Now that Connor’s taken a look back at least week’s pre-release, I’m here to provide you with some strategies for the upcoming Scars of Mirrodin release draft. While sealed deck builds a good card base for those interested in the set and provides an opportunity to play Magic, draft puts more emphasis on skill and understanding of card interactions.
In draft, you’re picking your own card base and engaging in a battle of wits with the other players in your pod, sometimes working specifically to undercut one another. (I swear I’m not just saying this because Connor swept me in Round 1 of the pre-release.)
The order of the day in Scars of Mirrodin is artifacts, so of course you’ll be drafting a few of those. But I’m not here to spell out the obvious. To get the most out of your artifacts, it’s almost a must to draft white.
Now, I generally avoid advising players to always draft such-and-such strategy or such-and-such color, but white has without a doubt the strongest cards in Scars limited play. For instance, the incredibly powerful Revoke Existence, which can take care of the set’s ubiquitous artifacts, is white. Also, the best metalcraft cards — Auriok Edgewright, Auriok Sunchaser and Indomitable Archangel — are white.
In limited, aggro reigns king. There’s not much better for aggro than 3/3 flyers, 2/2 double strikers and 2/2 first strikers with lifelink — each for two mana. Granted, those creatures depend on artifacts to reach their full potential, but you’ll be drafting those anyway.
With that plug for white — a color I usually hate — out of the way, let’s talk red.
If you come across a Shatter at a point you’re not locked out of playing red, take it. Like I’ve said, artifacts are everywhere in this format. Many games will come down to your ability to handle artifact threats. Shatter, along with couple other cards from the set, provide enough artifact destruction to nudge you toward red if you can pick some up early on.
Red also provides Arc Trail, which is awesomely powerful in this limited. Roughly 80 percent of the creatures you’ll see will have 1 or 2 toughness, often making Arc Trail an Instant-speed two-for-one. Galvanic Blast is also a good choice: a Shock at worst and better than Lightning Bolt at best.
Black provides some great options, too, with removal, field control, card advantage and finishers available. In fact, black has the most bombs in the set. But I’ll talk more about that later. If you can pull a Hand of the Praetors early on, do all you can to start drafting Infect. The big knock against Infect creatures is that they are inherently less bang for your buck in other aspects, so trying to maneuver them around blockers and other defenses for poison counters can become too much trouble. With Praetors, Infect creatures deal poison counters without having to do anything but dodge counterspells. Bigger Infect creatures are a nice plus, too, of course. If you can get a couple of these guys down at once, things will start to get nasty for your opponent.
Moving away from color-centric strategizing, let’s talk Infect. In last week’s pre-release, Infect had a rather weak showing in my area. I only saw one game won with poison counters. However, this may change, depending on your draft pod. As Louis Scott-Vargas said on Channel Fireball, you can either play all Infect creatures or none (with the possible exception of a tossed-in Tangle Angler for non-Infect decks).
If your creatures are split anywhere remotely near evenly between Infect and non-Infect creatures, you are setting yourself up to have to do 30 damage to win. Meanwhile, your opponent only has to deal 20 — or, if he or she has done Infect right, 10.
The third and final aspect of draft play in this set — with artifacts always looming in the background — is bombs. You don’t have to be playing control — and you probably shouldn’t be, anyway — to benefit from, or maybe even need, a bomb.
Fortunately, this set is rife with them. Last week, I was able to pull every mythic-rare creature in the set other than Platinum Emperion, Skithyrix, the Blight Dragon, and Wurmcoil Engine, giving me a little experience in wading through big creatures to find the best among them.
Molten-Tail Masticore provided the killshot in every game I won Saturday.
Chimeric Mass can be a game-changer, especially in a deck using Proliferate. It also allows you to put all of the mana ramp available in this set to use.
Geth, Lord of the Vault, may just make your opponent weep. Don’t expect to get too much mileage out of Intimidate, though, with all the artifact creatures running around.
Indomitable Archangel is the cheapest of the bombs, and she’ll provide protection for your aggro artifacts while swinging for 4 in the air.
Hoard-Smelter Dragon is artifact destro and an impressive creature wrapped into one.
Skithyrix, the Blight Dragon, is the ultimate finisher for an Infect deck. Swinging for four poison counters in the air can be devastating.
Liege of the Tangle, while potentially deadly, is very hard to cast, speaking from experience. Eight mana can be pretty rough when you’re running maybe 15 lands.
Until next week, stay smart, stay safe and don’t play Instill Infection.