Through a Glass Awesomely

Posted in Feature on April 10, 2008

By Chris Millar

Howdy, all. It's that time of year again: spring! Around these here parts, it means a few specific things. The Toronto Maple Leafs are getting ready to hit the links, while their loyal fans bemoan the fact that the Leafs' championship drought inches closer to the half-century mark; the Toronto Blue Jays are about to lose half of their lineup to season-ending injuries; and the Toronto Raptors… Well, who knows what they're doing these days (besides raising my blood-pressure)?

Raptors 235, Livestock 0

Springtime in southern Ontario also means one very important thing: No snow! (Apologies to Ottawans and others who are still buried.) Not only am I wearing shorts right now, but I actually played basketball outdoors the other day, without the aid of a shovel or a pry bar to dislodge the ball from the mud. A lovely time was had by all involved (i.e. me), despite the fact that due to my sedentary lifestyle I felt like Joe Pesci waking up in a cornfield the next morning. But at least I could do it, at least I had the option.

That's the thing about spring. It's full of possibities. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, the Leafs are golfier. Animals feel friskier, human beings feel livelier (and probably friskier), gets preview-ier, and my segues become hackier.

Besides spring, another thing that is rife with possibilities is my preview card. Have you ever wanted to kill an Angel with an Insect (or, for that matter, a Leper)? Have you ever wished you could play with ten copies of your favourite creature? Have you ever wanted to kill your opponent with Walls, but thought Rolling Stones was too easy? Have you ever felt helpless while your poor Elves are being held back by a Moat of some kind and your opponent is beating down through the air with [insert flying fatty here]? Well, if the answer to any of these is yes, consider leveling the playing field with this gem:

Some notes:

  • Each other creature copies the printed values of the targeted creature, plus any copy effects that have been applied to that creature. They won't copy other effects that have changed the targeted creature's power, toughness, types, color, or so on. They also won't copy counters on the targeted creature (they'll each just retain the counters they already have).
  • If the targeted creature is itself copying a creature, each other creature will become whatever it's copying, as modified by that copy effect. For example, if you target a Vesuvan Doppelganger that's copying a Grizzly Bears (a 2/2 creature with no abilities), each other creature will become a Grizzly Bears with the Vesuvan Doppelganger ability.
  • This effect can cause each other creature to stop being a creature. For example, if you target an animated Mutavault (a land with an activated ability that turns it into a creature), only the printed wording will be copied -- the "becomes a creature" effect won't. Each other creature will become an unanimated Mutavault.
  • Noncopy effects that have already applied to the other creatures will continue to apply to them. For example, if Giant Growth had given one of them +3/+3 earlier in the turn, then Mirrorweave made it a copy of Grizzly Bears, it will be a 5/5 Grizzly Bears.
  • If the targeted creature is a token, each other creature copies the original characteristics of that token as stated by the effect that put it into play. Those creatures don't become tokens.
  • As the turn ends, the other creatures revert to what they were before. If two Mirrorweaves are played on the same turn, they'll both wear off at the same time.

Frankly, I don't really know where to start. There are plenty of ways to mess with combat using Mirrorweave, turning the most lopsided victory into mutually-assured destruction. You can certainly muck up any number of scenarios that seem promising for your opponent, and, judo-like, use their strength against them. Of course, those are all reactive uses which have to be taken case-by-case and are hardly predictable given a casual environment. Instead, let's take a look at some proactive uses for Mirrorweave. With nearly 5000 creatures in Magic (according to Gatherer), there is no shortage of options, so why don't we start with one of the simplest:

Mana Creatures --> Fatty

In a dream world —- a Timmy's dream world, mind you —- your board would consist of a lot of tokens (since that's the easiest way to get many creatures into play quickly) and one creature you'd like to copy. Say, a bunch of Goblin tokens and a Shivan Dragon. You would then use Mirrorweave to turn all of your little Goblins into massive Dragons and attack for the (over)kill. While this isn't a wholly farfetched scenario (all it really takes is a Siege-Gang Commander and a Shivan Dragon), you can accomplish much the same thing in the very common situation alluded to in the subheading. That's right, just play something like Birds of Paradise into Yavimaya Dryad into Spectral Force, and by turn four you could be attacking with 24-power worth of simulated man-broccoli! Flamekin Harbinger into Smokebraider into Spectral Force could accomplish the same thing, if, by some miracle, you could make the mana work. Replace the Birds and the Dryad with two one-mana Elves and a Heritage Druid and you could swing for 32!

Now, you'll have to be careful in any of these situations, because Mirrorweave will also turn any opposing creatures into Shivan Dragon or Spectral Force. The good news is that Mirrorweave is an instant, which gives you some flexibility. You can play it after blockers are declared or not declared, for example. You will also have the upper hand if you simply have more creatures than your opponent, plus you know that Mirrorweave is coming so you can prepare accordingly. Your opponent might want to race you and be tapped out as a result. Against an accommodating enemy, ready to drop a turn-four Wrath of God perhaps, you can simply swing for the fences.

Lords A-leaping!

Imperious Perfect
When I first saw Mirrorweave, I thought, "Which creatures do I want to have a lot of? Which creatures get better the more copies of them I have in play?" There are numerous answers to this, but it didn't take me long to hit upon "lords." Cards like Elvish Champion and Imperious Perfect that pump up creatures of a certain type and are that type (that type being Elves, in this case) are great templates for Mirrorweave's super-cloning. For starters, it's not uncommon to have a handful of Elves and an Elf "lord" in play. It's easier than ever now that we can make Elf tokens using a variety of means. Imagine for a minute that you played a Llanowar Elf into Imperious Perfect into Hunting Triad on your first three turns. If you then Mirrorweave them all into Imperious Perfect, you'll have five 2/2's that get +4/+4, giving you a whopping 30 points of power on the table. If you replace the Perfects with Elvish Champion, your creatures will also get +1/+1 for each creature your opponent controls (since the Champions boost all Elves, not just your Elves).

I don't want to get too hung up on Elves, even though I clearly have an out-of-control Elf addiction. I would be remiss if didn't mention some other "lords" that are actually on-colour, namely Lord of Atlantis and Merrow Reejerey. It's not too tough these days to make a lot of Merfolk tokens. Summon the School does the job well and it does it repeatedly. Pretend you've played Summon the School twice and that you have a single Reejerey in play. Not only will you be able to turn everything into Reejereys, but just imagine what you can do with that many Reejereys in play! Every time you play a Merfolk spell, you'll be able to tap or untap five freakin' permanents (or the same permanent five times)! Seems good to me. Copying other creatures in the Merfolk deck seem just as exciting. Imagine having five copies of Judge of Currents, Fallowsage, or even Merfolk Looter in play.

Meanwhile, Mirrorweaving a Timber Protector can provide a nice foil for mass removal (more on that later), while multiple Sunrise Sovereign give you a little extra boost and promise to end the game quickly. While not "lords" exactly, any of the power and toughness-enhancing Slivers make nice targets for Mirrorweave, although, like Elvish Champion and Lord of Atlantis, your Sinew Sliver, Muscle Sliver, Blade Sliver, Bonesplitter Sliver, and Might Sliver will pump (and get pumped by) your opponent's creatures. Furthermore, Slivers with combat-based triggered abilities (Essence Sliver, Brood Sliver, or Synapse Sliver) are fine Mirrorweave targets since their triggered abilities are cumulative. For example, if you control four Essence Sliver, each one will have four instances of lifelink and will therefore gain you twelve life per Sliver per combat. Each Brood Sliver would produce four Sliver tokens and each Synapse Sliver would draw you four cards, given the same number of starting Slivers. Sweet! Greatbow Doyen is a more recent "lord" that both pumps up others of its kind and has a nifty triggered ability that becomes devastating when each creature you control has multiple instances of it. As always, you'll have to be careful with your Mirrorweave, lest it backfire horribly.

Wilt-Leaf LiegeIn a similar vein, Mirrorweave works well with creatures whose power and toughness are determined by other copies of itself (Relentless Rats), other creatures that share its type (Krovikan Mist, Doubtless One and company from Onslaught), or even other creatures, period (Keldon Warlord, Scion of the Wild).

Perhaps the most exciting "lord" to copy is the recently previewed Wilt-Leaf Liege. It has a relatively huge body to start with (most "lords" are 2/2's) and it gives other copies of itself +2/+2 since it is both a white and a green creature. If you play Mirrorweave with two creatures (one of them a Wilt-Leaf Liege), they will become 6/6's, if you have three creatures, they will be 8/8's, and if you have four creatures, they will all become 10/10's! Here's an early stab at a Mirrorweave deck using Wilt-Leaf Liege, some of the Ravnica Block token makers (and hybrid cards), and some of the green-white hybrid cards from Shadowmoor that have already been spoiled, like Rhys the Redeemed, Shield of the Oversoul, and Wilt-Leaf Cavalier. (I'm really hoping that Shadowmoor gives us a Wilt-Leaf Chamberlain and that it destroys all artifacts when it comes into play. Take that, Uktabi Orangutan!)

Thou Wilt Beat Down

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Thwarting Sweepers

Walker of the Grove
One of the tricksy, reactive things you can do with Mirrorweave that I want to talk about is how it can foil board-sweeping spells like Wrath of God. All you need, among your army of dudes, is at least one creature that has a nice leaves-play or is-put-into-a-graveyard-from-play ability. If you have a bunch of mana Elves that you used to power out a Walker of the Grove, for example, a Mirrorweave in response to a Wrath of God will leave you with a bunch of 4/4 Elemental tokens. Of course, your opponent will also get a 4/4 for each creature he or she controlled, but you should still come out ahead. Your opponent is the one playing the Wrath, after all. Replace the Walker with a Weatherseed Treefolk, and all creatures will be returned to their owners' hands. Replace it with one of the Shadowmoor creatures with persist, and they will all come back into play. There are tons of creatures you can use to punish sweepers, from Floating-Dream Zubera to Mistmoon Griffin to Rukh Egg to Mudbutton Torchrunner.

Mirrorweave as Makeshift Sweeper

You can even use Mirrorweave as quasi-Wrath yourself, although with Mirrorweave's "nonlegendary" restriction, you can't take the easy way out and fry everything with the "Legend rule." You'll have to do something a little more complicated. Turning everything into Prodigal Pyromancer seems funny, transforming the game state into a Reservoir Dogs-esque Mexican standoff. Mirrorweaving a Lightning Crafter can accomplish the same thing, while giving you a better chance to send lethal damage to the dome. Note that you won't have to champion anything with your new Lightning Crafter, since the copies are not coming into play.

Phantom Centaur
Copying a creature with 0/0 base stats (like Phantom Centaur or Clockwork Hydra) will result in a lot of dead creatures (provided the creatures aren't being enhanced by some other means, like +1/+1 counters or Gaea's Anthem), with the copied creature being the ultimo hombre. That's because becoming a copy of such a creature is different than coming into play as a copy of that creature (see: Clone).

Creatures that you have to sacrifice at end of turn also allow you turn a Mirrorweave into a Wrath of God. These are usually red creatures like Blistering Firecat and Spark Elemental, but other colours have dipped into this "mechanic" too (Ichorid, Groundbreaker). Mirrorweaving your own Skizzik is pretty slick, especially if you've paid the kicker. At end of turn, all other creatures will die, leaving you with your Skizzik. Preliminary reports from those high up on the rules food chain suggest that any other creatures with kicker costs that have been paid (Thornscape Battlemage, Kavu Titan, etc.) will also live.

If you Mirrorweave a Covetous Dragon, Tethered Griffin, or Stenchskipper, all creatures whose controller doesn't control an artifact, enchantment, or Goblin will be sacrificed. Less impressively, Mirrorweaving Glitterfang or Viashino Sandstalker will cause all creatures to be return to their owners' hands at end of turn. So far, my favourite creature to pair with Mirrorweave is this guy:

Scalding Salamander

Whenever it attacks, it deals one damage to each other creature without flying. To truly clear the board, you'd have to turn each creature into a non-flying, one-toughness creature. Oh, wait, Scalding Salamander is a 2/1! Here's a deck using some of these tricks:

Newt Technology

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Paradox Haze + Mirrorweave

Finally, I'd like to look at one oddball way you can use Mirrorweave. Turning all creatures into, say, Force of Nature during your opponent's upkeep would be painful. Unfortunately, there is no window for you to do this, since Force of Nature's ability triggers at the beginning of the upkeep step. That's where Paradox Haze comes in. With your opponent enchanted by the Haze, you will be able to play Mirrorweave during their first upkeep, ensuring that the nasty upkeep ability of a creature like Force of Nature (or, say, Cinder Giant) will trigger during their second upkeep.

On the flip side, by enchanting yourself with Paradox Haze, you can use Mirrorweave to turn all creatures into something with an advantageous upkeep ability, like Leaf-Crowned Elder (or other kinship creatures), Bringer of the Green Dawn, and others.

Well, that about wraps things up. I feel like I've barely touched upon all the things you can do with Mirrorweave, so I'm sure all the Johnnies out there can come up with some great stuff. (Check out the FAQ entry that mentions Mutavault for some serious wackiness.)

Until next time, be just like everybody else! Or, wait, don't!

Can’t wait for Shadowmoor’s release on May 2? Don’t miss your first chance to play with Shadowmoor cards at the Prerelease on April 19 and 20!

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