Last week the Hive Mind behind the Commander format updated the banned and restricted list. I like the changes they made: no longer do they have a separate “banned from being your
commander” category, and with that comes some churn on the banned list. Specifically, the following cards have had their status changed:
The card on that list that immediately jumped out at me was Metalworker. I love that card. I’ve played around with it in Legacy, on both sides of the
table, but I’ve always wanted to play it in Commander. I did not think that day would come, but I find the argument advanced by Sheldon and team to be
We’ve been discussing the possibility of unbanning Metalworker for a while now. It’s capable of making some truly ridiculous amounts of mana, and
having 12+ mana available on turn 4 or 5 is not something that casual games should have to deal with. We like to encourage battlecruiser-style decks,
but over the later stages of a game, where players have had a chance to build up to combat it. However, the all-in nature of Metalworker leaves it
vulnerable to mass artifact removal, and when it isn’t performing optimally it’s a pretty weak card (though still part of several combo engines). Aside
from Sharuum – a deck that can already be built to a competitive extreme – the decks that most look to use Metalworker already have a lot of
disadvantages to overcome, so allowing them the occasional early explosion should be acceptable risk.”
As long as you don’t build the deck to combo off like it can in Legacy, where a theoretical turn 1 kill is possible (although I think it might require
three Voltaic Keys, so turn 2 or 3 is more probable), I think Metalworker is going to be a fun addition to the artifact lineup going forward. Lots of mana
means you get to do lots of stuff, and I’m excited to try it out in an EDH deck.
Which brings us to this week’s deck selection. Take it away, Joël:
I’m writing to ask you some help with my artifact deck. I’ve wanted to make that kind of Commander deck for a while, and since I got a brand new Muzzio on
To be honest, I was waiting for a cool artifact-centered Dimir commander, because Sharuum and Sydri are already in my meta, and I love playing blue and
Not sure what this deck archetype is, some big mana beatdown deck, I guess. Can’t go combo cause combo centered decks are kind of banned in my playgroup,
Actually, the big players are mostly Grand Architect and Azami, but Memnarch, Psychosis Crawler, and Inkwell Leviathan work great. I could probably get
Here is the list:
Artifact Creature (20)
Reading you two is always a blast, keep on the excellent work.
Muzzio, Visionary Architect may look a little too much like Sacha Baron Cohen for my tastes, but he does seem to be a powerful card. The clearest
comparison between Muzzio and a previous commander would be Arcum Dagsson, which basically reads “I am going to lock you out of this game with a
frustrating combination of cards.” Arcum Dagsson is more powerful, but the limitations placed on the type of artifact you need to sacrifice (artifact
creature) and the fact you’re sacrificing a card in the first place, are both drawbacks that Muzzio does not share. Muzzio gets you ahead in your board
position, he doesn’t just upgrade the board you already have, he adds to it. And while looking at the top X cards isn’t as powerful as searching through
your library for a silver bullet, it’s still a very strong ability.
So in a playgroup like yours, Joel, I think you’ve made the right call for your general. Let’s just see if we can tweak your deck a little to up the
artifact count, and perhaps trade out some of the more generic powerful cards for ones that will help Muzzio keep cranking out his tune. I also think we
might need to cut back on the Wizards theme… as much as I am a fan of that direction, I think your deck wants to go deeper on the synergy aspects, and most
of the artifacts-matter cards are artificers, not wizards. That lets us find a place for Metalworker in your list, and I think you’ll enjoy how that card
I liked your land section. Normally I think people should up their land count, but you have 38 lands and a respectable number of basics, so I don’t think
there are any changes you need to make. So, feel free to disregard what I am about to say!
Having established that, you should probably run Phyrexia’s Core. It’s a solid utility land that combos with Spine of Ish Sah particularly well. I would
also consider Tomb of the Spirit Dragon come next week when the Khans of Tarkir prerelease opens up some new supplies, but that’s just because a repeatable
source of lifegain for colorless decks seems pretty solid to me. I can’t imagine that time will prove me wrong, but it’s been known to happen.
As you can probably see, I’ve cut most of your non-artifact cards. This has two disadvantages: I’ve cut some powerful cards, and I took out the wizards
theme. What you get, in exchange for those losses, is a deck that is more likely to do what you want it to do. For example, you have Unwinding Clock in
your deck. With Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Unwinding Clock doesn’t draw you any extra cards. If you’re running Urza’s Blueprints though, every untap you get
is another card. Brainstorm is similar; sure it’s a great way to sneak something from your hand on top of your library in case you want to drop it into
play off Muzzio, but in a situation like that you’re already ahead. It seems better to run something like Sage of Lat-Nam, which stays on the board and
turns opposing removal into cards, than a situational card that can leave you stranded with a bunch of dead cards on top of your library. And that’s saying
nothing about Trading Post, which draws you cards and recurs artifacts from your graveyard… and has two other abilities as well, both of which are
I would have considered keeping in Jace Beleren had you a proliferate subtheme, but you don’t and I respect that. If you’re just running it as a friendly
draw engine, it seems like we could do better. I’ve been unimpressed with Plea for Power, but I can only imagine that it reads “draw three for four mana”
most of the time, and I think you’re better off playing some theme action in that slot. You don’t seem like that type of cantrip deck, so I’d rather pack
your deck with action. Hopefully, you’ll see it the same way.
Your ratios seemed pretty spot on in this deck, so a lot of the changes I made were qualitative, not quantity issues. This section is a prime example. Now,
I know that Druidic Satchel does more than just ramp you. I respect the power of that card. But I don’t think this is necessarily the best deck for it. The
knowledge, life, occasional land drops, and saprolings do very little to advance your gameplan. Instead, let’s put in Metalworker, which should give you a
tremendous amount of mana, and works better with your “untap the artifacts” subtheme.
Surveyor’s Scope is a card in a similar situation. Sure, sometimes it’s going to ramp you three lands, but usually only if you’re behind everyone else at
the table. Planning for that situation, particularly in a 38-land deck, seems a little loose. Instead, let’s run Solemn Simulacrum in the slot. It’s a
little slower, and it doesn’t have the explosive potential of the Scope, but I think you’ll enjoy playing with it more. Solemn Simulacrum is a fairly basic
Commander card, and while it doesn’t quite reach the ubiquity of Sol Ring, it makes up for it with all its extra play. It’s a great blocker, and people
will be more than happy to pop it for you when needed. It’s powerful without drawing aggro, and that’s usually a good thing.
Finally, there’s Caged Sun. This deck meets the two criterions for being good with Caged Sun: it runs a ton of lands that tap for the same color, and it
likes having a bunch of mana to play with. Caged Sun brings Muzzio, Visionary Architect out of Anger of the Gods and Lightning Bolt range while ensuring
that an activation that digs at least six cards deep will only require you to tap two lands. All in all, it seems a good fit. To make room I cut out Star
Compass. If you want to run a two-drop mana rock in a mono-colored deck, I think Coldsteel Heart would be the best. There’s a chance that Star Compass
doesn’t provide you with colored mana that you don’t get with the heart of winter.
There are a couple of things going on here, so let’s break them out one by one. First, Ensnaring Bridge must be some sort of local meta choice, right?
Because it seems like you’re going to be closing out the games with big beaters, and Ensnaring Bridge locks them out. Taking it out makes it easier for you
to close out games while opening up some other slots in your deck. Slots for cards like Shimmer Myr! Since I have you going to a mostly artifact build,
it’s good to have different ways to speed up your spells. Being able to spit out your hand during an opponent’s end step is pretty valuable, and Shimmer
Myr helps with that.
Neurok Stealthsuit is cool, in that it basically lets you Counterspell any removal pointed at your creatures. But, particularly if you’re in an artifact
deck, I think you need to fear board-sweeping effects far more. So I’ve swapped it out for the M15 bomb Soul of New Phyrexia. While Soul of Ravnica is
practically useless in Commander, Soul of New Phyrexia gives you a strong defense against the type of things that are going to hurt you the most, on the
battlefield or in your graveyard. On top of that, it’s a strong body with a relevant combat ability, so even if it’s not protecting your team it should
advance your position better than the “fantasy cat suit” equipment.
I’m generally opposed to playing Sensei’s Diving Top in Commander. It draws a fair amount of aggro, takes a lot of time to resolve every turn cycle, and is
nearly impossible to kill. But it’s particularly bad in a deck like this. If you see something bad on top of your library with Top, it stays there. If you
use Crystal Ball, not only are you spending less time playing with yourself, but you can throw things to the bottom that are clunking up your draws.
Finally, there’s Filigree Sages. I like untap effects, but Filigree Sages is expensive and tied to a card that is more vulnerable due to its multiple card
types. It dies to artifact and creature removal. Clock of Omens is free and turns your static artifacts into useful tools; Voltaic Key is cheap and nets
you mana with several of your mana rocks. I think you’ll enjoy playing with the both of them.
With some of the slots gained in the draw section, I also added in some other sources of card advantage. Kuldotha Forgemaster turns your excess artifact
fodder into whatever card you need when you need it, and Phyrexian Metamorph is a second copy of Sculpting Steel with the added benefit of copying
non-artifact creatures as well. And the cool thing about that is that the copied creature becomes an artifact, so if your opponent has a sweet seven-drop
that you copy, you then get to dig seven cards deep when Muzzio triggers. Cool, right? Neither of them is the most exciting artifact tool, but they both
give you a power boost while being on theme and relevant for Muzzio’s ability.
Counterspell, Cryptic Command, and Venser, Shaper Savant are all excellent cards. But they’re not on theme with the rest of the deck, and they’re blank to
Muzzio. Since you’re leaning into the artifact theme though, I think it’s okay if you back away from the time restricted disruption options, and instead
pick up some real removal.
In case you love the counterspells, I added in Wizard Replica. I was looking at it while I was considering keeping in the wizard theme, but I kept looking
over the creature types and it just didn’t seem like it had critical mass. Still, it’s a solid card, and while two mana won’t stop everything, you can
usually drop it early and then force someone to make you pop it.
Ratchet Bomb and Steel Hellkite both work the same way; they’re good at targeted mass removal, and they specifically can take out enchantments and
creatures, both of which blue usually finds somewhat challenging to remove. Steel Hellkite doubles as a pretty solid beater too, and that’s the type of
card I like to run… a card that can be whatever role you require of it while still sticking to the theme of the deck.
While I appreciate the inclusion of Clockwork Hydra and Argent Sphinx, I don’t think this is the right deck for either of those cards. Clockwork Hydra is
better in a death-pinger build where you can throw a Basilisk Collar on it or something to counteract the downside of losing a counter every time it does
something, or a proliferate deck, where the proliferation makes up for any counter loss. Argent Sphinx is good in a deck where you get something for having
otherwise vanilla creatures come into play. Argent Sphinx is in a weird place where it’s not vanilla per se, but it’s got no comes-into-play effect, and
its body is too weak to reliably tangle. In the end, it’s a good blocker but not necessarily much else.
Pentavus is more of a proliferate card, so it seemed like a solid cut. Psychosis Crawler is great in Nekusar, the Mindrazer, or another dedicated draw deck
that doesn’t have victory conditions, but you were running it in the same deck as Ensnaring Bridge. One wants you to have all the cards, the other wants
you to have none of them. So I cut them both! Realistically, you should end up in the middle.
Inkwell Leviathan is big and bland. In your letter you had mentioned a fear of just turning into a deck that cheats big monsters into play. Inkwell
Leviathan lives in that deck, and outside of it I get bored with its hulking averageness. Plus, it draws aggro, since the lack of ways to deal with it
means anyone who happens to be running islands has a ton of reasons to kill you. And that’s without the risk of Bribery or Acquire, since Inkwell Leviathan
is a beating against you and you have even fewer ways to take it out. Finally, I don’t really like the flavor, since it doesn’t feel like something that
got assembled. It feels like some weird natural artifact creature from the depths of Esper, which is basically what it is… Esper artificers don’t have the
same clockwork feel that I personally like in my artifact creatures, so on a flavor level I think the cut is justifiable as well.
I hope that, while there isn’t the same mechanical synergy offered by the wizards theme, the high number of artificers and the movement away from
off-themed cards will work for you on a flavor level as well. You have a host of tinkerers working for you now, drawing you cards, making you some cool
things. To help with that process, I added in three more potential finishers, providing a variety of mechanical and flavorful options.
For example, you can have your team assemble a dark factory that pumps out titanic, unholy creations. And on a practical level, a stream of cheap 10/10s
usually ends the game (yes, they can be anything, but ten life is usually the right amount of life to pay). If that’s not how you want to end the game, or
if you’re in a dangerous life total, you can grab a well-crafted battle hammer and slam some faces with whatever dudes you have on the table. Loxodon
Warhammer turns everything into a threat, and it’s always good to have a few ways to gain life in case you need to crawl back from the red zone. Finally,
you can have your team of crack tech professionals put together a robot army straight out of Star Wars (the worst one). Myr Battlesphere comes with its own
army that clogs up the board, and it ends games on its own, doing usually around twelve points of damage a swing.
Anyway, I know it’s not perfect, but I think this is a good compromise between flavor, power, and theme. I hope you agree!
When all was said and done, there were three slots left so I beefed up your recursive elements. Arcbound Reclaimer is particularly good with Muzzio, since
the drawback (it goes on top of your library instead of to your hand) is not a drawback when Muzzio’s putting the top card of your library directly into
play. Scarecrone is amazing. Sure, you’ll rarely use the “sacrifice a scarecrow” ability, but the ability to resurrect most of your creatures for a mere
four mana makes up for the narrowness of her other power.
Mirrorworks isn’t precisely recursion, but it is a force multiplier, and it can make for some sick situations. The thing that I love the most about the
card is that the copies are permanent. When I first read the card I thought it was a Minion Reflector variant, but it’s so much better than that. Since you
should be getting a mana discount on many of your cards from Muzzio in the first place, the extra two mana shouldn’t be backbreaking, and there isn’t a
card in your list that doesn’t put you in a better situation if you have two of them (I’m exaggerating, of course, Memnarch really shouldn’t get doubled).
One of the problems with the format of this column is that I don’t always get a good opportunity to shout out the cards I think are particularly awesome in
your deck already. I meant what I said when I complimented your deck earlier, I really do think it was a tight list already, but these are a few cards I
want to highlight because I think they’re often under the radar.
Blinkmoth Urn makes a disproportionate amount of mana for you. It’s Eladamri’s Vineyard, but it almost always makes more mana for you than your opponents.
And with cards like Clock of Omens, you can even turn it off for your opponents if you’re feeling aggressive.
Thousand-Year Elixir is a great card, but it goes particularly well with Metalworker, the theme card for this week’s deck. I don’t think that this
should be completely broken, but it’s certainly a powerful combination of cards.
Darksteel Sentinel is so commonly overlooked, but it’s a great Commander card. It’s a little costly, but for six mana you get a vigilant Hill Giant that
can’t be destroyed. It’s great on defense and does a solid job on offense as well. Heck, throw Loxodon Warhammer on it, and you’re really in business.
Karn, Silver Golem isn’t the Karn people think about these days when you drop his name, but he’s a solid card. While, thematically, I’m a fan of him for
his pacifist tendencies, he works well on offense (animating your noncreature artifacts to swing in) or defense (threatening to animate your opponents’
artifacts if they are threatening a wrath). Plus, with two different promo foils, it tends to be a pretty card!
Walking Atlas is so often overlooked. That “Creature – Construct” was a running joke on an email list I was on when Rise of Eldrazi was still being
drafted. But even beyond my walk down memory lane, I just have a lot of affection for the card. The ramp it provides can definitely help you, and
dropping on turn 2 gives you yet another two-drop mana accelerator.
- 1 Myr Retriever
- 1 Darksteel Colossus
- 1 Metalworker
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Karn, Silver Golem
- 1 Sage of Lat-Nam
- 1 Memnarch
- 1 Vedalken Archmage
- 1 Trinket Mage
- 1 Arcbound Reclaimer
- 1 Wizard Replica
- 1 Silver Myr
- 1 Lodestone Myr
- 1 Stuffy Doll
- 1 Scarecrone
- 1 Etherium Sculptor
- 1 Master of Etherium
- 1 Sharding Sphinx
- 1 Inkwell Leviathan
- 1 Master Transmuter
- 1 Walking Atlas
- 1 Steel Hellkite
- 1 Palladium Myr
- 1 Grand Architect
- 1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
- 1 Myr Battlesphere
- 1 Darksteel Sentinel
- 1 Shimmer Myr
- 1 Treasure Mage
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Muzzio, Visionary Architect
- 1 Soul of New Phyrexia
- 1 Phyrexian Processor
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Darksteel Forge
- 1 Vedalken Shackles
- 1 Sculpting Steel
- 1 March of the Machines
- 1 Loxodon Warhammer
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Gilded Lotus
- 1 Fabricate
- 1 Wayfarer's Bauble
- 1 Vedalken Orrery
- 1 Clock of Omens
- 1 Blinkmoth Urn
- 1 Mind Stone
- 1 Urza's Blueprints
- 1 Voltaic Key
- 1 Thran Dynamo
- 1 Thousand-Year Elixir
- 1 Dreamstone Hedron
- 1 Crystal Ball
- 1 Ratchet Bomb
- 1 Spine of Ish Sah
- 1 Mirrorworks
- 1 Caged Sun
- 1 Unwinding Clock
- 1 Staff of Nin
Financially, the changes come pretty close to an even $70. Since a large chunk of that is the $30 Metalworker, I think you’ll find the changes are pretty
affordable. If you want to spend more money on the deck, feel free to add in power cards like Spellskite, Wurmcoil Engine, Staff of Domination, or Steel
Overseer, but I didn’t think they were necessary for the deck so I left them out. It still boggles my mind that Wurmcoil is a $20 card, but considering
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn had the same plus-sized promo print run and that card is about $35 at the bottom end…the financial side of Magic is beyond me.
Anyway, I hope you like what I’ve done with your deck, Joel! And the same goes for the rest of you as well! If you’re interested in us taking a swing at
one of your decks, drop us a line at Dear Azami. We can’t wait to
hear from you!
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