Magic History: Mirrodin Besieged

Magic Untapped takes a look back at the set Mirrodin Besieged.

After 30 years of Magic: The Gathering, it's nice to look back at older sets to reminisce and see just how much the game has changed over the years.

In this video, we look back at Mirrodin Besieged, the middle set in Magic: The Gathering's Scars of Mirrodin block.

Check it out:

Video Transcript:

On February 4, 2011, the 54th Magic: The Gathering expansion, Mirrodin Besieged, released, bringing with it 155 cards (all but three new), and continuing (card-wise) the overall story of Magic’s Scars block.

Whereas its predecessor, Scars of Mirrodin, was about a Mirrodin with hints of corruption, Mirrodin Besieged focused on the active conflict between the plane’s natives and the invading, infectious Phyrexians.

<Maro DTW SOM-1 35:30-58 “So, we had…the set up.”>

Story-wise, the set was essentially the latter half of the block’s one-and-only novel, Scars of Mirrodin: Quest for Karn by author Robert B. Wintermute.  If you’re unfamiliar with the novel, we give a rather thorough summary of its goings on in our previous Magic History video on the set Scars of Mirrodin.

Please feel free to go check that out if you haven’t yet.

As for this video – let’s move on, shall we?

As Mark Rosewater, Magic: The Gathering’s Head Designer, mentioned, Mirrodin Besieged was made to represent a two-sided war against the Phyrexians and the native Mirran population.  As such, the set’s prerelease and release parties featured a special type of booster pack (called a “faction pack”) that contained cards only from one faction or the other, requiring players to choose between the war’s two sides for deck-building purposes.  Similarly, the set’s event decks were also separated between the factions with a mono-red deck representing the Mirran resistance and a blue-black deck taking the roll of the invading Phyrexians.

<Maro DTW 2011, 3:27-51, 4:06-13  “So this was a…right away.” “Battle cry…the Mirran mechanic.”>

Beyond those two new mechanics, Wizards of the Coast also carried over most of the mechanics from Mirrodin Besieged’s predecessor – metalcraft, proliferate, and infect.

A new theme of mirrored pairs was also introduced in the set.  That is, cards from each faction mirroring one another, such as the cards Peace Strider and Pierce Strider and Mirran Crusader and Phyrexian Crusader.  Furthermore, some of these mirrored pairs go cross-set as pseudo-callbacks to cards from the original Mirrodin block, such as Viridian Shaman and Viridian Corruptor, Darksteel Colossus and Blightsteel Colossus, and Inkmoth Nexus and Blinkmoth Nexus.  Cards such as these were done to exhibit the new Phryrexia’s spreading corruption over Mirrodin.

Also, a new rules term came into being with Mirrodin Beseiged: “poisoned.”  As in, a player is poisoned if they have any poison counters.

As a small set, Mirrodin Besieged did not have much in the way of cycles.  In fact, it had fewer than you might expect.  Two, to be exact.  Okay, technically three.

Those are:

  • Zeniths, which is a cycle of rare spells with “X” in their casting cost that each refer to one of the plane of Mirrodin’s five mono-colored suns.  As such, each have their own color-specific ability before being shuffled back into their owner’s library rather then sent to the graveyard as normal, such as the card Blue Sun’s Zenith letting players draw “X” cards;
  • Color-aligned artifact creatures.  Like in Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged contains a cycle of common artifact creatures, each with an activated ability that includes a colored cost.  An example of this is Gust Skimmer which, for the cost of one blue mana, can gain flying until end of turn.  And;
  • Basic lands.  No, really.  While almost unheard of for a small set to contain its own basic lands, Mirrodin Besieged did, if nothing else to visually show the basic lands of Scars of Mirrodin being corrupted into Phyrexian-looking biomes.

Mirrodin Besieged, as could be expected, had a handful of cards worth mentioning, whether it be value-wise or gameplay-wise.  And that includes:

  • The aforementioned Blightsteel Colossus, which can be quite the finisher in EDH;
  • Consecrated Spinx, a large and effective blue flyer, the card also gave its controller good card advantage;
  • Go for the Throat, an efficient creature killing card that saw widespread use in Standard at the time;
  • Green Sun’s Zenith, one of the set’s Zenith cycle of cards.  The card functioned as an early mana-ramp spell by searching out the Future Sight card Dryad Arbor, but could also be used late game to fish out a deck’s finisher.  The card wound up becoming banned in Modern in September of 2011;
  • Inkmoth Nexus, still a backbone of poison-based strategies that can attack as soon as turn two;
  • Massacre Wurm, a once-powerful psued-finisher and psued-board wipe that has fallen out of favor thanks to the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt card, The Meathook Massacre;
  • Phyrexian Revoker, essentially a Pithing Needle with legs.  It still sees play today in Modern and Legacy Death & Taxes and Affinity builds;
  • Sword of Feast and Famine, yet another entry into Magic’s “Sword of X & Y” series.  The card was part of the reason the cards Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor received bans in a number of formats (though both of those cards have since been un-banned in their relevant formats), and;
  • Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, a fairly popular Oathbreaker commander for artifact-centric decks.

As far as competitive Magic goes, Mirrodin Besieged was front-and-center in Pro Tour Paris in mid-February of 2011, which as a Standard and Scars/Besieged draft event.

<Maro DTW 2011 – 5:35-6:02 “So, Mirrodin Besieged…of that weekend.”>

Indeed, Pro Tour Paris also had a “Player of the Year Showdown” because there were two players tied for Player of the Year for 2010: American Brad Nelson and Frenchman Guillaume Matignon in decks that included Scars of Mirrodin cards despite the fact that they were playing in a tiebreaker for a year that preceded the set’s release.

<Maro DTW 2011 – 6:40-55 “They played…for 2010.”>

So, do you have some fond memories of Mirrodin Besieged to share with the rest of the class?  Let us know your thoughts and memories in the comment section.

Also, if you enjoyed this video, please give this video a “like” and remember to subscribe to Magic Untapped.  Also, if you haven’t already done so, please toss a buck in our Patreon tip jar to support future videos like this.

Thanks for watching.

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.