Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome back to another edition of The Cardboard Witch. Today we're going to continue with our multi-part series on deck archetypes in triple SoM drafts; "Gotta Catch Em All". We started by talking about the near-ubiquitous "Frontrunners" in the format; B/G Infect and R/W Metalcraft. This time I'd like to look at a deck that's only slightly less popular than those two and a perennial favorite in limited regardless of the format; U/W Skies. To stretch our previous "Cola Wars" analogy to the very limit; if Infect is Coca-Cola and R/W Metalcraft is Pepsi than U/W Skies is probably 7UP or Sprite.
The absolute best commons in this archetype are probably Arrest, Tumble Magnet, Revoke Existence and Stoic Rebuttal. These cards form the core of U/W Skies control package and along with Sky-Eel School, Glint Hawk Idol and Slyvok Lifestaff represent the only commons you'll really have to compete for while drafting. Pick these cards early and often; the rest of the deck is pretty interchangeable but these represent the very best options U/W Skies has in terms of commons. Assuming you do managed to grab some equipment Sunspear Shikari works fine in this build and will also have to be drafted sometime around picks 4-6 if you want to get one. Neurok Replica, Soliton and Wall of Tanglechord are also all excellent additions to this archetype in the common slot and likely can be had mid-pack quite easily.
In terms of rares this deck wants to steer away from Metalcraft or artifact specific cards like Tempered Steel and Grand Architect. Don't mistake the forest for the trees however; a card like Argent Sphinx is going to be very strong in this deck-type even if you *never* reach Metalcraft. In fact it's pretty much a given that if it's rare, on color/artifact and it flies you'll want it; Indomitable Archangel, Sunblast Angel and Steel Hellkite can all win you games in this format very easily. Finally of course rare equipment cards that boost power are just as highly sought after as their uncommon/common counterparts. Strata Scythe/Sword of Body and Mind are probably the best of the lot but there's no reason to pass Argentum Armor, Livewire Lash or Nim Deathmantle in this build. Other excellent choices include Elspeth, Kemba Kha Regent (assuming some equipment), True Conviction, Quicksilver Gargantuan, Venser, Contagion Engine, Mimic Vat, Molten-Tail Masticore, Myr Battlesphere, Precursor Golem and everyone's favorite; Wurmcoil Engine. If this seems like most of the non Proliferate/Metalcraft dependant on-color/artifact rares in the format that's because almost any such "gold" card will fit into this archetype; feel free to draft and play virtually any bombs you open!
How does it Win?: This deck works in SoM booster draft because creatures tend to come in two basic types in this format; fast aggressive weenies or big expensive fatties. U/W's unique combination of cheap flyers, high toughness "walls" and bounce/tempo effects make it almost impossible to over-run in the early game while still allowing it to outrun enemy fatties. It's borderline impossible to attack through never-ending waves of Neurok Replicas, Wall of Tanglecords, Plated Seastriders and Solitons. Even W can get in on the action providing you with 1/5 and 2/4 Elephants to clog up the ground game. This usually makes games a question of establishing an early defense and dropping some flyers. Once your opponent plays either something that can outrace you or something that can block/kill your flyers aggressively attack it with your removal/counters. While many of these answers may be temporary in nature most of the time this deck archetype will have little trouble finishing it's opponent off before he "breaks through"; playing U/W Skies means winning a *lot* of games by a turn or 2.
Overall Rating: While neither as fast as Metalcraft or as consistent as Infect this deck is in many ways more frustrating to play against than either. It's *very* easy to drag games out in this format by combining solid flyers with high toughness speedbumps; a huge number of decks in the format simply have no answers whatsoever for this strategy. Additionally because this build is comprised almost entirely of cards other decks don't value highly it's pretty easy to force this archetype at almost any Draft table in the entire world. With that having been said however it lags slightly behind R/W Metalcraft and Infect in terms of raw power; it's not going to win many games *for* you and it requires at least reasonable playskill to win with. In light of these factors, 7 out 10 seem seems pretty fair to me.
There you have it folks, a one page primer on probably the 3rd most popular decktype in the entire SoM draft format; U/W Skies. With this article we've now covered the 3 most "basic" archetypes Scars has to offer. Hopefully you've found this useful either in drafting or playing against these incredibly common decktypes but now the *real* fun begins. Join me next time here on the Cardboard Witch when we take a closer look at one of my favorite rogue decks; G/R Dinosaurs and Wurms!
PS: Never let it be said that I don't check my facts; tonight I drafted triple SoM and purposely forced U/W Skies to make sure I hadn't missed anything in this review! Check the comments section of this article for a decklist an a brief report.