The Prerelease Survival Guide, Darksteel Edition

Now, the important things to look out for are the horrible, nasty, tricksey tricks that your opponents may spring upon thee in an attempt to send you into the X-1 bracket. First, I’ll list the combat tricks. Remember, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of rares, because you won’t see them nearly as often as you will the following commons and uncommons.

Ladies and jellybeans, I present to you the shortest prerelease survival guide, ever. Well, to date anyway. I’m sure one day I’ll type the words;”run, run for your life. That is all” and the Knut or whomever his successor is by then will post it because, quite frankly, I have a gun to their head. No really, I do.

But why? Why is this one to be short? I’ll tell you right now, I can feel my forearms burning already from typing what you see above. Whatever it is I did in a past life to deserve this painful RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury), I’m very sorry, and it wasn’t me, it was Taeme.

(Or something.)

Anyway, another reason for keeping this short is the full spoiler isn’t available at the time of writing. Not that it’s a good excuse, but smoke and mirrors! Bang! Flash!

First things first, a little about Mirrodin Limited. Some of you will know this, but I know for a fact that many of you reading this don’t keep in touch with this kind of thing, and could do with a quick tutorial. Mana bases used to be all about the seventeen land in your forty-card deck, and in a way it still kinda is, but there are some exceptions. With straight Mirrodin, many people were playing as few as fifteen and fourteen land, and still drawing their mana. A good rule of thumb is for every Talisman of X and mana creature that costs two mana or less (i.e. the Myr from Mirrodin), that you have can reduce your land count by .5 of a land. In other words, if your deck has two Silver/Gold/Iron/Leaden/Copper Myr in it, you can run sixteen land. If it has four of them, you can run fifteen.

(Mathboy:”But, but…”)

Shut it Mathboy, I was just getting to the bit about odd numbers of non-land mana cards. If you happen to have three Myr/Talismans in your deck, you can hardly reduce your land count by 1.5 now, can you?

Mathboy, put the scissors down!

So your land count then becomes 16.5 or 17.5, depending on what your deck needs from it’s mana base. Is it mana hungry? Go with 17.5. Aggro and cost effective? Go with 16.5. A piece of trash that should never have been opened in the presence of children and or old people? Go with 15.5 and pray for the mise.

Just remember that if you’re going with 16.5, you may have to mulligan a little more aggressively to get the desired start with your land. Listen to your inner [author name="Ken Krouner"]Ken Krouner[/author] and throw that hand back!

Of course, the other reason for mana bases being easier to manage could be the fact that many of your spells don’t require colored mana to be played. Fancy that!

Argh, must keep this brief, for the sake of my arms and hands. Now, the important things to look out for are the horrible, nasty, tricksey tricks that your opponents may spring upon thee in an attempt to send you into the X-1 bracket. First, I’ll list the combat tricks. Remember, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of rares, because you won’t see them nearly as often as you will the following commons and uncommons.

(Card texts are from mtgnoobs, err… I mean mtgnews.com)


Echoing Courage – 1G

Instant (C)

Target creature and all other creatures with the same name as that creature get +2/+2 until end of turn.

Stand Together – 3GG

Instant (U)

Put two +1/+1 counters on target creature and another two on another target creature.

Test of Faith – 1W

Instant (U)

Prevent the next 3 damage that would be dealt to target creature this turn, and put a +1/+1 counter on

that creature for each 1 damage prevented this way.

Stir the Pride – 4W

Instant (U)

Choose one – Creatures you control get +2/+2 until end of turn; or, until end of turn, creatures you control gain”Whenever this creature deals damage, you gain that much life.”

Entwine 1W

Hey, now that I see the combat tricks together like that, I can see a nice wee cycle there. To avoid having these cards turn your board position into a bood blath, is to note when your opponent (who has between two to five mana open) sends a guy, or maybe even a bunch of guys into a fight that may or may not seem like good times for you. At least it’s only Green and White spells that can rain on your parade, eh? Well no, creature removal can turn things sticky too. If your slightly smaller guys gang up to put the hurt on some big fella, and one of your smaller chaps goes sniffing around your graveyard instead, not pulling his weight in regards to that bigger gent, well, the other smaller guy is gonna get pastered, isn’t he? The following cards could very well cause this kind of traumatic experience:

Purge – 1W

Instant (U)

Destroy target artifact creature or black creature. It can’t be regenerated.

Barbed Lightning – 2R

Instant (C)

Choose one – Barbed Lightning deals 3 damage to target creature; or Barbed Lightning deals 3 damage to target player.

Entwine 2

Echoing Decay – 1B

Instant (C)

Target creature and all other creatures with the same name as that creature get -2/-2 until end of turn.

Pretty straight forward, but I think the following deserve special mention for their inherent ability to create card advantage out of thin air. A little like Soul Nova does, if you will.

Unforge – 2R

Instant (C)

Destroy target Equipment. If that Equipment was attached to a creature, Unforge deals 2 damage to that creature.

Murderous Spoils – 5B

Instant (U)

Destroy target non-black creature. It can’t be regenerated. You gain control of all equipment attached to it.

And while we’re on the subject of messing with their Equipment.

Oxidize – G

Instant (U)

Destroy target artifact. It can’t be regenerated.

Not dramatic, but effective. Think of a 5/5, swinging past your 3/3 without a care in the world. What a shame it would be, if all of a sudden, for one Green mana, that 5/5 was then only a 2/2? I suspect your 3/3 may have something to say about that, don’t you?

The next category I like to call the Falters, funnily enough, after the card;”Falter.” They generally make one person’s guys run past the other person’s guys, often ending stalemates with a prolonged period of shuffling and the starting of another game.

Nemesis Mask – 3

Artifact – Equipment (U)

All creatures able to block equipped creature do so.

Equip 3

Tanglewalker – 2G

Creature – Elf Shaman (U)

Creatures you control are unblockable as long as defending player controls an artifact land.


Metal Fatigue – 2W

Instant (C)

Tap all artifacts.

Magnetic Flux – 2U

Instant (C)

Artifact creatures you control gain flying until end of turn.

Some of those work a little better than others, obviously. For instance, tapping all the artifacts during their end step may only tap a third of their critters, but giving all of yours flying may cause all of yours to sail over unobstructed. Just remember that they may be able to give their creatures flying, too. Or in the case of the Tanglewalker, somehow chow down on any artifact lands they control and make it once again, a fair fight.

Leonin Bola – 1

Artifact – Equipment (U?)

Equipped creature has”T, Unattach Leonin Bola: Tap target creature.”

Equip 1

The bola isn’t too flashy, but it could be better than you may be giving it credit for. Your two worstest guys tap their two bestest guys each turn, while not being super-strong at finishing the game quickly, is still very effective.

Speaking of finishing the game quickly, there are a few finishers, including one spell based on the old and ever popular”Fireball.”

Burden of Greed – 3B

Instant (C)

Target player loses 1 life for each tapped artifact he or she controls.

Fireball – XR

Sorcery (U)

Fireball deals X damage divided evenly, rounded down, among any number of target creatures and/or players.

As an additional cost to play Fireball, pay 1 for each target beyond the first.

No wait, it is Fireball.

Here is a random creature enchantment. I assume it’s there just to make sure that Elvish Replica is still playable.

Carry Away – UU

Enchant Equipment (U)

When Carry Away comes into play, unattach enchanted Equipment.

You control enchanted Equipment.

And finally, the last two cards that don’t fit elsewhere; a counterspell…

Vex – 2U

Instant (C)

Counter target spell. That spell’s controller may draw a card.

…And a bad card.

Inflame – R

Instant (C)

Inflame deals 2 damage to each creature dealt damage this turn.

Inflame generally means throwing away your little guys in an attempt to get something out of a card you probably shouldn’t be playing. That doesn’t mean someone isn’t going to throw their little guys at your bigger ones to try and sucker you with this.

And the playability of Vex? You won’t care if your opponent draws a card after you counter their game winning (or not) bomb. Once you’ve countered their Indestructible 11/11 Colossus, there’s very little chance they’ll draw another one, even if for some reason they get to draw ten cards.

Oh yeah, a quick word on Indestructible before the cut-glass-under-the-skin pain causes me to pass out. If you don’t know already, it’s a not a keyword, it’s just a word with a specific meaning, like unblockable. It means the creature or permanent cannot be destroyed. At all. Damage will do nothing to them.

But do not panic.

Indestructible permanents can still be removed from the game by Altar’s Light, tapped by Icy Manipulator and Auriok Transfixer, given –X/-X by Irradiate, sacrificed to Barter in Blood, and enchanted by Arrest, and Domineer.

And if you don’t have any of those spells? Who cares, I’m betting it’s very unlikely that it will come back to bite you. But if you do have those spells, try and make sure you play them.

Ack, the pain, and so on.

Have fun this weekend, and don’t do what ever it is that I, or for that matter Taeme did that caused me to suffer so.

*passes out from the pain*