There is no particular phone that's ideal, given the app devs can choose to support whatever subset of devices they wish. The Nexus devices are probably the most likely to be broadly compatible though.
You can't brick with build.prop as far as I know, though you can certainly prevent your phone from booting if you change the wrong setting. Make a backup of the file and don't edit anything under this line:
# end build properties
Just edit anything that has the device name, e.g. 'ro.product.device' or similar. Replace it with the corresponding entry from the build.prop for the device you're emulating (extract it from the ROM or see if it's been posted somewhere). Updating any other text to be accurate (like manufacturer) is best too. Note that changing the version of Android in this file won't help, since it looks like the Market polls the system directly. Nothing you can do about that unfortunately.
After editing, make sure /system is mounted read-only. Then reboot and clear the data for the Market.
Below is the relevant portion of my Vibrant's build.prop, with which I just got Minecraft for 10 cents :)
# begin build properties # autogenerated by buildinfo.sh ro.build.id=FROYO ro.build.display.id=Bionix NextGen 1 by TeamWhiskey ro.build.version.incremental=UVKA6 ro.build.version.sdk=8 ro.build.version.codename=REL ro.build.version.release=2.2 ro.build.date=2011. 01. 18. (xedx99x94) 21:53:23 KST ro.build.date.utc=1295355203 ro.build.type=user ro.build.user=jaeyoon.yoon ro.build.host=SEP-05 ro.build.tags=release-keys ro.product.model=SGH-T959 ro.product.brand=Samsung ro.product.name=SGH-T959 ro.product.device=SGH-T959 ro.product.board=SGH-T959 ro.product.cpu.abi=armeabi-v7a ro.product.cpu.abi2=armeabi ro.product.manufacturer=Samsung ro.product.locale.language=en ro.product.locale.region=US ro.wifi.channels= ro.board.platform=s5pc110 # ro.build.product is obsolete; use ro.product.device ro.build.product=SGH-T959 # Do not try to parse ro.build.description or .fingerprint ro.build.description=SGH-T959-user 2.2 FROYO UVKA6 release-keys ro.build.fingerprint=Samsung/SGH-T959/SGH-T959/SGH-T959:2.2/FROYO/UVKA6:user/release-keys # Samsung Specific Properties ro.build.PDA=T959UVKA6 ro.build.hidden_ver=T959UVKA6 ro.build.changelist=860813 ro.tether.denied=false # end build properties