Scott has been flopping Magic cards since the days of Arabian Nights - and despite several pauses along the way, he just can't seem to escape the game's clutches. He has made Top 8 at the Tour on five different occasions, including a win at the 2000 team Pro Tour with Gary Wise and Mike Turian. Perhaps best known for his work as Editor at Mindripper and then Brainburst, he is greatly looking forward to letting someone else do the editing for a change. He currently lives in the Sacramento area with his wife Jillian and son Blake.
Yes this event is real, and Scott Johns, editor of MagictheGathering.com, is here today to clear up some misconceptions about the event and to answer some of the more frequently asked questions he’s seen on the forums.
There are lots of potentially great cards in Mirrodin, and it’s been a long time since I remember having such a long list of cards which I’m curious to find out whether they were as strong or weak as initially predicted. Out of all of them, Solemn Simulacrum interests me the most. This card fascinates me deeply. It’s not flashy, it’s not going to win games on its own by any stretch of the imagination, but it is powerful. Most of the other writers and players I respect who’ve discussed this card seem to see it as just”okay.” So far, I find it to be much stronger than that, and I’m eager to find out who turns out to be right.
Mesmeric Orb has a cool and unique effect, it’s well priced, and it takes some very serious planning and understanding to use to advantage. Okay, so I like it from a design standpoint; next is how usable this actually is. Plan A is to build a deck completely around the Orb and challenge your opponent to live in that environment better than you can by either making yourself proof against decking or just making sure your opponent will run out of cards first. Plan B is to use the Orb in a deck that just looks to capitalize off having a fat graveyard. Plan C is to use this as an ambush from the sideboard for archetypes that rely on killing you over a more extended period of time than this card might otherwise allow.
The ability to drop the Lightning Greaves out and then give a new creature haste each turn is quite good (and it’s not just for combat; try these with mana creatures!) and in many cases the untargetability will also be highly useful. The problems come up when other equipment starts showing up and you can’t get the Greaves off so that you can put the other Equipment on (let’s face it, monsters have a scary tendency to die in Standard), not to mention the bigger concern – namely, that the Greaves are outstanding when the first copy hits, and you do want it early, but that second copy is a whole lot less sexy than your second Bonesplitter or Plate.
Auriok Bladewarden is one of the many new temptations printed to make sure you really give Equipment a good look. The problem with these creatures in my mind is that they work against the main things I like about Equipment. Instead of just playing good guys and using Equipment to improve both their influence and staying power, including guys like this means you have to invest so many turns (and permanents) into your development that you have to question whether you’re really playing the kind of game a creature-based attack needs to be looking for.
Dross Harvester strikes me as one of the most interesting creatures in the set. Obviously you can’t just drop this into any deck and expect to succeed, but that’s a very impressive power-to-casting-cost ratio. The cool thing about this card is that he’s interesting when creatures are involved (if you can keep it to your advantage) and he’s also interesting against passive decks (which hopefully can’t race). Using him in each situation requires some specific preparation, however.
A turn 1 Dark Ritual doesn’t reach you to mana you couldn’t rely on – it just gets you there faster. By accelerating a player to things like eight mana on turn 6, you get a different effect, because somewhere around this time a player would often start missing land drops. Turn 1 Hypnotic Specter is very good, don’t get me wrong – but under normal circumstances, you have been able to cast it on turn 3 anyway. In Seething Song’s case, you can cast an Obliterate on turn 6 that might not otherwise have happened until something like turn 11. That’s a very big difference.
Considering how well you’ve got to pick your issues to use Molder Slug – or Glissa, Sunseeker or Creeping Mold or Deconstruct – I have to say that I really like the way this set’s anti-artifact options were designed. Players will have quite a few options to choose from, and those that best understand their deck’s strengths and needs are going to have significant advantage over those that don’t. In the past, there hasn’t often been this kind of functional overlap with so many cards. That kind of decision-making is very good for Constructed, and I hope we continue to see more of it in coming sets.
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Shared Fate, but I’m just not convinced yet. The idea that a heavy control deck with plenty of multi-colored mana can cast this to stump an opponent while allowing you to cast their spells doesn’t make much sense to me, since your deck is going to provide them with the mana to cast your spells as they draw into the deck’s mana – so then it becomes a time issue. In fact, if you’re even a little behind on tempo this card could be fatal, since the opposing deck is less likely to have the answers you need. But along those lines, the real strength of the card may be as a kind of closer in a tempo deck….
I consider Mirrodin to be one of the most complex sets I’ve seen in the history of the game – that’s right, the entire game. Some environments are relatively easy to predict; this one is not, and I’d question anyone who says otherwise. So even though I’ll be covering all the cards in a later review, these are the headliner cards that catch my eye at this early stage – the ones that we have to immediately investigate to see if they’ll be good in Standard.
Since the first day the Legions spoiler hit the web, there has been a scramble to build a good deck that includes Withered Wretch and/or Graveborn Muse. Both cards offer very powerful effects, but each had trouble finding the right team to go with them. After some initial practice with Stephane Damizet’s winning zombie deck, I have to say that I’m quite impressed.
With Scourge looming ever closer, there has been a real crimp in deck analysis for the current Standard format – and judging by my inbox, I’m not the only one wishing there were a few more articles for today’s format. Fortunately, we’ve had some significant events in the last few weeks to give us an intriguing look at how this dizzying environment continues to shape up. Amazingly, the format looks to have become even more diverse.
After nearly two months of solid testing and experience with this deck, I feel it is unquestionably one of the Tier 1 decks of the current field, if not the outright best deck of the field. With reasonable to good matchups against almost everything out there and a very real fighting chance in most of its bad matchups, Wake has what is almost surely the best set of matchups in today’s Standard. In the right hands, it wields awesome power and can completely dismantle many of the decks out there… And so let me show you how to play this powerhouse.
The environment for this year’s Regionals and Nationals events has likely been the single most diverse Standard season the game has ever seen. In such a spread-out field it was difficult to cover all your bases, but the one thing we all seemed to be able to agree on was that the Tier 1 was pretty clearly composed of three decks: R/G, U/G, and ‘Tog. That, ladies and gentlemen, has come to an abrupt end. Both Wake and MBC have risen to dramatically shake up the old guard, and I’ll show you why Wake has joined the top tier by giving you a guided inside tour of what may be the single best deck in Standard today.
In the end, an 8-2 does indeed make it… But alas, it won’t be me this time. I end up in 11th on tie-breaks, which is still pretty damn good for my first tourney in a year and a half, particularly given the size of the crowd that showed up. Still, if you’re looking for a fantastic tourney report and a good idea of how Wake works, look here!