6 Reasons We Love Mirrodin

Posted in Serious Fun on March 22, 2011

Being a planeswalker is pretty sweet, right? We travel the planes, under our own agenda, playing with power beyond most mortals' comprehension. Thanks to Planechase we've been able to see more planes than ever before. While I think I'll be avoiding the plane of Wildfire for the foreseeable future, exploring the nooks of the multiverse is what Magic is all about (aside from all the other stuff it's all about).

This week is Mirrodin Week, which means that now, more than any other time, is perfect to look at the titular plane. While we've been spending a lot of time on Mirrodin-related ideas, thanks to the recent releases of Scars of Mirrodin and Mirrodin Besieged, the opportunity to look over the entirety of Mirrodin—from the original Mirrodin through the upcoming "Action"—is one that I can't pass up.

Mirrodin, in case you didn't know, has made some of the biggest impacts on how my local troupe plays Magic. And unless the measuring stick of awesome was broken, I think you too will get a kick out of the best the two Mirrodin blocks have had to offer.

If you asked me "Which card is the most asked-for card at your game store?" I'm not exactly sure if Gate to the Æther would be it, but it's certainly darn close. In a world where everyone has something awesome lurking in their library, Gate to the Æther is a cornucopia of epic shenanigans.

Unlike Lurking Predators or Genesis Wave, which work only for the player employing them, everyone gets in on the action with the Gate. It's like a combination of Howling Mine and Braids, Conjurer Adept, yet it delivers so much more. If you like cards that keep the game moving along, Gate to the Æther is one of the best to try.

And there's certainly an entire deck that can be built around this amazing gem.

Being an artifact means a card can go just about anywhere. Unlike Gate to the Æther, Confusion in the Ranks is both solidly red and surprisingly silly. Do you know some friends who always bring some heavy-duty fire-power to games? Confusion in the Ranks plays like blue "steal" effects (see Mind Control and Volition Reins for details), but feels more like hot potato.

Unlike many red effects that scramble the board up, this one isn't random. Each player you add is another layer of potential as there will be more and more stuff to swap about. Heck, it even makes you choose someone else's enchantment when you play Confusion initially!

Separately or together, Soul Foundry amplifies everything you want to be doing with creatures. You can get as many copies as needed of any one creature, a pretty handy tool to mess around with. Confusion in the Ranks lets you trade whatever creature you have tokenized for any other creatures bopping around.

I may or may not have seen an entire deck built around this idea as well.

All right. Stop. Hold on. Let's be honest for a second. The first time most of us saw Darksteel Colossus it wasn't "There's the greatest thing ever for Tinker!" but "Holy $#amp;%!" It's big, bold, and almost everything you want in a creature. You can't kill it (through most mundane means), jumping is useless, and there's nary a creature as big around to even tangle with.

Yes, that's sitting in the upper right-hand corner. Elvish Piper and/or my pile of lands care not. "I will cast you," I swore when I first saw it, and how sweet it was when I first bumped eleven lands horizontal and dropped into play the most badass creature I had ever known.

And I'm sure that many of you have done it too.

Equipment may have debuted in Mirrodin, but it took Darksteel to put it over the top. Both Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Light and Shadow have become hallowed tools in the discerning player's toolkit. Protection from multiple colors? Bonus abilities that trigger for hitting an opponent? Pumping my creature even bigger?

Granting protection from a color is a good way not just to protect your treasured permanents, but to ensure your baddest dudes can get in there for damage. Even more surprising is how these Swords make already big, flying, trampling harbingers of opponent's doom measurably more menacing than, say, just your average Rancor-type Aura.

These Swords are so much fun to play with that, why yes, I'll take three more please. Thanks!

There are reasons certain spells are "slower" than others. Spells like Cruel Ultimatum, Genesis Wave, and Black Sun's Zenith, and creatures like Mulldrifter, Kor Skyfisher, and Woodfall Primus all so amazing things despite not being as quick as some other spells.

Vedalken Orrery changes everything.

While getting away with little rules breaks, like casting discard spells on your opponent's turn, can feel exciting, it isn't until one witnesses the full power of the rules-breaking artifact that the enormity of the change is clear. Every one of the spells mentioned above I have seen cast at otherwise impossible moments, and every time was something surprising.

When any spell can be played at any time, the game jumps up several tiers of chaos into the realm of unreal; Vedalken Orrery drips pure shenanigan.

The idea of "rainbow" decks has been around since the beginning of Magic. Play any color by playing every color. Between amazing lands, green spells that can find needed lands, and artifacts and creatures that create any color we need, decks of five colors are pretty easy to put together.

Fist of Suns takes that natural creation and unlocks its monstrous potential.

It's a simple idea that seems like a tricky proposition: you may spend one of every color instead of paying a spell's normal mana cost. A handful of cards, like Bringer of the Black Dawn and friends, come with this option already built in; adding it to cards that it certainly shouldn't be on is interesting. Titanic Ultimatum? Oh yes. Suntouched Myr? Sure!

Even, perhaps, Darksteel Colossus? Yeah. Been there, seen that.

It's no secret that Mimic Vat is as crazy as it looks. Take a dying creature, any dying creature, and you get to make copies of it. While these copies don't stick around—unlike the tokens from Soul Foundry—the fact that you can get to mass produce creatures your opponents brought to the table is a total gas.

Imagine Inferno Titan, Shriekmaw, Mulldrifter, or Terastodon in the Vat. That's all fine and dandy. Now visualize Clone, Conquering Manticore, Deranged Hermit, or Karmic Guide. Mimic Vat is not just amusing to build around, but always an epic event when multiple players are dropping creatures onto the battlefield and, therefore, into the graveyard.

And from the feedback I've already seen from your experiences with it, Mimic Vat is a card for the ages.

Sword of Body and Mind was the first new member of the "Sword of" family since Darksteel. Like the two that came before it, protection from colors and powerful abilities go hand-in-hand with "Awwwww yeah!" moments.

It's the other member of the mentions that I want to highlight: Tempered Steel. "Artifact" decks have been around just as long as five-color decks, but haven't received the same type of support. Sure, mechanics like affinity for artifacts and modular are pretty centralized on the brown and grey cards, but if you were looking to boost all your steely studs for just being what they are you were out of luck.

Steel Overseer, in Magic 2011, and Tempered Steel solved that problem well. And you don't have to take my word for it: Tempered Steel is so good at making artifact creatures big that it was featured competitively. Artifact decks have their perfect anthem, and it's the sound of a worked, cooled, and quenched iron alloy.

Noel DeCordova has been all over Knowledge Pool. He not only previewed the card but showed off what readers like you can do with it! I'm not going to take away anything that's already been done, but something that came up in a podcast discussion I took part in a few weeks ago was the idea of using Knowledge Pool as a way to play in and of itself.

Since I love adding variety to variety, so I can play while I play, it makes perfect sense to look at just that.

Knowledge Pool

In Brief: The Knowledge Pool variant is an additional set of rules that can be overlaid onto other ways to play. Simply play as though an ethereal, invulnerable copy of Knowledge Pool was in play from the very start of the game.

Rules Rundown: I'd suggest that you check Noel's articles linked above to get some clarification on the rules intricacies of our favorite spell-interacting artifact. For starting a game, players should draw their opening hands, then resolve any desired mulligans, before exiling the top three cards of their library for a Knowledge Pool that sits, invulnerable, in the command zone.

As far as actual game play is concerned, adding the Knowledge Pool to your favorite multiplayer formats (like Commander and Two-Headed Giant) is a particularly keen way to get the action going. For those of you interested in maximizing the level of awesome it can provide, I'd recommend a putting together a Stack that focuses on the following:

  • Creatures with flash and "enters the battlefield" triggered abilities
  • Instants and sorceries with several modes (like Esper Charm or spells with entwine)
  • Effects that let players draw extra cards (like Rites of Flourishing and Howling Mine)
  • Spells with kicker and other scaling potential

Whatever your way to play with multiple players is, the odds are that adding Knowledge Pool will shake things up a bit!

Pros: You get to use your everyone's stuff! Switching and swapping spells in and out is a real game-changer, and with more players come more levels of interaction. And for the social/political gamers out there, recall that when a player leaves a multiplayer game, all cards he or she owns cease to exist.

Cons: Other people will use your stuff. Sometimes we don't always want to share the things we bring, and knowing we're playing with the Knowledge Pool puts a real temptation to switch out "the good stuff" before going in.

Knowledge Pool is also a little confusing in some cases. Getting everyone up to speed on how things need to work, especially in the chaotic world of four or more players, is a boring but probably requisite task. If you're not interested at all in rules curiosities and the stacking of triggered abilities, then you're probably not going to enjoy taking a dip into the Pool.

If Sword of Body and Mind is popular, Sword of Feast and Famine is a cultural phenomenon. From powerful decks in multiple competitive formats to untapping boatloads of mana in my Commander games, this Sword is not to be missed.

But not even a Sword that grants protection from green and black can help you against Blightsteel Colossus. Love it or hate it, the iconic Mirran powerhouse from our first trek to Mirrodin has been corrupted by the bad guys this time around. And unlike its not-so-infectious brother, Blightsteel Colossus can one-hit KO another player.

What game-changing cards does the third set of Scars of Mirrodin block hold? I don't know! In the meantime, check out the sweet packaging for the next set if you missed it earlier. I for one can't wait for the next set and, if you keep your eyes open, you'll catch a whole lot more in the coming weeks.

When "Action" is revealed and all the cards are shared, that's your time to tell me what the biggest mover and shaker of awesome ways to play will be. And, of course, if you think something else from Mirrodin that should be worth noting, share it on the forums! There's always so much to discover and rediscover everywhere we travel.

Join us next week when we go swinging! See you then!

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