When I started looking at blue last time I mentioned that blue was divided into two classes of cards, those that supported Proliferate, and those that supported Metalcraft. That wording was a bit simplified since there is really only two blue cards that support Metalcraft, but a variety of cards that can utilize it.
By supporting or enabling Metalcraft, the cards must help get three artifacts into play. Trinket Mage searches for 1 casting cost artifacts, and Grand Architect is an accelerant. Scars of Mirrodin did not provide a great trinket package like Fifth Dawn so it’s primary use will be to find cheep artifacts to enable Metalcraft. Of the fourteen artifacts with 1 CMC or less under half are playable. Memnite is a possibility, but it is more suited to an aggressive metalcraft deck. The advantage of Memnite is that it does come down right away. Mox Opal does fit well in a deck attempting to enable Metalcraft, and it also helps with any splash colors the deck might be looking to play. Infiltration Lens, Sylvok Lifestaff, and Darksteel Axe are all playable, and might make a good package as one of’s depending on how aggressive the deck needs to be. Finally Flight Spellbomb provides one of the few reliable draw engines.
What kind of artifacts are ideal for Metalcraft? The best type of artifacts are creatures. The worst type of artifacts are also creatures. Creatures provide pressure, blockers, effects that affect the board right away. Unfortunately they are the easiest artifacts to remove. Cheep equipment are good as long as there are creatures to equip. Artifacts such as Contagion Clasp or can act as removal in a pinch. Darksteel Myr is good against every deck that is not infect.
The final question about Metalcraft is “How bad do I need it?” If I come across a deck designed to ruin artifacts, does it ruin my strategy? If I can’t enable Metalcraft until turn six, does it ruin my strategy? This question determines which metalcraft cards you can run and how many. For a midrange deck I expect to need about 12 “Metalsource”. I assign half a point per artifact creature, and a whole point for a non creature artifact. That means a 50-50 split of creature and non creature would be 18 total artifacts. An aggressive deck will need even more artifacts since most of those sources will have to be creatures. A slower deck that only needs metalcraft to win might be able to pass on less.
I based this deck on the U/r Metalcraft preconstructed deck.
I honestly think we’re going to see a lot of different variants of this deck as time passes in the block because there are so many good cards. Gauntlet decks are a starting point, so this deck should highlight the strengths and weaknesses of midrange metalcraft in blue rather than to try to “break the format”. Other cards I considered were Grand Architect and ways to abuse his mana such as, Mindslaver, Golem Artisan, and Myr Propagator. Other potentially strong cards that fit are Darksteel Myr, Precursor Golem, Neurok Invisimancer, Arc Trail and Kuldotha Phoenix. This deck will also show up in Myr variants and other U/x builds.
The second deck today is a midrange aggro deck that is determined to keep its opponents off metalcraft. It isn’t as fast as some of the other aggro decks in the format, but it’s fatter creatures cause headaches for quicker decks.