Bridging the Gap

Posted in Feature on April 17, 2008

By Chris Millar

Hi, all. We're in a bit of a no-man's-land, you and I. I'm sad to say that I don't have a preview card to show you this fine Thursday. And with Lorwyn block shrinking in the rearview mirror and our arrival in Shadowmoor still days away, I'm not sure whether I should take a spin around the new block or satisfy the completist in me and finish exploring some of the still-underappreciated cards from the old one. On the one hand, Shadowmoor has only been partially spoiled (usually not the best time to go on a deckbuilding spree with a set), but on the other hand, my usual deck laboratory, Magic Online has gone darker than the storybook world of Lorwyn. So, after much thought, I decided to do a bit of both.

Through the Twinning Glass

Bad rares are like poker hands. You've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. Perhaps you could fold 'em into a Menger sponge, but I'm not sure if that is what Kenny Rogers was trying to get at. On top of knowing all this, you've also got to know when to walk away and know when to run. That's a lot to keep track of, but if you can keep all four of those wise nuggets in your head, you will certainly experience less frustration when you're trying to break a particularly stubborn reject rare. Sometimes, if you can break on through the Wall of Resistance, you will come out the other side face-to-face with either the Wall of Hope or the Wall of Wonder, depending. That's how I felt after spending a head-poundingly long time trying to figure out if Twinning Glass was just an awkward version of Mirari combined with a not-quite Retraced Image-on-a-stick, or if it was something far, far worse. The answer, you might be surprised to learn, was 42. Ah, but what was the question?

Twinning Glass
If you were to ask yourself, "Hey, self, what can I do with all of these Twinning Glasses that took Garruk Wildspeaker's rightful place in the rare slot of an inordinate number of my Lorwyn boosters?" you wouldn't have to look much further than a semi-recent feature article by Rules Manager and popularizer of my chunky-style perfume, Mark Gottlieb, to find the answer.

Way back in the days of Onslaught, there was a series (not a cycle, really) of creature cards that allowed you to search up another copy of themselves when they came into play. You just play the creature, find a copy of it and put it in your hand, and then play the copy with Twinning Glass for one measly mana. Easy as pie. Avarax is probably the best of the bunch, but Screaming Seahawk, Daru Cavalier, and Embermage Goblin are, um, also part of said bunch. Mark also mentioned that Infernal Tutor is a great complement to Twinning Glass, since, sans hellbent, it can only find a card that you already have in your hand. Finally, there's the interaction with the Lorwyn block evoke creatures. Evoke is just an alternate play cost, so you can evoke your Cloudthresher, say, and it will have been "played." The second one is a single mana and an activation of Twinning Glass away from hitting the table. And that's it. To be honest, I thought the Mysterious Case of the Twinning Glass was closed.

But then something strange happened. I felt a curious stirring in my utility belt (that's where I keep my Lorwyn Player's Guide) and decided to follow this hunch down whatever darkened, potentially bombo-filled, alleyways it led me through. It was one of those rare brainstorms that feels like divine inspiration, but ends up being riddled with old-fashioned human error. My first question was, "What spells do I want to play multiple times per turn?" and the answer struck me like a Lightning Bolt to the brain: Warp World! Decks built around this Ravnica (and now Tenth Edition) rare are probably at their best when they can play Warp World repeatedly, generating more permanents each time while winnowing opposing permanents at the same time. I put together a deck with many of the usual suspects (Mogg War Marshal, Siege-Gang Commander, mana-accelerating permanents) and by the time I was in a position to pull off my "brilliant" combo, I realized that I had made a couple rather large miscalculations. One, you can't go half-way with Twinning Glass. It's all or nothing. Mirari, for comparison, works with any instant or sorcery. Twinning Glass requires much more effort to use it effectively. And two, I somehow overlooked the fact that all of your lands will be untapped after a resolved Warp World, making the Twinning Glass discount only slightly exciting. In the end, I decided that both rares needed to hog the spotlight if they were to be effective, so I abandoned the concept. Maybe there's something there, I don't know.

My next big idea was to pair Twinning Glass with cards with flashback. It seemed so good and so obvious that I quietly thought to myself, "Oh, my God! Why didn't I think of this before?" before leaping out of the bathtub and running through my living room shouting, "Hypergenesis!" You could just play your Mystical Teachings, say, and then play it from your graveyard with Twinning Glass. Any card with low mana cost and a high flashback cost, like Chainer's Edict or Strangling Soot, would be perfect. Why hadn't anyone ever built that deck? Well, when you ask yourself that question, it's a good idea to reread all the cards involved because there's probably something you're missing. In this case, I missed that Twinning Glass only allowed you to play cards from your hand. Boo! Still, after all that, Twinning Glass has some synergy with flashback cards. They simply give you more opportunities to play the first spell, even though they can't be used as the "twinned" one. Flashing back a Roar of the Wurm and then playing the seven-mana version from your hand for one mana seems reasonably exciting. Of course, we can probably do better.

Howling Wolf
Like Avarax and company, the "Howling Wolf" cycle from Nemesis works well with Twinning Glass. Nesting Wurm seems like the most exciting card of the lot. Relentless Rats allows you to play any number of copies of it in your deck, making Twinning Glass more likely to have something to "twin." At the same time, if you're going to use a semi-expensive artifact with Relentless Rats, it should probably be Thrumming Stone. Cards that can be returned to your hand, either from play or after your spell has resolved, seem like they'd be good with Twinning Glass. Wild Wurm and Shivan Wurm fit into the former category, while the Darksteel Pulses (Pulse of the Grid, Pulse of the Tangle, etc.), Hanabi Blast, Petals of Insight, or any buyback spell fall into the latter. Spells with alternate play costs can make Twinning Glass extra efficient, since those cards usually have exorbitant mana costs. Whether you're convoking out a Siege Wurm, pitching cards to Fury of the Horde, or unsuspending a Greater Gargadon, getting the second copy for just one mana seems like a great deal.

Meanwhile, the split cards continue their parade of bizarre interactions. If you play one half of a split card (say, Rise), you can use Twinning Glass to play the other half of your second copy (in this case, Rise). Crime seems like the most exciting one (Boom is a close second), since the two halves have a lot of synergy if you play Crime first. (Playing Crime first and "twinning" Crime won't do a whole lot, since you will not be able to adjust the value of X to anything other than zero. It's fine if you're playing against Affinity, or something with a lot of tokens or Moxes, but that's about it.)

Twinning Glass also has some fringe uses. If you're playing a mirror match (How apt!), but you have Twinning Glass "technology," you can piggyback your opponent's spells. I was almost tempted to build a 500-card deck (with Planar Portals) to see if this was even remotely viable, but I was simply too exhausted from leaping out of the bathtub earlier. In the end, I built a nearly mono-black control deck using many of the ideas I just discussed. Some cards were left on the cutting-room floor, including Night Dealings, Bringer of the Black Dawn (any repeatable tutor seems good with Twinning Glass), and Panoptic Mirror.

Gemini Man

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If that deck is a too straightforward for your liking, you could always try something a touch more convoluted. Who could forget the old Teller of Tales, Blinking Spirit, Twinning Glass, Thief of Hope, March of the Machines, and Carnival of Souls combo? Just watch out for Decimate.

Okay, maybe Twinning Glass isn't really cut out for real Magic.

Twinning Isn't Everything

It's nothing. Rather, it's good with nothing. By that I mean it's good with that 100% moniker-free fellow from Unhinged. You know, the infamous Titleless Joe from House of Cards #153. You know, this guy:

According to the official Unhinged FAQTIWDAWCC penned by Un-Rules Manager (Rules Un-Manager?) Mark Rosewater, "You may change this card to have the name of any Magic card in existence."

It doesn't have to be a creature, so while Twinning Glass works just fine with creatures, I'm going to avoid doing so here if only because Mr. Gottlieb already went down that road, making use of such semi-unprecious gems as Bifurcate, Mask of the Mimic, and Retraced Image along the way. Nope, I'm going to call the creature without a name something a little more exotic than Akroma, Angel of Wrath. Despite already being used as a pseudonym by a friend of mine, I'm going to call our nameless friend "Searing Wind." Maybe "Time Stretch."

All you have to do is change the long underscore's name to Searing Wind while it's in your hand, play it, and then play use Twinning Glass to play the nine-mana Searing Wind. Two readers, Russell C. and Darrell, put two and two and Twinning Glass together, pairing the Lorwyn artifact with the evoke guys and some way to bounce them repeatedly, such as Vedalken Mastermind or Crystal Shard. This seems like a good time and place to take advantage of this interaction, since you can also use the Mastermind or the Shard to bounce your nameless guys for more consistent spell-cheapening. It also seems like a great place for Embermage Goblin, not only for its interaction with Twinning Glass but because you can also use it to tutor for a man with no name by changing its name to Embermage Goblin while it's still in your library. Just for the heck of it, I added a Thrumming Stone on the off-chance that you want to use _____ to ripple into other copies of either of your big spells. Here's where I ended up:

Glass Shards

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That's My Q To Build a Combo Deck

Leech BonderFinally, it's time to take a peek at Shadowmoor. Why don't we start with the brain-melting "Q", the new untap ability given to a number of creatures in the set. Jakob (a.k.a. NinjaVulture), Tiago M. from Portugal, and Noel d.C. all wrote in independently to express excitement over Shadowmoor's Leech Bonder, an aquatic Serrated Biskelion and one of the cards you can find in the preview archive. Since it has the lowest activation cost of the known cards (a single blue mana), it would seem to have the most combo potential. With some mana-free way to tap it (Psionic Gift or Paradise Mantle, as the three of them suggested), you can use and reuse Leech Bonder's ability until your blue mana runs out. If you're using Paradise Mantle (or Utopia Vow), you will never run out of blue mana, and you can use Leech Bonder's counter-shuffling ability as mana times as you want. With a Judge of Currents in play, you could gain infinite life, but I've already used the Judge for such purposes. Instead, I'm going to actually make use of the counter-moving ability. Note that you can move any counter, not just -1/-1 counters (although that is a fine option).

In this case, I'm going to use Leech Bonder (and Paradise Mantle) to move time counters off of Chronozoa and on to Leech Bonder itself (where they will promptly do nothing). With unlimited counter-removal, you can cause your first Chronozoa to "vanish," which will produce two copies of the Illusion. Cause one of those two to "vanish" by removing all of its time counters, and you will make two new copies. Each time through, you will gain a Chronozoa token. Stop when you get to infinity. The beauty of this combo is that you can pull it off whenever you like, once you have all three pieces in play. If you would prefer to win instantly with your infinite Chronozoas, you can sacrifice them to something like Blasting Station, Altar of Dementia, or Goblin Bombardment, or just give them haste with Anger, Fires of Yavimaya, or, heck, Surge of Zeal. You can also make an infinitely large Tidewalker by transferring all of those time counters on to it.

For an added dash of wackiness, and since I wanted to use Trinket Mage anyway, I added single copies of Lifespark Spellbomb and, since I wanted to use Tolaria West, Dark Depths. Like a said, Leech Bonder can move any kind of counter, but it can only move them from creatures. By animating your Dark Depths with Lifespark Spellbomb, you can use the Bonder-Mantle combo to remove all of the ice counters, thus freeing the tentacled Avatar from its icy prison.

Robbin’ Leech

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Next week, when the entire set has been spoiled, we'll dip (nay, dive) right into Shadowmoor. I always like hearing from readers, even if I'm not always able to reply, so if you have some fun Shadowmoor combos you want to share, or you stumble across some wacky interaction at the Prerelease, feel free to share it with me by clicking the link at the bottom of the page. I'll do what I can to work the best of them into House of Cards in the coming weeks.

Until next time, have fun in the interim.

Chris Millar

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