The Mirrodin expansion also noted a few new changes to the face of Magic... literally. With this new metallic set, and with 8th Edition, Wizards implemented their new and sleek card face design, to the worry, exitement, and dismay of Magic players around the globe. Unveiled at the Pro Tour Chicago in January 2003, the new card face design instantly caused a buzz in Magic comminuties, who after 10 years were so accustomed to seeing those old school magic cards. The art and text boxes were enlarged and the color/text schemes were redone, making the cards easier to read. This improvement can easily be seen by comparing an older white card to a newer one. Lands, Artifacts, and multi-colord cards even get their own color scheme. Creature power and toughness will now get it's own box, for easier readibility rightside-up or upside down, depending on if you're reading your creature card or your opponent's. Mirrodin marks the first set where black bordered cards with the new format will be released (other than foils from 8th edition Core Set, of course).
However, despite these changes for the evolution, aesthetics, and betterment of Magic, some controversy and difficulty has arisen. Some claim that the new colored border system makes it difficult for those who are red/green color blind to distinguish the colors of most cards. Also, I've noticed that the white borders and the artifact borders are strikingly similar, and very difficult to distinguish at first glance, even those without colorblindness. (This problem was changed in Fifth Dawn by darkening the artifact border to a more stone grey. I am uncertain if Wizards has addressed or fixed the color blind difficulty.)
The confusion of card types and subtypes was also cleared up with the new card system. Mountains will now say "Basic Land - Mountain", meaning it classifies under the supertype "Basic Land" and has the Basic Land subtype of "Mountain". For the new subtype Equipment, it will be written on the card as "Artifact - Equipment". If an Artifact Creature has a creature subtype, it would be printed as "Artifact Creature - Golem" such as on Cobalt Golem. New, but unofficial creature type subtypes and supertypes have been added and organized, such as "Creature - Human Cleric" such as on Disciple of the Vault or "Creature - Elf Archer" on Tel-Jilad Archers. Although Human, Cleric, Elf, and Archer are all officially creature types, Human and Elf are thought more as supertypes and Cleric and Archer as subtypes, or class, or job/occupation. Whew! That probably sounds more confusing than it really is!
Believe it or not, but I actually predicted (long ago, and when hearing the first spoilers about Mirrodin being the new "artifact block") the combination of Lands and Artifacts to create what came out in Mirrodin: a set of "Artifact Land"s! These are special nonbasic lands that have both types Artifact and Land, and have the ability of normal Basic land of their respective mana color. However, because they are artifacts, they can help put more artifacts on your side of the table to make cards with affinity very cheap, and sometimes free! But be careful, because they have the same weaknesses of nonbasic lands, lands, and artifacts. Atleast the affinity mechanic is broken enough, and an affinity deck has made it's mark in Type I tournaments. (This is very similar to U/G madness from Odyssey and Goblins from Onslaught which have made their way into Type I as well.)
Mirrodin also marks the first major change in the number of cards in each set. Since the Mirage Block, expansions were officially put in Groups of 3, with the first set released in October having 330 cards (110 of each rarity) plus 20 basic lands. The second would have 143 cards, and the third would also have 143. The Onslaught Block contained 350 cards in Onslaught (still 110 of each rarity), 145 in Legions (55 commons, 45 uncommons, 45 rares), and 143 in Scourge (55 commons, 44 uncommons, 44 rares). Starting with the Mirrodin Block, the first expansion, Mirrodin, will have only 306 cards (110 commons, 88 Uncommons, 88 rares, and 20 Basic Land). Darksteel has 165 (55 of each rarity), and Fifth Dawn also will have 55 (55 of each rarity). These changes were made to help keep the Standard/Type II tournaments interesting, as well as diversifies the Limited format. Also, and most importantly, the change helps keep the Magic R&D team less stressed as the deadline for the new block awaits them from hungry Magic addicts.
As always, Mirrodin comes with four pre-built decks to help you to start your new deck ideas. I never got the chance to see them all, since I quit Magic cold turkey during college, but got back into it this summer. The decks are Bait and Buldgeon, Little Bashers, Sacrificial Bam, and Wicked Big.
Far from Dominaria, in a distant corner of the Multiverse, lies Mirrodin, a plane made entirely of metal. Blades of golden grass in the Razor Fields chime in the wind. Huge misshapen boulders are magnetically suspended above the peaks of rusted iron mountains. Elsewhere, a wide sea of silvery liquid reflects the sky like a rippled mirror. On the horizon, four suns rise and set in strange orbits: white, blue, red, and a black sphere of void. It is here that Magic finds a unique story. - From www.magicthegathering.com
Below are all the cards alphabetized by color and rarity:
Artifact (137 total, 68 normal)
Artifact Creatures (49)
As always, good luck to you and your Magic: the Gathering cards and play.