Overrating the Underrated

Class is almost out for the year, and I’ve had more time to start playing regular Magic again, so I thought I’d take some time today and share some of my ideas on some”terrible” cards that I think are actually good, as well as one of my favorite archetypes in the format. Tim Aten did a nice article last week on some of the underrated Darksteel cards, so I’ll try not to overlap anything with what he said, and I do have some goodies of my own.

Yeah, It’s been awhile.

While I’d like to have some grandiose story to tell you all about why I haven’t written in the past few weeks, I don’t. I wasn’t off fighting dragons and saving princesses or on some other type of adventure. Instead, I spent most of the last month in Atlantic City playing poker. With traveling back and forth, as well as keeping up with my class work and other things around here, I really didn’t have much time to sit down and pick up the pen.

But anyway, class is almost out for the year, and I’ve had more time to start playing regular Magic again, so I thought I’d take some time today and share some of my ideas on some”terrible” cards that I think are actually good, as well as one of my favorite archetypes in the format. Tim Aten did a nice article last week on some of the underrated Darksteel cards, so I’ll try not to overlap anything with what he said, and I do have some goodies of my own.

First, the so-called”underrated” cards..

Most of these cards are not useful in every situation, but rather something to think about when drafting as I have used them all multiple times to good effect.

Drooling Ogre


I’m not kidding.

Before you ask, yes I still play the same game you’re playing. And no, I’m not rusty.

This guy is much better than he looks once you give him a couple tries. Not like he’s a first pick or anything, but I’ve run him in the maindeck multiple times and been happy with him, even with multiple copies. He’s especially good against decks without a huge number of cheap artifacts (obviously), and just crushes Green.

A few important things to keep in mind in order to maximize the Ogre’s effectiveness are as follows. Usually side it out whenever you’re going to be drawing first, unless you really don’t have any other playables to bring in (which would be why you were running the Ogre in the first place). Multiple Ogres work especially well when you have some way to give them haste, like Mass Hysteria or Lightning Greaves, so that they are still mobilized when you regain control of them. And finally, whenever you have an Ogre in your opening hand, make sure not to cast your Spellbombs/Bonesplitters or other cheap artifacts out there right away, as you’ll want to be able to get the Drooling Ogre back should your opponent have a cheap way to steal it. Usually your deck will have more cheap artifacts than theirs and then there will be the games where they have no way to gain control of him early, and he just pounds on them for two or three turns.

If nothing else, grab him as a good sideboard card against an artifact-light deck. He’s a regular inclusion in the archetype I’m going to talk about later here too.


For all you Steel Wall lovers out there, there’s a new barricade in town.

While I run the Wall from time to time, I honestly prefer this guy in most of my decks. Because of the absence of one pack of Mirrodin, the two-drop slot is not nearly as flooded with Myr and other important creatures as it used to be. While I agree that Steel Wall is the better creature for accelerating Affinity decks and also balancing a curve when you have multiple Myr, Spincrusher is just a better form of Steel Wall, if it doesn’t interrupt the flow of your deck. The main reason for this is obviously that it can attack in addition to being a great blocker. The ability to don something like a Vulshok Morningstar and also attack with it makes this guy so much better than Steel Wall. He also works nicely with the Modular mechanic, since you can even remove a counter and make him unblockable in late game situations where you need to push that final bit of lethal damage through.

Another important difference is that the Spincrusher actually punishes your opponent for attacking into it by getting bigger. With Steel Wall, a group of creatures can merely slam into it every turn and slowly sneak through damage. Not so with the Spincrusher!

March of the Machines

Fasten your seatbelts kids, this one isn’t for the faint of heart.

I’ve boarded this in multiple times to deal with opponents running too many Artifact Lands for my liking, but now we have a new reason to consider running it: Indestructible. A few weeks ago, I picked up a pair of these that were floating around late in the packs, and when Darksteel came around I began grabbing up the Darksteel Ingots and Pendants as fast as I could. This isn’t something that’s always going to come together like that, mind you, but it’s something to keep in mind, and also works well with Tooth and Scale of Chiss-Goria as well as many other Artifacts. Another bonus is that it disables Equipment, like that pesky Warhammer or Sword of Fire and Ice. Just something to think about. Oh, and yeah, I won that draft with the double March deck.


This is a pure sideboard card, and I’m sure many of you have used it already but I just thought I’d point it out as it’s been effective for me plenty of times. Great for stopping those Essence Drains, Fireball, Grab the Reins, you name it. Pretty self-explanatory as to when it should come in.

Specter’s Shroud

I’m fairly certain that most of you realize how good this card is already, but I still find it to be underdrafted. I’ve seen it go far too late in our regular weekly drafts and it really is a powerful piece of Equipment. Compare it to Mask of Memory and you’ll see what I mean. It’s obviously at its best in a deck full of evasion creatures, but is just fine in any build because it is cheap to play and can get going early in the game.

Soul Foundry

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a fan of this card except in special circumstances. With that said, Mike Turian recently abused me with it in a two-on-two draft where he managed to get two copies of the Foundry combined with a number of Arcbound Workers and Stingers. Once it gets going, it’s gets really sick, since you get creatures essentially don’t die, but instead just move their counter(s) to a buddy. The reason this was so effective is because of the cheap cost of the Arcbounds, and I think the Foundry should therefore be somewhat re-evaluated with the introduction of the Modular creatures.

Vulshok War Boar

This is another uncommon, which like the Specter’s Shroud, doesn’t get enough respect. I’ve gotten these as seventh and eighth picks, which is just absurd, considering how powerful this guy is with a random Spellbomb or artifact land as food. He kinda sucks against Blue because of the number of bounce spells available, but a 5/5 colored creature on turn 3 is nothing to sneeze at in this format. Pick this guy relatively high, as long as you have cheap artifacts to feed to him.

Chimney Imp

Okay, this time I’m kidding.

Though I did actually play this last week as a joke, and Dr. Martel managed to lose to it in two games straight. Cough Cough.

So there’s a small list of some of my pet cards in the format that you can all try out for yourselves. Now we can move on to my favorite archetype in the format, and I’m pretty sure it’s one that nobody else consistently drafts.

Mono-Red Anyone?

Hopefully my little headline doesn’t give away too much information in terms of what archetype I’m talking about </sarcasm>.

So anyway, the basic idea behind the deck is to pile on the pressure with haste creatures like Vulshok Berserker, Oxidda Golem, Slith Firewalker, and Arcbound Hybrid. These creatures are backed up by removal spells that allow you to push them through for a quick victory.

The deck has tons of synergy. There is the obvious synergy of Arcbound Hybrid combined with Oxidda Golem, and that is only compounded when you add in Krark-Clan Grunt. Drooling Ogre usually manages to find his way in there somehow, as does any random Equipment I happen to pick up. I find the Vulshok Morningstar and Viridian Longbow to be the two most effective pieces for this archetype though, as the Bow gives it a late-game option. A lot of the time you end up having to splash something like Essence Drain, Betrayal of Flesh, Murderous Spoils, or some other bomb you happen to pick up, but usually the deck is base Red with a core of removal spells like Shatter, Pyrite Spellbomb, Bolt, Echoing Ruin, Barbed Lightning, etc and haste creatures like the ones I mentioned above. If you’d like actual pick orders, please email me and let me know, and if I get enough requests maybe I’ll attach it onto the next article. Also, email me with any topics you’d like to see discussion on and I’d be glad to take your ideas into consideration.

Glad to be writing again.

Nick Eisel

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