IS IT EASY BEING GREY?
To me, the most interesting development of artifact creatures in Mirrodin has nothing to do with the flavor of new races like the Alpha Myr, or how you can equip them to make them tougher, or even how one of them can prevent you from losing outright.
Rather, it's how some of them sport some color in their grey, stuffed suits.
I did some cursory research and couldn't find an artifact in the past that required colored mana, to either cast or use them. (One possible exception could be Emblazoned Golem, which required one of at least three or four different colors in order to be any good.) If readers think up any other examples, toss them up on the message boards.
In any event, Wizards has certainly not pushed anything like this to the extent they have in Mirrodin. This set has two full cycles of creatures - the creature-type "replicas" (like Soldier Replica) and the golems - that depend upon colored mana to get a full effect. Put next to the non-creature artifacts in Mirrodin (e.g., the Lifespark Spellbomb), players can bend certain artifacts toward certain colors like never before.
Just last week, our play group tested Mirrodin with the Solomon draft format. (If you need more information on Solomon draft, see my recent limited format articles in the archives.) This was our first time not only with Mirrodin, but the Solomon format in general, so we're no experts. But I'll point out that those players who were willing to disrupt their opponent's color plan and just drive for the best cards got a great deal of support in Mirrodin's artifact creatures, and they seemed to do the best in one night of play. A Pewter Golem is still a decent 4/2 body, even if your first swamp hasn't shown up yet. But of course, the Pewter Golem isn't the most impressive Golem in town.
AN ONGOING FLING WITH THE ENEMYWe'll take the rest of today to look at Mirrodin's pre-eminent artifact creature: Bosh, Iron Golem. Once again, I did a quick historical check - no iron golems in Magic's past! (Please, let's not talk about how a Steel Golem would not be possible without iron ore.)
But beyond flavor, there are plenty of reasons to play this legend. In the days of Urza's Destiny (and note the Eighth Edition reprint), Bloodshot Cyclops was an absolute menace, setting up the possibility of a Fling every turn. Fling effects require you to sacrifice a creature, but most Magic players have gotten used to dealing with that sort of drawback.
Bear in mind that Bosh, Iron Golem can only fling artifacts. So we'll add his older, redder cousin to round out a deck's capabilities:
Each of the creatures in this deck have a little extra power to offer for their cost. That comes in handy when you start whipping them at opponents in the late game. The Oath of Ghouls replenishes your stock of fodder, while Downhill Charge is a nice way to ramp up the power of whatever you fling. Dross Scorpion can give you a nice finesse play as you get more mana - Bosh, Iron Golem can fling the Scorpion (or another artifact creature), and then untap to fling something else.
The Shattering Pulses are in there because we're in a new age, people.
Rare replacement: Oath of Ghouls and Oversold Cemetery are fairly interchangeable. Haunted Crossroads will be slower but has its own charms. (Don't try to use the Crossroads and the Oath in the same deck; they'll work against each other. Use one path or the other.) You can replace Ball Lightning with any turn three creature with haste - Shivan Raptor, Suq'ata Lancer, whatever. The Monkey Cage is just a funny, flexible tool - Bosh, Iron Golem can fling the cage, or the Cyclops can fling the monkeys (please, no emails). Anyway, you can replace that card with whatever tickles your fancy. Finally, the Clockwork Dragon is just something strong in the air - you can use any dragon or other hefty flyer you happen to have.
There are certainly more ways to toy with Bosh, Iron Golem's capabilities. Two of the more intriguing possibilities involve Thran Forge or Ashnod's Transmogrant, artifacts I'm a bit surprised didn't make it into Mirrodin. (Each would have to be under a different name, of course, for flavor reasons.) But the good folks at Wizards can't think of everything all at once, and it's not like it's impossible for us to go out and find them - they're hardly chase rares. (In fact, they're not rare at all. Don't pay more than $1.50 for the uncommon Forge, and get the Fifth Edition common Transmogrant reprint for 25 cents, at any reputable local dealer or online store. The Forge is better, since Bosh, Iron Golem can fling it for a Lightning Bolt.)
Once you have a deck that can fling any creature, you should also have a deck that can destroy any creature. I'll start it off for you:
The rest is up to you. The Multiplayer Card Hall of Fame continues next week!You may reach Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org. He cannot give deck help, and he has nothing to do with the cards Wizards makes or reprints - not even when it comes to silly decisions about Thran Forge. He would, however, reprint Argivian Blacksmith and Basalt Golem. And Soldevi Adnate…well, no, maybe not Soldevi Adnate…