If you missed yesterday's (and this whole past weekend's) awesome treats then let me be the first to say, "Welcome to Scars of Mirrodin Preview Week One!" I don't mind having a mouthful like that to share because it's time for previews—one of my most favorite times of Magic seasons—and all of the new and wonderful creations these tastes provide.
There's nothing quite like a paradigm changing card or three to get your brain working out.
When Mirrodin came out a few years back I wasn't playing Magic. However, during Kamigawa block, when I returned I was immediately struck by the sheer awesomeness of artifacts. It may have been just my pure fascination with so many artifacts—a card type that heretofore was always special and limited in appearances within sets I had seen—that drew me in, but it was certainly the affinity mechanic that got me hooked.
Cheap or potentially free creatures and effects? I signed up on the spot, grabbing copies of Broodstar, Qumulox, Frogmite and more. I've shared that my passion for blue took my decks to new places—and had unforeseen consequences—and I was one of many who scooped up a blue-based affinity deck. Between artifact lands and mana-makers, like Darksteel Citadel and Darksteel Ingot, which dodged destruction effects, I had a pretty slick deck of blue dudes and artifacts to back them up.
So let's take a look at today's preview card:
Gotcha, didn't I?
A Song From 1999
There was a lot of discussion around affinity back in the day (it did inspire an extremely strong tournament archetype, after all) and I have nothing to add to it today. Teasing your ideas about affinity was a natural idea since, after all, if we're returning to the plane of Mirrodin it stands to reason that certain things should come back.
Quicksilver Gargantuan is a return to Mirrodin in a different way. There were several Quicksilver cards appearing across the block (and have appeared elsewhere as well) and I bet you weren't expecting something like this after all the reminiscing about affinity.
Quicksilver Gargantuan is the same type of experience to play with: an unexpected repeat from the past (Clone and its various Shapeshifter cousins) but with a decidedly new twist. First, a few important rules for our new copying friend:
- Except for power and toughness, it copies all characteristics of the creature it's copying (just like Clone).
- If it's copying a creature with a characteristic-defining ability that sets power and/or toughness (like a Tarmogoyf) that ability overwrites Quicksilver Gargantuan's power and toughness of 7/7.
- If Quicksilver Behemoth isn't a creature (say, for instance, it copied an animated Faerie Conclave) it won't have power or toughness. If it became a creature again it will have its power and toughness set by the ability that made it a creature again.
There's nothing too earth shattering about how our new Behemoth of a Clone works—except for the fact that it makes a BIG copy. Actually, that's kinda really important.
You see, I like copy effects: Twincast, Reverberate, Clone, and Rite of Replication are all things I find pretty cool. Even better, doing things your opponent is doing can be entertaining and useful. If they have something why can't I too? Back during Multikicker Week I shared a loose deck that answered just that question:
With some defensive dorks and a few copy effects and steal effects, a deck like this is pretty straightforward. What I didn't like about it was what would happen if my opponent happened to only have small creatures, like a bunch of Veteran Armorsmiths and Veteran Swordsmiths, or creatures that weren't very impressive in combat, like Goblin Piker or Sylvan Ranger.
That's exactly where Behemoth Gargantuan fits: whatever you copy gets to be huge.
While this take on blue isn't focused on taking your opponent's creatures it more than makes up for it with the tag-team pairing of Quicksilver Gargantuan and artifact improvements. Instead of a small splash of bounce, Inundate resets every creature—except yours—after landing a gigantic whatever-awesome-your-opponent-is-packing. Sending opposing defenses away should set some smooth sailing!
The Bigger They Are
While reworking the angles on an existing deck is my natural go-to way of trying something new I bet it wasn't exactly surprising. So here's the question: what would be better if only it had 7 power and toughness instead?
Murderous Redcap is a neat little guy—a personal Pandemonium on a stick. Quicksilver Gargantuan gets to come in and do the same thing to the tune of 5 more points of damage. Throw in a sacrifice outlet, like Altar of Dementia or Bloodthrone Vampire, and you can get a quick 13 damage on the spot!
Scuzzback Marauders is also a neat copy target courtesy of Shadowmoor, this one giving our big guy some trample. In general, like the Redcap above, copying a creature with persist not only gets your Shapeshifter back at the low, low price of free (just pay a -1/-1 counter on it for shipping and handling) but you get to pick a different creature. If you see something different you can just pick that instead—although I am partial to both the Redcap and Marauders myself.
Llanowar Elite seems like a fine friend to have. If you need a body early you have a 1/1 with trample—prepared best with equipment—and late you can option into a 6/6 trample thanks to kicker. Our new Quicksilver overlord will gladly copy any Elite you have about and make the trample count without the muss and fuss of kicker. Æther Figment is a similarly situated creature, except trample is now unblockable. Who needs kicker for the good stuff?
Keldon Champion, Vulshok Berserker, and Ambush Party all share one common keyword: haste. By copying a creature that naturally comes equipped with haste, you'll get to play offense immediately with our big blue friend. Ambush Party may not be extra exciting in a world of Demigod of Revenge and Hell's Thunder but it does come with first strike—a different keyword that makes seven power seem so much bigger than before. I may have been known to announce the challenge "Block THIS!" on occasion.
Nether Traitor also packs haste but has another combat relevant keyword: shadow. "Block THIS!" is all-too-often an unanswerable challenge here. Doing this with something substantially bigger seems doubly deadly. Sneaky!
Jodah's Avenger is an interesting Shapeshifter since it lets you pick and choose between four abilities you'd like to have on the fly. However, being a 4/4 limits the choices significantly. Making a 7/7 version instead lets you add all the abilities and still end up with a 3/3 (which will deal 6 total damage if not otherwise blocked)—and the less you need the bigger our super-Avenger ends up.
Abyssal Hunter and Tracker are a bit on the older side but they come with a neat ability: tapping to deal damage equal to its own power to a creature. While the originals are on the smaller side, Quicksilver Gargantuan will be a very beefy 7/7, which almost assures you that whatever you need taken down will get taken down and leave you your killing machine available to untap and do it again.
Ultimately, Quicksilver Gargantuan is a Clone who decided to spend some time at the gym—and wants to stay hulking when doing the mimicry gig. Here's my take on a fun little deck where the Gargantuan gets to shine on the show:
Alright, so our new Clone overlord is sharing the limelight with Magic 2011 big boy Sun Titan, but there is a solid reason: he gets back all the juicy targets for our Gargantuan. Fertilid and Pilgrim's Eye will grab lands out of the library for you but also come with the benefit of either giving the Gargantuan a small size boost or some evasive flying. Llanowar Elite can provide trample and is cheap enough to be played the same turn if there isn't a target for the Shapeshifter already. Mulldrifter draws cards but can also be copied to net even more and grant flying to boot. Hungry Spriggan is arguably the best choice as the Gargantuan will be a 7/7 with trample that becomes a 10/10 on the offense.
Rampant Growth and Farseek help crank up the land count while Crystal Ball will help us sort things out once we're ready to go. While one copy each of Sword of Vengeance and Mystifying Maze may seem odd they serve a subtle purpose: the Sword can make a lowly Pilgrim's Eye, or already epic Titan, into a powerful attacker (so we're not leaning solely on our Shapeshifter) and Mystifying Maze can reset an opponent's attacker, a handy way to sidestep something you'd rather not take a hit from.
Of course, this is only what I've cooked up. With just this small taste of Scars of Mirrodin you should brace yourself for far more to come. Where do you see Quicksilver Gargantuan making an appearance? What sneaky tricks are going to try? Sound off and show me what you're thinking.
Join me next week when I show you my purest belief!