Yesterday I had myself a little Magic: the Gathering deck building marathon and in this deck strategy article I want to present you with two decks I came up with yesterday with the rather new Modern Format in mind, which I would consider to be rather unorthodox in their selection of cards and their overall strategies. If you are interested in what kind of unorthodoxy I am talking, let me show you the two decks below. I will present you with the deck list first and then follow up with my comments on the respective deck:
Deck 1: Forgepost:
4 x Trinket Mage 2U
2 x Phyrexian Colossus 7
1 x Memnarch 7
1 x Emrakul, the Eons Torn 15
3 x March of the Machines 3U
3 x Sylvan Scrying 1G
4 x Summer’s Bloom 1G
1 x Engineered Explosives X
4 x Amulet of Vigor 1
3 x Expedition Map 1
3 x Voltaic Key 1
3 x Dreamstone Hedron 6
4 x Darksteel Forge 9
4 x Cloudpost
4 x Glimmerpost
2 x Vesuva
4 x Simic Growth Chamber
2 x Golgari Rot Farm
2 x Dimir Aqueduct
3 x Forest
3 x Island
About the Deck:
The basic premise of this deck is to generate massive amounts of mana through Cloudpost and the Ravnica-cycle 2 mana generating lands which would then be invested in a high cost colorless Spell such as Phyrexian Colossus as early as possible. The key to make this happen fast are not only the Cloudpost-searchers Sylvan Scrying and Expedition Map, but chiefly this card:
Amulet of Vigor is in fact so important to the success of this deck that you should, in case you didn’t have it in your starting hand, fetch one with a Trinket Mage ASAP. Not only will your Cloudposts come into play untapped and ready to produce mana, but also your Ravnica two-mana-producing lands will come into play untapped. This is where Summer Bloom comes in. It is a 2 mana Sorcery that lets you play up to 3 (!) additional lands in one turn. With the right hand you should be able to bring several multi-mana lands into play in one turn.
Cloudpost is probably THE central land in this deck. It produces 1 generic mana for each “Locus” land in play. The Locus count in the deck is 8, 4 Cloudposts and 4 Glimmerposts. The latter just gain you a life for each Locus in play but they are mostly in for adding to the Locus count. If you have 2 Loci (yes, this is the plural of Locus, methinks) in play, one being a Cloudpost, the latter will produce 2 mana. If you have 3 Loci it will produce 3 mana and with 4 Loci you’d get 4 Mana from your Cloudpost and so on. In the remotely possible scenario that you manage to bring all 4 Cloudposts into play, they’d make a total of 16 Mana. Enough for summoning Emrakul, the Eons Torn. i also added 2 Vesuva to the mix which will copy any of your lands, preferably a Cloudpost (although by my interpretation of the rules, Vesuva will not up the Locus count…)
Well the deck will generate a ton of mana if everything goes as planned. Now what to do with all that mana. There are actually two basic strategies. Either use it to summon something big and/or nasty like Phyrexian Colossus or Memnarch OR, and here is where the fun starts, use it to get out Darksteel Forge followed by a March of the Machines. Now Darksteel Forge will make all your artifacts indestructible while March of the Machines turns all your noncreature artifacts into artifact creatures with power and toughness equal to their casting cost. Yes, this will turn your Forge into monstrous 9/9 indestructibles.
Minor combos in the deck involve using Voltaic Key to untap your Phyrexian Colossus, which would normally only ever untap if you paid 8 life as well as using the Key on Dreamstone Hedron which taps to generate 3 generic mana, then is untapped by paying 1 and tapping the key to make another 3 mana. So in the end one Hedron and one Key would result in 5 extra mana. Emrakul is more or less just in the mix to have the remote possibility to summon it from head. Maybe I’d be better off with a third Colossus instead.
4 x Arcbound Worker 1
4 x Arcbound Stinger 2
4 x Steel Overseer 2
4 x Coretapper 2
2 x Triskelion 6
4 x Seething Song 2R
4 x Everflowing Chalice 0
4 x Howling Mine 2
4 x Energy Chamber 2
4 x Clock of Omens 4
4 x Darksteel Citadel
4 x Great Furnace
4 x Vault of Whispers
10 x Mountain
About the Deck:
This deck is all about charging non-creature artifacts up with charge counters and powering their living artifact creature counterparts up with +1/+1 counters. And yes I do realize that Arcbound Ravager belongs in the deck though for me it is a matter of conscience that leads me to not include certain, overly powerful cards in decks I build. Besides things like Tarmogoyf, Arcbound Ravager is on that list of notorious no-goes!
Anyways so how does this deck work? I think I can explain it best by going through the list card by card. There are lots of more or less subtle interactions that are to my liking as we will see:
Arcbound Worker: A 1/1 for 1 Mana with the Modular ability. When it dies, it’s power and toughness can be transferred to any other artifact creature in the form of +1/+1 counters. As will be shown, this deck features a ton of ways to give this little guy lots and lots of +1/+1 counters, which can be, in case the Worker dies, transferred to any other artifact creature. Very handy…
Arcbound Stinger: Yes, the 2 mana “Modular” Creature slot should be occupied with Arcbound Ravager. I have my principles however and this is also supposed to be a budgety deck of sorts, so Arcbound Stinger it is. Anyways it has great evasive capabilities, as a Flyer, that Ravager has not, so it is not all bad compared to far more costly (money-wise) Ravager.
Steel Overseer: This is probably your most important Creature, as you can tap the Overseer, which is a 1/1 for 2 generic mana, to give all your artifact creatures a +1/+1 counter. Which will remain on them of course. There is an amazing three part combo, with the third part being totally optional, in this deck, which will let me use Overseer’s ability repeatedly during just one turn, which will grow all your little Arcbound Creatures as well as your Triskelion (more on this one later) to monstrous proportions in like no time. Just use Clock of Omens, which I recently featured prominently in my “Lock Around the Clock” deck article, plus some spare artifacts to untap Steel Overseer several times, each time allowing you to tap him one more time to dish out some +1/+1 counters. The third and optional piece which makes the combo even more neat is if you add Howling Mine to the mix. Tap it and Clock to untap Overseer and with Howling Mine being tapped, your opponent(s) won’t get to draw cards from it, since Mine “shuts down” when tapped. Pretty sweet I would say!
Coretapper: You can tap the ‘Tapper to add a charge counter to target artifact and you can sacrifice it whenever you want to add 2 charge counters to an artifact. Your target for this will be an Everflowing Chalice, which can be tapped to produce an amount of colorless mana equal to the number of charge counters on it.
Triskelion: Triskelion might seem a bit weak when you compare cost and power/toughness. However the thing it does with +1/+1 Counters is the key to understanding why I think this would work pretty well in this deck: Triskelion costs 6 and comes into play with 3 +1/+1 counters. You can remove one (or more) of those to deal 1 damage for each counter removed. Now if we remember what Steel Overseer does and how masses of +1/+1 countes can be reassigned from your Modular creatures to any artifact creature, we see that with Triskelion, each of those +1/+1 counters translates to one point of direct damage either on opponent creatures or right in their face.
Seething Song: Well Seething Song just speeds up the deck. It allows you to get out the 4 casting cost Clock of Omens or 6 casting cost Triskelions earlier and if for nothing else it can be used to play an Everflowing Chalice kicked twice, so that it would have 2 charge counters to begin with.
Everflowing Chalice: If you have ways to add charge counters to artifacts easily like in this deck, Everflowing Chalice can be a great way to generate a lot of mana. Just charge it up with Coretapper or add a counter each turn with Energy Chamber, which will effectively double the mana you got at your disposal. What is more, you can tap some of your artifacts to untap Chalice mutliple times via Clock of Omens to generate even more mana. Now what to do with all the extra mana? The next card will tell us.
Howling Mine: In my opinion, every good deck needs a good draw engine. Howling Mine is usually not considered such because all players will draw an additional card during their draw step. Not in this deck however. Howling Mine not only becomes a powerful, cheap and reliable draw engine in the context of this deck but also is part of a greater combo or synergy. The crucial bit is the fact that the Mine is a “relic” from the old days of MtG, when artifacts would shut down, lose their abilities, when tapped. Basically what you’d do is get a Clock of Omens out soonest, then play a mine, or even two or three, and tap them during your turn to untap, let’s saySteel Overseer and your opponent’s will not draw a single additional card from your Mine(s). You’ll draw 2 cards if you have just one Mine at the mere cost of an initial 2 generic mana every single turn, at no cost whatsoever. And the more Mines the merrier. This way you will have plenty stuff in hand to cast from the massive mana your Everflowing Chalice(s) are making!
Energy Chamber: Energy Chamber’s effect seems lackluster at first. It costs 2 to cast and at the beginning of your every turn you get to put either a +1/+1 counter on target artifact creature or a charge counter on target non-creature artifact. Well at the very least you can pump your Modular guys each turn, and even if they are destroyed, their +1/+1 counters will live on. However you’d rather want to use it on Everflowing Chalice, which will result in 1 extra mana from a Chalice per turn, which is quite awesome if you consider you can untap Chalice several times with Clock of Omens. Also, pumping Triskelion would also be an option to get a few extra points of direct damage from it.
Clock of Omens: Clock of Omens seems overly expensive at first (4 generic mana) but it does so many combotastic things in this deck as explained above already. Tap it and Howling Mine to a) untap your Chalice for more mana or your Overseer for more +1/+1 counters and b) deny the extra draw to your opponent(s). If you got a Seething Song handy, this might be a good card to invest the mana in.
Artifact Lands: I am running 12 artifact lands in this deck (4 of each Darksteel Citadel, Great Furnace and Vault of Whispers) along with 10 basic mountains. The reason why I run that many artifact lands might not be obvious at first, since I have no Affinity for Artifact stuff and no Ravager to feed them to. So why the artifact lands? Well the key to understanding this is once again Clock of Omens. I can tap two artifact lands to untap Steel Overseer via Clock, thus being able to tap Overseer to dish out +1/+1 counters on all your Creatures one more time. That is all and I think it is worth it.
Well overall I really like how this deck works out, especially because of the, often subtle ways the cards in it interact. I love synergies in a deck, much more than downright devastating/game deciding combos and this deck offers synergies galore. It may not be AS fast as your standard “Raffinity” (Affinity decks running Archound Ravager) deck, not by a far shot even, but I think it has more staying power, not only because of the hand-refuelling Howling Mines and I like it because it features a rather unique combination of cards. It is something I came up with on my own. This is the main reason why I am fond of this deck design!
On a closing note, I want to mention some cards I wanted to run but did not have enough room for or rather decided in favor of some more “unorthodox” card choices:
Ornithopter: a 0/2 Flyer for 0 mana is an awesome deal I would say and with a ton of ways to put +1/+1 counters on it, either when one of your Modulars dies, through Steel Overseer or even through a lowly Energy Chamber. However I decided against Ornithopter in favor of the far more expensive Arcbound Stinger, which flies too. The Modular ability of Stinger was the decisive bit.
Shrapnel Blast: Shrapnel Blast would make for a perfect finishing card, dealing 5 damage at the mere cost of 1R and sacking an artifact, which you got aplenty anyways. Again, I did not know what to take out in favor of it. Maybe Seething Song would be a candidate…
Cranial Plating: Well in a deck with almost all cards being artifacts, this one would be kickass to put on, say, the flying Arcbound Stinger, but in this case I skipped the Plating as it is yet another staple “Raffinity” card over which I chose more unusual cards and in the end did not know what to cut in favor of Cranial Plating. The deck is more about boosting all creatures a bit at a time (see Steel Overseer) rather than boosting one a lot via Plating.
Doubling Season: Man this would be awesome with Steel Overseer, and to a lesser extent with Energy Chamber. Doubling Season is an Enchantment that, among other things, doubles the number of counters (any, be it charge or +1/+1 counters) that are placed at the initial cost of 4G. Just imagine your Steel Overseer tapping to put two +1/+1 counters on each of your Creatures rather than “just” one of them. The thing with Doubling Season is not that it is off-color (I could accomodate a bit of green any time) but simply that it got ridiculously expensive since its release, money-wise, and I wanted to keep this deck as budget-friendly as possible (I think the most expensive bit was the 4 Steel Overseers, which cost me about $5 USD a piece…) and Doubling Season, as awesome as it may be in this deck, is just too expensive for a budget/casual deck like this one. That is about the only reason why I skipped that one too…