Stainless, Painless, and Possibly Brainless - A Darksteel Constructed Rares Review
"I always thought Crackle was undervalued member of the team."
"Crackle. He was a good guy, but he never got props. Snap was like the leader behind the scenes. He was the brains, the head, you know? Nice shot."
"Pop was the front guy. All flash and bling-bling. Couldn't help but notice him."
"So Snap was Pete Townsend, and Pop was Roger Daltry. Crap, that was so close."
"Right, but The Who were a foursome, so the analogy breaks down after that. My point is Crackle never gets enough credit. It can't be 'Snap! Crackle! Pop!' without him."
"That's pretty interesting, Jack."
"So are you going to sit there tossing cards into a hat all night, dude?"
"I don't know. It helps me think, Jack."
"Kinda boring, though."
"Hotels aren't the most exciting places."
"Wait, did I just say hotel?"
"Jack, where are we?"
"I don't think we're anywhere, really. I think this is a dream."
"What makes you think that?"
"Well, for starters there's no door in this room. Kinda weird."
"So, wake up, dude. I don't want to be here."
"I don't think I can, Jack. This doesn't seem to be one of those 'you can take control of things' dreams."
"Great. Just great. I'm stuck in a hotel room with no door watching you pitch cards into a hat."
"Why don't you just watch TV?"
"Huh. When did that get here? Well, let's see what movies are on order."
"Back up, I can't see the hat."
"Sorry. Oh, man. 'The Two Towers', 'The Empire Strikes Back', 'Matrix: Reloaded'. I've seen all these a million times. Ow!"
"You hit me in the face, dude!"
"I said 'sorry'."
"You could have put my eye out!"
"Can I have my card back, please?"
"Here...wait, dude. These aren't playing cards."
"No, I guess they aren't."
"What are they?"
"Rares, Jack. These are the rare cards from Darksteel."
"You dream about Magic cards, dude?"
"I guess I do."
"Dude, this is the sickest dream I've ever been part of."
"I was wondering why I was getting extra throws."
"What did you say?"
"Extra throws. There are fifty-five rares in Darksteel, three more cards than a deck of ordinary playing cards."
"That doesn't explain why you're dreaming of them, dude."
"Well, I probably fell asleep looking over the spoiler again, Jack. I've been trying to figure out which of these cards are good enough to see play in constructed tournaments over the next couple of months. Limited is largely driven by the common cards, but I don't draft as much as some folks. I'm more interested in how the new set might influence Type II, or maybe what cards might show up in Block. Rares tend to be the cards that make it into constructed environments, although that's in no way a hard and fast rule. They also tend to be flashier than commons or uncommons, so it can take a minute to get beyond the 'gee whiz' factor."
"In other words you're drooling over the spoiler like some kid over a toy catalog screeching 'I want this one and this one and this one,' right?"
"Yeah, pretty much. But I am only looking at rare cards. Rares only. No commons, no uncommons."
"Yes, rare cards."
"Gotcha. So how do you tell what's good, dude?"
"Well, the first thing I look at is stuff centered around mechanics. Then, I look at cycles."
"Yup. Darksteel is the second set of the Mirrodin Block, so it's going to have some cards that are building on the mechanics of the Mirrodin set. The Affinity mechanic turned out to be a great engine for a deck, so the first thing I was looking for were cards with the Affinity for Artifacts mechanic. Oddly enough they're the only two cards I haven't thrown towards the hat."
Cards with Affinity for Artifacts
Both of these cards suffer from the triple colored casting requirement. No previous Affinity card has such a harsh requirement. That makes them less attractive than previous cards.
This could be interesting in an aggro Affinity deck. Probably will not see much play, though. If other artifact decks prove competitive, this card becomes useful.
Just not very good. Affinity already has ways to restock the hand. The few cards in the deck that aren't artifacts Affinity would rather not dump in the graveyard. That pushes this card into the unplayable pile.
"They didn't look so bad to me, dude."
"Affinity is already a crowded party, Jack. One has to bring a lot to get noticed. But there are new mechanics, too. The Modular mechanic is new. It's also easy to find the Modular cards since they are all named 'Arcbound' something."
"Convenience is good."
The New Mechanics
Modular (Arcbound creatures)
Far too narrow an effect to make its way into any existing deck. Essentially, this would have to be the expensive card in Arcbound dot deck (all arcbound, all the time). Even then, the card comes onto the table too late to be anything except a"win more" card.
"Jack, don't kick the television."
"Stupid 'block adult titles' option. It's not right, dude."
"Sorry. Guess I'm just a dream prude."
"That's one tough TV. I wonder what it's built out of."
"Such stuff as dreams are made on?"
"You'll burn for that. You're a lousy card tosser, by the way. I found these on the TV."
"Ah, my indestructible rares. Thanks, Jack."
Far too expensive. Decks that regularly generate eleven mana or more would rather play several 1/1 soldiers at instant speed EOT than one big guy in a main phase, even if he is indestructible.
Powerful effect, but this reeks of"win more" to me. Also, it costs a bit.
Any card with the words"You win the game" printed on it has potential. This is worth looking into. A solid tier two deck could probably be built around this card. Nothing that will carry you to Nats, but something that could be a lot of fun on Friday nights.
Myr on crusade. Myr dot deck can't be good. It just can't be. Seriously, the other aggressive decks are just faster. Having said that, if someone wanted to find a home for Darksteel Forge this would be it. If this deck ever became good, Affinity would just start packing Furnace Dragon and be done with it.
"March of the Machines plus a lot of indestructible artifacts is going to be fun to beat. Beat one card and win, you have to love that those odds."
"Whatever, dude. That's strange."
"The Gideons don't leave Bibles in your dreams."
"What's in the nightstand, then?"
"Shakespeare. Henry VI."
"Which Henry VI?"
"Part two. Go figure. Hey, why don't you dream of cards that don't exist, like Shakespeare Magic cards or something, dude?"
"Too many legends."
"Legends? You mean like these?"
He's an artifact and a creature! Could he be more fragile? If you have eleven mana and nothing better to do with it, you can play him and take the artifact of your choice from your opponent before he Shatters him. This begs the obvious question"why don't you have anything better to do with eleven mana?"
Shield of Kaldra
Expensive. Very nice effect, but too slow. It comes too late to have the desired impact. Cards like this make me want to build a March deck with myr and the Urzatron for casual dueling.
Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer
Great name. Really, really great name. Does he really fill a need in an existing deck? I don't think he does. But he still has a great name.
"This is sad, dude."
"There's only seven cards in the hat."
"It's harder than it looks, Jack. Seven's better than you could do."
"Wanna put your money where your mouth is, dude?"
"The cards in the hat are the cycle cards. Check it out."
All the pulses cost three with a double-color requirement.
Pulse of the Forge
Three mana for an instant four damage to the dome. I like that. Here's to hoping it never needs to jump back into hand. Goblins, Haste and Burn, R/G LD...all the Red decks can find a place for this card.
Pulse of the Fields
The second best card in the cycle. In the current environment, this is the Pulse that is most likely to return to hand. Recurring lifegain against aggressive decks is nothing to sneeze at. W/x control can use this card. Might see play from the sideboard in WW for Block.
Pulse of the Tangle
A 3/3 for three is not terrible, but the double-color requirement in the casting cost hurts this more than the other pulses (R/G needs to keep some Green open for Troll Ascetic to regenerate). On the other hand, it is a Beast token, so Contested Cliffs becomes that much more useful. Still, I don't expect to see this card in many lists come spring.
Pulse of the Dross
Since when does Blackmail cost three? If the other guy still has more cards than you, I think you may have more problems than the free buyback is going to solve. Could be played in MBC or B/R Control, neither of which has proven to be a winner.
Pulse of the Grid
There are better card drawers in this block. There are far better card drawers in Type II. This is the also ran of the cycle.
The Swords of Something and Another
Both swords cost three to play and two to equip. That's more expensive than other Equipment pieces that are considered constructed-worthy (Bonesplitter, Lightning Greaves). The question is, are the effects powerful enough to merit inclusion in a stack of sixty cards? Each grants +2/+2 to the equipped creature. Each grants protection from two colors. Each has two abilities that trigger when the equipped creature deals combat damage to a player. I'll go out on a limb and give each one a definite"maybe." That's right, I said it."Maybe." [Strong words there, pardner'. - Knut]
Sword of Fire and Ice
Protection from Red and Blue used to mean"can't burn me, can't bounce me." Aether Spellbomb changed that definition a bit. However, two Pyrite Spellbombs would be needed to burn out a critter equipped with this card. Of course, the sexier part is the immunity to Starstorm, which is just why I think this card could be most useful in one of the Red decks. If I had to choose one of the two to run in Constructed, I would pick this one.
Sword of Light and Shadow
Protection from Black and White. Pro-white is basically"Protection from Astral Slide," which Lightning Greaves already does at a more reasonable cost. Pro-Black is"Protection from Terror or Smother," and again Lightning Greaves takes care of that. The lifegain is nice, and so is the recursion, but even both of them together don't make my pulse quicken overmuch. This card might see play in Block.
"You know what I hate about being trapped in one of your dreams, dude? The radio only ever plays one band. Every station, same group."
"So I'm about sick to death of 'The Jim Carroll Band', man."
"Well, let's gather up the rest of these rares and head out on the balcony for some fresh air."
"Balcony? I didn't see that before."
"It's a hotel room, Jack. There's always a balcony off a hotel room. Go out and tell me how high up we are."
"Um...pretty high up, dude."
"Cool. We can go through the rest of these and pitch the unplayables over the rail one by one. Here's our first candidate."
As man-lands go, this is not good enough. Its greatest benefit is reducing Myr Enforcer's casting cost by one (if activated). Looks like the uncommon slot got the good land in this set.
"That's a pretty good toss, dude."
"Funny how it changed into a little flying lizard after a few seconds, though."
"Yup. Don't see that every day."
"Think they're all gonna do that?"
"As long as they don't come flying back to bite me, I don't care much, Jack."
This is a fun card that will never see play in Block or Type II.
Too expensive for spot removal. Besides, this is the age of sledgehammer control.
This is a fun card. This is an elegant card. It will not be played. I love this card.
Darksteel seems to be filled with interesting rares that seem like they could find homes in some very strange decks. Trouble is, those interesting decks need to be able to compete against W/x control, Goblins, and Affinity in Type II. That is unlikely to happen. I expect to see two or three articles about breaking this card as we get closer to Regionals. Until then, it will wait patiently in everyone's trade binder, forgotten.
I'd like to Wrath of God every turn, please. No, wait, I'd rather Stone Rain. No, I'd rather Raise the Alarm. This card takes Imprint to the next level, but it is a slow level. To really show off, this card needs more brokeness around it than Block or Type II can provide.
If you thought Imprint was card disadvantage, you haven't seen anything yet. There have been heated arguments as to whether this card is exactly what combo decks need or if it is just a terrible idea. This card is much more likely to see play in Extended than Type II or Block for a few reasons. First, there are far more viable combos in Extended than in Type II, so there are more decks that could try and use this card to get a better opening hand. Second, the Judgment Wishes are available in Extended, and that takes the finality off of the phrase"removed from game."
Seven mana, a card from your hand, and a successful attack before this card does anything useful. Absolutely not.
Too expensive to ride the avalanche. People who like blowin' up land are not going to spend more than three to do it. Who needs a 7/10 artifact creature when a 3/2 regenerating troll will do the trick, anyway?
Millstone lovers everywhere should rejoice at this card. This isn't the card to take against Affinity, but there are decks that run few artifacts. Better yet, the few they do run tend to be devastating. This won't see play in Block. This probably won't see play in Type II, but brave and foolish souls could use it as an odd hoser against U/W control out of the board.
People who like to play spells for free now have a new enemy. Mind's Desire, Affinity, and Aluren have been put on notice. This card may see a lot of sideboards during Regionals.
Wand of the Elements
Man-lands are one thing, but killing your own lands to put tokens into play is just wrong. This certainly won't see play before Fifth Dawn comes out, and I wouldn't bet on it then. [Two Words: Goblin Trenches. - Knut, still not betting it will see play]
Well of Lost Dreams
Please build a deck around me. Please. A G/W deck sporting the Well is possible, but probably not practical. Still, somebody is going to stick this into a deck with Ageless Entity and a bunch of lifegain cards and see what happens.
"You didn't keep many out of that stack, man."
"Most of them go over the rail, Jack. That's true in any set. Darksteel is no different in that respect."
A quality rare. Three damage to everything without flying is good. Three non-targeted damage to the opponent's dome is good. No regeneration is great. Bye-bye Troll Ascetic. Triple Red in the casting cost and three damage to oneself shouldn't scare a serious Red player away from this thing.
Not so savage.
R/G mirror. Got it?"Stop hitting yourself!"
"Red is a big winner in this set, I think. That's true throughout the set, not just the rares. It has mega-solid stuff for Limited and Constructed."
"You don't play with Mountains, remember?"
"Oh, yeah. Pity."
This card is an answer to decks that may not exist. Sorcery speed token removal doesn't normally help against the W/x Control crowd. If Arcbound dot deck or Darksteel Reactor dot deck start ruling your local tournaments, you now know what card to look for in the other fellow's trade binder.
This card is champagne. Expensive, almost gaudy and no one is certain it was the best idea soon after it is put to purpose. It will see play, but there are too many ways to work around this card for it to shift the environment.
No. Just no.
He hits the table too late, and there are now too many ways to transform him from"beatstick" to"wall." Unplayable.
Where's the deck that wants this card? Nowhere.
"People who want to play with Swamps can still dredge up the aggro Zombies deck with all the Onslaught cards in it."
"Always looking on the bright side, dude. That 'card turns into flying lizard' thing is still creeping me out."
"I wouldn't worry about it, Jack."
White Weenie with Equipment seems like it would be a natural home for this card. Most likely a strong Block card that might see play in Type II.
Nice blocker. I'd rather drop blockers earlier than turn six, though.
The sad thing about this card is it might have had a chance in Type II if it cost six instead of ten. Even with Talismans, Myr, and other mana artifacts this won't ever make the team.
Sacrificing speed for tutoring is suicide for White Weenie. This card is just too slow.
Turn the Tables
At the end of the day, isn't this just an expensive Fog? Not playable.
"At least White has a strong Pulse."
"You're going to burn for that one, dude."
Green already has quality beaters at a cheaper price. Still, if one feels compelled to build the G/W Beats with Lifegain, he is the centerpiece. (Well, maybe Ravenous Baloth is, but I'll let them sort that out themselves).
Speaking of quality beatsticks, this guy is incredible. A quality team member will make the rest of the team better by his presence. One thinks of Dennis Rodman coming off the bench for the Chicago Bulls not so many years ago.
Even at five mana this card is useful enough to see play in Type II. Against Affinity, this can become Plow Under numbers five through eight (not that you'd run that many). Its main drawback is that two targets are required. Those cuffs might be a little tight, but time will tell.
Not playable in Constructed. Goblins will kill you before you have enough mana to cast it. W/x control will counter it or kill it before it has a chance to swing. Slide will remove it or ignore it depending on how much life has been gained from Exalted Angel beats.
This is the kind of efficiency to look for in a rare. Zealot is cheap. Zealot swings for two. Zealot is a walking Naturalize in an environment flooded with artifacts. Playable in Block and possibly Type II.
"I must confess I am curious to see if the top 8 in Kobe has a decidedly Greenish hue."
"I guess we'll see, dude."
This is a hard counter. In fact, this is a bullet-proof hard counter. In spite of costing four, this will make teams in Type II and Block.
Someday, this card may be part of something broken. This is not that day. (To be fair, he can be a walking Mana Short against Affinity, but there is a better card for that in the form of Metal Fatigue that fits into any W/x Control, which this does not.)
"I might regret pitching Retract over the rail so quickly."
"I doubt it, dude. You don't seem to have a lot of cards left."
"Not really, no."
"So you think this set sucks?"
"No way! I think Darksteel is a very good set. Cards that end up seeing competitive organized play are not always the most interesting cards, Jack. I think a lot of the cards that one won't see mentioned in match coverage in Kobe are going to be part of very interesting decks at kitchen tables all over the world. This is a wonderfully rich set. It has great Limited cards, it has some good Constructed cards, and it has bunches of cards that will keep kitchen table gamers busy for years."
"That fog is coming in kinda quick."
"Yeah, it sure is. Jack, when did we get on a train?"
"I don't know, dude. It's your dream."
"Or is it? How do we know it isn't your dream, Jack?"
"Wake up, dude."