Into the Scrapheap? – Episode 1 (Alloy Myr)

There are tons of Magic cards now available to players. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are what we might call variations on a theme.  Sometimes, a new card will be an exact upgrade of an earlier card: there is now almost no reason to play the card in a constructed deck. Sometimes, the card is functionally equivalent, i.e. it does essentially the same thing, although the slight differences may make one card preferred over the other depending on the needs of the deck. This variation could be a very narrow application, meaning that the new card is almost always going to be preferred unless you have a specific deck with a specific narrow need, or it could be that the cards are quite equal but just doing slightly different things, thereby giving you real equivalent options for your deck. In general this comparison will focus on function and mana cost, although sometimes there may be other considerations.

Our first card from the latest set (New Phyrexia) to examine is Alloy Myr. For 3 colorless mana, you get a mana producer (for any color) and a 2/2 body. It’s a beefier Birds of Paradise that can’t fly. I won’t delve into the Birds comparisons too much because if you’re already playing green in the deck, you probably want the one-drop Birds, if you are not green, then you’re not going to play a Birds, period. Alloy Myr can go into any colored deck at least, and can attack profitably, and will survive 1 damage pings. That’s a lot going for it. Alloy Myr is hardly amazing, but sometimes you want an artifact, a creature, and access to all colors of mana. If you do, this is likely to be your guy.

Cards Rendered Obsolete

Phyrexian Lens  3 [Artifact]

Tap, Pay 1 life: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

I suppose there might be times when you don’t want a ‘creature’, but is that going to override the regular pain inflicted by this card that is otherwise useless if you don’t need its mana? I can’t see playing this over Alloy Myr except in the most extreme cases (probably some weird combo where the life payment is irrelevant (but such a combo is not always going to happen or survive on the board). One thing to remember with all the cards on this list is that the creature designation means the Alloy Myr always has the drawback of not getting immediate access to the mana: you have to wait a turn, which can be a significant drawback in many cases.

Mana Prism  3 [Artifact]

Tap: Add 1 to your mana pool.

1, Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

For the same price of 3 mana, you can produce a colorless mana, or filter it for an extra mana (each time). Why wouldn’t you just play the Alloy Myr? I think Mana Prism can be safely described as obsolete, unless someone can point to a time when this would be better (OK, it survives a Day of Judgment, but it’s still just clunky).

Standing Stones  3 [Artifact]

1, Tap, Pay 1 life: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

This is definitely inferior to the Mana Prism, since it only filters, and at the cost of one life. Even if you argue that Mana Prism is not strictly obsolete, I think we can say this one definitely is (of course, the designation of obsolete always assumes that you don’t want more than 4 of the same effect in the deck – if you need more, I suppose you might play with the inferior version.)

Celestial Prism  3 [Artifact]

2, Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

This is just about as bad (swap the life loss for the extra mana cost) as the Standing Stones, and seemingly always worse than the Mana Prism or the Alloy Myr, except for the possible extra fragility of the latter being a creature.

Superior in Almost Every Way

Diamond Kaleidoscope  4 [Artifact]

3, Tap: Put a 0/1 colorless Prism artifact creature token onto the battlefield.

Sacrifice a Prism token: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Keep in mind that the original cost of this artifact is one mana more than the Alloy Myr, and that the mana cost to produce the mana is one more than the Celestial Prism. Still, there may be times when you want those tokens (to chump block or fulfill some card’s need for creatures on the board) or the ability to save up the mana production, but there are probably better and cheaper ways to get 0/1 tokens and any color of mana. So, I think the Alloy Myr is superior in almost every way.

Prismatic Lens 2 [Artifact]

Tap: Add 1 to your mana pool.

1, Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

This is not better if you actually need to produce mana of any color, but it does cost one less if all you need is colorless mana and occasionally want to be able to filter mana into another color of mana. So, there will be times when this is preferred, especially if you want the extra mana the turn it comes into play. So the comparison is actually more apples to oranges (or at least Macintosh to Granny Smith) since it is a matter of what exactly you need in your deck.

Vesper Ghoul  2Black [Creature — Zombie Druid (1/1)]

Tap, Pay 1 life: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Black doesn’t usually get much help with its mana base, especially if you’re not splashing green with it, and when it does, it usually hurts. With the much smaller body and the regular pain attached to this mana production, you better have a good reason to need access to other colors and for this creature to be black and/or a zombie. Since you can play the Alloy Myr in the same deck, and actually play it even if you don’t hit your black mana, the Alloy Myr is probably to be preferred in almost all cases.

Functionally Equivalent, Depends on your Specific Need

Scuttlemutt  3 [Artifact Creature — Scarecrow (2/2)]

Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Tap: Target creature becomes the color or colors of your choice until end of turn.

This has the same-sized body, so your choice may come down to whether you want a Myr or a Scarecrow in the deck. This card would definitely be preferred if you wanted a Scarecrow creature or needed to be able to change creatures colors.  Actually, in most decks this would actually be superior to the Alloy Myr simply because you get an extra function on a practically equivalent card.

Coalition Relic  3 [Artifact]

Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Tap: Put a charge counter on Coalition Relic.

At the beginning of your precombat main phase, remove all charge counters from Coalition Relic. Add one mana of any color to your mana pool for each charge counter removed this way.

It’s not a creature, so it taps for mana a turn quicker, and if you have someway to add counters to it in your deck, then you’ll want this. I just think that all other things being equal, at least a creature can always be turned sideways to attack. This card’s cost on the singles’ market, however, suggests that many people find ways to take advantage of it.

Darksteel Ingot 3 [Artifact]

Darksteel Ingot is indestructible. (“Destroy” effects and lethal damage don’t destroy it.)

Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Indestructibility is nothing to be sneered at in a world full of artifact removal. You are much less likely to lose access to your ‘any color of mana’ with this card, and if that’s a concern, play this instead of the Alloy Myr. But if you think that 2/2 body might come in handy, you should go with the Myr.

Star Compass 2 [Artifact]

Star Compass enters the battlefield tapped.

Tap: Add to your mana pool one mana of any color that a basic land you control could produce.

This is cheaper, but really only as fast as any other mana-producing 3 cost artifacts since it comes into play tapped. That is still faster than the Myr creature with summoning sickness, though. It is also limited by your basic lands in play. In most cases this won’t matter, unless you have a bad mana base for a multi-colored deck, but you never know when your opponent will do something to annoying to you and the Alloy Myr being able to produce any color of mana becomes a boon (say, requiring you to pay a cost with a specific color requirement or suffer the consequences). This is definitely inferior to the Darksteel Ingot and Coalition Relic, unless that 2 casting cost is somehow better in your particular deck.

Springleaf Drum  1 [Artifact]

Tap, Tap an untapped creature you control: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

This is a bit cheaper by some measure, but requires two cards to produce one mana. There may be some decks that want to get this out early and have ways to take advantage of it. Imagine tapping and then sacrificing an Eldrazi spawn token with this – 1 colored mana and 1 colorless mana. But it’s still two cards to produce two mana essentially, and you have to wonder how you got the Spawn token out there (another card?). Sometimes, in fact many times, you would rather have the Alloy Myr, I think.

Probably Inferior in Most Cases

Elvish Harbinger 2G [Creature — Elf Druid (1/2)]

When Elvish Harbinger enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an Elf card, reveal it, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.

Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

This has the same converted mana cost as the Alloy Myr, albeit green in color and with a slightly smaller body. This suggests that there may be some decks (i.e. non-green ones) that will prefer the artifact creature. If you want this mainly for the mana production, you’re better off with a Birds of Paradise, but there are many decks that can take advantage of the Elf searching this offers. If you’re playing a green elf deck that has lots of color requirements, then this is your card, otherwise go with the Birds, unless you’re not playing green at all, in which case you’ll want the Alloy Myr.

Conclusion

There are, of course, plenty of other options out there for producing mana of any color; these are just the ones to consider around the three-drop slot, when you want an artifact or a creature. I definitely think the Alloy Myr can serve some useful purposes in decks that want access to lots of mana, but don’t necessarily need it right away. (And remember, this guy is only an uncommon, not a rare like Birds). And the larger than average power/toughness on a mana producer is not an insignificant consideration (although 2 toughness still dies to Pyroclasm 😦 ) I may very well try this guy in my “Five Color Fun” deck.

To sum up then, it looks like our first contributions to the trash heap (i.e. cards that even a super casual guy like me should never be putting into a constructed deck) are

  • Phyrexian Lens,
  • Mana Prism
  • Standing Stones, and 
  • Celestial Prism,

with Alloy Myr being generally preferred to several other cards as well.

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One Response to Into the Scrapheap? – Episode 1 (Alloy Myr)

  1. Pingback: Into the Scrapheap? – Episode 4 (Manalith) « Fatties Combos Proxies

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