Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Cardboard Witch; a blog about playing "competitive Magic with a casual attitude". As regular readers will already know for the past week or so this blog has been looking at deck archetypes in Scars of Mirrodin Booster draft with a multi-part series called "Gotta Catch Em All". Today we're going to continue that series by looking at another "combo" type deck in the format; R/B Furnace Celebration. While I'm aware that a number of "Pro" Magic players have written about this archetype, after playing the deck a few times in draft I disagree with a number of the theories I've read about it. In fact the deck's very title may well be a misnomer; I've played and played against several excellent R/B Celebration decks that never managed to draft a single copy of Furnace Celebration! Without further delay then lets jump right into the deep water and take a look at another one of the coolest "combo" type decks in SoM Limited:
Virtually any discussion about the top commons in this archetype pretty much has to start with the removal; Grasp of Darkness, Galvanic Blast, Shatter and Turn to Slag are all worthwhile early picks in virtually any R/B deck. I would also be tempted to value Perilous Myr quite highly here; there's probably no better artifact in the entire format to sacrifice on purpose for this deck. Tumble Magnet is also a pretty strong pick in this archetype; helping you clear out early blockers until it runs out of counters and then turning on a sacrifice trigger in the mid-late game. Even Fumespitter and Instill Infection can be very good in this deck; although it's probably unwise to take either card before about pick 5 unless you suspect you're at a table with more than 1 other Black drafter. Both on-color mana Myr are somewhat invaluable here; not only does this deck have a lot of action at 4 or 5 mana but they also make ideal pain free sacrifice targets in the late game. While both on-color Replicas are pretty strong in this build I'd take the Vulshok over the Moriok by several picks simply because it's in higher demand in my experience. Finally I also like to draft a few high utility artifacts like Sylvok Lifestaff and Wall of Tanglecord; assuming I get enough of them the Bleak Coven Vampires are actually pretty solid in this build as well.
Over-rated Options: As mentioned in previous articles; it's kind of hard to have a lot of over-rated cards in an archetype that's all about playing and winning with the table scraps nobody else in a draft wanted. This doesn't mean straight up awful cards like Ogre Geargrabber or Scoria Elemental are suddenly playable but part of this deck's charm is that it gets such amazing millage out of so many "bad" cards. On thing I do try to avoid is playing with cards that only provide a sacrifice outlet while offering little tangible bonus for "whacking" my own permanents. While I suppose in theory giving a Dross Hopper flying for the turn has *some* value it's really not worth main-decking a card as bad as Dross Hopper to accomplish. Oxidda Daredevils is even worse; giving a itself haste only has value the turn you cast it and the little bugger doesn't even have an evasion ability! While it's possible that you have *have* to build a deck with one of these two cards there's really no reason you'd specifically want to, unless you are desperate for ways to kill your own Perilous Myr(s) I'd avoid both of them. Additionally it will likely be a cold day in "H-e-double hockey stick" before I actually put Corrupted Harvester in one of my decks regardless of his ability to sacrifice my own creatures. Finally unless you have a significant number of cards that work with "counters" I'd probably avoid Throne of Geth; again the idea is to sacrifice your permanents for a positive effect and gain extra damage/benefits from doing so with combo cards. Sacrificing just to sacrifice is simply poor play unless we have no other options.
How Does it Win?: This deck tries to obtain the best of both worlds by combining cheap aggressive creatures with a mid-late game direct damage combo strategy. Typically this means attacking early and often with creatures your opponent doesn't want to block/trade for while using spot removal to clear out problem defenders. The basic idea is to force the opponent's life total to a low enough point that even when he finally stabilizes the board you can switch to a direct damage/combo strategy to finish him off.
Overall Rating: Probably the most interesting thing about this deck is the way it manages to combine two basic concepts (cheap aggro rush and mid-late game combo) into a greater whole. By being both faster than other combo decks and more resilient than other weenie aggro rush decks it manages to consistently outperform either strategy. While it's true that I've only drafted this deck 3-4 times and played against it another 3 I feel pretty comfortable calling it a solid 6 out of 10. On a more important note in my opinion it's also riotously fun to play if all the pieces come together during the drafting process.
Well gang there you have it; our 8th primer on SoM deck archetypes is in the bag. R/B Furnace Celebration may not be the most common deck in the format but it's certainly viable and it may well be the most fun. Hopefully reading these primers is helping you learn more about building draft decks in triple Scars booster drafts, I know writing them has certainly helped *me* do so. Being that tomorrow is Monday and we're going to be a little short-staffed at work it may be a couple days before I publish another archetype; don't worry I've still got at least 4 more decks I want to write about! Until next time remember to keep it weird and always leave 2 extra mana open to trigger your Furnace Celebration.