So far I’ve only taken a look at Scars of Mirrodin cards and this will probably continue for until the last few interesting commons are covered. Today, however, the Scars of Mirrodin card happens to also be true throwback to Mirrodin: Arrest, a card which was printed in Mirrodin as well as Mercadian Masques.
Removal variants are often of the form “similar effect and cost, slight tweak to actual impact” and Arrest is an obvious riff on Pacifism. Here the slight additional cost is rewarded with an additional clause: “and its activated abilities can’t be activated.”
There isn’t much interesting to say about locking down activated abilities. Whether it’s an old favorite like Fireslinger or a new school punk like Sylvok Replica, ensuring the shutout of an available avenue of card advantage is itself pretty slick.
That said, Arrest is fairly unique in its ability to turn off abilities. Understanding which activated ability is more critical to your opponent’s strategy is the other side of the coin: putting the wrong creature in jail can make a player feel very silly.
The fact that Arrest is very reasonably priced and is fairly unique makes it both valuable to use and riskier to misplay. Surely subtle, but playing around specific removal is a high level subgame in the second (or third) games in matches. I know I’ve baited Arrest, among others, to some success.
Again, subtle, but when you’re considering odds and sequencing revealing information about your deck – like having unique cards such as Arrest – the little things start to add up.
And as a player to appreciates a plan coming together, seeing the progress of incremental advantages is a very sexy thing to watch.