As I am writing this I am getting smashed in another vote. It is somewhat depressing. I am not a sore loser. As any opponent who has ever defeated me knows, I don’t complain about mana screw, even when it is offered as an excuse by my opponent. I don’t berate their bad play. I don’t complain about matchups. Normally when asked why I lost I say,”He beat me.”
However I can’t help but think that the reason I am getting so thoroughly demolished is because the real dilemma is: The Pro Dilemma: Proven All-Star or Flash in the Pan. I will forge ahead, however, showing all of you the correct pick orders and let Mike show you conventional wisdom. Some of you will pick up my strategies and take them to 3-0, while others will stick with Mike’s boring drafting and 2-1. Either way you won’t be going too wrong…
Of course I kid. I can’t possibly claim to be 100% right. I know I like my strategies, but what good does that do all of you? You see all these pros and strategy writers confirming what you think. Why diverge and go with this wild cowboy drafter who runs directly against the grain and doesn’t seem to win much. I understand. Continue to live in fear of the Brave New Draft strategies. No one will hold it against you.
That being said, it is time to forge ahead into my world. I have no safety net and I make no apologies. (Go on wit’ yo’ bad self. – Knut) I have my loyal following of three-quarters of the reading public and that is fine by me.
So let’s rap about Red. I know we said we were going around the color wheel, but frankly, Mike asked me my Red pick order and I didn’t realize it wasn’t next in line until I was about to type the word”Red” in this paragraph. I can’t reach Mike now, so in order to meet the deadline, Red it is.
I don’t think there is any disagreement about the first common. Spikeshot Goblin, while not nearly as powerful as Sparksmith, is a card you generally have to take. The second common, while not the consensus second pick, is something Mike and I agree on, as well as the third. Mike is going to talk to you about Pyrite Spellbomb. I am going to talk to you about Hematite Golem.
If there is one point I have been trying to drive home about this format it is the lack of creatures. Mike once again underrates the card I have taken under my wing, moving it down to sixth. He places Pyrite Spellbomb above it. Normally, I am all for removal. Lord knows I took Seal of Fire over pretty much anything and pound for pound, it is not that much different than Spellbomb. Sadly the cards surrounding it make Spellbomb significantly worse.
I don’t know if you ever played with creature-light decks in old blocks, but they haven’t worked for me since Tempest/Tempest/Stronghold when removal was so plentiful, efficient, and powerful that it was just dumb to not draft it. Think of how powerful a creature heavy deck could be in a block where most decks are creature light.
Spellbomb does do one thing very well… it kills Spikeshot Goblin. This is no small endeavor, so I don’t want to belittle the bomb too much, but it just isn’t that great in other situations. Many of the critical creatures you want to kill survive a single Spellbomb. I often find myself either sacking it to draw a card or using it in conjunction with another card to kill something.
On the other side of the dilemma, for four mana you get one of the most formidable, unequipped attacking commons in the set. Fangren Hunter edges it out in Red Zone considerations but I believe it beats out number three in my mind, Myr Enforcer. I always talk about the creature-light format, but it is still important to have quality creatures. I often go to look at a deck laid out and ask how many creatures it has. I routinely get answers like”eleven” or”thirteen.” I then look down to see three Myr, two Soldier Replica, an Auriok Transfixer, and a Yotian Soldier in the creature pile. I, in no way, mean to malign these creatures. They are good and necessary parts of a deck. But they don’t attack, at least not well.
Hematite Golem will live to tell the tale of battles with most creatures and the creatures that do manage to kill it won’t be talking much either. Often he gets you two-for-one when your opponent is forced to double block just to get it off the board. When this man hits you… you feel it. A lot. It is like a Fireball going straight for your face every time he hits.
There is a healthy amount of removal in this set that kills him, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from playing the dude. He is way classier than most, if not all of the creatures in your deck.
So without further ado I bring to you… the Red pick order:
1. Spikeshot Goblin
While a lot of noise has been made about this man I am here to tell you he is not as good as advertised. Without equipment, this man will kill Myrs, Nims, and the occasional Tel-Jilad Chosen. Obviously I think this guy is insane or I wouldn’t put him at one. Just please… don’t go making off-handed comments like he is better than Sparksmith.
2. Electrostatic Bolt
Mike and I both have this above Shatter, so I am sure some of you are wondering why. Well, speaking for myself, I feel that this card is more versatile. Usually with Shatter I am killing an artifact creature anyway, and this card will kill most artifact creatures that get in your way. If you are light on artifact kill and have a lot of creature kill you can consider Shatter over this, but generally this is your card. It kills Spikeshot and it costs one less.
While I think Bolt edges this card out, by no means do I want to imply that this card isn’t awesome. It is the Terror of this set (yes I know Terror is in this set, but this is closer in functionality to Terror). In fact it is more flexible than Terror was because there are non-creature artifacts out there to spoil your plans. Two mana, instant speed… a bargain in anyone’s book.
4. Goblin Replica
This guy can really serve double duty. He fills out that creature slot I am always harping on, and he can kill an artifact. On some rare occasions you can get two for one. His biggest problem is he often won’t deal with the biggest threat as he is easy to play around. He is still a powerhouse and is a great card in any deck.
7. Krark-Clan Grunt
This guy has been compared to Wild Mongrel, and you know what? The comparison is not invalid. Sure it is a lot worse than the Mongrel, but in combat it does a lot of the same things. The extra mana and the ease of killing it make it a poor replacement for the Mongrel, but in this set you take what creatures you can get.
8. Iron Myr
Everybody ought to have a Myr. This will only be funny to that small portion of the readers who are familiar with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum… Sadly I think this number will be closer to zero than any other number.
In any case, he is low because you can always pick up Myrs and Talismans late and the color is not all that important in this block.
9. Ogre Leadfoot
A very nice warm body. I am actually somewhat afraid that I have put this guy too low on the list. He is often a 3/3 unblockable and later on he needs to get chumped by creatures that are seemingly much better than him.
10. Vulshok Berserker
Another card I almost never cut. All these Red cards seem bad on the surface, but I really like this guy and he is ranked down at number ten. He can win you races out of nowhere. With Bonesplitter he can do a lot of unexpected damage.
11. Great Furnace
This one can move around a lot. I put it here because this is where it goes on average. It has great synergy with the Grunts. When you have a lot of Affinity or Nims in your deck, it is great. If these factors are lacking, it is a bad Mountain.
12. Goblin Striker
I have had a theory about this guy for a long time. I think that with multiple splitters or other aggressive equipment he can really be insane. Boyd Hardie tested this theory in a recent PTQ and went 5-0 with two of them in his deck. I don’t know what this means, but I think this is about where this guy belongs.
13. Incite War
In Green/Red this can be a game breaker. It is less-than-exciting in any other color combo. Don’t put more than one in your deck, and most times zero is the right number.
14. Krark-Clan Shaman
It is way too hard to get any kind of significant advantage off his ability and a 1/1 for one doesn’t really do it for me in this block.
15. Fist of the Anvil
This card can move way up in a highly aggro deck with evasion or in a deck with multiple Spikeshot Goblins.
16. Seething Song
I suppose there are decks where this is a reasonable card to play, but I haven’t seen one yet.
17. Molten Rain
Yay, land kill in a format with ten artifact mana-fixers! Seems good…
In case you didn’t know I was being sarcastic!
That is all I got for Red. Stay tuned as we finish off this extremely interesting, extremely fun set!