That's the question we're facing, folks. With Phyrexia blowing the doors of war off their rusty hinges, Mirrans everywhere (everywhere on Mirrodin, that is. Duh) have been forced to come together to fend off the alien foe and preserve their world. I guess if we were to make a nerdy parallel, this storyline seems to be the Secret Invasion of Magic. I'm sure that's already been pointed out somewhere, though. How about War of the Worlds? Its concept isn't so different: Out of nowhere, a calculated strike by alien forces leaves the human race confused and scattered. On second thought, that doesn't work so well, given that the Mirrans seem far from scattered. And I'm pretty sure the Phyrexians can, um, breathe okay.
Seriously, though, war is all about propaganda, and it seems the general Magic playing community has been tantalized by the forthcoming final expansion to this set in April. Will the Mirrans overcome the oily Phyrexians or will Magic's most famous baddies find a new plane to begin Operation Dominate the multiverse 2.0? I'm sure the time will come for me to pick a side (can't stay neutral forever), but for now and as far as deck-building goes, I'm eager to pick the niftiest cards from both sides and do insane things with them.
But yeah, I wonder if there are any "I Want You" posters up around the Mirran barracks. More importantly, who would be the Uncle Sam-esque figure on it? Maybe Thrun?
- Thrun the Shunned
Speaking of Thrun, the Last Troll, what a sweet guy this is, huh? I've gone on record as a huge fan of the slight homages that Wizards have made with this new set, harkening back to the first Mirrodin set (which was a huge set for me as a budding player.) Thrun is definitely his own character in the storyline, but mechanically he seems obviously inspired by Troll Ascetic, a historically important "don't touch me" creature. Another card from Scars of Mirrodin that is also thusly inspired is Asceticism.
Thrun can't be countered. Sweet, eat it, blue mages. He also can't be the target of spells or abilities you don't control, a little trait we in the biz lovingly (and fittingly) refer to as troll shroud. Finally, Thrun can regenerate, completing a trifecta of abilities henceforth unseen on one Magic card. Good luck destroying this guy.
You may be asking yourself how in the world I'm going to build around Thrun. It's true: Thrun does not exactly scream Johnny. But there's a section of me that likes to build straightforward, synergistic decks, and that's what I'm attempting here. My thought process goes as follows.
- Build a deck that honors "troll shroud."
- Fulfill A by smashing together every troll-shroud guy in a beefy green aggro deck.
Now that's an army Thrun would assuredly lead. Filling out the deck was a fun stroll through Gatherer. Troll Ascetic obviously comes through as the meaty three-drop. Silhana Ledgewalker is another relatively famous one in casual circles, famous at least for being extremely annoying. Slippery Bogle is the fitting one-drop.
I really wanted to use Drove of Elves for a couple reasons, the first, notably, being that it possess troll shroud. The second is that it's an underused uncommon, a type of card I have a soft spot for. I decided to shoehorn a green token sub strategy into the deck, so Drove of Elves could get super huge. Having a lot of vanilla green tokens (be they Saprolings, Elves, or anything else) also means I get to use some various troll shroud givers. I ran into a lot of them on card databases and was bummed that they'd be useless on actual troll shroud creatures. But now Asceticism and especially Vines of Vastwood can be more useful. Creature-pump effects are lovely with troll shrouders, especially the Ledgewalker (giving it a Moldervine Cloak was a pinnacle of hilarity back in the Ravnica days.) I'll go with its new cousin Boar Umbra, which if nothing else is hilarious on Thrun—Yeah, now it has totem armor, too. What are you gonna do?
I chose the Lorwyn Elf token-makers purely because of Hunting Triad, which doubles as an instant speed creature pumper. Gilt-Leaf Ambush follows suit. Finally, Garruk Wildspeaker and Plated Slagwurm are fitting singletons.
- Glissa, We Missed Ya
Or at least I did. Now it seems she's all evil and stuff. For those unaware, the former heroine of the plane of Mirrodin is now apparently tainted by the oil of Phyrexia. Glissa 2.0 retains her first strike from her previous incarnation, but has a new swath of abilities besides that, the first of which is deathtouch.
Say it with me now: All hail the deathtouching first striker. Trying to go toe-to-toe with Glissa in hand-to-hand combat ( ... whoa, that doesn't make sense! Cool!) is like a block of cheese fighting a cheese grater: No matter what, Glissa's got your number. There are some rare instances (like indestructible creatures) in which Glissa is merely terrifying in combat (not blood-chillingly petrifying). Sadly, the same can't be said for cheese. (Now I want indestructible cheese.)
Glissa also has a crazy, Toshiro Umezawa–inspired third ability. "Whenever a creature an opponent controls in put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may return target artifact card from your graveyard to your hand." Yep, that was her actual text, just to be safe. Wowee. So an ideal Glissa, the Traitor wants to both kill a lot of my opponent's creatures and have a lot of abuse-worthy artifacts to recur. Glissa herself, being the lethal attacker she is, can beat down mercilessly, daring blockers and threatening an artifact return. But there are other methods.
I wanted to first find artifacts that could sacrifice themselves to destroy creatures. Such an artifact would form a slight engine if your opponent had enough creatures to destroy. I found the perfect card for the job in Executioner's Capsule. For , you can endlessly kill nonblack creatures. This is useful if you're trying to claw your way back into a game. Moonglove Extract is perfect as well. : 2 damage.
Other cool sacrificial cheap artifacts are the Spellbombs. No, not the new ones. I'm talking about relics such as Lifespark Spellbomb and Necrogen Spellbomb. They can get into your graveyard easily, netting you either a fresh card or a nifty ability (much like the new ones). Lifespark Spellbomb, in particular, is crazy here, as it can turn one of your opponents lands into a creature. This is cool because it's a new creature to kill and get Lifespark Spellbomb back!
I eventually turned to Royal Assassin as a repeatable creature killer. Setting it alongside a Ring of Gix is great times. Turn the Lifespark Spellbomb combo loose and start slowly wrecking your opponent's landbase! (The Ring, by the way, is old school and badass and can be recurred with Glissa if echo can't happen.)
Painsmith can repeatedly give a slight bonus to Glissa or any attacker of yours (including Phyrexian Totem ... fitting, I would say.) Grinding Station is an interesting secondary win condition here. Since artifacts are popping on and off of the battlefield, it should untap enough times to mill a sizable chunk from your opponent's library.
The Replicas are interesting to recur as well. One draws you more cards, and the other kills problems. If some of the problems happen to be artifact creatures, Glissa is thrilled.
- Secret Agent Man
So I've examined a legendary creature on the Mirran's side and a legendary creature on the Phyrexian's side. What's left but to go neutral? Fortunately, we have the perfect candidate in the newest version of Tezzeret. Last seen as an inquisitive but rash etherium master in Esper, Tezzeret has reverse-blossomed into another pawn of Nicol Bolas, Magic's other famous baddie. I think it's interesting that the last couple of blocks have set up a decent foundation, villain-wise. Bolas is out and about, the Phyrexians are rampaging, and the Eldrazi were recently set loose and are eating worlds as we speak. Will we see a super-insane crossover in 2018? I'm calling it now.
Anyway, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is a new bombtastic planeswalker. Let's see, if he's an agent of Bolas, then Bolas is his M to Tezz's 007. Except this organization, ironically would be the SPECTRE of the multiverse. (And no, not Quantum, damnit.)
Enough jokes. The new Tezzeret is an interesting riff off of his pre-Bolas self. His searching ability has been a little limited, but still effective (most of the time, you'll hit something nice within the top five cards.) His former ultimate is now his minus loyalty power (basically, although it's just one artifact now), signaling his growing power. And his new ultimate is the nuts. If you have ten artifacts in play (completely doable) your opponent will lose 20 life, on the spot. And Tezzeret now comes only one +1 loyalty boost from unleashing it.
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas slides right into a deck that has been slowly building itself in my mind. Ever since I saw Thopter Assembly I immediately thought: TIME SIEVE! In an email, Vektor480 shared with me his interpretation of this combo, which if executed correctly, results in infinite turns! Vektor said, "Provided you have no other Thopters on the battlefield, you'll get five Thopter tokens, the exact number for taking an extra turn with Time Sieve. You just have to manage casting Thopter Assembly every turn."
So once you hit six mana, you can go off, casting Thopter Assembly during each of your infinite turns. Meanwhile, you're drawing (and searching with Tezzeret) on each turn. Slowly try to accumulate at least ten artifacts to pull off the ultimate (and you can use the five Thopter tokens as part of that five as well.) Some choice new artifacts I included were Shimmer Myr (which is the nuts. Cast Thopter Assembly at the end of your opponent's turn to go off immediately!) and Sphere of the Suns. (Another new Mind Stone to play with! Yay!)
There's a Treasure Mage toolbox, which features Mycosynth Lattice (imagine Tezz's ultimate with this!), Dreamstone Hedron (mana and card draw), and Myr Battlesphere (for kicks). By the way, I received a lot of responses for the nickname for Treasure Mage's fetchable artifacts. The most popular one (judging by my inbox) was "gears," a naturally larger "cog." I also liked "bombs" (although very common in Magic slang, it really does seem fitting here) and "sprockets." Do I have to explain "sprockets?"
I'll throw one of my own attempts into the pit: relics. I was thinking what a Treasure Mage might discover; perhaps some lost, powerful relic? I'll leave a poll for y'all to officially decide. Until next time!