Okay, we’ll start with the obvious. If you can’t get this out of your head when you think of the deck’s title, you’re not alone, because when we sat down to put the deck though its paces we couldn’t either. That aside, Jimi selected the new Mirran Boros construct Battle Cries to put up against Doom Inevitable, and we quickly got down to business. The question we were looking to answer was to see how effective Doom is in surviving the early game and buying itself time to establish board presence. This was the big weakness of it’s spiritual predecessor, Scars of Mirrodin’s Deadspread. Still, Doom seemed to have a lot going for it in our deck analysis. But how would it stand up in an actual game?
We gave it three passes, and here are our notes.
One of the primary functions of intro decks is to serve as a showcase for the themes and mechanics of their respective set. They work best when they’re not only fun to play, well-balanced, and reasonably competitive, but also when they give you a good idea of what the set is about. In today’s Standard environment, Wizards has experienced mixed success. Zendikar’s decks were a severe disappointment. When development could summarise the set in three words, “Maps, Traps, and Chaps” (better known as Quests, Traps, and Allies), yet the slate of intro decks virtually ignored all but the latter, there’s a puzzling disconnect between the decks and their set.
Worldwake’s decks were solid enough, although the Quest and Trap deck never materialised, but things took an odd turn in Rise of the Eldrazi. Almost as if they were overcompensating, Wizards built and entire deck around the Totem Armor mechanic, a device which probably wasn’t significant enough to warrant its own standalone deck. To make things worse, Totem Power was very underwhelming, presenting a motley collection of uninspired creatures to stick your Totem Armors on. Although every mechanic deserves its turn on the catwalk, perhaps not every one deserves its own show.
And we’re off! The first playtest for the new Mirrodin Besieged set, and Jimi’s ready for battle behind Path of Blight. In our initial review I found myself quite taken with the design of Mirromancy, but of course only time and experience would tell whether or not it was cohesively designed, or an assemblage of cards more aspirational than functional. Here are the notes from our opening clash.
One of the landmark early theme decks released for 1998’s Stronghold was so staggeringly different from the precon decks of today that it’s almost hard to imagine a deck like it being produced for the modern game. The Sparkler was a Red/Blue deck best remembered for one defining characteristic- within its box you found a Mogg Fanatic, a Wall of Tears, a Wall of Razors… and nothing more. A grand total of three creatures. Of course, that left plenty of room for the burn (Lightning Blast, Shock), countermagic (Power Sink, Spell Blast) and general chicanery (Reins of Power, Intruder Alarm) and everything else. It was a bold and daring move, and created a very memorable and exciting deck.
It’s difficult to say whether or not you could get away with such a departure form the norm in today’s environment. Creatures in particular have come a long way since Tempest/Stronghold, and The Sparkler would certainly be under noticeably more pressure from the beefier modern beater. Most preconstructed decks have fallen into the familiar, comforting pattern of creature base with noncreature support. This formula is so entrenched in design that when a deck comes along that challenges it- even slightly- it’s a genuine occasion.
Images have surfaced on MTG Salvation and Mana Nation of the upcoming Mirrodin Besieged Intro Packs. Some quick factoids:
> There will only be four decks rather than five. Two will be Mirran, the other two Phyrexian
> One of the Phyrexian decks will be Green/White
> From the images of the display, we can see we’ll be getting another foil Angel (SOM gave us Sunblast Angel) as well as a Hydra
Check them out here at Mana Nation!