Mirrodin Besieged is finally here, and now that many of us have gotten a chance to crack some packs, draft some drafts, and actually play with some of
the cards, it’s time to start finding practical applications for our new toys in the Constructed formats. In this article, I’m going to take an
in-depth look at the cards from Mirrodin Besieged that I believe are likely to have an impact on the Eternal formats, Vintage and Legacy, as well as
discuss where and why I think these cards are likely to be ‘difference makers.’
I don’t see much reason to not just jump right into the thick of it, so away we go…
Ardent Recruit – Legacy Playable
Far and away the most interesting white card for Eternal formats in Mirrodin Besieged appears to be Ardent Recruit. An investment of W, in a deck that
can consistently make the metalcraft work, gets a player a 3/3 ground pounder. Sound familiar? It’s basically a Wild Nacatl that can be played in
an Affinity-style deck. While I think that it’s a stretch to think this guy is going to impact Vintage, I think it’s realistic that Affinity beatdown
decks could take advantage of such a creature.
I have seen Court Homunculus see some play in Affinity decks, and it’s always at least in the discussion when I’m brewing decks of this
archetype—and Ardent Recruit is a huge upgrade to that guy. First of all, in a world of Wild Nacatls, the 3/3 body that can trade on the attack
or on the block is so much better than Homunculus’s 2/2 body that it isn’t even in the same league. The “drawback” of needing
metalcraft to get the +2/+2 bonus is negligible in an Affinity deck in the same way that having a Plains and a Mountain isn’t much of an issue
for Nacatl in Zoo decks.
YEE-HA! Another one-mana 3/3 creature in Legacy—I’m at least thankful it isn’t a Merfolk…
Choking Fumes – Possibly Legacy Playable
Choking Fumes isn’t tremendously exciting, but it’s still worth noting that it’s probably good enough to see some play in Legacy in the proper
context. Firstly, it’s an instant and kind of a unique one at that. The first thing that I thought of with this card is that it would make a really
good Cunning Wish target for any control deck that plays white. Obviously, the conditionality of only being able to use this card to “get”
attackers makes me pit it against Wing Shards for a sideboard slot. However, this card is pretty good at killing a slew of Empty the Warrens Goblin
tokens, so I could see it getting some love in the near future.
Many Landstill mages play with Humility—so, Fumes has some obvious synergies with that card. In addition, it basically undoes an opponent’s
Decree of Justice in the mirror, something that cannot be said for most cards, and is certainly worth making a note of.
The other thing that I considered for this card is that it could be decent in a creature mirror—especially if Tarmogoyfs are involved. One could
shrink their entire team and then make crushing blocks. I know this is a stretch, but I like to be creative in envisioning how cards could be playable,
rather than dismissive. At the very least, the card is pretty unique in what it does, so there’s no harm in at least thinking about it.
Leonin Relic-Warder – Vintage and Legacy Playable
Relic-Warder seems fantastic at doing a couple of things: first of all, in Vintage, this card answers a Blightsteel Colossus—which I think is
going to be a pretty big deal in the near future.
In addition, Fishy mages can simply play this guy and exile a Mox, which seems fine (who wouldn’t play a two-mana Avalanche Riders?)—and
against Workshops, he won’t go wanting for spicy things to remove from the battlefield. Leonin Relic-Warder seems like exactly the kind of
creature that a Vintage Fish deck would want to play, as it deals with most Tinker-bots and has value built in so long as they have at least a Mox on
I also think that this guy could be pretty decent in Legacy, as he can nix an Aether Vial, Mox Diamond, or Enchantress’s Presence—and
because he hits artifacts or enchantments, he’s more versatile than a War Priest of Thune, a card that some people sideboard already. The Legacy card
that Relic-Warder is most directly competing with for play is obviously Qasali Pridemage, which is a card that has already become a staple in the
format. Both cards are very good at fighting artifacts and enchantments—but it’s kind of nice that with Relic-Warder, you only have to pay two
(as opposed to two mana + one to activate) to kill an artifact or enchantment, and it’s also nice that he stays in play to continue the fight whereas
Pridemage has to die to get the job done.
In both formats, the WW casting cost is slightly prohibitive, so I expect that Aether Vial will somehow be involved in making this guy great.
Especially in Vintage, being able to flash him into play in an uncounterable, instant-speed fashion to hit a Time Vault is awesome—in fact,
exiling it so that the blue mage can’t Yawgmoth’s Will for their Vault or lost Mox seems absolutely fantastic to me. I strongly suspect
that the printing of this card may herald a renaissance of Aether Vial Fish in Vintage.
A few years back, Paul Nicolo played Vial Fish to several successful finishes in large-scale Vintage events—I would suggest using some of his
lists as a starting point to figure out how to use Relic-Warder.
- 3 Ninja of the Deep Hours
- 4 Voidmage Prodigy
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 3 Stormscape Apprentice
- 3 Kataki, War's Wage
- 4 Dark Confidant
Anyway, this list gives us a good place to start at how one might construct a Vial deck for Vintage.
My first guess at how to begin constructing such a deck for the modern era would probably look like this:
- 4 Voidmage Prodigy
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 3 Kataki, War's Wage
- 4 Dark Confidant
- 2 Vendilion Clique
- 4 Leonin Relic-Warder
By the way, I love how this deck is obviously built as a Gifts-era hoser, but a lot of his technology has come full circle and seems useful once again.
Stormscape Apprentice and Swords to Plowshares are just as good against Blightsteel Colossus as they ever were against Darksteel Colossus. Maybe
Stormscape Apprentice will once again have a day in the sun—only time will tell.
Also, keep in mind that this card works the same way as Faceless Butcher or Mesmeric Fiend, so if you can bounce him, Astral Slide him out, or kill him
with his enters the battlefield trigger on the stack, he’ll straight-up exile the artifact or enchantment, and it won’t return to play. This cat
is a good card, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he sees a decent amount of Eternal play in the future.
Oh, yeah and one more thing: Relic-Warder kills Oath of Druids, the natural predator of Fish decks.
Team Cats gets a new all-star player.
Really excited about this card!
Neurok Commando – Niche Vintage Playable (meh?)
“Vintage Playable” is perhaps a loose assessment of how good this card probably isn’t. In a world of Cold-Eyed Selkie and Dark
Confidant, this critter is probably contextually worse than other options; however he does have shroud—which is at least something that
distinguishes this card from the other options. Shroud seems pretty well positioned on an Ophidian-type monster, as it protects him from Jace, the Mind
Sculptor’s -1 ability, as well as from Swords to Plowshares—a card that I expect to see more Vintage play with Blightsteel Colossus about to make
his dramatic entrance into Vintage. I can also see this guy being decent in a control mirror match—where neither player has any real answer to
this critter besides to counter it. That being said, I don’t expect Neurok Commando to make but a niche splash in Vintage, if even that much.
Steel Sabotage – Vintage Playable
Steel Sabotage is one of the more exciting Vintage cards in the set, primarily because it’s strong against Mishra’s Workshop decks but also
because it’s a cheap answer to Blightsteel Colossus (costing just U to cast). Also, this card can be tutored up by Merchant Scroll to deal with a
resolved Colossus—which isn’t inconsequential in the least.
In decks that want to play with a bounce spell specifically to deal with robots, this is probably one of the better choices available—and its
crossover applications against a Workshop deck are what puts it over the top. Also, you can’t really beat the fact that it costs only one mana.
At this point in time, I’m of the opinion that all one-mana utility spells are directly competing with Nature’s Claim to make a player’s
deck. While Claim can obviously kill an Oath of Druids, whereas Steel Sabotage cannot, the Sabotage can kill Blightsteel Colossus where Nature’s
Claim is worthless in that situation. Basically, if Vintage cards were stocks, every card that deals with Blightsteel Colossus on the cheap went up a
lot this week.
Treasure Mage – Potentially Legacy Playable
Treasure Mage is a pretty excellent card—we’re all addicted to value, and this guy is the epitome of “Free Val.” Like his little
brother (Older brother? Twin?), Trinket Mage, we pay three mana for a 2/2 body, a free card, and a tutor effect. In general, I think that Treasure Mage
is a weaker card in Legacy than Trinket Mage, simply because there are so many fantastic, cheap artifacts to tutor up: Mox Opal, artifact lands,
Engineered Explosives, Pithing Needle; the list goes on and on.
However, one thing I thought about with this guy in Legacy is that he can search up a Myr Enforcer, which an Affinity player will often be able to play
for free, which doesn’t seem too terrible. Basically, in such a situation, Treasure Mage is 2U for a 2/2 and a 4/4. Not too shabby. Also, one of
the things that I feel Affinity decks have lacked in the past are enough blue cards to support Force of Will, a problem that Treasure Mage and the new
Tezzeret may actually fix in the future.
Off the top of my head, here is where I would start if I were going to build a Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas Affinity deck:
Go for the Throat – Legacy Playable
Well, we finally have a cheap black targeted instant that can kill a black creature and isn’t Terminate. With that being said, black critters
aren’t exactly one of the most popular strategies in Legacy, but it at least gives Swamp mages an option for dealing with opposing Tombstalkers, etc.
I know that I will probably play with at least one copy of this card in my B/U/G tempo deck—as it affords the deck a more varied suite of answers
to different decks. I really like the fact that my sideboard can now have a suite of answers to every type of creature I am likely to face (between
Smother, Doom Blade, and Ghastly Demise), besides of course protection-from-black creatures. Fortunately, there are not very many White Knights
floating around in the metagame.
Phyrexian Crusader – Legacy Playable
Phyrexian Crusader is exactly the kind of card that I think would be a great sideboard strategy against Zoo in Legacy. With protection from white,
Crusader dodges all their Swords, Paths, Bolts, and Chain Lightnings, and the combination of infect + first strike makes him really good at blocking
He’s bad at attacking—but, he might actually be the best “Wall of Denial” effect in the metagame. It’s at least worth
Crush – Vintage Playable
Red has never had a one-mana Shatter effect before, but with that being said, Crush is so much worse than a Shatter in Vintage. Still, the option is
now always open to play with Crush. The problem I see with this card is that it doesn’t kill any of Workshop’s creatures—which are
almost always the only cards that I actually want to kill with my Shatters.
The other problem with this card is that Nature’s Claim is actually like ten-thousand times better, if you can cast it. Crush may have some niche
in Vintage, but I’m going to go on record saying that playing it except in pretty extreme circumstances is probably a mistake.
Hero of Oxid Ridge – Legacy Playable
Good card is good. I’m not sure that this card will be high impact; I almost expect the opposite—but, it’s just such a fantastic card that
it should at least be an option for really aggressive red decks moving forward. It seems really good for alpha-striking people from out of
nowhere—especially if they have some small chump blockers left back on defense on the fourth or fifth turn of the game.
Once again, the card seems kind of niche, but nonetheless, it seems like a pretty good card (having three relevant abilities: haste, battle cry, and
making little guys unable to block); because of this, I’m going to give it the nod on my list.
Green Sun’s Zenith – Legacy Playable
I said earlier that I thought Leonin Relic-Warder was my pick for most exciting Vintage card in the set—well, my overall most exciting card in
the set is Green Sun’s Zenith.
In a Legacy deck filled with green creatures, it’s a tutor that puts a card directly into play, and it gets shuffled back into the deck, so that it can
be redrawn and replayed.
The one thing that I feel really puts this card over the top is that if we play it with X = 0, it can fetch out a Dryad Arbor. Yes, my friends, Green
Sun’s Z is a one-mana Rampant Growth in Legacy. In addition, there are so many fantastic green-creature tutor targets (Loaming Shaman, Harmonic
Sliver, Tarmogoyf, Knight of the Reliquary; the list goes on and on) that I believe this card is going to have an impact on the format and may even
breed its own new archetype. Pick them up while they’re cheap because I could see this card going up in value as people catch on to how amazing it is
over a wide range of different formats.
There are so many awesome green creatures at this point in the game that a Demonic Tutor for a green creature into play is a pretty formidable effect
Thrun, the Last Troll – Legacy Playable
My first thought when I read this card on the spoiler a week ago was: “Oh, power creep—has it really come to this?”
With that being said, it’s pretty clear that Thrun, the Last Troll is a very powerful creature and has pretty sicko stats. 2GG for a 4/4 that is
uncounterable, has troll-shroud, and has regeneration.
In Legacy, it’s often difficult to get to four mana because of Wastelands and the general fast pace of the game, which makes me wonder how much of an
impact this guy will actually be able to make. The one thing that I do know is that Thrun is absolutely lights out against a Counterbalance deck.
Uncounterable and shroud make Thrun completely invulnerable to pretty much all of the ways that Counterbalance tries to deal with monsters that hit the
Viridian Emissary – Legacy Playable
Viridian Emissary is a card that decks running Sakura-Tribe Elder may want to consider moving forward. Although I’m pretty sure this card will not be
high impact, there’s certainly a niche population of decks that may be able to make use of this guy. In particular, I wrote about a Reveillark strategy
a few months ago—and pretty much the only thing I wanted was more Sakura-Tribe Elders. Emissary is also interesting because he can
actually bring some beats into the red zone; at the same time, on defense against an aggro deck, he’s often going to be better than Elder.
Viridian Emissary is the type of card that would really shine against Goblins or Merfolk, where a two-power blocker for value is pretty amazing.
Glissa, the Traitor – Legacy Playable (maybe?)
I’m not officially ready to give Glissa a pass as a Legacy playable card—however, I do think that this card has potential. First strike and
deathtouch working together is pretty amazing in a creature war, and Glissa still has a third ability on top of that. I know that this guy
dies to all sorts of stuff—but other than Tarmogoyf, pretty much everything dies to everything in Legacy.
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas – Legacy Playable, Vintage Role Player (maybe)
I feel like this guy probably won’t splash in Vintage simply because he’s almost always going to be a bad Jace; however, I think that this guy
has big potential in Legacy.
I really like the idea of playing this guy in a more controlling Legacy Affinity deck that plays Forces of Will. Between Tezzeret, Thoughtcast, Master
of Etherium, Trinket Mage, and Treasure Mage, I feel as though a Force of Will Affinity strategy might actually be playable at this point in time.
Tezzeret is such a strong card in this strategy because you can probably pump him out onto the board on turn 3, cantrip him, and protect him with Force
of Will. If your opponent can’t kill him between your end step and their next turn, his ultimate is probably going to be lethal. Also, the
ability to turn artifact lands into 5/5 haste creatures is also nontrivial. I think that this guy will eventually become a consistent slot earner in
Tezzeret is one of those cards where you can almost feel the tension in the air around it—everybody is kind of sitting around wondering how and
where it is going to make a big impact. The card appears to be very powerful; it almost seems like people are wondering “where is it going to be
good?” rather than “is this card going to be good?”
There are a lot of artifacts in this set, and while some of them are only going to be role players and support cards, there are a few artifacts in
Mirrodin Besieged that I think will be real format-changer-type cards in Eternal.
Blightsteel Colossus – Vintage Game Changer
Believe the hype; this card is insane.
As good as people have told you that this card is—it’s probably better than that. With that being said, I think that this card will be just fine
in Vintage and that the format itself can adapt to counteract the brokenness of this card.
The number-one reason why Blightsteel Colossus is amazing and format warping is that if a player Tinkers for it on the first turn, especially on the
play, they have a tremendously high chance of winning the game simply because the opponent is put into the position where they must have an
answer to it or risk packing in the game on the spot.
Also, Blightteel is really good because setting up Tinker + Time Walk will also pretty much end the game. Basically, Blightsteel Colossus is good
because it does something unique: it ends the game with only having to use one combat step.
Now, here is what I would/will do, knowing how powerful Blightsteel Colossus is: I recommend playing with cards that kill it in the maindeck. I think
that it’s pretty much a must that every deck should play at least three cards that can reasonably answer a turn 1 Blightsteel Colossus. The
number-one deck that I think becomes extremely playable with the printing of Blightsteel Colossus is U/W/B Control, and here are the cards I think
players should be looking at in a Blightteel world.
I strongly believe that these are all cards people will be playing with in their decks in the not so distant future. At Vintage Champs last year, I
went pretty deep into the event playing a U/W Control deck that had a removal suite of two Swords to Plowshares and two Disenchants. Blightteel
Colossus changes things a bit, and I would probably switch it up and play Revoke Existence simply because it gets Oath and Blightteel.
I really dislike the idea of having the attitude of: “I’ll just bounce it with Jace,” because the problem with that logic is that
Blightteel isn’t particularly good in the midgame. People who are going to be Tinkering for new Colossus are going to want to be doing it on the
first or second turn. With that being said, I’m very interested to see how the metagame adapts in real life to deal with this robot.
Phyrexian Revoker – Vintage and Legacy Playable
Phyrexian Revoker is one of those cards that just looks good and also probably is just good.
I actually think that this card will probably be better in Legacy than it will be in Vintage, simply because if we look at the cards in Vintage that
usually get Pithing Needled, they’re almost always lands. The inability of this card to hit Bazaar of Baghdad and Wasteland is a pretty big flaw in
Vintage. I almost feel that this card would be much better suited for Vintage if it named only non-mana abilities of lands rather than everything else. Nevertheless, there are plenty of great targets for this card in Vintage: Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Steel Hellkite, Time
Vault, Karn, Silver Golem, and Goblin Welder, just to name a few.
In Legacy, I think that this card is strategically very strong; first of all, two of the best cards in the format are one-mana artifacts that can only
be dealt with evenly using Pithing Needle: Aether Vial and Sensei’s Divining Top. Another aspect of this card that excites me is that it can name
mana abilities, which means that it’s actually a pretty saucy option against Legacy Storm decks, since it can name Lion’s Eye Diamond or Lotus
One last thing that I enjoy about this card is that it preemptively answers Pernicious Deed—while I know that Deed doesn’t see a ton of
play at the moment, it’s probably the #1 card in the format that I feel is criminally underplayed. As the metagame continues to develop and becomes
more focused, I believe that Pernicious Deed will become a much more impactful part of the meta—when this happens, naming Deed with Revoker may
become a fairly common play.
Shimmer Myr – Vintage Playable
I told Steven Menendian that I believe this card is the nail in the coffin for Vintage Storm decks in a Workshop metagame. The matchup of Storm vs. Mud
was already pretty abysmal, but the one legitimate strategy that Storm decks had against Workshop after sideboard was to bring in multiple
Hurkyl’s Recalls or Rebuilds.
Now, if a Workshop Mage is pleased to do so, he or she is able to essentially use Shimmer Myr to take away the end-step Hurkyl’s Recall as an
out—since, even if a player Hurkyl’s Recalls the Workshop player, after the Hurkyl’s resolves, the Shop Mage can simply flash down
Shimmer Myr and then replay all of their Moxes and Spheres to keep the lock going.
With Shimmer Myr in the format, Hurkyl’s Recall doesn’t even guarantee one turn of being able to play spells and Moxes unimpeded by Chalice
of the Void and Sphere effects. Shimmer Myr represents a real shift in the long-established balance between Hurkyl’s Recall and Mishra’s
Sword of Feast and Famine – Legacy Playable
Stoneforge Mystic has made having access to every Sword a worthwhile endeavor, and being able to tutor for Sword of Feast and Famine is no different.
Similarly to Sword of Body and Mind, I feel as though Sword of Feast and Famine is also a weaker card than the Darksteel swords. Yet, with that having
been said, I do think that Sword of Feast and Famine is a better card in Legacy than Sword of Body and Mind. Making a player discard while at the same
time being able to untap all of one’s land is a pretty awesome ability, and black and green are both pretty decent colors to have protection from
More than anything, I believe the new Sword is the type of card that players who enjoy Stoneforge Mystic will play one copy of between the main and
sideboard of their decks. It’s a good card, and people shouldn’t be surprised to see it played in Legacy.
Inkmoth Nexus – Legacy Playable
Inkmoth Nexus is exactly the kind of card that I have a really difficult time evaluating for playability in Eternal. It’s clearly a fantastic card, yet
in Eternal, it’s up against some really stiff competition. For starters, I find it hard to believe that most strategies would rather play Inkmoth Nexus
over Mishra’s Factory or Mutavault.
While infect is a mechanic that I expect to see a lot of play in Block and maybe even Standard, in Eternal there simply isn’t a large enough pool
of cards with infect to make it playable.
The two decks I think that might be able to best use this new manland are Landstill and Affinity. Firstly, Cranial Plating + Inkmoth Nexus is often
going to require just one hit to end the game. The other big interaction is Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas making Nexus a 5/5, which is essentially a
1. If you’re using it to chump block with Crucible of Worlds, it actually shrinks the creature that’s getting virtually
“Maze of Ithed.”
Another thing that’s kind of neat about Inkmoth Nexus is that under an Ensnaring Bridge, a player can drop their hand to zero cards, draw for their
turn, and attack (something that isn’t going to work with Mishra’s Factory).
Also, having a poison win condition will randomly beat people who can gain an arbitrarily large amount of life, play Worship, or use other strategies
that are designed to hose people trying to deal actual damage. Also, just for the record: Inkmoth Nexus turns into a creature with the type Blinkmoth,
so Blinkmoth Nexus can be used to pump Inkmoth Nexus—which is pretty cute.
Inkmoth Nexus could be the kind of card that sees play, but it could also be the kind of card that’s simply a little too weird to be commonly played.
Mirrodin Besieged looks like it has a lot of cards that are going to find their ways into both Vintage and Legacy. On the one hand, there are clearly
cards that seem poised to have a quick, direct, and far-sweeping effect upon Eternal formats: Blightsteel Colossus, Leonin Relic-Warder, and Shimmer
Myr come immediately to mind for Vintage.
On the other hand, there are also a lot of fringe cards that seem like they may or may not show up—but they’re at least worth considering as
possible cards for decks: Phyrexian Revoker, Inkmoth Nexus, and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas.
Whatever happens, the set looks super sick, and I know that I’m really looking forward to playing with the new cards in Eternal.
Make sure not to build your deck cold to a turn 1 Blightsteel Colossus…