elcome back to the Lab. The second week of Avacyn Restored previews are officially upon us, and the themes and mechanics of the new set have been truly unleashed on the public. To be fair, I've only seen a mere glimmer of the set thus far, but I can already tell this set is going to make waves, in both tournament play and real play (er... casual play). Every time I've loaded up the Card Image Gallery (on a daily basis these days) I've had to take some deep breaths to prevent an overexcited and slightly psychotic fit. (Griselbrand sent me over the top, though. Sorry about the yelling, nearby residents.)
Bonfire of the Damned | Art by James Paick
When it comes to new sets, I'm always rapt with anticipation of the new mechanics. Miracle and soulbond deliver in their own unique ways. The miracle cards happily continue the recent streak of flavor-infused gameplay. I know I'll freak when I rip a Bonfire of the Damned off the top to settle the game. And as for the kooky frame, I'm a fan, as I'm entranced by abnormal visuals. (Reaper King, anyone?) Soulbond, meanwhile, feels like one of those effects that I really need to experience in person to fully comprehend and analyze it. From my currently skewed viewpoint, it feels like a thoroughly scrubbed version of banding, which I can get behind.
As for the other cards previewed so far (hey, I can gush if I want to)... the Angels are flying out in a fearsome formation. One of my favorites so far is Restoration Angel, a versatile card that seems deceptively bland next to the multicolored heralds. Creature cards have been generally more powerful lately—a fact I've struggled at times to come to terms with—and for an exquisite exhibit of this creeping clout, check out Vexing Devil, a 4/3 for (somehow) which burst through the screen and bit my head off.
After previewing Bruna, Light of Alabaster last week, I'm ready to tackle another new card from Avacyn Restored today. Just a cautioning note here: You might want to read this card at least thrice. Check out a wacky new Aura.
Confounding, right? Infinite Reflection sports an excellently whimsical effect. It's a tricky one to take advantage of, though. So let's pass through its nuances and get under the surface of this card.
Infinite Reflection—Avacyn Restored FAQ
Enchantment -- Aura
When Infinite Reflection enters the battlefield attached to a creature, each other nontoken creature you control becomes a copy of that creature.
Nontoken creatures you control enter the battlefield as a copy of enchanted creature.
* Infinite Reflection can enchant a creature controlled by another player.
* If Infinite Reflection enters the battlefield attached to a creature and then becomes attached to a different creature before its enters-the-battlefield trigger resolves, each other nontoken creature you control will become a copy of the first creature.
* If Infinite Reflection leaves the battlefield or becomes attached to a different creature, none of the copy effects end. Your creatures will still be copies of whatever creature each was a copy of.
* If Infinite Reflection enters the battlefield attached to a token creature, the nontoken creatures that become copies of that creature are not themselves tokens.
* Creatures you control don't copy whether the enchanted creature is tapped or untapped, whether it has any counters on it, whether it has any Auras and Equipment attached to it, or any noncopy effects that have changed its power, toughness, types, color, or so on.
* Because creatures you control enter the battlefield as a copy of the enchanted creature, any enters-the-battlefield triggered abilities printed on such creatures won't trigger. However, if the enchanted creature has any enters-the-battlefield triggered abilities, those will trigger.
* Replacement effects that modify how a permanent enters the battlefield are now applied in the following order: control-changing effects (such as Gather Specimens), then copy effects (such as the abilities of Infinite Reflection and Clone), then all other effects. This is a recent rules change introduced with the release of the _Dark Ascension_ set.
* If a creature such as Clone is entering the battlefield under your control, there will be two copy effects to apply: the creature's own and Infinite Reflection's. No matter what order these effects are applied, the creature will be a copy of the enchanted creature when it enters the battlefield.
* Other enters-the-battlefield replacement abilities printed on the creature entering the battlefield won't be applied because the creature will already be a copy of the enchanted creature at that point (and therefore it won't have those abilities). For example, if the enchanted creature is Serra Angel, a creature that normally enters the battlefield tapped will enter the battlefield as an untapped copy of Serra Angel, and a creature that would normally enter the battlefield with counters on it will enter the battlefield as a copy of Serra Angel with no counters.
* External abilities may still affect how a creature enters the battlefield. For example, if your opponent controls Urabrask the Hidden, which reads, in part, "Creatures your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped," a creature entering the battlefield under your control will be a tapped copy of the enchanted creature.
* If you control more than one Infinite Reflection, you can apply those copy effects in any order. Creatures you control will enter the battlefield as a copy of the one whose copy effect you apply last.
Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich?
Let's begin by examining every aspect of Infinite Reflection. First off, the card costs six mana. Pricey, but completely doable within the right deck.
Next, it's an enchant creature Aura. Notably, Infinite Reflection can enchant your opponent's creatures as well as your own. That tidbit can come in handy, considering its next two abilities.
Infinite Reflection | Art by Igor Kieryluk
Alright, onto the juicy stuff. When Infinite Reflection enters the battlefield attached to something, each nontoken creature you control becomes a copy of that something. Obvious enough from the card text, but typing that out helps me focus. Essentially, Infinite Reflection allows you to have an army of forcibly cloned creatures. To maximize this effect, such a deck would have to be creature heavy. Since the annoying nontoken clause is prevalent here, token strategies are out. Also, as another deck-building kink, each creature in the deck should be worthy of Infinite Reflection, although there will be some specifically planned targets in today's decks. Finally, as recently alluded, if your opponent has a hefty creature, Infinite Reflection can transform your forces into copies of that fatty! That seems helpful in a pinch.
It's the second ability that really unhinges things, though. Each subsequent creature you cast will pass through this Aura's mirrored portal and emerge on the battlefield as a copy of the enchanted creature. As dictated by the intricate layering rule of "As before when," even enters-the-battlefield abilities such as Æther Adept's will be overwritten by the Reflection as well. It's a complete copy of the enchanted card.
This ability presents some quirky issues when it comes to building around Infinite Reflection. I misread this card about a dozen times before finally scoping out a landing strip of sorts. At first, my brain jumped to Simic Guildmage for Aura-attaching mayhem, but this idea thread was quickly and logically undone. The Reflection's second ability is a permanent copy wipe; any creature that could otherwise perform neat Aura-related tricks instead becomes whatever the enchanted creature is. And even if the Reflection gets removed or destroyed, your creatures remain in copy mode.
In a nutshell, Infinite Reflection is what happens when Essence of the Wild and Mirrorweave get smushed together, a tagline that should send pulsing sensations through any Johnny.
So now it's time to put these theories to the test through some casually focused deck building, as is the norm 'round these parts. One of my first ideas was to use Infinite Reflection in a tribal deck. These decks tend to run lots of creatures—a trait that would increase my Reflection options. Additionally, tribal decks are usually stuffed with lords (creatures that pump up their clans).
I decided to start off with Elves, a tribe that traditionally generates lots of mana acceleration and bodies. Cards like Llanowar Elves, Sylvan Ranger, and Wood Elves fit the bill, thinning the library while clotting up the battlefield in that annoying way of the 1/1. But with Infinite Reflection around, these little guys could be sculpted into far more lethal shapes.
The first prominent Reflection target is Elvish Archdruid. This crazy card can tap for an obscene amount of green mana. But when all your creatures suddenly become Archdruids as well, you'll have a beefy ground army (since they all pump each other), and an explosive wellspring of green mana at your disposal. Swinging with this team wouldn't be a bad option, but ideally there's a giant and fitting spell to pour all this mana into.
Indeed there is. I've honestly never been happier to make use of Genesis Wave. Not only will the X spell absorb the entire packet of green mana, but it'll send droves of Elves scurrying onto the battlefield from your library... at which point they promptly get Reflected into Elvish Archdruids.
Reverting to a mass swing is ultimately the plan, but ideally my creatures have trample to punch through. Heedless One joined the deck as the finisher of choice. When all your creatures become Heedless Ones, stomping is imminent. But wait... isn't my Infinite Reflection already saddled on Elvish Archdruid? Indeed, I need a way to get it back to my hand. Æther Tradewinds helps out, and even bounces an opposing troublemaker as well. The funny Seedling Charm works as well (and regenerating the occasional Elf is nice also). Cast either of those instants to set up the final blow: Heedless One followed by Infinite Reflection. The multiple Archdruids should cover the ten-mana investment.
Whilst searching for Elves to round out the deck, I stumbled across Cylian Sunsinger. My heart was transported back to fond memories of this card (I once devoted an entire article to it) and I knew it had to make the deck. An incoming army of pumped Sunsingers is my kind of hilarious.
I liked the way that last deck wound up, so I took a similar approach on my second effort. This time I began by searching for tribal tramplers, and upon rereading Sunrise Sovereign, I knew which direction to go. Infinitely Reflecting a Sovereign will pump up my forces to (dare I say it) giant proportions. Thundercloud Shaman is an excellent Giant to enchant as well. With a team of those, all non-Giant creatures should tremble in fear. Giant Harbinger can find his lanky companions, and Inferno Titan is just silly. Imagine slapping an Infinite Reflection on one. So much damage!
Giant decks can be very slow, so I opted for a defensive shell. Æther Tradewinds returns as a bouncer and Magma Jet is a solid burn spell. I knew I wanted some cheaper creatures to cast post-Giant-Reflection, and in a sluggish red build, I went with Martyr of Ashes, one of Magic's many invisible diamonds. Ember Hauler punctuates the early red damage feel, a vibe that seemed necessary to stabilize. Finally, Stinkdrinker Daredevil was an odd Giant accelerator with legs, so in it went.
For my next riff on Infinite Reflection, I tried to avoid relying on tribal synergies. Instead, I focused on an idea that was gnawing on a distant brain stem: suspend. Not bah-roken by any means, but the timely mechanic allows me to throw creatures into the Æther for a bit. Ideally, by the time they tick down to manifestation, I have an Infinite Reflection on something cool. And even if that doesn't pan out, a team of Errant Ephemerons can swing in the air for the win. A fun find was Veiling Oddity, which finds its perfect deck (always a great moment). Even though it'll enter the battlefield as something else, its time counter trigger occurs while it's still an exiled version of itself and will be unblockable!
Other blue suspenders that hopped into the deck were Riftwing Cloudskate and Deep-Sea Kraken (ooo... an enticing Reflection target). And since the Cloudskate and Æther Adept are bouncing the spells your opponent casts, it'll hit the battlefield quicker.
Instead of Æther Tradewinds this time around, I used Mark of Eviction. Useful as a slanted bounce spell, the deck can Mark the Reflected creature and return both Auras to hand.
Sage of Epityr and Silver Myr are solid creatures for mono-blue decks, even if they aren't the best Infinite Reflection targets. That's fine—they're the fodder. Civilized Scholar, meanwhile, gives the deck a neat twirl. It's a useful Looter in a creature-heavy deck like this one, and when Homicidal Brute rears its Hyde, er, head, it becomes a fascinating Reflection target. The Brute copies won't transform back, but a legion of 5/1s seems like a decent squad. At least until the Kraken gets released.
Homicidal Brute and Infinite Reflection
Magic Rules Manager Matt Tabak clarified the interaction of Civilized Scholar/Homicidal Brute and Infinite Reflection for us:
As long as your other creatures aren't also double-faced cards, they can't transform. They'll remain copies of Homicidal Brute. Note that if the actual Homicidal Brute does transform back into Civilized Scholar, Infinite Reflection will now be enchanting Civilized Scholar. This won't impact any creatures that are already on the battlefield, but it could impact new ones that enter the battlefield.
—DailyMTG.com Editorial Team
I'd love to hear your ideas on Infinite Reflection, as well as any Avacyn Restored card! Until next time!