SCG Daily – The Golden Age #9: Dam It!

I know you’ve all been wanting it. I know that each and every man jack of you wake up at night in a hot sweat and wonder, “When, o when, will Adam Grydwhatever devote another article to cards from Mirage Block?” Well, my friends, sometimes, prayers are answered… and I brought a Tombstone Stairwell deck with me to boot.

I know you’ve all been wanting it. I know that each and every man jack of you wake up at night in a hot sweat and wonder, “When, o when, will Adam Grydwhatever devote another article to cards from Mirage Block?” Well, my friends, sometimes, prayers are answered.

Let’s start by considering Floodgate, one of those rare cards which, unlike Phelddagriff, is both humorous and useful. Now, the humor in Floodgate comes not from the concept of a floodgate but from the concept of a Flying floodgate. Mirage Block contains a number of methods of granting the Wall Flying (Chariot of the Sun, Harmattan Efreet, Soar, and Phantom Wings), yet what makes Floodgate even funnier than its pre-existing funniness would suggest is that, despite the card’s hints, you’d much rather the Wall not have Flying. After all, a Flying Floodgate is a one-off effect. But a Phasing Floodgate is truly scary:

Flood Control

4 Wayfarer’s Bauble

2 Serum Visions

4 Ancestral Knowledge

4 Vanishing

4 Reality Ripple

4 Shimmering Efreet

2 Vodalian Illusionist

4 Vedalken Shackles

4 Floodgate

4 Rainbow Efreet

24 Island

Contrary to popular belief, Teferi’s Curse, despite its eventually lower cost, is no replacement for the wondrous Vanishing. If you keep mana up, a Vanishing-enchanted Floodgate will not only have the possibility to clear the board every turn, but it will also be indestructible. Furthermore, unlike creature protection like Alexi’s Cloak, Vanishing can always protect itself by phasing out the creature to which it is attached. The biggest problem for this deck is that it stands little chance against another Blue deck or a deck full of flyers. Don’t leave your sideboards at home; Distorting Lens and Walking Sponge are must-haves. Ancestral Knowledge is, by the way, one of the unfairly forgotten greats of card selection.

Despite what my previous article suggested, Mirage Block isn’t all about Phasing. If Djinns are your thing, you’ll be glad to know that Mirage is just packed with the varmints. Most of them are gosh-darned awful, but the same has been said about the Star Wars prequels, and that hasn’t stopped people from selling their birthrights for opening night theatre tickets. Nowadays, Nettletooth Djinn is about as popular as the Tories and the Democrats (Combined.), but back when the world was young, it was cheap enough, and Waterspout Djinn still packs enough punch to make its disadvantage acceptable (if you happen to be playing with Winter Orb). On the creepier side, Aku Djinn (stunningly illustrated by Terese Nielsen) makes for a monstrous Mono-Black Control finisher. Benthic Djinn is equally unpredictable, but it loves opposing islands like some people love half-naked German supermodels. Even if, on his own, Kookus is more trouble than he’s worth, when you pair him with his Keeper, he starts looking a lot better. And heck, when you have out both Keeper of Kookus and his pet Djinn in a multiplayer game, who’s going to be stupid enough to incur Kookus’ wrath by killing its goblin?

Although the majority of Djinns may be subpar, Mirage Block’s Efreets are something else entirely. Burning Palm Efreet is the height of Red anti-Flying tech, and Wildfire Efreet is, possibly excepting Mountain Yeti, the best Red creature with Protection from White in the game. In the Gold category is Frenetic Efreet, a flyer which will survive lethal damage half of the time. Still, so long as you’re already playing with Islands, you’d be better off with Cloud Elemental or Blue’s powerful Rainbow and Shimmering Efreets.

Distant relatives of Efreets and Djinns are Spirits, now in the Champions of Kamigawa limelight. None of the Mirage Block Spirits are unplayable, but some stand out more than others. Bogardan Firefiend would fit nicely in many of the new B/R Spiritcraft decks, and although it couldn’t be said that the counter-intuitive Discordant Spirit could fit nicely, it could, at least, fit. Assuming some method of pumping its toughness or removing counters, Harbinger of Night is fiendish for Control. Trickier to figure out is the potentially mighty Liege of the Hollows (the first Magic card to produce Squirrel tokens). Also, although not technically a Spirit, Spirit of the Night is one of Mirage’s most famous cards and is the precursor to Scion of Darkness. By sacrificing Urborg Panther, Breathstealer, and Feral Shadow, Spirit of the Night can be brought into play as early as turn 5 with no mana acceleration. Incidentally, even if Breathstealer isn’t the best card this side of the Mississippi, it has an awfully nice house: If you dislike playing with creatures, Breathstealer’s Crypt can be gruesome against opposing aggressive decks and ensures that you’ll never face more creatures than your removal can handle. Also, pairing this enchantment with the usually sub-par Megrim makes the Draw Step a lose-lose situation for most opponents.

Of all the great enchantments in Mirage, however, the best loved is surely Tombstone Stairwell. Tombstone Stairwell has always been good for a laugh, but recent sets have given it some new polish. For example, look at the following:

G/B Zombie Tombstone

4 Diligent Farmhand

4 Spore Frog

4 Heart Warden

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

2 Apprentice Necromancer

4 Withered Wretch

2 Darkwatch Elves

4 Fecundity

2 Dross Harvester

4 Tombstone Stairwell

4 Vengeful Dead

12 Forest

10 Swamp

Although Tombstone Stairwell’s effect is symmetrical, there any number of ways of breaking this symmetry. This deck has 20 creature cards that will go to the cemetery without having to be asked twice, so your graveyard should always be well-stocked. When these creatures die, they’ll often set-off Fecundity. Furthermore, because you’re Tombstone Stairwell’s controller, you’re also the owner of your opponent’s Zombie tokens, and when these tokens die, they’ll be hitting your graveyard and netting you cards. Dross Harvester, meanwhile can gain you so much life that you won’t even feel those opposing Zombies munching on you, and Vengeful Dead is the perfect finisher against all of those Worship-heads out there.

Whereas the previous deck was based around a lot of little combos and was suitable (with some tweaks) for multiplayer, the following concoction aims to make of the most of Champions of Kamigawa’s Iname, Death Aspect:

W/B Spirit Tombstone

4 Lantern Kami

4 Enlightened Tutor

2 Kami of Ancient Law

4 Thrull Surgeon

3 Ghostly Prison

4 Tombstone Stairwell

4 Windborn Muse

1 Karmic Guide

4 Iname, Death Aspect

2 Twisted Abomination

4 Eternal Dragon

12 Plains

12 Swamp

And if you think that’s fun, just wait until the next article.


-Adam Grydehøj

[email protected]