As you’ve probably read on Sideboard.com, seventeen land in Mirrodin Limited is a thing of the past. I’ve wanted to write this article for weeks, but was asked to hold off by my friends on team CMU since they wanted to keep the information secret until after PT Amsterdam. With that in mind, even though Sideboard let the information out of the bag, there are a lot of things to talk about regarding this”Spellbomb” archetype.
The general idea behind the deck is to be able to run land counts as low as fourteen, and even in some cases thirteen. For our purposes, we’ll stick to the more conventional fourteen-land builds when discussing how to draft the deck. As far as I know, the deck was originated by someone on the CMU mailing list, and first put to the test by Nate Heiss, who managed to win five drafts in a row on Magic Online with it.
The first questions people ask when I tell them about the strategy usually are:
So what is the benefit of running such a low land count anyway? Aren’t you more likely to get manascrewed?
The answer is that because of the Chromatic Spheres and Spellbombs, you’re able to draw out of land stalls easily, and when you make it to the late game you will have a considerably higher number of spells left in your deck so that you won’t get flooded, and will generally win any standstill that arises. Sure, you may have to mulligan a little more, but Mirrodin Limited is slow enough that you can miss one or two land drops and still be able to pull out the W.
While all of this is fine and good, the deck wouldn’t be any good without numerous ways to take advantage of all of these off-color Spellbombs in our deck. Thankfully, Wizards has brought us Affinity.
Myr Enforcer, Frogmite, and Somber Hoverguard are all very important to the deck, and I once watched Jeremy Darling take a Frogmite third pick out of a pack that still contained Tel-Jilad Archers, Arrest, and Skyhunter Patrol. Crazy.
The second avenue of abuse is via Disciple of the Vault. Since all of these artifacts are constantly going to the graveyard, the Disciple drains your opponent’s life rather quickly. We won’t even talk about the times where you manage to get two out at once.
A final benefit of running the lowcost artifacts is that they power up the Nim creatures.
The preferred color combination for the archetype is certainly U/B, but the deck isn’t really limited to any set colors, as Krark-Clan Grunts are also excellent in it, and I’ve even seen Nate draft a R/G version.
How to Draft
When you’ve decided to force this deck in a draft, you really need to force it with every pick. Cards like Steel Wall and Welding Jar, that you’d never play in any other deck, need to be picked up around ninth or tenth and sometimes earlier. The basis of the deck’s existence revolves around the constant abuse of cheap artifacts as well as a preferably high number of artifact lands. That’s the name of the game.
Every pick needs to be made with the overall deck in mind, and you can’t be tempted to switch into something else mid-draft. One time I was forcing the deck, I had a pretty good start after pack one and opened the second pack to find a Troll Ascetic waiting for me. I ended up picking Frogmite from this pack (there was nothing else good for my deck).
One of the hopes is that you’ll get the late pick Sunbeam and Necrogen Spellbombs that nobody else wants, but now that the cat has been let out of the bag, I’m not sure this will still happen. Off-color bombs are a valuable commodity to any deck, as they allow you to run less land without any real punishment. Now that people know this, you may have to start picking them a little bit higher. The same goes for Disciple of the Vault, who you could also table eleventh pick or later.
An example of forcing the deck is that if you open Somber Hoverguard and Solar Tide pack one, you should either decide to put off forcing the deck for this draft, or take the Hoverguard with the intention of getting lots of goods in pack two. Unfortunately the”goods” for this deck are all of the junky cards in the set, which makes the last statement even more likely to be true.
Obviously, the deck’s namesake, these are good for powering Affinity, facilitating a low land count, as well as doing damage via Disciple of the Vault.
Myr Enforcer, Frogmite, Somber Hoverguard
The meat creatures for the deck, pick these whenever possible. Should you manage to get a Broodstar, it is the absolute nut high in this deck.
Disciple of the Vault
As I mentioned earlier, this guy is just excellent in the deck. When you add in something like Krark-Clan Grunt, you have a real killing machine.
Nim Lasher and Nim Shrieker
Especially good with Slagwurm Armor, this guy does a lot of damage really fast and can’t be ignored. While the Shrieker is obviously the better creature, the Lasher is also quite good in this deck.
Ever think you’d find a time when this guy was playable? Well believe it or not, he’s actually quite annoying to play against when someone has this deck, especially when he picks up a Neurok Hoversail or a Fireshrieker. That’s a lot of damage, really fast.
This card is not very good in the deck simply because you’re only running fourteen land. You don’t want to have too high of a mana curve of creatures either, but this thing loses most of its effectiveness in the deck.
Neurok Spy and Krark-Clan Grunt
Obvious reasons. The Grunt is clearly insane with this many artifacts.
A nice little beater that is likely to”draw a card” more often than he normally would.
Simply excellent in this deck. It’s actually the only deck that I’d ever play this card in, but here it reads”one Blue, draw two cards.” I’ve even ran as many as four copies in one of these decks and been happy with the results.
Even more necessary in this deck than others, these guys are simply better than land and you usually want at least two or three. On-color is good, but off-color is also fine since most of your spells are artifacts.
Steel Wall and Welding Jar
Help out Affinity while providing defense. The wall stops many of the ground creatures in the format, and the Jar serves to regenerate your important artifacts like Myr Enforcer.
Defense while you get set up. Simply spectacular.
Pick these high and be ready to run off-colored ones.
Some Final Notes
Drafting this deck is not easy. I say that because it takes a strong man to pass up good cards for Frogmites and Disciples of the Vault all of the time. I personally do not draft the deck that much, but a lot of my teammates do so religiously. Nate Heiss has been known to include Pentavus, Bosh, Iron Golem, and Mindslaver all in a deck that contained only fourteen lands.
One thing I didn’t really touch on was Equipment. While Equipment is fine in this deck, it’s not wholly necessary. Sure you’re going to include it sometimes because it fits the theme of cheap artifacts, but it’s not vital to the survival of the archetype.
Another topic is splashing. I think it’d be a good idea to splash for artifact removal like Deconstruct or something like Spikeshot Goblin in this deck. A better reason to do so would be when you already have an Artifact land of the color in question.
Give the deck a try, you might end up falling in love with it just like Nate.
Soooooo & ThatsGameBoys on MODO