So it’s Christmas time again huh? Sure doesn’t feel like it.
It does feel like the right time to analyze the best archetype in Mirrodin Limited though.
Wizards has apparently taken a liking to the Blue/Red color combination in the last two blocks, as it has been completely dominant in the format before either of the small expansions are released. Last year it was Sparksmith, Lavamancer’s Skill, and Mistform Wall. This year it’s Electrostatic Bolt, Spikeshot Goblin, and Neurok Spy. Go figure.
While I wouldn’t go as far to say the U/R is absolutely unbeatable in triple Mirrodin Limited, I’ll say that there have been very few times when I’ve had a solid version of the archetype that I’ve actually lost.
The real power this time comes from a union of effects instead of just a two card combo (Skill + Wall). What I’m referring to is the blend of cheap evasion and good removal. This can also be achieved with Red/White, but the Blue cards are simply more effective in most cases and White is overdrafted a lot of the time (Red is too, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too). The other bonus the deck provides over a W/R construction is the abuse of the powerful Affinity mechanic.
Let’s start with a common pick order.
Yes, this is better than Spikeshot in the archetype. It’s close, but the ‘Splitter edges out the Goblin for a number of reasons.
1) Boosts Affinity
2) Doubles the clock on evasion creatures
3) Turns Wizard Replicas and other random creatures into monsters
Given the choice, I will gladly take this over Spikeshot unless I already have other power-boosting Equipment. The best places to put this are obviously Neurok Spy and Somber Hoverguard, but you usually end up running a few dorky creatures that will really benefit from carrying the axe. Neurok Familiar (“Straight outta Neurok” as we like to call it) becomes a formidable aerial clock when granted permission to use an axe.
He slices, he dices… you get the picture. I don’t really see any need to type anymore about old Spikey, since more than enough has already been said in past articles.
What I don’t understand is how he can shoot such a big spike out of his stomach in the artwork and only have it deal one damage. How friggin’ pathetic. If the spike is gonna be that big, it should at least be in the shape of an axe or sword or something, since we’re assuming he’s equipped.
As I’ve said in the forums of one of Joey Bag’s first articles, this card is far and away better than Shatter in any deck other than Black Red. The reason for that is the flexibility it provides at a cheaper cost. Almost all of the problematic common critters save Skyhunter Patrol, Tel-Jilad Archers, and Fangren Hunter are offed by this wonderful instant. The fact that it does four to artifact men is just gravy, and especially useful in taking out something like a Goblin Dirigible.
I’ve wanted to take the Bolt over Spikeshot numerous times, and actually did it once when it was Pack 3 and I had no Equipment to go with him. It’s that good.
Shattah (Sha – tt – er) [I’m not sure here, but I think he means, Shatter, folks. – Knut]
Pardon my pro-nun-ci-a-tion.
Enough of that already.
Obviously a two mana semi-Desert Twister is going to be a high pick. The problem with this card in comparison to the Bolt is that it can’t take out Spikeshot, Spy, Skyhunter Cub, or Somber Hoverguard. It can, however, deal with a Loxodon Warhammer or Crystal Shard, so it’s pretty much a toss-up. The reason I rank the Bolt higher is simply that it can deal with a larger number of potent threats at a cheaper cost. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be picking Shatter early when you get the chance. The two keys to the U/R archetype, after all, are Removal and Evasion.
Obligatory Tech Center Interruption
This is only a test.
This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.
This is not a test.
You’ve all heard that blabbering before I’m sure. I, for one, have never been able to figure out the point they are trying to get across by repeating the same things over and over.
Anyway, those of you going to Amsterdam will be happy to hear that I have some last minute tech for you..
When you’re done clicking the link to read what the card does, come back here and I’ll gladly explain.
As with all symmetrical effects, the Orb can be put to good use by its caster.
It’s really quite simple.
If the board positions are stable or yours is a little better, wait for your opponent to tap seven to eight permanents and then slap this bad boy down on your turn. Since he tapped out to cast a guy or whatever, he will be down that many cards in his library and it is highly unlikely that he can pull ahead from a stable board position or a losing one without tapping too many permanents. The orb works much faster than you’d imagine, especially on forty card decks.
I’d like to prop 5Minutez from Magic Online as he was the one who introduced me to the card, and would have beaten me with it if I hadn’t drawn my Shatter in games 2 and 3. Pick it medium-high and always play it maindeck. You won’t regret it.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
I really wish I could rank this guy higher.
He is by far my favorite common in the format and for good reason. He’s essentially a Phantom Warrior with only one Blue mana in the casting cost. No matter how hard I try, I can’t bring myself to take him over Shatter or Bolt even though I like him more. This guy is the essential backbone on the U/R archetype in Mirrodin, providing a sleek clock that is difficult to deal with.
Usually costing three to four mana, but sometimes being as cheap as one Blue, the Hoverguard combines with the Spy to build the main attack force of the archetype. Playing this guy on turn 3 off of a Myr and Artifact land is one of the namesake openings of the deck.
Like I said, this deck likes to abuse the Affinity mechanic.
One thing that hasn’t really been brought up in other articles is the Implied Color of some of the artifacts in the set. Sure, you’ve heard that Neurok Hoversail is primarily a Green card and Slagwurm Armor is a Black one.
I view Myr Enforcer as a Gold card, with Blue or Black mana in its casting cost.
The Black half comes from the fact that Black cards like the Nims require lots of artifacts to be good, which in turn helps out the Affinity aspect of the 4/4. The other beneficial aspect Black brings to the table is the ease with which artifact creatures can be recurred from the graveyard.
The Blue side is simply that Blue is the best color for abuse of the Affinity mechanic, and it also lacks large ground bodies. Myr Enforcer shores up that weakness at a discount price.
So what does all this mean?
Basically, Myr Enforcer is a high pick in any heavy Blue or Black deck, while it is less potent in something like Red/Green or White/Green because those builds already have lots of large men and no easy way to take advantage of the Affinity mechanic.
The exact opposite is true for a card like Wizard Replica. While it is obviously going to be better in a Blue deck since you can use it’s ability, I view it as a colorless card, since any color combo in this format can benefit from a three-mana 1/3 flying body.
This guy is built for the Black/Red deck with easy exploitation provided by Moriok Scavenger. He’s still quite good for our purposes though, providing a body and artifact removal in a pinch.
What’s not to like about this one? It’s a good version of Lightning Elemental. While the Elemental would be the absolute nut low in a format flooded by mana Myr, the Zerk’s two toughness let him crash freely into the red zone.
As Jason says,”It’s impossible to lose with triple Berserker.”
I stated earlier that I view the Wizard as a colorless card.
However, since we’re running a Blue deck, he becomes even more of a high pick for us, since the counter ability is actually very relevant when it’s online. I’ve run as many as four copies of this guy in the same deck.
Obviously this card is great as a pseudo-Unsummon, but I think too many people forget that you can sacrifice it to draw a card. The tempo factor in Mirrodin Limited is very small and I see people bouncing a creature for no reason instead of cycling through their deck all the time. Make sure you’re getting some mileage out of the bounce, or at least keep it on the table to help Affinity and nullify your opponent’s combat tricks.
This guy never gets the respect he deserves. I didn’t like him at first either, but I’ve long since come to see the error of my ways. I mean obviously the initial impression is who wants to pay five mana for a friggin’ Hill Giant?
The Leadfoot’s power is drawn from his ability, since there are very few common creatures that can block him and live to tell about it. It’s worth paying the additional mana for a semi-unblockable creature in my book and these guys and Wanderguard Sentries are the meaty ground creatures of the archetype.
Even Mirror Golem can’t stop this fatty.
Some of you must be asking yourself how in the hell is the Scimitar this low when Bonesplitter is first on the list. Simply put, it doesn’t add enough power to the evasion creature to be extremely worthwhile.
A Bonesplitter on a Spy is a five-turn clock. A Scimitar for the same amount of mana is a seven-turn one. We’re all about quick, sleek evasion in this archetype, and that is why the Scimitar is ranked this low. This isn’t to say that I won’t always play it, as it does have the nice bonus of protecting your Spys and Sombers from Electrostatic Bolts and Pyrite Spellbombs, I’d just much rather have most of the cards above it on the list.
Andrew Cuneo was saying that he’d rather have an off-color Spellbomb in his deck than this Jumping Golem. I have to disagree with that statement, since the Golem is like a poor man’s Somber Hoverguard and makes for a nice three-drop off of a Myr. I’m not overly happy to play this guy, but he almost always makes the maindeck.
Silver Myr / Iron Myr
Myr are a necessary evil in the format, and nothing changes in this deck. I will take these over Cobalt Golem if it’s late and I need them, or if I already have plenty of four-drops. They are excellent at powering Affinity, as well as getting involved in a little combat when they get bored. Off-color Myr would be rated just a little bit lower than these ones, though it is worth mentioning that Leaden Myr is the top off-color Myr for this deck in my opinion since you’d like to splash Pewter Golems or Terrors, if there’s nothing else in the pack for you.
This little froggy is great in the U/R deck because it usually only costs two mana to play, and is free later in the game. This is because of a higher tendency to draft Artifact lands in this deck as well as because both of the Spellbombs are excellent.
The problem I have with this card is that I can never seem to pick it high enough to get one into my deck. I realize it’s a fine card and especially good if you can get it down to one mana early on in the game, but I always find myself picking other things over it. With that said, I’ll gladly add it to any U/R deck.
A fine body for the cost, dealing at least six damage if unblocked, and more if equipped. This guy has been known to hold back a Skyhunter Patrol too, which is a good feat in itself since the U/R deck hates facing the Patrol. The Condor also becomes insane if you’re lucky enough to open Crystal Shard or just have a large number of Aether Spellbombs.
I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of Hermie Golem. Whenever I have it, I’m usually tapping out to cast spells every turn and by the time he gets on the offensive they just enter chump-block mode and he has little or no relevance. He’s still a fine creature, though I prefer his flying brother.
Not nearly as potent as the Ogre Leadfoot, the”Peek” ability of this five mana Hill Giant cannot be ignored and he’s always maindeck worthy. There have been many times when I’ve cast the Sentry and seen the”Secret Plan” my opponent was just about to pull off, and then played around it to achieve victory.
A recent example was when I was at twelve life and I cast the Sentry, which revealed a Detonate in my opponent’s hand. This allowed me to chump block and stay above four life, since I had a Goblin War Wagon in play. Information is power.
Not quite. The Grunt is still an annoying creature to play against, since there is almost always a useless artifact that he is prepared to eat in order to take down your blocker. It’s not fun trading a Vulshok Berserker for a Seat of the Synod.
Seat of the Synod / Great Furnace
Maybe these are a bit too low, and they certainly go up if you have a number of Affinity cards. If any deck wants a high number of these lands, it’s U/R or U/B, so definitely pick them accordingly and understand that this list are based very loosely.
The poor man’s Aether Spellbomb. Sorry KK, but this is only making the cut if I’m skimping on playables. The nice thing about this card is that you can return Equipment and ambush a Skyhunter Cub or the like. Three mana is a lot though, even if only one of it is Blue.
Not a fan, Not a fan. This card is too situational for my liking, though I will still run it from time to time, as it can help against certain bombs. I hate drawing this card late in the game though, and I hate drawing it in games where I have to tap out a lot. The best you’ll usually get for this is countering a turn two Myr when you’re on the draw.
Straight outta Neurok!
This guy makes the cut more often than you’d think, and is especially good with Equipment. I’d play/pick it much higher when you have a lot of artifact lands or just a lot of artifacts in general as when it hits, its absolutely golden.
Well that ends my list for the U/R archetype. I realize I’ve left a few cards here, and I’d like to comment a little on that. The biggies that aren’t on the list are Vulshok Gauntlets and Viridian Longbow. It’s not that I don’t like these cards in general, it’s just that I don’t feel that they have a place in the archetype. The Gauntlets don’t really have any good targets, and I’m not excited to be running Goblin War Wagons or Yotian Soldiers in this deck to make them work. The Longbow requires lots of Myr to be effective, and a while I will play/sideboard it from time to time, I don’t believe it has a place on the main list for the deck.
Remember, the appeal of the deck comes from its style : sleek, agile, and aggressive.
Make sure to tune in Friday of this week for another article since this one was late in going up due to the holidays.
Also, in a week or two I’ll be unveiling a project I’ve been working on that will hopefully knock your socks off.
Until then, have a Happy New Years and remember to draft those Mesmeric Orbs.