Our final match of the set, as we prepare to take our (very temporary) leave of Mirrodin, at least until the release of New Phyrexia right around the corner. For our final showdown, I’ve got Sam and Sacrificial Bam to look forward to, while I pilot the fun-with-affinity deck Bait & Bludgeon. One of our readers recently commented that the thing they enjoyed most about this series of reviews is that it has permitted those of us who weren’t active players during this release to see what Mirrodin was like before the Phyrexian plans started to hatch. It might well be so that Wizards had the Scars of Mirrodin-block sequel in mind when they said goodbye to this metallic world neatly seven years ago, but for many of us this is a first-time exploration of a world grown only recently familiar.
With that sentiment in mind we squared off for the customary three games, and here are our notes.
Mirrodin introduced a few noteworthy mechanics to the game, one of which has become ‘evergreen’ (or core set mechanic) and another which has something of a black mark attached to it. It’s hard to imagine the contemporary game without Equipment, but prior to Mirrodin that artifact type didn’t exist. You might have cards that simulated it, ranging from Ashnod’s Battle Gear to Flaming Sword (which actually was a creature aura). Indeed, even at the start of the game there was a certain flavour gap between artifacts that were obviously player-focused (like, say, Sunglasses of Urza) and those that might almost be considered proto-Equipment like the Helm of Chatzuk and Illusionary Mask. Mirrodin finally did away with that rather awkward disconnect and made Equipment explicit.
Another characteristic of the set was the entwine ability. Much less interesting than the Equipment, entwine was essentially a bi-modal variation of kicker. Kicker, introduced in 2000’s Invasion block, was an optional cost attached to a card that gave you additional effect if its optional cost was paid. Look at Agonizing Demise, for instance- it kills a creature, and if you pay the kicker it will also deal damage to that creature’s controller. The first part (the spell’s effect) is fixed, but the optional part is the “kicker.”
There’s a certain symmetry to today’s clash between Mirrodin decks. While I’m piloting Little Bashers to complete the review, Sam reaches for Wicked Big to act as foil. Not only is a mono-Green beats deck right up her alley, but the flavour contrast between the two makes for a very compelling match on its own. As customary we set in for three games, and here are our notes and final review of the deck.
The “little bashers” that comprise this deck have a proud lineage that returned- albeit in a cameo form- for Scars of Mirrodin: creatures that are designed to work hand-in-glove with Equipment. The Sunspear Shikari and Kemba, Kha Regent were the lonely representatives in White for a much broader theme present in the original Mirrodin, and the Goblin Gaveleer flew the standard in Red, but that was about it. It wasn’t that the concept was a bad one, but rather that it was sidelined to make way for a new mechanic: metalcraft. White and Red are filled with instances of this keyword, but the Mirrodin we’re visiting takes us back to a time before metalcraft even existed. Creatures had to interact with artifacts is a much more literal sense, and it is that interaction that is the power behind Little Bashers.
It’s a battle of the artifact-centric versus artifact-hate, both in deck composition and theme. Wicked Big plays on Green’s historic antipathy towards artifice, while Bait & Bludgeon (piloted by Jimi) is one of the two artifact-centric decks in the set (the other being Sacrificial Bam). How will these two opposing forces get the measure of the other on the battlefield? We looked to find out, and here are our notes from the engagement.
Continuing the lamentable trend of really dumb deck names (the last deck always invoked Emeril Lagasse for us) is Mirrodin’s Wicked Big, a relative rarity amongst preconstructed decks: mono-Green! Although at the time mono-Green beats decks were relatively common (see: Judgment’s Painflow, Legions’ Elvish Rage), the next block’s Snake’s Path from Champions of Kamigawa would be the last non-Core Set deck of this type. The premise behind Wicked Big is about as straightforward as it gets: cast huge creatures and beat on your opponent with them. This being Mirrodin, of course, there’s a subtheme of artifact hate as well.
With a nearly wide-open field available to her in selecting today’s opposition deck, Jimi wastes no time in snapping up the modified White Weenie offering Little Bashers. Facing her on the field of glory is the first theme deck to be reviewed from the original Mirrodin, Sacrificial Bam, whose path to victory is carved on the back of an artifact-sacrifice strategy. We shuffled them up and sat down for the customary three matches. Here are our notes.
It’s hardly news to anyone currently playing the game that Wizards revisited an old world for the first time with last year’s Scars of Mirrodin. What may perhaps be a little more surprising to those who weren’t playing back in 2003 is just how well Wizards preserved some of the look and feel from the old set without making the new one feel ‘recycled.’ In looking at our first Mirrodin theme deck, Sacrifical Bam, you might almost be forgiven for mistaking it for a more contemporary model. Spellbombs, mana Myr, and Replicas adorn this heavily synergistic creation, but look a little closer and you’ll see significant differences, too. In truth, Mirrodin was the beginning of one of the game’s darker periods.