Welcome back everyone!
Its an exciting week in Participation Award Magic, I get the opportunity to play with two things I love. Artifacts
But that’s not all, we also get to play with cool new cards from the recently released Dominaria, specifically a new planeswalker and a new enchantment that shows off a totally new card design. But before we dig into those things, I want to talk about something that’s existed for a long time in Modern magic, but doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves.
The Dice Factory Shell
These two cards have never shown up on a “most powerful cards in Modern” list on any website… ever….
Frankly, I’d be surprised to see them show up on any list that doesn’t start with the word “unplayable” or “You’re doing magic wrong if”.
However, There is a shell, popularly referred to as ‘Dice Factory’ in which these cards are incredible…
Astral Cornucopia and Everflowing Chalice are more likely to be spotted at the Commander tables, and not in modern. But these two cards are a major reason the above mentioned “unplayable’s” go from total trash to becoming very much playable. Coretapper is able to keep making 1 additional mana each turn you untap with it by putting a charge counter onto one of the above rocks, and if an opponent tries to kill it, or you need to chump block a threat, you can recoup the 2 mana you invested into it by saccing it to put two counters onto one of these powerful mana rocks.
The combination of these mana rocks, and the above noted cards is a recipe for incredibly fast and powerful mana ramp. Casting 4 and 5 mana spells on turn 2 in this shell is not an uncommon thing to do. But since we’re ramping with artifacts instead of lands, is there some way to abuse them and super power the deck?
You can always count on Wizards of the Coast to print a card that just breaks some old cards right in half. Paradox engine lets you untap all NONLAND permanents. This is also abused heavily in Commander, but in modern most ramp decks are actively trying to break the “single land a turn” rule in Magic, or are slapping enchantments onto their lands, then throwing a Primeval Titan or some other big dummy at us. This deck takes a different angle and focuses on artifacts that tap for multiple mana. Then, if we can get down the engine, we try to untap them multiple time in a turn, which causes us to normally net mana, which can eventually lead to us doing things we shouldn’t be doing as early in the game as we are. But lets take a look at our “infinite” combo piece
Batterskull plays two roles in the deck.
A) It’s a lifelink Attacker and Blocker to help against aggro and burn decks.
B) It’s capable of going infinite with Paradox engine and at least 9 mana in rocks.
(4 counters on one rock, 5 on another, or 3/3/3, etc)
With the amount of proliferation and charge counters in this deck, getting to that 9 mana point is actually not as difficult as you may think, and thankfully occurs well before Turn 9. Normally we should be at this point by Turn 3 or 4 if things have been working as expected.
So, what happens if we can get to that point?
So, Walking Ballista is a pretty common way to put infinite mana into something and end the game on the spot. So I won’t spend any time explaining why it would be in this deck. Sword of the Meek and Thopter Foundry is a very powerful combination of cards that with infinite mana let you gain infinite life, get infinite 1/1 fliers, and is often difficult to interact with for many decks. These two cards are very capable of ending the game the turn they both are on the board at the same time. Even if Sword ends up in the graveyard, we can still sac a different artifact to get it back.
However, these are not the only finishers in the deck, and this brings us to our new additions from Dominaria
The Antiquities War replaces a card in the Dice Factory shell that is also very strong, Ancient Stirrings. That card if you’re unfamiliar is a 1 mana green sorcery that allows you to look at the top 5 cards of your deck and grab a colorless one. It’s a very powerful effect, and allows you to find very powerful things (including grabbing lands), however, it doesn’t end the game itself. Because this deck is capable of ramping so fast, Antiquities War gets us two digs for 5 each to grab artifacts (which our deck is full of), and most important, threatens to ultimate after 2 turns on the field, turning our board of artifacts into an army of 5/5’s that will over run most decks. This card is the single reason for me to retool this deck and attempt to find a place for it in the modern metagame. While it’s unfortunate we can’t grab our planeswalkers or lands with Antiquities War, The game ending ‘ultimate’ is simply too powerful to ignore.
The other very important role The Antiquities War plays in our deck is it’s a main deckable answer to our biggest hate card, Stony Silence. Most players see an artifact deck and say “Great, Stony comes in, game plan is shut down”, up till this point in this shell, they would be 100% correct. But this enchantment suddenly gives us an opportunity to keep dropping our artifacts on the board, and then eventually turn them into a nearly unstoppable game ending threat, that is both hastey, and immune to sorcery speed sweepers.
Karn, Scion of Urza gives us something the archtype has needed in card draw. Often the finishers for these decks involve both players drawing cards in their decks until we can find our finisher. However, this is not always ideal as it opens us up to our opponents drawing relevant interaction. Karn lets us dig through our deck for finishers while giving our opponent nothing but bad choices. He is also capable of ticking down to create construct creatures that in this deck, will be giant and capable of finishing the game in 1 or 2 swings. He is a house, and should not be under estimated in his ability to cause the end of the game.
We have a few main deck support cards that for various decks can be very difficult, or in some cases, impossible to remove. Ethersworn Canonist stops our opponents from playing multiple spells each turn until they take the time to remove it. This buys us some time, which puts us closer and closer to finding the pieces to one of our nearly unstoppable finishers. The fact our deck plays almost entirely artifacts mean we can also ignore it’s effect completely.
You’ve forgive me for using such a strong word, but Etched Champion will ALWAYS have metal craft in this deck. aside from the lands (and 4 of those are too), every card minus 7 make or are already, artifacts. This 3 mana 2/2 will be a permanent brick wall for our opponents creatures, and when it’s turned to a 5/5 is going to always get through for damage. It can also have batterskull attached to it to gain us life, and turn the corner if everything else is falling apart. Don’t under-estimate the power of this card.
War Factory – Jeff Roberts
2 Walking Ballista
2 Ethersworn Canonist
3 Etched Champion
3 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Tezzeret’s Gambit
4 Astral Cornucopia
2 Engineered Explosives
4 Everflowing Chalice
2 Mox Opal
3 Surge Node
1 Sword of the Meek
2 Thopter Foundry
2 Paradox Engine
4 The Antiquities War
1 Academy Ruins
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Inventors’ Fair
4 Seachrome Coast
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Pithing Needle
3 Ensoul Artifact
2 Master of Etherium
2 Lodestone Golem
2 Torpor Orb
When the going gets tough, we get tougher. Against aggro decks, or midrange grindy creature decks, we side into our powerful creatures for protection and game ending potential. Ensoul Artifact on a Darksteel Citadel is enough to end many games when it comes down early enough. Master of Etherium in this deck is always going to be very large, and has the extra bonus of pumping all our creatures too.
Lodestone Golem in some matchups is too much taxing to overcome, especially with his very aggro body. Paying 1 extra mana for most spells in modern is simply too much to deal with, and for the most part, we’re able to ignore this tax, or have bought ourselves enough time that it doesn’t matter.
Torpor Orb is exactly my kind of hate card. It deals with troublesome creatures like Reclamation Sage, Snapcaster Mage, Thought-Knot Seer, and many more. Because it’s a cheap artifact, it also still plays with our Antiquities War plan as well, becoming a 5/5 to close out the game later on.
These two sideboard options help us against unfair decks that try to take advantage of their graveyard, or rely on permanents such as planeswalkers. it’s important that they are also 1 mana artifacts as they can sit on the board threatening to being a large threat later on while they control the game for us.
If you are travelling down a difficult road, find a better path. In this deck, Dispatch is almost always a better Path to Exile. It has all the exiling power, with none of the drawbacks. This is in the deck mostly to fight against decks that try to run out very fast unfair creatures that we need to deal with, or for troublesome singleton creatures that we need to clear out of the way to make our attack lethal. This may end up being a card we need to cut later on after testing with the current list. We shall see.
I’ll be updating this section with the results of our matches after running the deck through it’s paces. Please check back for some results and any changes I might suggest.
Thanks again for reading, and look forward to our next adventure in deck building.