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.
They say evil turns upon itself, and that was very much evident as Sam and I selected our decks to do battle. For my part, I’d be piloting the Blue/Black Proliferating Deadspread. Opposite me at the table was the Green/Black Phyrexian Poison. When last we left Deadspread, we were admiring the intricate beauty of Proliferate, but very concerned that the deck had few tools to defend itself early. Would they be enough, or would I end the evening choking on poison? Here are the notes to our field testing.
Doing for Proliferate what Phyrexian Poison did for Infect is our next Scars of Mirrodin deck up for review: Deadspread. The most Creature-light deck of the five, it packs in -1/-1 counters and effects to take advantage of the new mechanic.
A keyword as conditional as this one is consigned to be somewhat feast-or-famine. A Thrummingbird with no counters to spread is a 1/1 Flyer for two mana, which isn’t all that frightening. Likewise, a Steady Progress is a dead draw until you have something on the board to work with. That presents a very noticeable tension- “use it now” for limited effect versus “use it later” for potentially greater. Any strategy based around a mid-to-late game occurrence (the appearance of counters worth Proliferating) demands two things: first, an answer to the early game (ramp, removal, stalling tactics, sweepers, what have you). Secondly, a patient pilot. Let’s see what Deadspread brings to the table.
The ever-popular mono-White Myr of Mirrodin clawed their way back into the limelight as Sam selected them as the opposition deck for todays’ feature matchup against the Infect-based Phyrexian Poison. Would the tribal Artifacts build up enough steam to overrun Phyrexia’s finest, or would they be withered down to nothing and ground beneath a toxic Green-Black heel? We sat down to find out, and here are our research notes.
Last year’s Zendikar intro packs- recently reviewed here on the site- were something of a disappointment. One of the primary functions of a set’s complement of preconstructed decks is to act as a showcase for the set’s themes and mechanics. The Zendikar decks made two critical mistakes here. First, the sets mechanics were spottily employed. Allies had their deck (The Adventurers), as did Landfall (Unstable Terrain), but Traps and Quests were essentially no-shows. Kicker was rather lukewarmly presented in Pumped Up, but the other decks were essentially Tribal decks with thematic ties to the set.
Secondly, the decks heavily relied on filler from Magic 2010. Take out the basic land, and you may well be surprised to find that one card out of three (33%) of the Zendikar pre-cons was an M10 one. Tapping two mana for a Goblin Piker did very little to reinforce the notion that you were visiting the land of Zendikar, and made for some rather mediocre decks.
Let it not be said that Wizards does not learn from their mistakes, or at least looks to improve their products, for the decks released for Scars of Mirrodin suffer from neither of these drawbacks. For one, these decks feel like you’re playing in Scars, in large part to the very minor role played by M11- a mere 9%! Secondly, the new mechanics get a very strong showing, such as Infect in the Phyrexian Poison deck.
Welcome back to our first round of Scars of Mirrodin’s intro decks, beginning with the mono-White Myr of Mirrodin. Our initial impressions were that it was a welcome move in the direction of consistency, packing in multiples of a smaller number of cards rather than a long list of singletons, a drawback of some previous decks. Boasting a solid removal suite and combat tricks, the deck supports its Myr with a somewhat singleminded, focused approach that seeks to compensate for some of the flaws inherent in a Weenie/swarm strategy. To find out how it performs, Sam and I squared off, with Sam opting to pilot the Green/Red Relic Breaker. With her behind the most aggressively anti-Artifact deck in the set, I had my work cut out for me. Here’s how the games unfolded:
Welcome to Scars of Mirrodin!
The newest block is upon us, and leading the way are the five new Intro Pack decks showcasing the themes and elements of the set. Indeed, acting as a illustration to the concepts and designs of a given set are one of the things that these decks do best, and all early indications are that the Scars block has raised the bar in relation to past releases. Today we begin our block of reviews with the mono-White Myr of Mirrodin deck, which in keeping with recent convention gets to carry the banner of Scars’ Tribal deck.