Hop on Panoptic Mirror

Posted in Learning Curve on April 7, 2004

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on DailyMTG.com, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

Damn you Aaron Forsythe!

Panoptic Mirror
Everything was going so well until you wrote that little article about my favorite hidden gem, Panoptic Mirror, and the trixy way to stack its abilities at the beginning of your upkeep. Until then I was able to pick the card up pretty late in drafts. The card has begun to go higher and higher in people's pick orders. Things can only get worse now that our esteemed Limited specialist considered it as a possible first pick in his most recent Limited Information column.

The worst was when I was in a draft and set up to win with my fliers over the next two turns with almost zero danger of losing on the return attack. My opponent played a Panoptic Mirror and passed the turn. I attacked and dropped him down to one and had to avert my eyes when he properly stacked the Mirror and imprinted a back-breaking Blinding Beam on the Mirror and paid for the entwine cost. He tapped the creature I had just cast and my flying army was left locked down in the horizontal position. I would have needed three creatures—all of them with evasion—to get out from under his lock. I lost the game and match as a result and knew that the days of tenth pick Panoptic Mirrors were behind me.

My friend Rich Fein had a draft that featured the Mirror and I watched him sail through his matches with an imprinted Thoughtcast. He would rip through his deck until he found and imprinted an Essence Drain. Recently, there has been some interest in applying the powerful card to the Vintage format. There are any number of cards that make your mouth water when you think about imprinting them on a Mirror. Ancestral Recall, Intuition, and Thirst for Knowledge all give you a ridiculous source of card drawing. Balance and Tinker are tantalizing items on the menu that is the restricted list and the possibility of a game ending Time Walk is too powerful a combo for even the most conservative deck builder to resist.

Scott McCord has built some of the more degenerate Vintage decks on the Neutral Ground tournament scene and shared two potential lists he has been tooling for competitive play. Before Vintage fans begin flaming me about Worldgorger Dragons and Long.dec--nobody is claiming that these are the Vintage decks to beat. They are just two lists that attempt to abuse the power of Panoptic Mirror in Vintage and may have some potential.

Weld me a Mirror

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Seven Years Bad Luck

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While Scott has been sequestered in his Vintage laboratory I have been thinking about trying to play the card in Standard. My fantasy for Regionals has been a blue-green deck with Vedalken Engineers and Chrome Moxes. My ideal turn sequence would go a little something like this:

Turn one: Land, Chrome Mox, and Vedalken Engineer

Turn two: Land, make five mana, and play Panoptic Mirror

Turn three: Stack Mirror and imprint Plow Under, Plow you Under

Turn four: Do a little dance

Unfortunately, if I was on the play I would need seven of my first nine cards to line up perfectly in order to pull that draw off and it doesn't get significantly easier at seven of ten on the draw. Still, I am drawn to shiny objects and what is shiner than the Panoptic Mirror? We may not have Ancestral Recall and Accumulated Knowledge to work with but there is still abundant abuseable card drawing to work with.

Thirst for Knowledge and Concentrate are both going into any deck I design with the Mirror. I am tempted to get greedy and include Rush of Knowledge. Who doesn't want to draw five cards a turn? I will content myself with topping out at three—that feels just greedy enough. A renewable Wrath of God seems like a natural addition—especially in the face of Skullclamps and Oversold Cemeteries.

One of the things holding many artifacts back in the new Standard is the abundant hatred running around the format in anticipation of Skullclamps and Ravager-Affinity decks. Now stepping up to the plate…Leonin Abunas. The deck I designed does not have the explosiveness of a deck with Standard's answer to Mishra's Workshop but the Talismans allow you to play out a turn three hard-to-kill Abunas and follow it with a harder-to-kill Panoptic Mirror.

Now don't run out and build this deck for Regionals. It is not going to keep pace with Goblin Bidding or Ravager Affinity. Not as it stands right now. But I am convinced that Panoptic Mirror is definitely one of the hidden treasures of the Mirrodin block and it will eventually find a home in a constructed deck—be it in Vintage, Standard, or Extended. In the meanwhile I will be playtesting the deck this week. I think that it if I find the right mix of instants and sorceries I might be able to make it work. As always I am open to suggestions about how to break the Mirror and welcome your comments.

Seven Years Bad Luck

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There are a couple of other things that I wanted to mention this week. A couple of weeks back I wrote an article for Sliver Week and I talked about a deck from Pro Tour Los Angeles but I could not recall who played it. A number of people wrote in to let me know that the player in question was Will Hilts and that he finished in tenth place. For a nice appendix to my article you should look at Lan D. Ho's post regarding his personal history with Counter Slivers.

Don't forget that team season is underway. Maybe next week I will be able to get back to the card pool I posted and maybe even have the card selections from a Team Rochester Draft finals to share with you. Remember that you can practice building Team Sealed cheaply by availing yourself of the Day One coverage from Grand Prix Columbus - each feature match has both player's decks and sideboards. Add them up and you have the same cards you would receive to build three decks in a Team PTQ.

Brian may be reached at brian@fightlikeapes.com.

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