ello and welcome back to the Lab. This week marks the last bit of spoilers in regards to Avacyn Restored. At this point, the entire set is available to scan, and this weekend's Prerelease events should signal a bevy of miracles and soulbonded creatures. I know I'm a little excited to see what's inside the real-world Helvault. Will Avacyn and Griselbrand be lurking inside? I bet Wizards figured out how to awaken them from their ink-and-cardboard prisons. (Or at least digitally reincarnate them. That's a thing now.)
Break It Open This Weekend
Anyway, while the time for previews has ended, I still have plenty to say about last week's delectable Johnny nugget, Infinite Reflection. Readers sounded off in my inbox like almost never before. Clearly the card excited you all, and I thusly offer my second-ever mailbag column focused explicitly on a single card. (Last time I opened the floodgates for the wacky Knowledge Pool.)
So let's hear a bunch of decks and ideas from readers like you! (I'm assuming you have sent me a deck idea before. If not... you should!! Obey!!!)
Before we get cracking, I just want to stress how complex this card is. A whole lot of you completely whiffed on the pesky nontoken clause, submitting rather fun-looking concoctions around cards like Grave Titan and Turntimber Ranger that sadly don't work. The card teeters on the verge of brokenness in that tantalizing way of the Johnny card.
Many of the submitted ideas revolved around various tribal lords, a facet I identified last week. Jed NoLastName convinced me that a Standard-legal Zombie vision could manifest with Infinite Reflection. His number one target was Diregraf Captain, which is quite appealing. In his words:
"The good captain would make the rest of our Zombies rather beefy, but also if any of our Zombies bites the bullet they pay our opponent back with a nice chunk of damage. Also, our whole army would have deathtouch, which is quite the challenge to overcome."
Other great targets include the twisted spell-spawn of Geralf, that wily necromancer. His Mindcrusher and Messenger both seem fearsome in multiples. The undying effect is what amplifies this slice of crazy. A team of Messengers effectively becomes a team of "ticking time bombs," in Jed's words.
I filled out the list with Zombs. Gravecrawler is particularly nice here, since it always returns from the dead (albeit as something else). A fun singleton, Skaab Ruinator, becomes silly when Reflected. And while browsing the spells in Standard, I thought there were some cards that needed more love. Altar's Reap, Flesh Allergy, and Shrine of Limitless Power can help you in various ways.
Another "lord" of sorts that collected some attention was Grand Architect. In the words of Charles K:
Once an Architect is on the board and enchanted, just tap him and the rest of the creatures can flow forth—Silver Myr, Necropede, Perilous Myr, Myr Superion, etc. Sure, they all become copies of the lowly Vedalken, but they all make all the others bigger. This can make some large creatures if you dump multiples very quickly. It also leaves open for some massive acceleration into some epic noncreature artifacts as well. Or even dump the Reflection on a Superion. Imagine all that power, without the casting cost restriction!
I like this idea chain. Contagion Engine and Spine of Ish Sah seem to qualify as epic noncreature artifacts, so in they go.
Those two decks happen to be in Standard, a format I normally abstain from in favor of the far-reaching horizons of Casual. As such, modifications can obviously be made. What's important is that I get your gears turning.
Onto some of the weirder submissions. Some email folk decided to dig into the deep bag of Aura-related tricks. Jack Watters reached in and found Arcanum Wings, a card "from the future" that bears the ultramodern Aura swap ability. The Wings basically cuts Infinite Reflection's converted mana cost in half and gives it flash.
Jack also included a weird idea snippet that I think should be shared. He wrote:
"Donate a copy of Sages of the Anima enchanted with Arcanum Wings to your opponent. Next, Aura swap the Wings for Infinite Reflections. Sages will fill your opponent's hand with nothing but creatures for the rest of the game; creatures that will forcibly enter the battlefield as copies of Sages."
Onto other Aura shenanigans. Walter McManigal decided it was time for Academy Researchers to steal the limelight. With Reflected Researchers on turn three, a series of small flash creatures like Scryb Ranger and (giggle) Zealous Guardian can suddenly enter the battlefield bearing some ridiculous Auras, like Eldrazi Conscription or Angelic Destiny. Three Dreams is a key card here, and has a bit of a toolbox to work with.
In response to last week, one card I was bombarded with from all sides was Mirror Gallery. A classic breaker of rules, Mirror Gallery nullifies the poignant legendary rule. And, happily, the flavor between the two cards blends together so seamlessly I can taste it. (Just think about their names. It's not too tricky of a connection.)
This deck-building duo obviously opens up the entire field of legendary creatures for potential Reflection. It didn't take me long to think about Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Probably because every email mentioned it. A team of Elesh Norns should crash in for unopposed and unethical amounts of damage.
Another fun sequence of cards to think about was the legendary Dragon Spirits of Kamigawa. Let's say the Gallery is up and running and you enchant Keiga, the Tide Star. Hmm... an army of 5/5 flying Dragons? Okay! And if the Gallery isn't around? Yep, that's the sound of you stealing all your opponents' creatures. Yosei, the Morning Star is nice as well, able to spread a wave of fatigue over all your opponent's permanents.
What creatures to play in the early game? Ideally, a suite of controlling, defensive-minded ones. Terry Hayes saved the day with an email full of such creatures. He wrote:
"My first thought was to create an annoying defensive deck with Guard Gomazoa, Fog Bank, and Wall of Denial."
Terry preferred to cast Infinite Reflection on his opponent's large creature, which is a fine plan, but Elesh Norn + Mirror Gallery works just as well.
While looking for other blue and white legendary creatures to break with Mirror Gallery, I came across Geist of Saint Traft. That's sickeningly silly. I'm guessing your opponent can't withstand the thudding blow of multiple 4/4 Angel tokens.
Finally, to cap things off with a dose of silver borders, an email from the deranged Darth Parallax informed me of the only Infinite Reflection target that matters: S.N.O.T. With the Aura on a S.N.O.T., any subsequent creature cast will be warped into a S.N.O.T., at which point a drastic amalgamation of your S.N.O.T.s will be caused. Does that resonate?? Parallax's suggested plan was to use the rippling engine of Thrumming Stone and Relentless Rats to stuff your barracks, and then drop the snot-bomb. I love the moments in Magic where a ridiculously high number is generated without the use of infinite combos (as neat as they are), and I would imagine a S.N.O.T. of that magnitude would be downright monstrous.
Well, that's a wrap. Next week is thematically barren, and I'd love to read some inventive deck ideas concerning Avacyn Restored cards. Hit me up! Until next time.