elcome to the first week of Mirrodin Besieged previews on MagicTheGathering.com. Mirrodin Besieged is already shaping up to be one of the most exciting sets in quite a long time, judging by the rapidly expanding Visual Spoiler. Hero of Bladehold provides a minimum of 7 power the first time it swings, that's pretty impressive for four mana. Now think about curving a Spectral Procession into it. Thrun, the Last Troll may be the extra push that my Rage Forger deck needed to succeed in Extended. (Anyone else notice that guy was a Shaman?) Glissa, the Traitor will let me win every creature attrition war by looping Executioner's Capsule. The preview season has only just begun and there's already a whole new world of strategic options for every type of deck-builder.
I have always been a huge fan of token-based strategies. I like creating complex board states that allow me to outplay my opponent in combat situations. Most opponents don't even consider attacking into a board of a few tokens, the potential for swing-backs is often too threatening. One of the biggest problems for token decks, historically, is its ability to attack an opponent without losing board presence. When your entire army is made up of 1/1s, then every creature your opponent controls just gobbles up an attacker when you move all-in. In the past people have used cards like Glorious Anthem or Overrun to solve these issues. Mirrodin Besieged provides us with a new solution.
The Mirrans don't stand a chance against the endless horde of Phyrexia unless they stick together. Battle cry is a flavorful mechanic that's sure to have Constructed applications. Battle cry rewards players for having a healthy board presence. Token producers are especially powerful alongside the battle cry mechanic.
Let's take a look at Goblin Wardriver:
Siege-Gang Commander just became 9 points of power. Your Kuldotha Rebirth tokens just doubled in power. Think about having three to five tokens in play on the fourth turn. Your opponent will assume that the game is progressing normally until, BAM!, you drop a Goblin Wardriver alongside a Goblin Bushwhacker. Adding two hasty bodies to the table then an Overrun effect is pretty impressive.
Remember, battle cry is the perfect mechanic for team formats. All your creatures with battle cry will pump your teammates attacking creatures too. Have your teammate play an aggressive white deck sporting cards like Spectral Procession and Raise the Alarm to get the most value out of your battle cry creatures. Here's a pair of decks that could do very well in a casual Two-Headed Giant game.
A few copies of Hero of Bladehold would also work very well here if you're lucky enough to get any at your local Prerelease. I like having a few casual decks at my apartment. I spend a lot of time hanging out with friends that play Magic in a very casual setting. Decks like this are a fun way to push a new mechanic to its limit. If battle cry is going to be good, then this is the deck it's meant for. These decks can present huge amounts of power at a very early stage of the game, especially if both players draw a creature with battle cry. Cards like Swords to Plowshares can be found in the Duel Deck: Elspeth vs. Tezzeret. If you have trouble finding them, then you can always replace them with other white spot removal.
Eldrazi in the Mix
Goblin Wardriver may not seem like the most exciting card for sanctioned play upon first glance, but battle cry becomes a lot more appealing in a world of Eldrazi Spawn tokens. One of my favorite ways to abuse tokens is Beastmaster Ascension. It's very difficult to interact with a Beastmaster Ascension in the current Standard. Into the Roil is the only card that might be interacting with you, especially in Game 1.
A deck like this maximizes the power of Goblin Wardriver without being difficult to build. Raging Ravine can be replaced with Rootbound Crag if you have trouble acquiring a full play set. Goblin Wardriver adds a lot of extra power to the table when you've got this much token production.
The Future of Red Decks
A lot of my readers have emailed me about their desire to play red decks in a Standard bereft of White cards. Goblin Wardriver does incredibly well in a Kuldotha Red Deck. Kuldotha Red is a powerful Standard archetype that did very well in the early stages of the most recent Standard format. The deck attacks for a lot of damage very quickly. It uses cards like Galvanic Blast and Goblin Bushwhacker to steal games it has no business winning.
Goblin Guide might be the best aggressive one-drop ever printed. I can't say for sure, but I'm convinced that I win less than 20% of games where my opponent casts a Goblin Guide on turn one after winning the die roll. It costs one mana, it has haste, and it's a 2/2. Remember how good we used to think Savannah Lions was?
Memnite may just be a 1/1, but the cost is as low as costs get. Galvanic Blast has significantly more potential to Blast opponents for the full 4 damage if you're playing more artifacts. You also want to make sure you have enough artifacts for your Kuldotha Rebirth. The random body also gains relevance when you consider the Equipment in the deck.
Goblin Bushwhacker has great synergy with a lot of this deck. Casting a Goblin Wardriver and following it up with a Bushwhacker is like an Overrun that provides an extra pair of bodies. I like imagining that I have a lonely Infiltration Lens on the battlefield on turn five after my opponent dealt with my initial onslaught. I untap, cast Kuldotha Rebirth, sacrificing my Equipment, cast Goblin Wardriver, and cast a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker. That's 15 damage flying into the red zone. It's like having five Lava Spikes and five lands on the battlefield.
Goblin Chieftain passively pumps all our Goblins and makes them nice and hasty. Following a Kuldotha Rebirth up with one of these is pretty exciting. What's especially awesome about the chieftain is that it makes our top-decks a lot better. Cards like Kuldotha Rebirth and Goblin Wardriver gain a lot of value off the top when you pump them and apply haste.
Kuldotha Rebirth provides us with three Goblins for a single red mana. We need an artifact to sacrifice, but that shouldn't be too difficult when we're playing twelve zero- or one-mana artifacts. Kuldotha Rebirth is the cornerstone of this strategy. Goblin Bushwhacker, Goblin Chieftain, and Goblin Wardriver are exponentially stronger when played in conjunction with Kuldotha Rebirth.
Panic Spellbomb gives us an artifact to sacrifice to our Kuldotha Rebirth without losing an extra card. Panic Spellbomb is also an excellent tool for finishing off opponents. It's very easy to force through an army when you make it so your opponent's biggest creature can't get involved in combat.
Darksteel Axe gives us yet another artifact to sacrifice to our Kuldotha Rebirth. It also adds value to an otherwise unimpressive army of 1/1s and 2/2s. Players often fight these types of strategies with cards like Wall of Omens or Overgrown Battlement. Darksteel Axe lets us pound past opposing walls and bash our opponents like we intend to.
Infiltration Lens is currently an experiment, but I can't imagine it being bad in a deck like this. We need another artifact and Infiltration Lens can essentially make one of our creatures unblockable. Imagine fighting a red opponent that has access to this Equipment. It's actually a very scary situation.
Lightning Bolt is one of the best cards ever printed. I still get excited every time I cast it in Standard. I just can't believe I'm playing with such a powerful spell. I was lucky enough to spend some time with my brothers this Holiday season. I happened to have a few Magic decks on me, and my brothers were happy to play a few games. My older brother was baffled that Lightning Bolt was a Standard-legal card.
"Do you know how long I played with Shock?"
"How is that fair? I played Shock when my opponents were casting Memory Jar and you get to play Lightning Bolt when your opponents are trying to cast six-drops."
"These six-drops are pretty good, though."
My brother quickly learned that the six-drops of today are impressive enough to warrant competitive play. It really struck me, though. Lightning Bolt is a card we take for granted. It does 50% more than the go to one-mana removal spell of the past decade for no additional cost.
Galvanic Blast is more of a Shock, not that there's anything wrong with that. Fortunately for Galvanic Blast, it can do some serious burn to the face if you're lucky enough to have three artifacts in play.
This deck is powerful enough to beat all the major archetypes in Standard. I strongly recommend playing a deck like this in the first few weeks of the new Standard. It's a lot easier to find the correct list for a red deck than it is to find the three-color control monstrosity that ends up being the best deck in the format.
Mirrodin Besieged is filled with powerful and fun new cards. The Prereleases will be taking place on January 29th and 30th. Some of my greatest Magic memories come from Prereleases. I remember opening up three copies of Flametongue Kavu at the Planeshift Prerelease and just sawing through every opponent I played against. I still have that sealed deck together. The best part about the Prerelease is the people. Pro Tour Qualifiers tend to be more competitive, it's often easy to mistake "the fire" for standoffishness. Prereleases are casual and friendly. You don't need to worry about getting a game loss for misregistering a deck or anything like that. Your opponents are just friends. Everyone is reading cards and getting a feel for the new set and the new mechanics.
Mirrodin Besieged puts a whole new twist on the Prerelease! There will be special booster packs designed specifically for the Prerelease. When you arrive you must choose a faction: The hivemind of Phyrexia or the Mirrans. I'm old school enough that I'm planning to fight with some Phyrexians. All will be one!
I'll be in Atlanta next weekend battling at the Grand Prix. Grand Prix are an excellent opportunity to take your game to the next level. You learn a lot about high-level play when you're thrust into the intense tournament setting of the Grand Prix. There's a lot of fun to be had for people that may not be huge fans of Extended too. Grand Prix are excellent places to trade with other people and get some drafts or Standard eight mans with opponents you're not used to playing against.