10/22/2010 LD: "Crafting a Metal World"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Saberclaw Golem is one of the most frustrating cards in the set to me; the rest of this apparently-not-at-all-intentional cycle is cool (Vector Asp isn't VERY cool, but at least it fills interesting roles as a 1-drop 1/1 artifact creature and potential infector), while in Red, the color I most identify with (but least enjoy playing, and this card is something of an example why), we get an incredibly boring creature that didn't have to have an off-color activation at all - Coiled Tinviper is an artifact creature with first strike, Always Saberclawed Golem is just a version that is twice as big for almost twice as much mana, and would have worked fine.  Apparently they intentionally powered it down to turn it into one of these "PLAY [INSERT COLOR] YOU IDIOT" cards that they felt newbies needed, rather than making it actually do anything interesting whatsoever.  I'd have made it get power bonuses from that red mana, while always having first strike, and it would have been neat, while still being no more broken than any other dies-to-shock creature.

Soliton, meanwhile, is one of the most important cards in the format according to my criteria; the deckbuilding possibilities are vast, revolving primarily around either Heavy Arbalest, Necrotic Ooze or both, but able then to springboard into many other possibilities (the most exotic being Grand Architect, who gives the Soliton the ability "XU:  Add XX colorless mana to your mana pool, spend only blue mana on X" - how awesome is that?).  Apparently Soliton and the highly entertaining Glint Hawk Idol are both the happy-accident outcomes of the same change that utterly destroyed Saberclaw Golem.  The Azorius guild has defeated the color red in this instance.  Fascinating.

I wouldn't call Corpse Cur "bad" in a metalcraft deck; sure there's tension with metalcraft beats, but a creature that kills the opponent in five hits makes a good offensive machine if you're playing metalcraft more defensively.  There aren't very many metalcraft cards that don't say "I'm gonna win with damage", but a few can play a defense role while Corpse Cur leads an offense, and that strategy will probably get more viable when Beseiged launches, though I don't know exactly how.  Meanwhile the Cur also plays defense pretty well itself, able to scar anything it blocks with a permanent Disfigurement and then jump back from the grave when you play its twin, perhaps looping them both through a Bloodthrone Vampire - I've seen worse synergies.  Corpse Cur, like Soliton, appears to be the right card for the wrong reason.

The point on Steed, Snapsail and Artisan is subtle and pleasantly surprising to me.  I'd never run Steed outside of an artifact-heavy deck, but as someone who has never failed to consider Horrible Hordes an acceptible card, I'd run Snapsail on only an off-chance of it ever flying, no hesitation there.  I have already found that Artisan is frequently disappointing because of its expense, but continue to enjoy the possibilities it offers; I appreciate the advice to play it in slower decks than I have tended to consider.

Mirrodin over Phyrexia, not by a huge lot....Phyrexia has the mechanics I enjoy most in this set, and it's always neat to see a familiar face and watch it branching out to green and blue after having previously been dismally monocolored (really, Phyrexia ought to be colorless, its ideals are no more compatible with standard Black than any other color, at least unless your name happens to be Yawgmoth - the Urborg vs. Phyrexia conflict in Planechase entertained me greatly).  But Mirrodin is a world where EVERYTHING IS SHINY AND PERFECT (well okay, almost everything).  Even its zombies are cool, and I hate zombies.  So I'll be holding out for it to survive the invasion, at least as much as Dominaria (last seen having five simultaneous apocalypses in Time Spiral) ever has.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
The quest to identify that artifact is one that experienced players tend to enjoy, but they enjoy it even more when cards' values fluctuate depending on the deck that they are drafting.Mirrodin had some potential for this, but not nearly as much as we try to build into modern sets.

This is something I've noted, and I've been interested in how you do this for a long time. Not only does it make limited more challenging and variable for strong players, it also makes the game more accessible to new players who just bought their first boosters.

I'd love to see more articles about this in the future. It's probably the thing in game design that fascinates me the most at the moment.

Great article! 
Nice article.  I don't particularly side with either faction.  The deck I am running right now uses Proliferate (a Phyrexian mechanic) with things that use charge counters (a Mirran mechanic) along with other counters.  But if I had to pick one, it would be the Mirrans.
Personal experience at the SoM pre-release. I overheard two separate conversations that SoM drafting was more complicated, but that that was a good thing. I think a few people cut their teeth on M11 drafts where, in their words, you choose the bomb and draft around that. Here, you had to make the choices the article talked about.

Besides, the day all Magic sets have the complexity level of a generic Core Set is the day I quit Magic.

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

Just another little anecdote about myr galvanizer.  Yesturday I was drafting a white-red deck.  Already had 1 mana myr, a myrsmith and I knew I wanted at least 1 if not 2 more mana myrs because I had 2 embersmith.  Since both myrsmith and embersmith are mana hungry, cheap artifacts that produce mana are excellent with them.  So I got a pack (about 7th or 8th pick pack 2) with a galvanizer and not much else for me, so I took it, not really intending on playing it, but knowing that it's always a possibility if I get another generic mana myr and a palladium myr. 
I did get a second generic mana myr, but instead of a palladium myr, I fell upon a second myrsmith and snagged an origin spellbomb!  The galvanizer ended up being relevant in every game I drew it as I always had at least one myrsmith at the same time.  One game I even went:
turn 2 myrsmith.
turn 3 mana myr (pay 1 for myrsmith)
turn 4 galvanizer (pay 1 for myrsmith)
turn 5 myrsmith #2, battlegear (pay 1 for myrsmith)
From there I flooded the field with 2/2s.  Needless to say I won that one.

Most interesting though is that I ended up in final against another player that played galvanizer, but for totally different reasons.  The guy was playing rb and had 2 or 3 mana myr, 1 palladium, 1 myr propagator, 1 or 2 perilous myr (with a few sac outlets) and 1 myr reservoir (recuring perilous myr + sac outlet is evil!). 

It was interesting to see two completely different ways to use galvanizer.  That's pretty uncommon for lords outside of dedicated tribal sets (look at the M11 lords for instance).  I was actually surprised at how good it was in my deck, considering I only had two other creatures with "myr" on the type line.

I was a little annoyed at the format at first as it really looked like "infest" vs "metalcraft".  However, after playing a few times, I see a bunch of really interesting deck ideas that are neither.  I didn't expect myr decks to be possible, yet my opponent in the final had a pretty impressive one (granted, he had 2 rare myr related cards).  I've seen two or three furnace celebration decks that were quite strong, and a few weeks ago, I had a red deck that made great use of liquimetal coating (and not for metalcraft purposes).  I feel infest is still a little obnoxious, but overall, the format is a little more broad than I initially expected.

Boy don't try to front I-I
Know just-just what you are are-are
Boy don't try to front I-I
Know just-just what you are are-are
You say I'm crazy
I got your crazy
You're nothing but a

(This goes through my head every time I see one in draft, or play one, or read an article that mentions one /sigh)
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