Blog Elemental – The Mastermind Behind Nuts and Bolts
August 2, 2004
So last week I get an e-mail from the original creator of the Nuts and Bolts preconstructed deck. Wait, before I get to that here’s the current deck:
While I’m at it, here is an extra game from last week with this decklist:
Game 63: Blue/White Kaldra deck
A very cool deck. When he starts out with Auriok Glaivemaster and Weathered Warfarer, I think it may be a WW Equip deck, which I guess it is, but one that’s heavily skewed towards getting Kaldra in play via Steelshaper’s Gift. He even has Steal Artifact (my guess is in case someone else is using Kaldra equipment), which he puts on my Salvaging Station. I have a quick Leonin Elder, Leonin Squire, and Auriok Salvagers, which uses a recycling Chromatic Sphere and Aether Spellbomb duo to keep his creatures off the board and prevents him from ever using the Shield of Kaldra and Sword of Kaldra he casts. I don’t know what would have happened if he found the Helm of Kaldra, but I’m just as happy not to find out and win with my life comfortably in the forties.
Okay, like I was saying, I received a delightful e-mail from Aaron Forsythe last week. The e-mail actually has some confidential stuff I can’t share, but here’s how it starts:
“I’m enjoying the blog! First off, I don’t believe for a second that you chose that deck at random. If any of the four theme decks hinted at the possibility of a cool deck, it was this one. I should know, I built it!”
Wow. Neat. Aaron, former pro playa, StarCityGames.com Feature Writer and MTG.com editor. Aaron, current R&D member and MTG.com columnist. Aaron, probably my favorite person at Wizards of the Coast (Brandon Bozzi being right up there too). Aaron, the person responsible for my MTG.com column and my first names and flavor text gig. Aaron is actually the progenitor of Nuts and Bolts! Whodathunkit?
Here’s how Aaron’s e-mail ends:
“One suggestion I read on the Wizards boards… adding single copies of Avarice Totem and Tel-Jilad Stylus. The Totem lets you steal anything for five, and the Stylus keeps your opponent from using the Totem against you. Anyway, thought it might be amusing and”in theme.””
This is an idea that has come up repeatedly in SC’s Forums as well. In fact, people who have tried it suggest that while the activation cost is pretty hefty, the Totem can grab that problematic permanent your Explosives can’t touch. The Stylus, while spiffy in combination with the Totem, is also a nice way to keep yourself from getting decked.
Somehow I figure that if the preconstructed creator is suggesting a change to my deck, I kind of have to take it to heart, y’know? So…
IN: 1 Avarice Totem
IN: 1 Tel-Jilad Stylus
But what to take out? This is getting tricky, since I now have a fondness for all of the cards in the deck.
OUT: 1 Leonin Bola
I guess I always knew that Leonin Bola would leave, but it’s still sad to see it go. Some of you who have played Nuts & Bolts will recognize that the Bola is a surprisingly good card in this deck, cheaper than a recurring Aether Spellbomb as a way of keeping an opponent’s main threat under wraps. However, while I don’t mind drawing the Bola and can put it to good use, it still isn’t something I ever use Trinket Mage to fetch nor is it something my opponents fear enough to destroy. These are both signals to me that the slot is better used by something else. Besides, Avarice Totem should perform the same function as the Bola – shutting down an opposing threat – but do so more permanently.
OUT: 1 Vedalken Engineer
I like the Engineers, don’t get me wrong. What I have found, though, is that I never need two on the table at the same time because I can’t put the mana to good enough use. I’ve also drawn them late in the game and frowned, because they are one of the few cards I can draw late that isn’t immediately useful. As a result, I think three is the correct number to have in my deck, though I could even argue for two. With three copies, I will usually draw one but I’ll draw two a lot less often.
4 Aether Spellbomb
4 Chromatic Sphere
2 Salvaging Station
1 Avarice Totem
1 Conjurer’s Bauble
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
1 Scrabbling Claws
1 Sunbeam Spellbomb
1 Tel-Jilad Stylus
1 Engineered Explosives
4 Ancient Den
4 Seat of the Synod
2 Grand Coliseum
2 Great Furnace
With these changes in mind, let’s see what happens…
Game 64: Red/Green Aggro
There was no way I thought I would win this game. I have a first-turn Leonin Elder and Sunbeam Spellbomb and Tel-Jilad Stylus on turn 2. Then my land stalls and I have to pop the Spellbomb to go searching, then pop an Aether Spellbomb to keep searching. Meanwhile my opponent is playing Rampant Growth, Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], and Magma Jet twice on my two Vedalken Engineers. My opponent sees my troubles and switches to Land Destruction Mode. He Molten Rains one land, then Echoing Ruins another. I use the Stylus to put the land back into my library each time, but I still can’t draw land fast enough. He Molten Rains again, then Echoing Ruins again. Aargh. To make matters worse, he has a 5/5 Karstoderm starting to eat into my life. The ‘Derm shrinks gradually and eventually dies just as I’m able to get to three land, Tinker Mage out a fourth, and then play Qumulox. My opponent is only holding Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] and is at ten life (did I mention my little Elders were putting up quite the fight?) so he concedes.
Game 65: Green/Black Anti-Artifact
This guy’s deck was really tricky. He had huge amounts of artifact hate – Oxidize, Tel-Jilad Justice, pro-artifact guys, Viridian Shaman, Nantuko Vigilante, Emissary of Despair, Glissa Sunseeker, etc. – to go along with Mycosynth Lattice. He didn’t even need the Lattice for most of the game, since his artifact hate works fine on my artifact lands. A couple of Leonin Squires and a Trinket Mage keep me from getting too land-screwed, eventually giving me enough mana to drop Auriok Salvagers with Aether Spellbomb protection. By this time he has Loxodon Warhammer and Glissa Sunseeker to go along with his Lattice, so I have to tie up my mana by bouncing his legend every turn. The good news is that he doesn’t have much in the way of blockers, so I can rush him with weenies. A late-game Leonin Elder is just silly with the Lattice, and puts my life in comfortable territory for the win. It’s a testament to this deck that it can win against a deck like that.
Game 66: Mono-Red Goblins
The game gets off to a silly, silly start. I keep a one land hand because of two Chromatic Spheres and two Leonin Elder, figuring I’ll cantrip my way out of it. I play Sphere, Elder, Sphere, Elder over the first four turns unable to find another land. Luckily my opponent is stuck on one Mountain with only a Raging Goblin as offense. We both get our second land and he tries Shattering mine. I draw another land and Leonin Squire saves my dead Seat of the Synod. He tries to beat down with Fists of the Anvil and burns my two Elders, but they have already done their damage. The life-pad helps me comfortably get Auriok Salvagers in play with Aether Spellbomb and that’s game over. He ends the game with four land, showing me a hand of Goblin King, Barbed Lightning, Lava Axe, and Beacon of Destruction.
Game 67: Green/Red Equip
Poor guy. He plays Banshee Blade, Energy Chamber, Loxodon Warhammer, and Mask of Memory, but he has no creatures to go along with his equipment. I get a nice solid start of Leonin Elder, Leonin Squire and Auriok Salvagers, so I’m plinking away at his life and cycling cogs for cards. When I get a Trinket Mage for Engineered Explosives set to two, he concedes.
Game 68: Red/Green/Black Dragons
He is playing lots of land-acceleration like Rampant Growth and two Explosive Vegetations while I have out some little guys like Leonin Squire and Vedalken Engineers. He plays Glissa Sunseeker and I respond with Engineered Explosives for four to kill it. Then he plays a 14/14 Kilnmouth Dragon and I’m a little scared. I bounce the dragon with an Aether Spellbomb, and have Auriok Salvagers in hand. I forget why, but I play Avarice Totem instead of the Salvagers, then Trinket Mage for Tel-Jilad Stylus. I figure next time he tries a big dragon… it’s mine!
Unless, of course, that dragon is Furnace Dragon and I’m tapped out. All of my cogs and most of my land vanish into smoke. The 14/14 Kilnmouth shows up again, and this time I die.
Game 69: Cranial Affinity
For such a fast deck, this guy sure was a slow player. Each turn took forever, but he manages to get Arcbound Worker, Ornithopter, artifact land, and some Welding Jars into play. I get a Leonin Elder that dies to Pyrite Spellbomb, then Leonin Squire to recycle a Chromatic Sphere. I’m drawing a lot of cards and he isn’t doing a lot of damage, so I’m able to Trinket Mage out an Engineered Explosives for zero. He drops Cranial Plating, but I respond with Auriok Salvagers. When I recycle the Explosives he concedes.
Game 70: White/Blue Angels
I don’t know what my opponent had in his hand, but whatever it was, it was slow. His first spell is on turn 5 for Serra Angel, but at that point I have Leonin Elder, Leonin Squire, and Trinket Mage to go along with Aether Spellbomb. I bounce his Angel, attack, and next he tries to Annex my Island, forgetting that Tel-Jilad Stylus has been sitting on the table. I bounce his Angel again, forcing him to discard Luminous Angel, and win easily.
Game 71: Mono-Green Tooth & Nail
This was a long game, as my games against Tooth and Nail seem to be, but it eventually comes down to him hoarding lots of mana, me getting Leonin Elder, Vedalken Engineers and Auriok Salvagers, and him eventually casting T&N for Darksteel Colossus and Bringer of the Black Dawn. I cycle cogs like mad, find Aether Spellbomb, bounce the Bringer before it can get used (he can’t replay it), take one hit from the Colossus, then start bouncing it and attacking through his multiple Vine Trellis and Solemn Simulacrum (a recycled Pyrite Spellbomb helps kill the blockers). He casts Mindslaver, but it’s clear he’s getting annoyed by the bouncing Colossus and lifegain from the Elder. I sac a bunch of cogs in response to him activating the Mindslaver, and he concedes. I think he could have done a lot of damage with my turn, but bystanders seemed to agree that his frustration got the best of him.
Game 72: Mono-Red Equip
Interesting deck, but this guy was a little outmatched I think. He was using Sparring Collars, Empyrial Plate, and a bunch of quick weenies. He had Trash for Treasure too, which was interesting. But I have a first-turn Leonin Elder to go along with a Leonin Squire. The Squire blocks a 7/7 Clockwork Beetle as I cycle through cogs, but I’m able to draw Engineered Explosives, play it for two, and pretty much clear his side of the board. Vedalken Engineers show up, followed by Salvaging Station, The best news is that I tutor for Avarice Totem and snag his second Empyrial Plate when he tries to kill it (I think he forgot about the Engineer mana). After that, my now-beefy Leonin Elder and a second Squire finish the game.
Game 73: Red/Green Ion Storm deck
If I have to play against land destruction, please let it be against a creative deck and a nice guy. This was a fun, fun game despite the LD. He uses Wayfarer’s Bauble to accelerate his land and Magma Jet to burn my two early Leonin Elders. What really stinks, though, is that he plays Molten Rain after Reap and Sow after Molten Rain to blow up my land. I save a few of them with Tel-Jilad Stylus, but I’m still mostly looking at one or two land each turn.
Thankfully I am flush with cogs, which allows me to cycle through a lot of my deck and slowly recover. I eventually Tinker Mage for land, get Leonin Squire for more land, and drop Auriok Salvagers. He gets Ion Storm to go along with two Mirrodin’s Core and plenty of land. But I respond with Salvaging Station and a Sunbeam Spellbomb, which means I can outrace his Ion Storm. I horde weenies, bouncing them when he tries to kill them, and recycle Pyrite Spellbomb three times in the final turn for the win. He says”Wow. Even with all of the LD your deck is strong.”
Another Game: Extended Nuts and Bolts
I’m about to end for the afternoon when zaltman asks me if we can play. I say sure. What I don’t realize when he challenges me is that he’s asked for an Extended game. I don’t actually notice for several turns, as we’re both playing out cogs and doing little tricks and I’m thinking”What fun!” Then he plays Myr Servitor and I think”Ooo! More fun! He’s gone in a different direction!” Then he plays Skullclamp and the needle scrapes loudly across the record.
Skullclamp? Crap this is going to suck. I say as much, he explains that while he has Skullclamp, he doesn’t have Leonin Elder, which is somehow supposed to make me feel better. I Engineered Explosives for one to clear the board, but I’m only delaying the inevitable. He eventually finds more Skullclamps via Trinket Mage and gets the full Myr Servitor cycle going along with a Salvaging Station. For a second I think I can Scrabbling Claws my way out of it, but it’s not going to work. I concede at twenty-eight life when he can Clamp a Servitor and activate his Station three times each turn. Afterwards he asks if I really think Clamp-Servitor is a good enough combo to make the difference in our decks. Phhhh.
I can’t quite end on that note, though…
Game 74: Green/Black Reanimator
I get a Leonin Elder to go along with Avarice Totem, two artifact land, Vedalken Engineers, and Scrabbling Claws. My opponent plays a turn 3 morph creature, so I’m able to Engineered Explosives for zero, kill the morph (which turned out to be Nantuko Vigilante), then draw a card from the Claws. Next turn he misses his land drop, but plays another morph. I Leonin Squire my Explosives for zero again, pop it using Engineer mana to reveal that I had just killed Bane of the Living, and my opponent concedes at sixteen life. I have been stuck at two land on the table so personally I think my opponent should have stuck around, but I guess I understand why he didn’t.
Whew, well that’s enough for one day. I’m almost three-quarters done now. Tomorrow: The discussion everyone’s been waiting for…