o be honest, the preview card for today isn't a blow-your-mind kind of casual card. (That comes next week.) And it's certainly not a tournament-quality slammer. (I got so… darn… lucky with Exalted Angel last year!)
But it still caught my eye, and I asked to preview it, for two reasons: I like the new mechanic, and I love the card name.
But before we show you the card, let me ask you a bunch of riddles:
- What can have two eyes, or ten, or twelve?
- What costs , has ten power and toughness, but doesn't really need trample?
- What sorcery can trigger up to six comes-into-play effects? Or five, if it wants? Or just one?
- What one green card can spot an entire army of emergency blockers?
- What non-creature spell can give you creatures with two different types?
We are going to get this card to bend a few interesting directions before the day is done; but if you don't like the card now, I'm not going to be able to help you. Proceed directly to your nearest tournament and start gazing at your navel.
The rest of us have work to do.
RULES PRIMER – ENTWINE
Entwine is one of the new mechanics in Mirrodin. It mixes up what we know about modal spells (“choose one”) and Invasion block's “kicker” mechanic. While retaining a familiar “pay more to get more theme,” don't assume you know how entwine works until you've become familiar with some rules specifics. Please read the following carefully, and seek the FAQ on all of Mirrodin's new mechanics when it becomes available on this site next week.
You choose a mode when you announce the spell and pay the costs. Either you're getting a beast token, five insect tokens, or both. You can't change your choice later (e.g., pay less after someone plays Counterspell).
Converted mana cost never changes. This is true in any situation, but helpful to remember for entwine. For One Dozen Eyes, it's six (), never nine (). I don't care if you have a Helm of Awakening, or an Emerald Medallion, or a Thunderscape Familiar, or whatever. Six. Not nine.
If you choose both, you do them as one continuous spell, with no space between. Essentially, in “both” mode you are replacing the “; or” with a period. There is no moment where you or any other player can respond to the beast token portion of the spell before the insect token portion happens. Here it's not a big deal – but there are entwine spells where this is more likely to be important.
If you choose one, you completely ignore the other one. Some entwine spells have targets. You can play Deflection on such a spell, if the mode chosen has a single target. It doesn't matter if the other mode does, too. If both are chosen (and different targets selected for each part of the entwined spell), then Deflection is no longer an option.
If you make a copy of the spell, you must choose the same mode. You can't play One Dozen Eyes choosing five Insects, and then Fork it for a Beast token. (This would be a bit silly anyway, but some of you are pretty strange, so I'm just sayin'.) You're either an insect man or a beast man. Or both, I suppose. But in that case, you're both both times. *Sigh.* Maybe Rune could have said that better…
- If you want to learn more about modal spells, go here.
This is where I do my thrice-annual pitch to readers to learn where the rules are online. Once you know where to look, you can answer rules questions with about five minutes' worth of effort.
RIDDLES IN THE DARK
The image evoked by the card is wonderful (and I'm writing this without having seen the artwork). It recalls something not unlike what Bilbo and his dwarf companions must have seen in Mirkwood during The Hobbit, before they gave up on campfires. Sometimes it's one pair of eyes, sometimes considerably more. Some of the eyes are similar, and some altogether different. All are fairly threatening, and everyone involved would just as soon get out of the woods at the earliest possible convenience.
The card has flavor slathered all over it. While not as outright impressive as Scourge's Form of the Dragon, it's another notch in the creativity belt. While tying into old themes of synergy between bugs and woodland creatures (e.g, Symbiotic Beast), it gives a fresh spin on the idea of amassing a sudden, diverse army.
The title also has a classic feel to it, as if it should be some sort of ancient, creaturish, legendy-thing (or maybe I'm still enjoying the mention of Skeleton Ship from last week). What's great about it is that “one dozen eyes” is the answer to so many nifty little riddles you could come up with. All of these riddles would be clever, and possibly disturbing in nature. Feel free to post your own on the message boards.
HOW MANY EYES DO YOU SEE?
All that said, when you build a deck with One Dozen Eyes, you don't kid yourself into thinking the massive flavor will force a concession by your opponent(s). In fact, even six for one won't guarantee you the game. You've got to get these eyes rolling, so to speak.
My first deck idea was to get One Dozen Eyes played and replayed as many times as possible. As a restriction, I limited myself largely to insects. (Anger is an incarnation of, er, an angry insect!)
The deck's title is actually an underestimation, since I didn't count all the permutations that Mirari involves. Suffice it to say you should be able to keep a lot of eyeballs on the table.
It's a real shame you can't target your own graveyard with the Nullmage Advocate – but hey, maybe someone will Dominate it and make it work for you, right?
You can ditch quite a few rares without batting an eye. (No, I have no intention of stopping those silly “eye” references.) Deadly Insect is fine instead of Gigapede. There are many substitutes for Nostalgic Dreams – anything that gets you cards back from your library, like Revive, is fine. Mana Flare really helps with the acceleration, but maybe you don't have four. So, do you have an Overabundance sitting around unused? How about Upwelling? If none of these rares are available, you should at least make sure you have an accelerator like Harrow or Explosive Growth. The deck does depend a bit on speed.
If you're facing a ton of instants in your group – especially end of turn instants – try that spare Xantid Swarm that you haven't used yet. Works fine in this deck, and does okay in the one below as well.
The next deck is a bit nastier, and runs an aggressive creature-kill strategy in a multiplayer game. Stuck with insects, for what should become obvious reasons.
Here, the idea is to use Death Match to turn One Dozen Eyes into a cluster-eye bomb. Death Pit Offering will boost up your creatures out of easy Death Match range, and most of your creatures break the symmetry at least a little (four toughness, protection from black, can't be targeted, etc.) Your closer is likely to be the Nantuko Husk, to which you can sacrifice all the eyes you want until it tramples (via Brawn) over for enough to kill the last opponent.
Rare replacement? How about Vexing Beetle for Gigapede? (You know you want to try it.) Seriously, if no rare is available, Deadly Insect is once again just fine. There are other green creatures with protection from black, though the Blightcutter is prime among them. (Darkest Hour loses some punch without the Blightcutter, though that old-school trick still works fine with Reap.) Death Pit Offering and Death Match are both pretty necessary, but you could get away with only two copies of each. I'd replace the others with card drawing, like Wall of Blossoms. If you have to trade for them with limited resources, the Match is more important than the Offering.
Another good rare for either deck, if you have one to spare, is Steely Resolve. I mean, I have taken the trouble to make these decks insect-astic!
I haven't put much utility in. But trust me on this one: as insects go, Caustic Wasps is about to get a promotion from “plain awful” to “perfectly reasonable”. Keep your eye(s) on your environment, as Mirrodin keeps rolling out!
You may email Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, he cannot give deck help of any kind, so please don't ask.