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I mentioned in my last article, some sort of weenie deck is bound to make an appearance as soon as Scars of Mirrodin is legal. artifact weenie decks and mono-white decks using metalcraft triggers and equipment to bolster critters are all popular ideas. However, nobody yet knows what shape the weenie deck will take. Perhaps (and very likely) it will take several forms before convelescing into an archetypal deck.

when i think of a scars weenie deck, I can’t help but think of adding red. White has plenty of good weenie creatures, but I feel too many of them are artifact dependent. Red, on the other hand, has lots of options which are already good, but could be better when equipped. A good mix of both white and red could make for a formidable deck, in my opinion.

Red has some great weenie creatures which have already proven themselves. Goblin Guide, Plated Geopede, Cunning Sparkwhatever and Goblin Bushwhacker are great creatures. Each one seems like it could benefit from a nice set of Adventuring Gear or Sword of Vengeance. Each one could also put down a good beating on their own if a white cohort like Kor Duelist needs a machete badly. Newcomers like Goblin Gaveleer and Spikeshot Elder are great additions as well.

The Gaveleer already has trample, and he gets a +2 +0 bonus just for having gear on him! Strap him with some adventuring gear and you’ve got a 3/1 trample, not to mention if you hit landfall. The elder is incredible too. I realized how much of a bad-ass he was during the pre-release. Paying RR1 or 1 damage seems like a lot, but he can do it without tapping, and his damage t scales directly with his power. Put a machete or a Basilisk Collar on that.

Red also has more proactive spells. With Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring gone, white is stuck with mostly situational removal. Lighting Bolt doesn’t care what your opponents creature is doing. Attacking or at home with the family, it does 3 damage. We still have Burst Lightning, Punishing Fire and Forked Bolt. Newcomers like Galvanic Blast and Arc Trail are nice too.  Red also keeps a little stash of utility spells which can steal troublesome creatures or create dudes from unused equipement.

While red provides some good options for the weenie deck, it will really come down to what works out the best. Maybe playing a zillion artifacts to hit metalcraft triggers on bladewright or sunchaser is the way to go.  Maybe Glint Hawk is better than Goblin Guide. Or maybe there will be a combination of both. Maybe it won’t matter because Koth powered Titan Ramp decks will be blowing everythign up. We’ll find out soon enough.

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I did not do well at the Scars of Mirrodin pre-release. After two losses and a tie, I decided to throw in the towel. I had a load of fun, though my card pool kind of sucked. I can’t entirely blame luck. I got a bit too overexcited about the amount of removal I had and decided to try and cram it all in withought thinking about how many monsters I had. After going the first game with very few creatures, I counted and found I had a whole 9 of them in the deck.

Stupid.

I did learn a lot. Scars of Mirrodin is very different from Alara and Zendikar block. It isn’t about smashing big monsters into each other. It is about smashing little monsters into each other after giving them swords.

Sure, there are a few big gay bombs, but the average creature is going to be a bit smaller than what we are used to. Instead of having all sorts of cool abilities, they’re going to have cool abilities you only get to use if you have a buttload of artifacts in play. Who knew Mirrodin would revolve around grey cards?

All in all, it is interesting to see how different the game is with Scars. The abundance of artifacts and artifact creatures almost make what color you play irrelevant, so the colors you do play had better be good. Equipment is crucial. Have lots of artifacts. Turn to Slag and Shatter are some of the best removal spells in the set. Play more artifacts. Colored creatures suck unless they have metalcraft triggers or are equipped with something.

Well, not all of them.

I also got the chance to talk to people about specific cards in the set and what their plans were for the upcoming rotation. Everybody seemed to like Elspeth and Koth, but didn’t like Venser (more on this later). Everybody was talking about playing white weenie or tokens with Elspeth and turn 5 Destructive Force plays with Koth (more on this later). Everybody loved Wurmcoil Engine and Grand architect.

I think I’ll go back and try the release party this upcoming Saturday now that I have more of a feel for Scars. In the meantime, I’ll be watching to see how the metagame looks to be shaping up.

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The pre-release is fast approaching and the entire Scars of Mirrodin set has been spoiled. Here are a few things I’ve thought of as I prepare for the upcoming battle.  

Metalcraft
Metalcraft artifacts count themselves.

Imprint
Cards used to pay the imprint cost are exiled, not put into the graveyard.

Infect
Creatures with infect do not deal damage in the traditional sense, but they must be able to deal damage in order to confer a poison or -1-1 counter. A creature with infect cannot lower an opponent’s life total.

-1-1 Counters/effects
Creatures reduced to 0 toughness die even if they have indestructible or regenerate.

Yes please.

Proliferate
Only permanent or players with a counter of some kind already on them have a counter added by  the proliferate mechanic. The counter added is of the same kind already on them. You choose the permanents receiving counters.

Things to Remember

There is currently no way to remove poison counters from a player.
-1-1 counters can be removed by removing a creature from the game.
Artifact destroying spells and effects can double as creature removal in Mirrodin.
Much of the set is artifacts and artifact creatures; you may be able to choose colors based more on strong removal
Liquidmetal Coating can turn your opponents non-artifacts into artifacts too, opening them up for artifact removal
Furnace Celebration only works if you sacrifice a permanent for another effect; you cannot simply sacrifice a permanent to deal damage.
Volition Reigns can target any permanent.  
Venser is an auto-win.

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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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