Hello everyone out there reading along in Internetlands; welcome back to another edition of The Cardboard Witch. For those of you just joining us, recently this blog has featured a multi-part series on deck archetypes in triple SoM booster drafts; "Gotta Catch Em All". After taking a day off to recharge my batteries I'm pretty excited to get right back at it! Lets dive in and look at our 5th deck archetype and yet another deck that appears in almost every SoM 8 man booster draft at least once; U/R Metalcraft.
In terms of commons this deck archetype is actually quite strong; Galvanic Blast and Shatter are probably the absolute best although Neurok Replica gives them a good run for their money. Depending on your draft table you may not even have to pick the Replica all that highly; many people simply haven't figured out how powerful it is in this format. Sitting just behind those 3 cards are Turn to Slag, Vulshok Replica, Tumble Magnet, Perilous Myr, Sylvok Lifestaff, Sky-Eel School (be mindful of your # of colored cards though), Chrome Steed and both of the on-color mana Myr. These cards will all be high picks in other archetypes as well so it's important that you make a concerted effort to load up on them early since you likely won't see additional copies later in a pack. Thankfully U/R Metalcraft is one of the best archetypes at squeezing maximum value out of cards other decks won't value highly; we'll talk more about some of these cards later on in this article but for now keep cards like Stoic Rebuttal, Accorder's Shield, Solition, Snapsail Glider, Lumengrid Drake, Disperse, Strider Harness and Wall of Tanglecord in mind as late pack common options in this archetype.
How Does it Win: Like most good control decks U/R Metalcraft will spend the early game trying to tie it's opponent up and establish some sense of board control while spilling artifacts onto the table. This works because Red's access to cheap removal and Blue's defensive card base make a strong pairing while both colors work well with artifact-based strategies. This "durability" allows the U/R player to take his time and focus on playing *good* artifacts rather than simply cheap ones; cards like Chrome Steed and Rusted Relic for example. Once a critical mass of artifacts have been achieved the U/R player uses Metalcraft enhanced Monsters to "Alpha-Strike" his opponent to death in a few short turns. While ultimately it may take this type of a deck 9-10 turns to establish board control and activate Metalcraft the game is typically over very quickly once it does.
Overall Rating: After drafting this deck a couple of times and then playing against it another 10-12 matches I've come to two basic conclusions:
A) The "perfect" version of this deck archetype would be one of the most powerful decks in the entire format.
B) It's almost impossible to draft the "perfect" version of this deck simply because it's so dependent on specific rares and uncommons.
With cards like Grand Architect, Kuldotha Phoenix, Argent Sphinx or even a couple of copies of Golem Artisan this deck is downright broken. Without them however it becomes just another slow/mana intensive control deck in a format with several other decks that match that description. This lack of consistency makes drafting this deck an exercise in keeping calm and refusing to fight the packs; in my experience forcing this decktype when it's simply "not there" is a good way to 1-2 more often than not. Once again the sheer "variance" between a good version of this deck and a "forced" version prevents me from rating it as high as the very best decks in the format. 6 out 10 seems about right although again when a U/R Metalcraft drafter hits "tha nutz" this rating could quite easily shoot up to 8.
Well gang that pretty much wraps up our short primer on U/R Metalcraft in SoM booster draft. Hopefully these archetype reviews have been helpful to those of you out there drafting; I know for example that someone I played against tonight was absolutely playing a version of U/W Skies tonight after reading the 3rd article. If nothing else these reviews should make it easier to spot what your *opponents* might be doing in the format; recognizing archetypes is a very important skill here in SoM booster draft. Until next time folks remember that a Metalcraft enhanced Galvanic Blast to the 'dome is worth of a full 20% of your opponent's life and always keep it weird.