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Stark Reality – Drafting Scars Archetypes

There are a few main archetypes in Scars draft that I like to draft. I’m going to talk about each one in order of how good I think they are.

Aggro poison

The basic premise is to get as many poison guys as possible. Ideally you play no guys in your deck that don’t have infect. The good common poison creatures are Cystbearer, Plague Stinger, Ichorclaw Myr, and Corpse Cur, in that order. I always play all the rest of the poison guys I get, but those are the only ones I draft over removal or Untamed Might generally. Other commons that I consider optimal for the aggro poison pretty much in order also are Grasp of Darkness, Sylvok Replica, Tumble Magnet, Untamed Might, Strider Harness, Fume Spitter, and Instill Infection. Also like I said, I always play all the other poison guys I get but Blight Mamba, Contagious Nim, Blackcleave Goblin, and Tel-Jilad Fallen can basically be taken in any order. The idea is you’re a very aggressive deck so it is more important to fill out your curve then to have the one that is slightly better. As a result of that, I tend to take the 2- and 3-drops over the 4 drops but if you have the good 2 and 3 drops then you don’t need the bad ones. In packs 1 and 2 I will take Cystbearer, Plague Stinger, and Ichorclaw Myr over removal once I am poison.

I think it is of the utmost importance to minimize the number of poison players at the table, so I would much rather pass a Grasp or Replica then a Cystbearer or Plague Stinger. In pack 3, I usually take the removal. Once in a while the really good poison guy will table because no one else can use it or at least you will table a tier two poison card because there is only one other player at the table who can use those cards. Some uncommons that I love in the deck are Contagion Clasp (the nuts) and Tangle Angler. An easily first pickable card in this deck is Trigon of Rage, and its value goes up dramatically for each Plague Stinger that you have. Some of the concepts that don’t come up every time but are kind of useful are when you get 3 non poison guys who are good in your deck. In those situations, Tainted Strike becomes very good and you badly want 1-2 these times. These creatures include Necrogen Scudder, Skinrender, Moriok Replica, Bellowing Tanglewurm, Acid Web Spider (when you board it in because they have equipment and/or fliers), and Painsmith (when you have enough artifacts that it is good, which you usually do not). I will usually play 1 copy of Withstand Death main; it is a sweet trick, but you don’t want your hands filled with them. Wing Puncture is a sweet sideboard card as it can deal with a 3-5 mana card for 1 mana quite easily.

R/W aggro Metalcraft

You can’t just move into this deck. In order for Chrome Steed to be good, you do need 17 artifacts or so, so this means you have to prioritize artifacts very heavily. This in turn means you need to be seeing a lot of artifacts in the packs so you can take them. You should take it as a signal this is open if you get passed Chrome Steeds 3-5th pick, but you shouldn’t slam a 1st or 2nd pick Steed and move right into metalcraft. I think versions of this deck that are very aggressive are better than the controlling versions. Brad has been pummeling people with Blade Tribe Berserkers and it seems like if you can draft this deck so that that guy is good, you can get a sweet late card there. I usually take the removal for this deck in this order: Galvanic Blast, Arrest, Shatter, Turn to Slag, Revoke Existence. I like the tempo swing of Shatter and its instant speed ability to blow someone out. Since the deck is very aggressive, it isn’t worried about dealing with bombs that much, so Turn to Slag is less important, although it is still nice. Embersmith is really good, while Myrsmith is merely just good. Origin Spellbomb is amazing and Panic Spellbomb is just fine, but it’s nothing special. I really like any Contagion Clasp, Tumble Magnet, Necrogen Censer/Glint Hawk interactions you can get going. I really like Accorder’s Shield as well. Obviously you don’t want a lot of them, but the first one is fantastic and the second one is still quite good. I also play Auriok Sunchaser in this deck. I know a lot of people aren’t a fan of him, but he is cheap evasion and I am looking to have 17 artifacts. You can’t take him over artifacts that get you to the count necessary to play him, but he’s a sweet inclusion if you have the count. I can’t really give a pick order for this deck, because it’s all about maintaining the expected artifact count and then having 6 or 7 sweet colored metalcraft cards/removal.

Defensive metalcraft cards make great sideboard cards against aggro poison but I am not a big fan of in this archetype. Perilous Myr, Necropede and the like are very vulnerable to the blue decks, fliers, and the dinosaur decks (fatties), so I am not that interested in them. Obviously Oxxida Scrapmelter and Arc Trail are awesome. Trigon of Rage is very good once again, assuming you have evasion. It is hard for me to talk much about this archetype without wasting time and space because obviously Ghalma’s Warden is great and you want keyworded cards. The important thing is to be prepared to be the aggro deck and finish them with Tumble Magnets, Necrogen Censers, and evasion.

LSV Blue

Luis already wrote a whole article on drafting this archetype so I won’t go into too much detail, but the objective is to be the ultimate control deck. Counters, bombs, bigger flyers (Sky-Eel School) and those defensive guys listed above as well as Wall of Tanglecord and Plated Seastrider. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go into drafts forcing this deck. It is far too weak to support that. On the other hand, if you get passed or open a Volition Reins and are clearly seeing a lot of blue in the parks, this should be a weapon in your arsenal. Optimal commons are (roughly in order of how good I consider them): Sky-Eel School, Wall of Tanglecord, Perilous Myr, Neurok Replica, Stoic Rebuttal, Tumble Magnet, and Plated Seastrider.

Tumble Magnet is considerably worse than normal in this type of deck because if you are looking for long games then tapping an attacker is only gaining life and not dealing damage, then it will run out of counters and you’re not doing anything with it.

I think black makes a particularly nice second color for this deck so you can use Instill Infection and Moriok Replica to gain card advantage, which is obviously something that a control deck always wants. Also, Necrogen Scudder is really sweet since the poison decks don’t attack your life total and it’s a 3/3 flyer for 3 that is single black to cast. Generally, this deck doesn’t want to concern itself with metalcraft but if you just so happen to get a lot of artifacts and can get metalcraft, then Vedalken Certarch is good along with Drake and the other key worded cards. You want to almost always play either 1 or 2 Forests for Wall of Tanglecord depending on how many you have, and what your mana requirements dictate. Obviously this deck is interested in drawing first, even versus aggro decks, because you’re looking to match their drops, not race them. I like this deck a lot more if you get a quality bomb to win with. The nut bombs are Myr Battlesphere, Argent Sphinx, or Contagion Engine (the nuts in every single deck). Unlike the two aggro decks, this deck loves a 6-mana bomb.

Dinosaurs

This was made famous by Ari Lax at GP Nashville. Basically this strategy is about getting big. It puts the mana Myrs to extremely good use, as you can get the cards that are big and powerful but are generally considered just a little bit too slow. The mana myrs let you get them out a turn or two early, and you then get to wreak havoc. Obviously I don’t need to list every big creature, but key cards to this deck are cheap removal spells such as Galvanic Blast or Shatter. Just like the blue deck, Wall of Tanglecord has a lot of value for you because you need to slow down the opposing decks and it can block fliers for you. Fliers tend to be a big problem if you’re trying to win with giant ground creatures. That said, defensive cards that don’t stop fliers aren’t nearly as good for you. While a Necropede or Perilous Myr will just about always make my main, I will usually never have them because I am not taking them very highly for my Dinosaur decks. Some all stars include Palladium Myr, Acid Web Spider, and any fat rare you can get your hands on (Myr Battlesphere, Engulfing Slagwurm). My normal order of priorities for this deck are cheap removal/defensive cards that can deal with quick/evasive creatures, then mana Myrs, followed by good win conditions. It’s not really important whether you’re killing them with Engulfing Slagwurm or Alpha Tyrranax, so you don’t need to prioritize your win conditions (with a special exception for Myr Battlesphere, because it’s just that sick).

Those are pretty much the best decks. There are other viable archetypes, but I think those are the ones that are readily available and have a high power level. I also want to talk about a lot of the cards in this format that I think people overvalue. This is meant only for draft. Most of these cards are Sealed deck all-stars and you should always play them. However, booster draft is all about synergy. It’s about taking the cards that allow you to beat the cards or strategies that your deck is vulnerable to. It is about taking the cards that make the rest of your deck better. A lot of really good Magic players who don’t understand why they don’t consistently win in draft lose for this particular reason. Cards such as all 3 planeswalkers in Scars, Strata Scythe, Sword of Body and Mind, Argentum Armor, Lux Cannon, Myr Propagator, and a few others are often first picked by people because they have the ability to win the game for you.

I want to talk about the concept not the card so I know I am lumping a lot of cards together here as Sword is a lot better than Strata Scythe, and Elspeth Tirel is a lot better than Lux Cannon, but the important concept is to understand which broken cards can win you games from behind and solve problems your deck has, not which can put the nail in the coffin for an opponent you are already beating. Pretty much all of these cards are bad when you are behind in a game. They have the potential to leave you down a card or down a bunch of mana if they are solved by common solutions to them that are much cheaper, like Shatter for all the costly artifacts.

Contrast that to a card like Hoard-Smelter Dragon, which while it can be Arrested, doesn’t make it a bad card (it’s an amazing rare and not on the list of overrated bombs). The fact of the matter is you can be almost any amount behind against any deck that plays a bunch of artifacts (pretty much anything except infect) and if you can untap with Hoard-Smelter you are probably going to win the game.

If you are significantly behind when you play Koth or Sword of Body and Mind, you aren’t going to win with them even if they don’t have the Shatter. They can just attack you and kill Koth and giving +2+2 to a blocker for 5 mana or forcing them to chump with their smallest creature isn’t going to bring you back when you are losing. I am using Sword for these examples because I consider it one of the best cards I put on this list. Don’t think I am saying you shouldn’t play Sword in your deck. What I am saying is there are better cards for your deck that aren’t necessarily “bombs.” when you are drafting Dinosaurs, you should take Galvanic Blast over Sword. Sword is definitely still playable, it’s just not better then Blast in the Dinosaur deck for example.

And in some decks, the bombs fit in very well. When I have a Luis-style blue deck and red is my second color, I would never leave a Koth in my sideboard. That said, since you are often playing catchup with that deck, I would rather have an Embersmith for my deck then a Koth.

What I want you to do when your drafting is not think about how good a card is in a vacuum. Think about how good a card is in your deck right now. Take into account what cards you expect to cause problems for your deck and what types of games you expect to be losing in. Does this card offer more help to turn around and win those games then the next option in the pack for you? Does this card have extra power in my deck, or does it work against what my deck does naturally? Like Myr Propagator is amazing in a Furnace Celebration/Barrage Ogre deck. However why does Dinosaurs need some 1/1s to win with when it has a bunch of Tyrranaxes? Your draft decks needs and wants differ greatly from draft to draft, and auto drafting “good cards” instead of drafting your deck can be a big mistake.

Good luck in your remaining Scars drafts.
Ben

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