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CardShark Content - Beatdown Bedford Crenshaw (12/16/2005)

The Mirage release for MTGO has come and gone. Mirage is now a matter of fact online, and the results were quite a surprise; the surprise being that it hit like a thud. This past summer’s biggest news has now become a page B-13 story. On Monday the packs were selling for 5 tickets; by Sunday the packs were selling for 3 apiece. You can now buy 9 event tickets on Cardshark for $8.45, and use them to easily buy 3 packs. The official online MTGO store would charge you $11.07, $2.62 more.

What happened? Well, for starters it turns out Mirage is bad for Limited. Drain Life
Drain Life
Drain LifeSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Drain Life does 1 damage to a single target for each B spent in addition to the casting cost. Caster gains 1 life for each damage inflicted. If you drain life from a creature, you cannot gain more life than the creature's current toughness.
, Incinerate
Incinerate
IncinerateSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Incinerate deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Creatures damaged by Incinerate cannot regenerate this turn.
, Kaervek’s Torch at common and Savage Twister
Savage Twister
Savage TwisterSet: Mirage
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Bob Eggleton
Text:
Savage Twister deals X damage to each creature.
at uncommon proved unbalanced. Savage Twister
Savage Twister
Savage TwisterSet: Mirage
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Bob Eggleton
Text:
Savage Twister deals X damage to each creature.
wasn’t even respected back in the day, and now it’s a killer Limited card. People complained that half of their losses came from the Torch; that you must keep your life at X life or above, where X equals the number of lands your opponent controls. If you don’t, you’ll running against the clock. Volcanic Geyser
Volcanic Geyser
Volcanic GeyserSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
215
Artist:
David O'Connor
Text:
Volcanic Geyser deals X damage to target creature or player.
at uncommon, and the possibility of Energy Bolt
Energy Bolt
Energy BoltSet: Mirage
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Scott Kirschner
Text:
Energy Bolt deals X damage to target player, or target player gains X life.
, makes Mirage Limited the X Division of online play. When you combine Spitting Earth
Spitting Earth
Spitting EarthSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
208
Artist:
Brian Snoddy
Text:
Spitting Earth deals to target creature damage equal to the number of mountains you control.
and Dark Banishing
Dark Banishing
Dark BanishingSet: Ice Age
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Drew Tucker
Text:
Bury target non-black creature.
to the mix, at common, then creatures have a very limited lifespan.

If the creatures were better, then the problem may not have been so bad. At the time Mirage had the record for the highest percentage of creature cards in a set (42%). This was a big deal then. But now, creatures are now designed to be much better, and more frequent. Back then, creatureless decks were highly popular, especially by those who thought themselves the “elite”. Back then, Serra Angel
Serra Angel
Serra AngelSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
5
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying Attacking does not cause Serra Angel to tap.
and Sengir Vampire
Sengir Vampire
Sengir VampireSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Vampire
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
FlyingVampire gets a +1/+1 counter each time a creature dies during a turn in which Vampire damaged it.
were considered “too good” to stay in the base set; now, they are available but are ignored. Guildmages such as Granger and Shadow are viewed as awesome simply because they are able to deliver the finishing blow to many creatures. If you read my article pinpointing the best cards in Mirage, you’ll note that only 14 creatures showed up, and most of them are niche. So much of the set is comprised of 2/2s that it quickly becomes a battle between Grey Ogres. Bad creatures and a lot of good removal makes this set one where a single unanswered creature could win the game if an X-spell doesn’t.

Right now, only 37 of the 330 Mirage cards (not counting basics) are Extended legal; 11% of the set. None of them are highly sought after. This means that 89% of the set is useless to the average player. Mirage is legal in the more casual formats like PDC, Singleton, and Prismatic, but they don’t see the interest that Extended and Standard does. Right now MTGO’s Classic format is Extended, with the four promo cards legal. Mirage isn’t enough to get people interested in the format now; the bud is off the rose. Most players’ first view of Mirage was in the Release Events, and they weren’t impressed.

So, why did Mirage seem so good back in July and is now trash in December? For starters, people have had five months to prepare for it; the surprise was gone. Also, much of the interest in Mirage was due to the hopes of other, better expansions, like Visions
Visions
VisionsSet: Fourth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
NéNé Thomas
Text:
Look at the top five cards of any library. You may then shuffle that library.
and Tempest, would eventually be printed. Plus, we old-timers overestimated Mirage’s worth. Looking back, it’s not hard to see why. After all, it followed some very bad sets (Fallen Empires, Ice Age, Chronicles, Homelands), and one under-printed set (Alliances). It saved the game by being much better than its immediately predecessors. But now, if released in 2006 instead of 1996 it would be viewed as better than Kamigawa, but that’s not much of a compliment.

So, what should one do with Mirage? Well, pick up the cards I recommended previously. Dark Ritual
Dark Ritual
Dark RitualSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Sandra Everingham
Text:
Add BBB to your mana pool.
is going for 2 tickets, which is great for a common. Once Visions
Visions
VisionsSet: Fourth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
NéNé Thomas
Text:
Look at the top five cards of any library. You may then shuffle that library.
is released (everyone believes that the older sets will eventually get released for MTGO), Mirage’s value will go up. Of course, Visions
Visions
VisionsSet: Fourth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
NéNé Thomas
Text:
Look at the top five cards of any library. You may then shuffle that library.
was dominated by killer commons, and like Mirage has the “niche rare” problem. Still, there is reason for optimism that online Mirage will be seen like paper Mirage; a set fondly regarded by old-timers.


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