Or to Hail of Needle an unwitting Ogre. Yes. Ah, I rock. I shoot Spikes. Opponents groan when I’m played on turn 3… Even when I wasn’t preceded by a turn 1 Bonesplitter.
Attach Splitter to Spikeshooter. Shoot.
Attach Splitter to Skyhunter Cub. Swing.
Attach Splitter to Rustspore Ram. Defend like mad, deadblocking the shizzit out of all attackers.
I’m a big, big axe in a big, big world. Use me. Wield me. Call me Rod of Satisfaction. Joystick. I’m the Axe for All.
Draft me. I’m gonna fight them all. No seven nation army’s gonna hold me back.
Hey, she taps artifacts like there was no tomorrow. So that means that opposing Golems or Clockwork Nuisances will get no say in combat anymore! It’s just your regular tapper from Invasion, but with a twist. Those Invasion tap-guys were good. I even remember Master Decoy being good. But this girl has a twist. Not all creatures can be tapped… But you can tap other artifacts.
I color-screwed opponents by tapping their Great Furnaces. That works. Don’t laugh at it; it’s not phony. This is a good girl. She’ll always have something useful to do in this environment.
Seat of the Synod and Great Furnace
Well, it’s true that they are something new. I’ve had one of them captured in a Inertia Bubble. I mean that it was kept permanently tapped on turn 2. I was virtually Sinkholed.
But on the other hand, I’ve had quite some affinity cards give me love because of these wonderful lands. Well. They get better with Atog. Just play them if you’ve got a reason.
A friend of mine had one Deconstructed on turn 4 (his third turn had just passed), followed up by a Creeping Mold. That hurts. But I guess they’re worth it over the long run.
Solid land that can turn into Solid meat. Enough said. It looks as though it’s a black-and-white photocopy of the real card, though. Have you seen it? All black and white. Wizards might think that the new look for artifacts is great, but I can’t keep them apart from white cards. I really have to look at the casting costs to see whether a card is white or artifact. And Stalking Stones is a misfit of visual design. So grayscale. But the card is sweet enough to include in any deck, I think. I would at least do so.
We also already knew Arrest, and it’s still good.
Might as well get on with all the creature kill left in my deck. Electrostatic Bolt becomes something close akin to Swords to Plowshares here. It kills the creature you point it at, artifact creatures get blasted to smithereens, and regular creatures are generally small enough to get killed by this too, in my limited experience with the set. I was always glad to draw this, for it just was pinpoint removal at its finest. Too bad that the art sucked. Tetravus is bad-ass as ever, but this Tetravite in this picture just doesn’t cut it for me.
Yes. Removes target creature from the game – well, a target artifact or enchantment. But most good creatures seem to be artifact creatures here, so Altar’s Light is good. White has gotten creature kill in this format, and quite good ones, too. I once killed an enchantment with it – that Control Magic for artifact creatures, Domineer.
The great and evil Crenshinibon from the Icewind Dale trilogy. Should be at least a legendary artifact, shouldn’t it? Well, let’s have a looksee… Erratic Portal? Well, at least it’s a good card. You there, keep your mana open, or I’ll bounce your men. I’ll bounce one if you keep only one mana open, and I’ll bounce two if you tap out. Deal? Yeah. And while we’re at it, how about your creature kill not being scary to me at all anymore? I dig that, too. How about me bouncing my own broken rare, which I will tell you about later, and which is really good to bounce?
Yeah, you’re in your good right to scoop there. Dig this.
This is not really creature kill, yet it works with affinity, and it bounces almost all creatures. And it cycles when not wanted. Solid enough. Just play it. I like the Spellbombs. The red one is the best, since that’s a Seal of Fire. Yet this one is a close second, for apart from its tempo uses, it can also be used to save your threatened artificial men.
Brings back artificial men, too, when you’ve failed to save them with the Spellbomb. That’s just like Volrath’s Stronghold, but then without costing you your drawstep. I’m lovin’ it. Yes, I’m lovin’ quite a bunch here, but I am quite positive minded about this expansion. I had horrid expectation with this new theme and new card type, but everything turned out just right. Equipment was stupid in theory, but good in practice. So this shard is very good for your card economy. It gives you a somewhat limitless supply of men. And it combos deliciously with my broken rare, which will get introduced shortly.
Broken Rare: Pentavus
Yes, Tetravus + 1. Hey, it doesn’t fly! Sucks… But wait, the tokens do! Rules…
Yes, that’s five 1/1 flying men that will not die. When they die, they just land on the mothership. Then they immediately lift off again, but all things targeted on them get lost in the shuffle. Good. And I bet that you’ve already seen how this is good with either of my two Shards.
Make five tokens, bury Pentavus. Recoup it with Skeleton Shard. Or make four tokens and bounce your Pentavus. Then, in either cases, make more tokens. Swing with hordes and swarms. And clouds. I’ve had an opponent scoop instantly when Pentavus hit the board and I had the Skeleton Shard out. And even when you haven’t got the combo, and making tokens is not good due to opposing Longbow Equipment and stuff, it’s still a 5/5 hitman. He hits hard, and when he dies, he will still make the tokens. Even when they can be disposed of, they still cost the opponent time. Time is precious when you have a deck like mine. To opponents, that is. I apply pressure like I were a piston in a tight-fitting tube.
Hey, Lenny is back. And now he’s brought his four friends Carl. And together, they have all the colors of the rainbow. And they also produce the magic legal colors of those in pure mana. Well!
It ain’t broken, but it ain’t bad, either. Just a good card. Can be eaten by Atog. Can be equipped for savage beats. Can be used to play a third-turn Cobalt Golems.
Well, it’s true that we fly to one another. Flying seemed to be rare today, so this Golem was quite the bomb. Well…bomb… It’s just a 2/3, and requires mana to fly. But it was still good. An ugly pic, but hey.
I played four blue sources for only one blue card (six red sources for two red cards…), but this Golem could get activated, too. I often sideboarded out my blue part for four Swamps and a Terror, and then this Golem would get replaced by the black Golem, Pewter Golem. That one seemed a lot better. It hit harder, and it kept going, and going, and going…
Siding in the Terror went at the cost of Thoughtcast. That was a mini-Ancestral Recall. Good enough. Nothing spectacular; nothing bad, either. Just good enough. But I liked my Terror more when I was up against Luminous Angels. And the Black Golem was more hip than the Blue one. And the Gravedigger for artifact guys, Moriok Scavenger, was, well, nicer than the Spellbomb, since it gave card-ad-van-tage, to spell it out. Too bad that switching to black did shut off the ability of this next critter.
I only learned that it flied when my first-round opponent, this lovely gal named Anja, stole it from me with Domineer. She then proceeded to slap me, so I tried to block with a Rustram. She said I couldn’t. Now she does this all the time, but this time it applied to my gameplay. I couldn’t block the Replica. It flied. Aw, bugger. My own card is better than I thought. Ah, well. I used that knowledge to my advantage in the rounds to come.
The last star of my deck. It was just a fat body that could come out to play on turn 4. And that could be resurrected by Skeleton Shard. And that could help Thoughtcast to only cost U. Solid enough. I think that when you have this Myr, you play it.
Now the deck is done.
Mirrodin exceeded my expectations. I had no expectations (so take me to a station, and put me on a train), so it was easy to exceed them, but my attitude towards the set is now very positive. I’ve had a nerve-wrecking semi-final, against Wing Yen. He’s cool to hang out with, yet he can give you this menacing stare when you’re playing him. He had Tetravus with Crystal Shard. Sucks for me. He had Proteus Staff and used it like mad, fishing all sorts of good men from his deck, in trade for used-up clockworks. His deck was insane. Bas, my co-finalist, thanked me for beating Wing Yen so that he wouldn’t have to play him in the finals.
You know what’s mad? Slith men. These Whirling Dervishes with abilities are beating like madmen. I got dealt fifteen damage by a regenerating Whirling Dervish, Slith Bloodletter. Turn 3 Slith Ascendant, swing six times. Win. I had nothing to combat that. I didn’t draw my fliers, I didn’t draw my kill in time. Sometimes these things happen.
In compensation, I did topdeck some much-needed land. Twice.
You know what rares I opened from the packs I won? Quicksilver Fountains seem to be good. As does the Quicksilver Elemental. I am so going to build a deck with them. The Elemental can copy abilities of other creatures, with their activation costs changed to the same cost in blue mana. There’s so much potential there. Just copy Arcanis, Skirge Familiar, and Brass Man, if the latter didn’t get changed to”at the beginning of your upkeep, you may pay 1…” That’s infinity for you. If it works. Otherwise, just copy Eater of the Dead and Avatar of Woe; that’s no living creatures for your opponent anymore. Speaking of which, use the Eater instead of the Brass Man in the above example. Should warrant lots of cards.
Copy Wall of Blood and Blockade Runner. Win. Hatred was a good card, so a creature with an improved Hatred ability cannot be bad, especially not when it isn’t a wall anymore.
I got Confusion in the Ranks, which Anthony Alongi might love, but I don’t.
Proteus Staff! Oh stick of the Gods, nearing Bonesplitter in über-sticklyness. You will make me a deck with you in it, and a single Pentavus. Put in deck and find it again, reloaded on counters. And while we’re at it…. Put the rest of the revealed cards on the bottom of your library in any order? Put my entire library in my library in any order? To be stacked again at will each turn? How can I lose? I got me another Pentavus in the packs, so the deck will come. I only need some extra Proteus Rods. Gimme gimme! Oh, how I want them. Lots of tokens each turn, and drawing exactly what you need each turn is the nuts. I like nuts. I’m just like the squirrel. For if a squirrel can make it through the winter, then so can I!
Broodstar. I got this for my Sealed deck, even, yet I didn’t play it. Yes, powerful at times. But a 3/3 for 5UU? At most of the other times? I’ll pass on that. I already played forty-three cards, so even seemingly good rares had to get happysized.
Silver Seraph. Heh, that was not in my packs, but I traded it for a Myr Mindservant, or whatever it was called. It shuffled your library when you tapped it. And this guy wanted it. So I asked for the Seraph and got it. Well, she can replace Arcades Sabboth in my Aether Flash/Bereavement/Questing Phelddagrif deck (Gödel, Escher, Bach, part seven or such).
Mind’s Eye. Good in duel, I presume, bomb in Limited, I know, and the absolute top in card drawing in multiplayer. I draw four cards each round, for three mana. If one of my three opponents has some drawing effect – which is bound to turn up – I draw even more. So good. So sweet. I fear that it will get Shattered at the first possible moment.
Oblivion Stone: the new Nevinyrral’s Disk? Well, it rocks in multiplayer, I dare hereby prophecies. Just lay it down. Have a Voltaic Key at the ready for when some sneak tries to kill it in response to you putting a fate counter on something. Just act all leisurely, until all your valuable cards have fate counters. Or until the time is otherwise right to drop the Stone. The card name is nice, the art is nice. The ability is nice, too. I like the card. Glad for it. I insta-traded it for a Nightmare Lash I pulled from a pack. That one is nice, but this stone is just so much… Heavier. Lots more rares pulled. Won’t mention.
Number One: Remove the Stone of Shame!
Homer: Woo hoo!
Number One: Attach the Stone of Triumph!
Stijn van Dongen,
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