n this week of “overlooked cards”, a casual column has a pretty hard time – but not impossible. While the readership of this column is incredibly diverse and willing to explore most nooks and crannies of a given set, there are still always a few cards that generate less buzz than the others. I've picked a couple today that seem to have slipped off of the radar screen.
Before zinging me with emails telling me how you always knew these cards were great, let me give you my response now: “I'm proud of you for seeing what others didn't. Congratulations.”
With that, I present to you:
A few words on each:
The Engine: Only 3/4 for six mana, the Engine gives you 6/8 of attacking power – doesn't that sound better? In an aggressive deck, it really ought to be a no-brainer; but aggressive decks in casual (and especially multiplayer) games are not always easy to pull off. Give this bifurcated lad another look.
The Binder: This card and the Engine both risk being forgotten so quickly, once Mirrodin block is out and the next block is in with whatever fabulous new mechanic awaits. But before discarding equipment like Spellbinder from your memory, consider this: there will always be instants out there that make this thing look pretty shiny. As artifact hate rolls away over the next year or so, keep little gems like this in mind. Replicating a Swords to Plowshares, Boomerang, Lightning Bolt, or anything else for no recurring cost – well, that just sounds a bit too much like Panoptic Mirror to pass up, doesn't it?
Let's move on to a card that can tie these two crazy kids together – and quite frankly, I haven't heard much about this one either, beyond some initial “gee whiz” discussion on a board or two…
The cross-cutting card: Savage Beating.
While expensive, this is the card that will help both the Engine and the Binder shine. It doesn't have to be the Engine equipped with the Spellbinder
, to be sure: but I like the idea of equipping a Twin token. (Yes, you'll have to find a way to do this at instant speed. Looks like we have two colors for our deck – red and white.)
An interesting rules question arising from group play: when Gemini Engine attacks and the “attacking Twin” is put into play, whom is the Twin attacking? Does it have to be the same player as the Gemini Engine, or can it be a different player?
I would recommend allowing the Twin to attack anywhere – there is still plenty of time for potential defenders to play spells, activate abilities, and/or declare blockers. Also, the concept is a bit cooler this way.
This deck depends on three types of cards – creatures, equipment, and instants – and doesn't have room for many cards that may seem helpful (e.g., Fireball) but would make the deck less efficient. You need to be sure you get creatures, and the equipment you need, and an instant to put on one or more Spellbinders. Everything else is a distraction.
The early creatures (Goblin Legionnaire, Soldier Replica) are meant to warn off early assaults. Later on, if equipped with Spellbinder, they make for unappetizing blocking decisions. The later creatures – Soltari Guerillas, Exalted Angel, and Gemini Engine – are meant to avoid blockers altogether. The Shikari are there to make sure the Spellbinder makes it to the right unblocked creature – a Twin token, perhaps.
You could do worse…
Ideally, you will get a Savage Beating imprinted on a Spellbinder, and an equipped creature will make it through. Assuming you choose the option for another combat phase, you may attack again. Since you got through once, I'll bet you can get through again, right? Now you may attack again…and so on…
Rules moment: even if you get multiple combat phases, a given Twin token lasts for only one combat. That's okay – as I said before, six power is pretty imposing, and you don't even have to entwine for double strike to do lethal damage in a given turn. Attacking four times with an equipped Gemini Engine ought to be impressive enough, no? And that's just the basic trick…
I threw a restricted card in there for good fun. Imprinting Enlightened Tutor on the Spellbinder gives you the chance to stack your deck with certain creatures or equipment, for as long as you can attack successfully. I've also included a single copy of Fissure for further spellbinding antics, though it gets a bit expensive to include too many of these.
Another boutique option for an instant is Seething Song, so you can generate more mana to do something else (e.g., entwine a Savage Beating, and/or enter into some infernal loop) – but enter into such plans with great caution. In general, the instants you want are the ones that actually do something.
This is a deck where holding mana open is really important. The threat of instants (and/or abilities played at instant speed) is what will keep you alive early on. If you find yourself run over by early action, replace the more expensive creatures with any of the fine cheap creatures red/white has to offer – Savannah Lions, White Knight, Leonin Skyhunter, Mogg Fanatic, Goblin War Buggy, etc. As for instants, keep Orim's Thunder in mind if you face many enchantments or artifacts – it'll be nice to repeat that sort of control (and yes, you must pay the kicker if you want it, just like you'd have to pay entwine).
I'll say it again – because of the dominance of artifacts in this block, I believe casual players will be coming back to Mirrodin, Darksteel, and (I'm guessing) Fifth Dawn for some time. They'll always fit in just about any color deck, and even the low-key cards we've seen today have something to offer the intrepid deckbuilder.
You may contact Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anthony loves to hear back from his readers, but cannot provide deck help, no matter how obscure the card.