Fifth Dawn was the third set in Mirrodin and was inexplicably focused on getting people to play all five colors. In the abstract, this is fine, but this was in a set full of artifacts that gave you advantages for running them. It would be like if Onslaught Block culminated in a set focused on super-powered spells instead of really good Tribal creatures...
Well, we got a few worthwhile Sunburst spells and a few really good sorceries in this set. Fifth Dawn brought a serious slew of great artifacts and some of them still clock in at more than a couple bucks. Let's look at the set!
The artifact Bribery is a big hit in EDH, getting giants like Blightsteel Colossus and hitting their owners. Woe to the guy who gets hit with Acquire while packing Mindslaver, because that thing is coming right back at 'em. It hasn't hit Bribery's $8 yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it move up a little. You can still find them in dollar bins now and then.
Folks seem to like Soul Warden and this is a pretty good edition. It can block the relevant colors all day long and it's really hard to get rid of. The Champ is a good reminder that you can't underestimate the appeal of lifegain for casual players.
Back when Tooth and Nail was rampaging, Jamie Wakefield became a proponent of a deck called Joshie Green. It was a ridiculous and shamefully bad deck that happened to trash everything that people brought to events. It would lead off with an Elvish Pioneer into a turn 2 Blanchwood Armor on it. The third turn might see a Beacon for four tokens. People would gripe all day long when their tuned Tooth decks were losing to Jukai Messenger with Might of Oaks tacked on. Beacon still sees a bit of casual attention because a lot of green decks are good at putting out piles of Forests and then attempting something relevant. Beacon is also understandably crazy with things like Skullclamp and Grave Pact.
For some reason, lifegain is pretty awful in Magic. The mana/life exchange is something like 1/1.5 or ridiculous like that. Martyr of Sands was an anomaly because you could actually gain over ten life for two mana. Beacon is also on the verge of playable lifegain, and it gets a lot of love in Commander with its doubled life totals to begin with. Beacon is also a total kick when combined with False Cure, killing someone on the spot. It's been reprinted in Tenth, but it's still in demand.
A lot of Commander players get this bad idea where they want to run all these Time Walks and Beacon is a superb one. If you have all the mana in the world, you can use Planar Portal with this Beacon and get infinite turns. Nobody will play with you again!
The best part of Beacon of Unrest is that, like Rise from the Grave, this targets any graveyard. Casual players can reanimate anything they just killed. This makes it much more versatile than most of the color's reanimation, and it can crucially pull back expended artifacts. That Oblivion Stone or Dreamstone Hedron comes back for more amusement.
These cards, collectively, run about the same amount. They are good fun in 5-color EDH decks, but cannot appear in anything that's not rainbow because of their alternate casting cost. The White bringer is great at recurring Mindslaver, while the Black bringer gets you a Vampiric Tutor each turn.
As if Affinity was not already too good, along came Cranial Plating. Any Ornithopter or Blinkmoth Nexus could hit harder than a Craw Wurm. If you blocked it and they had BB up, it just went to someone else to kill you anyway. Cranial Plating is still stupidly good in any Affinity application. It's one of the few commons that's actually worth money, so I suggest digging them out of boxes; four-packs are pretty popular on Ebay.
Crucible is noteworthy for being the only “You Make The Card” winner that doesn't totally suck. Crucible is actually incredible, whether it is giving you a Fetchland each turn, making Mishra's Factory come back, or Strip Mining someone into frustration. Crucible was reprinted in Tenth, but it is highly desirable anyway and is the most expensive card in the set. Crucible will always find a willing buyer. I am more than a little surprised that it was not reprinted in M12, because it would drive a lot of people to crack packs.
There are a lot of accelerators for EDH, and people who tend to run Omanth or Cabal Coffers like the Cube. The numbers on the card are a little too harsh for competitive formats, but you can easily get big piles of mana with it in slower, casual formats.
Engineered Explosives are huge because of Trinket Mage and Academy Ruins. One gets the sweeper out, the other brings the sweeps back over and over. EE is a common card in Legacy and it's still valuable, despite dropping from the $15 heights of Extended. With Modern turning into a “thing,” I expect EE to pick up a bit in price. Combined with Ruins, it is seriously punishing against weenie strategies.
Witness has been huge since it was printed. Maybe its only downside is being a human and not an elf. It recurs with Crystal Shard, it comes back from Profane Command or Primal Command, and it brings value all the time. Eternal Witness is in huge demand, and unfortunately, you're not likely to find this in someone's junk box. Everyone knows how good the card is. Put yours in the binder, already!
The Adept is great for people who want to be utterly greedy with their manabases. Or for people who want to tap their Oasis for mana. I'm not sure why the Joiner is worth more than bulk, but she's apparently loved enough for her ability to fix bad deckbuilding!
This burn spell is one of the premiere red burn spells, since it sends those useless lands back to the bottom of your deck when you really need to rip that last five points of damage. It doesn't do enough damage on its own to really be worth it, but the card selection means that Jet will often be doing more than it appears to.
While researching this article, I saw what this guy was priced at and thought “ha! That has to be a fluke.” Nope, this card is actually worth more than a few bucks, and I'm not sure why. It was played in Tooth and Nail with Triskelion to wipe the board, but there are better Tooth kills these days. My best guess is that people really like turning their critters into Sengir Vampires. This is definitely one to scout for in junk rare boxes and binders!
Another card that I'm unsure of its real application. Sure, it makes artifact creatures come down, but are there really that many people with golem decks that want to cast their guys for free? Aren't artifact decks more concerned about drawing cards than playing their guys, since they'll never get manascrewed anyway? Fifth Dawn is full of surprises and this is certainly one.
You're getting a Bird, he's getting a Bird, everyone gets Birds of Paradise! Color fixing can be hard for nongreen decks to come up with, and Paradise Mantle does a fine enough job of making it happen. It also combines well with the untappers from Lorwyn block. Casual players love free artifacts – did you know that Spellbook was the most-liked card in 7th Edition? Paradise Mantle is also worth digging out, since it has a lot of fans.
When it comes to controlling weenie hordes, Silent Arbiter is great. They send in their elf, you send in your Titan. Repeat every turn for effect. Though it's not as definitive as Platinum Angel, it's nearly half the cost in mana and it makes a fine enough blocker on its own.
Despite being banned in Commander, the Staff is still the engine of choice for casual players who want infinite combos. Toss it in with Rofellos or Metalworker and Staff will draw up your deck, blank the opponent's blockers and net you infinite life.
An Orrery is a diagram of planets in their motion. It's also a way to give all your creatures Flash and sneak artifacts out whenever you get the chance. That makes it popular in Commander, especially because it's relatively inexpensive to cast.
Occasionally, you'll see Shackles come up in Legacy in monoblue decks. They do a great job in taking your opponent's toys, especially when you feed their guys to Miren, the Moaning Well. It's casual crack, too. Anyone nefarious enough to play monoblue control as a casual deck is also sure to want four of these.
That's it for Mirrodin Block! We've gone through a lot of cards in this block, and we'll see that Champions of Kamigawa doesn't come quite up to Mirrodin's power level. It's still full of hits like legendary Dragons and time-consuming Tops – we'll look at them all, next week!