Hi again. Every week I receive an instant message from Ken that goes like this.
KK: I really like (insert the name of awful card here). It is the second best common in the whole set!
Mike: I don’t.
KK: Let’s do a dilemma!
Then I destroy him in the vote. I would like to think that this week will be different, but after reading his article about Hematite Golem I am afraid another vote will be going my way. Once again I have the better card: Pyrite Spellbomb.
For the second week in a row I have a Spellbomb. Last week I successfully argued about the power of Aether Spellbomb while this week I get the best Spellbomb in the whole cycle in Pyrite Spellbomb. Here is my Red common list. I think that this list really shows how deep Red’s commons are:
1. Spikeshot Goblin
2. Electrostatic Bolt
4. Pyrite Spellbomb
5. Goblin Replica
6. Hematite Golem
7. Iron Myr
8. Ogre Leadfoot
9. Vulshok Berserker
10. Krark-Clan Grunt
11. Great Furnace
12. Incite War
13. Molten Rain
14. Fist of the Anvil
15. Krark-Clan Shaman
16. Goblin Striker
17. Seething Song
Ken wrote,”Spellbomb does one thing very well… it kills Spikeshot Goblin.” Well Ken, I hate to burst your little fantasy bubble but Pyrite Spellbomb burns every two-toughness creature. It kills both of Blue’s best commons, Neurok Spy and Somber Hoverguard. It also kills Black’s best creatures, Nim Shrieker and Pewter Golem. Pyrite Spellbomb kills Skyhunter Cub, Auriok Transfixer and all of the Myrs.
Have you noticed the pattern? Pyrite Spellbomb kills good creatures. The only downside of Pyrite Spellbomb is that it is weak versus the Green creatures in Mirrodin. It doesn’t kill Tel-Jilad Chosen, Tel-Jilad Exile or Tel-Jilad Archers, but then again Hematite Golem doesn’t do very much versus these guys either.
Pyrite Spellbomb often just flat out kills your opponent. I think everybody gets into the situation where your opponent is on one or two life and you start praying,”Come on, one time, Spellbomb! Yussssssss!” Hematite Golem doesn’t help in that situation, but the Spellbomb does.
Put simply, Pyrite Spellbomb is removal. Good removal is better than all but the best of creatures. Hematite Golem is a solid creature but he isn’t top notch. Also I am forced to mention that Pyrite Spellbomb can cycle for a new card if it isn’t going to help out, so versatility comes into play as well.
Hematite Golem doesn’t cycle. So what exactly does Ken like so much about the Golem? Well, it seems like the biggest plus the Golem offers is the fact that it is a creature. Ken thinks that just because the decks in this format are creature-light, that makes creatures automatically better.
I think that removal becomes better when the format is creature light. One of Hematite’s best features is that he is a good blocker, but that is negated because there are fewer creatures to block. The low number of creatures in the set just means that killing every single one of your opponent’s creatures becomes realistic. Thinking that the Golem will walk through unblocked for a potential Fireball is really special, but rarely is the Golem pumped more than once. An early-game Golem is only pumped when you are mana flooded and have nothing better to do. It is annoying to make an attack that will potentially cost you your entire turn.
Therefore, Pyrite Spellbomb is the choice. I have had two Spellbombs in as many weeks and they remain awesome. Additionally, Pyrite Spellbomb is very easy to splash. Even if you are playing removal-light colors, it is no problem to splash in a Spikeshot Goblin and a Pyrite Spellbomb. Hematite Golem is only really outstanding in a heavy Red deck; otherwise, he is just an expensive Yotian Soldier.
Ken accuses me of being a conventional Pro. I don’t think that is the case at all. I am good at Magic because I properly evaluate cards. I appreciate removal. When my opponent puts out a Spikeshot Goblin I want to wipe the smile off of his face as fast as possible. Pyrite Spellbomb does exactly that. Hematite Golem gives your opponent choices. They can choose if they want to trade with him or let him through. He dies to a ton of the removal in the set and when he does get through he becomes a mana hog.
I know Pyrite Spellbomb is simple and straightforward. Maybe that is what makes it the conventional pick, but I also know it wins me games. That is what these dilemmas are trying to improve, winning. Pyrite Spellbomb wins games. It is great removal. If it isn’t going to help then you can cycle it.
One of the best debates of the format is whether or not to kill your opponent’s turn 2 Myr. This decision amplifies when you play out your turn 1 Pyrite Spellbomb. Hematite Golem doesn’t allow for this skilled decision.
Anyhow, I think that the debate isn’t straightforward. If your deck doesn’t have much removal, then it is probably better to leave the Myr alone and wait for a better target. If you have a reasonable amount of removal and you went second I think it is almost always correct to kill the Myr. Most people have been running less and less land in the format relying on their Myrs to smooth out their poor mana draws.
This is also the reason I have placed Molten Rain higher on my list than Ken placed it on his. Destroying your opponent’s mana will often leave them helpless. The large number of Equipment in the set allows for even paltry 1/1s to transform into monsters only seconds later. Equipment has the side effect of making your mana more valuable. All the morphs in Onslaught Limited meant that hitting three mana on turn 3 was crucial, while Equipment makes mana useful throughout the entire game.
Pyrite Spellbomb allows you to kill the Myr and potentially mana screw your opponent. I know this isn’t the”nice” thing to do, but let’s face it, people lose to mana screw and if you can cause your opponent to stall on mana you will win more games. Myrs are so good at accelerating to powerful four-, five-, and six-mana spells. Pyrite Spellbomb keeps your opponents draws reasonable and has the potential to make their draws bad.
This is also why I have been consistently rating each color’s Myrs so highly. Last night I did a Rochester draft where I was Blue/Black. I took two off-color Iron Myrs as high picks late in the draft because I knew I needed more mana acceleration. I talked to Eugene Harvey after the draft because I knew that he wanted them also, but I drafted them first. He was upset because he felt his deck really needed the Myrs. I know other people feel the same way about them as well.
So let’s review. Myrs are really good to kill early. Pyrite Spellbomb can kill Myrs. Hematite Golem can be chump blocked by Myrs. Myrs want Equipment. Pyrite Spellbomb stops Myrs from producing mana for Equipment. Equipped Myrs can kill Hematite Golems.
I hope you appreciate how removal makes your deck better. I love creatures, but in Limited the options that removal offers are just too tempting to pass up. Look at the second and third best cards in my Red common ordering. Electrostatic Bolt and Shatter are the best two common removal cards in the set. If Ken and I hadn’t agreed on their ordering it certainly would have been the Red debate. Electrostatic Bolt is better because it kills more important cards than Shatter for one less mana.
Everybody wants to be Red. Every time a Spikeshot Goblin is opened a new Red drafter is created. On top of this, Red has the second and third best commons in the set with Electrostatic Bolt and Shatter. Since there are eleven commons in each pack and one hundred fourteen commons in Mirrodin, each pack has about a 1/10 chance of containing each of these commons. Also, it means that about one in every three to four packs will have at least one of these three. This means that there will be a ton of Red drafters at every table. As I said earlier, Hematite Golem rewards a heavy commitment to Red, but that will be difficult with so many Red drafters at every table.
Luckily for me, the other three Spellbombs are all pretty weak. I have defended the best two Spellbombs and hopefully you have agreed with my reasons. Pyrite Spellbomb is flexible removal. Winning in Limited requires good removal. The cycling ability makes the Spellbomb even better. It kills almost all of the good common creatures in the set while Hematite Golem is just a warm body.
Thanks for reading and voting in the forums,