MMD Drafter’s Guide – Red, Part I

This week we’re going to do Red, so settle in and try to enjoy yourself while we explore the wonders of playing broken spells and attacking with whatever mediocre creatures you managed to pick up seventh pick and beyond.

Hello again and welcome back to more fun with pick orders. This week we’re going to do Red, so settle in and try to enjoy yourself while we explore the wonders of playing broken spells and attacking with whatever mediocre creatures you managed to pick up seventh pick and beyond.

Before we go begin the Red review, I just want to introduce you to a couple of concepts that can help you improve your drafting. I’ve given them names, but don’t go crazy if you already knew the ideas presented as something else – I’m not trying to copyright them. I’m only trying to name it so I can refer to it later if needed. The concepts are “proactive pick creation” and “retroactive pick creation”. Again, call them whatever you want, if it suits you. It’s only important that you understand the ideas behind the jargon.

Proactive pick creation is the process of bypassing a card and taking a lesser card that, while still playable on its own, will make a future card playable when it would otherwise have been a poor choice for the deck. A good example is the pack 2 choice of Hematite Golem over Vulshok Berserker in a U/R deck. Such a choice, compounded with similar choices (even sacrificing card quality for those extra picks later) may essentially generate a pick for you if you get shipped a pack with Vedalken Engineer and a whole lot of nothing.

Instead of one playable card (Berserker) you get one playable card (Golem) and a greater chance at another (Vedalken Engineer) when the time comes. If you don’t have any artifacts and you get shipped packs with Engineers and nothing else, you’re getting shipped dead packs. By taking the Golem, you are getting yourself more playables, so you can have a tight, synergistic twenty-four cards instead of twenty-two cards and some off-color Spellbombs.

Retroactive pick creation is easier to understand, and it’s even more useful a tool. Say your first few picks are:

1. Terror

2. Shatter

3. Pewter Golem

4. Viridian Longbow

5. Consume Spirit (out of a weak pack)

6. Vulshok Berserker

7. Fractured Loyalty

8. Tooth of Chiss-Goria

And it goes from there. You draft a few more Red cards and a few more Black cards, keeping it about even, maybe a little heavier on the Black. You pick up a Spikeshot Goblin and a Scale of Chiss-Goria in pack two, along with a couple of Nim Shriekers and some artifacts.

Then in pack three, you open the following relevant cards:

Flamebreak, Leonin Bola, Echoing Decay

What is your pick? For me, the Bola is the obvious pick, and I’ll tell you why.

You’re not getting one card with the Bola, but three!

If you take the Flamebreak, you are gaining a playable card and losing one (there is no way Consume Spirit and Flamebreak can be good in the same deck), plus Fractured Loyalty is not playable yet, with only three targeting effects. Net gain- zilch. Zero picks.

If you take Echoing Decay, you’re gaining a playable card, but you again run the risk of never”turning on” Fractured Loyalty as an actual playable card. The only thing in all of R/B that can give you that crucial fourth targeting effect is Leonin Bola. You get one pick.

Now, if you take Leonin Bola, you still have the right mana ratio to play Consume Spirit and have it actually be good (something like 10/6), and you get the fourth targeting effect for Fractured Loyalty, turning it into Control Magic. Plus you get the Bola. You get two picks for the price of one, because you are retroactively turning Fractured Loyalty into a playable card. It certainly wasn’t one when you drafted it!

You should always been looking for ways to retroactively add value to your picks in a MMD draft. If you take Consume Spirit seventh and then take Slith Firewalker eighth, you have pretty much taken one card. If you take Consume Spirit and then Nim Replica, you have taken two.

That said, let’s get on with the show!

Red Mirrodin Commons

1. Spikeshot Goblin

2. Electrostatic Bolt

3. Shatter

4. Pyrite Spellbomb

5. Iron Myr

6. Vulshok Berserker

7. Goblin Replica

8. Hematite Golem

9. Krark-Clan Grunt

10. Great Furnace

11. Krark-Clan Shaman

12. Ogre Leadfoot

13. Fists of the Anvil

14. Molten Rain

x. Goblin Striker

x. Incite War

x. Seething Song

Spikeshot Goblin

Ol’ shrapnel-chest is still the best. People who take Electrostatic Bolt or Shatter over the Goblin are making a mistake – I’ll bet dollars to donuts that those same draftmasters are pulling their hair out forty-five cards later when it comes time to find thirteen or fourteen men to swing with. Trips Stoker? You bet they’ll be getting in there – it’ll be like a Krark family reunion in the three slot.

Even assuming that the Goblin is only about”as good” as Shatter or Bolt, it’s still a better pick because there is only one good Red common creature in all of Darksteel, (Oxidda Golem) and it’s not even really that good. You can pick up Barbed Lightning and Echoing Ruin in the Darksteel pack, and it’s all the easier to do that if you don’t have to worry about yanking trash to meet your creature quota.

Spikeshot Goblin wrecks people for the same reason and in much the same way that Viridian Longbow does. If you don’t remove him, you’ve got your work cut out for you the rest of game, since every x/1 creature is a dead draw (Black decks just *love* this) and every opposing 1/1 dork can trade with an x/2 on your side of the table. And don’t even get me started on what happens if you suit him up with Bonesplitter or, god forbid, Loxodon Warhammer. I had that combo once and it was so utterly degenerate and unfair that I kept expecting lightning to fry me from on high, right then and there.

Luckily, God is a Goblin fan. That’s why sometimes Red just wins. So when you’re take Spikeshot Goblin, not only are you one step closer to winning the draft, but you’re doing the Lord’s work. Ping. Ping. Amen.

Electrostatic Bolt


Every sullen grump remembers the fun he had with static electricity back in his days as a cherry-cheeked schoolboy. remembers the fun they had with static electricity in their wilder youth. Sticking balloons to the wall, making hair stand on end, shuffling across a carpet in wool socks and a cardigan and then seeking out your uncle with a pacemaker for a hearty handshake.

Now you get to relive those flaming days of youth with Electrostatic Bolt, perhaps the finest piece of removal ever to see the light of day south of Panopticon and north of Lumengrid. And yes, junior – the sound effects are required. Even the most downy-chinned neophyte knows that when you aim this puppy at freshly cast Tangle Golem, it’s time to purse your lips and make a noise like a $1.99 carnival gag prize joy-buzzer.


Is Electrostatic Bolt better than Shatter? I think they’re almost exactly even in function, which means that the Bolt is the better card by virtue of being one mana cheaper. Luckily, Electrostatic Bolt vs. Shatter is a choice you rarely have to make. However, one mistake I *do* see from some players, even those of some experience, is the malodious practice of picking Pyrite Spellbomb over this card because of the synergy the bomb has with Affinity cards, Disciple of the Vault, or even something as simple as Atog. *This is never worth it.* In this age of Spire, Tangle, and Razor Golems you are making a terrible mistake if you take the Spellbomb, and I don’t care how many Nim Shriekers you had planned to draft, either.


You’ll quickly learn from drafting Red what science fiction pioneer and visionary Gene Roddenberry knew from the start – it’s hard to lose when you cast a Shatner. Sure, every so often you’ll have a bad episode, but more often than not you’ll end each stanza with a fistful of pesos on one side and a stacked alien princess on the other.

Captain’s log, stardate… well, I’ll make it up later. A perfectly reasonable first pick that I’m always happy to add to my pile, Shatner is not the niche removal spell he was way back in Tempest Block Limited, a time when you had to fight off rogue pterodactyls in order to get seat number eight at PTQ Cave. There are actually old charcoal etchings of this instant being taken 14th by loincloth-wearing neanderthals who are gloating sweatily over dubs Roll and Legacy’s Allure in the cavernous torchlight.

Those days are gone. Shatner is versatile removal now, equally likely to take out a utility permanent or a creature before all is said and done. Shatner is a power card in this set because it trades with power cards. Shatner disintegrates and scatters the tools of the foe like so many beads of sweat running down the chest of Ricardo Montalban, (and you’d better believe he makes those opposing Golems and Replicas feel the wrath of Khan), so if a pack swings your way and you have a chance to bogart the Captain, I say”Do it!” It’s worth it just for the look an opponent’s face when his Clockwork Dragon gets James T’d *right* out.

End transmission.

Pyrite Spellbomb

It’s not Shock, because they can see it coming. It’s still a quality card, however, one you should be pleased to have on your side of the table as opposed to across the field, monkey-wrenching your own plans to play that turn three Spikeshot. You can play Pyrite Spellbomb a lot of ways. It can cycle early for a crucial land, it can storm the beaches on the first turn to help with affinity, or it can topple down from your hand later on, (slow rolled if you will) and light up an opposing x/2 like Chinese New Year fireworks.

I tend to play it out early. You never know when you’re going to get landscrewed, and it helps to be able to dig for an answer. Also, I don’t mind overmuch if my opponent has to play”non crucial” creature during the first few turns in order to bait the Spellbomb – if they’re not crucial, odds are I won’t have much problem dealing with them as I develop my own board unhindered. That said, it’s sometimes the right play to keep this explosive little salsa number in your hand until the right creature comes along (none the wiser, that’s the gaffe!) and then, pow! You spring the Spellbomb at him, just like… and stay with me on the simile here, eggheads… a spring springing springily forward.


Yes. Spellbomb good, and so on. These are not new revelations, I’m just want to make sure you’ve got the big stuff right before we burrow, tick-like, into the quivering techflesh of the minutiae.

Iron Myr

Ah… a fine man, but it’s so rare that I get to take him. That actually isn’t too bad, since there isn’t a double-Red casting cost spell in the entire block worth a damn, outside of a few rares and uncommons (and I can count those on my hands and still have enough fingers left to say”hi” to Ted when I see him). [It’s great to be so well *ahem* loved by my writers. – Knut]

As a Red drafter, you’ll find that a Myr in your second color (or an off-color Myr) will work just as well for your purposes. The Gold Myr is much more crucial to the W/R deck than the Iron Myr, as it facilitates more consistent castings of Skyhunter Patrol, Slith Ascendant, and the like. Red only wants to cast Oxidda Golem and Vulshok Berserker, and any combination of Mountain(s) and Myr (Iron or otherwise) will do for that purpose. Take any Red creature and the story is the same, especially those that want to be cast on turn 4.

So why is Iron Myr ranked above Vulshok Berserker and Goblin Replica? Well, that place ranks the important of any mana acceleration in a R/x deck, first of all- you generally want a couple of pieces. (Iron Myr is ideal, but as I said, second-color or off-color Myr will serve you almost as well, or perhaps even better in the case of a second color) If you don’t have any acceleration at all and you’re staring at a bunch of high-powered spells, you probably want to take Iron Myr over both Berserker and Replica.

Also, the simple fact is that the three are *very* close in power level, and you can take any one over the other two at any given time depending on what you have picked up until that point.

Vulshok Berserker

Beatdown. Beatdown! *Beatdown*!!

Vulshok Berserker smashes face, and in the tricky tangle in the middle of this pick order, where three cards of roughly equal value collide, it is the baseline card, the one you take if you have no special considerations. There will be reasons to take Iron Myr over this man (and because the reasons for taking the Myr so often exist, that will be your pick much of the time), and there will be reasons to snag Goblin Replica instead also – but when you’re low on cards that are synergistic with both of those options, you can always fall back on sending three points of muscle over to use your opponent’s spleen for a speedbag.

Don’t be ashamed in the least to play the Berserker. He’s the hidden brawn behind all those broken Red instants and sorceries. After you wipe the board clean with fire and brimstone, *someone* has to get in there and do the dirty work!

Goblin Replica

About as powerful as Iron Myr and Vulshok Berserker with all things being equal, sometimes you just have to take the Replica. If you have a Skeleton Shard in your pile, you take it. Likewise, if you have a Myr Retriever, it’s the right pick. Moriok Scavenger works too, if that’s the sort of slow, controllish, card-advantage oriented build you’re after.

Given enough time and mana, Goblin Replica will almost always trade two-for-one with some opposing cards. Sadly for you, the player pulling the strings on this ugly mother, that time isn’t always there. Spending all of turns three and four just to destroy an artifact is not high on my list of things to do as a tempo player. In fact, were I to form a complete record of all possible courses of action, and furthermore list those courses in the order in which I would most like to do them, it would be down there beside”get rat in boot” and”somehow lodge self in rusty sewer grating”.

It’s not fast, but it’s a body for your fourteen and the ability will be there when you need it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Goblin Replica is Nekrataal, because it’s not even close.

Hematite Golem

Keepitite Golem forces you to do just that – keep it tight. I can’t count the number of times I have seen otherwise passable players make awful mistakes with this card. The most common pitfall is to pump like a madman when your opponent lets him through unblocked in the midgame. If you have something in hand that you need to add to the board, you can’t afford to make this play if the enemy has anything even close to threatening. You have to get your hand onto the table and operational as soon as you can.

That said, sometimes you have a hand that can afford to pump twice on turn 5 and say”go.” Hands with such cards as Awe Strike and Electrostatic Bolt (but no creature action) are excellent at doing this. So are hands with Blinding Beam. Of course, those three cards are the same ones that totally destroy you when you overpump a Hematite Golem in the first place, so what it really comes down to is having time. Time to get in for that extra four points without compromising board position.

You might want to take Hematite Golem over something like Vulshok Berserker if you’re playing a very artifact dependent U/R deck. The added mana boost from Vedalken Engineer can make it much easier to get in for three or five points with the Golem and still develop your board. Taking Hematite Golem early on (over the Berserker) is a good way to proactively add value to your Vedalken Engineers. Keep in mind, however, that you’re going to want to play at least 50% Red to get a full bang for your buck.

Krark-Clan Grunt

A solid man, Krark-Clan Grunt is best used in a deck with a lot of artifacts (especially ones that quickly become redundant, like lands, Myr and Talismans) and one or more copies of Disciple of the Vault. You can take him higher than even Iron Myr if you’re on your way to building such a deck (and especially if you already have one Iron Myr in your pile). Otherwise, the Grunt is strictly average – a weaker aggro creature than the Berserker, a less versatile control creature than the Replica.

Aside from the Disciple”drain you out” shenanigans alluded to in the above paragraph, the Grunt also really shines when you have am Arcbound creature or two on the table along with your other more traditional artifact men. The ability to move around counters at will (and don’t forget the not-inconsiderable side effect of first strike for the Grunt) will make combat difficult for all those pesky enemy forces bent on your destruction. You can get some very spicy retroactive pick value out of the Grunt if you grab up some Arcbound men in Pack Three.

Great Furnace

Not nearly as useful as it once was. Great Furnace has great synergy with cards like Atog, Krark-Clan Grunt, Shrapnel Blast, and especially the”affinity” cards from other colors like Quicksilver Behemoth, Somber Hoverguard, or Nim Shrieker. If you’re taking Furnaces and powering up your artifact-laden death machine in the early going, you have to shift your strategy for the Darksteel pack. The land-affinity Golem that is a fine pick at eight mountains is a slow, clunky piece of trash at six. It gets worse when Red isn’t even a main color and you’re probably only running seven Red sources regardless. Five mountains, two Great Furnace? Those Oxidda Golems are going to be worse than cancer.

That means you don’t pick Oxidda Golem. It actually comes in the same pack with Arcbound Hybrid a lot of the time, so take that and keep your scarily avid, heroine-addict eyes on the affinity prize. Take Arcbound Worker over Oxidda Golem. Take a card from your other color over it, maybe a Quicksilver Behemoth, Chittering Rats, or Loxodon Mystic. If you’re going to be playing those Furnaces, Oxidda Golem is not going to be good for you, and you need a”Plan B” for Darksteel that doesn’t involve running into a closet and hiding under some coats.

Krark-Clan Shaman

Now that the good White decks are playing Raise the Alarm and Auriok Transfixer as they should,


now that the good Green decks are snapping up every Tel-Jilad Chosen they can,


now that Arcbounds have thrown their little tin hats in the ring,


now that you want your beatdown game to start on the first turn,


and now that almost everyone finally realizes just how good Myr are,

*fuh fuh fuh fuh…derf!*

Krark-Clan Shaman is very playable.

(*dignified jungle boogie*)

If I have one in my pile, he makes the starting lineup more often than not. Don’t underestimate the Shaman, but do remember that you have to hold down the CTRL key to respond to your own ability if you want to use him more than once – this little pipsqueak goes out in a blaze of glory. Oh, and sometimes you can Bonesplitter him and attack for three.

Ogre Leadfoot

If you have an Ogre Leadfoot in your deck, something went wrong. If you do have him, look for ways to get him out on turn 4. Hope you win the roll a lot. And hope they get screwed and flooded like a brothel-mistress on the banks of the Yellow River.

Fists of the Anvil





I hope this card wins me a game sometime just so I can reuse all the off-color jokes from my days playing with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. Use your own shameful imagination. You should probably use some other cards, too – this dog is for desperate men who can’t find a better way to deal four.





Okay, okay. Next card.

Molten Rain





Okay, okay, I’m sorry. When is this playable? When your deck is bad but fast, and even then usually you want it out of the sideboard against Reiver Demon and such nonsense. Bad but fast? Yep, believe it or not, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. And anyone who has ever taken the full three from a Beetle knows it.

Goblin Striker

I guess even Goblin unions have labor trouble every now and then, because when you need a crew to do the tough work, jobs like”efficiently beating down” or”not being awful” or”maintaining some of your dignity as a Limited player”, that’s just what this guy is. A Striker. I advise you to retain the services of some strikebreakers. The kind they had in the thirties, when men were men and Goblins were attacking for two damage per turn.

Tell me the truth – you put him in just to reach fourteen, right?


Thirteen is fine. And the wastebasket is over there.

Incite War

Never before has a common card offered you the chance to totally wreck your opponent… in a few game situations that probably won’t come up anyway. Other, *slightly* more common game situations, however – old chestnuts like”I need a creature” or”I need a spell that actually does something,” well, …Incite War won’t help much. That’s putting it mildly, really. More likely, it will mock you, harlequin-like, from the disgraceful assortment of misfit garbage you call a hand, always seeming to ask (in a voice, one somehow assumes, uncannily like that of a bored executive at his 10:00 meeting) “why are you so bad as to have me in your deck? What sin, in what previous existence, has cursed you with minerals where brains usually reside?”

Just give up on this guy. There are good spells that break stalemates, use those.

Seething Song

I wrote a”Seething Song” for just such an occasion. Let me pick up the ol’ guitar.

“Seething Song” by Geordie Tait

(G) (C)

Once I cast a Seething Song, on the turn of three

(G) (D)

and then I cast a Slogger, which took the win for me…

(G) (C)

Next game I was ready, with Song in hand once more, but

(G) (D) (C) (G)

Since I drew no Slogger, I got beat into the floor



(G) (C) (D) (G)

Seething Song, it sucks a nut- if you run it, you’ll take it in the butt-

(G) (C) (D) (G)

Trust me it can’t be much worse…and now it’s time for another verse!

(G) (C)

One time I ran a Seething Song at some PTQ they had,

(G) (D)

I 0-2 dropped, but even worse, my parking job was bad-

(G) (C)

I’d stopped atop the crip space, and a cop was there to whine,

(G) (D) (C) (G)

But I just showed my reg sheet, and everything was fine!



(G) (C) (D) (G)

Seething Song, it juggles balls- I really don’t like it at all,

(G) (C) (D) (G)

The card just simply bites warm ass – so if it comes, don’t pick, just pass.

Thank you, thank you.

Red Mirrodin Uncommons

1. Grab the Reins

2. Shrapnel Blast

3. Granite Shard

4. Detonate

5. Fractured Loyalty

6. Slith Firewalker

7. Rustmouth Ogre

8. Atog

9. Forge[/author] Armor”][author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] Armor

Grab the Reins

I was talking to Grab the Reins’ wife the other day. It was a nice, natural conversation that took place in a delightful foyer at the north end of the palatial GtR estate. I’d come to see the big man, of course, but he was running a little late so I spent a while talking with the missus and drinking cold glasses of iced lemonade. She’s a nice looking lady, if you’re curious – pleasing to the eye in all the right ways – and sitting as we were just outside the family room, the subject soon turned to family.

“Do you have any children, Mrs. Iculous?” I asked, mouth still singing grand opera from the bruisingly cold lemonade.

“Yes, little Jason is away at school,” she replied. After a short pause, she added “Please, Mr. Tait- call me Nancy.”

I opened my mouth to say that I would be happy to do just that (and how could I have forgotten about little Jason Iculous, the precocious troublemaker always stirring up new mischief for the curmudgeonly old grumps in the neighborhood), when suddenly the front door opened behind us and her husband, known in his professional life as”Grab the Reins” stepped into the foyer. Nancy was on her feet at once, and led her husband by the arm up the short flight of stairs in order to meet me face to face.

“Mr. Tait,” she said, “I’d like you to meet my husband, Reed.”

He was taller than I expected.

Shrapnel Blast

It took me a while to figure it out, but Shrapnel Blast is head and shoulders above any common, and should be taken as such. To paraphrase Harvey Keitel as”Mr.White” in Reservoir Dogs, the choice between Spikeshot Goblin and Shrapnel Blast ain’t no choice at all. Shrapnel Blast, along with any artifact, represents one fourth of your opponent’s life total. Hopefully the rest of your deck can take care of the remainder.

If possible, the addition of Arcbound creatures has made this unspeakably vicious instant even more powerful – you get a combat trick and five to the dome. Shrapnel Blast is just an amazing card, and since it comes next to mediocre stuff in the print runs (off the top of my head, one iteration is bookended by Lumengrid Sentinel and Ornithopter, so if you see those two uncommons, you know what was taken), there won’t be a comparable card in the pack to catch your eye unless you open a bomb rare.

Don’t be afraid to use Shrapnel Blast as removal, either. You can’t win the game if you’re getting smashed by Fangren Hunter until your brains come out your ears.

Granite Shard

I’m not sure how it went. Either people realized how good it was to equip a Longbow on turn 3 or 4 and start shooting x/1 creatures and quickly made the Einstein-level leap to the stone fact that Granite Shard is equally insane if not better… or people realized that Granite Shard was superpowered and that ping effects were dominant, and started playing the bejesus out of Viridian Longbow as a result.

Chicken and egg?

Either way, this is one very good card, and you’ll sometimes get it second or third pick, because almost half of the time it gets opened online, there’s a Loxodon Warhammer in the pack with it (and a Slith Firewalker, but so what?). Granite Shard dominates the game in much the same way that Longbow does, but without the added”creature” requirement, and that’s significant when you’re up against Grimclaw Black and the Seven Decays.

If you’re still skeptical that this card is better than Detonate, you have never seen Granite Shard dominate entire games against White and (especially) B/x decks. I once had a hand with Viridian Longbow, Raise the Alarm, Gold Myr, and two Plains and a Swamp. I naturally kept. My opponent, going first, cast and activated Granite Shard on turn 3 off a Myr. He won, pretty much without having to play another card. It’s great with Fractured Loyalty, too – always a plus.


This card always comes out of nowhere to beat me. Better than Shatter or Electrostatic Bolt (weighing in a shade below Spikeshot Goblin), Detonate is a tremendous tempo spell that is great for attack-oriented decks, which in my case is all of them (I have passed more Barter in Bloods than any man has a right to). It’s great to remove that stupid Hematite Golem that is going to prevent a Berserker beating, but the destruction you can wreak by doming your hapless foe for four in the process is sick enough to be almost felonious. Whenever I blow a Pewter Golem out of the way (regenerate this, biatch!) with Detonate, I look over my shoulder to make sure the cops aren’t after me.

Wizards must have agreed with me on this card being a good thing, because they printed it in the common slot in Darksteel, made it an instant, gave it the ability to kill non-artifact creatures, and called it”Barbed Lightning.”

By the way – to my once and future opponents – *please* stop letting this spell hit you for damage when you have ways to sacrifice the target already on the table. Likewise, *please* stop trying to Welding Jar the target. Neither course of action is very good for you in the long run.

Fractured Loyalty

Biiiiiiiig Fracs!

You can turn this into a straight up Control Magic for 1R. How, well, you need four or five of the following. This is by no means an exclusive list, as I haven’t double-checked it, but all of my favorites are on there.

Red Enablers: Spikeshot Goblin, Granite Shard

White Enablers: Auriok Transfixer, Auriok Bladewarden, Leonin Battlemage, Pearl Shard

Blue Enablers: Lumengrid Sentinel, Neurok Transmuter

Green Enablers: none

Black Enablers: none

Artifact Enablers: Tooth of Chiss-Goria, Scale of Chiss-Goria, Icy Manipulator, Leonin Bola, Talon of Pain, Viridian Longbow, Voltaic Construct

Cards that help: Blinding Beam (worst case scenario it’s tapped, best case scenario you gain control), Modular creatures (the counter transfer effect is targeted, which allows for a quick and sometimes permanent steal), Spawning Pit, Atog/Krark-Clan Grunt

It works like this. They play out Fangren Hunter. Then you play out Fractured Loyalty and Tooth of Chiss-Goria, then win the game. Five targeting effects is the optimal number, and don’t hesitate to take one over a better card, because remember you are retroactively gaining a pick for yourself if you take the right tools to make the Loyalty playable.

If you take Barbed Lightning over Leonin Bola, you’ve got yourself one excellent card. If you take the Bola, you’ve got yourself two – a good one (the Bola) and a great one (Control Magic). Of course, you can run the gamble and hope to see a Bola in subsequent packs – it’s your choice.

Five is optimal, four is playable. Don’t try to get cute and play stuff like Heartwood Shard and Galvanic Key unless you somehow get three copies of Fractured Loyalty. I’m serious. I have played those cards in MMM when I got three Fractured Loyalties, and I won one of those drafts (losing the other one to a deck that had, unfortunately for our hero, a number of targeting effects of its own, none of which were useless crap like Heartwood Shard).

Just because your opponent has targeting effects, though, doesn’t mean you should sideboard out your meal ticket. It still works as a Pacifism in such cases (as the creature bounces back and forth uselessly) and if you have Krark-Clan Grunt (for artifact creatures only) or, even better, Spawning Pit, there will always be a chance to have the enemy creature take a dirtnap as the stack resolves, no matter how many times he runs a Tooth-targeting in a vain attempt to keep his man.

So, see this card? *This* is where you can start to change your rating and get it moving upward. Big Fracs gives you a Control Magic in the uncommon slot if you know how to draft around it, and it’s a Control Magic that lesser players don’t have a shot at, a hidden gem just for you. They look at the pack and see nothing, and they raredraft. You should see an opportunity.

Slith Firewalker

One of the most spinebending turn 2 plays in the MMD environment, especially going first!

Unfortunately, it’s generally one of the most irrelevant turn 3+ plays in the MMD environment. You’ve got an advantage, though – I’m going to give you the 4-1-1 on this fine critter. Most players are dead in the water before they even begin because they assume you can play this guy with something like seven Mountains. Let me tell you how it works, chief!

Only two things count – Mountains and Chromatic Spheres (and, technically, Viridian Acolytes, but it’s a rare deck that can make a case for playing that card). Iron Myrs don’t count – a turn 3 Slith Firewalker is a joke. If you draft this and you’re not heavy Red, you should take Chromatic Sphere over other comparable cards like Great Furnace (it seems to me this choice comes up all the time – ninth pick rolls around and I have my Firewalker and these two cards right on schedule like morning wood) or Steel Wall. If you have Slith Firewalker, you should be taking Chromatic Sphere over trash like Goblin War Wagon and Yotian Soldier. You should be taking Chromatic Sphere over 24th card beaters like Alpha Myr and Krark-Clan Shaman. Remember, you are gaining picks, gaining playable cards, retroactively!

Chromatic Sphere + Slith Firewalker + eight mountain deck = playable Firewalker ie. 2 playable cards

Yotian Soldier + Slith Firewalker + seven mountain deck = unplayable Firewalker ie. 1 playable card

Sure, you’ll probably be stubborn and try to play it anyway in the second case. Have fun sitting there with UR on turn 2.

Rustmouth Ogre

He’s big, he’s huge, he’s massive, he’s deadly, he hits hard, he kills things!

He’s slow, he’s unwieldy, he trades with Soldier Replica and (usually) Nim Lasher, he’s almost impossible to cast if your opponent has a Wizard Replica, he dies to Terror, he gets blocked by tokens and tapped by Leonin Bolas, he’s mediocre at best against heavy Green.

Like a lot of cards in Mirrodin, this guy is great once he’s on the table. But ask yourself – what other six-mana cards do you play with regularity in the format? Mirror Golem is probably the best of them, and Rustmouth Ogre falls short of that plateau. You see the ability and the size and you’re all a-flutter, but what you’re really getting for your money is the broken promise of a Goblin Vandal. No, for six mana, you want something of Megatog-like proportions.

He will almost always make your deck if you’re dabbling in a reasonable amount of Red (he’s not worth splashing, trust me), but don’t expect too much. He will sometimes win a game, but mostly he’s just a big guy that dies. Very good *with* Leonin Bola, though. A Rustmouth and a bunch of dorks wielding a Bola can be an insurmountable army, so keep that in mind when you hit Darksteel and start flailing away.

Forge[/author] Armor”][author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] Armor

I don’t use it much, but it’s playable. My favorite trick is putting six +1/+1 counters on a Spikeshot on turn 5 after playing an Oxidda Golem. My other favorite trick is getting my face pounded while I sit with this unwieldy instant either irrelevant or uncastable in my hand. There isn’t much middle ground when it comes to Forge[/author] Armor”][author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] Armor.

Don’t make it easy for Forge[/author] Armor”][author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] Armor to be bad for you, though. Try to use it to sacrifice creatures that are dying anyway, and try to wait until your opponent is tapped out so he can’t foil your plans. Using Arcbound creatures (especially the mighty Bruiser a.k.a.”Eight Counters“) is a nice one, and land-affinity Golems work great also. Darksteel was made for Forge[/author] Armor”][author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] Armor… and it’s still the worst Red uncommon in Mirrodin.

[This Article is continued in Part II]