Scars of Mirrodin: Metalcraft Review (Part 1 of 2)
We return to the endangered plane of Mirrodin today with a look at the next deck in the Scars set: Metalcraft. Although somewhat unimaginitively named, it is nonetheless simple and straight to the point. Just as the previous decks have been crafted around a theme or mechanic of Scars of Mirrodin, so is this Blue/Red Artifact-heavy construction.
The question, then, becomes a matter of how well the theme is supported. As we’ve seen, it can well go either way. Phyrexian Poison was a very solidly-crafted deck that anchored around its mechanic and employed it well. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Deadspread, whose fault might have been more one of ambition than execution, in that Proliferate may not (yet?) be strong enough to build around.
Metalcraft gives its keyworded cards extra power or ability when you have three or more Artifacts in play, and the deck is heavily reliant upon the expectation that you’ll achieve this in short order- there are 17 cards with the mechanic in the deck. Indeed, better than one out of every three cards you draw will be Artifacts, so even the occasional bit of Artifact hate shouldn’t keep you off optimising your cards for long. Let’s take a closer look at the contents of the deck, beginning with the creatures, to see how effectively it meets its ambition.
The Truth Hidden Beneath
With a solidly dependable 24 Creatures, Metalcraft is the most creature-heavy deck in the set. This is a little misleading, however, for very few of them will be tearing up the red zone for you. Instead, the deck leans somewhat on a decent mix of utility creatures to round out its edges and bring Metalcraft on-line as soon as possible. Here’s the creature curve:
To this end, you have a squad of Myr (2 Iron, 2 Silver) to lend a bit of mana ramp, though this is mainly to be able to deploy multiple threats in a turn. With the mana curve topping out at a respectable four mana, and an average converted mana cost of 2.44, you’ll consistently get to play most everything in the deck.
A pair of Memnites are as easy as it gets for casting Artifacts, and while somewhat useless on their own the deck offers some Equipment to augment them. Three Snapsail Gliders won’t put fear in the heart of your opponent either, but gaining Flying on attainment of Metalcraft is fairly useful. Unsurprisingly for Blue, you’ll have a fairly solid air force available to you from the mid-game on, with two Lumengrid Drakes and an Argent Sphinx (the latter your premium rare). Then there’s the Etched Champion, who will frequently be both untouchable and unblockable for a good number of decks, and a very decent finisher for his cost if the board state stalls out against an artifact-weak opponent.
The next group of creatures are those that while not being artifacts themselves, interact well with them. The deck packs in four ‘Smiths (2 Riddlesmiths, 2 Embersmiths) to key off of all the artifacts you’ll be casting, and a pair of Trinket Mages to go get more.
Lastly, though, we come to the deck’s beaters, where the real power lays. With Metalcraft enabled, your three Chrome Steeds will be 4/4’s for four, and the Blade-Tribe Berserkers a hideous 6/6 with Haste. A pity, then, you only get two of those, which are a true steal at their cost.
So far, then, it looks like you’ll be using the early game to set up your artifact network, then pounding in with some air and Metalcraft critters. Let’s next take a look at the noncreature offerings, to see how this strategy is supported.
Creative Solutions to Personnel Shortages
The last dozen cards are your noncreature support, and it’s a bit of a crazyquilt of removal and cheap artifacts. The removal suite is somewhat light- three Galvanic Blasts and a Disperse, so use them wisely. There’s a quartet of Equipment (the mediocre Sylvok Lifestaff, a Darksteel Axe, an Accorder’s Shield, and Echo Circlet), all of which are inexpensive to play (the cast + equip cost is no higher than three mana).
Further bolstering your ground forces are the Golem Foundry and two Rusted Relics. The Foundry is a rather bland card that might net you some occasional advantage, but doesn’t do much of anything when it hits the table. The Relics, however, are very solid options for this kind of deck, and will be animated more often than not.
The last card is the dreadful Golem’s Heart, but considering how often the ‘Lucky Charms’ (Angel’s Feather, Kraken’s Eye, etc) have shown up in previous precons, it’s hard to begrudge a singleton here. It’s still rubbish and an early cut for those tinkering with the deck.
Overall, here is the deck’s total mana curve:
And there you have it- a creature-centric artifact-heavy beater deck with some light spell support. The Metalcraft mechanic remains one of the more intriguing features of Scars of Mirrodin, and it will be fascinating to get the deck into the field to see how often it runs at ‘optimal velocity.’ Join us in a couple days when we do just that.