Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gotta Catch Em All (SoM Deck Archetypes) # 7 - "G/U Molder Beast.Deck"

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome back to another edition of The Cardboard Witch.  If you're joining us for the first time, the author of this blog (me) has recently undertaken an epic quest to identify, describe and rate all of the available deck archetypes in Scars of Mirrodin booster drafts.  In my opinion the SoM draft environment is noticeably archetype driven; as opposed to say M11 which was more about "assembling a pile of good cards in 2 colors".  One of the key skills necessary to succeed in this format is identifying which archetypes are open/available and adjusting your pick evaluations accordingly in real time as the draft progresses.  While I certainly can't draft a good deck for you it's my hope that these "1 page archetype primers" will make it easier for readers to compete successfully in SoM drafts; after all the more the merrier and I need *somebody* to draft against!

With that out of the way lets get right back to the fray and talk about one of the better "combo" style decks in the format; G/U Molder Beast.deck.  The very first time someone played this deck against me in a draft was at least a month after SoM had been released and I was taken completely by surprise.  Up 14 or so life to his 5 my opponent proceeded to draw and cast 3 cards on his turn, sacrifice a bajjilion artifacts and hit me with a 15 power flying Molder Beast for the win.  Combining cheap artifacts, card draw, sacrifice effects and giant Green monsters who are very hard to block into the same deck allows this wacky archetype to create stunning victories from out of nowhere.

Description: Like any good combo deck in the format, G/U MBD is all about combining multiple (mostly common) cards to create a stronger whole.  Most of the best cards in this deck are unwanted or at least not highly valued by other deck archetypes; as a general rule your opponents are trying to put *more* artifacts into play not sacrifice the ones they have.  It's important to mention that the deck is title can be somewhat misleading; while it's true that the Molder Beast is the single *best* finishing creature for this strategy you don't need to play one to win with this archetype.  Any large enough (preferably on-color) creature will do; you just can't typically kill your opponent in one glorious shot without a Molder Beast or two.  Finally I should mention that G/U isn't the only color combination that makes this combo work, it's simply the easiest one to draft.  I've seen absolutely devastating G/R versions built around cards like Shatter, Vulshok Replica and on-color Panic Spellbombs.  Alternately there's also a G/B version that seeks to poison it's opponent to death with cards like Grafted Exoskeleton and Tainted Strike.  Unfortunately both of these "support" colors are typically in higher demand than either Green or Blue at most draft tables I'm aware of.  If you can select strong R/B removal early and still table your key Spellbombs, Replicas and Green monsters than by all means go for it.    

Key Cards: This deck archetype can be very difficult to draft simply because it has a significant number of "moving parts"; card draw, mana acceleration, ways to make your "Fatties" hard to block, giant monsters, some removal and ways to feed the Molder Beast all qualify as base requirements to build this archetype well.  You will certainly need a good memory to draft this deck well in any sort of serious tournament environment; they don't let you double check how many Horizon Spellbombs you've already drafted at higher level events!  Of course the upside is that very few of best cards in this deck have to be drafted early; removal effects, on-color mana Myr and the Molder Beast itself are the only cards you'll likely be competing heavily for.

The top commons in this build are probably the Molder Beast itself and both on-color Replicas (Sylvok and Neurok).  In this deck it's pretty hard to beat the overall versatility of cards that work as early defensive "walls", have built in removal/control effects and send a artifact (or two) to the graveyard when you use them! You'll probably also have to draft Tumble Magnet pretty high and while it's not the best defensive card in this archetype it's frighteningly effective at clearing out blockers for your late game rush.  Additionally both on-color Spellbombs are critically important and should be drafted slightly earlier than normal just to ensure you have a few; picks 3-5 for Horizon and picks 6-8 for Flight.  Personally I still value on-color mana Myr very highly in this archetype; if only so that I can cast my chubby monsters early without having to blow up/cycle all my Spellbombs.  I've also seen 1-2 copies of Stoic Rebuttal used quite effectively in this build; if you're going to create a 9+ power Molder Beast you might as well protect it.  I'd make a point to scoop up any copies of Sky-Eel School and Alpha Tyrranax I saw at the appropriate time; both cards make excellent back-up beatdown options when you just can't find a Molder Beast.  Finally while I wouldn't sell out to draft them highly like an Infect player might, I've found that Untamed Might can be fairly effective in this deck-type.  Combined with either Flying or Trample this card lets you end games suddenly even when you can't get a bunch of "tricks" into play.

In terms of uncommons the two best cards in this archetype are probably Slice in Twain with Volition Reins lagging only slightly behind since it doesn't (typically) also feed the Molder Beast at the same time.  Removal is "King" and this is especially true in a color combination like G/U were it's not always easy to come by.  You should also rate Necropede, Rust Tick, Tangle Angler, Contagion Clasp and Trigon of Corruption fairly highly for the same reason.  Darksteel Axe, Trigon of Rage and Barbed Battlegear are all excellent cards in a deck designed to make huge creatures difficult to block.  As far as creatures go Darkslick Drake, Bellowing Tangleworm and Golem Artisan can all make reasonable substitute "finishers" when you're having trouble finding a Molder Beast.  Acid Web Spider is another good "mans"; providing equipment removal, 5 toughness and reach for 5 mana.  It'd be nice if he had more than 3 power but that's what *your* equipment is for.  Palladium Myr is perfect for ramping up to 5 or 6 mana on turn 4 which makes him a solid fit here.  While I don't normally get excited about Blue's uncommon creatures both Riddlesmith and Trinket Mage are particularly effective in this archetype while being somewhat suspect in others.  Riddlesmith provides the card cycle this deck so desperately craves; allowing you to push towards whatever pieces of the combo you need at the cost of extra things you already have (usually land).  The biggest reason Trinket Mage isn't one of the top cards in this format is because the set has been carefully designed to limit the number of effecting 1 casting cost artifacts in actual decks; what's the point of casting a Gray Ogre if all you're going to do is go get a crappy Spellbomb anyways?  Of course in a deck designed to win the game with said spellbombs, Trinket Mage suddenly has way more value.  Finally keep an eye out for Culling Dias; while I don't recommend picking it early a singleton copy of this card can be very effective with a copy of Molder Beast or two and some spare artifact creatures.  Anything that can let you sacrifice 2 artifacts in a single turn to draw a card, even if one of them is itself has value when you're playing with Molder Beasts.
As mentioned in previous articles about SoM Booster Draft, most of the gold cards in this set are actually pretty good.  It's typically easier to just list the rares that *don't* work well in a given archetype than all of the good one simply because the latter outnumber the former by 2-1 or more.  In terms of strong "thematic" rares I'd tend to go with anything huge and "beaty"; Quicksilver Gargantuan, Liege of the Tangle, Wurmcoil Engine, Engulfing Slagwurm, Steel Hellkite, Myr Battlesphere, Molten-Tail Masticore, Argent Sphinx and Ezuri's Brigade all come to mind.  Asceticism can be solid in this archetype; it's much easier to win the game with a giant monster when your opponent isn't allowed to target your creatures and they all live forever.  Obviously rare power-boosting equipment like Nim Deathmantle, Livewire Lash and Strata Scythe can all be very powerful for pretty much the same reasons their uncommon counterparts are effective; making big unblockable monsters even bigger shortens your opponent's clock.  Probably the most interesting "on-theme" rare for this build however is Kuldotha Forgemaster, at least assuming you have 2-3 copies of Molder Beast of course.  There's nothing quite as satisfying as blowing up 3 artifacts to fish a copy of Sylvok Replica and then blowing it up to give each of your Molder Beasts +10 power in the process.  Otherwise my advice is to "play your good rares"; leaving a Contagion Engine in your sideboard because your deck "isn't about -1-1 counters and Proliferate" is just stupid.  In terms of rares to avoid I'd likely advise against drafting/playing anything too dependent on artifacts, Proliferate/Infect cards or rares that are simply bad; Dissipation Field, Grand Architect (unless you have a pile of Blue creatures and need a Crusade), Inexorable Tide, Shape Anew, Ezuri Renegade Leader, Genesis Wave, Putrefax, Darksteel Juggernaut, Grindclock, Lux Cannon, Mindslaver, Mox Opal, Myr Reservoir, Platinum Emperion, Prototype Portal, Semblance Anvil and Venser's Journal are all good examples.

Over-rated Options:  One of the cool side effects of playing G/U MBD is that there are very few "trap" cards for you to have to wade through; most of the big creatures are obviously big, the artifacts either sacrifice themselves or they don't and your creature has Flying/Trample or it doesn't.  One card I have seen played in this deck that I'm not very fond of is the Neurok Invisimancer.  While he does make one of your giant monsters unblockable for a turn and he's of course unbloackable himself the fact that he's not an artifact and doesn't interact with your Molder Beasts will make it hard to include him in the final 40.  I'm also not fond of maindecking Blue sideboard cards like Halt Order and Bonds of Quicksilver in this archetype as space is already at a premium and can't be wasted on cards that *might* be effective.  The same can be said for Green's Lifesmith and Withstand Death. In terms of artifacts I'd be inclined to avoid anything that says Metalcraft; even if you do manage to get 3 artifacts out all at once you're probably just going to sacrifice them to feed a Molder Beast eventually anyways.  I'm also not a huge of fan of the seemingly popular Trigon of Thought; even here in a deck desperate to draw cards it's just not a reasonable value.  Trigon of Infestation is also probably better left to someone else; the best way to play a Trigon is to wait until you have enough mana to cast and activate it immediately.  This deck has *way* better things to do with 6 mana than making a 1/1 insect token with Infect.
How Does it Win?:  Despite the sheer number of effects involve the basic game plan for winning with G/U aggro is actually pretty simple.  In the early game the deck hides behind high toughness bodies (Replica's, Walls) while casting Spellbombs and establishing it's mana base.  While it may be necessary to sacrifice some of your artifacts in the early game ideally you want to wait until later once you have threats in play; play the removal from your hand first if needed.  Once you have enough mana the deck starts flooding the board with "fat"; preferably in the form of one or more Molder Beasts.  Once you've got a couple giant monsters on the table it's time to start cracking Spellbombs, strap on some equipment and crush your opponent in 1-3 attack phases total.

Back-Half All Stars:  When you're talking about a deck built primarily out of common cards that nobody else in the draft really wants it's actually pretty hard to single out solid value picks.  After all, nearly half of your deck can legitimately be drafted after pick 8 when you're playing this archetype.  One card that does stand out in my mind as a great value pick for this deck is Wall of Tanglecord; it's pretty hard to kill an 0/6 Wall without burning an artifact destruction card.  It's much easier to survive long enough to cast a couple Molder Beasts when you're negating your opponent's biggest creature with a 0/6 blocker.  The fact that you can give it reach is also pretty ridiculous and yet this card will often still be available around picks 10-11 in many packs.  Another good value option is Panic Spellbomb; it's kind of disappointing that you can't draw a card with it but locking out a blocker and making your Molder Beast 7 power is still a pretty strong for a card you can often pick up 8th or later.  Depending on how mana intensive your build is and how many Horizon Spellbombs you have it might even be possible to splash a couple of Red mana sources to draw the card anyways.  If you were to do that then you could consider Assault Strobe; a card that is literally end of the pack fodder in most drafts and yet it can combine quite well with a Flying/Trampling "Fattie" to finish an opponent off in one blow.  Finally while Bladed Pinions and Grafted Exoskeleton are often ineffective in other archetypes both cards actually combine quite well with 5 power Trampling Green monsters.  While it's true that the Exoskeleton is a little risky the ability to poison an opponent out in 2-3 turns is too strong to ignore in a deck that makes blocking so difficult/ineffective.

Overall Rating:  While somewhat lacking in consistency and a little vulnerable to opponents who've simply drafted a lot of removal there's no way to deny this archetype's overall power.  While it's certainly not impossible to kill a flying Molder Beast/Alpha Tyrranax before it kills you it's not easy either.  When operating on full throttle U/G MBD builds will out "bomb" decks built around broken rares with a pile of commons.  Unfortunately despite this overall power the fact that once in a while you'll draw nothing but Walls and Spellbombs makes it hard to rate this archetype higher than 5 out of 10; combo players everywhere will likely disagree with this rating however.

Well gang that pretty much concludes our 1 page primer on G/U Molder Beast.Deck; one of the most interesting and "fun" decks to play in the entire format.  While I personally don't rate it as the best deck in the format it's probably important to mention that I'm 2-2 against variants of it in SoM draft so it can't be all *that* bad.  Until next time thanks for reading and remember that a 13/3 Flying Molder Beast is nothing to giggle about; unless it's yours.



  1. Okay for some reason whenever I run one of these things through a spellchecker, Blogger decides to eat about half a paragraph of my writing. Randomly, usually near the start of a paragraph and someplace right in the middle.....usually. This is pretty frustrating as I don't always notice this immediately before publishing. I've fixed the paragraph about key uncommons in the archetype; sorry for the inconvenience it's the software not me I swear.

  2. Lol, once again proving that here at The Cardboard Witch we totally actually *TEST* the things we write about here's the G/R/u Molder Beast.Deck I built tonight:

    1x Carapace Forger
    1x Gold Myr
    1x Silver Myr
    1x Wall of Tanglecord
    1x Myr Galvanizer
    1x Neurok Replica
    1x Sylvok Replica
    2x Vulshok Replica
    1x Acid Web Spider
    1x Bellowing Tanglewurm
    1x Kuldotha Phoenix
    2x Molder Beast
    1x Soliton

    1x Chimeric Mass
    1x Flight Spellbomb
    1x Galvanic Blast
    2x Panic Spellbomb
    1x Sylvok Lifestaff
    1x Strata Scythe
    2x Slice in Twain

    1x Copperline Gorge
    7x Forest
    2x Island
    7x Mountain

    I went 2-1 and lost in the finals to Leon who was basically running the EXACT same B/W Aggro deck with a splash of Metalcraft I wrote about in the 6th primer; right down to the broken 6CC bombs in Carnifex Demon and Wurmcoil Engine. Sunspear Shikari's and a bunch of equipment combined pretty well with his active Bleak Coven Vampires. I managed to win game 1 but when I mana screwed in game 3 I had no hope of taking the match. Honestly his deck was pretty bent regardless; there are worse ways to finish 2nd in a draft.

  3. Nice article, all i missed was a comparison - how it goes against some other architypes, or just a replay of a game. I draft W/R, cos i'm too stupid for more complex stuff :)

  4. Lol, I'd try to repackage that if I were you. Something like "I draft R/W because it's *direct* and I like powerful cards!" :)

    As for comparison's between archetypes; that's what I'm trying to accomplish with the out of 10 rating at the end of the article.

    The problem is that any comparison between archetypes is going to depend drastically on how successful the draft went. For example we can both agree that for the most part R/W is way more powerful than G/U Molderbeast right? But if you force R/W and get a mediocre deck while your opponent stumbles into the *perfect* G/U Molderbeast deck you're still probably going to lose to him. See why this gets hard?

    Ultimately I decided to try and do a fast 1-2 page primer on how to draft and build each archetype as the best way to help the most people.

    I'll try to throw a couple more tournament reports out the next time I draft something more interesting than R/W Metalcraft (that deck LIKES me, damn) and maybe tie them back to this series.

    As always thanks for reading and thanks for posting in the comments section; the computer says we have a LOT of readers but not very many posters :)