Scars of Mirrodin Set Review: I Came Back for This? (Artifact/Land)

Friday, October 1st – My hope is that this is part of a grand plan to scale back Magic’s power level. If not, I’ll forever wonder who called in the nerf brigade. This leaves the few cards that will determine the success or failure of Scars in Constructed.

In the artifact set you’d expect artifacts to shine. There are indeed a few that do but this is a set that doesn’t forget that being an artifact is a privilege rather than a curse. Most of them are priced with that in mind.

Then there are the few that aren’t and they’re the cards that will determine the success or failure of the set in Constructed.


Come back with your shield or without it. Owning one is what matters.

This is a zero-cost artifact that can help trigger metalcraft but the decks that want to do that don’t have a pressing need to play equipment that doesn’t help them attack. Actually equipping this isn’t efficient and moving this around is even worse. Hold out for better.

I wouldn’t argentum with it.

For a long time Magic hasn’t had a piece of equipment powerful enough to dominate the game on almost any creature. Basilisk Collar Adventuring Gear and Behemoth Sledge are decent but what Stoneforge Mystic has wanted more than anything is the ability to go truly large unaided — this provides that option.

Argentum Armor is devastating when it works. The cost is extreme but it isn’t so extreme as to be unusable in a long game especially if the first six mana ends up costing less. I doubt many decks will be packing multiple copies but if you’re searching for it when you need it then one is enough.

Burn through them this easily and they won’t be able to replicate them fast enough.

Replicas are never quite as cheap fast or good as the original. You’re supposed to be able to pick two.

Enemies are even more frightened of those who don it when they ponder who would be both willing and able to do so.

I’m desperate for good equipment to make my decks work but I’m nowhere near this desperate. There’s not enough upside and even if there were it kills Kor Duelist and Goblin Gaveleer without also drawing you two cards.

You’ll believe a man can fly. By then it will be too late.

The better question is does man want to fly this badly? It seems clear the answer is no.

It requires a constant amount of charge to charge with any amount of charge.

Trinket Mage and other similar effects are the reason cards like this exist. They allow search effects designed to find small trinkets to instead create giant monsters late in the game when mana is plentiful but ways to use it aren’t. A single such card is often highly useful even when like this one the cost-benefit ratio is poor. Being able to hide from sorcery speed removal is another nice side effect.

Check out my ride!

The best case scenario is that you get a 4/4 for four mana. That’s not good enough.

Just what I needed. Another shell.

The best case scenario here is to get the Clone Shell killed and then get whatever creature you can pull out of the top four without getting the Eldrazi triggers. Five mana is too much to pay for effects like this even when they’re reliable and often the opponent will be able to remove the Shell in another way: let it live or successfully hope that you don’t find anything worthwhile. Take a pass.

Parents talk to your kids about counters.

I like to proliferate as much as the next guy but this is an extreme amount of mana. I do appreciate the concept that this can remove a creature while sowing the seeds of other things later in the game but wow is this expensive.

If you’re not careful your deck will end up infected with them.

At no point is this going to be anything but horrendously expensive even if you’re taking advantage in a wide variety of ways. Doomsday devices have their uses but they need to be reasonably priced.

He’s not worth a copper. Come and get him.

Two mana is one more than this creature can afford to cost and still be playable. If artifact mana is what you want use non-creature sources.

Digging in the dirt to find the places to find the places we got hurt.

Most infect cards are patently inferior versions of non-infect creatures. That’s as it should be since infect is a positive ability even if it causes more problems than it solves when used in small doses.

Corpse Cur is instead a superior version of a classic creature that gets infect for free and is a tiny bit cheaper to boot. It can’t get back non-infect creatures but if you’re playing this strategy you shouldn’t have any available to bring back. I haven’t been itching to dig around any graves lately but it’s not the nature of poison decks to grant you a whole lot of choices.

No there’ll be nothing left!

Fecundity is the right way to do an effect like this and this isn’t. You can’t add multiple counters in the same turn you don’t get the cards right away you have to give up the effect to get them and you have to expose it to destruction not to mention the new timing rules preventing many of the best tricks.

Why take out the axe when you can take out the axmen?

The only way being indestructible is worth much of anything is if opponents are using mass artifact destruction spells and this allows the preservation of metalcraft. That’s not what it’d take to make this worth it only what would make indestructible worth much of anything. To make this worth paying a full extra mana above Bonesplitter and justify it in a world of Adventuring Gear seems like a ludicrously high bar.

It can be blocked by walls. Once. Per wall.

Indestructible is one of the few abilities worth paying for and while it’d be nice to have such a creature available on defense there’s no danger that Darksteel Juggernaut is going to be wiped out for no effect. To make this worthwhile a deck has to be more or less all-in on artifacts at which point this isn’t going to be a superstar like Master of Etherium would’ve been but it might make the cut if the curve can afford to go this high.

Like life before it even darksteel has become cheap.

It’s great to be indestructible but if you have no power or other abilities it fails to serve any purpose other than blocking. The way to make this work would be to combine this with mass removal that Darksteel Myr can survive such as Day of Judgment. The lack of flying — or enough toughness to put up any kind of resistance to trample — means you’re not getting much value for your card in many situations where you need it. I have a hard time seeing this but I can’t quite rule it out.

Some problems require an immediate permanent if lumbering solution.

This is cute when looked at from the correct angle but there’s no way to justify paying six mana for a creature with this little impact.

Equipped creature can block an additional creature.

Equipped creature can block an additional creature. So?

That’s the minimum number of things he needs to have around to hide behind.

I wonder how good this would be if it had protection by default — especially with a lot of artifacts running around. A metalcraft deck likely needs to utilize some number of artifact creatures to make sure it hits three artifacts so playing cards that do double duty is appealing especially if you’re also using Tempered Steel. The size here seems woefully inadequate but there’s a lot to be said for having something your opponent flat-out cannot deal with.

And then one brother said to the other let us take flight. And the other said back you first.

The threat of an ability like this can be stronger than its execution by preventing flying creatures from attacking but it’s still not much of an effect.

It’s only Idol when left alone.

Hiding from mass removal is an advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated and the Idol can often be activated for free. Even when it isn’t the price is relatively cheap and the creature while not great isn’t too bad either. In a world desperate to get to metalcraft could this be good enough? The big problem is that if you’re indeed that desperate for metalcraft then the Idol is coexisting with equipment that will fall off at the end of every turn.

He’s not worth any gold. Let’s melt him down.

We should sue whoever named this for false advertising.

It stores and earns you new life then afterwards it will store what remains of it.

One life per turn does not a card justify and proliferation isn’t going to do much extra. There’s nothing to see here.

There is no craft whose practitioners won’t consider it art.

Being able to spread such bonuses around is cute but the price tag is too high to get much use out of it.

There is only one ingredient. There is never enough.

If this is being played fair it takes a minimum of nine artifacts to make this at all interesting and that’s obviously far too many. However this doesn’t have to be fair. If you can find a way to continuously return artifacts to your hand then you can make a limitless supply of Golems. That’s the only way this is going to work and the reason it should be filed away for future reference.

“You’re doing fine” Hagbard said. “Here’s your latest revelation from the A:.A:..” He reached into his pocket and took out a photo of a female infant with six fingers on each hand. “Got this from a doctor friend at Johns Hopkins.”

Joe looked at it and said “So?”

“If we all looked like her there’d be a Law of Sixes.”

– Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson Illuminatus!

Artifact players have just as strong a right as everyone else to waste their cards time and energy on this and so do their enemies. Admittedly this is stronger than the other five especially in an artifact heavy world since more opponents will help and it counts itself if you get it in multiples plus a lot of cards benefit from having an artifact on the table.

That doesn’t make this playable.

Who is poisoning who?

The problem with giving a creature infect is that you can’t do infect by halves. If your creatures already have infect then this is transparently terrible and if you don’t already have infect then playing this splits your creatures into infect and non-infect which is what you most want to avoid.

Exactly one mage is being driven insane by the sound of the Grindclock relentlessly ticking away.

The upgrade from Millstone to Grindclock is staggering. Doing a little math the most efficient path is to spend X turns building counters and then X turns milling the opponent assuming you know how many cards you need to knock off and assuming the Grindclock isn’t under threat.

That means it takes 2X turns to do this and he draws one per turn so you knock off X*(X+1) cards or X

+ X.

If you play this on turn 2 that means you need to get rid of 52 cards which means X = 7 for 56 cards drawn or milled and a win on turn 15 or 14 if either of you is giving a little help. For a two-mana investment that’s not bad — far better than a Millstone that will take several more turns even if you always have the mana to activate.

Later on in the game Grindclock might be a tiny bit slower but it’s a minor edge at best in that direction. If you have a second Grindclock on turn 3 it doesn’t help as much as you’d hope but it does cut things down to (X

) + (X-1)*X + X or 2X

which means you get X = 6.

The same problem exists when combining this with other milling cards none of which will speed things up as much as you’d like them to.

The details of the math notwithstanding since the sizes of players’ libraries will shrink on their own reasonably often this is an excellent way to lock in a win against non-Eldrazi decks if you can contain the board for a while and don’t want to have to go through traditional defenses. The modern game is fast enough that I don’t see any of this as a problem and there’s always the worry that your opponent will play an Eldrazi and block you but it’s good that this option is around and reasonably priced.

No I mean it. I want you to have it.

The concept is clearly to move this around to different creatures allowing you to trade four mana and a creature for a turn or two to get a Shock. The things people do in Limited to get removal!

And the mages said let there be land. And eventually there was land.

Card advantage is great but this is a terrible way to open the game. If you use it on turn 2 you’ve given up your first two turns for no net advantage. If you use it on turn 3 you pick up a card but you’ve lost turns 1 and 3 and already have three lands. It’s not the worst thing but it can’t hold a candle to Cultivate or Rampant Growth. The advantage it holds is that it works without green mana so it can be used to backdoor into green or in a deck that only has green some of the time while providing an artifact early on for other purposes. Once again I feel that metalcraft is something for uber-fast decks that don’t have the time for something like this but that could change with the next set.

It’s a Myr annoyance.

The design is elegant since infect helps you fight dirty if and when a blocker decides to step in the way but it’s still not an especially impressive fighter nor is it a particularly fast clock. Poison still has a long way to go.

It won’t help you get through undetected but you will learn that and other things from the experience.

Adventuring Gear is better than this any day and this doesn’t even stop them from blocking when it counts the most but it could still end up happening. There are creatures that when equipped tempt opponents to chump block them and this will make that far more expensive at a reasonable price. That could be better than the alternatives when a deck needs to be properly rounded out.

He’s not worth any iron. Should have struck it while it was hot.

Can’t you make anything stronger?

“Another Colossus. I remember when this job had some class. Now it’s nothing but an assembly line!”

A five-drop that has to untap with two additional artifacts is a tall order but not an unreasonable one if the rewards are right since you’re not being asked to bear much risk. If they kill the Forgemaster you lose a five-drop but not the fuel for the forge and that’s important.

The question is what the payoff will be. No matter how many cool options there are this won’t be good enough unless there is a superstar available like Darksteel Colossus. Myr Battlesphere presents the opportunity to chain targets but isn’t interesting unless you can retain the Forgemaster. There’s nothing wrong with putting out a Platinum Emperion and there are a number of interesting other potential targets but so far this still seems like it’s one target short.

He’s not worth any lead. Even if you could turn him into gold.

At least this one isn’t encouraging anyone to get their hopes up.

All it takes is time.

This provides two artifacts when called upon to do so and it allows you to turn other things into artifacts so that you can be protected from them or kill them. As a target generator alone it’s not good enough and as a metalcraft generator alone it’s a clear sign that any deck ready to go there isn’t good enough. If there’s an incidental way to combine both uses then we might have something.

Get too close and it’ll whip up quite a shock.

If you’re going to sit around and wait for an opponent to target your creature this is vastly overpriced. However if you’re going to target it on your own then this starts to get interesting. The question is what it is that’s going to target your own creatures. Auras haven’t been pushed in a long time and if you’re going there you won’t have time for this. Pump spells have gone way downhill since the rules changes. I’m not sure how that leaves this card — other than being stranded and looking for a home.

There’s a word for those who think putting a hole in the world will vindicate them. That word is insane.

Three turns is far too long to wait before a four-drop activates even one that will take over the game over time without need for any additional input. Surviving that long won’t be easy especially given that this doesn’t become profitable until at least six turns after it’s cast. Despite all that I still like it because it’s a solid route to victory that isn’t easy to disrupt and that doesn’t cost much when that disruption does happen so it should have its niche.

“We’ve created a monster. Hopefully more than one.”

It’s hard to imagine that Scars of Mirrodin will create a huge disaster without Memnite being smack in the middle of it. Everything about this set is pushing players towards more and cheaper artifacts and powerful fast attacks both of which look to Memnite as their Shodupersav.*

In particular starts involving an activated Mox Opal off of first or second turn metalcraft look highly dangerous as is getting this many quick attackers that do real damage especially if Tempered Steel is involved. However this type of deck depends on critical mass. Up to a point this ends up being a waste of a card but if the deck can become fast enough to take full advantage watch out. It’s going to get ugly.

I’m trying I’m trying. It’s not coming out quite right.

Once this comes out one then must make sure something dies and then at some point you can start making temporary copies. Depending on what creature is chosen that can rapidly get out of hand especially if that creature is a Titan or otherwise has a strong entering the battlefield effect. Getting something large under here should be enough to dominate most games and it can be seeded early for use later. Even for decks that don’t naturally play such creatures there will often be something that’s worth picking up incidentally and in the meantime something as simple as Wall of Omens can be quite serviceable. It might be too unreliable but it certainly offers a lot of potential.

That will teach you fools to try and think for yourselves.

Mindslaver has historically required two things in order to be worthwhile.

First the effect needs to be powerful enough to cripple the opponent which requires that they be given many decisions to make that they can — if they so desire — make in absurdly stupid fashion.

Second there need to be mana sources that make spending that ten mana efficient. A lot of decks in the modern era that aren’t exactly indifferent to being Mindslavered but are capable of shrugging it off much of the time with only minor structural damage. Then there are those decks that are both vulnerable and provide the time required to make this happen with the obvious choices being U/W and the mana Ramp decks.

It’ll be good to have a card capable of throwing a huge monkey wrench in the mix like this. Welcome back!

I had a Masticore once. Best damn night of my life.

The original Masticore was an outstanding creature so effective that it could outfight most decks thus justifying the extreme cost of ownership. Modern Masticores are at best marginally stronger creatures and are competing against far larger competition. This card brings a smile to my face but that is where it ends.

I don’t know what you’re talking about. The last two were perfectly safe!

Sydney or the bush! There’s not much middle ground on this one. A deck that can trigger this quickly picks up metalcraft for free and one hell of a mana source which will result in many a sick start. A deck that can’t trigger this quickly has no business playing it since you’d be much better off with traditional artifact mana.

Does such a deck have critical mass? It’s not impossible that it will have its niche but the general case answer seems to be no. Assuming it doesn’t Mox Opal will be restricted to a Trinket Mage target and a life in older formats where this is trivial to trigger. Perhaps the next set will change that.

Just what I need. Even morioks.

If you want to Sign in Blood you’re free to do so but there’s no reason to use a three-drop to do it.

Is that all? Nothing to worry about.

This can be used as part of a chain off the Forger in which case it provides a solid way to take control of the game. Otherwise this is a poor man’s Avenger of Zendikar. It does do twelve damage for seven mana some of it direct without requiring you to be green. That has to count for something. It’s a decent makeshift solution to a problem only few people were having since the decks with the mana were mostly green anyway but it might come in handy.

Unlimited power! Don’t hold back!

That is if you can assemble two of these and a Palladium Myr or two of the standard five. Now please don’t go getting ideas about putting this concept into practice. Even if it was even remotely reliable to assemble it you’d need to spend multiple turns on assembly then leave everything in play for a turn have them all survive and also not die — if they can’t stop that from happening that’s pretty sad.

What could be a higher calling in life than making more Myr?

I originally didn’t see the three attached to the activation cost and thought this was highly interesting as it had the potential to end the game in a 32-creature attack several turns later. Instead it costs a minimum of three mana to make a Myr and that’s a bad deal even without any card costs.

The decline and fall cannot be stopped. But it can easily be hastened.

For three mana you get to do four damage over two turns in the form of colorless life loss albeit with a small risk of exposure when it matters most. It gives reach to colors that otherwise wouldn’t have it at a reasonable price so I can see this going into decks for that reason even though it’s very much not my style. It also is aided by proliferation which can rapidly turn this into a lot of life loss. If one were going to proliferate in a non-poisonous aggressive deck this makes a lot of sense.

It might not be potent but it doesn’t always have to be.

Being able to put the counter where you want it to go in addition to any counter that went on any potential blockers means it’s hard for this to go to too much waste even if there’s never that much there to begin with. Like many of the better poison creatures this seems like it wouldn’t be the worst thing to play but also doesn’t attract me to the cause.

In the end they said let there not be Replicas. And there were not Replicas.

I read today from Mark Rosewater that the Replicas are nostalgia. I couldn’t agree more.

They said let us leave the past behind. So they blew it up.

This is a mana efficient way to wipe out an enemy graveyard leaves yours alone if that’s relevant and when possible can be done without paying a card. It also provides a cheap early artifact. Together that’s an attractive package when this effect is called for. This should become a solid go-to for black decks that have this need.

It has only one flaw: The hope that someday it will find another victim and you will be free.

Keeping four mana available is hard but having four mana available at the right time is relatively easy. If you’re in control of when this triggers rather than the enemy things get a lot more interesting. A creature with a sacrifice effect could then use it for four mana a pop as many times as it wanted; you could untap your creatures at will; you could block and live and all sorts of fun stuff. Once you’d used it this would also provide a boost for the creature and otherwise function as normal equipment which is always nice. Chances are this ends up being too much mana to make it worthwhile but it could lead to some powerful interactions.

And some pompous wizard who doesn’t think far enough ahead said let there be Myr. And there were Myr.

This costs a minimum of two mana and to get the cantrip effect it will cost you three. That’s far too much. If this is what it takes to get metalcrafting there are better things to do.

I always wondered what they put in those powerstones.

The standard issue Myr are bad green creatures but Palladium Myr represents them moving up in the world to become bad artifact mana. Being a creature is a liability to a card like this much more so than entering the battlefield tapped leaving this as an awkward way to try to ramp up. However it’s still two mana available to all colors so there may be a few corner cases where it sees play.

“I have an idea. Let’s panic!” – Oscar the Grouch

This doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t even do much of nothing.

You can’t go wrong with Platinum.

I’d much rather not change life totals than be unable to lose. When you play Platinum Angel you need to decide whether to allow yourself to go to zero (or run out of cards or otherwise lose) and rely on not losing the Platinum Angel or to defend normally and not get much benefit.

Platinum Emperion doesn’t have that problem. It does leave you vulnerable to poison or running out of cards and this set enables both but they should still remain rare. You also have to pay an extra mana but there’s a giant body to compensate one capable of beating up on a Titan. Flying is arguably better because you can evade creatures that can no longer touch you anyway but this is a large size upgrade.

There will be those who point out that costs rise exponentially and eight is a lot more than seven but this is a category shift in “not losing the game” technology and it’s worth the price.

Whichever comes first they all go out together.

For five mana you get three creatures that combine for nine damage and instant metalcraft. They can take them all out with a Lightning Bolt but those are the risks one takes for greatness.

The question is: are they worth it? If you’re up against a lot of creatures that can fight the Golems that’s going to be a problem. Also there’s essentially no solution for creatures that can’t deal with the Golems other than Walls although a few such as Path to Exile are awkward. That means you’re unlikely to end up ahead of the game in a normal fight but this could be a good nasty surprise for those who don’t expect it — especially if the enemies are planeswalkers whose defenses aren’t amplified.

There’s also the option to try and copy useful spells of your own but none of them seem practical.

I need the complete version. All this one gives me are prototypes.

Imprinting is always risky especially in a world potentially full of artifacts. The ideal would be either a zero or one-cost artifact that’s excellent in multiples perhaps Sensei’s Divining Top or to go for something more expensive which might make a five-drop a natural fit.

The high-end option seems like a lot of work and more advantage than is necessary to win a game while comparing highly unfavorably to Phyrexian Processor. It will probably just concentrate on low-end solutions. The Top and other cantrips are where I’d begin the search but Brittle Effigy and Pithing Needle are also potentially interesting.

Is that what the counterterrorism experts are calling them these days?

It won’t take out manlands but it’ll take out planeswalkers eventually. The increased popularity of higher casting-cost spells and the subsequent diversity of casting costs combined with the rise in general power level should serve to keep this from being the kind of high impact card we saw with Powder Keg but it’ll no doubt still see some play. It certainly shouldn’t rise to the level where players actively worry about this card during deckbuilding.

Instead of counting down after casting count down until you can.

There seems to have been massive cost overruns on this one.

Eventually everything stops ticking.

Even if artifacts were absolutely everywhere this would still be too much of a reach. Tapping things down can’t afford to wait a turn or be this easy to remove when there’s a real investment involved.

The solution to rust is of course more rust.

If you’re essentially all-in on having metalcraft already this could be a not too horrible way to fit in another artifact and make sure you hit without sacrificing too much but there’s always the chance it won’t be a creature and when it is it isn’t a particularly good one.

Some anvils need to be cast.

No way. You’re kidding. They didn’t just print what I think they did did they? It seems they did in fact do that and at first I was afraid. I was very afraid.

It isn’t quite as easy to play essentially all of the same card type as it is to play essentially all of the same color but it also isn’t all that hard. This has the potential to get massively ugly and quickly with a number of different creature types looking like good candidates. The bigger problem will be a clash between the desire to play expensive cards that can get full reductions and the desire to cast multiple spells in the same turn as a game plan. That dilemma might move this into the engine-only realm but I have to give it props even in that case.

Now for the options. First off there’s the path of instants or sorceries with the conflict between the two forming another issue since you don’t want to have to pick one side or the other. Sorceries are likely more promising — starting with classics like Foresee — with the biggest concern being the number of one-drops and instants such a deck must inevitably play.

Second option would be to go with creatures but it’s hard to make the upside high enough while having a functioning deck without the Anvil.

Then there are artifacts whose costs can be reduced to zero. Artifacts allow you to chain multiple Anvils to get a four-mana discount on the cheap if you have enough cards for that. One nice advantage is that artifact mana sources give you a lot of flexibility by allowing you to pitch mana sources when mana is plentiful and more expensive cards when mana is tight but the big question is how often an artifact deck is going to be able to cast multiple artifacts in a single turn.

If I had to guess Semblance Anvil is a favorite for not having any good applications but in those cases where it works it could cause major-league trouble. I don’t expect it but I also promise not to act surprised when it happens.

He’s not worth a silver but among the five he wins the gold.

Even blue mana can’t save this concept. I know what the thinking was but what a waste of five slots.

Every flight requires a reason to get off the ground.

This set is all about making you work hard to get less than what you were entitled to in the first place.

The remnants of what had once been the grand clockwork design had been left to decay for far too long. That which was worthwhile had long since been scavenged. What remains is a collection of rambling barely functioning relics that are harder to sway than they were to construct in the first place.

After a while all these lumbering piles of junk start to look the same to me.

Our new artificial dragons offer pinpoint fire at the same cost as old indiscriminate fire!

If I was in need of a solid finisher that could take control of a game this would be a fine place to look for one. Alas I’m not in any way in need of such a thing thanks to the even more fine people at Wizards.

It’s almost as if a cycle of mythics has invalidated an entire class of cards. No wait it’s exactly like that.

Well it’s not quite like that because a deck could be truly colorless or at least not have a reliable color for a Titan but that’s a rather tall order.

The land itself has united and chosen me to make one last stand before all is lost forever.

This rating is a reach but I see a lot of potential here. To play Strata Scythe means giving up on non-basic lands and going with only one color presumably either white or red.

Red already has Koth and Kargan Dragonlord to promote Mountain-heavy aggressive strategies that this could nicely complement if there were creatures worth equipping but the more interesting option is to go with white. White has a number of creatures worth equipping and this provides a solid midrange choice in between Adventuring Gear and Argentum Armor. As the game goes on this grows more and more powerful eventually both hitting hard and moving around at will. It’s a big commitment to spend six mana but a reasonable way to spend the third and fourth turns after a Stoneforge Mystic. It’s also a good sink for all that mana once the cheap stuff has already been deployed and any Students of Warfare are fully leveled.

People aren’t making this an automatic include in such decks. They should be.

Make the most of it. It won’t be yours for long.

This is so close! If it had an equip cost of zero that would be a different world and I long for a chance to try on a new Fires of Yavimaya. The moment there’s a cost to sending the creature into the breach a turn early it doesn’t happen a turn early and that destroys the purpose of playing the card in the first place. Ah well.

Sword body and mind. Pick two.

This card is trying to do three things and those three things are at war with each other. It’s trying to create a creature that fights well it’s trying to recruit an army and it’s trying to mill your opponent out. Milling your opponent these days is doing your opponent a favor especially against the decks where you most want these protections. It’s also not a good fit for making a bunch of Wolves which is nowhere near as exciting as previous similar abilities.

Players who are excited by this card are likely waxing more than a little nostalgic for previous models that felt like they ended the game with even a single hit.

I wonder what would happen if they’d tried to word this such that its second ability worked the moment you attempted to equip the creature. Maybe something like “Whenever equipped creature or a creature Sylvok Lifestaff has been activated to become equipped to this turn” although that is quite a mouthful. That also opens up a few neat tricks to squeeze out a lot more life points.

Didn’t say I’d play it but it’d be more interesting. Instead there’s the invitation to kill off the creature in response and a severe limit on how much life is ever going to be gained. Bonesplitter is classic and if we were supposed to play it then it would’ve been brought back.

No one knows who originally wanted a Sylvok.

Even if this were colorless it’d be easier to splash for a legitimate answer than to let yourself get held up like this.

It won’t last so make it count.

Throne of Geth isn’t a card-efficient way to add counters but it’s a mana efficient way to add them if they matter enough. This seems like it was made for a poison deck since it doesn’t matter how many cards you sacrifice if your opponent is dead kind of a Philosophy of Venom.

The question then becomes whether the poison deck is any good and how many artifacts it wants to naturally play. I don’t like the answers to either question right now.

I think we got him.

It’s fun to deal more and more absurd amounts of damage but such cards can get held back on cost due to the danger that the damage could be redirected. That may be part of the reason the activation cost is in “win the game” territory.

It shrinks creatures. I’m the big kid now!

Wow that’s expensive removal. In fact I think this might set a new record.

It makes insects. Nothing can stop me now!

If you’re proliferating you can hope to add counters to this while adding poison counters to the opponent but this is a terrible token generator even if it never needed recharging.

It gives life. I’m immortal now!

The amount of mana required to do this is obscene and the life per turn is terrible even if you live in abundance. Two mana should be at least seven life straight up and I don’t even want to think about how much six should buy.

It draws cards. Something will help me now!

In no way is this a remotely efficient means of drawing extra cards.

Don’t over use it. It’s still pretty rough.

This is a reasonable effect if it doesn’t run out and it provides a cheap aggressive artifact that benefits from proliferate which means this will play well with much of the set. It’s not naturally as strong as I’d like it to be but it could work in a pinch for an aggressive metalcraft deck.

There has only ever been one vector.

A poison deck would appreciate having a one-drop to get things started but by forcing it to spend mana to get anything out of an attack it nullifies the advantage of having one. The curve of such a deck is going to keep you exceptionally busy. It might be that such a deck is desperate enough to go there. For its sake I hope not.

It is said that he wrote many things in it but they have all long since disappeared.

This is a cute idea: trying to lull unsuspecting players into holding lots of cards in their hands as a game plan rather than as an option and being willing to invest real time and cards in the cause. The time has long since passed when this would’ve been high enough impact for such an expensive artifact.

They don’t sizzle quite like the original.

Once again a ludicrous amount of mana for what you’re getting once again hurt by the new rules and once again not giving me much in the way of nostalgia. Ouch.

Begins as a vision lives as an artifact remains as an obstacle.

I’ve been worn down enough that I’m looking at six toughness and becoming tempted to start thinking that there might be a way to justify this. Then I remembered we’re still talking about a non-cantrip Wall.

All right slight change of plans. First smash it to bits then smash the bits to bits.

A lot of the good answers to a large creature have to be used twice or even three times to deal fully with Wurmcoil Engine. A profitable combat against it is essentially impossible and the life swing is twelve points per turn (and nine in its second form.) There could be places where that’s what a deck wants more than the Titans it has available.

Mox Opal and Memnite are necessary. Without them half of the best other cards in the set go from potentially interesting to unplayable. With them there’s a solid base of seven or eight artifacts from which to try to reach the critical mass that ensures one can count to three in the first few turns.

It won’t be easy to get the rest of the way and this set passed up its chances to reprint a number of Mirrodin cards that would’ve fit that bill quite nicely. I think I prefer that choice to the alternative but for now that means there’s a long road ahead.


Blink and you’ll miss him.

The ultimate ability here is a sure game winner in time but the investment required is large and it isn’t always going to be a fast turnaround. The second ability is a nice side option as it’ll sometimes be exactly what you want but it won’t be activated often.

Most of the time you’ll be exiling permanents you control which means you’ll need a good reason to do so. Exiling himself doesn’t do anything and untapping creatures to block with them or untapping lands to tap them again isn’t impressive. Even in a traditional Reveillark deck this is a high price to pay to pick up a blink effect. In the right deck this is likely playable but this isn’t an impressive planeswalker.



Definitive proof that there is such a thing as too much mana.

Drawing one of these lands in your opening hand or in most cases even three of these lands in your opening hand is a free bonus. It’s only when you already have three lands in play and you draw one or circumstances force you to play another land first that you pay any price at all.

The vast majority of lands that are relevant to a game of Magic are in hand by the time land three hits the table and the penalty for showing up later isn’t even that large. Playing eight of these in a tricolor deck is a relatively painless exercise and puts that kind of color flexibility within reach of a wide variety of strategies.

The catch is that these lands don’t count as basics and that hurts your ability to play with Standard’s other dual lands at the same time especially if you want to step up to three or more colors. At two colors we now have twelve quality dual lands available and that’s enough for everyone.

So if you’re choosing to play only one color that will be because you have a good reason. I can think of one good reason involving basic Mountains but I’m having trouble thinking of another.

Relax. Stay a while. Gaze up at the clouds.

If there are no other loci available to play this is a nice minor bonus for those who have no use for colored mana but still need more colorless. That does come up occasionally but it’s rare and Tectonic Edge is still at the head of the line.

If you can also play Cloudpost that’s a different story because now both lands are doubled in value so this is a three-star card in that context. With eight and possibly Vesuva there’s an excellent chance to make the Cloudpost engine pump out absurd spells as early as the third turn while also picking up some free life points.

Competition will be stiff but it’s possible that between this and the Eldrazi a true colorless deck could become justified.

Top 10

  1. Copperline Gorge

  2. Razorverge Thicket

  3. Blackcleave Cliffs

  4. Seachrome Coast

  5. Darkslick Shores

  6. Elspeth Tirel

  7. Koth of the Hammer

  8. Mox Opal

  9. Galvanic Blast

  10. Leonin Arbiter

Honorable Mention

(a.k.a. if I didn’t put five lands in the first five slots they’d have made it in no particular order): Platinum Emperion Carapace Forger Argentum Armor Ezuri’s Brigade.

That’s right I’m going out on a huge limb and going with some super risky cards for my top five.

No wait. I’m doing the opposite of that.

I think the lands are the best thing about this set. They come into play untapped most of the time and they provide painless colored mana. They do interfere with other dual lands somewhat since they fight for land drops and basic land count with other cycles but overall they complement each other well and I’m convinced they’ll see lots of play. They’ll shift balance of power towards aggressive decks in general and Birds/Elf (good-bye Noble Hierarch) decks in particular.

Next up we have the planeswalkers.

Koth of the Hammer is a card I’m willing to give credit to now that I’ve had time to think about it but there’s a limit and some people are way way over that limit. It’s only this high because the set is otherwise weak.

Elspeth Tirel does have to compensate for being a five-mana planeswalker but I think there’s enough there to make it worthwhile. It’s not going to be another Jace but it should be quite strong and be seen in a variety of strategies — whereas Koth is far more single (or at most double) minded.

Mox Opal and Galvanic Blast are obviously high quality cards for decks that can hit metalcraft and finally Leonin Arbiter is highly disruptive in ways that should put it onto the white creature shortlist.

The bench in this set isn’t deep. The cards at the three-star level are often metalcraft (I keep almost typing threshold) cards and therefore they’ll either create one or more decks or all die off together depending on whether an artifact base is practical.

After that things fall off rapidly. The staple cards that most sets have are notoriously missing in many places.

My hope is that this is part of a grand plan to scale back Magic’s power level. If that happens this isn’t going to be the most popular set but we’ll eventually be thankful for the medicine if we can stick to the treatments.

If not I’ll forever wonder who called in the nerf brigade.

* Short Duration Personal Savior