When I first started writing for this site almost a year ago, I did an article on some cards in Onslaught that I felt people were undervaluing at the time. With Pro Tour: Amsterdam now on the horizon, and everyone trying to piece together their own set of card evaluations for that tournament, I think it’s about time I rewrote that article for Mirrodin.
Last year, I focused mainly on cards I felt were being underrated – but there seems to be a nearly equal amount of cards that are being picked too high in Mirrodin so we’ll address that as well. I think my big push card last year was Threaten, too, and look how that one turned out.
Let’s begin with some of the sleepers of the set.
Now, I’ll have to admit, when I first saw this guy I just laughed. That was because I didn’t take enough time to actually digest what he does and instead found the fact that he was a 2/2 for seven pretty pathetic. I mean c’mon – they printed Chimney Imp in this set, which is a 1/2 for five! On the Chimney Imp power curve, the Forger would be correctly costed as a 2/2 for seven.
Anyway, after Jason bashed me a few times with the Wurmskin at CMU, I started to gain some respect for him and actually try to come to grips with what he does. The Forger provides a number of positive benefits that aren’t readily apparent upon initial review.
First, in the very worst case scenario, he is a 5/5 for seven. In a format where Rustmouth Ogre is a ridiculous card just because of his size, this worst-case example actually seems pretty good.
Now that we’ve realized that the worst thing that can possibly happen when you cast this guy is still a fine play, what happens in the many times when he’s at his best case? Essentially, I see the Forger as two creatures. One is a 3/3 Haste and the other a vanilla 2/2. Obviously it’s deeper than that, but the ability to simply put the counters on a flier that is already working on your opponent’s life total is just nuts. What about if you distribute them around your men in such a way that all of them can attack and there are no good blocks for your opponent? Sometimes his effect is like a mini-Crusade, and since you know what blockers your opponent has, you can effectively distribute in a manner that will allow at least one punishing attack step before the poor guy has a chance to respond with more troops.
How about some specific card combos? Try combining the Wurmskin with Spikeshot Goblin. The game tends to degenerate into the question of whether or not they can peel that Terror or Arrest after you drop the counters on old Spikey. Who needs equipment anyway?
What about Crystal Shard? Yes, I know it’s eight mana. Yes, it does win the game once it starts working.
Honestly people. This guy is actually a rather high pick in the ranks of Green commons, and I wouldn’t be unhappy playing two copies in a deck and possibly three if I have a lot of acceleration. Even if you’re just making a huge creature or giving all of your guys a bonus, the Forger has a lot to offer in a format seemingly devoid of fat creatures.
In the past, cards like this have almost always been unplayable. They’d get sideboarded in the most obscure of situations, but nobody really cared to maindeck them. Apparently, this logic has carried over to Relic Bane. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? Just because the cards of the past were unplayable maindeck doesn’t mean you should automatically assume the same will be true of the Bane. This format makes Relic Bane into an overly welcome addition to any starting forty with Swamps. Your opponent is always going to have an artifact to put it on, and it is going to put him on a non-negotiable clock.
The unfortunate downside is that it’s a little worse against red decks because of the possibility of Krark-Clan Grunt, Atog, Shrapnel Blast, or even just a Shatter on their artifact to remove the Bane.
Most of the time, though, the Bane will just kill them unless they can break through your defenses or remove it. It’s certainly a much higher pick than I see people rating it as, and it often circles the table late in the draft. Don’t let this happen. Take it, counter it – just get it out of the damn pack. If you don’t, you’ll be sorry.
Looks innocent, doesn’t he? Looks more like a morph creature than anything… But his ability has won me at least four drafts to date. The reason this guy is good is because of the inherent lack of enchantment removal in the format, with the only others off the top of my head being Creeping Mold, Altar’s Light, Annul and Tempest of Light. Mold, Annul, and Altar’s Light are most often going to be killing artifacts, so we have to rely on Elf Replica to kill that crucial enchantment.
And yes, there are crucial enchantments in this format. I’m talking Arrest, Domineer, Relic Bane, and possibly Inertia Bubble. The most common is certainly Arrest, but having an Elf Replica in your deck for every Arrest they have seems like a fine plan to me. Basically, you need guys in this format, and this guy can double as a lifesaver in certain situations. Even though the number of enchantments are very few, they are all pretty potent and need to be answered. Elf Replica is the man for the job.
Well, [author name="Tim Aten"]Tim Aten[/author] already revealed this one – but if you still haven’t realized it, this card is quite insane. If you remember Choking Tethers, this card is about ten times as powerful as the old cycling tapper. Granted, you can cycle to get out of landscrew, but the Beam will just win the game most of the time.
Tim hit on most of the important aspects of this card that you should take a look at in his White review. Some of the things I think he neglected to mention, though, are that it is particularly good in this format because the relative norm in creature counts per deck is fourteen. That isn’t many guys. When you take into consideration that some may have attacked or tapped for other reasons and will then be locked down by the Beam’s second ability, you have a real goodie in your bag of tricks.
Okay, I know it’s a rare. For some reason though, it seems like nobody likes it. I really don’t know why this is the case, as if you’d just play with it once or play against it, you’d realize just how annoying this card is.
If you cast it early, they’ll be skipping their attack for quite some time, giving you time to set up whatever evil plan you’ve been concocting. Where this guy really shines, though, is in the mid-to-late game. At this point, the board is well developed, and your opponent wants to be casting spells and applying some pressure in the damage race. Fatespinner simply says”No Sir!” to this notion. Unless, of course, your opponent is willing to forego his draw step. Not likely.
Anyway, the board is loaded, hopefully you’re hitting with some sort evasion creature (Neurok Spy or Somber Hoverguard, anyone?), and your opponent will have to start skipping his main if he has any hope of damage racing you. I’ve personally found this stupid creature has lost me a couple games simply because I’d draw an equipment after skipping my main and just never be able to get it on the board and still keep attacking to win the game. Once you get wrecked by the card, you’ll see what I mean.
Might as well get the other rare I plan on discussing out of the way while we’re at it. This guy is another underrated monstrosity, and I can’t really understand why. Maybe people just don’t understand his ability? Maybe they’ve never seen him in a Neurok Hoversail or tossed to the dome with Grab the Reins?
Seriously, though. Even if you just cast him, eight times out of ten he is going to be better than the Fangren Hunter you picked over him. I know he doesn’t trample, but he also doesn’t die. It’s very difficult for your opponent to tap down enough permanents by the time he’s hit the board, and soon they’ll be chumpblocking.
I wasn’t originally going to discuss this card, as most of you know that it’s very good. However, I still don’t think it gets the respect it deserves. In white, you want equipment. Lots of it. When you get lots of cheap equipment like Bonesplitter, Leonin Scimitar, Golem-Skin Gauntlets, et al, this guy provides an efficient beater in the early game. Pop ’em out there and load him up with some gear. Did I mention he taps Myrs and Artifact lands? Oh, and yeah, large artifact creatures like the ever-popular Goblin War Wagon. If you think this guy is good, you’re halfway there. After playing with him some more I can officially say I made a mistake in my last”Walk with Mike” article when I said he should’ve taken Vulshok Berserker over the Transfixer. Transfixer is most definitely the pick.
Yeah, unfortunately, he’s playable.
This is another card, like the Forger, that was relegated as trash early and that opinion is hard to change for people. The fact of the matter is, he’s a 3/3 colored creature that actually has somewhat of a relevant ability. I find the 3/3 colored part to be the best part, but information is good at any rate and I wouldn’t mind knowing my opponent’s hand. This is not to say that you should go draft a deck of five Wanderguard Sentries, but it’s certainly fine to play one and probably better than whatever other card you’re running over it.
Journey of Discovery
This is one of the better land searching effects we’ve seen in the common slot in the past few years and it really should be picked and played more often. I know in our CMU drafts it definitely gets respect, simply because it thins your deck and allows you to find lands of your splash color.
This format is very kind to the splash (or even the double splash), and if that’s the case, you may wanna pick up one or two of these boys to help smooth your mana. Myrs in splash colors are great, but they don’t always get the job done on their own.
Wail of the Nim
While I have yet to actually cast this spell (in a hundred and fifty drafts…), I have been wrecked by it a few times and I have sideboarded it into my deck. It seems to me like a trick you run when you don’t have all the equipment and other non-creature stuff in your deck, or something you sideboard in against Nate Heiss or one of his clones since they’ll likely include nine Myrs in their deck. The regeneration effect is what draws me most to the card, as you can pull off some nice combat steps when all of your guys end up surviving.
All I’m saying here is to be aware of it, and board it in when it’s relevant. The situation arises more often than you’d imagine.
I really didn’t wanna use this card as an example. For the past few weeks, Nick”Beverly” Lynn has been claiming he wrecked me with it (which he kinda did) in a game where I was flooded and probably dead to begin with. It certainly got me thinking, though, as every time I’ve seen someone cast it, it’s been rather good. You definitely play it if you have Isochron Scepter and white mana in your deck, and it seems okay to maindeck sometimes in situations where it’s not expected. It seems more like a surprise than anything, but it could have some potential if you’re lacking tricks like I said above with Wail of the Nim.
Now that we’ve covered what I believe to be some of the cards people are currently undervaluing, let’s move on to the cards that are being overrated as of now.
When I first saw that this card was coming back, I was a little worried that it might actually be good this time around. Thankfully, though, my fears have been partially assuaged as the card is simply too unreliable.
The big perk here is that it only costs one mana and is easy to keep up most of the time. My argument here is that anyone good is going to wait for that one crucial turn when you tap out to cast their Loxodon Warhammer or whatever else they have that is going to wreck you. And yeah, you’re gonna tap out, or you’re just gonna lose anyway most of the time.
The problem with Annul is that none of us want to be stuck with it in our hand. This leads to the usual eagerness to cast it, and often on the first decent artifact that goes on the stack. This is obviously a big problem with the card, as anybody with a brain is going to cast their worst spells first if at all possible. If you sit on Annul too long, they’ll just beat you with the garbage creatures that you didn’t counter and you can sit and look at the artwork all day while it goes to waste in your hand. The last big problem with the card is if they get their powerful artifact down before you actually draw the Annul. All of these make it very situational and sub-par in my opinion, and far worse than any of the actual artifact destruction.
Now, don’t read me wrong on this – Annul is still a playable card, and I’ll usually run one in any blue deck. But please, please, please, don’t let me catch you splashing it (which is even more situational, as you need to draw the mana and the Annul early enough for it to be relevant), and please don’t run more than two in a deck. Yeah you can side em in, but really, two is the sky’s limit in any maindeck and I usually will only run one.
The only really good thing about this card is that you can bluff it when it’s not even in your deck, which is often better than actually having it.
I lost my first two drafts in this format. Badly.
You wanna know why?
My brain was still in Onslaught mode, where the entire game revolves around tempo. In both of the first two drafts I did, I had at least one copy of this card in my deck and tried to use it to gain some sort of tempo. Newsflash: Mirrodin Limited is much more about fighting the long attrition battle and much less about tempo. The set is slow enough that if you waste a Regress to get tempo, you’re probably going to lose unless your opponent is either manaflooded or your draw is just insane with or without the Regress. In every other situation, though, you need to play Regress in a way to get some sort of card advantage.
While the card is still fine in general – and much better than Boomerang, since it only has one blue in the casting cost – it just doesn’t do enough most of the time to warrant inclusion. You want bounce, go for Aether Spellbomb – and yes, you’ll get them late.
If you are going to run this card, however, make sure you play it in a way that some sort of card advantage is achieved by its casting. The best example here would be to Regress the equipment off of a Skyhunter Cub and ambush it since it loses flying.
Most of the time, you should be running something else in your deck.
Well…this isn’t exactly Gravedigger.
If I had a penny for every time I’ve seen this guy be cast and return nothing, I’d probably be able to retire. I mean, yeah, there are decks with a number of Myr Enforcers or whatnot where the Scavenger is going to be pretty solid. A lot of the time, though, your black decks are filled with Nim Shriekers and very few targets for this guy and you just gotta run ’em bare.
You can do a lot better than 2/3 for four. Trust me.
I will make a very debatable statement here and say that U/R Affinity is probably the best draft archetype simply because white is overdrafted. All of the colors are fine in Mirrodin for sure, but I seem to consistently win with U/R.
That said, wouldn’t Thoughtcast be a good card in that deck? Well, yes, and no.
Personally, I don’t like running this card unless my deck is already pretty bad or I have a load of artifact lands. Even then, sometimes it gets cut as it just feels like a waste of a slot where I could be including a more powerful creature or trick.
Outside of the U/R Affinity deck, I don’t see how you can really play this card effectively. It requires a bit of effort to even be good (when it costs one or two mana), and even then once you’ve accomplished this board where Thoughtcast is cheap to play, it only draws two cards. I feel like the card is mocking you because you put all this effort into making it good, and then you don’t get very much out of it. This is one that I’m always happy to cut.
Last week I received an instant message from someone who’d read my last Walkthrough article with Mike Turian. He had one major complaint:”You rated Krark-Clan Grunt way too low.” I have no problem with debating things like this, and I don’t really like playing this card if I can avoid it.
But this kid went on to argue,”The Grunt is almost as good as Wild Mongrel.”
At this point I decided it was time for bed because I had to have been seeing things or something. How could you ever compare this sub-par Grey Ogre with what is definitely one of the top 5 creatures of all time?
I realize this isn’t the popular opinion, but I sure got a laugh out of it.
The Grunt is actually a fine card, but I wouldn’t really pick it over anything good and I don’t like putting it in my deck.
The Poor Man’s Shelter. Originally I figured this card would be pretty sexy, but testing has proved that it is only mediocre. The real deal is the one that I keep repeating, that you don’t really have room for too many mediocre tricks when you wanna be playing removal, creatures, and equipment. Some people swear by this card, while it rarely makes the cut for me. The fact that it can protect any permanent is nice and I’d probably run it to protect Empyrial Plate or something if I had it – but most of the time, it’s riding the sidelines with a possible shot at being boarded in.
Well, I’ve read a number of reviews that called this card a bomb. What exactly are you smoking, calling this thing a bomb?
I’ve had the card a number of times, and it’s been fine because I’ve always had around four pieces of equipment in my deck to help power him up. I’ve seen people take this over Bonesplitter, Shatter, and Skyhunter Cub, though, and I can’t ever say I’d agree with that.
It’s a fine surprise card, but please don’t go around toting it as a bomb – it’s a five-mana 2/2, for God’s sake.
That’s all I’ve got for this week, if you’d like to see an article on something, don’t hesitate to email me about it and I’ll be happy to get back to you. Also, I’ll be starting to look for Walkthroughs when Mirrodin is released on MODO on the 17th.