M12 is set for release next week with the usual pre-release tournaments coming up this Saturday and Sunday. I am already thinking of how to use the latest new cards in the set and many of them are very exciting from classic cards being reprinted to new twists on old cards to some brand new cards with totally new abilities. This week I would like to look at one of my new favorite blue cards that give us a new form of the classic card Clone.
Clone has come in a variety of shapes and sizes over its many years in Magic. Even in the latest block, Scars of Mirrodin, there are a wide variety of creatures with the clone ability. From Scars of Mirrodin we have Quicksilver Gargantuan
Quicksilver Gargantuan making huge 7/7 forms of creatures that can turn little utility creatures like a Royal Assassin
Royal Assassin into a killing machine. Mirrodin Besieged gave us Cryptoplasm
Cool Card which can copy a new creature each turn, adapting to the changing flow of battle. With New Phyrexia, the Phyrexian Metamorph
Phyrexian Metamorph was a very exciting card, able to copy a creature or an artifact. With a cost of Phyrexian mana it was also usable by decks of any color for the payment of a little life.
With M12 we will have yet another Clone card to work with and this one is yet again different from those that came before it. This Clone fits in with the Illusion tribal theme that is featured in blue along with Phantasmal Bear and Phantasmal Dragon. With this card you get a Clone at half-off, only 2 mana instead of 4, but the creature is also an Illusion and has the typical Illusion ability of being sacrificed once it is a target of something. This tribe looks to be really cool and Phantasmal Image is definitely a favorite.
The best part about this guy is certainly his cost. At a cost of only 2 mana you have a lot left over for counters or other control spells popular in blue. The drawback of sacrificing it when it is merely targeted is a huge drawback that you need to work around but it is not always so bad. Against black, red, and white decks many of their cards that opponents want to use on Phantasmal Image are most likely kill spells anyway so either way it is probably gone. Against blue and green the Phantasmal Image may run into a little bit of trouble but hopefully they are forced to waste a Titanic Growth
Titanic Growth or Turn to Frog
Cool Card on it. The greatest threats to this guy will most likely be creatures with cheap, repeatable effects. Luckily none of the mage cycle will be able to target your creatures, but something like Gideon’s Lawkeeper
Cool Card can really ruin the day of any illusion deck.
M12 does include a great Illusion lord that will turn all your illusions into formidable creatures that are untouchable by your opponents. Lord of the Unreal will give all your illusions +1/+1 as well as hexproof. With Phantasmal Image, Lord of the Unreal becomes even better. If you copy him than he also becomes an Illusion, pumping himself and gaining hexproof! A deck can easily be run with 4 of all the illusion-based creatures of this set and it would probably be pretty fun to play.
There are a few tricky rules things that can be used if you play an Illusion or are going up against one. The first thing to know is that like Clone, Phantasmal Image does not target anything. As long as the creature is out there you can copy it. You can copy a nasty Thrun
Thrun, the Last Troll that is giving you trouble on the other side of the board to destroy him with the Legend rule. If you wanted more Phantasmal Dragons you could copy them and you wouldn’t have to sacrifice anything!
What if you’re going up against Phantasmal Image and Lord of the Unreal? Hexproof is pretty tough to get around, but there is one new card that may help you: Redirect
Redirect. If your opponent is running any spells that target creatures, perhaps by trying to Unsummon
Unsummon your creatures, you can redirect that spell and target their creatures because they are still the controller of the spell even though you are changing the targets! This is a great tip for anyone playing an Illusion deck as well. A deck like this can be a lot of fun but you don’t want your cards to be used against you!
What do you think of the new Illusion tribe? I think they’re going to be really cool and their challenge with becoming targets are really great to work around. Are there any other cool tricks you can do with Illusions?