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Musings: Mimic Vat

In the tradition of my “sleeper” pick post on Renegade Doppelganger a few months ago (which turned out to be correct!), I thought I’d write up a little something on a card that seems pretty under the radar right now.

It’s not getting much talk*, but Mimic Vat is a potentially potent offensive weapon in the right deck. Interestingly enough, it’s also a card that can provide some defensive measures against certain problem creatures that tend to come out of the graveyard. Vengevine giving you fits? Just destroy it once and Mimic Vat will exile it for you, requiring your opponent to find a second copy (so be sure to kill that Fauna Shaman too, while you’re at it!).

It’s one of only three cards (the other two being non-Standard legal) whose Imprint ability does not occur when it enters the battlefield. This is actually quite significant, as there need be no preexisting conditions for you to drop the card into play. So you can run it out there whenever you’d like.

The downside is that the card does nothing by itself. (Then again, Tarmogoyf was a 0/1 by itself, and that didn’t seem to stop it from being one of the best creatures of all time.) If you’re going to play the Vat, you need to be sure that creatures are going to be going to the graveyard from the battlefield. So you’re either playing creatures, or you’re playing creature removal. Doesn’t really sound too difficult, does it?

Consider the defensive implications of this card. With a creature imprinted, you’ve now got a potential blocker every turn. How about if your opponent attacks with two creatures, you destroy one with something like Doom Blade, and then use Vat to spit out a copy of that creature to block the second attacker?! BLOWOUT!!

Here are some quick ideas for cards that have interesting implications alongside Mimic Vat.

  • Paired with Day of Judgment, you can wipe the board and imprint the best of the creatures on the board, spit it out, and attack onto an empty board. You can continue this every turn until your opponent has a blocker or a way to deal with the Vat.
  • What about with creatures that have enter-the-battlefield abilities? I hear the Titan cycle from M11 is pretty good. Let’s look back at that Day of Judgment scenario again. You wipe the board and unfortunately lose your Sun Titan in the process. No problem: imprint the Titan, use the Vat to spit out a copy, get back a Wall of Omens (or something) when the copy comes into play (due to the Titan’s ETB trigger), attack with Titan and get back another permanent!
  • Or how about paired with something that can sacrifice itself, like Vampire Hexmage? Not only do you now have repeatable instant-speed planeswalker removal, but if proliferate and infect are prominent, don’t forget that a Vat/Hexmage has the ability to wipe counters of any kind from a permanent.
  • Speaking of sacrifice effects, Jinxed Idol allows you to sacrifice any creature you’d like to imprint on the Vat, while also passing the Idol to your opponent. Now he/she has to choose between taking 2 damage per turn or sacrificing a creature (which gives you yet another option for the Vat). Here are some more cards that allow you to sacrifice creatures for imprinting on the Vat.
  • One of my favorite ones to think about is Mimic Vat with Precursor Golem. An imprinted Golem means the Vat spits out three 3/3 Golems, and when the primary copy goes to the graveyard, it not only leaves the other two behind (netting you two 3/3s every time you activate the Vat), but it takes with it the clause that says, “Whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery spell that targets only a single Golem, that player copies that spell for each other Golem that spell could target. Each copy targets a different one of those Golems.” So while yes, all three are vulnerable to Lightning Bolt (or somesuch removal) while the primary copy is still in play, at the beginning of the next end step the primary copy is exiled, leaving two 3/3s that will each require separate removal until you decide to spit out another copy of Precursor Golem. WARNING: While this can get out of hand fast if your opponent doesn’t have removal, note that ALL Golems on the battlefield will be targeted if the primary copy is targeted with something (even the Golems left behind by previous copies). Still, it seems absolutely bonkers, and even if your opponent wipes the board of your Golems, you can just spit out three more with your Mimic Vat. Eventually they’ll run out of removal!
  • The epitome of defense against an aggro deck, how about Sunblast Angel? Every time they declare an attack, you can Vat out an Angel to destroy all their tapped creatures!

So there are some ideas to get the juices flowing. There are undoubtedly a lot of other combinations that I failed to mention here; I’ll leave it up to you to find them. If you do decide to employ the Vat, it’s a good idea to know the rules intricacies. You don’t want to end up thinking the Vat does something that it doesn’t.

Arthur Halavais posted the following hints on playing with (and against) Mimic Vat on his Twitter:

  • 1: Kill an Eldrazi on their turn, you get to keep it. On your turn, not so much.
  • 2: If you and Evil both have a Vat, you (assuming proper play) will never get to imprint on your turn.
  • 3: You can activate Vat during Evil’s end step, giving you two copies on your turn.
  • 4: When you least expect it, Voltaic Key will come down to make an extra copy and blow you out.
  • 5: If something dies after you activate the Vat, you (can) get a copy of the new creature instead.
  • 6: You can imprint Celestial Colonnade, Chimeric Mass, etc. Neither of these are good for much though.
  • 7: You can Imprint Gideon Jura. This is actually worth a bit.
  • 8: If you make a copy of a copy (with Rite of Replication), the second copy sticks around for a while.
  • 9: Mimic Vat has CMC 3. Sun Titan brings it back.
  • 10: If the Vat is destroyed in response to the activation, the Imprinted card stays Exiled and you still get a copy.

If some of those are confusing, be sure you understand how “APNAP” works (that is, “active player, non-active player”). The jist of it is, when two triggers occur simultaneously (such as when an Eldrazi giant goes to the graveyard and a Mimic Vat is in play), their effects are placed on the stack in active player (the player whose turn it is), non-active player order. And of course, the stack resolves last-in, first-out. So if you have a Mimic Vat and you manage to block and destroy your opponent’s Kozilek, Kozi’s shuffle effect trigger goes on the stack first (since it’s your opponent’s turn, they are the active player), and then the Mimic Vat trigger goes on the stack. Therefore the Mimic Vat trigger resolves first, allowing you to imprint Kozilek. However, had it been your turn, the triggers would have been stacked in reverse, preventing you from imprinting Kozilek.

For more rules tips on Mimic Vat, you can download the official Scars of Mirrodin Rules FAQ here. Still have a question? The MTGSalvation Rulings forums are a great resource (but remember to search for your question before making a new post; chances are, the answer is already there).

*= Well, it wasn’t getting much talk when I started writing this on October 2, but I mentioned it on the podcast (Ep41), and it seems I’m not the only one who’s keen on this card. Evan Erwin has been working on a list, which you can see here, and it’s been getting some Twitter buzz as well (I’ve seen an interesting white list from @hamiltonianurst featuring Emeria, the Sky Ruin along with the aforementioned Sunblast Angel).

Follow me on Twitter @affinityforblue.
  1. October 9, 2010 at 9:18 am

    The only real downside I see is that the creature gets exiled at the end step. Now, that’s really a small price to pay, but you can’t generate a token on your turn and make another one to block on their’s. You know, when I say it out loud I realize how broken that sounds.

  2. Davaeorn
    October 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I can imagine Vat being pretty broken in UW control, with sweepers such as Elspeth 2, DoJ, Sunblast Angel together with enablers such as Sleep, Sun Titan, Aether Adept et cetera.

  3. MTSfromHell
    October 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    mimic vat is not yet recognized (though all people have realized it rocks in drafts) but it is the one card that will enable certain decks to be playable such like BG infect… or mono B (skinrender, hexmage, necrotic ooze, skithryx, geth…)

    my favourite imprint on the other hand is mimic vat + frost titan

  1. October 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

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