Darksteel Set Review

Where Mirrodin had a lot of cube playables, Darksteel is notably lacking, considering how strong the set is overall. This may be looking at it from a limited point of view, but Darksteel has a lot of cards that could be good enough, but are missing a lot of other key components. Still, there are a few cards that stand out and shine, and today I’ll take a look at their power level and cube application.

Aether Vial: I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the vial. The power of Aether Vial is definitely there, but it can also be a sucky pile of shit. Aether Vial can be a card you want in times you would want Black Vise—first turn in the aggressive decks, letting you get far ahead of what your opponent can do. Keeping the Vial on 1 or 2 can flood the board early and quickly with the little men who do big things at a time a lot of decks are developing their game plan. Vial is pretty sick in the blink/bounce decks that like cards such as Crystal Shard or Venser, the Sojourner. Aether Vial supplies a free “casting”/ETB trigger for the creatures that are coming into play, letting you take over a game by bouncing permanents or creating a large army of your own. Aether Vial can also do very little. In the late game it’s not that great of a draw, though it can help break open a stale mate if you’re playing the blink/bounce deck. There will also be occasions where you aren’t drawing more threats and Vial is a wasted card, though you could potentially be leaving that mana open for the spell anyways. I imagine the more aggressively inclined your cube is, the stronger vial can be, but as long as you see a lot of decks that have multiple creatures low on the curve that you’ll want to drop past counters, Vial can be good.

Darksteel Ingot: As a fan of playing as many colors as possible, Darksteel Ingot was consistently a high pick for me. Tapping for any color is strong, and Ingot is on the spot of the curve where you’d expect to be able to fix your colors to anything you want, no questions asked. That’s part of the reason why Ingot finds itself on the outside looking in with a lot of cubes: there is a surplus of much-better 3 mana artifact rampers. Above Ingot I like Coalition Relic, Chromatic Lantern, Worn Powerstone, and Basalt Monolith. How many do you really need after those? Are they even all playable in the smaller cubes? Darksteel Ingot is indestructible, which is nice if you need to protect your ramp against tempo plays, but the others get you so much further ahead in one way or another that Ingot is probably not good enough anymore. Even with that in mind, you’ll catch me picking it early more often than not.

Wee bit foggy
Death Cloud: This is a card I personally have very little experience with, but have seen a few videos of people playing with it and it looks pretty cool. Is it too expensive for the Pox deck to want? Is it too slow for the ramp decks? I could see it going either way.

Pretty thang
Pristine Angel: One of the MTGO iterations had this as a card. That could be wrong, but I remember it being kinda whatever. As a big finisher for 6, she’s a bit weak power-wise. 4 is good, but I want to be ending the game quicker. In a dedicated control deck where you could back her up with counter magic from wraths or removal in response to the untap trigger, she could be a resilient threat. Compared to her competition at CMC 6, there are much better options, and Pristine Angel should be on the outskirts of all but the largest cubes.

My head hurts
Skullclamp: I’ve written about Skullclamp before, since I like writing about awesome cards, and I’ll happily take the opportunity to do it again. Skullclamp is INSANE. Cube is filled with tokens, 2/1s, elves, creatures you’re OK attacking in a group with and trading with theirs, things that wear skullclamp and get you two cards. Skullclamp fits in every deck with a multitude of creatures in it. You could argue that it’s not nearly as good in the decks that aren’t tailored to suit clamp’s needs, and I agree. Instead of it being the absolute most insane card you could have at any point, it’s only insane. Your opponent can play around the creature wearing it, definitely, but then they’re taking more damage and if you’re attacking then that should be a good thing. Long story short, Skullclamp is a freaking amazing card and kicks ass constantly.

Imma eat ya lands, bitch!
Sundering Titan: This is one of my favorite Tinker targets and favorite ramp spells. There are games and decks where Sundering Titan has no business being there. If you’re playing 5 color green-based decks, or your opponent is playing a mono-colored/lightly splashing deck, Sundering Titan isn’t the absolute best there. Destroying all your lands or only getting one of theirs only to have him Disenchanted can wreck your own game plan. Beyond that, I love the Titan. For all the reasons he’s bad in your only 3+ color deck, an early Sundering Titan can absolutely wreck mana bases that get greedy. Popping one from your deck off an early Tinker via moxes or mana stones usually spells GG for your opponent, destroying most of their early lands. Sundering Titan is sick too because you can destroy ABU and Ravnica duals, knocking out multiple colors in a mana base or covering a land that you have by destroying one of their duals that also share the same type. If you’re ramping up with signets and fast artifact mana, Sundering Titan becomes even more bonkers, acting like a pseudo-wildfire on a 7/10 stick. Sundering Titan is a sick fuck.

Sword of Fire and Ice/Sword of Light and Shadow: The first one is bonkers, the second is the “worst” sword and is still bonkers. Like what I should’ve done with skullclamp, check out my top equipment article if you want a more thorough explanation.

Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “Darksteel Set Review

  1. Once again, another good job here.

    Im having a lot of fun with this series of reviews.
    I may not always agree with your evaluation about all the cards but you can be sure you’re covering almost all cube-worthy material.

    • I think that card is good if you want to stifle aggro, but I like Perimeter Captain better. And thanks for reading! If you like these retrospective set reviews, I’ve done some on Time Spiral and Urza’s block as well.

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