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Here I Ruel – Sideboarding in Scars Limited

In order to draft the right sideboard cards and to be able to use them in the right situation, it is first essential to know what the format is about, what the mechanisms are and which archetypes which work the best, in order to adapt and to take the right cards to fight against them.

On first glance, Scars of Mirrodin draft seems like a pretty simple format. You have metalcraft based decks, poison decks, and eventually marginal decks which try and win without using either of those two mechanisms. And indeed, in the beginning, everyone was trying to go for those archetypes as much as possible. However, with some experience of the format, you start realizing things are not exactly going this way. For instance, artifact based decks have lots of flaws. You have too few slots for non-artifact spells, you’re too vulnerable to artifact hate, and in particular to Tel-Jilad Fallen, and even one card which looked like it could be the core of the deck at first, Golem Foundry, turned out to be pretty bad. Indeed the card is only good on turn three, but if you play it then your opponent probably won’t have wasted a single artifact removal yet, so dealing with it a couple of turns later shouldn’t be much trouble. Also, if you’ve wasted your turn three and possibly held Spellbombs in hand, the effect on your tempo is huge.
Considering poison, the archetype can of course be excellent, but there is hardly room for two players to draft it at the table, so people start drafting it a little less. So in the end, what are the archetypes played in the format? You can’t really cut them into specific color associations, but mostly in mechanics and global strategy. Globally, there are four of them you will face a lot:

Poison
Played Green/Black most of the time, the deck plays as many poison guys as it can, and tries to fill the other slots with pump spells, equipment and removal.

Aggro decks
When so many guys in the format have such low power, it isn’t easy to build an aggro deck. Usually, they use white for flyers, and combine evasion power with either removal (red) or even more evasion (blue). This is usually the deck which makes the best use of Metalcraft.

Non-poison Green decks
There are several pretty good green cards which poison can’t make a good use of (Lifesmith, Carapace Forger, Molder Beast, Acid Web Spider) that it leaves room left for a whole different type of deck, which can be aggro but usually turns out to be midrange.

Control decks
Card advantage, fixers, removal and so on are great, but they are not enough to play control in this format. As you’re going to have long games, you will often face bombs which most removal can’t kill. It’s pretty simple; any time your opponent taps six lands for mana in SoM draft, you can nearly concede if you let them untap without dealing with their spell. Therefore, most of those control decks either run some of those 6-mana bombs, or play a lot of removal, including some which can deal with non-artifact 5 toughness guys (which, as far as commons are concerned, only Arrest, Stoic Rebuttal or Turn to Slag can do).

Let’s now see, color by color, the cards you may want to take in or out depending on the matchup you’re dealing with.

BLACK

 

blistergrub 

If you’re black, non-poison, and aggro, you can force poison into a race it will be hard for them to win if you have a decent follow up. If you’re black, non-poison and running against any non-poison black deck, an unstoppable guy like this will be pretty useful as well.

 

Fume Spitter 

Any deck but poison should play this main deck. However, in the mirror you will want to take it in in order to stop the opponent’s turn two drop.

 

Ichor Rats 

(Out) This guy’s only a 3 mana 2/1 in the poison mirror, and it even gives you more tempo disadvantage on the draw.

 

Flesh Allergy 

This comes in against any deck which has bombs, and in particular if you have guys you don’t mind sacrificing (Clone Shell, Perilous Myr, and actually most Myrs).

BLUE

 

Plated Seastrider 

This is good against aggro decks if you have a way to deal with flyers (removal or flyers of your own), in which case it will stop pretty much any guys costing 4 or less.

 

Scrapdiver Serpent 

Even though the card is often a little too slow to be run maindeck, it survives most removal and is an amazing kill condition against control.

 

Neurok Invisimancer 

Too fragile most of the time, but against control decks and/or decks whose removals are mostly artifact removal, the card wins games.

 

Twisted Image 

Pretty good against decks which run Wall of Tanglecord, and post-combat the card can also kill Sylvok Replica, creatures with higher defense than attack in general, and creatures equipped with Accorder’s Shield.

 

Turn Aside 

Excellent against the full removal deck, whether they are control or aggro, but actually even better against control deck which has to adapt its moves to yours even more and therefore will find its plans more disrupted by such a trick.

 

Stoic Rebuttal 

The best common removal, after Arrest, that you can have against bombs. The slower both decks are, the better it works. Also, this isn’t a format when you need to pass on turn 3 or 4 in order to counter the first threat, as the cards you can’t deal with usually don’t happen to touch the board before the opponent reaches six mana.

 

Screeching Silcaw 

The card may be super weak, it still blocks both Plague Stinger and Tel-Jilad Fallen, which can make it an excellent sideboard option.

 

Vedalken Certarch 

The card has no impact until you get Metalcraft, and it makes you play so you can get it fast but dies to removal pretty easily, which is why I usually don’t run the card in the main deck. However, there are some decks which are very short on removal (green decks mostly), and I like adding it in against them.

 

Halt Order 

A card which is pretty high variance, but which can end up being your MVP against the right deck, so I don’t mind picking it pretty high even if I know it has good chance to remain in the sideboard.

GREEN

 

Ezuris Archers 

Just like Screeching Silcaw, it blocks two of the most annoying poison guys, but it is also pretty good against white decks. I wouldn’t necessarily waste a slot for it in poison, but in another green deck I’d be very glad to have it.

 

Alpha Tyrranax 

As it doesn’t die to most removal in the format, it is an interesting option in non-poison green VS control.

 

Tel-Jilad Fallen 

Even if you’re not poison, you have to consider this card against a deck which is mostly artifact based, as it will both be an amazing blocker and a card which wins on its own in four attacks.

 

Tel-Jilad Defiance 

Pretty good against artifact based decks, in any green deck, and quite decent in non-poison decks against decks running equipment.

 

Wing Puncture 

It’s pretty good against white, and sometimes blue decks, mostly because it is unexpected and your opponent never plays around it. Also, even if your opponent plays a removal/bounce in response, the last power of your guy will be remembered. So, as long as your guy was not targeted by a -x/-x type spell or ability, the green removal will still work.

 

Withstand Death 

(In/Out): The card is both to be taken in against heavy removals deck, and to be taken out against poison, against which it generally will be nothing more than a mulligan.

 

Viridian Revel 

Heavy metalcraft decks and those with a bunch of Spellbomb in particular probably won’t like to face this card. If you have several artifact removal and/or Liquimetal Coating in the deck as well, you can absolutely run it main deck.

RED

 

Kuldotha Rebirth 

If you have at least three of Spellbombs + Perilous Myr, the card is a pretty good sideboard card against Poison, as it can stop his first ground guy as well as the follow up Chosen.

 

Flameborn Hellion 

Big + non-artifact + haste = Control’s enemy. However the card is too slow against other archetypes, so you shouldn’t play it main.

WHITE

 

Kembas Skyguard 

If you’re white and not aggro, or at least not Metalcraft aggro, keep in mind that drafting the 2/2 flyer can be a great help against aggro decks, whether they use poison or not. The card is one of the many in SoM which would be good enough for a main deck use, but usually don’t find a slot because they don’t have enough synergy with the rest of the deck.

Loxodon Wayfarer: Same as Plated Seastrider.

 

Salvage Scout 

The card is a good sideboarding option if your deck’s key cards are artifacts and your opponent has heavy removal, as well as if you have multiple Sylvok Replicas and it turns out artifacts are the core of your opponent’s deck.

 

Soul Parry 

Against any aggro deck, either it’s poison or not, the card’s surprise effect can destroy their game plan (flash attack for the win, Untamed Might on the unblocked poison guy), as well as kill one or two guys.

ARTIFACTS

 

Clone Shell 

I like the card in sealed, but I find it usually too slow for draft. However, when my opponent doesn’t have many fliers and has a slow deck, I’m usually glad to board it in.

 

Culling Dais 

The more removals the opponent has, the better.

 

Trigon of Mending 

Against red aggro decks, life gain can be very precious. The card may be super weak against 95% of the decks, but it is still useful to remember at the time of an 11th pick it can actually be pretty good against the last 5%.

 

Strider Harness 

The card usually doesn’t make the cut in poison, but it becomes pretty great against a removal based control deck.

 

Wall of Tanglecord 

I usually play the card maindeck, but if I’m not green I usually still consider it a decent sideboard card, in the same way Loxodon Wayfarer and Plated Seastrider can be.

 

Sylvok Lifestaff 

(Out): Against poison the possibility to gain three life is pointless, which simply makes the card a bad Shuko, and Shuko was never good in Limited.

 

Trigon of Thought 

No matter how much I like this type of card in general, it is reaaaally slow and usually doesn’t produce any card advantage until the third turn. As a result I tend more and more to keep it in the sideboard and simply to take it in versus the slower and/or most removal based decks.

 

Rust Tick 

(In/Out): I usually play the card in the main deck, but its influence is not nearly as big in draft as it is in sealed. Therefore, it is either a card I play main but take out if my opponent is poison or any deck low on artifacts, or I take it in against the other type of decks.

 

Necropede 

(Out): Against control, and if you’re not running poison, the card is absolutely useless, so it would better take it out for anything, even for a land.

When it seems like you will have enough playables (approximately when you have 8 playables in pack one, 15 in pack two or 22-23 in pack three), bear in mind that it is better to take a good sideboard card than a theoretically better maindeck card you’re actually unlikely to play.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Oli

20 thoughts on “Here I Ruel – Sideboarding in Scars Limited”

  1. agree with jorje… For sure something people need to know.

    Fume Spitter should be maindeck in poison nearly 100% of the time imo.

  2. 2 things, like Kelso said I feel fume spitter is maindeckable in poison depending on your level of removal and how scared your 2 drops are of myr, or if you just don’t have quite the right number of infect playables.
    The other side, necropede bad if you arent runnign poison what? You may have simply misconstrued your point but necropede is good in lots of decks. The only decks i dislike it in is against a super fliers deck/super control deck or if your deck is incredibly aggro. It blocks soooo well.

  3. I would also play fume spitter in nearly every poison deck main. You’re only removal comes usually from black (and artifacts) and this is strictly limited normally.

    Its just too good against myrs and smiths to not play it. It also combos often with proliferate (clasp, throne) which are in poison decks as well.

  4. “Against control, and if you’re not running poison, the card is absolutely useless”

    Really? I disagree. Necropede is great almost all the time, against almost all limited decks.

    It´s never “useless”.

  5. You’re incorrect on Wing Puncture, it functions like Soul’s Fire… see the SoM FAQ:
    “If either target has become illegal by the time Wing Puncture resolves, the spell will still resolve but have no effect. If the first target is illegal, it can’t perform any actions, so it can’t deal damage.”

    Last Known Information works for Spikeshot Elder, because his ability doesn’t target himself. But Wing Puncture doesn’t work that way.

  6. I think he was saying that necropede is pretty useless against control, if yore not playing poison. And great overall article Mr. Ruel. Really bought up some good plots and intricacies of the format and limited sideboarding I hadn’t even considered. And it was nice to see someone mention viridian revel which I think can be string in certain games.
    Thank you!

  7. I don’t think its right to ever leave Necropede out of your 40. Even a “control” deck in SoM has a fair number of X-1’s, and the guy is sometimes just actual Moat.

  8. I would certainly play Fume Spitter main in every black deck, it is so good against metal craft and weiners like ember/myr/painsmith that it is rarely useless. it kills half of poisons best guys too!

  9. The most usefull thing about this article is the information regarding Wing Puncture, and that seems to be up for debate (will it or won’t it deal damage, I was intuitively in the “yes” camp due to the other examples there has been in previous sets, but Twan seems to have a point regarding the wording).

    I agree that people don’t draft their sideboard very often, but from there to an in-depth article about the subject matter is a bit of a stretch. These comments about sideboard-cards might as well have been off-hand comments during a video draft.

  10. Unfortunately, Wing Puncture is not as good as Olivier claims it to be; Twan correctly quotes from the SOM FAQ. Last Known Information is only used when the source of a spell or ability is needed; for example, I control a prodigal Pyromancer, which due to equipments has lifelink and infect. I activate its ability, but in response it gets killed by Doom Blade. When the ping-ability resolves, LKI is used to determine that Tim had lifelink and infect. Wing Puncture just follows this rule from the Comp Rules:

    608.2b If the spell or ability specifies targets, it checks whether the targets are still legal. A target that’s no longer in the zone it was in when it was targeted is illegal. Other changes to the game state may cause a target to no longer be legal; for example, its characteristics may have changed or an effect may have changed the text of the spell. If the source of an ability has left the zone it was in, its last known information is used during this process. The spell or ability is countered if all its targets, for every instance of the word “target,” are now illegal. If the spell or ability is not countered, it will resolve normally. However, if any of its targets are illegal, the part of the spell or ability’s effect for which it is an illegal target can’t perform any actions on that target or make that target perform any actions. The effect may still determine information about illegal targets, though, and other parts of the effect for which those targets are not illegal may still affect them.

  11. I don’t get all the love for Necropede in non-poison decks. I’d always rather have Perilous Myr than Necropede in non-poison. Obviously a lot better with Culling Dais/ Barrage Ogre, but I remember reading stuff about the GP a few weeks ago where Brad Nelson was saying he wished he had taken it over Oxida Scrapmelter. That’s just a joke.

  12. Also add that I liked the article.

    Soul Parry should usually be maindeck. It just does so much in the format. There are so many races and trades that the card will almost always get you at least 1 for 1 removal, and will even get you 2 for 1s or just win the game by countering Untamed Might or Putrefax or whatever for the win.

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  14. @ Jim Varney

    No, you are a joke. It was Pack one Pick one, and Nelson could have taken the more powerful scrapmelter, with the risk of not being able to play it if he ended up not in red, or the more flexible Necropede, which is an artifact, psuedo perilous myr poisin guy that fits into almost any deck. Staying open early in SOM draft is very important, and in NO WAY is it a “joke” that he’d wished he’d taken necropede, EVEN IF he ended up red and doing well.

    ” I’d always rather have perilous myr than necropede in non poison”
    well, we aren’t playing constructed, and don’t just get to choose our two drops, unless you were talking about a pick between perilous myr and necropede late in a draft when you were non-poison, which is a scenerio you just made up in your head and has NOTHING to do with anything other than that narrow situation, that again, you randomly just made up.

    Stop pretending you’re awesome at magic, shuttup and listen, noone wants to hear your garbage.

  15. From SOM FAQ:

    If either target has become illegal by the time Wing Puncture resolves, the spell will still resolve but have no effect. If the first target is illegal, it can’t perform any actions, so it can’t deal damage. If the second target is illegal, there’s nothing for the first target to deal damage to. If both targets have become illegal, the spell will be countered.

  16. @ John Dreylick

    Scrapmelter is way more powerful than Necropede, and is also easily splashable. Unless you know 100% you want to go poison, Scrapmelter is the pick. I’ll take a Flametongue Kavu that there is a chance I won’t play over an easily replaceable 2 drop donk every time. It’s not even a close pick.

  17. scrapmelter p1p1 is definitely the pick over necropede. scrapmelter can pretty much be splashed in any kind of deck. even if you go poison there is a reasonable chance it is worth playing as it is still great removal who leaves a good blocker. one green spellbomb and one mountain is fine and certainly doesnt stretch your manabase too thin.

    if scrapmelter cost 2RR i think it would be a closer choice, but with its cost now you arent really making a huge commitment by taking it.

  18. Lol, friendly lot here sometimes aren’t we? I think Necropede makes most main decks in the format simply because it’s an artifact and a pseudo removal spell if your opponent is attacking on the ground; and he probably is going to have to at some point. This makes it fairly strong. On the other hand Mr Ruel has a point in that a Necorpede’s expected value is going to go way down against control. He’s certainly not going to block your Necropede with a Mana Myr and without some sort of combo card it’s going to be hard to get any real value out of this card. By the time he’s forced to interact with it he probably won’t care if you kill a random Myr.

    Seems pretty straightforward to me and certainly not worth fighting about.

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