Fun With Forgemaster Red

Wednesday, November 24th – Geordie brews for Standard, and after four well-intentioned but failed attempts, he arrives at something… dare we say? Decent? Check out the deck built around Kuldotha Forgemaster.

I built a brew! And it’s been winning!

I know. I can’t believe it either. You’re right to be a little skeptical.

It only wins against certain things, and only some of the time, and the sample size has been small, and it’s only been the 2-man queues. I don’t think I have to bring out Winston Wolf to say what we should already be thinking. Still, it’s fun, and now I’m here to try to share the fun with my readers and their leather families.

Where to begin? Constructed Magic: The Gathering has never been my strong suit. I once took a deck with Nantuko Blightcutter and Alter Reality/Llawan to a PTQ.

Well, actually…

Magic: The Gathering has never been my strong suit. I once played a match against Antonino DeRosa where my brain literally melted in my head because the board was too complex. I’ve attended one Pro Tour and performed poorly at it.

Well, actually…

Life has never been my strong suit.

Now that we’re being really honest, with each other, let me tell you about the building and playing of magical decks.

So much fun!

So many hard knocks.

Failed Efforts

Before we talk about Forgemaster Red, let me talk a little bit about all the dead bodies I’ve had to step over on the way to greatness.

It’s no secret that since I came back, I’ve felt disconnected from the Constructed game. In an effort to remedy my inability to relate to anything written by Patrick Chapin, I’ve toiled away trying to find a brew that I could enjoy. I’m not the most productive deckbuilder, sadly. I don’t mind playing lopsided decks that crush certain matchups and often lose to others. I tend to cede matchups by building decks that don’t interact properly with whole archetypes, like control or beatdown. I also get addicted to best-case scenarios and “blowout” draws. I can’t help it. Sorry, America.

Cool interactions just seduce me. You’ll find me in the champagne room most nights, forking out money to the latest licentious lass/Chimeric Mass, wondering if she’s proliferate curious or if she ever embarked on two Quests for the Goblin Lord on the same night.

So yeah- let me butter you up with some comic relief. Want a laugh? Check out some of these burglars, all of which I put effort into before I built Forgemaster Red.

STINKER #1: Brawls of Steel

The Interaction That Seduced Me: Early Ornithopter/Memnite + Steel Overseer, Contagion Clasp with +1/+1 counters and Quest counters.

4 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Steel Overseer
4 Glint Hawk
4 Quest for the Holy Relic
4 Contagion Clasp
3 Voltaic Key
3 Ajani Goldmane
3 Mox Opal
2 Argentum Armor
+ some other stuff

If I go Plains, Ornithopter, Ornithopter, Mox Opal, Steel Overseer, and then next turn play Voltaic Key, what are you going to do!?

Oh, Burst Lightning the Overseer? Baha.

Now my hand is an Ajani Goldmane and a Plains. This is much less exciting.

Yes, I did try to build this Quest/Steel Overseer/proliferate deck, and I did play it in the 2-mans, where I was on the receiving end of “wow, can’t believe I’m going to lose to this” the one time I did win. I lost 5-6 other matches that weren’t close.

Moving on, I also tried Mono-Blue Proliferate, where the goal was to tick up Everflowing Chalices and cast Emrakul, while countering major threats. I’m such a buffoon I didn’t have Tumble Magnet in the deck. Sometimes my opponent played Goblin Guide. Sometimes he was Martin Juza. God forbid they resolved a planeswalker – it might as well have come down in a separate game, for all the chance my deck gave me to interact with it.

My attempt looked something like this:

STINKER #2: Putting The Pro In Proliferate

The Interaction That Seduced Me: T2 Chalice, T3 Steady Progress for the cantrip Rampant Growth. Also, Voltaic Key + Elixir of Immortality for ten life!

4 Everflowing Chalice
4 Steady Progress
3 Contagion Clasp
4 Thrummingbird
4 Mana Leak
3 Throne of Geth
4 Trinket Mage
4 Volition Reins
3 Emrakul
1 Brittle Effigy
1 Voltaic Key
1 Elixir of Immortality
+ some other stuff

I picked up maybe one win against an incredulous grinder, and seven or eight losses. I did manage to cast a sideboard Rite of Replication, kicked, on a Wurmcoil Engine, and then lose anyway.

Figuring that the best way to solve the problems of these awful decks was to combine them, I built a U/W version that could go T1 Quest, T2 Thrummingbird. How could I lose with a rocket-shoes start like that, amirite?

The answer is: Early and often.

I do think Elixir/Voltaic Key might show up somewhere, though, in a far better deck than mine.

Next I said to myself “to hell with this, time to get some unfair draws.” I stocked my next deck with Scroll Thieves, Llanowar Elves, Birds, Swords of Body & Mind, and just tried to bust out with some card-drawing, Wolf-creating beatdown every game. I added Duress, Doom Blade, and put Memoricide in the board for a true three-color special:

STINKER #3: Sparse Tutelage

The Interaction That Seduced Me: T2 Scroll Thief or Tutelage + removal and disruption… and of course Elixir + Voltaic Key ten-life loops with Tutelages out!

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Llanowar Elves
3 Dark Tutelage
4 Scroll Thief
4 Trinket Mage
2 Elixir of Immortality
1 Brittle Effigy
1 Voltaic Key
4 Duress
4 Doom Blade
4 Mana Leak
3 Sword of Body & Mind
+ some lands

The mana was awful, as you can imagine. The deck was just weak. I’d play Scroll Thief, out would come the Bolt, or Overgrown Battlement, or KhalniGarden token. Sometimes I’d start drawing cards and making Wolves, and they’d just play Primeval Titan and win anyway. Sometimes I’d draw 4-5 extra cards, and they’d all be Birds, lands, and stuff like Trinket Mage.

If ever a deck needed Jace, the Mind Sculptor, this was it. At $400 for the full set, that wasn’t going to happen. I beat a couple of control decks, got a “your deck is terrible” disconnect, dumped out Obstinate Baloth, and crossed my fingers against Boros, only to watch a Skyfisher soar overhead for eight or nine damage.

Second-turn Tutelage, what are you going to do?

“Khalni Heart Exhibition.”

Okay, cool. Untap, draw for Tutelage. Voltaic Key, take one. Then land. Uh… I dunno. Trinket Mage, I guess, fetching Effigy and playing it.

Harrow, Pyroclasm.”

Awesome. Draw… land and Elf. Play Elf.

Primeval Titan, get two Valakuts.”

Uh… draw… Scroll Thief, Sword of Body & Mind. But I guess I have to Effigy the Titan.

“Play another Titan.”

Oh… goodie.

STINKER #4: Ooze The Boss?

The Interaction That Seduced Me: Necrotic Ooze + the toolbox. I also wanted to include Bloodshot Trainee, Myr Propagator, etc. Ideally, with the proper guys in the graveyard, you attack with Ooze, give it infect, Gigantomance it, and then Steel Hellkite pump it a couple of times for the instant kill. What? It only takes like nine mana!

Pretty terrible.

4 Necrotic Ooze
1 Vector Asp
1 Gigantomancer
1 Steel Hellkite
4 Fauna Shaman
1 Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
1 Pestilence Demon
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Bird of Paradise
4 Duress
4 Doom Blade
+ some other stuff

You don’t even want to know how bad this deck was without Fauna Shaman in play.

I took my lumps in the 2-mans and looked myself in the mirror the next morning.

“Am I really this bad?”

The answer:

“Yeah. You need to study up and practice. You should also ask for some help.”

I did the studying up part by reading coverage and watching videos of non-terrible players playing. Now, I just need some like-minded souls with whom to brainstorm. And not the card Brainstorm, since I can’t afford the guy who does that, but actual brainstorming.

That’s why I’m here now, readers. I think I’m onto something – but I’ve reached the limit of what I can do with it all by my lonesome. I’d love to hear some of your ideas.

Here I am. Hat in hand.

Here’s the deck:

The Skinny

Forgemaster Red beats aggro. People are playing a ton of aggro online right now, and for that reason I’ve had considerable success. I have no illusions of having surefire game against Ramp or Control, but the deck can steal one here and there.

If you want to crush pesky aggro decks and have fun with a Tinker toolbox, you will enjoy this deck.

Card Discussion

Kuldotha Forgemaster

The Interaction That Seduced Me: Kuldotha Forgemaster end of turn (EOT) into Battlesphere, untap, and then either Battlesphere #2 and swing, or Contagion Engine, or Mindslaver.

The idea behind the deck is simple – if you untap with Kuldotha Forgemaster in play, you win.

I have a Forgemaster and three other artifacts. What are you going to do?

Sometimes the answer is “Well, I’ll just kill you with Valakut this turn.” Or “EOT Burst Lightning.” Or “Jace, bounce it.”

Not always, though. Sometimes all they can do is trickle out some more beaters to get tapped by your Tumble Magnet – and that’s when you go balls to the wall.

If Forgemaster were a 4/3 instead of a 3/5, I doubt this deck would work even against aggro, but at 3/5, he has enough on the back end to absorb two pieces of burn. Since you always want one of these in play, there are four of them in the deck. It turns out Tinker is good even if you make it slower than molasses and nearly twice as expensive with a triple sacrifice requirement. Who knew? Of course, Forgemaster isn’t just one “Tinker” – with Battlespheres it’s two or more.

Myr Battlesphere

Yes, there are two of them in the deck.
I have a

of investors to whom I am intimately connected.

There are not too many decks out there that can easily handle an EOT Battlesphere. The damage from this guy quickly adds up, and killing an opponent from twenty is easy to do if your grip has a little heat. Against a board with no blockers, Battlesphere into Battlesphere is sixteen damage. Between sacrificing Perilous Myr and four Galvanic Blasts/Lightning Bolts, I’m sure you can find that last four points.

In my experience, the Battlesphere very seldom gets killed – if an opponent had a removal spell, they would’ve just used it on Kuldotha Forgemaster.

Perilous Myr

A pretty nice goalie, especially good against a deck like Vampires that doesn’t beat down with a bunch of Skyfishers and Squadron Hawks. While his power level is low for Standard, the fact that he’s an artifact and sometimes functions as a removal spell makes him worth the slot. Contagion Clasp doesn’t block, and a non-artifact creature would make Forgemaster too hard to trigger. The nonbo with Mimic Vat is a little frustrating, and I wish there were another artifact creature that was suited for the job, but there just isn’t anything. Perhaps in Mirrodin Besieged?

Ember Hauler

This is a 1RR removal spell when it needs to be and only needs to hit once to be good for four damage in any given game. This deck has surprising reach – a couple of Galvanic Blasts can end a game out of nowhere thanks to cards like Ember Hauler getting in there. The Hauler is pretty good at killing Koth and other planeswalkers by itself. It also interacts very well with Mimic Vat.

The entire Hauler/Mimic Vat package is the five-card slot in the deck that is likely easiest to change around into something else. It couldn’t be too hard to add three Iron Myr, cut a land, and then add three Koths, or something. Iron Myr + additional threats could actually be part of a sideboard plan, too.

Contagion Engine

This is the Forgemaster search target you go for against a board filled with Elves, Squadron Hawks, or Goblin tokens. After fetching Battlesphere, you can swing with it, use the ability to deal four damage and make it an 8/7, and then fetch this up before blockers to sweep away any opposition.

Everflowing Chalice

These can accelerate you to an early Forgemaster or hard-cast Battlesphere, and are good sacrifice fodder for the Forgemaster. I like to hold off casting these with two counters on turn 4, since that will enable Battlesphere the turn after. The deck has so much to do on turn 2, you’ll rarely have time for a Chalice.

Mimic Vat

I’ve been waffling on the number of these to play, if any. It sometimes does nothing and sometimes lets you do some very filthy stuff. With Vat in play, untapping with Forgemaster is even more of a “Game Over” than it usually is, as you can fetch

Battlespheres EOT. Vat into Forgemaster means they can Doom Blade/Day of Judgment all day, and it won’t matter. Ember Hauler on Vat is a spicy one.

Tumble Magnet

Michael Jacob‘s recent list of
Tumble Magnet interactions
is all you need to know about this card – it’s all he says and more. In this deck it has the added bonus of fueling the Forgemaster. Sometimes you’ll have games where you fetch up Contagion Engine with counters still on your Magnet, or just draw and hard-cast your one copy, allowing you to proliferate for infinite Icy Manipulator action.

This is the card you most want to see against any deck with Quest for the Holy Relic. They might get one hit in (they’ll attach Argentum Armor or Sword mid-combat, so you can’t tap it – this means you won’t lose a permanent), but after that you can tap their guy down and get your game on.

Ratchet Bomb

Kills Goblin tokens and Memnites, Quest for the Holy Relic, and Kor Skyfisher/Squadron Hawk air forces. Not really dead against any opponent. Even if there’s nothing to kill, it can feed the Forgemaster.

Galvanic Blast

Often enough, it’ll do the four damage for one mana. In a deck with this many artifacts, I think it’s better than Burst Lightning.

Lightning Bolt

These and the Galvanic Blasts above not only provide early defense but give the deck a way to interact with enemy planeswalkers. If they +2 their Jace and you don’t have a creature, though, you’re still going to want to hang yourself.

Mystifying Maze

The color requirements are light enough that I can get away with playing a couple of these. They don’t make a huge impact, but there have been games where they’ve been an MVP. I find they prevent a lot of damage against Vampires.


If you manage to pull this off against Valakut at the right time (right after the first Primeval Titan), you can do considerable damage to them with their own combo. Also great against control, obviously, there are some decks, like Mono-Green Ramp and Koros, where it doesn’t so much at all. You can side it out against those decks.

What Does This Deck Do, Right Now?

Right now, Forgemaster Red has game against any aggro deck. WW Quest, Koros, Kuldotha Red, Elves, and Kargan Dragonlord-wielding red decks are all good matchups. Vampires is also a good matchup. The games tend to play out the same way. You’ll remove their early plays, then either cast a Forgemaster, hard-cast a Battlesphere, mop up with Mimic Vat guys, or just burn them out.

The deck has surprising reach. Perilous Myr and Ember Hauler damage adds up, and with people cracking fetchlands and the like, you can occasionally unload a handful of Bolts and Galvanic Blasts for the surprise finish. This is especially true against Vampires when they have Lacerator or Dark Tutelage.

I’ve raised my (formerly terrible) online Constructed rating by over 100 points by beating up on aggro decks.

Now for the bad news. The deck isn’t great against Ramp and Control. It can interact with planeswalkers with burn and maybe an early creature. After sideboarding you have Ruinblasters against R/U/G, U/W, and U/B Control, but plenty of times they’ll just Mana Leak your Forgemaster, and you won’t have much action.

Sideboarding Notes

I won’t list every matchup, just give you a basic idea of what the sideboard cards are for.

Platinum Emperion is for Mono-Red Aggro. If they’re holding burn, then he’ll trump it; if they’re holding sideboard cards like Manic Vandal, trust me when I say they’d have cast them already. Once your Forgemaster gets active, search this guy up with your Battlesphere tokens. Nothing is better than turning a Burst Lightning into a brick and getting an 8/8 out of the deal.

Iron Myr comes in when your deck needs to be faster and accelerate quickly to the biggest threats. Typically, they’ll come in along with Mindslavers, Goblin Ruinblasters, and the extra Battlesphere, in an attempt to present more relevant threats to control decks or do something unfair to the Ramp decks before they can do something unfair to you.

Myr Reservoir comes in against Mimic Vat, since it can prevent your Battlesphere from being imprinted if you have mana open and also can just keep regrowing a Battlesphere against control. Sorta useless against Ramp, but I’d put it in against U/W Control or Vat Control.

In most control matchups you can take out Perilous Myr, Contagion Engine, and a Tumble Magnet, plus maybe some burn spells – though they remain your best bet against Jace.

Mark of Mutiny are for Ramp, obviously; hopefully they’re the damage that makes the difference in the game. Fitting in all your cards against Ramp can be hard without cutting too many artifacts. Add in three Iron Myr, two Mindslavers, two Marks of Mutiny, four Goblin Ruinblasters, and one Battlesphere for four Perilous Myr, three Ember Haulers, one Contagion Engine, one Galvanic Blast, and three Ratchet Bombs. This is six artifacts in and eight out, and that isn’t so great, but I don’t have a better plan just yet. I’d love to hear some ideas. Mimic Vat can be pretty bad against Ramp, obviously, but it does allow you to quickly do broken things with Forgemaster, and sometimes you can just burn their Avenger of Zendikar or Primeval Titan as soon as they play it and then imprint.

Stuff I Haven’t Tried

Here are some cards that I think might work, but I haven’t tried them either because I don’t own the cards, or I haven’t had the time.

Kuldotha Phoenix

This deck has 25-27 artifacts, which means the Phoenix could be a big problem for control decks that can’t sweep the board. Some Phoenixes in the sideboard could help my winning percentage against those decks. I should have already tested this, since Phoenixes are not expensive to buy online, but I haven’t had the time.

All Is Dust

This seems like the perfect deck for All Is Dust. It kills almost nothing of mine and blows away everything on the other side of the board. They’re a bit expensive online, but maybe I could find space for a couple in the maindeck, just as a catchall.

Koth of the Hammer

Seems like this would really increase my threat density against control decks and accelerate me against Ramp. If even only out of the sideboard, he seems to be worth a try. Also, with Koth, I’d be much more inclined to play…

Iron Myr (in the maindeck)

Replacing Perilous Myr with Iron Myr would speed the deck up in terms of playing top-end cards, but would make aggro matchups worse, which I don’t think I want. Still, I could always cut something like Mimic Vat for a couple of these and bring the deck up to six two-mana accelerators instead of four. Currently though, the deck has no four-drops at all except for Everflowing Chalice.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

In much the same way that Gerard’s
Mono-Red Chalice list

plays some copies of Valakut, I could as well. These would provide some uncounterable damage in the late game against control, but I would have to remove the Mystifying Mazes and Tectonic Edges for them to do much of anything. This would also make Mark of Mutiny a much more effective sideboard card against Ramp. Currently, Mark of Mutiny doesn’t do a whole lot since you just hit them for seven and get a couple of tapped Tectonic Edges. Change that to a possible seven from the Titan + fetching two Valakuts (or Mountains if you already have them), and Mark comes much closer to winning the game on the spot.

Molten-Tail Masticore

Haven’t been able to get my hands on one, but it seems like it could make a fair Forgemaster target if the goal is to bust out some direct damage. At the very least, by the time it appears, there will be 1-2 creatures already in the yard (probably the Forgemaster itself and one other).

Steel Hellkite

If an opponent has a board full of troublesome permanents, this could be a useful tutor target, but I haven’t tried it yet. It’s not any better than Contagion Engine against most boards.


So that’s the story.

I’ll be totally satisfied if this is just some fun, little brew that I can take into the 2-mans and hope to see a first-turn Swamp, Pulse Tracker from my opponent. I’ve been winning enough against every stripe of aggro deck that it’s been a fun ride, and the control and ramp decks tend to be more expensive to build and less prevalent. I’ve been lucky to dodge them.

I’d love to have a good game plan against those decks, though. That’s why I’m here, hat in hand. Can this deck be better than it is? Or will it always be just an aggro-crushing pet project?

Here are some final thoughts about the deck, and improving it:

1. It’s Modular

The deck is actually almost all colorless, and you could use the Forgemaster package easily with other colors. Here are the cards that don’t care what color you’re playing:

4 Kuldotha Forgemaster
4 Perilous Myr
4 Everflowing Chalice
3 Tumble Magnet
3 Ratchet Bomb
2 Mimic Vat
2 Myr Battlesphere
1 Mindslaver
1 Contagion Engine
4 Tectonic Edge
2 Mystifying Maze
19 basic lands.

That leaves eleven slots to play with.

The red cards are Lightning Bolt, Galvanic Blast, and Ember Hauler, plus some sideboard cards. What happens to the deck if you change those up to Duress and Doom Blade (+ maybe Mind Sludge?) and add some Memoricide and Disfigure to the sideboard?

Seems like Sludge, Forgemaster is tough to beat, if a little slow. The black incarnation of the deck would likely be far better against Ramp and control.

What if you were to remove Mimic Vat, and add in Mana Leak, Silver Myr, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, maybe a Contagion Clasp or two?

What about Wall of Omens, Day of Judgment, and other white cards?

2. It’s likely going to get a lot of useful tools from the rest of the Scars block.

I’m guessing there will be plenty of tutor targets out there. My dream right now is that they reprint Lightning Greaves, but I’ll settle for anything else that will let me give haste to a Forgemaster. And there will doubtless be more blowout tutor targets for the toolbox.

3. If people want to beat it, they will.

The deck actually just loses to an Oxidda Scrapmelter. I figured the Forgemaster/Battlesphere interaction was so powerful that it would make an
excellent Block deck, and that turned out to be correct – it was powerful, and Glint Hawkish aggro decks like those suggested by Michael Jacob

were good matchups.

There are other decks out there though, and any red deck with Shatters, Hoard-Smelter, and Scrapmelters is almost impossible to beat. There isn’t a card in the entire deck that can do anything to a Hoard-Smelter, for example, and there’s no Lightning Bolt in Block, only Arc Trail. Those decks don’t appear in Standard because they’re too relatively weak, but they show up often enough in Block to hand out discouraging auto-losses.

4. Related to the above, if artifact decks become more popular in Standard as more sets are added to Scars block, an increase in artifact removal in maindecks and sideboards will probably render Forgemaster decks a lot worse. (And let’s face it – they’re not exactly any great shakes to begin with against a lot of strategies.)

Having built this deck, I sorta feel like a real Magic player again, if only a mediocre one. It’s nice to be part of the community that way.

Not that there’s anything wrong with writing about flavor text, or art, or even writing about writing. At some point, though, a Magic writer has to turn an honest card and bash, or he’ll lose connection with the common player and just become, well…a dingleberry and/or “the burgles.” As the parlance goes.

I hope that never happens to me.

Until next week. Keep Battlesphering them

out. If you’ve got any ideas about the deck, or just want to make fun of how bad it is against Jace, chime in on the forums.

Best wishes,

Geordie Tait
Geordie_Tait on Twitter