"For the eye altering alters all"
--William Blake, The Mental Traveller, line 62.
Sunglasses of Urza is one of the strangest cards in limited edition beta. It's effect, for all points and purpose, is unique entirely to itself (an amazing accomplishment in 2018), and while limited, it's effect is powerful. It has had a strange history of errata, a story spotlight, and has remained something of an oddball.
Earlier today, Xanadude Boston posted this in his daily 'card of the day' post, which not only reminded me of this little gem, but also created a small discussion about it. I won't lie, I've certainly played this card before. I once had it in a pink deck with conversion and Blood Moon in the main. My older brother has run this in numerous decks as well, when the colors are appropriate naturally, and once, I mind bent and opponents, so it said 'You may spend white mana as though it was white mana'.
This (and Urza's Glasses) are the only eye wear available to the sight impaired planeswalker. Sure their are plenty of lenses, Scopes, and assorted scrying devices, but if you want a cool summer accessory, the glasses are your only place to go.
|"Groovy Shades man"--Urza|
Art: The art in itself, is exactly what it needs to be, a pair of John Lennon's, sitting on what could be a table or counter. The lenses seem to be made of a gem, which doesn't seem like they would function well for seeing with the naked eye. Say what you want about Dan Frazier but most of the time, he draws amazing artifacts, and this one is no exception. The red from the lenses make for a good mental image, but the most impressive part is the small detail of the lenses casting a red shadow behind them, with an off screen light source shining down on them. The shadow also follows the frame of the glasses in an equal manner. It's honestly, a simple touch, but a good one. If the only thing wrong with the piece, it's boring.
Flavor: When Xenadude posted this, he said he was glad they weren't an Un-card. He also said this could work as a cycle. I agree, but only with white. White, as an actual color, is light without hue (or color without hue), thus making it the base form of color. If I may argue, the reason this turns white mana into red, is the red lenses, since the lenses add hue to white. If I had to argue flavor, trying to use glasses to turn green mana into red mana, it would make yellow mana, and so forth. Instead, it only works for white mana, since white lacks a hue. It would seem Urza is also the only one who's perfected this, since he's the only one who has this invented.
I do wish WotC hadn't forgotten this. It would have been cool to see Urza walking around with a pair of Victorian-esque John Lennon's while plotting against the Phyrexians. However, that might be to rule of cool for late 90's WotC (though Planeswalkers piloting Giant Mech's prove that I might be wrong).
Flavor 5/5 (with my theory)
Playability: While cool, both in terms of what it does, and how unique it is, it's usefulness is rather, subpar.
Sure, I think everyone has combo'd this with conversion at least once, killing your opponents mountains, while maintaining yours. I can't imagine someone didn't try this in a mono-white deck just to use lightning bolts, fireballs, and ball lightning. However it's still limited to one deck type, and does nothing on it's own. However, I also doubt anyone is going to disenchant it. I'd say its limited in scope gives it a 2/5. However, in Pink (or even mono white) it could be bumped to a three.
(Fact: At one time, this card red W: Add R to your mana pool).
Total: 11/15. Like many cards out of limited, this card has the idea right, but the execution wrong, which is part of the charm. If we wanted well polished cards, we'd be playing Dominaria right now. I do recommend everyone to experiment with this one, if for nothing else, than to run it w/ Sleigh of Mind in u/r burn. Plus, bonus points if you show up w/ red tinted glasses.
Until next time!