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Posts Tagged ‘Phyrexia’

It seems like you can’t have a new block without some kind of dual land cycle. Scars of Mirrodin is no exception.

Here is the newest cycle of allied colored rare lands.

Not quite what I expected. I was looking for lands which produced only colorless unless a Metalcraft trigger was met. These are not so hot, in my opinion. You’ll want all four to have it in your opening hand, but after turn three multiple copies will slow you down. Control players have better cipt lands to play and the new cycle will only slow the aggressive player down.

In my opinion, they don’t even feel like they belong in Mirrodin.

Okay, okay. It might be too early for me to judge. We still have a lot of the set to see, and who knows, maybe there will be sets of really inexpensive mana producing artifacts or something. These lands could be inexpensive alternatives for the casual player too, though even the fetch lands aren’t all that expensive anymore. For a change.

Everything else seems to be going up in price though. I’m talking about you Elspeth Tirel, Koth the Hammer and even you, Venser the Sojourner.

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While Koth is a new face, the other two plainswalkers visiting the metallic plane of Mirrodin are pretty familiar.  Venser, who is also known as Venser, Shaper Savant, is one of them.

It would only make sense he would show up on Mirrodin, he was a master artificer after all. If that isn’t enough of a tie-in to a plane full of artifacts, he also has experience with Phyrexians, having tinkered with the lifeless husks of Phyrexian soldiers left after the events of Invasion.

So, lets see what he does.

+2 Loyalty: Exile target permanent you own. Return it to the battlefield under your control at the beginning of the next end step.
What does it do? Well, a few things comes to mind.

1. Blink a creature to
a. Trigger any come into play ability it might have.
b. Remove any damage, counters or enchantment on it.
c. Evade any enchantment targeting it (such as Mind Control).
d. Hide it from wrath effects
e. Untap it.
f. Reset any counters on it.

2. Blink a land to
a. Untap it
b. Trigger any come into play effects it might have
c. Remove any damage or counters on it (it can happen).
d. Hide it from wrath effects.
e. Reset any counters on it.
f. Trigger landfall effects.

3. Blink an artifact to
a. Untap it.
b. Reset any counters on it.
c. trigger any come into play effects it might have.
d. Hide it from wrath effects.

4. Blink an enchantment to
a. Choose a new target.
b. Reset any counters on it.
c. Choose a new condition (color, creature type, ect…)
d. Hide it from any wrath effects.
e. Untap it (I think there are a few).
f. Trigger any come into play effects.

5. Blink a planeswalker to
a. Reset any counters on it.
b. Hide it from wrath effects.

Oh, I almost forgot he did other things.

-1 Loyalty: Creatures are unblockable this turn
What does this do? Enables you to sneak your creatures in to chip away at an entrenched opponent, or deal the final blow.

-8 You gain an emblem with “Whenever you cast a spell, exile target permanant”‘
What does this do? Gives you an insurmountable advantage, even if Venser leaves play. With the ability to exile a permanent; any permanent you want (including lands) with every spell you cast, it will be virtually impossible for your opponent to make any headway.

Overall, Venser does what a lot of good cards have done over the years; give you an incremental advantage which really add up. This strategy has proven to be pretty successful in the past, and an being able to blink any damn permanent makes this blink effect more powerful than any before them.

The game is always full of creatures and other permanents with come into play abilities. Many aren’t that great on their own, but when subject to the kind of abuse Venser can facilitate,  they become powerful tools. Remember Momentary Blink? Remember Revillark? Both became integral parts of successful decks; decks which usually remained viable until rotation.

None of those cards ever had a clause which allowed you to basically lock out a game just for using them a couple times. Venser’s final ability can. With the ability to cast an un-targetable O-Ring with each spell, you can turn the tide of a game and make sure your opponent doesn’t gain any ground for the rest of the game.

I may like Koth of the hammer a whole lot, but my money is on Venser as the “big” planeswalker of the set. Abusing the hell out of your permanants will be so fun.

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Mirrodin is no stranger to planeswalkers. After all, the artificial plane was originally made by one. Now, three more planeswalkers will be visiting the metallic world. What will their impact be on Mirrodin and Standard?

While two of the new planeswalkers are familiar, there is one fresh face; Koth of the Hammer. Koth looks like a local boy, a member of the Vulshok tribe, to be exact. Mountain barbarians, known for their metalworking skills as well as the fiery magic they use in battle.

Lets see what homeboy brings to the table.

+1 Loyalty: Untap target Mountain. It becomes a 4/4 red Elemental creature until end of turn. It’s still a land.
What does this do? Untaps a mountain and makes it a 4/4 hasty monster as well as a land. The body on these elemental lands makes them pretty relevant; able to take down blockers and tangle with all but the biggest critters. Don’t forget, they still tap for R.

-2 Loyalty: Add R to your mana pool for each Mountain you control.
What does this do? essentially doubles the amount of Red mana you can produce. Having access to powerful spells and creatures earlier than usual is a pretty tried and true path to victory. This second ability can also make up for any elemental land monsters lost in combat by making remaining mountains do double duty. It can also help with mana screw.

-5 Loyalty: You get an emblem with “Mountains you control have T: This land deals 1 damage to target creature or player.'”
What does this do? Gives you the ability to pay 1 R to deal one damage to target creature or player for the rest of the game. The effect persists even if Koth bites it. Mountains played after the ability is triggered can still deal damage. These killer mountains can do a lot of things like clear the board, sneak in a few extra points of damage each turn or deliver the final, fiery blow. I would call this a pretty fair victory clock. No opponent can stand for long with this kind of firepower trained on them.

Koth is my favorite planeswalker of the set. I like it when I know exactly what a card does, and Koth doesn’t put on any airs. Koth is a powerful tool for aggressive decks. He helps you to put the pressure and keeps you from running out of gas, something that has always plagued aggressive players. Koth does this masterfully, by giving Mountains extra utility. With him in play, lands can be monsters,  produce extra mana and burn your opponent’s world down around him. Running out of burn spells or relevant monsters isn’t so much a problem. Drawing too few lands isn’t so much of a problem. A land glut turns into a boon.

I’m not going to speculate on whether or not Koth will make mono red a sustainable archtype or not. I will say Koth addresses  some of the failings of mono red and other agressive decks, but doesn’t keep other decks from evolving to stymie red’s tactics as they usually do.

Koth will make playing red a lot of fun. Imagine combining him with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle? There are plenty of fun, aggressive red creatures out there too, not to mention some fun new ones, like Galvanic Blast.

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I’m really excited about Scars of Mirrodin but not for the same reasons a lot of other people are. Sure, I love to see new cards. I also love a block rotation, It clears the accumulated film from the Standard pool. What I’m mostly excited about, though, is the return to something familiar

Mirrodin? F*** it. Phyrexia is back.

When I first started playing Magic, the game had a story. It wasn’t just a quick glimpse though a single block such as what we’ve seen since the end of the Invasion block. It was a story spanning many blocks. In this story, there was a strange artificial plane called Phyrexia. Players mostly caught glimpses of Phyrexia through a smattering of artifacts in various sets, often offering great power but demanding an equally great sacrifice.

However, Phyrexia and it’s inhabitants would soon force their way onto the plane of Dominaria, the plane where the Magic storyline took place. The  final set of the Mirage block, Weatherlight, featured the creation of the Weatherlight’s crew and their search for the pieces of the Legacy in preparation for the Pyrexian invasion.  The Rath cycle continued the story of the Weatherlight and the assembled heroes as they assault the plane which would be the platform for the attack. The Urza’s block focused on the planeswalker Urza, mortal enemy to Phyrexia’s master,  Yawgmoth, and his search for allies and artifacts capable of holding off the impending Phyrexian invasion. The Masques block continued the story of the Weatherlight’s crew (kind of). Finally, the Invasion block saw the actual, massive attack on Dominaria and  Yawgmoth’s eventual defeat at the hands of Urza and his allies.

Hints of the who the Phyrexians were hidden in cards since the Ice Age block.  Three blocks focused on the coming invasion. The invasion took an entire block for itself.

I drifted out of magic by Apocalypse anyway, so I didn’t notice the story of the Dominaria I knew come to a close with the victory of the Coalition over Yawgmoth. Apparently, with the Odyssey and Onslaught blocks, players traveled to a harsh, future Dominaria. Wizards then dropped the storyline entirely, opting to stell short stories as each block visited an entirely new plane.

Since then, not much of the old plane has been seen. Karn, the Silver Golem, creator of Mirrodin was a key player in Phyrexia’s defeat. In Time Spiral block, players got a glimpse of a shattered Dominaria; a victim of centuries of struggle.

It was during Time Spiral I started playing again. I was a little depressed by the story. Not that I was a huge Melvin. I didn’t read the books. It was just neat to have this evolving storyline and characters to follow. It had to end sometime. I’m sure Wizards and the players were getting tired of Dominaria. After all, 4 blocks and the Weatherlight set is a long time.

It just never felt the same though. I felt like those people who came home to find a strip mall built on their old neighborhood. Sure, the new stuff is cool, and the game is about the cards, after all. I just felt as if something was missing. It is hard to invest yourself in a plane if you’re only there for a year. The stories were neat, the villians were cool, but they just weren’t as cool.

Call it the “Darth Maul Effect”. It is just hard for something to have an impact when you know it isn’t going to be around much longer.

Darth Vader Yawgmoth, now there’s a villain. Pyrexia knows how to start an epic struggle. Nice and slowly. I’m glad to see it creeping back. A familiar villain can be a lot of fun.  

Mirrodin is a natural fit for Phyrexia. It is an artificial plane, like Phyrexia was. It is constructed of metal, much like Phyrexia was. Karn, was instrumental in Yawgmoth’s defeat, and it is through him the new Phyrexia will born. 

Of course it won’t be like the old Phrexia, obviously. Yawgmoth is dead. His followers and the plane destroyed. Only the plane’s foul, oily taint survived. It is, in nature, like old Phyrexia, and has begun to change Mirrodin.

I may be looking at things through ichor-tinted glasses, but even the new mechanics are Phyrexian in nature. Sure, they’re Mirrian too, but how different are the too planes, really?

Metalcraft: If you control 3 artifacts, do X. So far, we’ve seen metalcraft give bonuses and activate abilities on creatures an artifacts. The cumulitive power of artifacts is obvious on Mirrodin, but the Phyrexians were partly machine too, and their sheer numbers gave them power as well.

Imprint: Discard X to give X some quality of the discarded X. We haven’t seen a lot of imprint abilities yet, but usually they involve creatures mimicking or becoming another and artifacts gaining the ability to cast discarded spells. As I recall, mimicry was one of Phyrexias favorite tricks.

Infect: Creatures (and possibly spells) with the infect mechanic do damage as either -1-1 counters (to other creatures) or poison counters (to players). I believe 10 poison counters equals a game loss, and as of yet there is no way to remove them. This one is purely Phyrexian. Infectious plagues and terrible poisons were Phyrexia’s most terrible weapons, and their deployment killed thousands of Dominaria’s defenders in an instant. Hundreds of thousands died slowly from the after effects. Yawgmoth himself, once a healer and a medicine man, manifested himself as  a colossal cloud of toxic gasses during the final battle with Urza and his champions.

 

Proliferate: The Proliferate mechanic adds counters to anything that already has counters. The player controlling the permanent or spell with proliferate gets to choose which permanents this effects. Did I mention Phyrexians relied on great numbers and the spreading of plagues?   

While I’m gushing about Phyrexia, a few other familiar things come with Scars of Mirrodin. The return to the plane Mirrodin, for one. I believe it is the first time we’ve returned to a plane since the Onslaught block. Charge counters return, as do the Myr. The set, of course, will be mostly artifacts, but colored spells do exist. Spell bombs are back again, as is the indestructible Darksteel. All of Mirrodin’s races are still there.

Mirrodin is exciting too, I guess. I didn’t get to play Mirrodin 1, so I’m looking forward to the artifact centric Mirrodin 2.0.  I just wouldn’t be as excited if Phyrexians weren’t involved.

The cards are looking pretty cool, too.

Check out the official Wizards site for information on Scars of Mirrodin, and keep an eye on MTG salvation if you like set spoilers. Rich? Check out Starcity Games and start buying spoiled cards at horribly over-hyped prices.

Top: Geth of the Vault, with Phyrexian enhancements. Bottom: Tsabo Tavoc, commander of the Phyrexian invasion force. Interesting, no?

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While I’m still staring at the standard format to try and see what, if any, new decks are going to pop out before Worlds, I thought I’d do a quick run-down of the new Magic products currently available and in the pipes.

Duel Decks: Garruk V.S. Liliana
MSRP: $19.99
available now

The latest duel deck to be released and the second to feature two opposing planeswalkers. The savage Garruk pits lifeforce at it’s most savage against the necrotic magics of Liliana. Each deck has 60 cards, which are playable in any format in which they are legal. Six of the cards have brand-spanking new art, including foil versions of the two namesake planeswalkers.
Instructions for playing each deck are also included.

A few cards of note: Liliana Vess, Garruk Wildspeaker, Ravenous Baloth, Skeletal Vampire, Mutilate, Bad Moon, Rancor, Basking Rootwalla, Wild Mongrel, Blastoderm.

For a complete spoiler, check it here.  

Premium Deck Series: Slivers
MSRP: $34.99
available Nov 20th.

The first of a series, the first premium deck is an all-foil deck featuring everybody’s favorite symbiotic race: Slivers. Some of the most powerful hive-minded critters are contained in this set, which includes 5 rare cards and 1 mythically rare card. Also includes a spin-down life counter (I hate that name, it’s a d20 for Christ’s sakes), foil deck box and instructions for playing. A must have for people who like Slivers.

A few cards of note: Sliver Overlord,  Crystalline Sliver, Rootbound Crag

For a complete spoiler, check it here.

*Originally I said Sliver Queen and Sliver Legion were in this deck. They are not. I could have sworn I saw them on the spoiler.

Deck Builder’s Tool Kit
MSRP: $19.99
available May 21, 2010

A starter-kit for the new player who wants to start building his own deck, the tool kit is essentially a “collection in a box”. Each kit contains 100 basic land cards, 125 “semi-randomly” sorted cards, and 4 booster packs from the most recent expansions, as well as instructions on building a deck and a box to put it all in.
Each toolkit will contain different cards, so each box will present, as they say, “unique deckbuilding challenges”.

Duel Deck: Phyrexia V.S. the Coalition
MSRP: $19.99
available March 19, 2010

Another yet-to-be-released duel deck featuring the horrors of Phryexia and the armies of the coalition. According to the WotC site, the Phryexian deck will be mono-black and the coalition deck will feature every color. Of course, the decks will feature new card art on select cards. It might be fun to relive some of the cards from some of the coolest blocks around: Invasion and Urza’s Saga.

Notable Cards: No idea, but I do see a picture of what looks to be a Phyrexian Negator and another of Urza.  

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