1. The Keyword Connection: Imprint
Of Mirrodin block's five artifact keywords, one (affinity
) was broken, one (equipment
) was meant to expand beyond Mirrodin block, and two (modular
) don't have the cachet that I am talking about. That leaves imprint
, the block keyword that isn't a keyword anymore. That imprint has been relegated to an italic ability word doesn't matter - it's still awesome. Chrome Mox
, Isochron Scepter
, Soul Foundry
, Spellweaver Helix
: does any
ability, keyword or not, have such a high percentage of smash hits to its name? Imprint was such an essential piece of Mirrodin that to not bring it back would be a travesty. Although it is well enough for imprint to keep its artifacts-only flavor, the ability could just as easily make the jump onto nonartifact cards. That would be a logical development of the mechanic, and one that could only be achieved faithfully by Mirrodin 2. Whatever form imprint takes, it needs to be part of the return to Mirrodin.
2. The Flavor Connection: Vedalken
and his Myr
are defeated. Elves
are too generic to evoke Mirrodin's uncanny flavor. Cat people
, elephant people
and people people
fare little better. On the other hand, Vedalken
, WotC's Frankenstein creature creation, have never been more distinctive or interesting than when they first appeared in their four-armed
forms in Mirrodin block. Vedalken would be the most recognizable flavor connection between Mirrodin and Mirrodin 2. Now that we have seen them in other colors
, Vedalken could make the radical jump to occasionally being non-blue. Like the idea of imprint on non-artifacts, this is an idea that only Mirrodin 2 could execute faithfully. This is not to say that Vedalken need to dominate the flavor of Mirrodin 2 (if the rumors are true, Phyrexia
will see to that), but the imagery of Mirrodin's freakish Vedalken is still the best way to tap into the cachet that's so important for Mirrodin 2's success.
3. The Power-Level Connection: High
Nobody likes an Arcbound Ravager
. But, competitive players do like the feeling of being a part of something big. Mirrodin block was a huge peak on the power-level chart, and it was the last time WotC issued a wave of bannings
to keep the tournament scene from collapsing. Don't get me wrong: bannings are bad and WotC should not design cards that they think will be degenerate. But, if Shards of Alara block and Zendikar block have been erring on the side of caution, WotC needs to err on the opposite side for Mirrodin 2. In a world where combo is dead, control suffers, and aggro rules all, Mirrodin 2 offers up a compelling opportunity to reset the balance of power in a shocking and awesome way. The broken promises of combo-happy duds like Myr Incubator
, Darksteel Reactor
and Blasting Station
can be redeemed by a new wave of cards that mean
something to the tourney scene. Mirrodin has a reputation to uphold
; Mirrodin 2 can't afford to be forgettable.
Unforgettable, no matter how hard you try.
In addition to drawing from the best aspects of Mirrodin block, Mirrodin 2 needs to expand on its predecessor in a meaningful fashion. It goes without saying that the block will contain a selection of brand-new mechanics, that equipment will make a comeback (because it never left) and that planeswalkers will be afoot. So, besides these obvious innovations, how else can WotC improve on a good thing?
4. New Direction: Champion a Mechanic
I don't mean the Lorwyn keyword
. With Mirrodin comes legitimacy: it will be the first plane since Dominaria to be the focus of a second block. This legitimacy gives Mirrodin 2 the power to promote a previously minor mechanic to the big leagues; there are lots of qualified candidates that could use the help. Foremost among these mechanics are the ones that existed in the two-year gulf between Mirrodin block and Time Spiral block, and thus have not seen print in any meaningful quantity since 2006 or earlier. A short list of top candidates might include: flip cards
. The oddball mechanics of Future Sight might also make quality choices: Fateseal
could fit into the picture, to say nothing of Mirrodin-linked Fortify
(although this doesn't guarantee that Fortify will appear in Mirrodin 2). The point isn't to guess the identity of the lucky mechanic; the point is that there ought to be one. Mirrodin 2 has the power to be a kingmaker, and a few under-appreciated mechanics are more than worthy of the title.
5. New Direction: Astound Us with Flavor
It should be clear to you by now that I love Mirrodin, but I would be lying if I said that I always loved it. When Mirrodin was first released, I thought it had a bizarre flavor: it seemed incompatible
with Magic's previous fantasy settings and it was home to all kinds of mismatched
ideas. Hindsight (of the nostalgic variety) changed my opinion, and now I revere it as one of Magic's greatest blocks. But, not everybody is going to share my nostalgia for Mirrodin. This means that WotC needs to do a bang-up job with the flavor of Mirrodin 2. Finding the inspiration shouldn't be hard - the setting has had many years to marinate. With a potential collision course set towards Magic's greatest villains
, my hopes are even higher. But, rising to the occasion is no simple task for WotC, and it requires them to make improvements over the original: we need heroes to care about, not the tepid assortment
we had before. We need amazing art direction, not the head
of yore. Mirrodin needs to feel like a living place, more than it has ever been
. It's not enough to settle for a trip down memory lane.
Finally, there are pitfalls that Mirrodin 2 must avoid at all costs. Any new block must ride a narrow rail with doom on either side, but Mirrodin 2 is even more susceptible to flying off the tracks, seeing as how the first Mirrodin block nearly derailed in cataclysmic fashion. These two features would be an antimatter collision that would suck away anything good about Mirrodin 2. WotC must avoid them:
6. A Disaster Waiting to Happen: Affinity
, blame Æther Vial
, blame Arcbound Ravager
, blame the artifact lands
... it doesn't matter, we all know the real
culprit behind Mirrodin block's troubles, an evil little keyword beginning with "A". WotC had to ban-hammer so many relatively benign Mirrodin block cards simply because the "A"-word was too big of a screw-up to contain. Ask any player around at the time and you're likely to hear a similar story: "I hated playing it, I hated playing against it, but it was the only game in town... what else could I do?" Regardless of this, there is a certain mindset that associates Mirrodin with the "A"-word fundamentally. Can you have one without the other? Emphatically, YES.
It doesn't matter if WotC thinks they have fixed the problem. It doesn't matter if they give us a block full of cards with Affinity for Wombats, and not a single Wombat
. Printing the "A"-word in Mirrodin 2 would ignite the post-traumatic stress disorder of every last player who played during Mirrodin block. It simply must not happen. The "A"-word might as well stand for "Anti-Fun".
7. A Disaster Waiting to Happen: Generic Mana
Now we have come full circle. As I said earlier, sidestepping the limits of the color wheel not only invites degeneracy, but guarantees it. A healthy tournament environment requires differentiation of deckbuilds. When every player starts playing the same deck, that is degeneracy defined. The quickest way to get there is to un-restrict what cards can be played with others. The easiest way to do that is to allow every cost to be paid with generic mana. When artifacts exist at a normal level, the number of possible generic-mana-fueled combinations is low. In Mirrodin, it was as high as it could realistically get, and deckbuilds stagnated as a result. Just think of the difference it would have made if Frogmite
required green mana and Myr Enforcer
required blue mana - Affinity decks would have instantly differentiated themselves from one another, and the worst degenerative effects of the mechanic might have been avoided. Whatever approach Mirrodin 2 takes to artifacts, WotC must limit the number of generic mana costs in the block. Anything else leaves the door open for catastrophe.
Agree? Disagree? Have a different perspective to share? Post your comments below.