Limited Lessons - The Gun in Shadowoor Draft
I’m sure most of you thought I’d be doing Just Another Guild Article this week. That is of course unless Craig decides to title this something that gives it away.
While I do plan on covering all of the allied guild combinations there are a few other interesting archetypes lurking in the background that need to be discussed.
This week I want to talk about what I’ve been referring to as the “Gun” archetype.
This deck can take on a number of different forms but I’m going to be focusing on a UGR base with Red usually being a splash. The idea behind the deck is to assemble as many creatures with the Untap ability as possible along with Power of Fire and Presence of Gond. The Presence has been underrated in my drafts allowing me to often get it late while I’m usually forced to take Power very early. I’m going to refer to these as “guns” throughout the article to prevent myself from constantly repeating the names. If however the situation is specific to one or the other I’ll obviously elaborate on that.
Drafting the Deck
Okay so what’s the general game-plan here?
The ultimate goal is to assemble a gun on Pili-Pala and if it sticks the game should end very quickly. Most of the time it won’t be that simple as not all Untappers are Pili-Pala and the opponent certainly won’t be very cooperative and just give in. The main concerns are dealing with pressure before the deck is able to set up as well as ensuring that the combo isn’t just ruined by a simple bounce or removal spell. Thankfully there are tools to help this goal and a number of different directions in which you can go. The best colors for doing this are UGR because the guns are in Green and Red and the bulk of the Untap guys are in Blue. It helps too that Green has some decent defensive options like Juvenile Gloomwidow (more on him later) and more importantly it offers lots of mana-fixing to give more consistency.
Power of Fire & Presence of Gond
Power is the better of the two options but I haven’t had to make that choice very often. It’s totally possible to just end up in UR and have no need for Presence. I tend to prefer the three or four color versions as my opponent usually has no clue what I’m up to until it’s too late.
If you plan on getting into this archetype you absolutely have to take Power of Fire over anything that isn’t a total bomb. This may seem like common sense but I’ve seen people take Burn Trail or something else in a draft where Power would fit their deck perfectly.
Another important thing to note is that Power is pretty strong with Wither and will allow you to keep the pressure down and get into the late game if they don’t deal with your early Junior Gloomwidow or Oona’s Gatewarden gunners.
A final point here is that the Rare Elemental Mastery is another gun available in this format and it can end the game instantly if you put it on a big enough creature. I am not gonna spend most of the article focusing on this because it’s Rare and I also think it’s good in non-combo builds so you probably will have to open it or get it second to have a shot at it. A similar example is Furystoke Giant who is a stone cold bomb and even sicker in this deck than the average forty-card pile.
Pili-Pala is king.
There are a lot of solid Blue options as well and I want to spend more time talking about those. One very important thing you need to know is that this deck thrives off of having a lot of Blue mana. I had one build that was actually almost mono-Blue and splashing for two Powers and two Presence off a couple of fixers and it worked out really well. The Untappers almost all require Blue mana and to get maximum effectiveness out of them you want lots of Islands in your builds. The nice thing is that a lot of the costs are 1U so you won’t feel like you’re completely missing out like you would in a situation where you had Leech Bonder and six lands with only three of them being Islands. Hopefully that makes sense.
This is probably the second best option and if you haven’t enchanted this with Power of Fire yet it’s an experience that I highly recommend. Being able to tap down your opponent’s side while hitting them for a point each time is pretty sick. That being said I think Presence of Gond is even better on this card as there’s no chance they are ever getting through and you will eventually build up enough tokens to swarm the ground.
Of course the problem here is that everyone in the draft wants a Silkbind and will be picking them highly so you’ll have to take what you can get. I’d certainly take Power of Fire over this almost always but probably try to table Presence of Gond or get one later and go with the Faerie given the choice.
Even though this is uncommon it’s pretty marginal in other decks so you should be able to grab one if it’s opened. It has a similar effect to Silkbind Faerie in that when it’s holding a gun your opponent likely can’t attack you or even block effectively as you can just Saltfield Recluse him a few times at will. While I prefer the Silkbind so does everyone else so this is something you should try.
This suffers from the same problem as Silkbind in that it’s awesome on its own and everyone will be taking it highly. If you do manage to get it going it does double duty on the first few shots. As I said in the forums of my UW article (and I believe BDM also mentioned in his column) you can keep shooting with this even when it runs out of counters.
This is about as vanilla as it gets in terms of the combo. Sure you get to fire repeated shots but you don’t actually gain anything extra like you do with the above cards. It’s a shame they don’t have Triple Flying or something where it could only be blocked by other creatures with the same amount of flying. That probably sounds really stupid but I don’t feel like going back to delete it so just deal ‘mkay?
This is pretty good as you can dig to whatever else you need for the situation. It sucks that a lot of these Untap guys are Uncommon but they usually aren’t high picks so it’s not as big a deal unless they just don’t get opened.
This can act as a poor man’s Q ability or just help a Wither guy finish off an early attacker. It doesn’t cost a card after all and playing multiples of this can be fine if you didn’t get enough Untap guys.
If you get anything out of this section it’s that you need to be taking Pili-Pala very highly and you’ll probably end up playing a couple of Merrow Wavebreakers on average since they aren’t super-high picks and they’re common. Oh and yeah get those Silkbinds when you can but not over Pili-Pala if you know you’re headed into this archetype.
We all know by now that I love a four color deck. This archetype is no exception (I’ll talk about the fourth color in a bit) and in order for that to work some mana-fixing is definitely in order. Remember that the deck still wants as many Islands as possible so not all fixers are created equal.
Here is yet another reason this guy is just absurd. Not only is he the best Untapper available for the deck but he actually fixes your mana to allow you to cast your Power of Fire! He allows that extra splashing which I’ll get into later. Just take him and take him highly. He may look like he’s flying on paper wings but I assure you he’s essentially a 747 in disguise.
Another card that is simply unreal in most decks is probably at its best in this archetype. It ensures lots of smooth starts for the deck and is both acceleration and fixing. I think if I wrote about this card every week until the next block started I still wouldn’t be able to do it justice.
The obvious use here is to turn all of your lands into Islands and then machine gun everything. Of course it’s sweet that this helps the splashing as well.
If there’s any indication that this list is not really in any kind of order it’s this guy. He’s great in this deck and probably a little bit better than Scuttlemutt since they can just kill Scutts while this guy will always get the fixing done.
He’s large and provides two free mana with which to fix. He’s also part of the cute infinite combo I’ll talk more about later. I wouldn’t go crazy over this guy in the archetype since I think it’s more important to stall the game out with early guys but I’ll certainly take them with mid-picks and play one or two depending on the build. Again the more you’re splashing the better this gets.
Free fixing that most people aren’t gonna take is always nice. I usually have 1-2 of these in my decks.
Devoted Druid isn’t on the above list but he also does a good job of accelerating or simply doing a quick two shots with Power of Fire. Overall fixing is pretty important but also easy to come by in this format.
Pretty much any creatures you can get your hands on are good for defense but there are some cards in particular that are worth extra mention in this archetype. Removal and bounce like Curse of Chains and Aethertow are also fine to buy you some time but remember that they are not a top priority and you should be taking Untappers and Guns over everything else until you have a good set of them.
I think you’ll be surprised how good this guy is if you give this archetype a try. He’s a cheap early guy to trade off and also has Wither in case you decide to arm him up with a Power of Fire.
This little dude is a great blocker that can help to buy time. He’s a bit rough on the mana sometimes but it’s not like he’s required to come down on turn 2 or anything. He also has Wither to apply some -1/-1 counters yeah!
Consign to Dream
I feel like I’m writing about a lot of the same cards every week because a lot of them overlap and also have different implications in different decks. There are a few reasons why this has a lot of value in this deck. The first is obviously that it can buy some time or wreck an opposing Guild-Aura. Second you really don’t want your opponents having this against you as it’s just a total blowout to the combo. So taking it helps a little bit on that front because Aethertow does nothing against a machine-gunner that doesn’t plan on attacking or blocking.
Protecting the Combo
Unlike Lorwyn this set doesn’t offer too much in the way of countermagic or other ways to protect a creature with an Aura on it. Still we have to make do with what we’re given.
The only good news here is that both common guns are cheap to cast so that by the time you’re ready to go online you should be able to keep mana up for this clunky counter. I’d prefer not to play this if I got enough fixers and was instead able to play…
This could be the biggest piece of tech for the deck but some of you may think I’m crazy for wanting to splash this card. Nothing tells you the coast is clear to assemble the pieces like a good old-fashioned Coercion. This really isn’t very hard to cast if you’ve drafted correctly as there are plenty of cheap ways to get one Black mana early in the game. Despite how crazy it may look I strongly advise this or your best laid plans will fall to a single removal or bounce on most occasions.
This one is kind of funny but also quite good in the deck. What usually ends up happening is that I get pressured early and have to play Power on my Gatewarden or Gloomwidow. I end up stabilizing that way but I can’t draw another gun to go off in the later game so instead I just move the gun onto an Untapper with this guy.
Of course you can just keep mana up for this if you have two Untappers in play and move the Aura if they try to kill the initial gunner.
Overall this is the only real downside to the archetype. The combo is pretty fragile and if the opponent knows what you’re up to they will just hang on to that one answer until you decide to go for it. This is why I really advocate splashing for Splitting Headache. I’m totally fine assembling the combo when my opponent is in topdeck mode and unlikely to draw an answer in time.
If you didn’t get the memo you can go infinite with this Morselhoarder and any gun. While that’s all well and good and it’s really cute to infinitely kill someone I would strongly advise against this as far as maindeck is concerned. The combo is already very vulnerable with one Aura and all this does is make it even worse. Don’t forget too that you have to get Morselhoarder in play.
The only way I could see this is if you were bringing it in against a deck that really couldn’t answer it or if you plan on casting the whole combo on a single turn when they tap out. The combo is fragile enough already and adding a card like this that is a bad piece of removal in all other situations doesn’t seem great to me.
Besides all of the combo and fixing elements you’ll want to fill out your deck with whatever removal and solid guys you can grab. Scarscale Ritual is another card I really like in this archetype because the drawback doesn’t usually matter too much and it helps you draw into whatever you’re missing.
Another bonus of being essentially UG based is that you can grab basically any bomb you open since you have all of the guilds covered except BR which you can still splash from. I think this is the one benefit to being in an enemy combination right now and most of the time it will be outweighed by the fact that the Auras want you to be allied as well as most of the guild cards. This archetype and maybe one other are the only exceptions I’ve found so far.
So you’re tired of hearing me ramble on and on and just wanna see some decklists?
I’ve got lists don’t worry.
2 Farhaven Elf
2 Merrow Wavebreakers
2 Power of Fire
2 Presence of Gond
Consign to Dream
2 Splitting Headache
This was my first attempt at the strategy after deciding it might be a viable option. As you can see this deck turned out insanely well and Splitting Headache was just amazing for me. This is what things look like when all of the pieces come together.
2 Oona’s Gatewarden
2 Elsewhere Flask
2 Power of Fire
Oona Queen of the Fae
2 Merrow Wavebreakers
Flow of Ideas
Jaws of Stone
This is a bizarre hybrid version of the deck. The Elsewhere Flasks were key in this deck and this is just to show that you don’t always have to follow the UG base. It’s just the most consistent and powerful option.
This archetype may lose a bit of power now that it is known and people know what to expect but it’s still pretty strong overall so give it a try before everyone is totally prepared and starts always maindecking Gleeful Sabotage.