Future Future Mirrodin

Posted in Latest Developments on October 10, 2003

By Randy Buehler

Its effect on FFL and on upcoming States

Since I know so many of you are busy preparing for the upcoming State Championship tournament, I thought I'd add a little fuel to the fire by looking at a deck from R&D's Future Future League back when we were playtesting Mirrodin.

I always look forward to States since it's the first time each year that the new set gets a workout in the Standard constructed format. However, I'm even more excited than usual this year. The Odyssey block has had such a profound impact on Standard for so long that just rotating it out would totally shake things up. Meanwhile, Mirrodin is such an open-ended set (click here to read Mark's argument about modular design) that we really aren't sure what you guys are going to do with it. When Onslaught rotated into Standard, for example, we didn't know exactly which decks would be the best, but we did know that tribal decks and cycling decks would be viable. With Mirrodin, however, it's a lot more difficult to work out exactly where the metagame is going to go.

On top of the huge impact of Odyssey rotating out and the huge impact of Mirrodin rotating in, there was also a recent Core Set rotation. Eighth Edition got its first workout at Worlds, but it had to compete with the full power of the Odyssey block in Berlin. In many ways I feel like Eighth Edition is just now rotating in too. Anyone who tells you they know what people are going to be playing on the 25th is deluding themselves …

I am certainly not going to tell you that I know what the best deck is (or even what the best decks are). Like everyone else I have my guesses, but this article isn't about those guesses. This article is about a deck that you will not see at States, because we put it together ten months ago and did not like what we saw. While this deck was a bit slow to set up, once it got rolling it was absolutely, stupidly, degenerately powerful and it was no fun to play against at all.

Here's the decklist:

Mindslaver Affinity

Download Arena Decklist
Gilded Lotus

Of course, that's not the decklist the way I (or anyone else in R&D) remembers it. The cards get their final names fairly late in the process, so when we talk about our old decks amongst each other we usually revert back to their playtest names. Some of them are pretty straight-forward and boring: Gilded Lotus was "Endless Lotus," for example, and the Talisman of Dominance were known as "Painstones." Others are more fun: Sculpting Steel was "Mesomorphic Goo" and Temporal Cascade was "Mind Twister" (since it breaks down Timetwister into its two component parts – Mind Twist and Draw 7). If you've been reading all this site's recent articles you probably already know that Broodstar began its existence as "Kracky McKracken" and Mindslaver was "Gleemax" (the brain in a jar that allegedly controls R&D). In addition, I still remember Thirst for Knowledge as "Glean the Lymph," though I don't really understand why our creative team gave it that initial name. My personal favorite from this batch, however, is "Someone Else's Song." (Those of you don't "get" the reference are encouraged to check out old school favorite Titania's Song, a great card except it was in the wrong color and Rules Manager Paul Barclay hates it whenever cards lose abilities.)

Anyway, here's how the deck works: The idea is to get a billion mana into play, draw a billion cards, and create a situation where you can play Mindslaver every turn. If your opponent never gets to do anything on their turn, they aren't going to be able to use the cards you give them with Temporal Cascade, and they aren't going to be able to beat you with anything else either -- and you have pretty much all the time you could ever want to find a Broodstar or a March of the Machines to kill them with. Of course, sometimes Mindslaver is so good that you can use their own cards to devastate their position, but that's just a happy bonus for this deck as the real goal is just not to give them a window of opportunity to do anything.

Getting a billion mana into play is surprisingly easy to pull off in Standard, and Thirst for Knowledge and Thoughtcast do a great job of refilling your hand once you spend a bunch of cards on artifact mana. "Sculpting Steel the Gilded Lotus" is often the right play for this deck, and using Sculpting Steel to copy an opponent's "Solemn Simulacrum" can also be good times.

The real reason the Sculpting Steel was in the deck, however, was to copy Mindslaver. Before we built this deck, you see, Mindslaver wasn't legendary. One of the reasons we made it legendary was because it was so frustrating to have someone take over each and every one of your turns. Mindslaver itself was fun – it was one cheaper to activate back then, but in general everyone had a good time figuring out what was going to happen whenever somebody sacrificed one. However, Mindslaver plus Sculpting Steel was not fun. Instead, it was a lock that turned Magic into solitaire. By turning Mindslaver into a legend, we made it a lot more difficult to set up this lock. Now you've got to find some way to bring it back from the graveyard and you've also got to pay full price for it every time (or have yet another card in your combo devoted to getting it into play cheaply). As I explained a couple of weeks ago, R&D is fine with combos and combo decks, but it's bad if they are too easy … and this one was.

Mindslaver wasn't the only card from this deck that changed. Broodstar went from up to based in part on watching how well the Affinity aspect of this deck worked out. The price for Temporal Cascade also went up one mana. (That conversation seems to come up every couple of years … "Is that new Timetwister any good?" … "Yep." … "Alright, add some more mana then.")

Lumengrid Augur

Perhaps the most broken piece this deck, however, was Lumengrid Augur. It didn't used to cost any mana to activate its ability. That meant that once it lost "summoning sickness," you could keep digging and digging and digging through your library until you ran out of artifacts to discard. I can see the designers sitting around, inventing the card and figuring "How many artifacts can somebody have, anyway?" Well, in this deck the answer is 37, which is fully 62% of the cards. Combine that high artifact percentage with all the card drawing in this deck and that guy pretty much never ran out of food. Tap to "Demonic Tutor" is a pretty strong ability and trust me … you're glad you aren't going to run into that in two weeks.

People ask me all the time what we were playing back when we were testing a set. This case is quite typical in that the cards are usually in so much flux that every time I look up an old decklist, it won't actually work well with the cards we actually printed. Hopefully this article was interesting anyway, and maybe you learned a little something that you might be able to apply in your own decks. Good luck!


Last Week's Poll Results

What's your opinion on the color-affiliated artifact debate?
I like the way R&D set things up in Mirrodin. 4501 48.9%
It's okay if artifacts are better when you have the right color, but stuff like Proteus Staff (where it's worthless if you don't have the appropriate color) is a mistake. 2505 27.2%
There should have been more color-affiliated artifacts, including more that would be useless outside the relevant color. 1222 13.3%
Artifacts should be completely and thoroughly colorless. 981 10.7%
Total 9209 100.0%

Cool … that's what I thought too (obviously).

Randy may be reached at latestdevelopments@wizards.com.

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