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Scars of Mirrodin Critique January 24, 2011

Posted by James in : all, random, reviews, design , trackback

Ravnica, Time Spiral, Lorwyn, and Eventide are my four favorite sets — I think they were well designed and well balanced (for draft and sealed events in particular). Scars of Mirrodin doesn’t quite live up to them, but it’s a well made set. I like it better than Shards of Alara and perhaps even Zendikar. I like the synergy found in Scars of Mirrodin, but I dislike (a) that there are only two major themes and (b) I don’t like how bombs affect the game.

One common problem with Magic sets has been that “combos” end the game too quickly. The game needs more moderately powerful synergy. Time Spiral did the best at accomplishing this goal so far, but Scars of Mirrodin did a pretty good job as well. Metalcraft doesn’t spiral out of control as badly as Affinity and Infect has been very powerful without being too powerful.

(a) My main complaint is that Scars of Mirrodin only has two major themes — metalcraft and infect. You can draft a metalcraft deck, no problem. One or two players in a draft can draft an infect deck, no problem. However, proliferate and sacrifice are two other themes, and they are too difficult to draft. This flaw has also been noted by Mark Rosewater who lets us know that the design team tried to make proliferate and sacrifice major themes that didn’t survive the play testing process. It was the “developers” who ended up taking out a lot of the cards needed for those two themes to work.

How disappointing is it to only have two major themes? Consider that Lorwyn had 8 tribes to choose from, Eventide had five two color themes, and Shards of Alara had five “shards.” Only having two major themes is highly unusual.

(b) My second complaint is that you need to get powerful bombs when drafting Scars. Shards of Alara had extremely powerful bombs, and we’ve been the victims to powerful bombs ever sense. Scars of Mirrodin is no exception. The problem with powerful bombs is that a bomb can end the game too quickly, and they can make everything else that happened so far irrelevant. They can pretty much win the game by themselves. I would actually prefer to draft the game without rares just to avoid having bombs affect the game.

How horrible are bombs? It’s not the worst thing in the world. I enjoyed drafting Mirrodin a lot despite how broken it was. Mirrodin had a lot of bombs that could end the game quickly. Still, it can be quite frustrating to lose because the opponent gets a dragon and you have no answer for it.


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