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FFfreaky Friday – Fringe Drafts

Whenever a new set comes out, I tend to gravitate towards Constructed formats. I will usually grind Standard or Block on MTGO for weeks on end before I have to test for a Pro Tour or Grand Prix. This format has been completely different. I have spent all of my time with this Limited format. So while I usually write about Constructed, I just don’t have the information for that this week. I do have about 100 drafts under my belt and tons of interesting things about this format to go over.

What is Going on in Scars

Scars of Mirrodin is the hardest draft format I have ever played. Most of my friends will argue with me and say it is something like Rise of the Eldrazi, but I felt I understood that format after I spent time on it. Every day I seem to get more lost in Scars and yet learn so much more about it. It is a weird feeling.

So on the top of the format we have two basic strategies. We have infect and non-infect. Infect can support about 2-3 drafters on a table if the drafters are doing it correctly. In the beginning of drafting infect I thought that you had to just grab all of the creatures for the archetype before worrying about anything else. My pick order in the beginning was removal>infect guys> equipment>tricks. This is completely wrong since I was using a pick order.

Now a pick order is not a bad thing but can not be set in stone with Scars. It should only be used for a few picks and then its all dependent on what is happening with the draft. I would stick to this order and end up with something like 14 guys, 1 removal spell, 1 equipment, 2-3 tricks, and 2-4 random cards to fill the deck out. I would just lose with these decks. They looked really sweet on paper but never performed that great. It wasn’t until I had a talk with Charles Dupont about infect.

Charles Dupont is not a name many people know, but he is a force to be reckoned with in the virtual world as Aceman022. He is a very skilled Limited player and hopefully soon will be making a splash on the Pro Tour.

He was talking about the importance of getting out of my thoughts on how to draft infect. It was a shock when he told me his favorite infect deck is usually black/red. You can draft non-GB infect? This was news to me.

It really does make a ton of sense after you think about it (or once I explain it?). It doesn’t matter how many infect guys your deck has if you have no way of getting them to deal damage. Equipment and removal go a long way to help get damage across the table. When you are straight GB, the density of guys will be higher, but the other spells that make the deck might have suffered.

I have not drafted anything outside of red infect so I do not know how white and blue are as support colors. Once I get a few more in with them I will write an insert about that. Red really does work with the strategy. The initial infect creature pick order slightly changes when you are going to go outside the GB zone. Ichorclaw Myr and Corpse Cur are the best infect guys to start off with. They are colorless! They also help deal a ton of damage in the early game. I would still start a draft off with something like a Cystbearer if that is the only infect creature and you are trying to cut infect.

When you are trying to draft a RG or RB infect deck, there are several things to consider. The first thing is that this deck will come off a bit more controlling then the normal infect decks. There is more removal in your deck and probably a higher curve. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you do not play as the all-out aggressive player. Take your trades conservatively and do not just throw away cards for counters.

There is a world of different archetypes even after the new infect strategies. My favorite is white/black reach. I learned about this strategy when I wanted to try breaking Necrogen Censer. I had my eye on this card ever since the set came out but had no clue what to do with it. The first time I drafted with this card, it was in a deck full of Glint Hawks. That is the first place to try it right? It worked out all right but wasn’t that exciting. Glint Hawk is not that aggressive so it actually added to the amount of slow cards in the deck and I was unable to beat an early rush.

It wasn’t until I realized how great Kemba’s Skyguard is. This is a very aggressive card that helps out in this style of deck. I found out that all you want to do is attack in the air with, well anything that flies. Glint Hawk Idol, Kemba’s Skyguard, Snapsail Glider (if there are enough artifacts in the deck), Auriok Sunchaser (also needs artifacts), and Glint Hawk. Glint Hawks need some early artifacts to work in this deck.

Usually I do not worry about metalcraft in this deck since I am really looking for Kemba’s Skyguards and Glint Hawk Idols. They are the best creatures in this deck. Being able to know that you will be able to deal damage in the air is very important. It is easier to deal early game damage in the sky as opposed to the ground. This deck only really wants to deal enough damage to get to the second part of the strategy.

The second part of this deck is life loss. It is the reach of the deck. If built correctly the deck will be dealing early damage and not trading off to many cards. This is the perfect conditions for an early Bleak Coven Vampires to swing the game way far in your favor.

Most of the time, colored metalcraft cards are harder to trigger. It is because metalcraft decks are usually very aggressive. When decks are trying to attack they are usually losing cards. This means it is harder to keep 3 colorless cards on the table. You want to be using your Spellbombs aggressively so you can reload and have more action to play with. This is not what this deck wants, however. It wants to be attacking in the air and preparing to drain out an opponent. So once they are getting close to being able to be burned out, you turn into a control deck. It is much easier to get up to metalcraft when you are not trying to beat them down anymore.

The other card that helps to burn someone out is Exsanguinate. I know this is an uncommon but I think I have never played this deck without one of them. They just always show up since no one else wants one. This card really helps end a game when the board is stalled and can also be a great trick when they decide to race your flying creatures.

The best part about this deck is that it gets drafted the same way it plays out. The aggressive cards are the cards you are aggressively trying to grab. Removal and Glint hawk Idols are the main priority cards. Just remember that good cards are still good cards. There are just a few of them that are not needed in this deck. All of the key cards for the archetype always table. Don’t even worry about picking them up in the middle of a pack if there is something else there. They will show up in a later pack. They always do.

Mana Myrs are not needed in this deck. The curve tends to be very low topping off with Bleak Coven Vampires and Exsanguinate. The deck usually will also have an abundance of three-drops with very few-four drops. These are just not the conditions you want for a Gold Myr.

Spellbombs are very important for this deck. Origin Spellbomb is still the best one but don’t be afraid to grab a couple Nihil Spellbombs. They really help cycle through the deck when you are trying to find some essential spells and helps trigger the Bleak Coven Vampires.

Glimmerpoint Stag is an absolute bomb in this deck. It has the ability to reload Tumble Magnet, Necrogen Censer, Bleak Coven Vampires, Kemba’s Skyguard, and Arrest. I wouldn’t take it over a removal spell, but is almost always over any other card in the pack.

Perilous Myr is the type of card that is wanted in this deck. If nothing but to help against infect. This deck has a bit of trouble with infect being in the colors it’s in. The toughness side of this deck suffers and is hard to deal with some of the good creatures they may have. Perilous Myr has the ability to take down a Cystbearer where most of your guys can not with out the chance of a blowout double block. Wall of Tanglecord is also another two drop that works very well in this deck to fight the infect armies.

Perilous Myr is also about the only one-toughness creature I want in this deck. This means that you get to laugh at Embersmiths and Arc Trails, something most decks to not get the ability to do.

Dispense Justice is another great card in this deck. I never understood why people gave this card such a bad reputation. People would be in white and have this in their sideboard. I mean I was the victim of this as well, but only because its what other people did.

Why is this card not good? One of the arguments is that there is not many tricks in the format making this one very obvious. The first hole in this argument is that it makes it a great card to bluff even if you don’t have it. That can make the card very good. It gets bluffed enough to become a blowout again.

I was talking with a friend about this card the other day. He told me that when you know they have the card that you can simply just run a Myr token in with the bomb flier. This will protect the creature you want to deal damage. This will work if you are dealing them lethal. It might even work against a mediocre player. This will not work against a great player though.

Did you know that a creature is still attacking during the end of combat step? Deal with the sacrificial creature and after you take a hit from the big monster you can cast the card then. Say goodbye to your masterful play and awesome creature!

The last fringe deck that I have been trying to draft is non-infect green decks. At first I never wanted to be in green at all. I wasn’t winning with my infect decks and never knew how to draft a good green deck. I played around with the archetype and found some decent mixes.

This might come to you as a shock, but I really do not like Carapace Forger in this deck. I know that I usually love me some green bears, but not this one. I only want mana Myrs and Wall of Tanglecord filling up my two-drops. This deck tends to have an abundance of high casting cost cards no mater what the other color is. Wall is there to help get to the late game.

Acid Web Spider is another one of those cards that will go late but is an absolute bomb even if you don’t get to blow something up when it hits the table. Nothing gets through this guy and the ability to block fliers is something a green deck really needs. Take this guy very high (even over removal) and multiples of him only get better.

Since red is the best color in the format, I like to make it the other color. A couple removal spells and Spellbombs are great in this deck. Even Vulshok Replica is a good card for the early game when you need to trade with those damn Cystbearers. I really hate playing against Cystbearer if you haven’t guessed. Vulshok Replica also helps out a Molder Beast when its time to go all-in.

One of the cards that surprised me in this deck is Trigon of Infestation. The games go really long and boards tend to stall out. This is a great time to make a constant stream of infect guys to put on an equipment and help beat down there army. It doesn’t take that long for this card to break a game wide open when combined with a Darksteel Axe.

Untamed Might is another card that wasn’t on my radar when I first drafted this deck. I just thought it only had potential in an infect deck. There are a few times this card is great, like when you have a Wall of Tanglecord and your opponent has two fliers attacking. It is a great way to stall the game out. The other is when you have an Alpha Tyrranax coming in and they are double blocking it. This situation will constantly come up and this card will always blow them out.

The only infect creature I like to play in this deck is Tangle Angler. This guy is great and should always go into your deck. First of all it blocks Chrome Steed, allowing you to easily get to the late game. The other is that it picks off annoying Smiths that help out the late games. It also is sweet when they think you are simply trading your Tangle Angler for their one guy you target and they gang block. Enter Untamed Might from left stage.

One of the more fun strategies to close games with green decks is Assault Strobe. This is not a joke when you get to sacrifice a couple artifacts to go with your [card]Molder Beast[/card]. Like I said earlier, there isn’t many ways to kill creatures in combat. This is very possible if the game has gone long and your opponent has probably used up all of his removal. I wouldn’t put more than one of this card in a deck if it has at least two Molder Beasts. It is just something to think about.

The only time I want to be metalcraft when I draft green is when I pair it with blue. Lumengrid Drake is a card that I liked in the beginning but lost some value in right away. I have come full circle with this guy as time went on. It is very good as the only true metalcraft guy in a deck and is extremely powerful against infect and in multiples. The best part about this guy is he doesn’t really need three artifacts to be good. Just playing a flier can help swing a game when the air is a crowded place.

I don’t end up in green/blue too often but I almost always 3-0 with the deck when I am in it. I think it is because of the power level of cards I see that push me into the deck. This makes this deck a good deck to signal into but not one to force.

Well since you have been such a good audience, I guess I can talk a bit about Standard.

Standard

I decided to play a couple games of Standard in between the countless drafts. I wanted to play something that I haven’t yet so I turned to UB Control. I know this is a deck that gets talked about a ton so I will not be going into too much detail about the deck. I would rather talk about how to pick up a new deck you haven’t played before.

I looked around the premier events to find a list. Yes, even I netdeck like a fiend. I found a good list that won an event by _Nova_. This was his list.

Most people usually will just take a list they find and start running it. I don’t like to do this. The reason behind this is that I am not trying to win everything right out of the gates with a new deck. I want to learn how it works. This will help you in the long run.

This is why I will always change a few cards in a list. I tend to take out cards that I don’t understand how they are supposed to be used. The first change I made is -2 Memoricide. I know what they are exposed to do in a vacuum. They steal the threats out of control/ramp decks. The problem I have is how to correctly implement this. It just seems that there is more problems that come from trying to pull this off then the benefits of being able to turn 4 this.

I also really wanted to add Ratchet Bombs. I think this card is great in multiple different matchups and want to draw it more times to find out. So I made these changes.

Out:

 

In:

 

I played a couple 8-mans to see how the deck worked out. I found out right away that the deck is great against Elves. There are just so many cards that crush this matchup. I knew I didn’t need any more cards to help that matchup.

Valakut is another story. This deck seems to be everywhere online right now and for good reason. It’s really damn good! I got thrashed by this deck and finished with a record of 3/5 against it. The important things I found against this deck is an early Abyssal Persecutor and a few pieces of disruption. I never had time to put a Grave Titan on the board and deal with every SummoningTrap, Primeval Titan, and Avenger of Zendikar.

I didn’t really like Mimic Vat in any of the matches I played. I didn’t even mind playing against it because of the amount of Ratchet Bombs I had. It was either to slow or overkill in every match I played. I did find that many decks could not deal with a Grave Titan. This guy is the real deal right now.

I got to play a couple more matches and now ended up with this list, putting the Memoricides back in as well as some other changes. I decided this was worth a try when I played against Valakut 4 times in a row. Let me know what you think about it since I will be playing more Standard this next week.

 

I hope you guys have a wonderful weekend. I have to sacrifice playing Magic because I am getting a visit from my mommy. Time to go home and clean my apartment. Cya!

Brad Nelson
[email protected]

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