Scars of Mirrodin Type 4 Set Review

Welcome back to Eternal Central for yet another Type 4 Set Retro-Review! This time we’ll be looking at Scars of Mirrodin. In our quest to form the ultimate Type 4 stack and help you tweak yours, we are going back and exploring in depth all of the last couple of years worth of sets to see what may have been lost in the shuffle.

I’m going to be going back through all of the last sets of the last couple of years and writing Retro-Reviews for the things I didn’t pay enough attention to for Type 4, and this is the second in that series. So join us as we delve into the secrets of Scars of Mirrodin in this Retro-Review!

As I review each set for potential Type 4 candidates I think of what will fit in a ‘balanced’ stack, and I don’t consider X spells like Fireball (deal X damage, or unlimited) very entertaining, so we’ll pretty much completely ignore those or things with Firebreathing (ie infinite pump abilities), as I want more interactive games. It is also assumed that most people’s Type 4 stacks will generally be laden with most of the best and most powerful spells, so stuff like a random Instant that destroys target attacking creature and does nothing else probably isn’t going to cut it when there are many better options available.

Geth, Lord of the Vault
Legendary Creature — Zombie
X1B: Put target artifact or creature card with converted mana cost X from an opponent’s graveyard onto the battlefield under your control tapped. Then that player puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

So if it’s not immediately apparent, this guy can chain reanimation and milling of all of your opponents decks at Instant speed, while providing you with a bunch of blockers and threats. I’ve seen some people talk about including this guy in their stacks, and I’ve got to say I think that’s pretty crazy. This is by far the best reanimator type card ever printed, and should it make it to your turn alive will undoubtedly end the game immediately. While there are always the people who like every card to be totally ridiculous, I generally like my Type 4 games to actually be interactive, and for that reason this is probably going to be too powerful or unfun for most people to want to include.

Necrotic Ooze
Creature — Ooze
As long as Necrotic Ooze is on the battlefield, it has all activated abilities of all creature cards in all graveyards.

The Ooze is like the T1000 from Terminator 2, stealing characteristics of slain characters, and potentially growing incrementally stronger each time. With the wide variety of abilities of creatures in Type 4 this card is lining up to be pretty awesome.

Painful Quandary
Whenever an opponent casts a spell, that player loses 5 life unless he or she discards a card.

While this has devastating potential, it seems more tailor made for your Chaos Stack* addendum/game variant (see Appendix for more information on the Chaos Stack). Everyone can share in the pain equally, and to get it off the table players would have to play into it to trigger the Chaos Stack again. Fo’ sho.’

Quicksilver Gargantuan
Creature — Shapeshifter
You may have Quicksilver Gargantuan enter the battlefield as a copy of any creature on the battlefield, except it’s still 7/7.

A nice upgrade over generic Clone effects, Quicksilver Gargantuan also does not target when it enters the battlefield, so at a minimum is another way to deal with creatures with shroud or hexproof, and can always be used to kill off powerful legendary creatures via the Legend Rule. Done and done.

Stoic Rebuttal
Metalcraft — Stoic Rebuttal costs 1 less to cast if you control three or more artifacts.
Counter target spell.

Depending on your ratio of counterspells in your existing stack, as well as the conditionality of those counterspells, Stoic Rebuttal is likely to slip into your stack. While they don’t provide as much flavor as some of the conditional counterspells, generic ones are always high picks in drafts and always effective during the game because of no drawbacks.

Volition Reins
Enchantment — Aura
Enchant permanent
When Volition Reins enters the battlefield, if enchanted permanent is tapped, untap it.
You control enchanted permanent.

If you play any type of Control Magic cards that steal existing permanents, this is likely a strict upgrade, and like Confiscate and Word of Seizing before it, Volition Reins can grab any type of permanent in play and make it your own. Not only that, but it also untaps the permanent when it enters play under your control, making this an auto-include.

Creatures you control have hexproof. (They can’t be the targets of spells or abilities your opponents control.)
1G: Regenerate target creature.

Engulfing Slagwurm
Creature — Wurm
Whenever Engulfing Slagwurm blocks or becomes blocked by a creature, destroy that creature. You gain life equal to that creature’s toughness.

Engulfing Slagwurm has no protection, no evasion, and isn’t all that huge by Type 4 standards. It basically destroys any blockers though and provides life gain, so it is what I would describe as mediocre for Type 4. If you have some other random fatties that don’t even do this still floating around your stack you can sub this in, otherwise it’s probably a card you’ll skip.

Slice in Twain
Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
Draw a card.

One of the best Disenchant type effects yet printed, Slice in Twain will immediately upgrade one of your existing artifact and/or enchantment removal spells.

Cerebral Eruption
Target opponent reveals the top card of his or her library. Cerebral Eruption deals damage equal to the revealed card’s converted mana cost to that player and each creature he or she controls. If a land card is revealed this way, return Cerebral Eruption to its owner’s hand.

In a vacuum, this card is not that powerful, nor would it be a high pick in a Type 4 draft. In fact it would probably be one of the last picks, although direct damage is always useful. So while this won’t necessarily make it into many Type 4 decks, it has some nice potential for your Chaos Stack* addendum/game variant (see Appendix for more information on the Chaos Stack*). If this popped up during what is already likely to be a crazy turn (to even trigger the Chaos Stack*), it would allow each player to cast it in succession, starting with the active player and then rotating clockwise. That would make for a very interesting dynamic, and with the high casting cost of cards in Type 4 could result in one or more players dying outright, or radically reshaping the battlefield.

Hoard-Smelter Dragon
Creature — Dragon
3R: Destroy target artifact. Hoard-Smelter Dragon gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is that artifact’s converted mana cost.

This guy blows up artifacts at Instant speed, and can pump his 5/5 flying body while doing so. I have a feeling this will be lingering in most Type 4 drafts towards the end, but it is worthy of consideration depending on how many similar effects you have in your stack.

Molten Psyche
Each player shuffles the cards from his or her hand into his or her library, then draws that many cards.

While this is not good enough to make it in your Type 4 stack, it also is a candidate for your Chaos Stack*. All of those wacky enchantments and sorceries that would affect everybody often find a resting place in the Chaos Stack, and if you don’t already have a bunch of Wheel of Fortune or Timetwister type effects there this would make a fine addition.

Dispense Justice
Target player sacrifices an attacking creature.

While Instant speed Diabolic Edict effects are generally pretty good, this one isn’t live until the creature is attacking. In the world of Type 4 where Eldrazi and Titans roam frequently and freely, this probably isn’t good enough to make the cut in anything but an immature stack, or a Pauper type stack dedicated to commons and uncommons.

Razor Hippogriff
Creature — Hippogriff
When Razor Hippogriff enters the battlefield, return target artifact card from your graveyard to your hand. You gain life equal to that card’s converted mana cost.

The ability to rebuy cards from your graveyard is always strong, especially when they are powerful artifacts, but I think the measly 3/3 body on the Hippogriff will prevent this from seeing the light of day in most Type 4 stacks. This is a logical inclusion in Pauper stacks that rely on commons and uncommon though.

Sunblast Angel
Creature — Angel
When Sunblast Angel enters the battlefield, destroy all tapped creatures.

While blowing up all tapped creatures is a nice effect, that means that the creatures will have likely dealt damage already, which makes this a relatively weak source of creature destruction, and probably not fit for any mature Type 4 stack.

True Conviction
Creatures you control have double strike and lifelink.

True Conviction is a nice bonus for those Type 4 players that love nothing more than to serve the beats with giant fatties every turn, but more often than not this will be the last pick in every ring draft. Because of that it is probably better suited to your Chaos Stack*.

Gold and Mutlicolored
Venser, the Sojourner
Planeswalker — Venser
+2: Exile target permanent you own. Return it to the battlefield under your control at the beginning of the next end step.
-1: Creatures are unblockable this turn.
-8: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast a spell, exile target permanent.”
3 Loyalty

One of the reasons Planeswalkers rarely see play in Type 4 is ecause most creatures can kill a Planeswalker that’s in play with one swing. Another reason is because most Planswalkers are good only incrementally, and don’t provide big splashy effects immediately like most other cards in Type 4, so they aren’t as powerful relative to the format. Venser may be the first Planeswalker in a while that is actually playable, because not only can it Momentary Blink yours other other permanents (which is fantastic with “187″ creatures with comes into play effects), but the ultimate ability on Venser is extremely powerful. Cast anything, exile any target permanent. Seems good. While this is slow to get up to, I think it merits a slot because of the versatility and relative power level that most other Planeswalkers don’t provide.

Mimic Vat
Imprint — Whenever a nontoken creature dies, you may exile that card. If you do, return each other card exiled with Mimic Vat to its owner’s graveyard.
3, Tap: Put a token onto the battlefield that’s a copy of the exiled card. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step.

Mimic Vat is an interesting card. On the surface it does absolutely nothing by itself, other than enabling you to do other things as a Type 4 game plays out, similar to Vedalken Orrery. But what it does provide is a powerful source of reusable threats, at Instant speed activation. With how many creatures and how much removal is played in a typical game of Type 4, this card has serious potential.

Molten-Tail Masticore
Artifact Creature — Masticore
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Molten-Tail Masticore unless you discard a card.
4, Exile a creature card from your graveyard: Molten-Tail Masticore deals 4 damage to target creature or player.
2: Regenerate Molten-Tail Masticore.

While this doesn’t combo off with Glarecaster and have the ability to immediately kill every creature in play like the original Masticore, what Molten-Tail provides is an additional source of direct damage that can immediately spell the end of the game for someone depending on how stocked Molten-Tail’s graveyard is. “4 to your dome, 4 to your dome, 4 to your dome,” and so on and so on. Sign me up.

Myr Battlesphere
Artifact Creature — Myr Construct
When Myr Battlesphere enters the battlefield, put four 1/1 colorless Myr artifact creature tokens onto the battlefield.
Whenever Myr Battlesphere attacks, you may tap X untapped Myr you control. If you do, Myr Battlesphere gets +X/+0 until end of turn and deals X damage to defending player.

This is actually a pretty sick creature, and like Triskelavus it gives you options and little token blockers, while also providing a reasonable clock to attack with. Not necessarily an auto-include, but I suspect this replace some other underwhelming creature in your stack without problem.

Platinum Emperion
Artifact Creature — Golem
Your life total can’t change. (You can’t gain or lose life. You can’t pay any amount of life except 0.)

While an 8/8 artifact creature with no evasion or protection isn’t all that special, this provides a unique ability in that your life total can’t change. For those who play alternate casting cost variants this means you can’t pay Force of Will’s alternate casting cost (losing a life), but other than that Platinum Emperion is a pretty nice dudesweat.

Prototype Portal
Imprint — When Prototype Portal enters the battlefield, you may exile an artifact card from your hand.
X, Tap: Put a token that’s a copy of the exiled card onto the battlefield. X is the converted mana cost of that card.

Prototype Portal is extremely powerful, but very narrow in its application, and requires you to already have another artifact in your hand for it to be useful. I can see those dead draws being reason enough for people to shy away from this, but it remains a valid option ripe for abuse, probably depending upon the number of artifacts in your stack.

Tower of Calamities
8, Tap: Tower of Calamities deals 12 damage to target creature.

Reusable creature control, Tower of Calamities is decent. It doesn’t provide a board clearing effect like Wrath of God, but it can provide Instant speed removal even though it’s not an Instant, which enables control of the board on other players’ turns and incentivizes them to attack other players besides the controller of the Tower. This should be up for testing to determine whether it will stay long term.

As always, when analyzing cards from a new set that can go into your stack, the two main questions I ask are “what would this replace in my current stack,” and “in what order would this card be picked in?” In the evolution of any Type 4 stack you generally weed out cards that are too strong, too weak, or just unfun. Cards that are too weak will generally be last picks, and any new cards that you add should never consistently be a “last pick,” or it shouldn’t be included in the stack.

Here are the cards from Scars of Mirrodin that I will probably be including in my own personal Type 4 stack moving forward:
Necrotic Ooze
Painful Quandry (for Chaos Stack*)
Quicksilver Gargantuan
Stoic Rebuttal
Volition Reins
Slice in Twain
Cerebral Eruption (for Chaos Stack*)
Venser, the Sojourner
Mimic Vat
Molten-Tail Masticore
Platinum Emperion

And here are the cards I will be picking up and testing out to evaluate further:
Hoard-Smelter Dragon
Molten Psyche (for Chaos Stack*)
True Conviction (for Chaos Stack*)
Myr Battlesphere
Tower of Calamities

Overall Scars of Mirrodin looks like it can have quite an impact on Type 4, and I suspect over a dozen cards will be hitting my stack for future use, which is quite a few from a single set (albeit a large set).

For those who didn’t get our notices elsewhere, November is officially Type 4 Month on Eternal Central, and we’ll continue to be bringing your more Retro-Reviews of the past couple of years of sets, as well as some articles on fun variants and house rules. So keep it locked on EC! Until next time, may you mana be infinite and may your spells be uber.

Appendix and Reference
* Chaos Stack – a Chaos Stack is a separate stack of cards in addition to the normal Type 4 stack, and is used in conjunction with the Chaos Rule, which is essentially if X or more spells have been cast in a single turn (where X is an amount agreed to by the players beforehand), all spells on the stack are paused and the top card from the Chaos Stack is immediately flipped up and resolved, and then the stack and rest of the game is unpaused and continues as normal. Spells in the Chaos Stack will usually affect everybody (such as Eureka, Timetwister, Sway of the Stars, Time Stop, Howling Mine, etc.).
Type 4/Limited Infinity Introduction
Type 4: A Way to Enjoy Magic Again Part 1
Type 4: A Way to Enjoy Magic Again Part 2
Type 4: A Way to Enjoy Magic Again Part 3
The Fourth Type