Hello gang and welcome back to the latest edition of the Cardboard Witch. As regular readers may be aware I've recently been working on an ongoing series about deck archetypes in SoM booster draft; "Gotta Catch them All". Now that we've finished with the most obvious archetypes in the format I thought it might be fun to look at one of the "rogue" strategies that seemed to develop in real-time several *weeks* after SoM was released; G/R Dinosaurs and Wurms. I have to admit that when the set first came out I didn't give this deck-type much of a second glance until local drafters Meyer Mechanic and Lucas Ma showed me otherwise, at least a month before Ari Lax went 2nd at GP Nashville with a similar idea. Since then it has become a regular part of the rotation at our local drafts; appearing at least once every other night and sometimes more frequently than that.
Top end commons in this build are obviously going to be mostly removal cards; Galvanic Blast, Sylvok Replica, Perilous Myr, Shatter and Turn to Slag should all be on your immediate radar. Tumble Magnet is also decent in this build as a way to buy time until you drop a fat dinosaur into play but it's generally less effective here than in a weenie rush (Infect/Metalcraft) deck and shouldn't be chosen ahead of the 5 listed removal spells. As far as creatures go Alpha Tyrranax and Molder Beast are the "Dinosaurs" from the deck's title and both are incredibly important for this deck archetype. Early on in SoM drafts I found that both of these cards would consistently table but that is simply no longer the case now that people know how strong this deck is; be prepared to take Molder Beast between picks 3-6 and Alpha Tyrranax by about pick 9 these days. Mana acceleration is also very important to this build making it important to value on-color mana Myr and Horizon Spellbombs pretty highly; I'm not going to first pick these cards but I won't blink about taking them between picks 3-5 if it's necissary. Off color mana Myr are also useful in this build but shouldn't be drafted quite as highly, pick 6 or later would be a reasonable time to grab them. As far as equipment goes both Sylvok Lifestaff and Strider Harness have decent value here but are nothing special. Accorder's Shield and Bladed Pinions on the other hand can be GAME breaking when combined with a huge "Fattie" and should be drafted slightly higher than usual as a result.
As far as rares go in this archetype the key remains to be open minded and take what the packs are offering. While the best rares in this deck are going to be on-color monsters like Hoard-Smelter Dragon, Engulfing Slagwurm and even Liege of the Tangle don't ignore powerful game finishers just because they're artifacts! Chimeric Mass, Steel Hellkite , Myr Resevoir, Molten-Tail Masticore, Wurmcoil Engine and Precursor Golem work *very* well in a beatdown deck designed to ramp mana. Otherwise you should be drafting all of the usual suspects; Kuldotha Phoenix/Ezuri's Brigade (who cares if you have Metalcraft?), Koth of the Hammer, Spikeshot Elder, Contagion Engine and Mimic Vat. Additionally while many decktypes have trouble squeezing value out of Cerebral Eruption and Asceticism they're both very strong in properly built versions of this archetype. Finally in terms of rare equipment this deck probably gets the most value out of Nim Deathmantle and Sword of Body and Mind although it's perfectly acceptable to "just make your creatures bigger" with Livewire Lash or Strata Scythe.
How does it Win?: The single biggest reason this deck is successful in SoM booster drafts is because it's very difficult to kill/control multiple 3+ toughness colored creatures in this format. Once you push that to 5 toughness it becomes nigh-impossible. This deck has two basic phases to it's game; early on it plays defensively by killing enemy creatures and developing it's mana base. Then on turn 4 or 5 it starts throwing out monster fatties turn after turn. The idea is that while your opponent may kill the first couple "Dinosaurs" you play eventually he'll run out of removal that can handle them all. After all you can only draft so many copies of Arrest/Turn to Slag/Flesh Allergy and cards like Arc Trail/Grasp of Darkness don't help much against a 6/5 Dinosaur dragging around an Accorder's Shield. Once you finally do stick/protect one of your finishers it's simply a question of attacking until your opponent runs out of blockers; dominating the board with a huge creature is a time honored tradition in Magic and once again Scars proves itself to be no different than previous formats.
Overall Rating: In my opinion this deck is potentially the most powerful beatdown deck in the format and if you're the only one drafting it at an 8 man table it's frightfully easy to compile. On the other hand this deck requires very specific cards to function (Molder Beast/Tyrranax come to mind) and if you end up sharing these cards with 1-2 other drafters your evening could be a disaster. Additionally the entire philosophy behind drafting this deck is to take Red removal early and Green "Dinosaurs" later because nobody else wants them; as the deck becomes more popular this will be increasingly difficult to pull off. As a result I can't feel comfortable giving this deck a higher rating than 6 out 10, although on a good day with little competition at the draft table it will clearly outperform that rating.
Well folks there you have it, the 4th part of our series on SoM draft deck archetypes; G/R Dinosaurs and Wurms. As always thanks for reading and join us again next time on The Cardboard Witch. I really have no clue what deck to write about next so I might spend some time drafting tonight/tomorrow to gain some inspiration. Until then everyone, keep it weird.