The Mirrodin Green Dilemma: Tel-Jilad Archers and Raining Porcelain Gods

Would you rather be killed while:
A) Sitting on a Toilet?
B) Standing downstairs and having a toilet fall on your head?
C) Neither.

Oh yeah, and Tel-Jilad Archers too.

[Editor’s Note: Part One of the Mirrodin Green Dilemma, where [author name="Ken Krouner"]Ken Krouner[/author] argues for Deconstruct, was published yesterday.]

“Ah, Henny Penny,” said Chicken Little,”the sky is falling, and I must go and tell the king.”

“How do you know that the sky is falling, Chicken Little?” asked Henny Penny.

“I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and a bit of it fell on my head,” said Chicken Little.

I now know what it feels like to be Chicken Little. A little piece of the sky fell on my head too.

Geordie Tait described Hobart House in his article chronicling his journey with CMU-Togit leading up, and including Pro Tour: Boston. If you missed the article when it was originally published, it would be a good idea to go check it out. Although many good things have been said about the Magic ability contained within Hobart House, rarely has the cleanliness of the house been praised. Even the great and mysterious Kai Budde has honored our houses with his opinion on their cleanliness. (He mentioned it in an old Brainburst article, I believe.)

Since Geordie’s series of articles went up, Hobart House has had another change of residents. Paul Sottosanti accepted an internship with Wizards of the Coast that began in October. With his departure, Eugene Harvey and I went about the process of finding a roommate to replace Paul. Who better to invite into the Hobart House tradition than Nate Heiss?

Nate Heiss is my cousin. We talk a lot alike and we look a lot alike, yet a lot of people don’t realize we are cousins. That being said, we have some fundamental differences. For instance, my favorite card is Spitting Slug (although I will sometimes say Wasteland, depending on my mood) while Nate’s second favorite card is Manakin. Until I asked him a minute ago I thought that Manakin was his favorite. He has been living a lie. His favorite card is Quirion Ranger, who knew.

Nate and I were roommates once before when we lived on Darlington Street. That time didn’t go as well as this one has so far. Mainly the problem was that Nate likes his place to be very clean and the house was full of gamers.

Hobart House has had six residents since we moved in during the summer of 2001. Andy Johnson, Dan Silberman, and Paul Sottosanti are the three past residents while Nate, Eugene, and I live there currently.

Right after Nate moved in, he spent a ton of time cleaning. So much so, that the house actually was in decent shape for a short period of time. He used a wet-dry vacuum cleaning up the floor of the downstairs very well. He also cleaned out the entire basement. Instead of having a giant mess in the basement, Nate has been running Sealed Deck tournaments out of the Hobart House basement. They have been drawing fairly well for just getting started and hopefully they will continue to grow. If you live in Pittsburgh and want to play in future events just drop Nate an e-mail.

Hobart House has had its share of gamer-induced disasters. Most notably our dining room table has been known to collapse. A word of advice for all newbie table buyers out there, if you are purchasing your table for the dining room of a gamer household make sure that the table isn’t made of glass! Another problem we have had is with the shower leaking and the inability to turn off the sink. While the sink problem was easily fixed, after a excessive amount of time, the shower leaking caused a little bit of water damage to the downstairs ceiling.

Eugene has been back in New Jersey since Thanksgiving so he is unaware of what has happened since he is gone. I am sure he will be thrilled to find out.

On Friday, Nate had just finished taking a shower when we noticed that a new portion of the dining room ceiling was dripping. I went and examined the shower to inspect it for leakage, but I couldn’t find anything. Rachel, Nate, and I all went to Dave and Buster’s for their happy hour, thinking nothing more of the problem. Afterwards, Rachel and I went to The Last Samurai while Nate went to Friday Night Magic at Helm’s Deep. The Last Samurai was excellent. Tom Cruise plays a samurai who was Born on the 4th of July. It is a really strange combination.

When we came home from the movie it was about 11 PM. I went to check on where the water had been dripping, and I see that the water hasn’t stopped coming down. Now this is a problem. I have seen the pictures of people’s houses being swept away by a raging river so I get very concerned. Nate comes home and figures out that the water is not leaking from the shower, but instead it is coming from the tank of the toilet. I take off the lid of the toilet and see that duct tape has been used to keep the tank waterproofed since we have moved in.

Now anyone who has seen The Red Green Show will surely be aware of the power of duct tape. In fact the star of the show, Steve Smith, has written a book called Red Green’s Duct Tape is Not Enough, which is an odd title for someone who promotes duct tape as much as Steve Smith does. However, I don’t think he recommends using duct tape for waterproofing. Until last Friday the duct tape had miraculously worked but no longer.

All day Saturday, between 9-5 Mirrodin drafts, I continually go downstairs to check on the ceiling. Slowly I watch the cracks form in the paint. I see the water damage spread out and start taking its toll. All day I hear the story of how when Rachel was a kid her dining room ceiling collapsed and I keep wondering if that will happen to me. Will a flying toilet smash all of the commons that are strewn about?

I keep seeing this poll in my head:

Would you rather be killed while:

A) Sitting on a Toilet?

B) Standing downstairs and having a toilet fall on your head?

C) Neither.

In some way I am rooting for the stupid glass table to get obliterated by a flying toilet, but just not in my house. By this point we have shut off the water to the toilet and the leaking has been minimized, but come Saturday night the plaster of the ceiling has started to fall off. Nate is holding his tournament on Sunday, so I become worried. I don’t know how the house will handle two-dozen gamers using the bathroom like it is, well… a bathroom.

As the sun comes up Sunday morning, the ceiling starts to fall down. Rather large chunks of plaster have freed themselves from the ceiling and made their way to the floor. I think at one point I get nicked by a piece. Mind you, there still hasn’t been a full-blown collapse, but the threat still lingers. Looking up you can see the wooden pieces that are keeping the ceiling intact, but until the landlord replaces the toilet, I will be doing a little prayer every time I decide to go. [I’m picturing Mike sitting on the pot, reading a magazine, when the floor gives way and plummets him and the bowl directly into the middle of a startled group of gamers… – Knut, cackling madly]

Now, I arrive at the more serious portion of my article. I decided to try the silly introduction first and then just go into my article second. I don’t know if I like this change or not, but I am willing to try it out. Hopefully, this will appease both the people that only want to read strategy, and the side who likes the little bit of humor and silliness that I enjoy writing about. I think that the compromise will probably just make both sides angry, but that makes me happy. Sometimes increasing suffering makes for a better world.

Since the dilemmas are being broken into two different days, I am going to do some liberal quoting of Ken’s article. I hope this will allow you to remember his points while also understanding their flaws. In no way do I want to use this opportunity to unnecessarily bash Ken. All bashing that is done will be completely worthwhile.

Ken starts off his article saying,”White and Red are close to each other and are the two colors that follow Green, but power level-wise they are closer to Black than they are to this mightiest of colors.” I don’t think that Green is the best color; I think it is second-best behind Red.

Let’s look at my Green common ordering to illustrate why:

1. Fangren Hunter

2. Tel-Jilad Archers

3. Deconstruct

4. Predator Strike

5. Tel-Jilad Exile

6. Tel-Jilad Chosen

7. Copper Myr

8. Wurmskin Forger

9. Viridian Joiner

10. Turn to Dust

11. Elf Replica

12. Journey of Discovery

13. Tree of Tales

14. Battlegrowth

15. Malachite Golem

16. Lifespark Spellbomb

17. Groffskithur

You can check out my Red common rankings in the Pyrite Spellbomb Dilemma article. One quick note about them is that I now think that Vulshok Berserker is a little better than I originally ranked him. I would now list him above the Ogre Leadfoot. The fact that the set is so creature light makes him a solid aggressive creature. Similarly, I would move Iron Myr up over Hematite Golem. I know this must break Ken’s heart but I have been more impressed than ever by the Myr’s ability to generate game-breaking tempo.

Fangren Hunter is not the best common in the set, Spikeshot Goblin is. The Archers and Deconstruct are both great, but neither of them are as good as Electrostatic Bolt or Shatter. Predator’s Strike is better than Pyrite Spellbomb, but after that Red’s list is better all the way down to number twelve. On top of this Red has better uncommons than Green. Grab the Reins and Viridian Shaman are both amazing, but Grab is clearly better. Following this, Red has Atog, Detonate, and Shrapnel Blast while Green has Creeping Mold, One Dozen Eyes, and Trolls of Tel-Jilad. Red wins this comparison easily.

Has anyone else noticed how Fangren Hunter is really just a vanilla Arrogant Wurm? Durkwood Boars have immigrated to Mirrodin, gained trample, and taken over. When I originally spoke to Ken about the Green Dilemma, we both attempted to trick the other into taking something in the debate to go against Fangren Hunter. Fangren Hunter is a monster in this set. Having a high toughness and trample both generate good synergy with equipment. Fangren Hunter is awesome, but that still doesn’t make him Spikeshot Goblin.

I am not even going to address the Blinding Beam comment that Ken makes. I have gone into shock. It is no wonder that we had the following conversation on Magic Online.

5:08 Mike: Magic Online is the best

5:08 Mike: I am up to twelve packs after giving four to Rachel and selling three to Morgan for 13

5:09 Mike: of Mirrodin

5:09 Mike: I am 7th in ranking

5:09 Mike: 1970

5:09 Mike: woot

5:09 Ken: nice

5:09 Ken: can I borrow a set?:-)

5:12 Mike: ehh

5:12 Mike: all out

5:12 Mike: sorry

5:12 Mike: lol!

And that is why you shouldn’t value Blinding Beam over Arrest.

If you had to look up”triumvirate” in Ken’s article, you weren’t the only one. From Dictionary.com:


Tri*um”vi*rate, n. [L. triumviratus: cf. F. triumvirat.]

1. Government by three in coalition or association; the term of such a government.

2. A coalition or association of three in office or authority; especially, the union of three men who obtained the government of the Roman Empire.

n : a group of three men responsible for public administration or civil authority

So really Ken might be talking about the trinity. Tel-Jilad Archers, Tel-Jilad Chosen, and Needlebug. They literally administer authority. The Archers are by far the best of the bunch.

I really loved Canopy Spider in Tempest limited. If you draft 8th Edition at all, you will appreciate how nice it is to have creatures that block fliers when playing Green. Actually, if you have ever played Green in any format you will appreciate what the Archers offer Green. No more losing to Clockwork Condor, Skyhunter Patrol, or especially Somber Hoverguard. The Archers shut down your opponent’s air assault.

Not only that, but Protection from Artifacts is an awesome ability in Mirrodin. While in most sets, Protection from Red is the premier protection, Mirrodin is overflowing with Artifacts, and Tel-Jilad Archers stops them all. I know you are thinking,”So does Deconstruct!” but bear with me for a minute. After I get done with talking about how good the Archers are, I will compare them to Deconstruct.

Tel-Jilad Archers also shut down your opponent’s ground game. The only four power commons in the set are Fangren Hunter and Pewter Golem. The Archers stop Pewter Golem anyhow. Fangren Hunter and Neurok Spy are the only common creatures that get past the Archers. Both of them are very high picks for their colors, so it would be unlikely that your opponent has more than one, if any.

Furthermore, the Archers become a fearsome attacker when enhanced by Wurmskin Forger or Battlegrowth. Your opponent will look on helpless, as they are unable to stop the Archer from bashing them time and again. As every proponent of Pewter Golem argued, the set is creature light, so good creatures gain value. Unlike Pewter Golem, the Archer is almost impossible to kill, with both four toughness and Protection from Artifacts. Ken argued for Regress as well. The only situation where I like Regress better than Aether Spellbomb is when you are trying to bounce the Archers.

The Archers are always a solid play on any turn of the game. They have the ability to go aggressive in the right situations. They shut down your opponent’s offense completely.

The only thing I don’t like about the Archers is that they have no synergy with Equipment. It is bad to play a deck with both lots of Archers and lots of Equipment unless you have a ton of other creatures as well.

In Ken’s Deconstruct example, our side of the board has out Alpha Myr. I don’t understand why anyone would play with Alpha Myr. It is truly awful.

One of the things that needs to be done with every new set is the reevaluation of old mechanics. An easy example of this is how Severed Legion was pretty good in Onslaught because of the Fear ability, while Dross Prowler is not good at all. Alpha Myr suffers from this reevaluation as well. One-toughness ground attackers aren’t worthwhile in Mirrodin. Cards like Yotian Soldier, Granite Shard, Viridian Longbow, and Spikeshot Goblin make Alpha Myr almost completely worthless. Don’t play Alpha Myr unless you are extremely desperate. One could argue that even Omega Myr is better.

I don’t want to insult Deconstruct. I know I have been rough on Ken’s picks before, but Deconstruct is really good. The set is full of artifacts and Deconstruct blows up artifacts. Not only that, but also Deconstruct gives you some bonus mana. While ideally you will cast two Deconstructs into a Viridian Shaman, or perhaps Deconstruct your own Cathodion into a fast Plated Slagwurm, as Nick Lynn did the other day, it doesn’t always work out that way. If your opponent has anything to fizzle your Deconstruct, the mana doesn’t get added. It is still a Sorcery, which rarely allows it to get you any card advantage, only card parity. Lastly, occasionally in the mid-game you end up mana burning. When you mana burn, Deconstruct is hardly worthwhile. It turns a good removal spell into a weak Aftershock.

Unlike the simple one for one that Deconstruct provides, Tel-Jilad Archers allow you to obtain virtual card advantage. This concept, which was originally discussed on TheDojo.com by Eric Taylor, states that whenever one of your cards successfully neutralizes multiple of your opponent’s, you have gained virtual card advantage. Whenever your Archers aren’t killed, they will hold off all of your opponent’s attackers. Therefore, for each creature that your opponent plays, you have obtained virtual card advantage. In a set where the games last for a fairly long time, this card advantage can be game breaking and overwhelming.

Ken remarks how similar our pick orders are. This is true for the first seven common orderings, with the only disagreement being between Deconstruct and Tel-Jilad Archers. After that our pick order varies widely. He ranks Elf Replica and Malachite Golem a lot higher than I do. I think that Wurmskin Forger is an excellent addition to a deck that lacks a top end to its curve. Viridian Joiner comes out on turn 3 and boosts you to the crucial five-drop on turn four. He also combines with Equipment to provide a little extra mana in a format that loves to use it.

Battlegrowth would be much better in a set that was not Mirrodin. While it is still playable, Battlegrowth often takes up a slot that would be better used by another creature. Journey of Discovery provides a nice mana fixer in a set that has few. Playing a small splash for Betrayal of Flesh or Somber Hoverguard isn’t uncommon at all and Journey makes it much easier to do so. Not only can Journey do that, but its Entwine ability sometimes can be devastating.

In the finals of a 9-5 Mirrodin draft, the following series of events occurred. I was playing versus MEG in the finals. MEG was playing a strong Black Red deck while I had a very good Green Red deck.

Turn 1: Mike: Forest

Turn 1: MEG: Swamp, Leonin Scimitar

Turn 2: Mike: Forest, Iron Myr

Turn 2: MEG: Mountain, Iron Myr

Turn 3: Mike: Attack with Iron Myr for 1 damage (MEG 19), Forest, Fireshrieker

Turn 3: MEG: Swamp, Vulshok Battlegear, Frogmite for 1 mana

Turn 4: Mike: Mountain, Fangren Hunter

Turn 4: MEG: Mountain, Equip Frogmite with Scimitar and Battlegear (6/6),

Attack with Frogmite (Mike 14)

Turn 5: Mike: Forest, Entwine Journey of Discovery for 2 Mountains, Play Both Mountains, Equip Fangren Hunter with Fireshrieker, Attack with Fangren Hunter (MEG 11).

I now have out eight mana compared to MEG’s five.

Turn 5: MEG: Attack with Frogmite (Mike 8), Cast Clockwork Vorrac

Turn 6: Mike: Forest, Attack with Fangren Hunter (MEG 3) Entwine Tooth and Nail, fetch Platinum Angel and Tel-Jilad Chosen and put them into play.

Turn 6: MEG: Concede.

While these were two really good draws on both of our parts, I think the story shows how valuable Journey of Discovery can be. It accelerated me to eight mana while still allowing me to equip the Fireshrieker. It also illustrates why I like Myr so much. Both of our decks came out so aggressively because of the turn two Myr. Fangren Hunter was stellar this game. Last, it would have been nice to be able to get a Tel-Jilad Archers with Tooth and Nail if I had an Archers in my deck. While Platinum Angel was obviously game breaking, just getting the Archers with its additional toughness to stop the trample damage of the Clockwork Vorrac the game would have been mine even if MEG had decided to move his Equipment.

I always greatly enjoy being the second one to go in the article. Seeing Ken’s article first instead of vice-versa allows me to tailor my article to address the points he raises. I do agree with Ken’s original assessment that the Archers and Deconstruct are amazingly close in quality. Early on, I would take the Archers all of the time, but later in the draft I would evaluate what my decks goal is going to be.

Nate Heiss found this out the hard way in one early Mirrodin draft. His deck contained four Deconstructs. While this seems awesome, he went 1-2 in that draft. He complained afterwards that too often he would have multiple Deconstructs in hand while his opponent beat him with colored cards. This is the risk of playing too much artifact kill that provides a one-for-one trade at best. Imagine if all of those Deconstructs would have been Tel-Jilad Archers… some of them could have been swinging in for damage while the others held off his opponent’s entire team.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the newest formatting of my article and I hope that I still have a ceiling by the time you read this.

Until next time,

Mike Turian

[email protected]

Team CMU-Togit