t's fun to break the rules. It's fun to sneak into the kitchen in the middle of the night and reach into the cookie jar. Wizards of the Coast is especially indulgent: what we think of as the “abilities” of a card can also be thought of as a way that card let's us break the rules. Sometimes this rule breaking is incredibly blatant - witness Stasis (no untap), Relentless Rats (no Four Card Limit), or Relentless Assault (two attack phases). Betrayers of Kamigawa introduced another blatant rule breaker to us in Mirror Gallery (no Legend rule). I know that Mark Gottlieb has already written an excellent article on Mirror Gallery (and my feature deck this week will make use of one of his very cool ideas), but I'm going to re-examine the card and see what I can find hidden in it.
Before I had begun to write it, I was talking about my upcoming column on Mirror Gallery during dinner with some other Magic players. One of the players immediately had a story for me about his experience with the card. Johnny Luu was playing in a tournament with a Dragonstorm deck based on ideas that Madison's Ben Dempsey and Mike Hron had hashed out. His opponent was playing “some crazy deck” full of all kinds of rarely played cards when Johnny decided to burst out with the combo. He used up some Sandstone Needles, cast some Seething Songs and Desperate Rituals and dropped into play a bunch of Kokusho, the Evening Star. He put them into the graveyard, “Take 20!”
“Nope,” replied his opponent, pointing to the Mirror Gallery in play. I don't know how that guy got out of the very real trouble of staring down four 5/5s, but based on his semi-dark mood as he told his story, I don't think Johnny managed to win it.
You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake
Mirror Gallery is a really simple spell. There is no Legends rule. Suddenly, you actually can drop that second copy of Akroma without losing the first one. Normally, Legends work under a “the same matter can't occupy the same space” rule, and all copies of a Legend die when another one of the same name is in play, but not when a Mirror Gallery is out. Be warned: if someone takes care of your Mirror Gallery, those multiple copies are no longer protected. “The same matter can't occupy the same space.”
Back when Legends were first introduced in, well, Legends, there was a different Legend rule: if one Legend was in play, a second one of the same name couldn't come out and play (the new one would just go quietly to the grave). My early play decks included Princess Lucrezia and Riven Turnbull (“excellent” mana acceleration to be sure), but let's be honest here: just having an extra copy of any old random Legend like those moldy oldies doesn't make the world shake. Plenty of Legends don't even work that well in multiples. Take the other Legend Rule-breaking card, Brothers Yamazaki. Don't get visions of sugarplums and Yamazaki Triplets dancing in your head just yet; Brothers Yamazaki specifically says “exactly two” Brothers need to be in play for the bonuses. While being a “Legend” is a way that Wizards has held back the power of some creatures, having two Dakkon Blackblade out is just having out two huge, expensive creatures. We can do better than that.
Justice League / Justice Society, TEAM UP!
Some Legends actually get a little bit of a boost in teaming up with other versions of themselves. A really good simple example of this is one of my favorite Legends, Jeska, Warrior Adept
. A 3/1 first striker works better on the defense if it has another first striking 3/1 Bizarro version around to help out. Similarly, the timming power of Jeska is better yet if the Bizarro Jeska joins in. In some of my attempts at early Kamigawa
Block constructed decks, I've been annoyed that I couldn't flip both
of my Callow Jushi
and have a ton of countering ability on the table. Now that I can, they each help make the other all that more useful.
There are tons of examples of this. Multiple copies of Azusa can be incredibly amazing in conjunction with any of the Moonfolk (Meloku especially). Multiple Braids can be especially painful for an opponent, and if it gets too fast to handle, you can simply sack the Braids to themselves. Several Seizan will ensure that someone is going to win the game very quickly. Multiple Ascendant Evincars can make any non-black opponents have real trouble keeping a creature out (and the Evincars actually boost each other!).
There are other Legends besides the Evincar with power-up boosts as well. Jacques le Vert gives all green creatures (including himself) +0/+2. As a pair, twin Jacques make a Green team well-nigh unkillable. I've heard many players complain that their Kodama of the South Tree ought to be able to give itself Trample and +1/+1 when it triggers (a little greedy, are we?), but if you can legally drop a second one, not only do you have a veritable Overrun but you do get to have them give each other their bonuses. If you want to go really crazy, though, imagine a pair of Marton Stromgald marching into the attack with just two other wimpy (1/1) friends. Each Márton becomes a 4/4 and those two wimps just became 7/7!
“I am Spartacus!” (and other cool moments)
Recently, a television commercial made me laugh out loud. I was thinking about Mirror Gallery when a commercial for soda used a famous clip from the classic movie Spartacus. In that scene, the Romans are looking for rebel Spartacus, and everyone stands up claiming to be Spartacus. They know that if Spartacus shows up before the Romans, he's a dead man, but they'll all lay their life on the line so he won't die. It really is a cool moment in a great flick.
Obviously I play too much Magic because it made me think of the Rebel Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero. When she was first printed, it was during the original Legend rule, and if you used Lin Sivvi to search up another copy of Lin Sivvi, it would just die. Boo. Now, though, it's more like Spartacus. With Mirror Gallery, each Rebel Lin Sivvi that gets called out can stand next to every other one and yell out their name, and all of them get to stick around.
Let's take another kind of rebel (but not the capital R kind), Godo, Bandit Warlord. If a pair of Godos are out there causing a ruckus, a very curious thing happens on the attack. Both of the Godos' abilities trigger, resulting in a total of three attack phases uninterrupted by any other phase (imagine the fun in a multiplayer game!). I wonder if those Godos happened to find any equipment that might make this terrifying indeed…
While Tolarian Academy is rightly restricted or banned everywhere it lives, other mana acceleration is not. Players like Nick Little had to use cards like Minamo to harness the power of a Gaea's Cradle twice, but you don't need to work that hard with a Mirror Gallery. Just lay that second Rofellos or Gaea's Cradle and get ridiculous amounts of mana. For a bit of fun, what about multiple copies of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale?
As Cradle and Academy show, Legends aren't just creatures. One of the first things Mark Gottlieb talked about with Mirror Gallery was the Honden enchantments. Clearly, multiple Hondens can be pretty crazy. If you're playing all of these Legends anyway, what about Day of Destiny? What about Konda's Banner? Getting two Konda's Banner on the same creature can make a whole slew of your creatures much bigger.
Other helpers that aren't (necessarily) Legends
Day of Destiny helps out all of your Legendary creatures but there are several more. Here are some examples:
Time of Need. If you're likely to be playing a number of Legends, you might as well play a card that is tantamount to the (banned/restricted) Demonic Tutor.
Honor-Worn Shaku. Look at me! I turn your Legends into mana!
Yomiji, Who Bars the Way. Sure, it might bring back your opponent's Legends, but I bet you're running more than they are.
Karakas is one of the best lands that can help out your Legendary creatures. Sure, it is a Legend itself, so it gets a boost as well.
One of the amazing things about this card is just how incredibly different various decks using Mirror Gallery can be. With that in mind, maybe you'd like to do a Reader Challenge on it? If the majority of the readers want a challenge, in two weeks, we'll see the results. Creative types: this is your chance to get a head start!
Do you want a Reader Challenge on Mirror Gallery
Here's my take on a Mirror Gallery deck that not only uses Mark Gottlieb's cool idea of a Krark's Thumb/Gallery combo and turns it into a Goblin Theme deck.
61-card Standard Goblin/Mirror Theme deck
There are a lot of fun things going on. The Mirror and the Thumb make all of the coin flipping cards fairly ridiculous. I'll let the mathemagicians among you figure out how much damage you can make a Mana Clash do to someone on average when you have multiple Krark's Thumbs out, but it's a lot. I would say with double Krark's Thumb out, I wouldn't be surprised if a single Mana Clash killed your opponent. With even one Thumb, a Fiery Gambit is over 40% likely to get you the jackpot of three “won” flips. With two, you're a bit over 80%. I'm willing to bet you'll do pretty well in the games where that happens.
Slobad can sack a less useful artifact to protect your Mirror Gallery or Krark's Thumb. The Goblin Archaeologist may not be a Legend, but it does do things like have a good shot at taking out numerous scary artifacts. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Ishi-Ishi is going to be pretty good in the future, giving all kinds of agony to Spirit or Arcane users. Pyrite Spellbomb, Magma Jet, and Honden of Infinite Rage all play support duty, killing things early on.
Overall, Mirror Gallery is an incredibly fun card. There are so many fun cards that can be used with it and so many ways to apply the card that I really hope that everyone votes to make this card the next Reader Challenge.
Just watch out for Arena of the Ancients.
That's all for this week. I hope you enjoyed the article. See you next time!