March 09, 2015

Lazy Clones

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Hello, and welcome to another edition of From the Lab! With Dragons of Tarkir swiftly approaching, it's time for me to show off another exclusive preview card, and this one is really something special. Blue has a long history of copying creatures, dating all the way back to the original Clone in alpha. However, this latest addition to the family does things a bit differently. Say hello to Mirror Mockery.



This card seems like it has more in common with red copy effects like Splinter Twin than with the blue Clone family. However, there's one important difference that may not be immediately apparent.


The copy can't attack.


In fact, the copy can't do much of anything. It's created when the enchanted creature attacks, and it gets exiled at the end of combat. Usually that would mean the creature is being put onto the battlefield tapped and attacking, but not here. You see, these clones are a bit lazy. They show up when you attack, but they're not going to enter the fray themselves. They just watch while your other creatures fight and die. When the battle is over, they go on their merry way, never to be seen again.


So what do you do with clones that disappear before they can do anything? Well, that's exactly the question I've attempted to answer with these two decks. Each uses the card differently, and each finds a way to make these lazy clones worth having.




Allied Forces


Why I started thinking about ways to take advantage of Mirror Mockery, I landed on Sundial of the Infinite almost immediately. The card was first revealed in a preview article much like this one, although it was another mad scientist running the lab at the time. I also have plenty of experience using it in combination with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker in Commander. Essentially, Sundial of the Infinite allows you to keep your temporary tokens around forever. When the delayed trigger that would exile them is put onto the stack, activate the Sundial to end your turn. The trigger will be exiled, and the token will be free to stick around as long as it likes.



Of course, all of this is no good without some creatures to enchant with Mirror Mockery. I wanted a deck that could use the card even without Sundial of the Infinite, but also one that would really turn up the heat once you started gathering an army of tokens. To that end, I turned to Allies. Ally creatures have an ability that triggers whenever another Ally enters the battlefield. Therefore, Mirror Mockery will allow you to trigger these abilities each time you attack. With Sundial of the Infinite, your new Ally token will still be there next turn, so its own ability will trigger when Mirror Mockery creates another new friend.


Hada Freeblade is a particularly valuable Ally, as it's the only one that can usually be cast on your first turn. Despite starting out as a meager 1/2, it will continue to grow throughout the game as you cast more creatures. At two mana, Kazandu Blademaster joins the party. In addition to an extra point of power right off the bat, it also packs a one-two punch of first strike and vigilance, allowing it to effectively control combat on both offense and defense.



Umara Raptor is the blue addition to the +1/+1 counter crew. Although not quite as efficient as the white creatures, evasion is a powerful thing. As more Allies enter the battlefield, this Bird can grow strong enough to fly over and take out a major chunk of your opponent's life total. Finally, Talus Paladin rounds out the top end of the series, starting at the relatively large size of 3/4. It's trigger also gives lifelink to your Allies, keeping your life total safe while you go on an all-out offensive.



Kabira Evangel can help your Allies bypass blockers by giving them protection from whatever color you need. With more than one on the battlefield, you can easily prevent all of your opponent's creatures from blocking. However, it's worth noting that you do have to be a bit careful with this one. If you give your creatures protection from blue, Mirror Mockery will fall off and be put into the graveyard.


Sea Gate Loremaster is the most expensive Ally of the bunch, and doesn't have much size to show for it. However, it can keep your hand stocked full of new Allies to cast. That makes it extremely difficult for your opponent to hold back the ever-growing onslaught. Jwari Shapeshifter can be anything you need it to be. If you want a second Hada Freeblade to fill an empty spot on your curve, you have it. If you want another Kabira Evangel to give your army protection from two colors at once, that's easy enough. You can even create a clone of Sea Gate Loremaster if you're not satisfied with your card-drawing capabilities.



This deck can be pretty aggressive, and any good aggressive deck needs a way to clear the battlefield of particularly troublesome permanents. Planeswalkers are often a big culprit here, so I added in Banishing Light to deal with them. Banishing Light does have a couple glaring weaknesses, however. For one thing it can be destroyed, returning the exiled creature to your opponent. For another, it can only be cast on your turn. In order to fill in these weak spots, I added in Reality Shift, which can permanently exile a creature at instant speed. It comes with its own downside of course, but a 2/2 shouldn't be a problem. Hada Freeblade is the only creature that could die to it in combat, and only if you haven't cast a single other Ally.






Don't Mock the Big Guy


While using Sundial of the Infinite to keep the tokens was my first idea, another odd artifact was not far behind. Strionic Resonator allows you to double up on triggered abilities, provided you have two mana available. You can use it to get twice as much value out of Mirror Mockery each turn.


Unfortunately, twice as much as nothing is still nothing, to start with you'll need some creatures that enjoy being cloned. Cards with big "enters the battlefield" effects seemed like a good idea. They'll accomplish something even though they can't attack, and if you don't have Mirror Mockery you can still copy their abilities with Strionic Resonator.



When it comes to big "enters the battlefield" effects, it doesn't get much bigger than Avenger of Zendikar. Each time you copy it, you'll get a whole new army of Plant tokens, and the Avenger will put counters on all of them whenever you play a land. Hornet Queen is another great way to build up a token army, and its minions come with flying and deathtouch, making them a nightmare in combat.


I wanted a way to remove creatures as well as create them, so I turned to Phyrexian Ingester. Not only does it exile any creature you want, it gains that creature's power (and toughness) to give you an even larger threat. Although the tokens from Mirror Mockery won't be able to take advantage of their size, they still function as free removal spells. Speaking of free removal spells, Reaper King can destroy just about anything that stands in your way. The original won't do anything by itself, but each copy you make will trigger the destruction ability before the legend rule annihilates it.




These creatures work pretty well with normal clone effects too, so I decided to add a few more into the mix. Progenitor Mimic can make a copy of your creature every upkeep, and unlike those made by Mirror Mockery, these ones don't disappear in the blink of an eye. Since this deck is already leaning toward the top end as far as mana costs go, I also included Rite of Replication. While relatively unimpressive in its four-mana form, it can truly wreak havoc when cast with kicker.


To get the mana you need faster, I added in a few special tools. Rampant Growth and Farseek can be cast early, getting you a quick jump in mana production to start things off. After that, Skyshroud Claim can come in to clean up, taking you from four mana to six all by itself. With one copy of each, you could cast Avenger of Zendikar on turn four and play a land to pump up the Plants right away. As a final addition to the deck, I threw in one copy of Eternal Witness. It can be used to get back a Misty Rainforest or Rampant Growth for another go, or return a more powerful card late in the game. You can even use the various copy effects to return more cards if need be.






Making a Mockery of This Subheading


I'm afraid that's all I have for today, but fear not! The fun isn't over just yet. For starters, if you have any deck ideas of your own you'd like to share, whether about Mirror Mockery or something else entirely, feel free to send them in to MTGCannon@gmail.com. I'll also be back next week with even more cool deck ideas using some of the standout cards of Dragons of Tarkir, so check in on Monday to see what else I've cooked up. See ya!






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