The latest card – and mechanic – to keep multiplayer opponents on their toes.
Rules To Know About Replicating
To take full advantage of what replicate has to offer – and to avoid embarrassing yourself – you should make sure you're clear on a few rules guidelines. Don't make me repeat them! (Get it? Repeat them? Replicate them? Woo-hoo, I'm on fire!)
- When you copy a spell, some stuff gets copied. I know, I just blew your mind. But let's be specific: name, mana cost, color, type, supertype, subtype, expansion symbol, rules text. Also included are choices made when playing it – such as mode, the value of X, whether a buyback cost was paid, and so on. (If you can somehow get buyback and replicate on the same spell, it may be worth a shot!)
- You pay replicate costs when you pay for all other costs of the spell. Put another way – you may not play the spell, wait for it to get countered, and then decide to make more copies of it.
- You may choose the same target, or different targets, when you replicate. It's up to you as the original spell's controller.
- Each copy exists independent of each other, and the original spell. After you announce the replication and pay all costs, all those copies go on the stack. (You choose what order. Remember – last in, first out!) Before any of them resolve, and after each one resolves, people may have instants or abilities. If one of those instants or abilities removes the target of the original spell from play…well, the copies can still resolve normally, if they target different things.
For more rules questions and answers watch for the Guildpact FAQ. You also might want to use the search function in the header bar at the top of each Magic web page – put "copy" in the text field, choose "rules" from the drop-down menu, and check out the copy-effect questions John Carter and others have already answered. In addition, copy effects consume an entire section of the comprehensive rules – section 503.
Smack, Rinse, Repeat
Before looking at Mimeofacture specifically, I'd like to talk about replicate as a broad strategy. Replicate is the Izzet () guild "keyword", which means you'll see a bunch of cards with this ability in Guildpact. (You may also see a bit of really, um, illuminating replication technology.)
I believe most readers will agree with me immediately. The guild done good. Replicate is amazing in multiplayer. Wherever and whenever you get the chance, you should experiment with replicate in your group games. What does this mean?
- In any deck that's having trouble keeping up with multiple opponents, replace vanilla spells that simply bounce or burn one target, with replicate versions that can bounce or burn multiple targets.
- Build an entire replication deck, and see how well it does. (Don't forget the Mana Flares!)
- Since replication decks will have the same weaknesses as most strategies (e.g., horrific enchantments), back up your replication with one of the following: discard, countermagic, stealing, or chaotic considerations (e.g., Confusion in the Ranks).
As you play around with replication, here is what you'll find:
- Replicate gives you a powerful tool in multiplayer environments – right in the two colors that need it most. Blue and red can often struggle in multiplayer, mainly because most players using the combination resort to a "counter-burn" strategy that picks off one target at a time. That works well in duels; but with four different opponents putting out threats at once, most basic decks get overwhelmed.
Tricks like Fork and Twincast are good stuff; but they still require a one-to-one trade-off – a card for each permanent (or spell) you want to hit. With replicate and enough mana, you can be far more productive. You can pull amazing surprises and turnarounds, with simple commons, in situations where a lot of expensive rares can't help you. (Yes, this week's preview card is a rare. But I'm talking about the wider pool of cards you're about to meet.)
As opponents become familiar with your deck, replicate actually begins to serve as a deterrent. The first few times you gracefully twist your way out of a bad situation and cripple a bullying opponent, you'll surprise everyone. Then, one of two things will happen. Your group will either (a) begin to "gang up" on you, or (b) they'll suffer from indecision and inaction, since they're terrified of what you can do. Either way, your best tactical route is to play your games with lots of mana open – and keep changing up your decks, so that no one gets sick of what you're doing.
- Replicate in team play is awesome. When playing, say, Two-Headed Giant, how nice will it be to take care of each opponent's best permanent with a single card, simply by paying a bit more mana? In these environments, replicate begins to resemble kicker, or even buyback. (Feel the rush to the boards as angry old-school enthusiasts move decisively to dispute Alongi's bold claim that "replicate = buyback"! Not what I said; but they'll dispute it anyway. Keeps 'em happy.)
If you are playing in a Limited team format (e.g., Two-Headed Giant, sealed deck) and see one or more cards with replicate – especially if they remove permanents – consider them strongly. They can be back-breakers.
- Open mana will be an issue. This week's card aside, most replicate spells are instants. That means you'll often want to "do nothing" on your turn, and leave yourself options during your opponent's turn. This can come back to bite you, since at some point you'll want to actually improve your own board position.
I would recommend lacing replication decks with permanents you can play at instant speed – anything from Needlebug to Mystic Snake to Patron of the Akki. That way, you can always get a creature out on the board at the end of the last opponent's turn, if no good replication targets arise.
While this week's preview card is a sorcery, it can turn out to be one of the most powerful replicate spells of all. Why? Because in the late stages of a multiplayer game, it can take each opponent's most powerful permanent and make a copy of it.
Imagine a five-player game where you are facing (among other things) an Akroma, Angel of Wrath; a Bloodfire Colossus; a Verdant Force with 1,000,000 saprolings alongside it; and an Eager Cadet. Hey, it's the late game – you've got , right? Use it. The guy with the Colossus is tapped out (the fool!), so make copies of the Colossus, the Angel, the Verdant Force, and the Eager – er, I mean, a mountain from the guy with a Colossus. Watch the legendary angel(s) die, your Colossus take out the other one (along with the 1,000,000 tokens), and your new Verdant Force remain on the board to stare down the other one. Not a bad turnaround, for one card.
Fair warning: since it is a reactive card, Mimeofacture can also be less useful in your hand. In the early game, you almost don’t want to see it at all. Who wants to Mimeofacture a Hill Giant? That probably means you want about two in your deck, unless you're building on a copy theme and want to go nuts.
Getting Creative, And Possibly Annoying
Since Mimeofacture can fetch you a copy of virtually any permanent you like, there are a couple of interesting applications for those of you who enjoy arbitrarily large amounts of mana but want to do something "fresh" with it. Please don't do these tricks more than two or three times in your group – they become irritating; and even if you're young and full of free-spirited laughter, being irritating isn't as funny as you may think it is.
Both of these tricks assume you have as much mana as you need in your pool, following some atrociously "clever" infinite-mana combo. (I'm not going to help you with that stage.)
- Target a basic land. Replicate about 15-600 times, hitting as many types and controllers as you can. You are likely (though not guaranteed, so pay attention) to pull out every forest, plains, mountain, island, and swamp those players have in their decks, put them under your control, and deny those people additional lands for the remainder of the game. (Note that this does not guarantee victory.)
- Get a Psychogenic Probe in play. Target anything. Replicate X times, where X = that opponent's life total divided by two. If you have additional opponents, increase X (and refocus targets) to include their life totals as well.
My three recommended countermeasures against replication (not just Mimeofacture):
- White "flickering" or protection effects. From Otherworldly Journey to Parallax Wave, Shelter to Glory, white's pretty good at preventing the sorts of trickery replication represents.
- Discard. Good replication requires plenty of mana. That means the card is sitting right there in their hand, for quite a while. Plenty of time for a Coercion, or any one of the dozens of variants.
- Powerful enchantments. has difficulty removing enchantments. If you have a deck based on power cards like Ritual of Subdual or Grave Pact, you'll probably do better against replication than pure creature-based decks.
There are others. Good luck, whether you're pro- or anti-replicant!
Anthony has been playing multiple Magic formats for over seven years, and has been writing far longer than that. His new fantasy young adult novel, Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace, was co-written with his wife MaryJanice Davidson, and comes out August 2005 from Berkley Books.