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Unlucky Charms
By Aaron Swersky
By this point, many of you have opened packs of Darksteel, and many of you have been disillusioned to find cards by the names of Angel's Feather, Demon's Horn, Dragon's Claw, Kraken's Eye, and Wurm's Tooth. They are, after all, very slight variations on the original Lucky Charms (Crystal Rod, Iron Star, Ivory Cup, Throne of Bone, Wooden Sphere).

This begs the question: Why do these cards exist?

Are the originals unavailable?
No. Although many would argue that they should not be, the original lucky charms are still available in the basic set. Now, I'm not arguing that the originals should be taken out. In fact, I agree with many of the reasons that WotC has provided for keeping them in the base set. Many of us, as beginning players, saw them and said, 'Wow! I can gain a life for every spell I play if I just pay 1 more mana for it, and sometimes even my opponents' spells!'. Of course, we then went on to realize that we were better off using that mana to play better spells and win the game. So we used them to learn about the game...about what made a good card good, and what made a bad card bad...and, more importantly, about what made a bad card sometimes only *look* good. But they're still there, for good or for bad.

Are they different enough from the originals to warrant their own cards?
No. Sure, there's no longer an activation cost...and that fact makes them slightly better...but the effect they produce simply is not appreciably different. One spell, one life point. Costs a little more to play, and you don't have to activate it. But is this what we want in our cards for an expansion set? Rehashes of cards in the basic set, with tweaks so minor as to largely go unnoticed? I would tend to say no: when you delve into the world of Mirrodin, you want to discover new and interesting mechanics and abilities, not the underdeveloped efforts of some R&D schmoe who just ran out of ideas.

Is the ability especially relevant to the current block?
Definitely not. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is more irrelevant than it would normally be - these cards would have found a better home in Planeshift than in Darksteel. In a block with a heavy focus on artifacts, many decks are going to be running a lower-than-normal count of non-artifact spells, which means that...as little play as these would normally see...they will actually see even less than that because of the environment. In a game where they would usually be of tertiary importance at best, their surroundings have rendered them utterly irrelevant.

So, what is the conclusion?
There is no justification for these cards' existence in an Expert-level set. If what Wizards of the Coast says is true, and the old-school lucky charms still exist in the basic set as learning cards used to teach new players (which is an argument that makes sense to me), there is no explanation for including them in an Expert-level set. I'm going to send a question in to Ask Wizards, in the hopes that they will reveal some kind of incredibly intricate plan that justifies their existence in a set where those five slots could have been used by more interesting and relevant cards, but...well...let's just say I'm not feeling lucky.

Read More Articles by Aaron Swersky!

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