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  #271  
Old 02-09-2014, 06:37 PM
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Red Hedgehog Red Hedgehog is offline
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Alliances was just such an amazing set at the time and I regret not purchasing more of it when I had the chance.

I also regret that I somehow lost my Force of Will, but that goes without saying.
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  #272  
Old 02-09-2014, 08:30 PM
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Büge Büge is offline
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I liked that they brought back multiple illustrations/flavour text for commons and uncommons. I think it's a shame that they cut that trend off after this set.

Burnout was printed to hose counterspells of course, but I also recall that Gorilla Shaman was printed as a way to cheaply kill early game mana rocks and Guerrilla Tactics could bite back against hand disruption. Basically, red got a lot of sideboard cards for matchups against control decks.

There was also some play with cumulative upkeep. Varchild's War-Riders and Thought Lash come to mind, but there's also the cards with I-can't-believe-it's-not-cumulative-upkeep: Phantasmal Sphere and Rogue Skycaptain.

Anybody else find it weird that so many cards in Alliances used exile/removal from the game of your cards as part of their cost/effect?
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  #273  
Old 02-10-2014, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Büge View Post
Anybody else find it weird that so many cards in Alliances used exile/removal from the game of your cards as part of their cost/effect?
There is a lot of that, isn't there? I guess it's just because WotC was paranoid about recursion and reanimation in the early days. You'd think there were Deep Spawn/Feldon's Cane decks dominating tournaments or something. It makes sense to rule out the possibility of abusing the pitch cards, at least.
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  #274  
Old 11-01-2018, 09:38 PM
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Mirage had the best basics in the first five years of the game, there I said it.

Now talk about Mirage.
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  #275  
Old 11-01-2018, 11:25 PM
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JBear JBear is online now
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I think Mirage was the newest set when I stepped away from the game, and, as such, most of my deck that I still have kicking around is made of cards from it. <3 Wildfire Emissary.
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  #276  
Old 11-04-2018, 03:05 PM
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Aw, it makes me happy that this thread is remembered. I don't have the time to write such in-depth installments as I did before, but I can at least share my thoughts and continue the conversation. Here's an overview of Mirage block as a whole.

I'm looking through my notes from when I got stuck on trying to write an installment for Mirage. It's a good set and I have a lot of nostalgia for it. It's just that it's doing the same thing Ice Age did: revising Richard Garfield's original creation. The design of it is very "here we go again."

The art and world design is excellent, though, probably the best yet, and WOTC does a good job of taking Africa as inspiration without it being problematic. The wildlife looks great on green cards and it's cool to see some color in the human characters. I can't remember much about the story. There's three countries and an evil wizard, and...? Rashida Scalebane probably kills a dragon at some point? I know it gets wrapped up early and we spend Weatherlight meeting the cast of Tempest instead.

One of the first things I remember about the set is that the first printing was effectively marked due to the thick ink. You could easily feel the difference and often you could tell by sight if the top card of your deck was from Mirage. You could already pretty much tell if the top card of your deck was a Sol Ring or Demonic Tutor due to wear, so it didn't end up being that big of a deal. But it was a bit odd. But starting in Weatherlight, WOTC seemed to get the quality control pretty well figured out.

One thing that is very nice to see is the laces and circles of protection being heavily scaled back. There's a lot of really solid choices here like Pacifism or Quirion Elves that effectively replace an older card but do so in cool ways.

Mirage introduces Phasing, which is maybe the all-time greatest example of Magic's designers outsmarting themselves. It's got a whole list of caveats and exceptions to it that only end up making it worse when it's bad and way, way more broken when exploited. If phasing had just been some simple version of "remove something from the game, then put it back" we'd still be talking about things phasing out today. Instead it's this whole mechanic that just sits there being awful until you use it in some ridiculous combo. Creatures with the phasing keyword can't even attack until two turns later, but hey, why not break the game by putting it on a Wormfang Manta? Just make sure you check how the rules work this week.

Similarly, flanking and the instant-enchantments are overly complex attempts at making a pre-fixed version of an idea instead of just doing the idea in the first place. I always thought it was kinda neat how flanking could beat first strike and regeneration, but neat corner cases do not make a mechanic. On the other hand, the utterly simple "comes into play" creatures are an instant success. I particularly like Stampeding Wildebeests here as a combo driver with Uktabi Orangutan and Wall of Blossoms. In fact, green in general does quite well in Mirage block with cards like Call of the Wild, Maro, Creeping Mold, and River Boa. Blue and black are still hogging the most powerful cards but this is one of the first times that green seems to have a strong identity.

An odd thing about Mirage in retrospect is the flood of 2/2s. It almost feels like you're playing a set with Morph. I kind of always wanted griffins to be a thing but there's no good reason to make a deck around twenty-odd nearly identical overpriced flyers. Griffin Canyon can be abused by turning it into a creature, which is not easy to do yet, and changing its creature type to griffin, which is currently impossible.

Charms make their debut, instants with three very narrow abilities you get to pick from. I always liked charms even though they're not really any good? There's just something fun about the design of them.

And then there's substance which, uh, nevermind, nothing to see here.

There's some really interesting experiments with rule-bending cards in Mirage block. Chronatog eats time. Paradigm Shift throws away your deck. Kaervek's Spite throws away everything just for one kick in the head. Celestial Dawn makes all your cards white, even ones that aren't in the game. Tombstone Stairwell... What even does Tombstone Stairwell do. *eyes glaze over* Well, anyways. Sands of Time, I think, marked the first time that WOTC forgot about the old rule that artifacts turn off when tapped.

There was a brief period of time when I thought I would start writing columns on MTG. I had the title picked out, it was going to be "Babble Matrix." Well, I thought it was clever. But as has become clear, I can't commit to writing about Magic on a continuous basis.

Other must-see cards from Mirage block in no particular order:
Infernal Contract
Ovinomancer
Purraj of Urborg
Man-o-war
Polymorph
Doomsday
Final Fortune
Waterspout Djinn
Skulking Ghost
Mangara's Tome
Psychic Vortex
Snake Basket
Hakim, Loreweaver

Okay, that was still time-consuming... But at least I got through three sets instead of just one...
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  #277  
Old 11-06-2018, 08:01 PM
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estragon estragon is offline
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Thank you for taking the time to do these posts! I really enjoy them.

I quit during Homelands, so seeing your writeups on what happened later is especially interesting to me.
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blue is for cowards , ccg , game design , magic the gathering , mtg , red is for real men , trading card game , two blue says "no" , wizards of the coast

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