Saturday, 29 January 2011

Balthor Bob Listed

Wow, has it really been so long since I built my Balthor deck? I realised when I printed up my list of current decks that, while the generals may still be pretty up-to date, the contents surely weren't. I'm going to have to do an overhaul of all of them once I get the Mirrodin Besieged cards I'm interested in.

Munke has asked for a full list for my Balthor deck. I've done a flavour piece already which you can read through the link above. I must stress that this is one of my "fun" decks where the object is to lurch in with Zombies rather than a minor Zombie theme in an MBC deck. It also has a huge and obvious weakness to Tormod's Crypt & similiar which I've decided to just accept as a necessary evil. If you want to play a Balthor deck seriously, you'll need to address that.

Balthor, the Defiled

Land:
30 Swamps
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Cabal Coffers
Leechridden Swamp
Dakmor Salvage
Darksteel Citadel

Zombies:
Twisted Abomination
Geth
Corpse Connoisseur
Cairn Wanderer
Corpse Harvester
Noxious Ghoul
Vengeful Dead
Grave Defiler
Escaped Null
Graveborn Muse
Gravedigger
Soulless One
Undead Warchief
Viscera Dragger
Fleshbag Maurader
Death Baron
Lord of the Undead
Cemetary Reaper
Phyrexian Ghoul
Shepherd of Rot
Yixlid Jailer
Rotting Rats
Cabal Interrogator
Carion Feeder
Maggot Carrier

Non-Zombies:
Grave Titan
Puppeteer Clique
Thrashing Wumpus
Plague Spitter
Phyrexian Rager
Bloodghast
Nether Traitor
Reassembling Skeleton

Artifacts:
Coat of Arms
Door of Destinies
Brittle Effigy
Expedition Map
Sensei's Divining Top
Nim Death-Mantle
Skullclamp
Lightning Greaves

Enchantments:
Bloodchief Ascension
Zombie Infestation
Grave Pact
Bitterblossom
Infernal Genesis

Spells:
Damnation
Patriarch's Bidding
Living Death
Reanimate
Zombify
Beacon of Unrest
Stitch Together
Rise from the Grave
Cruel Revival
Buried Alive
Mutilate
Corrupt
Tendrils of Corruptions
Go for the Throat
Diabolic Edict
Sadistic Sacrement
Sign in Blood
Skeletal Scrying
Exsanguinate

So nothing special (in fact, it needs a lot of work!)

Notes to self: Skinrender is a Zombie.

Edit: I traded at the MBS pre-release for some cards and have switched out Infectious Horror, a Swamp, Quest for the Gravelord, Soul Burn and Terror for Go for the Throat, Damnation, Coat of Arms, Door of Destinies and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Skinrender will go in too, probably for a spell and I will be adding a Mimic Vat once I get my hands on a copy.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Mirrodin Besieged - The Big EDH/Commander Review Part II -Artifacts

Ok, here's Part 2: The artifacts.

I had said there there may be more artifacts than non-artifacts but, as it turns out, there's only 10 to the pervious 14. Shucks! The same rules apply vis-a-vis the mechanic-centric cards needing to stand up by themselves. They really don't, so we'll be doing this without them.


Sword of Feast and Famine:

Let's start with the straight forward stuff first. Long gone are the days when we wet the bed over a Sword of X and Y. Let's have a look at this one: Basic 2 colour protection and +2/+2 boost. Pro-Green and Black are nice and obviously relevant in the format, maybe less so than G/U but nice nonetheless. The discard ability is a lot weaker in multiplayer Commander than in any of the 1v1 formats, it could even be a disadvantage if you're unable to remove whatever they discard. When you're moving a card from a zone they can use to another zone they can use just as easily, you always have to be careful. I'd prefer if the discard was random or chosen by you but we're stuck with the defending play choosing not to block because he really wants that Genesis in his graveyard and you're going to help him with that.

The second ability is what makes this Sword interesting and it's probably what will ultimately determine whether it will be widely used. What do you need to do before combat that you're willing to spend your mana on with the idea that you should be able to untap once you've dealt damage. The "should" is important because, if you were counting on that "untap" trigger and your attack is Mazed or Fogged, you're an unhappy bunny. Someone will find a great use for this in Commander. Until then it's a good Type 2 sideboard card against Infect decks.


Bonehoard:

Bonehoard is one of the nicer Commander cards in the set IMO. Firstly, it's rare but nothing too fancy or splashy so getting a single copy shouldn't be too hard. SSG are pre-selling them for $1.25 and there's nothing really there that suggests that they are going to rise all that much above that. You're getting an "almost" Lhurgoyf for 4 colourless mana. According to the calculation of coloured/colourless mana, it should cost us 6, but for the loss of 1 toughness, we get it at 4. That's a good deal.

We all know about Living Weapons: Equipment that CIPs attached to a 0/0. This one gives a +X/+X boost so, as long as the graveyards are stacked, it's an X/X for 4. When it dies, it doesn't: it reverts to being a normal Equipment. The initial deal on equipment was that you needed mana, the equipment card and a creature to equip it to. In that sense, it was a dead top-deck on an empty board. Bonehoard is that equipment that will always be attached to a creature so it's never a dead draw on an empty board. The rest of the Living Weapons are, frankly, disappointing but this is one that could come out huge and help your smaller guys be huge too. If ever the graveyards get exiled or shuffled back in, it sticks about ready for when they get filled back up again. Stuff dies all the time in EDH, if you are patient, it will always be a player.

Another minor advantage to this: Bribery doesn't hit it. You have a guarenteed creature in your deck that can never be pulled against you on a Bribery. You can go find it with your Fabricate and drop it into play as a monster but your opponent need to be running Acquire to do the same.

For once, I'm happy to rubber-stamp a vanilla P/T boost equipment.


Darksteel Plate:

We've see this before as the legendary Shield of Kaldra but this is the knock-off version. We've traded in the protection for Helm & Sword for a huge mana reduction. The original at 4 & 4 was really only played if you were running the remaining 2 but this will slide right into decks looking to protect their general at all costs. 3 to cast and 2 to equip, both the creature and the Plate are indestructible, it comes in all sizes from Shaggy Dog (Isamaru), through Elemental (Ashling) right up to Dragon (Insert Dragon Legend Name here).

As a direct comparison to Living Weapon equipment it still falls short at the "onto an empty board test" but realistically you want to be playing this onto your general more often than not.

Ironically the gung-ho flavour text comes from a charater that you can never equip this to: Koth. Flavour fail.


Phyrexian Revoker:
Last of the straight forward ones, Phyrexian Revoker is a Pithing Needle on legs. A 2/1 for 2 colourless is an acceptable set of stats, if a little fragile. A smaller front end and larger butt whould have been batter because, let's face it, if you fear a card enough to run this and name it, you're not going to put it into any danger.

Big differences between the master and the student, Needle said "a card" while the Revoker stipulates non-land. Needle says mana-abilities are sacrosant but the Revoker doesn't care about that. Between them they can both shut down planeswalkers, creatures and artifacts, seperatly they can handle the likes of Gilded Lotus and Maze of Ith.

Our only real concern with these two obviously good cards is where we draw the line as to the number of answers we're willing to run balanced against the threat count our deck needs to maintain. With lovely disruption cards like this, we have answers if we need them.


Mirrorworks:

In the recent Commandercast Generals Redux competition, I submitted a version of Mishra that allowed an artifact token copy of a cast artifact to come into play. He had text that exiled any existing tokens so as to avoid overly confusing boards. You got 1 token at a time.

Now R&D have come out with this monster of a card that allows you to pay 2 to make a single copy of any artifact that comes into play under your control. It doesn't go away. The board is going to be multiple different artifact token heaven.

Were they high when they made this?

Any artifact?

I'm going to plagerize Fugu from the official mtgcommander.net boards as he put it so very, very well:


I want to cast Mirrorworks, then cast Sculpting Steel as a copy of Mirrorworks, then use Mirrorworks to copy Sculpting Steel so I'll have three Mirrorworks. ...Then I'll Capsize Sculpting Steel and cast it again and copy it twice so I'll have five Mirrorworks. ...And then again, so I'll have nine! ...And then I'll cast Gilded Lotus, tap it, and copy it, and tap the copy, and copy it again, UNTIL I HAVE TEN GILDED LOTUSES! ...AND WITH MY TWELVE BLUE FLOATING I'LL CAPSIZE THE ORIGINAL GILDED LOTUS AND RECAST IT AND COPY IT NINE MORE TIMES AND CAPSIZE IT AND RECAST IT AND COPY IT NINE MORE TIMES UNTIL I HAVE ENOUGH MANA TO CAPSIZE SCULPTING STEEL AND RECAST IT AND COPY IT NINE TIMES SO I'LL HAVE NINETEEN MIRRORWORKS AND THEN........ I'll stop.

But hey, I mean, why stop there? Fugu stopped well before doing something stupid. At best, your opponent will waste 30 mins of your life trying to figure out some ├╝ber combo to copy a Sol Ring (Hint: Just tap it when the copy ability is on the stack) but, at worst, it will make you wish you had a Shahrazad handy to start a sub-game with the rest of the table. Extreme cases may also require a Twincast. (Benoit, I'm looking at you!)

That all said, I'm going to play this until it gets group banned or real banned and I'm going to kill it on sight across the table from me. As a bonus I'm going to harrangue any R&D member that I meet about this because it's just stupid. I love my playgroup though so I'm going to learn how to use it first before I go sticking it randomly into a deck. I owe them that much.


Myr Welder :

Hey! Myr Welder, whatcha doing with Phyrexian Revoker's stats?

Here we go: a useful ability on a body that's not going to die when someone sneezes. What's the useful ability? I kid you not, it's the first one, not the second. Here we have an ability that any single colour can use: targetted artifact removal from graveyards. That's the ability that will mean the most in any game of Commander. It's almost irrelevant if he dies subsequently (as he will because, let's face it, "artifact" and "creature" are pretty low on the food chain in the format) because that dratted Mindslaver will be GONE! That Nev's Disk? GONE! Academy Ruins targetting Duplicant at EOT? >fizzle!< This is the "little" ability on Myr Welder, but it's the one that will mean that you can win games.

Guess what? He can also win games. Remove your Voltaic Key, remove your Soliton (whatever), machine gun your graveyards, tap, untap, draw a card, everyone draws a card, tap, untap, he gains flying, he gains trample, he returns an artifact to my hand and puts a new one into play, he taps target permanent and then untaps, tap, untap, and so on. Then he dies and you shrug because he's solved a lot of problems for you for the rest of the game. He's going to own some artifact decks so hard and we will laugh the laugh of victors (or cry like a baby because he's just dismantled my Wrexial deck).


Knowledge Pool:

This is going to be a pain.

First off, you don’t get to play anything you draw right away so if you want to resolve spell A, you need to play it (it gets exiled), trigger the Pool to play another spell from the pool and then play a second spell (it gets exiled) in order to play Spell A. Even then, I’m not sure that someone couldn’t gazump you with an instant once the “Exile that spell” trigger is on the stack. God forbid that some fool puts a counterspell on the pool so that anyone with an instant and a grudge can ruin your game.

Does needing to cast 2 spells to resolve the one you actually want remind you of any 2cc Blue flip general?

Knowledge Pool spells chaos, which is fun for some people. If your playgroup doesn’t like these overcomplicated cards where they feel they are getting scammed, this is one to avoid.

Oh, and from the FAQ, where this is the only card to have an entire page dedicated to it: X is 0 every time.

Psychosis Crawler:

The Phyrexians are really the Martians from Mars Attacks or so Psychosis Crawler would have you believe. A rare artifact creature in an artifact set, this had better be good. A */* for 5 colourless could be a great deal if you have 7 cards in hand or it could be a waste with only 1 other card in hand. Either way we don’t care really. If the fluctuating P/T is an interesting novelty, especially if you dream of growing it into a 15/15, it’s not what this card is about. It’s about winning the game: Psychosis Crawler is your win condition.

Either you set your deck up to draw a lot of cards and win slowly while controlling the table or you pair it with something that’s going to draw you a LOT of cards in one go and win right away. Something like Consecrated Sphinx and Teferi’s Puzzle Box or Memory Jar. Math time!

4-player game. You have Consecrated Sphinx & Psychosis Crawler in play along with Memory Jar. How much life will they lose when you activate the Jar?

You draw 7 cards, your opponents each draw 7 cards triggering the Sphinx which allows you to draw up to 14 per player. That’s… eh…. um…… lots? Actually, that makes 49 life loss for each opponent and you draw 49 cards, less of both if you are getting low as the Sphinx benefit is optional. If you didn’t just win, you’re doing it wrong. You can also attack with your 50/50 Crawler afterwards.

You can also replace the artifacts mentioned with any “draw 7” for a similar effect. Even if you can’t do the splashy kill, he’s incremental life loss tacked on to an effect you want to be doing anyway: drawing cards. It’s also obligatory so your opponents can’t “forget” to lose the life.



Spine of Ish Sah:

Speaking of things getting out of hand: What costs 0 and can destroy every non-shroud permanent on the battlefield?

Spine of Ish Sah, of course!

Spine also answers the question posed by Vindicate and Angel of Despair, to wit: What would a non-creature artifact version of Vindicate cost? The answer is obviously “7”.

So how do you destroy every non-shroud permanent for 0 mana? Well, I cheated a bit because it will cost some initial investment but once everything is in place, the Spine’s triggered graveyard ability makes this the cog in a nasty combo.

Spine of Ish Sah + Sculpting Steel + Krark-Clan Ironworks + 1 of Etherium Sculptor/Cloud Key/ Semblance Anvil. You play the Spine, then play the Sculpting Steel copying the Spine. Sacrifice the Sculpting Steel Copy to the Ironworks for 2 mana and it will return to your hand as the text on the Spine, copied by the Sculpting Steel, is still valid. Any of the cost reducers will then allow you to cast the Sculpting Steel for what’s in your mana pool, once again copying the Spine. Repeat until someone punches your lights out.

And, of course, Blightsteel Colossus:



Thanks to Adam for his Mirrorworks quote.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Mirrodin Besieged - The Big EDH/Commander Review Part I -No artifacts

Here's my take on the upcoming set. As always I'm only looking at some standout cards and this isn't a comprehensive review of every single new card released. I'll try to keep comments EDH related but bear with me if I branch out occasionally. All cards and images have been borrowed from the Visual Spoiler which you should visit to fill in any obvious gaps missing from what I review.

I'm also reviewing the cards on their individual merit rather than their dependance on a mechanical keywords such as Metalcraft or Infect and, as such, I'm leaving out almost every card from those mechanics. Of course Infect cards will be strong with other Infect cards (and proliferate) but they will be notably weaker when watered down with non-infect cards. Likwise Metalcraft cards need to stand up to the test of their worth when you don't have metalcraft. Unfortunatly, most fail that test.


White

White Sun's Zenith:

To be honest, I had to scrabble around a bit to find a decent white card that is really going to stand out from this set. You could make a case for Phyrexian Rebirth but a "Wrath with Benefits" has been done and this new version is not particularly stunning. The number of times when it will be a blow-out will be vastly inferior to the number of times you get a 3/3. It's also missing a "no regeneration" clause. The Zenith, however, is more interesting.

Kemba is making a ripple in flavour-filled cat-tribal as a very playable, build-around-me general. As a one-girl army and voltron general she's ticking boxes for aggressive mono-W decks in a way that Isamaru really didn't. White Sun's Zenith is a nice addition to that deck but also to any deck that can make a decent amount of mana in the game (as long as 3 of it is WWW). The reason why this is playable over something more flexible such as Decree of Justice is that the 2/2 tokens will actually matter much more than the 1/1 soldiers even outside tribal. If you think that it's essentially a cycled Decree where the card draw is replaced by creatures twice the size at the same mana investment, it becomes an interesting comparison. Who made angels off Decree anyway? Combat trick, instant army and "EOT: I create enough damage to kill you next turn" should be enough to make the card playable. The "Beacon" re-shuffle ability is just a nice addition.

And that's it for White. I'd say Red got the worst EDH deal in Scars. In Besieged, it seems to be white.



Blue

Consecrated Sphinx:

A vanilla 4/6 Flyer for 4UU is nothing special, it needs an additional ability to be really excellent. Consecrated Sphinx has that ability: Whenever any opponent draws a card, you may draw 2. That's nutty. Absolute worst case scenario: You play it, he dies to removal, it's a 1-1 trade (for which you probably paid a lot more but, hey, I did say "worst" case!)

After that it's just gravy. The opponent to your left draws and you have paid 4UU for a 4/6 flier and 2 cards. Excellent! And on it goes around the table. You have a blocker/attacker and you are drawing a lot of cards. What if you have a Baby Jace or Temple Bell in play when you drop the Sphinx? Everyone draws 1 and you draw an additional 4 or 6 or 8. I'm going to leave this one here because I will be coming back to him in Part II of the review with some very, very interesting possibilities.



Treasure Mage:

Most non-artifact centric decks have a few hefty high end artifacts hiding somewhere in their decks. He finds them. Artifact centric decks (that generally run blue anyway) have a LOT of high end artifacts in their decks. He finds them too. Note that, as with Trinket Mage, he can find creatures and not just "normal" artifacts. This is often overlooked with Trinket Mage because there are very few 1cc artifact creatures that are worth him tutoring for. Treasure Mage makes this lack of distinction a huge advantage by finding your DSC, Memnarch, Sundering Titan as well as your Darksteel Forge and Mycosynth Lattice.

I think that he's an auto-include in anything remotely artifact related and, while I think it bears testing, his re-usability and chump-blockiness as a creature rather than as a spell, might make him a very interesting option in the place of Fabricate.

Oh, I forgot: His art is sick (you can interret that as you wish!)
And that's it for Blue. Two cards is a pretty meagre return this time round but the quality of both cards means that you will see them again and again. The Sphinx in particular is one to pick up as soon as you can though, as a mythic, it'll be a little harder to find.


Black

Gruesome Encore:

I'll start with the bad news: It's not an instant. The good news is that it will steal a creature from an opponent's graveyard, let you play with it for your turn and then exile it. How often have you finally dealt with a bomb creature that an opponent has played only for him to bring it back multiple times. This one-shot Puppeteer Clique will showcase again and again why, if you're not already running Puppeteer Clique in your B/x deck, you really should be. The advantage this card has over the Clique is that they have closed the loophole that allowed a player to bounce their own creature back to their hand or just kill it again to avoid the exile clause. When this hits a creature, it's gone. (Usual corner cases apply.)

The problem with the card is that you can be gazzumped by instant speed GY removal. You can't have everything.


Massacre Wurm:

It's an "almost" titan with a slightly harder CC and 1 less toughness. It doesn't give you the constant advantage triggers that the real titans enjoy every time they attack but the Wurm does have a sweet life-loss trigger for your opponents to enjoy. Someone building a little army with Rhys & Seedborne Muse? Well if they don't have some form of static boost out when the Wurm hits, there's going to be a massacre (heh!).

There's very little wrong with this creature: he's huge, scary and he provides board and life advantage in a colour that likes killing creatures. If you play blue either with or against this, I'd say that a kicked Rite of Replication pointed his way would be a lot of fun. Lose a creature: lose 10 life. Damnation FTW?

I like him, he's got flavour.



Black Sun's Zenith:

Red is not Commander's best colour. In fact, many would argue that it's the worst. Lets look at a card like Pyroclasm and compare it to Infest or Massacre? Creatures with Pro-Red will laugh off the Pryo but cards with Pro-black can't do that against Massacre. It's an inequality that bleeds through all the colours to the detriment of Red. There's very little that Red can do that another colour can't do equally well with better support or just straight out better. Black Sun's Zenith is another in the line of non-red cards just thumbing it's nose at their poorer cousin: Scalable, mass creature burn that doesn't go away during the clean-up step.

At best, BSZ clears the entire board and gets "Beacon"-ed back into your library for another go round in a colour with the tools to tutor it back out again just as easily. At worst, it weakens the entire board permanently and keeps you in the game. And that's not looking at any of the little combo's it can pull off:  refueling your Grim Poppet or Carnifex Demon is cute but making it a permanent Insurrection with Necroskitter in play seems like it could be worth a few giggles.

Another huge tool for B/x decks. Black is following blue's trend: not giving much in the way of volume (though we'll see 2 more later in the Gold section) but more than making up for it in impact. These are three monster cards.


Red

Crush:

After a hugely disappointing Scars, Red needs some love in Besieged. Despite being seemingly the only colour untouched by the Phyrexian taint (though it does get some Phyrexian watermarks), Red is, once again, a huge disappointment. While Green and White have spent the last few years broadening their scope and providing better quaility at what they do best, Red is still doing the same tired old thing: Some burn, an occasional decent weenie, artifact destruction and some cumbersome dragons. It needs to power creep it's non-burn, non-weenie suite and at least Besieged gives us some of this if nothing else.

1 Red mana, instant, destroy target non-creature artifact. It's strong, it's simple, it's useful. There's such a long way to go for Red but they got this right. I'm not a huge fan of 1-for-1 cards but there's very little you can say against this as you're more likely to run out of ways to Fork, Sceptre, Radiate and otherwise copy your Crush before you run out of worthy targets. This is as close to a red staple as your likely to get in Commander.



Into the Core:

Add a colourless mana, make the WW into a RR, switch from Instant to Sorcery........ There are some who are accusing R&D of being a little lazy when it came to design on Mirrodin Besieged, an accusation that's already taken up a lot of pixels as teh debate rages on SSG, Twitter, MTG.com and a myriad of forums all over the Magic net. For this card, I won't complain. Tired of dropping a Crush on your opponent's artifact only for it to come back again and again with Academy Ruins? Now you can Dust to Dust in Red as an instant for a single colourless mana more. Here is where I want to see R&D go with Red's core abilities: they can destroy artifacts a hundred different ways but only now can they definitively settle the score of a problematic artifact.

If I'm allowed to be overly critical, there is just one small niggle: the additional mana requirement has jumped "Rust to Rust" over the Gaddock Teeg boundary. Other than that, this is a slam dunk.

And there we leave it for Red with a common and an uncommon. At least they shouldn't be too hard to get your hands on!


Green

Creeping Corrosion:

And again with the lack of creativity. An uncommon in Revised, a rare in Antiquities, back to uncommon for V Ed. and back to Rare for VI Ed. before being finally shunted back to Uncommon in X Ed., Shatterstorm doesn't know where he stands. Creeping Corrosion is most definitely rare (due to block & limited play considerations). We mentioned before that anything Red can do, another colour can do as well with better support? Here we have a staple red mass anti-artifact card getting a direct colour make-over in Green which can now deal with all Enchantments at instant speed, all Artifacts at sorcery speed and either one at various speeds, sometimes even while attached to relevant creatures.

Whatever about the general shafting of Red at the moment, this card is wholey to Green's benefit and a welcome addition to decks that like to beat on the machine.



Green Sun's Zenith:

This is the 3rd Zenith on the list and we're in our 5th colour. Time to take a step aside and revisit the Red & Blue versions. "XUUU, instant, Target player draws X cards. Beacon." and "XR, Sorcery, Deal X damage to target creature or player, Exile the creature if killed, Beacon." Critics of the Blue Zenith suggest that Stroke of Genius is easier on the mana base, especially if you are in multiple colours. They also cite the fact that it shuffles back into your deck as a slight draw-back over a version you could more-easily fish back out of your graveyard. Personally, I find that it's only worth it if you have enough mana so that you're getting a better deal than off a Concentrate. At that point in the game, you could be posing threats instead of digging more. Maybe it's different elsewhere but I don't see blue mages here waiting to tap 10 to draw 7, even at EOT. Mind Spring is cheaper, Stroke is easier and both are BFF with Eternal Witness. Each to his own but this is going into my binder as trade fodder rather than into my decks.

The Green Sun's Zenith is a doozy. Granted you're going to be a paying over the odds for something but it's straight from your deck to play and that just can't be beat with a big stick, unless you go find a big stick and beat with it. It's in a colour that just wants to make big mana, once you've achieved this, your XG becomes the beater of choice.

In a pinch, it can also get you something useful, like the already mentioned EWit to bring back the spell from your graveyard you need to keep you alive, or destroy some permanents with a Terastodon. Dang, no matter how much you say you're going to get a Llanowar Elf if you need a Llanowar Elf, this just has a fat dude written all over it. [TY to DT for the catch!]


Praetor's Council:

It's looking rough for our hero Karn!! Ok, this is one of the oddball ones out there. PC costs a whopping 8 mana but for that you get a permanent Spellbook and the mother of all Regrowths. Now, the success of this card requires a couple of things to go right:
- You need to have something worth bringing back. This should be the easiest because you are essentially going to sandbag it until your hand is looking bare before you remake your entire early game. You can now leay the threats with impunity knowing that the new "Big Ups" is going to help you from running out of threats.
- You need to make 8 mana. You're playing Green. Shucks. Next!
- You need to protect your graveyard. Apart from Ground Seal and Bind, you're looking at artifact answers to these problems. Probably nothing a Null Rod wouldn't shut down if you ran it..



Thrun, the Last Troll:

Thrun didn't get caught up in the mind traps and stayed on Mirrodin. Seems like a raw deal to me. Now he's a grumpy old man troll who's got the hump and he's leaving his hermetic life to lay down some beats. Boy, are we happy!

Kinda.

Everyone remembers the original Mirrodin's Troll Ascetic with either huge mooney cow eyes or dread depending on which side of the table he was on. The combination of troll-shroud and regenerate made him a formidable road block. Add equipment or an aura or two and there was little short of a Wrath of God that could deal with him directly. What we didn't know then is that he was just the baby troll. Now the daddy troll is here. For a mere 1 colourless more he has +1/+2 and uncounterable. And he's a legend. Clique decks in 1v1 just got the shivers: You can't counter him, you can't kill him, you can't bounce him. What's a mono-U deck to do?

How good is he for Multiplayer? Em, he'd be a decent Voltron general, maybe? I know that I'd prefer the fragile body but stupid accelleration of Azusa any day over a beater so I don't know exactly where he's going to fit in. What's sure is that, if Infect has any sort of impact on Standard, he's not going to shine there either and he's only 1 of 15 mono-G trolls which is a bit short for tribal. I guess the jury is out on what is without doubt an excellent creature, just sadly without a home for now.

And that's it for Green. I make that 4 solid cards no matter how you cut it.


Gold

Glissa, the Traitor:

Frickin' yeah! This is a bad-ass legend ticking a lot of very interesting boxes. While the initial Glissa was an interesting puzzle to solve, she has ultimatly become a minor addition to Captain Sisay decks and not much else. In the storyline the myr saved Glissa at the end of the Mirrodin plotline and hid her in the core to recover. Unfortunatly the core also held some Phyrexian taint and the rest was pretty inevitable.

Glissa is an Elf. She's also a Zombie. She's a cheap legend with a decent P/T. She kills whatever she touches (First Strike & Deathtouch >Ka-POW!<) and she profits from it. Surround her with useful little (and large) artifacts and she'll get double duty out of them. Executioner's Capsule is an interesting one. Machine-gun the blockers, and get the Capsule back for more. She's in Infect colours so she could easily head up the Phyrexian invasion of your playgroup. What's nice about this Glissa is that she has synergies but nothing broken, she is a formidable creature but not something you can't deal with. All in all she's just enough of a handful to be very interesting without being bonkers good.


Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas:

Can I get away with just saying "Look, he's good if you've got artifacts. Play him!"?

No?

Ok, no stats about 3 & 4 CC 'walkers being better than 5cc+ ones. And yes, he is good with artifacts, but this is Tezzeret we're dealing with here. I want to know why he's suddenly Black? Black isn't very artifacty, in fact, it's the most un-artifacty of all the 5 colours even with it's splash in Esper. If it's because he's now with Bolas (dig the forehead tattoos man!), then why isn't he UR or UBR? The Drain Life ultimate seems to be about the only reason, but does he have Drain Life because he's UB or is he UB because they wanted a Drain Life? On most other cards I have to say that this shouldn't matter. On Bolas (or any other PW) there's got to be a sound reasoning behind it.

Ok, on to the card. Let's presume your playing an artifact deck and your opponent's control artifacts. We can accept that Impulse for 5 for Artifacts is good in this situation. We can also accept that, while it's not Exiling Permanents or a Nev's Disk, double Drain Life for artifacts is not a terrible ultimate, especially at only -4 loyalty. Where Tezz 2.0 gets interesting is his -1: Target Artifact becomes a 5/5 Artifact Creature. Things to note:

* The artifact will remain a creature after the EOT, essentially until it leaves play.
* It's any artifact in play, not just your own (this is important for later)
* If you animate an equipment it will fall off a creature it's equipped to and/or not be able to become equipped to a creature. Animated Equipment don't have the abilities granted by the equipment as they are all "Equipped creature gets...."
* It doesn't say "Target non-creature artifact" so you can target any artifact, even a creature artifact, and make it a 5/5. Your late game Chalice becomes a 5/5 for 0, your opponent's Blightsteel Colossus becomes an indestructible 5/5 Infect (not 11/11),  and your little Necropede, usually a 1/1 infect for 2, becomes a 5/5 infect for 2.
* The artifacts that become creatures don't lose abilities so you can make them into a creature, take control of them as creatures and use as intended.

That's it for the non-artifacts. There may be as many artifacts as non-artifacts in Part II, you'll just have to wait and see!