“Each year, approximately 250,000 American husbands are physically attacked and beaten by their wives.”
One thing that continues to be reiterated in my college communication courses as the years go on is that opening a speech or piece of literature with a startling statement is one of the best ways to grab a reader’s attention and make him want to read more.
So. Did it work?
I didn’t think so.
I do, however, have some”startling statements” regarding Magic that you may be interested in…
Mirrodin Uncommon is Shoulders Above All Rares!
The last time an uncommon was in contention for”Best Card in the Set for Limited Play” was way back in Torment. That was our old friend Violent Eruption, and I still think it was left standing in the shadow of the big bad Laquatus’ Champion when all was said and done.
This time around, though, it’s different.
A quick look at the spoiler would point to Oblivion Stone as the best card you could possibly open in Limited. The fact of the matter is, while it looks absolutely nuts on paper, it doesn’t perform in the actual games. I’ll explain in a minute.
In the past, it was basically a waste of time debating which cards were the best in each of the sets, as they were all rares and therefore wouldn’t appear in the same pack. It doesn’t really matter if Rorix is better than Visara, since you’ll be more than happy to see either of them staring back at you from the rare slot of your Onslaught booster. Of course, you can always brag that you got a better rare than your opponent, but there are really no aspects of strategy involved in that nonsense. As long as you know which rares are bombs (and it’s real difficult to determine, lemme tell you), that’s all you need to know.
After playing an immense number of Mirrodin drafts and getting a chance to play with all the rares firsthand or simply see them in action, I can say with complete certainty that the best card in the set for Limited is actually an Uncommon.
So which one am I talking about?
Well, yes, those cards are all in fact bombs, but the card I’m talking about is Loxodon Warhammer.
Big surprise, I know…
Anyway, while we all know the Warhammer is insane, doesn’t it seem a little ballsy of me to say that I’ll take it 99.9999% of the time regardless of what else is in the pack?
If you don’t think that’s going out on somewhat of a limb, may I remind you of some of the top rares in the set?
The list goes on for quite a while, but these are the top bombs in my mind.
So yes, I’m saying I’d almost always take Warhammer even if one of these rares is in the pack. Let’s break it down for each individual card so you can understand why I feel this strongly about the Hammer.
The Sunseeker is essentially Molder Slug’s little sister. Yes, Glissa is very nuts in an artifact-laden format, but the main problems with taking her over the Hammer her are twofold.
First, she requires double green mana, so you’re making an awful strong commitment here, unless you want to be put in the situation where you have to splash her. Basically, you have to hope you get the hookup in green, or else your deck is gonna be sub-par.
The second and more important reason is that she never, ever lives. The ideal scenario is for you to cast her on turn 3 or 4 and completely take control of the game.
Guess what? It doesn’t work like that.
There are plenty of answers to her, and if you think you’re just going to hold her back for the late game, the fact that she’s another creature will be more influential than her ability as a mini-Visara. Sure, there are times when the game will stall out and she’ll do her thing and that’ll be that. But wouldn’t Warhammer just win the game anyway in that situation?
Honestly, I’ve seen people take her over Warhammer first pack, and I don’t see how you can ever justify doing that. You’re putting yourself in a color and taking a slightly worse card for absolutely no reason. Loxodon Warhammer will win every game in which it is not dealt with quickly and appropriately – and the great thing about it is that it’s insane at any stage of the game.
I think some people don’t understand how to play the Hammer correctly, which is why they may value it lower than some of these rares. They end up losing because they drop it onto the board early in the game instead of just waiting on it. You can race all game and then just drop the Hammer and equip when you hit six mana; your opponent isn’t likely to have a good response to it, since he’s already exhausted the majority of his resources by that point.
After you hit him with it once, the damage race is just over as you gain five or six life – not only does your opponent have to find a way to deal with the Hammer immediately or lose, but he is now put into the defensive position since you balloon ahead in the life race. Think of it as casting a reusable Drain Life of sorts for only three colorless mana.
The correct way to play with the card though is to just sit on it until the time is right. The only time I’d ever cast the Hammer before I could also equip it in the same turn is if my opponent has Annul and little or no other artifact kill and has tapped out for the turn. For all intents and purposes, though, Hammer costs six mana, people, not three.
Stop casting it on turn 3.
Ahh, the real dilemma starts with this guy. In my opinion, this is the best rare in the set. Hands-down.
So how does he fare against the Hammer?
Slug has the same problem as Glissa in that he puts you into green, but unlike the Elf Legend, he is incredibly difficult to deal with. Even if he gets Arrested, he will still do his dirty work on your artifact-heavy opponent, since your deck is better built to cope with his ability. The only real common answer to the 4/6 Beast is Terror.
An advantage that the Slug has here (as does Glissa, to a certain extent) is that the format is flooded with artifact removal that will bust up the Hammer, but be useless against the large green dude. You can solve this, though, by just holding back the Hammer as long as possible in an attempt to draw out all of their removal. I have used this strategy to much success with Hammer and lots of other bombs in this format. You gotta be greedy and hang onto your resources as long as you can in Mirrodin Limited.
So, with that said, is there ever a time you’d take Slug over the Hammer? Well, earlier I said that I’d take the Hammer 99.9999% of the time. Molder Slug is the other .0001%. If I’m already in green in pack two or three and I crack this guy and Hammer, and my deck isn’t already loaded with artifacts, I will take him. I’m pretty sure that this is the only scenario in which I’d ship a Hammer. It really is that good.
This one has caused a number of debates among the CMU ranks – but in the end, the Hammer wins out yet again because of a few key points.
The Plate suffers from the problem that it is only really busty in the early game. Casting it in the first few turns leads to having it removed quite often, since your opponent will almost always have at least one way to crush an artifact. The other problem here is that it’s almost worthless in the late game unless you have some recursive form of card drawing like Serum Tank.
Hammer is just rock-solid and consistent. It even gains life, for God’s sake, so you can come back from almost anything when it’s in play on your side. While the Plate can offer more explosive draws sometimes, I’d rather have the better all-around card that is almost always going to win the game when I cast it.
I must admit – for a long time, I too was under the impression that the Stone was bar none the best card in the set. I mean, how couldn’t it be!? It’s a damned Nevinyrral’s Disk on steroids!
Well, then I actually opened it a few times and got to play with it. You wanna know what happened? It did almost nothing to improve my deck. The best trade I ever got from it was a three-for-one and sometimes I had to just crack it to deal with a singleton Fangren Hunter.
Before you go telling me I’m crazy, I should say that I do realize there are times when this card is just going to be game over. Most of the time, though, I’d rather have Grab the Reins or possibly even Crystal Shard (don’t quote me on that one) than a card like Stone that runs its mouth and doesn’t back it up very well.
While there are times when the Stone will be game over, the Hammer is always going to be game over.
I’m really sick of saying that, but I think the point needs to be driven home in a big way here: Loxodon Warhammer was another R&D mistake.
I hear Wrath of God is good… Especially one that can be one-sided. The problem with this card is that the creature counts are so low in this format that you really need the game to stall out in order to take full advantage of it, since there won’t be many creatures on the board and your opponent can just use equipment instead of overextending. Equipment actually makes Wrath effects quite bad, as even the smallest of Myrs become a pain in the butt when equipped with a Bonesplitter.
Solar Tide, too, suffers from requiring colored mana.
Now that I think about it, Loxodon Warhammer is like the Masticore of Mirrodin Limited. You always take it and it always wins the game.
Move along, nothing to see here, ship the wrath and let your neighbor go into white while you keep your options open and pick a better card in the process.
“Yeah, man – he’s near impossible to deal with!”
Uh, I’ll equip my guy and give it +3/+0, Trample, and Spirit Link?
“I knew I shouldn’t have shipped that card…”
Seriously, though, the Ascetic is absolutely great. As are all of the cards I’m talking about. When you get down to it though, none of them really compare to the mighty Hammer…
This boy is a freight train. It only takes one or two swings from big choppers here before you’re buried in a pile of artifact lands. Problem is, it commits you to color and it often has a difficult time racing the Hammer.
So what if you’re red already and have tons of artifact lands? While that might make it somewhat closer of a pick, you’re still taking Hammer every time.
Leonin Sun Standard
I’ve seen this card do some ridiculous things, especially in combination with Auriok Bladewarden and/or Spikeshot Goblin. It’s essentially a toned-down Overrun on a stick, and if you’re already in white it’s really annoying to open a pack with this and our friend the Hammer. Seriously, though, how can you turn down such a powerful effect? You just can’t…
Obviously, I didn’t touch on all of the bomb rares in the set, as I feel these are among the top of list and closely followed by the likes of Broodstar, Bosh, Iron Golem, Mindslaver, Promise of Power, Pentavus, Plated Slagwurm, Arc-Slogger, Duplicant, Clockwork Dragon, Platinum Angel, and friends.
Hopefully the last few aren’t too dumbed down, and obviously every card I described in detail is a ridiculous card. How many times can you say”Warhammer is just insane,” in the same article though?
My personal opinion on this card is that it was a blatant mistake. While it has some of the flavor of an uncommon card, there is absolutely no way it should be in the uncommon slot. Make it a rare and we’ll talk.
When a card exists that a five-year-old kid could use to win a Limited tournament full of pros with, and that card isn’t even a rare, you know we’ve got problems on our hands.
Combo the Best Deck in Standard?
The moment I saw the Twiddle Desire deck in the coverage of Pro Tour: New Orleans, I began trying to convert it to standard. Unfortunately I haven’t had enough time to work out all of the kinks, and there are still a number of cards and ideas that need to be tested.
Huh? What are you doing, Nick!? Since when do you write about Constructed?
Whether you know it or not, I actually used to be a constructed specialist before I got sick of it and devoted myself to Limited. My strong dislike for Constructed is rooted in the fact that bad players can easily beat you despite making a thousand mistakes simply because of the absurdly high power level of the cards in Constructed decks.
Take Wild Mongrel, for example, who will beat the living snot outta you even if the guy uses his Circular Logics to counter something terrible like Peek. You can still lose just because Mongrel is that good. That’s a radical example, but hopefully you get what I mean.
If there’s one thing I’ve always enjoyed about Constructed, however, it’s the Combo Decks.
My favorite decks of all time would have to be Tolarian Academy, right after the release of Saga (when you could still run four Time Spirals, four Windfalls, and four Mana Vault), and the many versions of High Tide that continued to spring up despite numerous bannings by the DCI. For some reason, I like piecing together the combo puzzle and that’s one thing that always brought me back to constructed.
Anyway, enough blabber from me – here’s my current list for the Standard Twiddle Deck:
4 Dream’s Grip
4 Mind’s Desire
4 Chrome Mox
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Seething Song
4 Gilded Lotus
4 Talisman of Progress
1 Talisman of Dominance
2 Future Sight
2 Tendrils of Agony
4 City of Brass
4 Seat of Synod
4 Great Furnace
I’ve played around with cards like Trade Secrets, one copy of Temporal Cascade, and have been wanting to try another Fabricate and a Mindslaver in the main.
Before you bash the deck, yes – I realize there is absolutely no disruption in the main, but the deck is usually fast enough to get around a couple counters and in the few games I’ve played against Goblins, it was basically just who went first.
Will Rieffer posted a Future Sight + Tendrils of Agony Affinity build in the forums a week or so again, which I’ve been dying to give a try. The deck runs only fourteen land, but also twelve Talismans as well as the obvious Moxes. I’ve heard this deck puts up good results, but haven’t really had the time to try it out for myself yet.
I’ve also fooled around with a Mindslaver deck featuring Read the Runes + Second Sunrise, and Trash for Treasures to get it out as well, with Chain of Plasma for the kill.
Anyway, if nothing else, this deck shows that there is at least some form of combo that could easily emerge as a dominant deck depending on the contents of the rest of Mirrodin block, and the deck is also really fun to play.
By the way, the title for this section is in no way meant to be taken as an actual fact. The question remains,”Was the best deck even found by the players who participated in States?” I’d have to say no at this point simply because it seems like there are a lot of unexplored options. If you remember back two years ago, not a single player found the Psychatog deck for the States tournament – and then the ‘Tog deck dominated the Masters and went on to become one of the better Standard decks in recent memory.
MODO: Everything is Fine, Nothing is Broken
So what’s wrong with the title here?
“Well, nothin’, Nick…. Except for the fact that it’s a Blatant LIE!”
This is really getting ridiculous if you ask me. I understand that Magic Online is a big operation, but come on, there’s no way each new set that is added to it should take this long in comparison to the actual real life release date. It really makes me mad that Wizards isn’t coordinated enough to hire enough people so that the online release is in tangent with the real life one.
Who throws a party to celebrate the fact that the server is finally fixed and version 2.0 is stable… Only to watch as the server crashes in brutal irony. Only Wizards. Something needs to be done, and in a big way. If it requires more employees, then hire them; God knows how much Wizards makes off of selling virtual booster packs.
I really don’t mean to bitch, and I’ve kept my mouth shut through all of the bull that has happened in the past – but by the time Mirrodin is released on MODO, we’re all going to be drafting next year’s block in real life.
It’s not that hard to release a set online on the same (or close to the same) date as the real-life release, guys – let’s make it happen already.
Soooooo & ThatsGameBoys on MODO