Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition of The Cardboard Witch. For those of you just joining us this is part 2 in an ongoing series of articles about deck archetypes in SoM booster draft. Last time we looked at most popular deck in the format; B/G Infect. This time let's take a look at the *other* most popular deck in SoM booster draft; R/W Metalcraft. If Infect is the "Coca-Cola" of this format than this deck is almost certainly it's "Pepsi".
Description: Only marginally harder to draft/play than Infect the secret to R/W Metalcraft's success is very simple; access to to ridiculous amounts of cheap and effective removal. Between these two colors there are 5 excellent removal spells in the common slot alone; Shatter, Revoke Existence, Arrest, Galvanic Blast and Turn the Slag. This combines seamlessly with cheap flyers and some of the best colored artifact enablers (Myrsmith/Embersmith, Razor Hippogriff) and Metalcraft cards (Galvanic Blast, Dispense Justice) in the format to create a very formidable deck archetype. To my knowledge there has never been a time in the history of Magic where swarming your opponent with cheap creatures while killing all of his "mans" has been a bad idea; this format is no exception.
Key Cards: One of the first things I noticed about drafting this deck is that both Red and White are so deep in SoM packs that you will invariably draft more playable colored cards than you can possibly run in a single deck. Additionally the value of these cards goes way up or down depending on the artifact density of your build; the best cards for a 12 artifact deck are at least somewhat different than the best cards for an 18 artifact build. For the purposes of this article let's assume we're talking about a deck with a high density of artifacts (15-18), later on we'll discuss more traditional R/W aggro in it's own article.
As far as rares go you'd almost be better off asking what *doesn't* work well in R/W Metalcraft. I'm particularly fond of cards like Tempered Steel, Kuldotha Phoenix, Darksteel Juggernaut and Indomitable Archangel but those are really just the "Metalcraft" specific rares that work well in the deck. Other possible options include Elspeth Tirel, Koth of the Hammer, Precursor Golem, Sword of Body and Mind, Kemba Kha Regent, Sunblast Angel, Nim Deathmantle True Conviction, Hoard-Smelter Dragon, Spikeshot Elder, Wurmcoil Engine, Strata Scythe, Steel Hellkite, Myr Battlesphere, Molten Tail Masticore, Mimic Vat, Livewire Lash and Etched Champion. As you can see there's simply no shortage of strong rares this archetype could play.
How does it Win?: While the sheer # of playable cards in this archetype ensure a certain amount of deck variety the typical strategy for a R/W Metalcraft deck remains pretty consistent. In the early game the deck spills out fast/cheap creatures and works towards achieving Metalcraft. While doing so the R/W player will also press the attack, using spot removal to deal with dangerous enemy creatures. This ensures that once Metalcraft status is achieved your opponent is already behind the clock and is now facing down a significantly larger/more dangerous army. While this is typically enough to finish most opponents it's not unusual for this archetype to struggle against enemy control decks. To combat this it's important to have a couple or larger "bomb" type cards; something to kick the final enemy walls down just when your opponent thinks he has stabilized.
Overall Rating: Fast, aggressive, easy to build and incredibly deep R/W Metacraft is without a doubt the single best deck to "force" in the format. Even at a table heavily populated by other R/W drafters it's fairly easy to consistently build a strong deck. With that having been noted however this archetype can be very vulnerable to Control decks without some late game bombs and generally the very best B/G Infect decks will defeat the very best R/W aggro decks. As a result I can't possibly rate this deck higher than an 8 out 10, making it a perfect match for it's popular counterpart; B/G Infect.
Well ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our 1 page primer on R/W Metalcraft. Next up we'll take a look at the last of decks I consider obvious "Frontrunners" here in SoM booster draft; U/W Skies. Until then thanks as always for reading and remember folks; never ever pass a Red or White "X"smith.