Over the past few weeks we have looked at two of the four-mana artifacts from Kaladesh (“Plenty Of Brews To Make You Happy,” “Panharmonicombos“) and how we can brew up some fun lists with them. We’re halfway through that task, and this week I want to look at the least-appreciated one of the lot: Ghirapur Orrery.
Symmetrical effects have a checkered history in Magic. Some, like Winter Orb, have been the backbone of tournament-winning archetypes. Others, like Howling Mine, have been important factors in niche decks but have otherwise been derided as they let the opponent get the benefit of the effect first. Yet others, like Furnace of Rath, just haven’t seen any significant play outside multiplayer formats.
Time will tell where Ghirapur Orrery fits, but for now I can see enough value in its huge effect that I think it is worth the effort.
As with any symmetrical effect, the key is breaking the symmetry. We’ll want ways to empty our hands or ways to take advantage of multiple land drops, while at the same time minimizing the benefit our opponent receives from that. Be aware of this: your opponent is going to draw extra cards at some point, and they are going to play a few additional lands. That is the nature of the card we are building around. Our job is to beat them before it matters or to get more value from it. It’s not an easy feat, but of course I have some ideas.
Something I have wanted to try since Sylvan Advocate was printed is a deck that wins largely on the back of lands. Nobody plays land destruction, and although instant-speed removal is on the rise right now, thanks to Vehicles and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Ghirapur Orrery might be the piece we needed to make this idea work.
The best part of this particular plan is that we are using the whole card. We want to be able to make the land drops, but we are also going to be drawing some extra cards quite often. Green surprisingly offers us not only the best way to empty our hand but also the best rewards for extra land drops. We’re going to be playing four colors (well technically five) to make sure we get the best creature-lands we can get. Here’s my starting point:
- 4 Sylvan Advocate
- 2 Mina and Denn, Wildborn
- 3 Tireless Tracker
- 4 Noose Constrictor
- 3 Architect of the Untamed
The numbers on the lands might need tweaking, and we might need another way to empty our hand, but I like the way this lines up. The problem with Architect of the Untamed has always been that it takes too long to make a Beast, but this deck aims to speed that up considerably. We should not have a hard time finding the Orrery with all those Clues we’ll be getting, and even if we don’t draw it, we should have enough threats to be consistently dangerous.
Mina and Denn. Wildborn is another one of my pet cards that I think is really at its best in this sort of deck. We actually don’t mind returning lands to our hand, and with Tireless Tracker potentially getting huge (as well as large creature-lands), that trample could come in handy. Oh, and we get an additional land drop.
One thing to note is that Ghirapur Orrery is a bit wonky in multiples. Obviously you get the additional land drop; that much is mostly clear. What might not be as clear is that all copies of Ghirapur Orrery will trigger in the upkeep if the active player’s hand is empty. When the first one resolves and that player draws three cards, they have priority before the second trigger resolves. Now, most of the time that player, especially if it’s the opponent, won’t do much and the second trigger then checks to see if the active player’s hand is empty before it resolves. If it isn’t, then no more cards are drawn, but if the active player is able to empty their hand in that moment between the two triggers, they will draw three more cards. It won’t come up often, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Bring the Ruckus
If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, it should not be a secret that I am a big fan of cute. A lot of my brews try to do things in the most fun and obscure way possible, because that’s where I find pleasure in the game. Sometimes, though, you have to drop the cute and just smash things in the face. Sometimes the easiest way to empty your hand is just to cast a lot of spells early on and use said spells to pummel your opponent into oblivion.
R/B Aggro has been a deck people have tried multiple times ever since Shadows over Innistrad made us believe that Vampires were viable. It has never really broken through, although the B/R Zombie decks have been close. One thing I have not seen these decks try is a couple of copies of Ghirapur Orrery anywhere. Consider this:
- 2 Olivia, Mobilized for War
- 4 Prized Amalgam
- 3 Insolent Neonate
- 2 Bloodhall Priest
- 3 Voldaren Pariah
- 4 Haunted Dead
- 3 Cryptbreaker
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
This is just a straightforward face-smasher. The tried-and-true combination of Haunted Dead and Prized Amalgam can put a lot of power on the battlefield in a hurry. The shell is not a new one, but my additions of Olivia, Mobilized for War and Ghirapur Orrery add some important elements to the deck.
Olivia not only provides an evasive threat and another discard outlet, she also increases the pressure we put on with every creature and helps them resist removal like Harnessed Lightning. Although Prized Amalgam and Haunted Dead will not often make use of the haste, they certainly won’t argue with the extra point of power. I would have like to find room for Stromkirk Condemned in the deck as well, but the question of what we would cut proved to be too troubling. Oh, and unfortunately we cannot use Olivia to pump up a Smuggler’s Copter. I know. I was sad too.
Ghirapur Orrery, on the other hand, is just what the deck needed. Cathartic Reunion is a lousy topdeck with an empty hand, and often you will find yourself with a graveyard full of Prized Amalgams and a single Haunted Dead when your hand is empty. The Orrery makes sure none of that ever happens, refilling our hand with enough gas to cast a Cathartic Reunion or return a Haunted Dead every turn if we need to.
Wolf Construct, Because Wolf Construct
I was chatting with my good friend Mike about some of the ideas for this article, and he was surprised I had not found a place for Lupine Prototype in either of the above decks. It could easily go in the R/B deck, but I think I would rather try to shoehorn it into something with more Vehicles or some other way to take advantage of it when it can’t attack.
Or we could always play the two cards in Modern. Doing so would also allow me to play another card I dearly love but never really had a chance to play, Avaricious Dragon. B/R Hellbent might look something like this:
Normally I would be wary about playing a deck that both has a lot of removal and also wants to empty its hand, but we have a fair few ways to use those cards without actually casting them: Liliana activations, both the discard lands, Avaricious Dragon, and even having our Jagged Poppet damaged.
Wait, we get to play a Wolf Construct and say the word “poppet” with this deck? I am so in.
What I really like about this deck is the way it can render useless the extra cards our opponent might get. I would really like to have Ensnaring Bridge in the deck, and there might be a version of the deck that could do that, but it’s likely more reliant on finding the key cards. I wanted something a little more flexible to show you as a way to really put our opponent under pressure. Our extra cards can do more damage more quickly than theirs can, in all likelihood.
I wanted to play Fleetwheel Cruiser in here, but the four-drop slot was already really heavy and the toughness is in the wrong place for Modern. Smuggler’s Copter is also a 3/3, sure, but I am far less upset to trade my two-drop for a Lightning Bolt than I am my four-drop. Similarly, Renegade Freighter is just in the wrong spot. Bomat Bazaar Barge might be worth a look, but the body is largely unexciting, and once again, it costs four.
I seriously considered playing Rite of Consumption in this deck, and had it been an instant I probably would have. I am a little concerned about a lack of reach in the deck, but otherwise I think we have a fun and powerful synergistic deck here that can hold its own at an FNM.
This is easily the hardest of the four-mana artifacts to brew around. On the surface we should be able to come up with a whole load of aggro decks that can just play Ghirapur Orrery to refill their hands. The problem with that idea is that very few aggro decks want to spend turn 4 tapping out for a card that deals no damage. Worse, the extra land drop is essentially useless, and if we do spend turn 4 casting this, we are probably not drawing any cards on turn 5 or even 6.
I do think the card is good and can be broken, but it will be Modern or even Legacy that does it.
Leovold, Emissary of Trest is pretty disgusting next to a Ghirapur Orrery, for example. Breaking that symmetry is always going to be the way to make it anything but a quirky and fun card. Fortunately, “quirky and fun” is right in my wheelhouse.
Comments from Last Week
I put Soul Sisters on the same level as Skred. When tuned for the meta, Dredge simply can’t beat it. It does have a pretty horrible Infect matchup though unless WotC (wisely) decides to somehow remove poison counters at the cost of life.
– Matt Mahar
The card to remove poison counters at the cost of life already exists: Leeches. I cannot see Mark Rosewater ever endorsing the printing of another similar card, or even reprinting Leeches. Infect is a very polarizing mechanic, but it is probably here to stay.
I agree with your summary of Soul Sisters in the current metagame, though. Aggro decks really suffer against it, but it does have a tough time against Anger of the Gods, which is in many red decks right now. I think Martyr of Sands is better-positioned, but it doesn’t fix the Infect issue.
Man I love these brews – one criticism, I think you have the wrong Sorin in the B/W Legendary sideboard.
– Matthew Perry
I am not going to make the Chandler joke, okay? I am not.
My editor is a law unto himself, however. You are entirely correct; I actually typed the wrong Sorin in the sideboard. It is, of course, supposed to be the Grim Nemesis.
Thoughts on using Smuggler’s Copter as an engine for Soul Sisters?
– Abraham Corrigan
Well it’s obviously easy to crew in the deck, but I’m not sure it fits in with the gameplan. We aren’t usually using the graveyard (although this version is somewhat) and the looting is only marginally good for us. I’m also not sold on its utility in a format with Kolaghan’s Command and Lightning Bolt being so prevalent. It’s worth a try, but I don’t think we want the full playset.
That’s about all we have this week, folks. As I start to knuckle down for some serious SCG Invitational preparation, the next couple of articles from me could well take a different approach. On that note, if you will be in Atlanta, come say hi! I may have something special planned for the Saturday of the event.
As always, thanks for stopping by the LAB, where Lansdell’s Always Brewing. Until next time…Brew On!