The Two-Headed Darksteel Review: Green and Strapping Arcbound Men
Hi there, people out there in reading article land!
Well my friend Nathan Kovner recently had some feces hit his fan, so he's been replaced for the moment with another writer. I know, I know, you all prefer to agree with Nathan more than me. Don't worry, my new co-writer will probably make lots of statements you agree with more as well, and it will result in me crying myself to sleep from all the horrible things people write in the forums about me.
Anyway, onto Green and Artifacts installment. Because of the way the colors split in Darksteel, the previous two articles were thirty-six cards while this and the next two will be thirty-one cards. I admit splitting Arcbound Worker to the start of the next article is kind of silly, but I don't really want to mix cards up. Everything will be where you expect it to be.
Iain - There aren't a great number of cards which perform the dual role of negating a card while gaining you life in Mirrodin or Darksteel, but there are enough that Ageless Entity's ability will be relevant in Green/White or Green/Black decks. If your deck has tricks like Awe Strike, Essence Drain, or even Sun Droplet, Ageless Entity moves up in your pick order. Otherwise this should be viewed as around the strength of a Fangren Hunter without trample, which is very good in Mirrodin Limited indeed.
It's certainly not a card you would be unhappy to open.
Reuben - The ability is somewhat relevant even when it's not, as your opponent may choose to kill Ageless Entity instead of your Fangren Hunter or Tangle Golem. That's not justification to pick this over Tangle Golem when you don't have any lifegain, but if you already have it, then Ageless Entity can really get out of hand.
Iain - Giant Growth-style effects, even when slightly over-priced as this is, are excellent and in Mirrodin block access to even a humble +1/+1 can be a big deal. The Echoing effect isn't going to come up too often, but will happen enough that it's worth keeping in mind if your deck has access to multiples of men. Even a pair of humble Copper Myr can make Echoing Courage a disaster for your opponent during some supposed"chump blocking."
Reuben - I am a firm believer that you play the tricks you're given in Limited - even Healing Salve in 888 - and while Echoing Courage obviously pales in comparison to Predator's Strike when you ignore the Echoing effect, I will still be quite happy to play it. Iain is correct that the Echoing effect will not come up terribly often, but for the most part you will know where you stand by the time you are picking the Courage. Unless you already have some good tricks, try to draft Raise the Alarm a little higher than you would in MMM in anticipation of Echoing Courage.
Iain - This is a very strange card to evaluate. It seems to me that it's a bit of a Nim - low toughness, high power and a would-be yearning for the Nim Equipment we've discussed previously. In fact, it fits in pretty nicely with a lot of them - bringing their toughness up and making them hardier in battle seems like a decent deal. But then you look at the mana cost and wonder if you'd ever cast it.
The card is obviously good. If it comes down on turn 3 and starts swinging alongside the Myr that brought it out, it's going to grow fast enough that your opponent is simply not going to be able to trade with it one-for-one in combat. Beyond that, it has synergy with Clockwork creatures, Arcbounds and heck, Viridian Joiner. Even if it all it does it enhance one of your evasive men and trade with something, it's still going to have a good enough effect on the game. The games where it gets out of control, it's going to win for you.
Saying you should pick rares high is rather silly, but really, you should pick this high if your deck can support it. Of course, you could always fix your mana with a little Deconstruct loving. Funny how that worked out.
Reuben - Is this the Green Juggs, or not? Fangren Firstborn is just about as fragile as Juggernaut for the first turn it is in play, but if it attacks more than once, you will probably win. A single combat trick is all it takes for Fangren Firstborn to completely destroy someone. If you can pick up some Tangle Golems to reward a heavy Green commitment, the mana cost becomes a lot easier to swallow.
Iain - Likely a stronger card than it looks on paper, an early Roothold will protect the ground from nasty artifact men while churning out Insects to do your bidding. While it's a five-mana Wall of Wood, it forces decks that rely heavily on artifact spells to deal with a lot of insects and a tough-to-remove blocker. I like cards that put my opponent in situations like that, even if I don't like running Walls.
Of course, it's not totally a wall, since it can and will make insects. Since it makes multiple insects, do I need to point out the synergy with Echoing Courage? Or even the dreaded Tears of Rage!
Reuben - It may be stronger than it looks on paper, but I still do not want to play it. Five mana is a lot for a defensive card in Green unless it does something desperately needed, like block creatures with flying. Most draft decks that rely heavily on artifacts also plan to win with evasion, so the ability fails to shine even when you would expect it to.
Iain - Like Drooling Ogre, the 'derm pushes against the theme of the block to become good. The problem here is that you're quite happy to pay four mana for a 3/3, and the Derm is a 5/5 ... So it's good, right? Well, since it's affected by both players artifacts, it seems unlikely it's going to be much of a stable Hill Giant. It's a fine enough man out of the sideboard, but I wouldn't want to run this maindeck simply because it's too likely it's going to swing for four damage once and then dissolve into a puddle of nothing in a turn or two.
Reuben - I play very few artifacts in my Green decks, and I will gladly hold on to a few for a couple of turns if it means I get a 5/5 on turn 3 or 4. Unfortunately, that is not at all what Karstoderm means. Karstoderm basically has the text"attacks each turn if able," because honestly, you should never be putting Karstoderm into play if there is a hint of a stalemate. During that one turn before Karstoderm starts"attacking each turn if able," it essentially has three toughness, since you have no idea if your opponent can play out a couple of artifacts after combat. That makes Karstoderm a 4/3 Juggernaut with fading that requires two colored mana.
The interesting thing about Karstoderm is playing it on turn 3 or 4 is not necessarily the best-case scenario. Play Karstoderm when your opponent is down to one or two cards in hand, and it may be quite difficult for them to shrink Karstoderm before it has done its work.
Iain - Set-based subthemes are a curiosity of mine. For example, sometimes you have ones that turn out to be highly relevant - such as the creatures in Odyssey block that are capable of discarding cards for an effect. These abilities turned out to be very good. On the other hand, sometimes themes are very minor, such as the Life-gain"bonuses" found in Darksteel. If they were stronger, Nourish might have been playable, but let's be honest : It's not.
Reuben - You can play it if you need more targets for Isochron Scepter. Magic Online has taught me not to ignore Holy Day in 888, and the same may be true about Nourish: Remember it exists when you decide to alpha strike.
Iain - The value of removal is modified dramatically by how powerful a tempo trade it is. In situations where you're forced to spend more mana, or more of the temporal resource, removing your opponent's creatures, the removal is weak. The inverse is true, as well. Oxidize is as inexpensive as a removal spell is going to get. True, Deconstruct is something effectively cheaper, yet Oxidize is better, as it's an instant and can set up positive combat trades in your favor through that. Beyond this, it prevents regeneration, which actually makes it better than a one mana Shatter. I wouldn't take this first pick if I already had a fair amount of artifact removal, but there are very few cards that are truly better than this little gem. You didn't need me to tell you that though, did you?
Reuben - There really is not much to say about a card that is strictly better than Shatter in multiple ways, so I will simply address Iain's statement about already having a fair bit of artifact removal. Iain says Oxidize is first pickable unless you have a fair bit of artifact removal, where I would need an unfair bit of artifact removal before Oxidize moves down the ranks. A person could end up with too much artifact removal in MMM simply because the artifact creatures were so inferior to the colored ones. This changes a lot with Darksteel where, arguably, the best common creatures in three colors are colorless.
Pulse of the Tangle
Iain - Green decks generally have the highest average casting cost in Mirrodin and Darksteel. On the upswing, Pulse of the Tangle punishes your opponent for getting too far ahead of you in creature counts. On the downside, it fits into the worst part of your mana curve in Mirrodin block - three, the slot you usually try to skip with Myr and move onto fours. It works against your mana accelerant creatures but still, if you can pulse it once or twice, it's a game winner. If you only get a 3/3 out of it, it's a Trained Armodon, which would likely be quite the spicy little number in this block.
Reuben - Considering I would pay four for a 3/3, I am just fine with attacking with my myr on turn 3 while playing a 3/3. The significant anti-synergy with your mana accelerants comes from them making it difficult to get Pulse of the Tangle back, but even without the Pulsing ability, Pulse of the Tangle is quite a good card. Pulse of the Tangle punishes your opponents for playing mana myr, too, but they can not ignore the problem nearly as easily as you.
Reap and Sow
Iain - This is an odd card that seems a bit out of place for its block. In Onslaught or Odyssey block, you would have had many interesting lands to tutor up. Here, you can only really use it to go get a Stalking Stones or a Blinkmoth Nexus - otherwise it's a waste of a card. At six mana, that's not a great deal and as a straight up land tutor it's nothing special either.
This is probably more of a Constructed card - in other blocks, it might have been nice, but here it's a pretty passable card that doesn't really do enough.
Reuben - The lack of really interesting nonbasic lands hurts both sides of this card. I was always happy to have a Lay Waste in the board in the Onslaught formats in case my opponent came at me with Contested Cliffs, but in this format Reap and Sow does a whole lot of nothing for a large price.
Iain - This, on the other hand, is a double Repel for a decent cost. Plow Under is fine in draft because it sets back your opponent's mana base by two turns and nets you card advantage; Rebuking Ceremony sets back your opponent's board position, pushes blockers out of the way and keeps your opponent's artifact creatures from attacking for a turn. That's a very powerful effect, and at worst the card is something of a weird Inspiration - at the very worst. More likely than anything, this is something of a low-end bomb.
Iain - Now, we all love Craw Wurm, don't we? I suppose we do. A six-power man for six mana would fit nicely in Mirrodin block, especially a colored one with four toughness. The Slagwurm costs one more yet has a highly interactive ability to go with it. So what's my beef with Roaring Slagwurm? Well, I have a few.
The card is solid, though not really"good." It's ability is strange, because it has two points to keep in mind. First, no artifact men are going to be blocking barring some Voltaic Constructs hanging around. This applies to you as well. Second, if you planned on casting things after combat, you may find your mana myr and talismans are no longer functioning in that regard. This really alters the way the game is played, especially if you have a lot of artifact men. So it really depends on your deck and the number of artifact creatures you've got. This isn't like Molder Slug where it kills your opponent's artifact men, either. They're still there, and they can still effect you and your life total.
Reuben - One of the strengths of Green Mirrodin draft decks is they generally have fewer artifact creatures than other decks, and that's all it takes to break the symmetry of Roaring Slagwurm's ability. The only other significant thing the ability does is make Crystal Shard less effective and force your opponent to use his or her Icy Manipulator on Roaring Slagwurm. I would be quite happy with Roaring Slagwurm filling out my curve, but I will not go out of my way to draft it if I already have the top of my curve filled in. For the same price I would prefer to have Wurmskin Forger, but I would rather Roaring Slagwurm than the cheaper Malachite Golem.
Iain - I'm leery of drawing further comparisons to older cards, since I seem to do it a lot more than Nathan did, which can distill away the point of writing. So, let's not do that for Stand Together.
The total power and toughness bonus is four and four, which is good for five mana. The fact it divides over two men is, from time to time, going to give you a large Myr you didn't really need - but it's still fairly costed for the format. The instant speed makes it a combat trick, which is also helpful, and will allow your evasive men beef up as well as make your ground-pounders more useful or survive combat they wouldn't otherwise.
It's a slow card, in a slow color, but you'll still want it in most of your decks. Obviously you have to keep in mind just how fast your deck is, but look at it like a slightly smaller Wurmskin Forger and you'll get a good idea of how the card is going to play out.
Reuben - Five mana is more than you should be paying for combat tricks, but Stand Together is so much more. Stand Together is a combat trick, a Spikeshot Goblin/Viridian Joiner/Auriok Bladewarden enabler, an instant speed creature, and a four-power creature with haste for five mana, and it happens to do double duty on the Arcbound creatures.
I disagree with Iain about ending up with large Myr you don't need. I almost always spread Wurmskin Forger's counters around: The idea that it is even possible to have large Myr you don't need is foreign to me.
Iain - Jeepers! Spiders seem to be growing nasty in this day and age. For six mana you don't just get a three power, four toughness spider - you get something of an effective combat trick that will gladly remove your opponent's men from the air with luck, trading the mana cost against his ability to perform a straight up two for one. And once shown, your opponent will be very leery or dropping a flier into the red zone when you're holding six open. That's good.
It's overpriced for what it does, but that still doesn't make it any less necessary for Green decks to have. And unlike Tel-Jilad Archers, you can equip this sky hating monster.
Reuben - The ability to block creatures with flying is severely needed in Green decks, so I am willing to pay whatever price I have to in order to get it. I am not terribly pleased to play Tangle Spider, but if was unable to pick up any Tel-Jilad Archers I will be looking to pick a Tangle Spider up in Darksteel. Tangle Spider can be rather transparent, but that works in your favor, also - but only when you are not actually holding Tangle Spider in your hand. You may want to keep six mana untapped instead of dropping that Copper Myr you just topdecked just to keep your opponent's flyers at bay for a turn.
Iain - Basically, it's on par with Neurok Spy. Unless you're playing against Green / White, this is basically an unblockable man about fifty or so percent of the time. That's solid, though not something Green really desires. Unless you have something like Lightning Greaves to protect the Walker, much of the time it can not be relied upon as much of a Falter effect simply because the artifact lands and the Tanglewalker are both vulnerable in that equation - a much too dangerous situation to put yourself into.
Reuben - Tanglewalker is amazing when it works, and not terribly embarrassing when it turns out to be a Grey Ogre. Iain's analysis is decent during a stalemate, but even there Tanglewalker will win you games you had no business winning. There is no risk using it as a Falter effect in a game you were going to lose anyway, and a good part of the time your opponent will not have the removal for Tanglewalker. If you can play an active Tanglewalker early, you can start racing as soon your creatures come out and it will be painfully obvious when your opponent stops attacking after topdecking the Terror.
Iain - Oh boy.
The Chosen and Archers both served roles within Green decks that were both necessary, while at times unsatisfactory or clunky. Archers were a necessary addition, because of its ability to block fliers. Outrider is a bigger Chosen, and while it will generally curve out turn 3, rather than glutting your myr turn up, it's still not anything I find too special. One extra power is so just so blah. The curve of Chosen followed by Joiner is fine in my head, too.
You'll run it, but you'll never really love it. It's better in sealed deck, by the way.
Reuben - I'll run it? I doubt it. Not in draft, anyway. I could make sense of this card if any of the Darksteel golems had three toughness.
Iain - This is a really bleh card as well. It's definitely true that it's playable and has essentially Ogre Leadfoot-like evasion, but it's still not a very good card. Three mana cards in Mirrodin generally suffer from being outmoded by four mana cards that can come out on the same turn. While this shifts a bit in MMD draft, you've still got to consider that factor against a card's value when evaluating it. On an interesting note, though, you may have noticed the synergy between Ogre Leadfoot and Nemesis Mask. Well, this one is pretty insane with the Mask - since you will be able to pump the dog up a fair amount if your opponent has any real number of artifact men, and then knock out his colored creatures as well, via the massive bonus the Wolf will collect.
Reuben - This, I will play. Well before I ever play Tel-Jilad Outrider. Ogre Leadfoot proved its worth in MMM, while Wanderguard Sentry sat quietly on the sidelines.
Iain - This looks a lot like Divergent Growth with a man attached. It's a reusable splash effect, though I honestly think the card didn't need to tap. Evaluate it based on the cards you're splashing - this is pretty good if you're in R/G and trying to splash Murderous Spoils, Terror, and Skeleton Shard, but otherwise it's pretty bland. Green isn't a color hungry for Equipment, and Equipment is what makes 1/1's more playable than otherwise.
Reuben - This is the same ability as Mana Cylix, which was a great mana fixer in Invasion block draft. But Mirrodin is not Invasion. The main card I want to splash in my Green decks is Blinding Beam, and I only need to play that once to win. I would consider playing Viridian Acolyte either if I have a large splash, or if I have a splash that requires a constant stream of colored mana, like Crystal Shard.
Now, I have no idea where Iain gets of saying Viridian Acolyte did not need to tap: that would be the best mana fixing ability in the history of Magic. I would be overjoyed to use a card to eliminate all color problems.
Iain - I'm not going to call this a bomb and I'm not going to say it compares to Naturalize on a stick - Naturalize isn't 1GGG, and it certainly isn't vulnerable to Longbow / Spikeshot / Granite Shard and a number of other cards. The two Green in the casting cost really hurts and the fact it's not a bear is very relevant as well. It's definitely Constructed playable and considering Green in this set, a high pick in non-G/R Green archetypes. It's just not very good artifact removal, since it only becomes"good" when you spend the mana after putting damage on the stack - otherwise it's priced at Creeping Mold and vulnerable if you don't have the immediately available triple Green. As a 2/1 for GG it's a bit rough as a quick man, as well.
I know people are going to disagree with this one, since I've heard it listed as one of the top ten Limited cards in the set, but that's just how I feel. Take it away, Reuben.
Reuben - No arguments here. While quite a good card - it's obviously much better than Goblin Replica - I fail to see how Viridian Zealot is even close to Viridian Shaman in power level. The instant-speed nature of the ability is hardly a boon since your opponent knows about it. So you have a card that is much more fragile, sometimes harder to cast, fails to stick around after doing its dirty work, and can kill Arrest and Relic Bane.
Iain - Cards that put creatures into play at instant speed are very valuable as a means of effectively giving them haste, getting around mass removal, and messing with combat math. Add on the fact the Vial effects operates under its own mana pool and things become very interesting.
I would not want this card in a deck that lacks a reason for running cheap artifacts, such as G/R, but in affinity decks, it seems like a way to make the deck even faster. It also looks surprisingly good with Black creatures, that benefit from the surprise factor a little more than other men. I'm unsure where to put it within the pick orders I have laid out in my head, but I think it's been mildly underrated by the writing community.
Reuben - Aether Vial is absolutely amazing when played on turn 1. The tempo boost, combined with the difficulty of attacking for your opponent, will make it very difficult for your opponent to win a game versus any decent hand that starts with Aether Vial. Aether Vial frees up large amounts of mana and really makes the early game unfair.
The problem is, then, that Aether Vial is less than spectacular in the late game. It is not totally useless late, as it still allows you to hide some information in a stalemate, and it still frees up your mana for things like moving Equipment around. If you choose to play Aether Vial, my only advice is to make sure you know where your mana curve is clumped so you know when to stop putting counters on.
Iain - Now, I'm only going to talk about this type of card once, and for the rest of them we're just going to run random filler for the fun of annoying Mister Knutson.
Lucky Charms were absolutely terrible cards, because one mana does not equal one life. Even without giving up a card, one life should come cheaper than that in a realistically balanced sense. The lucky charms were like slower, worse versions of Stream of Life. Now, these cards I can look at seriously. When you remove the mana cost from an ability, you take away one of the major restraints on it. I think a lot of people don't follow this line of thinking, but just keep in mind how ridiculous Psychatog ended up being.
These do not really belong in Limited, since their effect is still a little bit too low end, but they shouldn't be scorned for their relation to the lucky charms. They could very well end up in Constructed decks, so don't write them off entirely. The main reason they don't seem to belong in Limited is that there are, alas, superior life gain cards floating around in MMD Limited, so you probably would never find the slots for them if you felt your deck was the slower archetype that benefits from having five to ten extra points of life.
Reuben - When I looked over the spoiler, I groaned at first, then smiled. I doubt they will see play in Constructed, but at least now the option is there if some rare deck comes along that this is good in or, more likely against. But back to Limited. In a typical deck, if you are the only one playing the color, you will have quite a difficult time getting more than a third of a life per turn in the long run. The best-case scenario then has both players using the color as a main color, and you are still going to have difficulty topping two-thirds of a life per turn in the long run.
Iain - In decks that run on very little land, this is a neat little toy that will allow them to cycle away excess land in favor of more cards. It's best compared to Compulsion or other effects, with the charge counter ability making up for it's higher casting cost and what not. Of course, there's no real benefit to pitching lands into your graveyard as there was in other formats, but you're still going to end up running this in some of your decks. If you don't maindeck it, do keep it in mind should the first game go into a stall or be a mirror match. It's not a bad card, it's just a little on the slow side.
Reuben - It has been said that Mirrodin Limited games are often determined by who draws more spells. Land flood is fatal in Mirrodin, and we have seen land counts get lower and lower. Arcane Spyglass allows you to play with a slightly higher landcount, and that is something I an always get behind. The initial cost of four is steep, but Arcane Spyglass is a late-game card anyway.
Iain - I wasn't really looking forward to hitting the Arcbounds initially, but I suppose there's a fair amount to be said about them. Well, most of them. Bruiser on the other hand is a pretty simple card. 3/3s for five aren't that hot, but it's five colorless mana, and it doesn't really go away when it dies. The power and toughness being transferred to an Arcbound Stinger or a Wizard Replica after trading with another man is some sort of parallel card advantage that I'm not going to try to explain, since we all agree four-power fliers are good.
Instead, let's just make up new words to put in front of card advantage. How about"delimited card advantage" and"syncopated card advantage." Those sound neato. Feel free to sound off in the forums as to what syncopated card advantage could be. If you're lucky, you'll get someone to write an article about your new hot and rule-breaking Magic theory.
Reuben - Anyway... Arcbound Bruiser is actually quite good. There is usually a Myr lying around to take the counters, and suddenly your opponent is punished for killing your creature as a 4/4 comes out of almost nowhere. If you cannot find any of your other artifact creatures, Arcbound Bruiser is bad, but not embarrassing, so I think it is worth risking overpaying by one mana. Combine Arcbound Bruiser with larger artifact creatures or creatures with abilities, and suddenly it becomes very difficult for your opponent to either block Arcbound Bruiser or attack into him. Oh, and if you have a Skeleton Shard, grab as many Arcbound creatures as you can.
Iain - Of cards in the set that encourage affinity to replace that which is lost in Mirrodin, this is definitely of a remarkable sort. Though it starts out as a highly vulnerable 1/1 creature and is always troubled by the inclusion of bounce in an opponent's deck, it doesn't take long to grow into a 4/4 creature for four mana. Creatures of that efficiency are rare in Limited, and while it doesn't have all the power of a 4/4 for four, it can end up being much scarier against some decks.
The modular ability also makes the card doubly difficult to deal with in the late game, but that's not important. The main thing is that it must be dealt with or it grows into an absurd monstrous wrecking machine in a little over two turns. I like that aspect. Even if it is removed, it will still feed you a counter or two onto another more deserving man.
Reuben - If you plan on going anywhere near the late game, Arcbound Crusher is the Arcbound for you. As Iain said, Arcbound Crusher must be dealt with immediately - but you can typically get an Artifact Land or Spellbomb in before your opponent can do anything. That means, at worst, you pay four to put +2/+2 on another creature and soak up a removal spell. For a worst-case scenario, that's pretty good.
Iain - The value of this fellow depends greatly on the value of the other Arcbounds in Limited. Besides them and Clockworky things, there isn't a lot of situations that come up involving him stealing counters. In order to be good, he must steal counters, otherwise you're paying for a very, very over-priced Hill Giant with fear. In that case, this guy's a poor man's Gluttonous Zombie if I ever did see one. On the other hand, should he be allowed to steal even a few counters, he becomes quite valuable and after two turns effectively justifies his casting cost.
The fear ability is hard to evaluate before playing with Darksteel a lot and watching new archetypes arise, but I wouldn't say it's completely dead. The main point is you'll have to see how plentiful +1/+1 is before stating whether the Fiend is a good man or a poor man. He's no Arcbound Crusher, that's for sure.
Reuben - Arcbound Fiend is quite an interesting guy. He has a lot going on under the hood, although it may not be clear at first how Fear interacts with the Arcbound ability. Fear is not completely ignoreable in Mirrodin Limited, but it gets a whole lot more interesting when you put it on an Arcbound creature. It is already rather difficult to block Arcbound creatures, and Arcbound Fiend takes away even more options your opponent would otherwise have when trying to figure out how to deal with a 3/3 that will just make someone else large when it dies. In any case, Fear does not make up for the extra mana you pay over Arcbound Bruiser, so you really need to get something out of the ability to move counters.
Moving counters onto Arcbound Fiend does three things, which I will list in order of usefulness.
1) Move counters from your other Arcbound creatures onto Arcbound Fiend. There is no gain here, only movement, and as such the ability is relatively useless. PCA, Pure Counter Advantage, = 0. I am not paying six mana for this.
2) Move counters from your non-Arcbound creatures that accumulated earlier from your other Arcbound creatures. Here you eventually gain one counter for each move, as the counters can go back on your artifact creatures when Arcbound Fiend dies. PCA = 1. I would pay six mana for this if I have a significant number of other good Arcbound creatures, say five or six. It may be worth noting that all Arcbound creatures increase in power level the more you have.
3) Move counters from your opponent's creatures. Now we're talking. A Control Magic effect with counters, PCA = 2. If I can expect to get this ability going at all, I will gladly pay six mana for Arcbound Fiend.
Iain - Is Berserker playable? Yes, very. Is this? I would say yes as well, assuming your deck had plans to put the counters on something. 2/2s for four are bad, but haste helps make up for it and the Arcbound ability justifies it. Like I said. Playable if you've got the artifact men to pump up, otherwise it's a little over-costed for what it does.
Reuben - I agree. I never want to play this unless I can expect to have another artifact creature out, but if I have a reasonable number of other artifact creatures, Arcbound Hybrid starts getting quite good.
Iain - This is big. It's hard to handle by itself, but it's going to come down so late, it may not matter all that much. The four counters being moved is comparable in power to Wurmskin Forger with a better man before they get moved, but I'm still not exactly flipping my lid over this man. This is a solid card that you won't despise for being in your deck, but it's nothing ultimately incredible or overpowered for it's mana cost.
Reuben - Solid, but not worth talking about? I'm with you there.
Iain - On the other hand, this one seems a little better. An additional point of mana offers you three more power and three more toughness on the first swing - bearing in mind it swings after an upkeep of yours has gone by. The ability to pump up other Arcbounds is useful albeit a touch unwieldy. Still, it's a very large sum of counters being added should you have one or two of them hanging around. It's still not something I'd take over a faster, more efficient card, but not something you'd complain about having in your deck.
Reuben - I usually draw the line at seven mana: It takes something like Bosh to change my mind. Without any sort of evasion, I would really need a lot of Arcbounds to justify playing Arcbound Overseer.
Iain - Definitely high pick, quality rare. Creatures that consume dying men on their way out are almost always move valuable than they look at first glance; the Ravager not only consumes those men, but keeps the bonus hanging around when he himself hits the dustbin. This also allows you to convert worthless late game artifact lands and other junk into valuable power and toughness. His usefulness depends a fair amount on your artifact count, yet you do not need a massive number of artifacts dying before the Ravager becomes good stuff.
Reuben - Arcbound Ravager is easily the best Arcbound of the set, though there are decks where I would prefer Arcbound Crusher. Combine Arcbound Ravager with any other Arcbound and you have an engine of sorts, actually increasing the number of counters on the board when they die. The ability to sacrifice Arcbound Ravager to himself at will is also quite relevant, as suddenly your non-Arcbound creatures must be treated as though they could receive a permanent bonus at any time. I could go on and on about this card, there really is nothing bad to say.
Iain - I don't even want to talk about this one. Reuben, you get this card in full.
Reuben - Best case scenario: You pay four mana and two cards to get a Loxodon Warhammer back. Loxodon Warhammer is already expensive, and while it is an amazing card, you cannot go spending infinite resources on it. You play Warhammer, try to equip, it gets destroyed. Six mana used. Play Arcbound Reclaimer, ten mana used. Play Warhammer, equip it. Sixteen mana used. The best-case scenario is pretty bad. Next.
The first thing that jumps to mind is an attempt to keep playing Arcbound creatures for fun and profit, but that idea is quickly dismissed as an awful lot of work, mana, and a bunch of different pieces for not much gain.
[This guy is pretty amazing in Sealed, has solid synergy with Skeleton Shard, and brings swell things like Sword of Fire and Ice back for another go round. I think you've sold the Reclaimer pretty short on this one. - Knut]
Iain - Sliths are generally good, with the"problem" they don't always come down on turn 2 or 3 due to the double mana cost. Arcbound Slith is unimpaired by such problems, and has a snazzy ability to boot. Excellent in Aggro decks that are you going to force situations where the opponent must trade with the Slith, thus empowering your other men and keeping tempo in your firmly in your favor.
Reuben - I love Arcbound Slith. Turn 2, Arcbound Slith, turn 3 Myr. Attack with Slith, and your opponent almost has to block with his or her Myr, leaving you with a 2/2 and the extra mana and them with nothing.
Iain - It's a noted fact that flying is a stronger ability in Mirrodin Limited than in most Limited formats; while Blue receives some useful fliers in Darksteel and there's this and that, for the most part it would seem that the status quo has been primarily maintained. The Stinger is cheap, effective, and very useful in multiples. While 1/1's fliers are never going to become high picks unless they have some absurd ability, but this isn't to say the Stinger isn't a fair enough mana given a decent number of artifact men in your deck.
Reuben - The value of Arcbound Stinger goes up drastically as you get more Arcbound creatures. If you can get a few more counters on Arcbound Stinger, it becomes a creature that needs to be dealt with, but leaves its body lying around once you do.
So there you. The next article opens with Arcbound Worker which ... Yes, still feels silly. I have to admit the Arcbounds, for a series of creatures, are much more interesting to review than you'd think. They're one of the neatest creature-born mechanics I've seen in a while. They're all surprisingly different, which is pretty funky.
Until next time, I'm Iain Telfer, and I hope you enjoyed reading this! Don't worry, Nathan's doing fine, he's just got a real life that intrudes on his writing from time to time.