MMD Drafter’s Guide – Red, Part II

So comprehensive and joke-filled that we had to break it into two parts.

Red Mirrodin Rares

1. Arc-Slogger

2. Megatog

3. Bosh, Iron Golem

4. Vulshok Battlemaster

5. War Elemental

x. Mass Hysteria

x. Trash for Treasure

x. Fiery Gambit

x. Confusion in the Ranks


When you draft an Arc-Slogger, you’re really drafting a 4/5 Beast for 3RR (already a reasonable first pick) and, more importantly, two free Shocks. Don’t be one of the numbskulls that actually thinks the Arc-Slogger’s ability is a drawback. These people actually exist (I have met a couple) and they’re not a pretty sight. Those same guys who left Chain of Plasma in the board during OLS because it could conceivably do damage to them, well, with Arc-Slogger they’re back with a vengeance.

Just in case you’re not in the know, I’ll lay it out for you.

Removing the top ten cards in your library from the game does nothing to your board position. If you had six cards in hand, removing those ten cards will not change that. If you’ve got three creatures on the table, removing those cards will not change that. Arc-Slogger is not a bad card because it happened to remove your Platinum Angel from the game while it was killing off a Neurok Spy. Do you understand?

(I’m not bald. I just shave my head.) Do you understand?


Mmm… Ancient Den – the”other” other white meat.

Megatog is obviously very, very good, so there isn’t much need for discussion, and this whole card by card review is already running long. I’ll just leave you with a word of advice, and that word is about Awe Strike and playing with and against it when you go for the Megatog kill.

The simple advice: If you’re the guy with the Megatog, take every possible precaution to insure that you won’t get wrecked by Awe Strike. Try to wait until they are tapped out to go for the kill, and they’ll be much more inclined to do so if you keep a couple of cheap artifacts in your hand.

A little less obvious: If you’re the guy with the Awe Strike, cast it after the pumping is done but *before* damage goes on the stack. I actually had some guy wait until lethal damage was on the stack (I suppose he figured it was a savvy play to wait until the last possible moment) and my response was to cast Echoing Truth on the Megatog, fizzling the Awe Strike. Damage resolved and I won a game I shouldn’t have.

I suppose this is an easy mistake to make, since many players are carefully trained to wait until the last possible second, but in the case of Awe Strike, you have to cast it before damage is on the stack. This goes for any situation where you’re about to take lethal damage from a huge man, not just a Megatog.

Bosh, Iron Golem

Chris Bosh. If you take Bosh early (and in any 4-3-2-2 draft you will have to do that, because 99% of players in those drafts think that Bosh is the greatest thing ever laid down on cardboard), then the best possible color combination for you is U/R. Vedalken Engineer, which you can get in the early/middle picks of the Darksteel pack, will be your best friend.

As big creatures go, Bosh is fairly fragile. He eats the dirt sandwich when confronted with such cards as Deconstruct, Oxidize, and Shatter. That said, I’m willing to forgive a lot when it comes to cards that generally win the game as soon as you untap. Bosh is one such card, so you shouldn’t feel bad about playing him, regardless of how slow he might seem.

Vulshok Battlemaster

Vulshok Battlemaster is almost strictly worse than Vulshok Berserker, so we’ve taken quite a drastic plunge in card quality in the drop from Bosh to this 4R piece of trash. Battlemaster will almost always be awful. 5% of the time, it will be amazing. That’s not a good ratio, and I’d encourage you not to play her unless you really can’t find anything else.

When is Vulshok Battlemaster good? When both you and your opponent have lots of powerful but expensive Equipment on the table. In such cases, she works as a sort of”massive beater + sorcery-speed Disarm.” One trick you can pull is to attack and get some damage on opposing creatures that are wearing Vulshok Battlegear and the like, and *then* cast the Battlemaster to not only steal the equipment, but kill off all enemy men that have now taken lethal damage.

A better trick is to not take this card at all, unless you need 1/3 of a ticket.

War Elemental

Good players can beat you with anything. I’m hesitant to label any card completely unplayable for this reason – because I know this article will be read not just by up and coming members of the exclusive fraternity I like to call”John Queue Public,” but by more advanced players as well, and those guys always have a story about how they were able to use War Elemental, or Galvanic Key, or Vermiculos to good effect, even though you wouldn’t play those cards 99% of the time.

Basically, you want something like five to six pieces of direct damage to play this, including ping effects and pure blasters like Barbed Lightning and Shrapnel Blast. You also need a ton of mountains. And remember to put the”comes into play” ability on the stack before you do the damage required to keep it from sacrificing itself – that way it will get counters as well.

99% of the time you will not play War Elemental. If you’re confident enough in your abilities that you can run this guy without fear, then it’s likely there isn’t much advice a scrub like me can give you.

Mass Hysteria

R & D went through the whole alphabet with this one.

It started out at 4RR and was known as”Ass Hysteria.”

Became a Blue card and was”Bass Hysteria”

Choked on a ham sandwich and was”Cass Hysteria”

Got printed in German and was”Das Hysteria”

Had a cost of zero and was”Fas’ Hysteria”

Gave your creatures +2/+2 and was”Gas Hysteria”

Eventually they settled on the current version.

Nick Eisel mentions this card frequently, and the way he uses it is to cast it on a crucial turn before dumping out a bunch of large men and launching a decisive attack. That’s how you break the symmetry of the ability and turn it into a playable card. Like I said, though, good players can beat you with anything – that’s part of what makes them good players.

Personally, I don’t like to play cards that require me to be as good as Kai Budde in order to win. I like to play powerful cards that let me win no matter how badly I screw up! For this reason, Mass Hysteria never makes the cut for me.

Trash for Treasure

Like Ritual of Restoration, except far worse. That must get you excited, huh?

Fiery Gambit

If your deck has a Krark’s Thumb and a Fabricate, you should definitely play this. Seriously. Otherwise, it just isn’t good. Goblin Charbelcher is very similar in that it essentially gives you a chance to kill an opposing creature, but at least with the Charbelcher (which I almost never play) you can activate it every turn. Fiery Gambit gives you one shot, at 50%, to do three damage.

I’ve never played it, and I draft a lot. You shouldn’t play it either, regardless of how often you lace ’em up.

Confusion in the Ranks

After some minor amount of soulsearching, I’m going with”useless” as an assessment here. I’ve never played it and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I’m sure someone will chime in with a story about how they sided it in against an opposing bomb they couldn’t deal with, or some such nonsense. Go nuts.

Red Darksteel Commons

1. Barbed Lightning

2. Echoing Ruin

3. Oxidda Golem

4. Unforge

5. Krark-Clan Stoker

x. Drooling Ogre

x. Crazed Goblin

x. Inflame

Barbed Lightning

My pick for the best common in Darksteel for the purposes of Limited play. I like to attack. I like to remove guys who prevent me from attacking. I like to deal damage right to the dizzity-dizzome. This card lets me do all three at once. The only card you can consider picking over Barbed Lightning is Razor Golem, and even then only if you’re W/r (as opposed to R/w), and even then only if you’re fairly low on solid creatures. Barbed Lightning is too good – it ladles out momentum in great, steaming cupfuls.

Mmm, mmm good.

PS: Take three. And lose your guy. And take five.

Echoing Ruin

Awww…boo hoo. Didn’t get a Barbed Lightning, huh? Guess you’ll just have to settle for destroying any artifact, then. I know, it’s tough. I can understand why you’re upset. You got Echoing Ruin instead of Barbed Lightning, you opened Fireball instead of Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], your luxury car is too big and your diamond shoes are too tight!

Thanks to the writers of”Friends” (who are currently being indicted on charges of sexual harassment, according to the Smoking Gun) for that joke.

Oh, and thanks to the designers of Magic for this card. It’s a hot one, Mr. Grinch.

Oxidda Golem

Sometimes you just can’t get enough Berserkers. I actually like Oxidda Golem more in decks that can support it, since the artifact status of this fine beater is often an advantage in U/R decks, and you can oftentimes cast him for two mana or less in the midgame. Oxidda Golem isn’t the best of the land affinity golems, or even a particularly exciting creature, but he gets the job done.

A quick word about land drops. With the new land affinity Golems, you have to be conscious of the lands you’re playing in the early turns of the game. If you have two Oxidda Golems in your deck, you have no business laying islands on turns 1 and 2 unless there are Blue spells you desperately need to cast. You *will* topdeck the Oxidda Golem sometimes, and when you do, you need to be able to play it on turn 3!

The same principle applies for the Sliths, too. Be mindful (young padawan, or something) of your land plays in the early turns.


This card, which is always maindeck worthy in Sealed, is a sideboard card in draft. It sits dead in your hand a lot of the time if you’ve got it in the maindeck, but on rare occasions there is no other card you’d rather draw. If your opponent has a bomb equipment or you are sure you’ll be able to get the two for one, that’s when you side Unforge in. I take it over something like Krark-Clan Stoker unless I need a creature, mostly because I like having the sideboard option available.

You’ll have to take it earlier than other niche cards like Hallow, though, because Unforge is overdrafted by people who think it is a maindeck card. Why do they think this? Who knows… maybe they destroyed a Bonesplitter once at the Darksteel prerelease and they’ve been enamoured ever since. Just heed my words and avoid overvaluing this boy – he’s better coming off the bench.

Drooling Ogre

Drooling Ogre?

When did Phil Samms win the Magic Invitational?

Remember how I said a good player can beat you with anything? Here’s another example. This is a sideboard card and almost never playable, but against G/W pretty much exclusively, it’s an okay sideboard option. Even then, you need a bad card in your deck to take out, so if your deck is good, you probably don’t need the Ogre.

Crazed Goblin

Believe it or not, the Ontario Provincial champion Jean-Marc Babin played three of these (and a Tears of Rage) out of the sideboard during his Day 2 run at GP: Columbus. His deck was so bad that he figured he’d go for the cheap win in Games 2 and 3. So much for Ontario pride. Oh, and again, remember how I said a good player can beat you with anything?

Well, I was wrong.


If your opponent is playing this card, you are winning the match.

Red Darksteel Uncommons

1. Fireball

2. Dismantle

3. Vulshok War Boar

4. Goblin Archaeologist

x. Tears of Rage


I hate losing to this card on Magic Online. It takes longer to cast than any other sorcery (with the possible exception of Consume Spirit, which annoys me in exactly the same way) because of the fact that you have to physically click on the mana in your mana pool before the spell will go on the stack. It’s due to this delay that you can tell the spell is coming, and you have five to ten seconds to stick your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.

Seriously, it’s depressing. First you see the Mountain get tapped. It’s always done carefully. Then all the rest of the mana gets tapped in a haphazard way, like it doesn’t really matter. Then, you get a five to ten second delay.

After all that, you see the message “DingleBerryJones casts Fireball targeting FP_GLyM. (X = 8).” Then you hit concede and go on to the next game.

Just in case you’re wondering, Fireball is overpowered and should never be passed regardless of what colors you are playing. (Unless there is a Faerie Squadron in the pack.) Barring a Squadron, you should just take it. Splash a Mountain or two, maybe grab yourself a Darksteel Ingot. The only cards I can imagine taking over it are Skullclamp, the Swords, Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], and Wand of the Elements if you are U/R. If you’re G/W and you open Fireball and Fangren Firstborn, you should take the Fireball.


Oh, and put the packs you won up on the mantle on the way out.


No, ‘dat mantle. (points)

Anyhow, the choice between this and Vulshok War Boar is pretty cut and dried. If you have enough creatures and you need artifact removal, you take Dismantle. If you have few creatures, you take the War Boar. Much of the time Dismantle will function as a vanilla artifact destruction spell, but keep your eyes open for chances to take advantage of the secondary counter-stealing ability. Good targets are Arcbound creatures (obviously), a tapped Talon of Pain, or the perfect crime – a Sun Droplet.

Vulshok War Boar

Scenes from turn 3.

(Sooo-eeeee pig pig pig!)

(Hey…remember that scene from”Deliverance”?)

“You excited? Having a good time?”


“I don’t know, you look a little nonplussed. A little lethargic.” (taps three land and a Myr)

“Is that so?”

“Yeah. And I’d hate to think it was because of me.”

“I see.”

“Yep! After all, I like excitement and fun when I play. I wouldn’t want to…” (announces spell)

“BOAR you!”

(Insert groans.)

The War Boar’s drawback isn’t small enough to be considered insignificant, but that doesn’t mean he’s not eminently playable. This guy hits about as hard as you’d expect from a fat, ill-tempered pig, and there are no easy permanent answers to the pork assault short of Terror and Arrest.

The sheer size of the War Boar will pose a question that many decks will be unable to answer, especially when he comes out early. This is a creature you should be glad to have, especially in U/R affinity decks, where sacrificial lambs are plentiful.

Goblin Archaeologist

Very marginal. More playable than the similarly minded Fiery Gambit (which can’t even attack or block, let alone consistently do anything), the Archaeologist is not a beacon of reliability by any stretch of the imagination. If you have nothing else to put into your deck, he makes a fine goalie with a possible upside. The key to making Archaeologist less awful is to only use his ability when he’s about to kick the bucket anyhow. You might get a nice bonus and take out a couple of enemy artifacts… if you’re lucky.

Try to trade him for a Tel-Jilad Chosen, Green mages *hate* to lose that guy in combat to anything that isn’t a first through fifth pick. Then destroy their Tangle Golem with damage on the stack, and point and laugh. If the Archaeologist were a 1/3 or a 2/2 for 2R, he’d be a lot better.

Tears of Rage

One day I fully expect to lose to this card. That doesn’t mean you should play it, though – because when I do lose it won’t be today, and it won’t be you doing the winning. It’ll be some 1550 guy pounding me while I draw nothing but land. I’ll tell you the story when it happens. Until then, highest recommendation to avoid.

Red Darksteel Rares

1. Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]

2. Wand of the Elements

3. Furnace Dragon

4. Savage Beating

5. Flamebreak

6. Shunt

7. Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer

Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]

I freely admit that this card slipped under my radar. Until I was able to play with it a couple of times, I considered it nothing more than a fairly good card for aggro Red. Antonino DeRosa’s article about cards he’d take over Fireball was the catalyst that got me off my ass to take a second look at this card, and Antonino was right on the money when he said this card was possibly the best card in all of Darksteel for Limited play.

I remember one time online recently I was able to beat Andrew Cuneo (Gainsay) in a 9-5 draft, and Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] was insane every time I drew it. I was just sitting there with the card in my hand, saying “Andrew has no idea, but there is no possible way he can win this game.” Eventually, he pulled out some tricks, tapped some stuff, killed some guys, attacked me down to three, and played some backup defenders. I had no board position, but it didn’t matter since I was able to mana burn down to two and burn him out from eleven life, or something similarly ridiculous.

If you draft Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], you too can mise wins against players the caliber of Andrew Cuneo. Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] is”you cannot lose target game.” The only way you can lose, really, is if you get mana or color screwed (with flood you can probably still win). If you have any sort of game going, be it you at a slight disadvantage, a stalemate or an advantage, you are going to win because of Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], especially if you have RRRR available.

If you open Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] and any other card, and you are Red, and you want to win the draft (as opposed to taking a pile of tickets), take the Pulse.

Wand of the Elements

Good *lord* this card is unfair. Best in R/U (obviously), the Wand is playable in any deck with a nice amount of Mountains (I’d say eight is about right). Just drop it and start cranking out Hill Giants – it’s tough to lose. If you get lucky and you *are* U/R when this comes around, you should literally get up from the table, stand on your chair, pull down your pants, grab your johnson, twirl it around and yell “Woo-OOO-ooo-OOO-ooo!”

That sounds a little extreme. There is no other way to properly express the joy that you should feel if you get your hands on this and you’re playing U/R. I’ve checked.

Furnace Dragon

I was actually stupid enough (when the set was just released, but still) to advise some guy not to play this on the basis that it would “probably remove more of your permanents than his.”

Well, darn those symmetrical effects! How do we break that symmetry with Furnace Dragon?


Oh wait! (snaps fingers)

Perhaps the fact that you get a *5/5* flier, while your opponent gets precisely nothing, might be a start!

Dumb. This card is better than any Red common by far, and considering that it has some measure of ticket value, it’s tough to gauge whether you should take it over Fireball. I would at a 4-3-2-2 table, because with either of those bombs you’re probably going to win the draft anyhow. Watch your mana, though – the RRR can be tricky.

Savage Beating

This thing just wins games. If you like to see big damage numbers, you’ll love Savage Beating, which generates more damage in Limited play than any other card in the format. If your opponent doesn’t smell this card coming and block accordingly, odds are that he’s going to need to be scraped off the bottom of your shoe when all is said and done.

The beautiful thing is, even if he does block, he probably won’t have anything left after the dust clears and both combat phases have reached their bloody conclusions. Savage Beating is a lot like Stir the Pride – a late game finisher that punishes docile draws. You won’t have any trouble breaking a stalemate with this sorcery on your side.


The mana requirement is awful, but the spell itself is powerful enough to be worth the trouble. Don’t get me wrong – Flamebreak should be left in the board if your Red is only a splash (or, even better, you should avoid taking it entirely and grab something in your main color), but when you do have the Mountains to regularly cast it, the ‘Break is a game winner that can have devastating effects, not the least of which is doing three points to the opposing nugget. The”cannot be regenerated” clause is handy too, especially against those Green and Black decks.

Flamebreak can act as a finisher when you’re on the offensive, and it’ll bail you out of a jam if you’re getting pounded. I like that in a card. When you see this in a pack, quickly do a review of your mana requirements. (In a real life draft, you should have just concluded the all-important”pre-Darksteel review period” where you count your creatures and try to figure out what you need out of the third pack, so such details will be fresh in your mind). Then, shift your eyes back to the Flamebreak, and if you can afford to run it, put it in your pile and hope you get passed another.


I miss Willbender. Shunt isn’t nearly as good, but you can certainly play it. Nothing is more fun that sending that Electrostatic Bolt off to cause trouble for the wrong guys. Again, make sure your mana is going to let you play this. If not, you’re better off taking a less powerful card in your main color.

Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer

I have no idea whether to rank SoBad above Shunt or below it. He’s certainly a fine card for R/U and R/B decks with a billion artifacts, but he doesn’t exactly beat down well and is worse than cancer in R/G and R/W. You could do worse for a turn 2 play if you’re up against the Muy Caliente El Deconstructo special.


And I’m spent.

Thanks for tuning in this week – make sure to come back next week when we look at the Green cards and try to figure out why they are so awful. If you have anything to contribute with regards to Limited or if you just want to say”hi,” feel free to chime in on the forums or toss me an email – it’s nice to have something to read in between messages labled “apple muzzle bedtime dowitcher aphelion” that offer me discounts on prescription drugs.

See you later. In the meantime, remember to hail the lucky ones (those in love).


Geordie Tait

[email protected]


GT__ on #mtgwacky