The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Silent Arbiter | Mark Zug

Magical Thinking: Fifth Dawn

Welcome back to Magical Thinking, a look at the cards and art of Magic: the Gathering, set by set, from the beginning. Through the eyes of a casual fan. This week we conclude our time on the metal plane of Mirrodin by looking at the final set of Mirrodin block: The June of 2004 expansion Fifth Dawn.

Things are looking pretty bad for Glissa and the gang. They assembled several powerful MacGuffins (Which I kind of skipped over the cards for, my bad) to summon the avatar of Kaldra to stop Memnarch. Unfortunately we kind of forgot that Memnarch’s specialty is controlling stuff, so he takes control of Kaldra and sets it upon Glissa and company. They are pursued into the tangle by it, and with a massive blast of Green Mana, Glissa defeats Kaldra, and creates the fifth sun of Mirrodin. What does that mean for Mirrodin? Will Memnarch be stopped? Let’s see.

So basically, Rey from Star Wars would be a White Mana legendary. I can dig it.

This is a creature type that doesn’t see much play. The Bringers. In any case, Fifth Dawn also had a theme of five colors. We got five suns now, may as well make use of them. There is a whole cycle of these bringers, who have five mana as their alt casting cost. And they are all pretty powerful for their alt price.

Now here’s a white elephant you definitely want as a gift. Get it? the tale of the White Elephant? Nobody gets me.

This is like the opposite of the Dovakhin’s Yell. In fact, it’s like the Dovakin equivalent to Superman’s rebuild the great wall vision power from Superman IV.

Wait, THIS was the set that introduced Scry? I could have sworn it didn’t show up as a proper keyword till Theros. Well, yeah, say hello to Scry. Along with Equipment and Indestructible, one of the big keywords from this block that would go on to become evergreen. Big winners one and all.

Oh hey, they managed to make a Hoverguard that didn’t look completely ridiculous. Only took them three sets to get it right.

I love how the Veldaken casting the spell isn’t even standing up to do this. Hell, they’re not even using all four hands. They might be asleep. That’s how little they care.

How do you have frost on a plane made of metal? Actually a lot about Mirrodin doesn’t make sense if you think about it too much. I’ll shut up now.

Been a while since we got an elemental. I kind of like the nonstandard elementals of Mirrodin (this and Rust Elemental) and I wish we had gotten more of them.

I have mentioned I really enjoy the Vedalken, and I kind of wish we could have gotten more of them. I am glad that they come back in later sets, and I will talk about them when we reach them, but these four armed fish bowl guys will always have a spot in my heart.

Here is another cycle from this set: The Beacons, which do a thing, then you shuffle them into your deck. I am using this one as an example because it’s one I actually own. And it’s probably one of the best because it’s been reprinted ton of times and the other Beacons have not. I mean, it’s pretty cool right? Letting you revive your best creature or steal one of your opponents. It’s basically Monster Reborn for Magic, and you can keep using it over and over.

Okay, what was I saying about elementals earlier? I mean, I want to like this guy, but how can you be an elemental of desecration. You need to at least have some consistency and be made of a tangible being.

He just found out that no, he can’t has cheesburger.

Honestly, this card was basically the mood of the past four years. Ah well, here’s hoping things will be better going forward.

Oh yeah, this guy. In the first Mirrodin novel Glissa and company had to fight this thing, who was Geth’s primary enforcer (Geth being the main black Mana guy on the plane). Kind of weird it took this long to get the vampire a card when it’s been dead for a while at this point. But it’s doing better than Geth, who doesn’t get a card at all till the next Mirrodin block.

Memnarch has a weird sense of humor. Not only does he bring over Atogs and Ouphes, but he also brought over an endless number of rats. Why? Did he just have a checklist of stuff to include on the plane and rats was on it?

Also, I bet one of you out there made a deck that was just this card and some swamps. Be honest now.

Uh, what are these again? Are these prototype Eldrazi? There’s no in-game lore on them beyond the flavor texts. I mean, how many interdimensional horrors can one multiverse contain?

Everyone has a plan until a Goblin hits them upside the head with a rock. After that they no longer have a plan. Though they might have a concussion.

You think a giant worm made of barbed wire would be much better at blocking than usual. I guess not. Shame that.

Yeah I imagine the rust wizards aren’t too popular on the metal plane. Of course, I don’t think the plane has much metal so how would they even know what rust is? I don’t know.

I love the metal hair aesthetic of Mirrans. I mean, is the hair rigid? How malleable is it? How do they keep cool with a ton of metal on their head? What’s Mirran dandruff like? I have so many questions.

Hey, remember how I said this set had a five color theme? Well leave it to Green to give you a way to fix for all five mana colors at once.

Here is another card which has been reprinted a ton of times. Easy to see why. It’s basically Green’s equivalent to our old pal Gravedigger. Only better cause it can get any card.

…I mean, you have to admire their determination. Also, I warned you Memnarch. I warned you about those Ouphes. I WARNED YOU BRO.

We got scry this set, but Deathtouch will still be a ways off yet. This isn’t even proto-Deathtouch because it works off blocking and not damage, but someday we’ll get there.

Cyborg Dinosaurs. Why were we sleeping on this for two expansions? This is what the people want to see.

Sunburst was the big mechanic from this set to go with the five color theme. Basically you get a counter for each different color of mana used to pay the mana cost. Sunburst is a 9 on the storm scale, so that should tell you how well it went over.

Here’s another example of Sunburst, this time with a non-artifact creature. It’s pretty clear to see the problem: Unless you are playing a five color deck, there’s little incentive to play these cards. Personally I like to keep my decks 1 to 2 colors. The only time I go bigger is with weird janky decks like Slivers or Shrines.

Alternatively you can just run a few of these bad boys and just sack them whenever you need to sunburst something, but that’s still a big investment. You need something to make it worth it.

…Like this. Okay, this card makes playing five colors seem worth it. even makes that Composite Golem look good.

Basically it’s like an artifact version of Stasis, only without the upkeep cost or the art. Honestly though this does make me pine for the days when Magic cards could have some super confusing art on them.

Memnarch was later sued by Thanos for copyright infringement. He settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Ah yes, the Millstone of the modern age. I kind of wish this one would get reprinted, because it looks amazing.

Yeah, I mentioned this before, but I’ve been skipping the big McGuffins of this set. First we had the Sword of Kaldra (from Mirrodin), the Shield of Kaldra (from Darksteel) and now this bad boy. So at the end of the day with everything attached we have a 9/9 indestructible Kaldra with first strike, trample and haste. Not too bad.

Poor little Myr. Leave him alone you jerks!

Also, this card is banned in Modern. I presume because it’s part of some really disgusting combos.

Well it’s good to know the Myr from the last card ends up getting out of things alright. Those Myrs, always looking out for one another. Makes you forget they are Memnarch’s evil spies.

I kind of like this. It’s like “Need a Mana dork? Now you can make your own!”

Also, it implies there were Birds of Paradise on Mirrodin but were hunted to extinction for their plumage.

Hey, it’s our old pal Masticore, and he got a badass Mirrodin makeover. I guess he goes to the same beauty salon as Atog (for whatever definition of beauty you want to use).

There are multiple arbiter cards in Magic, but they seem to refer to a title rather than construct creatures. So this is the only Arbiter this card is talking about.

I also included this because I own a copy and I used to use it in my black deck. He’s a fun guy.

I love how it has five different levers for each of its effects. Although the costing of it up a curve is really weird. And the effects are mostly meh. Doesn’t really scream “domination” to me.

Okay, this one seems pretty fun. It can crush things by expending counters, and you can then bounce it to your hand and play it again with more counters later. I mean, it all seems terribly inefficient, but fun.

And last but not least, we have a card that lets you play stuff at instant speed. Seems like quite the popular card looking at the prices. Makes me wonder why it hasn’t been reprinted more.

And with that, the five suns set on Mirrodin and the Mirrodin block. I hope you enjoyed all those artifacts, because next week we’re heading for a whole new plane. Sharpen your Katana and throw on your favorite episode of Naruto, because we’re about to Ninja run right into Kamigawa block. Until then though, Stay Magical.



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Jessie Staffler

Jessie Staffler

Creative Writer looking to make money writing. Prefers to write stuff based on fantasy, Sci fi and horror