A Blast from my Personal Past – Part 2: Mirrodin Decks (M:tG)

In my second “Blast from the Past” article I want to showcase three decks, more or less (mostly less) serious or even competitive ones, which I used to play back in the Mirrodin block era (of course I am talking about the first, original Mirrodin block) and want to give you an overview of how I used to play them – the strategy behind each deck. I want to start this off with what is maybe the most competitive of the three – an updated version (since they released some great cards for this type of deck in the Zendikar block) of my mono-white Equip Weenie, followed by a more creative deck (ab)using lots of low cost (1 and below) artifacts, also adding some newer cards and last but not least and in fact most dear to me, my Mirrodin Rogue Artifice Deck, which sports an unusual strategy (hence the “Rogue” in the name) centered around the card retrieving powers  of what is probably the centerpiece of the whole deck, Skeleton Shard, and lots of powerful and interesting Artifact Creatures.

So let’s take a look at the first decklist, my updated Equip Weenie. Afterwards, as always, I will give you a brief overview of the deck’s strategy, if it is not very obvious, as it will be to readers with M:tG experience, in the first place:

Mirrodin Equip Weenie (Zendikar Update):

Creatures…20

4 x Auriok Glaivemaster (W)

4 x Kitesail Apprentice (W)

4 x Kor Duelist (W)

4 x Auriok Steelshaper (1W)

4 x Leonin Shikari (1W)

Instants&Sorceries…8

4 x Path to Exile (W)

4 x Steelshaper’s Gift (W)

Artifacts…15

3 x Chrome Mox (0)

4 x Bonesplitter (1)

4 x Skullclamp (1)

2 x Cranial Plating (2)

2 x Loxodon Warhammer (3)

Lands…17

13 x Plains

4 x Ancient Den

The Strategy:

In general this deck is played like any regular White Weenie, play lots and lots of cheap but efficient “White Weenies”, small White Creatures with great abilities attached to them, the namesake of the deck archetype and try to inflict 20 damage in a rush before your opponent can muster any noteworhty defenses, supported by great pinpoint removal in the form of Path to Exile. What makes this variant of the classic White Weenie deck type, which has been around ever since the earliest days of the M:tG TCG, is that you are running a considerable number of Equipment cards, which can be attached to any of your Creatures and are, contrary to Creature Enchantments, re-usable, offering considerable stats boosts on the cheap such as this one…

…or great effects along with that such as the quite costly Loxodon Warhammer:

Many of your Creatures get great bonuses as long as equipped, whereby Auriok Steelshaper is arguably your most versatile Creature in this type of deck. If you had a look at Steelshaper above, you will have noticed that he reduces the equip costs of all your Equipments by 1, which lets you attach 10 (!) of your Equipment cards for free. But that is not all. As long as Steelshaper himself is equipped, he acts pretty much like the classic Crusade in old school White Weenie decks, giving all your Knights and Soldiers +1/+1. Since all your Creatures are Soldiers, that will apply to all of your Creatures. One notable Creature is Leonin Shikari. Shikari’s ability letting you to equip at instant speed can be quite deadly, as you can switch all your Equipments to one of your unblocked Creatures at instant speed to get maximum damage through in the blink of an eye – and that for free if your Auriok Steelshaper is on the field. This can be especially deadly if you have Cranial Plating available, which gives the Creature it equips a +1 Power boost for EVERY Artifact you control.

Since you are running almost 20 (19 to be exact) Artifacts and all are pretty cheap with the exception of Loxodon Warhammer, the boost given by Cranial Plating can be quite devastating, especially when combined with Creatures that have evasion in the form of Flying (Kitesail Apprentice) or Double Strike (Kor Duelist).

The next deck is a bit less straightforward, not as competitive and consierably slower and weaker, but the many, many interesting interactions which make playing this deck feel like constructing and running a well-oiled engine, where all cogs and gears work well with each other, make this one a whole lot of fun for me. Let us look at the deck list before I give you at least a brief overview of the interactions and strategies involved:

Trinket Terror (Updated):

Creatures…20

4 x Myr Servitor (1)

4 x Etherium Sculptor (1U)

4 x Leonin Squire (1W)

4 x Trinket Mage (2U)

4 x Auriok Salvagers (3W)

Enchantments…3

3 x Artificer’s Intuition (1U)

Artifacts…15

4 x Skullclamp (1)

4 x Aether Spellbomb (1)

2 x Pyrite Spellbomb (1)

1 x Executioner’s Capsule (B)

1 x Dispeller’s Capsule (W)

1 x Pithing Needle (1)

1 x Engineered Explosives (X)

1 x Tormod’s Crypt (0)

Lands…22

4 x Glimmervoid

4 x Arcane Sanctum

4 x Darksteel Citadel

4 x Seat of the Synod

3 x Vault of Whispers

3 x Ancient Den

Well, as you can see in the card shown above, Auriok Salvagers, which is arguably the most important card in this deck, and by the high number of cost 1 or less artifacts in the deck list, this deck is all about recycling cost 1 or less artifacts, or “cogs” as the “Wizards” (of the Coast – who else?) used to call them. As mentioned initially, this deck is pretty slow compared to the Equip Weenie presented before, but features a lot of very enjoyable and re-usable interactions. For this purpose, I would like to go through the cards one by one, beginning with the Creatures:

  • Myr Servitor: A 1/1 Artifact Creature for 1. If you have at least 1 Myr Servitor on the field at the beginning of your turn, all other Myr Servitors immediately respawn. This is amzing combined with a key card in this deck, and in fact a great addition to pretty much any deck with Creatures to equip it to, Skullclamp, as you can equip it to a Servitor, which then dies and lets you draw 2 new cards. Rinse and repeat. On the most basic level, your Myr Servitors are loyal blockers and also interact greatly with Artificer’s Intuition, simply as discard fodder to search another cost 1 or less artifact. What I liked to do, as far as I remember, was to use Artificer’s Intuition to discard one Servitor and search another, and go ahead doing so until all Servitors were in my graveyard, playing the last one from my hand so all others would respawn in the following turn to be used with Skullclamp in the manner discussed above.
  • Etherium Sculptor is one of the very few newer cards I added and works greatly with all the cost 1 Artifacts, as it decreases the costs of all your Artifacts by 1, meaning you will be able to play them all for free, which is never a bad thing. This is especially powerful when combined with the Spellbombs and Auriok Salvager, allowing you to play a Bomb for free, then sac it to draw a card or for its effect, then retrieve it for 1W via Salvagers to cast it again for free and so on ad nauseam.
  • Leonin Squire: A mediocre Creature with a one-shot cost 1 or less Artifact retrieval ability. Not exactly the best card in the deck but it works well with the overall theme.
  • Trinket Mage: Fetches any cost 1 or less artifact from your deck. Pretty solid – not too exciting.
  • Auriok Salvagers: The most expensive card in this deck at 3W has an amazing ability: At the cost of 1W you can take any Artifact with cost 1 or less from your Graveyard into your hand. Especially combined with Aether Spellbomb and Pyrite Spellbomb and the rather new Executioner’s Capsule this has amazing potential as a control card, albeit it is very slow and very expensive mana-wise. For example you can cast your Aether Spellbomb for 1, sac it paying B to send any Creature to its owner’s hand and then retrieve it for 1W to play and activate it one more time. This way, you can return as many Creatures as you like to their owner’s hands for every 2UW you are able to pay. Of course, Etherium Sculptor makes this feat considerably cheaper, allowing you to do it for just 1UW. Re-usable Bounce in the form of Aether Spellbomb, Creature removal in the form of Executioner’s Capsule, Enchantment&Artifact Removal in the form of Dispeller’s Capsule and re-usable Burn in the form of Pyrite Spellbomb is never a bad thing to have access to however. Speaking of Pyrite Spellbomb: Recycling the latter to use it over and over again is actually the way this deck intends to win. In a slow and crippling manner…
  • Artificier’s Intuition: Your primary search engine in this deck. Pay 1 Blue Mana, discard an artifact to search your deck for any 1 Artifact with cost 1 or less and put it into your hand. Whatever you need most at any point in any game, Intuition gets it to you!
  • Skullclamp: This, at least in my opinion, best Equipment card ever printed turns all your 1 toughness Creatures, most notably Myr Servitor, into cheap and efficient card draw. As described above, get a hold of multiple Myr Servitors to draw yourself 2 new cards for every 1 mana and every Servitor you got to spare. Of course with Trinket Mage and Artificer’s Intuition handy, getting a hold of 2 copies of Skullclamp should not be too hard. Simply attach two of them to one of your 2 Thoughness Creatures to draw a whooping 4 cards! Love the ‘Clamp!
  • Aether Spellbomb: Your main weapon against fast, Creature-based decks. It costs 1 to cast and U to activate, sending any one Creature back to its owner’s hand. Recycle it and use it over and over again  with Auriok Salvagers as described above.
  • Pyrite Spellbomb: Same as Aether Spellbomb, with the difference that it deals 2 damage to target Creature or Player for paying R and sacrificing it. As mentioned before, this is best used to chip away at your opponents life points until none are left, powered by the recycling ability of Auriok Salvagers.
  • Lots of 1 of “Cogs”: Dispeller’s Capsule is your silver bullet against any bothersome Artifact or Enchantment, Executioner’s Capsule gets rid of any non-black, non-artifact Creature, while Pithing Needle shuts down a card’s abilities, Engineered Explosives can deal with a whole army of (small) Creatures at once and Tormod’s Crypt is the best way to deal with opponent reanimation and general graveyard shenanigans. And the best thing about all those: They can all be conveniently retrieved via Auriok Salvagers or even Leonin Squire to be used again. And again and again…
  • Glimmervoid: You shouldn’t have a problem  to have an artifact in play to support this flexible mana source.
  • Arcane Sanctum: produces either Black, Blue or White Mana and the fact that it comes into play tapped is not that bad in a slow deck like this one.
  • Artifact Lands: Can be searched via Trinket Mage or Artificer’s Intuition so you will have always the right type of mana and when destroyed, they can be retrieved by your Leonin Squires or Auriok Salvagers. Against land destruction, Darksteel Citadel can come in quite handy.

After this painstakinly detailed account of the cards in what I lovingly call my “Trinket Terror” deck and their strategic roles and significances, let us move on  to the third and last deck in this “A Blast from the Past” installment, which is probably my favorite of the 3 decks presented in this article and has a very special place in my heart: Mirroding Rogue Artifice. I always had a soft spot for Rogue types of decks, decks that is which feature an unusual, seldom seen approach / strategy. While the deck I am going to present you with shortly is not exactly what you might call competitive, but it had some very fun and not all that weak or bad interactions which, as I remember, made for a very satisfying overall gameplay experience. Here, for starters, what is probably the centerpiece that makes this deck run smoothly:

Now let me show you my deck list after which I will provide some insight into the general strategy involved:

Mirrodin Rogue Artifice (with Semblance Anvil):

Creatures…18

4 x Vedalken Engineer (1B)

4 x Bottle Gnomes (3)

3 x Etched Oracle (4)

2 x Razormane Masticore (5)

2 x Triskelion (6)

1 x Memnarch (7)

1 x Clockwork Dragon (7)

1 x Bosh, Iron Golem (8)

Artifacts…14

4 x Skullclamp (1)

4 x Pentad Prism (2)

4 x Semblance Anvil (3)

3 x Lighting Greaves (2)

3 x Skeleton Shard (3)

Lands…24

4 x Glimmervoid

4 x City of Brass

4 x Darksteel Citadel

4 x Island

4 x Mountain

The Strategy:

The basic premise of this rather slow deck is to make repeated use of Artifact Creatures’ abilities that trigger when they die by retreiving them from your graveyard cheaply and repeatedly with Skeleton Shard which can be seen above, to survive long enough to drop your “big beaters” – most notably Bosh, Iron Golem.

Mana Ramp:

To be able to play the quite costly Artifact Creatures that should win you the game, I used to play “mana ramp” (ways to generate more mana than would be available by just playing a land each turn) in the form of Pentad Prism, Seething Song and Vedalken Engineer. The latter I still prefer over, let’s say Etherium Sculptor, as he produces 2 COLORED Mana and works great with Lightning Greaves, which give him Haste so he can be tapped for mana immdiately after you play him, whereas I dropped the Seething Songs for what is in my humble opinion a very potent card in this deck (this is the only new card I added): Semblance Anvil:

I do not regret in the least to have grabbed a playset of 4 of those when they came out as Semblance Anvil is a great way to drastically reduce the casting cost of any one card type, which works great in a deck which runs just one card type, with the exception of lands. At the considerably low cost of 3 you can imprint an Artifact, in the case of this deck, henceforth reducing the costs of ALL the artifacts you want to play by 2! This way, not too few of your artifacts, such as your Lightning Greaves or Skullclamps, will cost you 0 Mana to cast. I still have to test this in real life, but Semblance Anvil seems like a perfect fit for this particular deck.

Great Interactions:

Again, Skeleton Shard is the key card in this deck, as it allows you to recylce your Artifact Creatures inexpensively and repeatedly, which leads to some nice interactions. For example you can block with your Bottle Gnomes, then sac them to gain 3 Life and bring them back into your hand with Shard by paying 1 Black Mana to play them again. Etched Oracle works great with Skeleton Shard as well and is overall a card that is very dear to me and in fact I hold the opinion that it is kinda a “hidden gem”, which is an even more potent draw engine in this deck than the much more popular Skullclamp:

If you manage to pay 4 Mana of different colors, Etched Oracle will be a 4/4 Creature with the great, great ability to remove 4 counters, pay just 1 Mana and draw 3 cards. Now if you combine this with Skullclamp, Oracle will be a huge 5/3 Creature and when you kill it by removing the counters you will be able to draw basically a fresh hand of 6 (!) cards. Needless to mention, you can pull that off many times by getting Oracle back with your Skeletal Shard. Another great way to use Skullclamp is to attach it to Triskelion, which is a 1/1 coming into play with three +1/+1 Counters on it. You can remove a counter to deal 1 damage to target Creature or Player. Without Skullclamp, you would “shoot” twice and then use the last counter to kill “Trike” itself so you can retrieve it with Shard. Now with Skullclamp, Triskelion will die without having to waste one counter on itself and, having dealt 3 damage, will draw you 2 cards!

How to Win:

If fully powered 5/3 Etched Oracles are not enough to do the job, you always got your Razormane Masticores or your lone Clockwork Dragon and, arguably even more deadly, Bosh, Iron Golem to finish your opponent off. Bosh is especially dangerous as you can pay 3R to hurl any of your high-cost artifacts, including himself, to deal an amount of damage equal to their converted casting cost at your opponent! Your Lightning Greaves not only give Shroud, and hence protection from any targeted effects, to your “big guys” but also gives them Haste so they can swing in for some major damage the very turn they are summoned.

I must say, I am really looking forward to re-assemble especially this last deck and play it some more in the coming time! 🙂

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s