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By: a small child, Ralph Wiggum
Oct 06 2010 10:09am
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Color By Color Analysis Continued:

 

Picking right up where we left off last time...

 

Blue:

RiddlesmithTrinket MageScreeching SilcawVedalken CertarchLumengrid DrakeStoic Rebuttal

Riddlesmith is tough for me to classify. Like Myrsmith the body is relevant. Also like Myrsmith the ability is quite strong. Myrsmith's ability is a bit better in the early game while Riddlesmith's ability is quite relevant at any stage of the game. I think I'm comfortable rating it as a 2.5 in Dependency.

Trinket Mage is also a good example of a 2.5. The body is OK but on the weak side. The ability on the other hand is very strong. Luckily Trinket Mage only asks you to have one target in your deck to satisfy it's "requirements" -- probably the easiest dependency in the set!

Screeching Silcaw is a bit tough to classify as well. The body is weak, but so is the ability. I honestly don't see either being played much except in very specific matchups. Against a deck that just can't block it at all it can be a pretty quick clock if you have the ability active and have multiple copies of the card. That said, against an infect deck the body is more relevant as it trades with a lot of infect creatures, including Plague Stinger. So in one matchup its a 3 and in another matchup its a 1. Let's call it a 2 overall.

Vedalken Certarch is a straight up 3. The card is irrelevant unless it's active, in which case it becomes ridiculous.

Lumengrid Drake is a 2. The body is fine and the ability is also quite good.

Stoic Rebuttal is a 1. The situations in which the ability makes a difference are so narrow in limited. For the most part it only matters on turn two. Good luck getting metalcraft up on turn two with UU available to cast this guy in limited. It also matters if you want to play another spell and also leave counter mana up, but only have two mana to spare. These situations are few and far between compared to the vast majority of situations in which you are fine just paying the full cost. In constructed things might be different, but in limited I think you'd have to be crazy to build your deck around getting the Rebuttal at a discount.

 

I think it's safe to ignore Trinket Mage and Stoic Rebuttal in our analysis. Trinket Mage is incredibly easy to get active and will be great in any deck that wants to tutor for a cheap artifact. Rebuttal on the other hand barely cares about it's metalcraft ability. We can also ignore Screeching Silcaw as I have a feeling that it won't be playable in the maindeck. I could be wrong on that but I doubt it. So that leaves us with Riddlesmith at uncommon and Vedalken Certarch and Lumengrid Drake at uncommon. Riddlesmith is like Myrsmith in that it's a value card that rewards you for playing artifacts but it doesn't particularly care about what artifacts you play. In this way it's pretty neutral in terms of what it suggests about a deck's overall strategy. Vedalken Certarch is like an easier version of Auriok Sunchaser. It's not trivial to get it active and it gains just about all of its value from being active. Unlike the Sunchaser, however, Certarch is going to be amazing at literally any stage of the game. I've heard tales of woe from people getting locked down by this guy as early as turn three, but I don't really put a whole lot of weight on those tales as I don't actually think such a play is all that amazing. It requires a number of cheap artifacts (which likely aren't putting a ton of pressure on your opponent as they are most likely either tiny creatures or are equipment) and in the short term it's just accomplishing the effect of a Stone Rain. It's a fine play, but I think it's really quite close to the value you get out of the card if you get it active on turn five or even on turn seven. So, like Riddlesmith, it wants you to play a lot of artifacts but it's not quite so picky about how expensive those artifacts are. Lastly we have Lumengrid Drake, who needs you to have metalcraft when it comes into play to get the extra value. As a 2/2 flier for four the body isn't exciting in its efficiency to begin with, so even though you do get a fair amount of value out of the body I don't think we really need to factor it into our analysis of when you want to have metalcraft by if you are playing this card. The ability is much more relevant to that question. So when exactly is the bounce ability going to be relevant? Unfortunately this is highly matchup dependent, but I think it's safe to say that it'd be extremely relevant in most matchups on turns three through five, and it tapers off pretty quickly after that unless your opponent is playing a ton of massive fatties or token creatures. So the Drake does push you some to play cheaper artifacts. This seems reasonable to me especially since the deck where the Drake shines the most will likely be a tempo based evasion deck. The natural pairing for such an archetype would be U/W, so the Drake should be quite at home will all of the white cards that want you to play scads of cheap artifacts.

Overall it seems like Blue is pretty flexible. It does like it when you play lots of cheap artifacts but it doesn't really demand it. It has fewer cards that are interested in artifacts than White or Red, but more than Black or Green. So overall Blue's relationship with artifacts is likely to depend a lot more on the color you pair it with than it's own nature.

 

Black:

PainsmithBleak Coven Vampires

Painsmith seems awfully similar to the other smiths, so I'll go with 2.5 in terms of Dependency.

Bleak Coven Vampires has a passable body and a somewhat relevant ability that is equally good at all stages of the game. 2.

 

Well, there isn't much here to work with, is there? I don't anticipate the Vampires being particularly playable given that they have no synergy with infect and Black is all about infect. Painsmith is much better, but it's just like the other smiths in that it doesn't really care so much about the precise nature of the artifacts that you play, although I suppose that it's an aggressive card so it does prefer cheaper artifacts for that reason. Black's relationship with artifacts is clearly very loose, with the exception of the synergy between equipment and Infect, which I'll go into more detail about in my article on that mechanic.

 

Green:

LifesmithCarapace ForgerMolder Beast

Lifesmith gets a 2 mainly because its ability is less powerful than the other smiths.

Carapace Forger is another good example of a 2 -- the body is fine and the bonus is good but not so good that it overwhelms the initial value of the base stats.

Molder Beast is a 1.5 -- the body is respectable and you are likely to activate the ability off your opponents artifacts. You might be able to get there with your own artifacts too from time to time, so he's not quite a 1.

Like Black, Green doesn't have much in the way of direct dependency on artifacts (with the same caveat about equipment and infect). Lifesmith is definitely the worst of the smiths, although I can see it being good in some matchups. You aren't going to draft your deck around it though. The forger is basically just like Sunspear Shikari and Auriok Edgewright in terms of when it wants to be activated. In fact, I'd treat it almost exactly like an Auriok Edgewright that doesn't need power-boosting equipment. The only Green deck that I can see really caring about artifacts in a general sense is a GW metalcraft deck. I don't really see why you'd go that way based on the commons and uncommons, however. Red and Blue have more to offer than Green does to that deck. That said, there are some spicy Green rares, so maybe if you get some of those early you might end up in GW. Lord knows people will try it whether its good or not.There is some chance that Molder Beast could be pretty sick in an aggressive GR deck with an artifact sac theme; he seems like he'd be on rather friendly terms with Panic Spellbomb.

 

Red:

EmbersmithBloodshot TraineeGoblin GaveleerBarrage OgreFerrovoreFurnace CelebrationKuldotha Rebirth Oxidda Daredevil(tmb=Blade-Tribe Beserkers)Galvanic Blast

Embersmith, like the other smiths, is a 2.5. The body is fine, but the ability is really what you are paying for here, especially in this format where x/1 creatures seem like they will be quite relevant.

Bloodshot Trainee is another 2.5, maybe even a 3. Its body is on the weak side for its cost, but it's ability is absolutely ridiculous should you get it active. I know that this card doesn't explicitly interact with artifacts, but equipment is by far the most reliable method of activating him.

Goblin Gaveleer is also a 3 as the body is essentially worthless without the ability.

Barrage Ogre is a 2.5. Again his body is on the weak side, but his ability is quite powerful.

Ferrovore keeps the train rolling with another 2.5 again because the basic stats are behind the curve.

Furnace Celebration is another controversial card. Technically artifacts aren't the only way to activate it, but in this set they are going to be by far the most common means of doing so. There are many more ways to sacrifice artifacts than other card types. I'll give it a 2.5 though on account that you might be able to set up a situation where you are sacrificing something else.

Kuldotha Rebirth is a straight up 3 as you can't even cast it without an artifact to sacrifice.

Oxidda Daredevil is a 1 -- his body is fine and the effect is marginal at best.

Blade-Tribe Berserkers is a little tricky to rate. I'm going to go with 2 for now because the body is on par and the ability, while powerful, is a one shot thing.

Galvanic Blast is probably the most difficult card to rate in my mind. I'd be happy to play this card for the base effect in most circumstances. In many formats Shock is a pretty high pick, and I think it would be quite high in this format were it available. That said, the added bonus is pretty awesome. Four damage is a lot better than two. I guess this is a 1.5, but I could see it as a 2 as well.

 

The one clear theme in Red is OM NOM NOM. So many of these cards eat artifacts. There are two equipment hounds in Goblin Gaveleer and Bloodshot Trainee which will be happy to fight alongside their White brethren, although the trainee is so sick that any deck which can get him active will want him. Embersmith wants a lot of artifacts but it doesn't care what you do with them after you cast them. Only two of the cards -- the Berserkers and Galvanic Blast want you to actually have the artifacts in play, and those only care about the presence of metalcraft for a specific moment in time. The main lines of synergy that I can see are between Green and Red with Molder Beast and between White and Red with Myrsmith and the various equipment-friendly creatures. Red seems like a natural pairing for White as both colors care a lot about artifacts, but there is a lot of tension there too between the White cards that want you to keep artifacts in play and the Red cards that want you to sac them. Glint Hawk plays well here, but Auriok Sunchaser does not. I still think an aggressive WR deck is not only possible but likely to be very good, but one will need to be careful to mind the synergy when drafting this combination.

 

Artifact:

Glint Hawk IdolGolem ArtisanGolem FoundryGolem's HeartMyr GalvanizerThrone of GethChrome SteedRusted RelicSnapsail Glider

Glint Hawk Idol depends a lot on what colors you are playing. In a White deck it's a 1 -- you basically just save a mana by activating its artifact trigger. In a non-white deck it's a 3 as you absolutely need a stream of artifacts to keep it going.

Golem Artisan is a 1 as well seeing as it can activate on itself. It's better with more artifact creatures to target, sure, but it doesn't need them.

Golem Foundry is a 3 as it does nothing without large quantities of artifacts being cast to fuel it.

Golem's Heart is likewise a 3 for the same reason.

Myr Galvanizer is a 2.5 because it's body is reasonable but weak. The ability is strong though if you have a bunch of other myrs.

Throne of Geth is also a 2.5. Paying 2 and a card to proliferate once is pretty poor. With plenty of fuel, however, it gets a lot more interesting.

Chrome Steed is a 2.5. A four mana 2/2 is unplayable, but a four mana 4/4 is quite nice. The only thing that saves it from being a 3 is the fact that its an artifact itself, which gives the basic body a little more value.

Rusted Relic is a 3. It has barely any value at all unless it's active.

Snapsail Glider is a 2. It's like Myr Galvanizer, only the ability is a lot weaker.

 

In all honesty most of these cards are pretty weak. Golem's Heart is straight up unplayable unless your deck is desperate for artifacts of any kind. Golem Foundry has the potential for sweet value but it really does take a long time to get going. I can see it being playable and even good in very narrow circumstances, but only just. If the format is slower than it seems then Golem Artisan could be pretty sweet, but he's basically an island unto himself anyway. You're not going to build a deck around him. Throne of Geth is not going to be played in a straight artifact deck (I'll talk about it more when I talk about Infect). Snapsail Glider is a filler card, although some decks will want it because its an artifact. Chrome Steed is similar but with a bit more upside -- I could see it being desired in a White based metalcraft deck. The only really interesting cards here are Glint Hawk Idol and Myr Galvanizer. The latter is pretty cool with cards like Myrsmith, Myr Battlesphere and Origin Spellbomb. It's also just fine if you have a bunch of regular myr. It's pretty obvious what decks it will be good in. Glint Hawk Idol, on the other hand, is basically a White card. It's pretty amazing in an aggressive, evasion based white deck and gets a little better if it has plenty of artifact fuel. The fact that such a deck is likely to want artifacts for metalcraft makes it even more desirable. There are some other decks that might want it too, but they wont want it nearly as much as the White drafters will, which means they will likely only rarely get their hands on a copy.

 

Putting It All Together

 

It seems pretty clear that the color that wants artifacts to stay in play the most is White, followed by Blue. Red likes artifacts as well, but it generally doesn't plan on keeping them in play. Black seems to care the least about artifacts in a general sense, although it obviously likes some specific artifacts quite a lot... it's just not a color that you're going to be worrying about your artifact count for. Green is fairly similar to black with the exception of a few cards like Carapace Forger and Molder Beast, the former of which is a fine metalcraft card and the latter being possibly a key common for a midrangey artifact sac deck. I'm a bit dubious about including Green in a metalcraft deck, but I suppose it could happen if you either manage to be very heavy White with just a few green cards or manage to grab some rares like Ezuri's Brigade.

That leaves the following as pretty obvious archetypes to explore, in no particular order:

 

  1. U/W Metalcraft
  2. U/W Evasion
  3. W/R Aggro
  4. W/R Metalcraft
  5. W/G Metalcraft
  6. U/R Metalcraft (maybe?)
  7. G/R Artifact Sacrifice
  8. W/R Artifact Sacrifice

 

Both of the U/W decks are heavily based on evasion but they differ strongly in their artifact components. Both decks certainly want equipment, but the Metalcraft deck really wants a large number of cheap artifacts. The Metalcraft deck will likely want to run cards like Glint Hawk, (Leonin Sunchaser), Vedalken Certarch, and Lumengrid Drake, all of which take advantage of early artifacts. Origin Spellbomb seems like it would be at its best in this archetype as its an artifact that is resistant to removal and replaces itself. Chrome Steed will also likely be welcome here, and Glint Hawk Idol will be a very high pick. Cards like Glint Hawk and Lumengrid Drake will be relatively high picks because other White decks will probably try to play them. Vedalken Certarch and (Leonin Sunchaser), however, are more likely to go late relative to their power (in my opinion) given that you really need to have a ton of cheap artifacts for them to be good. Overall I think this deck has the potential to be extremely explosive, but at the same time it's going to be a challenge to draft and will be very vulnerable to decks with a lot of removal.

The more standard U/W Evasion deck is pretty intriguing to me in that it doesn't actually care about artifacts all that much. It's content to beat down with "fair" cards like Sky-Eel School, Neurok Invisimancer, and Kemba's Skyguard. It certainly wants equipment, of course, and it's likely to try to take advantage of Sunspear Shikari, a card which doesn't ask you to build your deck around it. This archetype can also afford to take good colored spells earlier as well, so it should have easier access to things like Arrest, Revoke Existence, and Halt Order. I don't think this deck is as explosive as the U/W metalcraft deck but it should be a lot more consistent. If you do end up with some cards that call for a lot of artifacts, such as the smith cycle, I think this archetype should consider spellbombs pretty heavily as they trigger the smiths and then replace themselves. Even Horizon Spellbomb is fine in this regard, although I'd be a little more hesitant to run it without a splash color to fetch.

W/R Aggro and W/R Metalcraft are pretty similar to the U/W decks in terms of their relative reliance on artifacts. W/R Metalcraft seems like it'll be less common than the U/W version, and it will often likely be close to mono-White. Red basically provides Blade-Tribe Berserkers and removal for that deck, although again the deck needs to mind its colored spell count as it needs early artifacts just as much as the U/W version. The W/R Aggro deck wants artifacts a bit more than the U/W Evasion version mainly because quite a few red cards benefit from having artifacts to sacrifice. Note that this deck isn't really wholly built to take advantage of sacrifice, but it still might like to have some Panic Spellbombs or what not lying around. Other than that it's simply going to take advantage of good colored spells going later than they otherwise would because other decks don't want them. I can see it taking some artifacts relatively aggressively though, such as Vulshok Replica.

W/G Metalcraft is likely to be extremely similar to U/W Metalcraft in the way the deck is constructed.

U/R Metalcraft may or may not be a deck. If it is a deck it's likely to be slower than the U/W and/or U/G versions but pack a bit more removal. Because of this, it can afford to err on the side of a slightly more expensive artifact base, and as a result of that I think that this archetype, if it exists, will REALLY want myrs even more than every other deck.

Before moving on to the other archetypes I want to mention the smith cycle again because I think they are going to be pretty solid forks between the various same color archetype pairs. Myrsmith and Embersmith are particularly powerful with Riddlesmith and Lifesmith also performing admirably. If you take a smith early you can really go for either a Metalcraft deck or a less artifact intensive build as these guys are really good even if you only trigger them once or twice.

Lastly, I think both W/R and G/R have the potential to build archetypes that really focus on sacrificing artifacts. As a general rule, I see two different variants here. One is the Furnace Celebration deck which likely wants to be W/R but could also be G/R. The other is built around Molder Beast. Of all the decks I've described, I think these two can be hybridized most successfully as Furnace Celebration is going to be just fine in a Molder Beast deck and vice-versa. That said, there are a few minor differences that I can see. Something like Salvage Scout or Kuldotha Rebirth, for example, is likely to be a lot more desirable in the Furnace Celebration build than it would be in a Molder Beast deck. I think Myrsmith and Embersmith are both at their best in this archetype as they love cheap artifacts, and unlike a metalcraft deck you are less strained on tempo early on and can more easily budget mana to pay for the triggers. Spellbombs are going to be just awesome here, with Origin Spellbomb performing especially well in the Furnace Celebration build and Panic Spellbomb helping Molder Beast get in there. Barrage Ogre and even Throne of Geth are cards to look out for in these archetypes. Drafting these decks could be a little awkward as they want somewhat different artifacts than other decks. On the one hand that's a good thing because it means that if you do get into the archetype you'll be able to pick up some of the needed cards relatively late. On the other hand, it means that if you pick up the key cards (Furnace Celebration, for example) late you might not have time to put the deck together. Molder Beast might be a bit more flexible of course because you'll likely be drafting removal pretty early anyway (which will be a key part of that deck) and then if the cards show up for artisac then you can go that way and still be comfortable drafting something else if they don't pan out.

 

OK, so hopefully that sets up some basic impressions about archetypes for this format. I'm definitely going to be refining my opinions over time as I get more actual experience under my belt. It'll be interesting to see in a month or two if my predictions pan out!

 

Next up: Infect!

11 Comments

I haven't even read this yet, by phe0bus at Wed, 10/06/2010 - 12:36
phe0bus's picture

I haven't even read this yet, and I have to say that at a glance I am very eager to see what it says. Thanks for the analysis.

You have some solid insights by ArchGenius at Wed, 10/06/2010 - 13:07
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You have some solid insights on the format, but you really need to work on the formatting.

I know that Puremtgo.com hasn't linked in Scars cards yet, but they are up on mtgotraders.com, and you can link them manually. You could also upload some card pictures and some graphic headers to break up the walls of text.

By their very nature, set reviews are a bit dry and boring, and it really helps to add whatever you can to keep things interesting.

Not reading this. I'm *truly* by Odindusk at Wed, 10/06/2010 - 14:14
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Not reading this.

I'm *truly* meaning no direct disrespect to the author, but this formatting is an eyesore. Puremtgo needs to get their cardlinks programmed in faster. Rollover graphic popups also seem to be the norm on other similar strategy websites too, which would help here immensely.

And the graphics that are showing correctly are far too tiny to read.

Not trying to be a butthead. I own my own business and I always appreciate constructive criticism on how I can make my own operations run better. Hopefully the people (person?) behind the scenes here aren't offended by what I'm saying. I do appreciate the site but desperately want to see it keep up in article quality.

Heads up on Scars Archetypes by unspeakable at Wed, 10/06/2010 - 14:43
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It's true the formatting is a bit messed up right now, but the content of the article is excellent. Speculation on what archetypes are going to be important in Scars and what cards they will need takes a bit of courage and is invaluable. By the time I learned all of the ROE archetypes, the format was already starting to fade in importance. It's nice to have the goods earlier this time.

I definitely appreciate the by a small child at Wed, 10/06/2010 - 16:53
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I definitely appreciate the feedback, although there isn't much I can do about the image formatting. I'm not sure why it hasn't been updated yet, to be honest. I also feel a bit pinned in by the thumbnail or full image options as the thumbnails are kinda tiny but the full images are enormous. Manually creating a link every time I want to display an image or link a cardname would add a LOT of overhead to my writing process and would probably mean getting these articles out a week later than they normally would (I don't have a ton of time to write at the moment). Given that people want this information earlier, I've decided to put it out there and let the editor decide when to publish.

As far as headers go, is there any simple way to generate these without using image manipulation software and then uploading the images to some hosting site for linkage? I've gotta be honest that I'm a content guy and not a formatting guy. I'd like to do this but I don't want to spend a ton of time making image headers that I could be spending on content.

Headers: The editor is by Leviathan at Wed, 10/06/2010 - 19:54
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Headers: The editor is basically a crappy form of Word, but you can still work with it a little. Just come up with some snappy header (like "Red: Horrible but I still play it sometimes" or something), bold it, underline it and center it, then make it xx-large. There you go, readable header.

Set reviews are tough to write about here, as the links won't work for at least a week or more after the set comes out online. I end up writing my review as the spoilers come out, because I know that I am going to have to manually insert the links most of the time. It is really a pain.

As for the formatting, you have the ability to preview the way the article is going to be seen before it is submitted. So the question is, would you be willing to read the article if it looked like this? That's really up to you.

Personally I would. I don't by a small child at Wed, 10/06/2010 - 22:32
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Personally I would. I don't care that much about breaking up text with images and large headers. The only thing that irritates me are the images and card links not working, but like I said I really don't have time to do the images and links manually and I'd rather provide timely but ugly content than pretty but late analysis.

The cheap and easy way to do by ArchGenius at Wed, 10/06/2010 - 20:07
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The cheap and easy way to do Headers is just to cut and paste Magic images into MS Paint, crop them, and then add text over the top of them.

Then you need to save the image and upload it into the editor.

If you want to go a little further than that you can play with adding shapes in MS Word or Excel and using your Magic artwork as the background of those shapes.

Just a heads up for everyone by a small child at Wed, 10/06/2010 - 22:34
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Just a heads up for everyone -- I submitted the Infect articles earlier today and they will be just as ugly as these =P. I'll see if I have time to mess around with image headers for the next one.

Content great - formatting by kalandine at Thu, 10/07/2010 - 12:59
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Content great - formatting awful... Many of the writers here don't have a ton of time to make it look pretty, but I would really recommend going this extra step. Heck, find a friend who would be willing to make it look nice.

I was wondering why U/G metalcraft isn't on your list of archetypes. It seems doable, but didn't make your list.

I suppose it's possible, but by a small child at Thu, 10/07/2010 - 13:12
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I suppose it's possible, but there really are so few common cards that want metalcraft in those two colors that I'm not sure the incentive is there to make it happen very often.