We’re going to take a break this week from the nitty-gritty of rules and take a look at a casual Standard deck with a twist. We’re going to assemble a deck with no Rares or Mythics. The entire deck will be comprised of Commons and Uncommons. To this end we’re going to look at White Metalcraft, which may not be up to snuff in the competitive scene, but has a lot going for it in a more casual environment. With Metalcraft up, the creatures in this deck are some of the most mana-efficient creatures available in any color, like Ardent Recruit who is a 3/3 for W as long as you’ve got Metalcraft active and, just as important, they’re pretty much all Common and Uncommon!
To kick things off, let’s talk about construction. We’re looking to build out a cheap, fast, and efficient creature-based deck strategy based on having Metalcraft active. In case you’re not familiar, Metalcraft gives some bonus to a creature or spell if you have three or more Artifacts in play. This means we’ll need plenty of Artifacts to make sure we can keep Metalcraft up. Memnite is an obvious choice, at 1/1 for 0, he’s both a critter to pummel your opponent with and an Artifact to help get Metalcraft online. Mox Opal is an obvious inclusion but, alas, it is also a Mythic Rare, so we have to give that a miss here. Signal Pest is really effective in a creature-heavy deck, so we’ll want to include some of those. Also, Vault Skirge is another solid Artifact 1-drop, though in this deck you don’t have access to Black so you’ll always be paying the Phyrexian Mana cost with life. Piston Sledge is another good inclusion since you get to attach it to a creature when it enters the battlefield. Depending on how many artifacts you have in play, it may be pretty painful to re-equip it, but we’ve got a solution for that in Ichor Wellspring. This isn’t the most effective card in general, but it cantrips (allows you to draw a card when it comes into play) and if you can bounce it with a Glint Hawk or sacrifice it to a Piston Sledge, you get to draw again, giving some minor card advantage over the course of a match.
Creatures with Metalcraft are in relatively short supply, and the most efficient creatures all come from White, so mono-White is something of a given here, though Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer would make for a very interesting WR Metalcraft deck. Starting with the aforementioned Ardent Recruit, we’ve got a solid non-artifact 1-drop. For 2 mana we’ve got both Auriok Sunchaser and Auriok Edgewright. Puresteel Paladin is another consideration, though being Rare and the general lack of Equipment in the deck exempt him from duty. Ghalma’s Warden was in consideration, and even made it through my first draft of the deck, but as the Converted Mana Cost(CMC) of the creature goes up, the less value you’re getting out of Metalcraft in general, so I eventually opted to remove him. I don’t like the Artifact creatures with Metalcraft so much either, as the higher the mana cost the less efficient the creatures become. Razorfield Rhino, for example, is a 6/6 for 6 mana. Green can trump this with the likes of Engulfing Slagwurm, a 7/7 for 7 that also comes with a nasty ability, so he’s not going to compete in a longer game, and he’s just not efficient enough for inclusion. Rusted Relic is closer at 5/5 for 4, but he’s still a bit slow for our game plan. I’d rather be swinging with a Doublestriking Edgewright on turn three than clunking along with a vanilla 5/5 on turn 5.
Finally, we’ve got utility. Dispatch is certainly a go-to here because of its Metalcraft. Oblivion Ring is an almost sure inclusion in any White deck. Dispense Justice is another Metalcraft card that fits our theme, and 2-for-1ing is always good.
Here’s the Decklist:
The primary benefit of playing this deck, as mentioned, is its exceptionally efficient creatures which benefit from Metalcraft. This profoundly low mana curve means that you can get away with running fewer lands without worrying about missing a land drop. As you never need more than three lands out to be able to cast at least one spell every turn, I opt to run only 20 lands in the 60 cards. That’s enough to typically make my third land drop, but not reliably my fourth or beyond which is perfect! With this decklist, you’re typically looking to drop a Memnite first turn as well as one of your 1-drop artifacts to start getting your Metalcraft online. Second turn I like to drop an Auriok Edgewright so that third turn I can drop another artifact and swing with Doublestrike. Ideally, third turn will see a Piston Sledge attached to the Edgewright, letting you swing for 10 damage on turn 3! If left unchecked, a 5/3 Doublestrike will obviously win games on his own, but the torrent of creatures doesn’t have to stop there. Auriok Sunchaser is 3/3 Flying for 1W and their evasion means they carry a Piston Sledge pretty handily as well. Ardent Recruit is a 3/3 for W, which helps you flood the board with bigger creatures than your opponent can hope for that early in the game.
Some board control is available as well, from Dispense Justice as a 2-for-1 to Oblivion Ring which can handle practically any problem that comes down. Dispatch is my personal favorite inclusion here, as the Metalcraft will typically be active making it some of the most efficient removal anywhere. Since most of the removal in the deck will exile instead of destroy, even graveyard recursion and Indestructible aren’t a problem for this deck. Removal should be used freely and early, though, as playing this deck is something of a race. The more creatures you can get through to damage the opponent in the early rounds, the less damage you’ll have to sneak through later if the game goes long. Once a steady supply of blockers starts popping up, you’ll tend to have to rethink your strategy, either waiting for a mistake from the opponent or simply flooding the board with cheap threats.
The cons list for this deck is pretty straightforward. This deck relies on Metalcraft to win. Without it, the creatures are no longer efficient and, in fact, some of them become notably inefficient. See Auriok Sunchaser, which is a 1/1 for 1W when you don’t have Metalcraft. This means that artifact hate like Ancient Grudge is particularly nasty against this deck. Spot removal that can target your artifact creatures, like Doom Blade, is also very effective at nixing the Metalcraft bonuses. Finally, since your artifact creatures are all so small, pretty much anything in Red will put a damper on your day. Arc Trail is particularly effective, typically killing off two creatures and disabling Metalcraft.
Since the deck likes to swarm with creatures, it is very prone to mass removal effects as well. Most games you’re going to overextend to try to get the killing blow through, and it’s very hard to come back from a Day of Judgment, Slagstorm, or Black Sun’s Zenith. In many cases, you’ll be very near victory before they have mana up to clear the board, at least, so you’ll just need to recover enough to eke a few more damage through to win, though this is harder than it sounds when you have trouble re-activating Metalcraft.
This deck often shines in Aggro matches. It has larger creatures than most other aggro decks will see. It gets them out fast and in full force. A good draw will let you empty your hand by thirdor fourth turn and this usually translates entirely to board position. Remember to protect your artifacts in this matchup, since your Ardent Recruit is going to be a 3/3 beast compared to 1 and 2 power weenies from other Aggro decks. You don’t want to swing with a Memnite that’s going to trade, even favorably, with an opponent’s blocker if it loses your Metalcraft.
The greatest thing about this deck, aside from the face-smashing potential of a turn three 5/3 Doublestrike, is the wallet-friendliness of it all. The most valuable cards in the deck are Dispatch and Memnite, which command a greater-than-$1 price tag. From scratch, you could assemble the entire deck for less than $20!
Going forward, I’d like to dedicate some portion of these articles to answering any questions you may have about Magic. Please feel free to submit any rules or gameplay questions in the comments below or via PM to encaen!