It’s probably not a secret by now: I love artifacts. I think they are dandy little devices (or massive, mashing constructs) and are something that I have struggled to float into my cube correctly. It’s trickier than it appears.
Initially I had too much mana fixing. Mana Cylix? Springleaf Drum? These weren’t the trinkets I was looking for. Neither was the Blight Sickle or Arcane Spyglass “for the control decks”. Clearly my evaluation skills were not aligned with the direction my cube was moving. Fortunately, I’ve learned so much since throwing things together at the start, like how to look at guys like Ichorclaw Myr:
Ichorclaw Myr, at a glance, doesn’t look too shabby. While a 1/1 for any two mana won’t light too many fires of excitement the presence of infect adds some flashiness. More important is the rules text after infect: “Whenever Ichorclaw Myr becomes blocked, it gets +2/+2 until end of turn.”
In terms of Limited it makes Ichorclaw Myr a quasi-unblockable creature. Blocking is made difficult not by the pump effect but by infect which makes the damage much more challenging to handle. Something like Calcite Snapper isn’t enough to shrug away attacking.
But that’s it: blocking is slightly tricky. Ichorclaw Myr isn’t the feature of an all-star defense since the triggered ability is “becomes blocked” and not the more dynamic “blocks or becomes blocked” that I personally enjoy seeing. Infect, as discussed recently, has potential but will only make the cut if there is sufficient inertia and alternative usefulness with the creatures.
Ichorclaw Myr feels like a guy just missing the final cut on the team – potentially solid and useful in Scars of Mirrodin Limited but a bit narrow to bridge into a wider world of Cube Limited.
Yesterday’s little ditty, Plague Stinger, covered infect and it’s teasing potential in a pauper cube. It wasn’t long before fellow cube enthusiast Jamil Usman shared his thoughts regarding infect:
What strange creature is being referred to here? Obviously it’s another Scars of Mirrodin common, Blight Mamba:
It costs the same – 1C, a colored and a colorless mana – as Plague Stinger but lacks the flying evasion. The difference, however, is more than made up with regeneration.
Why is regeneration so valuable here? There are a number of reasons to look at:
- Regeneration with infect makes it a problematic blocker against opponents
- And, for the same reason, it makes swinging into something bigger profitable
- Regeneration is often very relevant in Limited (see River Boa)
Blocking this guy is a difficult position to be in since you’re either slowly having your blocker ground out via -1/-1 counters, or you’re slowing accruing poison counters. And by “slowly” I mean “potentially explosively” thanks to the same green pump spells and equipment that makes Plague Stinger truly frighting. Even better, our dance partner here is in-color for said effects.
I truly can’t wait to see the rest of Scars of Mirrodin!
With the Scars of Mirrodin Prerelease Events just a few days away I want to continue looking at the latest commons to come to the world of Magic. Let’s go with something that should tickle the fancy of many of the “casual” players and those who played back in the day: Plague Stinger.
Let’s start with two obvious things:
- Infect is the latest version of the poison mechanic (If you gain ten poison counters, you lose the game.)
- Insect Horror sounds like a B movie (Insect: Horror! “Run from the roach of DOOM!”)
While much of the depth of Scars of Mirrodin‘s Limited environment remains to be seen, infect is being promised as a viable means to inflicting death by poison. The obvious synergy with infect, especially with an evasive creature like this one, is to play a pump effect. Vines of Vastwood, Groundswell, or even just plain old Giant Growth promises a hefty addition of poison counters.
All three of those cards are, currently, in my cube. However, Scars of Mirrodin will have many sources of infect as well as many sources of the synergistic proliferate mechanic – see Steady Progress for more on that – and I’m not sure my cube will have much redundancy for either mechanic. Once removed from the environment the question becomes “Will infect hold up within the test of time against all other commons?”
The initial outlook is dubious, especially on a fragile 1/1 that needs a little help to close it out faster, but I am hesitant to completely discount the possibility. More needs to be known about the other commons as that will determine how much direct support is even available for a pauper cube. That said, it only takes the right equipment and a few other infect creatures to really get a potential subtheme to be real.
“You die to poison.” may be the first alternate win condition that would work in my cube. If it makes sense to let it happen I will certainly give it a trial!