Having Fun with White Cards in Type One – Introducing a New Auriok Salvagers-Based Control-Combo deck

As part of our continuing effort to bring you the lastest tech in Type One deckbuilding, today StarCityGames.com presents our newest Featured Writer, noted French deckbuilder Mattieu Durand. Matthieu’s topic du jour is a new version of an Auriok Salvagers control deck that seeks to abuse the power of Gifts Ungiven, complete with card-by-card analysis and matchup information.

Part 1 – Introduction

Ever since Champions of Kamigawa got released, Gifts Ungiven has been taking all my attention. Gifts Ungiven was originally seen as a weaker Intuition – for the inability to tutor for Accumulated Knowledge or a 3-of as well as for the increased mana cost – and a weaker Fact or Fiction – for digging less cards and letting the opponent choose the cards you get in hand. By that time, MeanDeck was starting to work on a Gifts Ungiven based deck. Jaypee was the first to publish a Gifts Ungiven-based Psychatog deck (October 2004), a UBr build that was quite like the conventional Psychatog builds, except it could randomly pull turn 2 or 3 kills, unlike Tog. That deck was extremely focused on Yawgmoth’s Will and used Recoup to maximize the Gifts Ungiven tutoring power. Meanwhile, the Germans from Team CAB where actively working on a Gifts Ungiven deck too, which got released by Carsten Kötter in an article published on StarCityGames. Their build is also a Yawgmoth’s Will deck, packing Tinker for Darksteel Colossus as its win condition. The basic plan there is to Gifts Ungiven for Yawgmoth’s Will, Tinker, Recoup and Time Walk, for example. You get to flashback the Yawgmoth’s Will, replay Tinker and Time Walk for a pseudo-hasted Darksteel Colossus. The deck also features a Burning Wish to replay the RFG Time Walk to a last lethal strike.

Nevertheless, that Tinker for Darksteel Colossus plan never appealed me. Even when that was the hype in GermBus-like decks, I was always relying on the more consistent Decrees of Justice or Exalted Angels for the kill. The idea was basically here to find the proper Gifts setup using the lowest amount of cards dedicated to the win. My first idea was to grab Mana Severance and Tinker, but the concept was far too mana intensive to be the optimal Gifts Ungiven setup. Carsten K̦tter also worked on a pretty similar concept, and rejected it too Рthough he had no Goblin Welders Рfor the same reasons.

// Gifted Charbelcher – November 2004.

// Matthieu Durand, Stefan Iwasienko

// Mana sources

4 Underground Sea

4 Island

3 Volcanic Island

2 Flooded Strand

2 Polluted Delta

1 Library of Alexandria

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Pearl

1 Black Lotus

1 Mana Crypt

1 Sol Ring

1 Mana Vault

// Deck engine

2 Goblin Welder

1 Tinker

1 Goblin Charbelcher

1 Mana Severance

// Draw and tutors

4 Brainstorm

4 Thirst for Knowledge

3 Gifts Ungiven

1 Burning Wish

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Recoup

// Disruption and Permission

4 Force of Will

4 Mana Drain

4 Duress

// Sideboard

1 Meltdown

1 Mind Twist

1 Deep Analysis

1 Platinum Angel

1 Turbulent Dreams

2 Goblin Welder

2 Lava Dart

3 Red Elemental Blast

3 Rack and Ruin

The basic game plan was obviously to Gifts Ungiven for Yawgmoth’s Will, Tinker, Recoup and Mana Severance, with Goblin Welder backup if needed. The fundamental problem was obviously the fact that you’d always get Recoup and Mana Severance in hand, and 10 mana to win after that (Recoup for Tinker + Tinker + Mana Severance + Goblin Charbelcher activation) was prohibitive. Hence, the idea got rejected and the deck sent to the dust bin.

After a couple of other tries, I focused my work on an Auriok Salvagers finish, based on everyone’s favorite German – Stefan Iwasienko – original decklists on that concept. The obvious plan is to get Auriok Salvagers and Black Lotus on the board for infinite mana and spell count. Then the win condition becomes quite irrelevant…

Part 2 – Gifted Salvagers, The Decklist

Here is the deck as I was playing it in February 2005. The last tweaks have been made with the help of the Germans Kim Klück and Stefan Iwasienko and a French playtesting partner, Benoit Foucard.

// Mana Sources

4 Underground Sea

3 Island

3 Tundra

2 Polluted Delta

2 Flooded Strand

2 Tropical Island

1 Black Lotus

1 Lotus Petal

1 Mox Emerald

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Pearl

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Sol Ring

// Deck Engine

3 Phyrexian Furnace

2 Auriok Salvagers

// Draw and Tutors

4 Brainstorm

3 Cunning Wish

3 Gifts Ungiven

3 Thirst for Knowledge

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Regrowth

1 Time Walk

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Skeletal Scrying

// Disruption and Permission

4 Force of Will

4 Mana Drain

3 Duress

// Sideboard

2 Disenchant (Dismantling Blow)

2 Swords to Plowshares

1 Vampiric Tutor (Skeletal Scrying)

1 Gifts Ungiven

1 Shallow Grave

1 Echoing Truth (Ray of Revelation, Capsize)

1 Brain Freeze

1 Coffin Purge

2 Pernicious Deed

1 Library of Alexandria (Mind Twist)

1 Balance (Aether Spellbomb)

1 Duress (Cranial Extraction)

The sideboard listed above is what I would run if I took the deck in a tournament now. I have listed some cards in italics too, as potential replacements according to metagame calls.

Kim Klück split the Type One side events with this build (even if he had a slightly different – and non tweaked – sideboard) and Luc Tremblay, a long-time Canadian friend of mine, piloted it to a first place in Quebec with 4 maindeck Thirst for Knowledge and no Skeletal Scrying.

Les Engine

Part 3 – How Do I Win With This Deck?

Gifts Ungiven is the fundamental win condition of the deck, because It usually grabs both of your Combo pieces in one shot. Once you have settled a nice mana base, you’ll want to cast Gifts Ungiven on your opponent End of Turn step, getting Regrowth, Yawgmoth’s Will, Auriok Salvagers and Black Lotus. If your opponent gives you the Auriok Salvagers, you just win. If they give you Yawgmoth’s Will, well, you just get to resolve Yawgmoth’s Will… Thus, they will probably give you Regrowth and Black Lotus in hand, and you just have to Regrowth the Auriok Salvagers to win the game if you have 5 mana sources on the board. Or you can randomly draw Auriok Salvagers off a Brainstorm or a Thirst for Knowledge, which happens a lot…

With infinite mana, all you have to do next is to grab a Cunning Wish to find Brain Freeze in the sideboard. Drawing into one is rather easy considering the big draw engine of the deck with its Brainstorms, Thirst for Knowledge and Gifts Ungiven. Phyrexian Furnace is probably the best Combo enabler there, because you get to draw a card per other card in any graveyard thanks to Auriok Salvagers recursion. Considering the amount of cards stuff like Thirst for Knowledge and Gifts Ungiven dump in your graveyard, achieving your goal should not be hard then.

Before you reject the Brain Freeze kill because of stuff like Goblin Welder welding in Platinum Angels or Gaea’s Blessing, remember the deck has 3 Phyrexian Furnace maindeck…

Part 4 – Card By Card Analysis

4.1 – The Draw Spells

Thirst for Knowledge

Thirst for Knowledge is usually associated with Goblin Welder. Well, this deck runs no Goblins, but enough artifacts to make the Thirst for Knowledge a reliable card draw. Thirst for Knowledge perfectly fits into Gifted Salvagers game plan. Early game, Thirst will draw cards to dig into Gifts Ungiven or Auriok Salvagers, while dumping cards in the graveyard to abuse later with Yawgmoth’s Will or Regrowth, for example. Then, when going off, Thirst for Knowledge turns into a strong “Draw6” thanks to the Phyrexian Furnace recursion. Trying to go off with a Thirst for Knowledge in hand will almost always be successful even if both graveyards are empty by then. My original build had 4 Thirst for Knowledge, but I sometimes found myself unwilling to discard a Mox or a Phyrexian Furnace. I soon cut one for the lone Skeletal Scrying (see the reasons above) and was pretty happy with that change. Depending on how the metagame adjusts after Trinisphere’s restriction, running a couple of Seat of the Synod maindeck could be a possibility, but it weakens the deck when facing Null Rod.

Skeletal Scrying

Skeletal Scrying is probably one of the most solid and reliable unrestricted card draw spells we can play in Type One. Nevertheless, the deck does not really want to play with a lot of Skeletal Scrying, since they hinder your ability to go off early with Phyrexian Furnace recursion. One Skeletal Scrying is pretty fine as a backup draw engine for Thirst for Knowledge, but you would never want to draw more than one in the game, so It’s fine as a singleton. That lone Skeletal Scrying is also pretty strong in Control mirrors if you want to Gifts Ungiven for card draw because you can get Ancestral Recall (Regrowth or Demonic Tutor if Ancestral Recall has already been played), Gifts Ungiven, Thirst for Knowledge and Skeletal Scrying now.

Gifts Ungiven

Gifts Ungiven is the centerpiece of the build. That deck is actually far more a Gifts Ungiven deck than an Auriok Salvagers one. Gifts Ungiven is basically a double Demonic Tutor there for a mere 4 mana in a deck running 4 Mana Drains and most of the fast mana artifacts. Against everything that is not Control, you’ll usually aim straight for the kill with the first Gifts Ungiven, getting Black Lotus, Auriok Salvagers, Regrowth and Yawgmoth’s Will. With a Mana Drain fueled Gifts Ungiven by turn 3, the deck can easily goldfish turn 4. Basically, if you have Mana Drain in hand by turn 2 along with Gifts Ungiven or Cunning Wish, just randomly Mana Drain whatever your opponent is casting, for mana acceleration purpose only. Yeah, call that “Interaction”… Against Control, the Gifts Ungiven usually become more tricky. Point is that resolving Gifts Ungiven for the aforementioned setup may lead to a disastrous play into Mana Drain. Hence, you’ll usually want to tweak your first Gifts Ungiven according to your board position, grabbing mana sources to extend your mana development (Mox Sapphire, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl and Sol Ring or Mox Emerald is a strong setup there), or a mix of draw spells and disruption. Basically, you can take your time there since you have a pretty strong draw engine and a really good disruption base with the maindeck Duress.

4.2 – The Tools


Most of the Gifts Ungiven based decks that have been released so far use a Red splash for Recoup, which has a great synergy with Gifts Ungiven thanks to its flashback cost. Nevertheless, there is only a single card that is definitely worth “Recouping” in the build: Yawgmoth’s Will. When setting up the lethal Gifts Ungiven against the fastest decks, you usually want to goldfish as fast as possible, and that “Recoup for Yawgmoth’s Will” plan is just decent. Regrowth solves that problem, because It allows you to go straight for the Auriok Salvagers out of the graveyard, saving a lot of mana. It’s also quite common to use the Regrowth in Control mirror in draw oriented Gifts Ungivens, getting, for example, Ancestral Recall, Thirst for Knowledge, Gifts Ungiven and Regrowth. Overall, Regrowth is far better than Recoup in this particular build. Recoup would only be useful with Reanimate, as Carsten Kötter suggested once, but I don’t really feel like running more cards dedicated to the win condition only (other than the obvious Auriok Salvagers).

Phyrexian Furnace

Once going off with Auriok Salvagers and Black Lotus, you often need some way to cycle through your deck in order to find your win condition. The common cards being used to do that are Pyrite Spellbomb, Aether Spellbomb and Phyrexian Furnace. Pyrite Spellbomb is just useful when the deck is going off since I chose to run Green over the standard Red splash. I was then left with Aether Spellbomb and Phyrexian Furnace. And Phyrexian Furnace is far better than the Spellbomb overall. Aether Spellbomb is mostly useful against Dragon and Oath of Druids, because you really want to avoid bouncing crappy creatures anyway. That is, Spellbomb will most of the time be some kind of two-mana cantrip.

On the other hand, Phyrexian Furnace is extremely potent in many matchups. Most of the decks tend to be Yawgmoth’s Will decks, or Goblin Welder based decks. Phyrexian Furnace has Its use there. Against Drain Slaver, an early Furnace will keep Goblin Welders in check for a long time. Remember the Mindslaver always go to the graveyard before the Thirst for Knowledge (that’s the reason why Scrabbling Claws is rather weak). Against Dragon, you can force them to waste Animate Dead or remove a couple of Squees. Against 3CC or 4CC, emptying their graveyard will turn their Skeletal Scryings into weak cantrips. And you have a good shot at countering the Recoup effects from the Gifts Ungiven decks too. At worse, Phyrexian Furnace cantrips too, and gets discarded to Thirst for Knowledge. Contrary to Aether Spellbomb, Phyrexian Furnace requires cards in the graveyard to cantrip. This could be seen as problematic, but hardly is. Thirst for Knowledge and Gifts Ungiven dump 3 cards in the graveyard, and you have a fair amount of cantrips, disruption and fetchland to have a fast graveyard filling. You tend to have Threshold by turn 3 most of the time.

Cunning Wish

Cunning Wish is the deck’s win condition. When designing the early builds, I wanted to avoid having “dead cards” in my maindeck, that is cards that are dedicated at winning and do nothing else, such as Pyrite Spellbomb. Cunning Wish was the logical way to get the win condition. I’m running Brain Freeze, because it’s overall more useful than most of the other win conditions I could think of (Volcanic Geyser or Stroke of Genius, for example). Brain Freeze gives you an opportunity to peek at your opponent’s deck, and can randomly be cast against Combo that overextended its Storm count. You are probably starting to think about situations where Brain Freeze would be bad, for example against Oath of Druids Gaea’s Blessing or when facing Goblin Welder with Platinum Angel in the deck, but with the 3 maindeck Phyrexian Furnace, this is not an issue. Ancestral Recall helps there too if you need to win in the turn (Dragon). Cunning Wish is also used as a toolbox tutor, with sideboarded removal (Swords to Plowshares, Disenchant, Coffin Purge), card draw (Gifts Ungiven), tutors (Vampiric Tutor) and an Exhume effect. Shallow Grave is indeed a key component in the sideboard, allowing you to grab Auriok Salvagers early on in the game, to Exhume it later. Most of the time, the opponent won’t give you Auriok Salvagers in hand expecting you already have Black Lotus. This turns Gifts Ungiven into a far better tutor.

4.3 – Cards that have been tested and rejected


If you are using Tinker as your win condition after Gifts Ungiven, or planning on winning after a big Yawgmoth’s Will turn, then Recoup is a must have in your build. If you are planning on getting an Auriok Salvagers back into play, then Regrowth is obviously better.

Deep Analysis

My first build had 1 maindeck Deep Analysis. At first glance, Deep Analysis looks like an awesome card to use with Gifts Ungiven. Nevertheless, the opponent will always put the Deep Analysis into your hand, and a four-mana Sorcery speed draw spell is definitely not what the deck wants. The synergy with Thirst for Knowledge is decent, but that’s still a wacky combo. Skeletal Scrying is usually far better when you want to fetch draw spells with Gifts Ungiven, because drawing 4 cards for 5 mana at Instant speed is always better than drawing 4 for 6 mana at Sorcery speed.

Pyrite Spellbomb

The deck runs no maindeck win condition. This has never been a problem to me since the Phyrexian Furnace recursion will always draw me a Cunning Wish. Meddling Mage could be a problem, but this card does not see a lot of play and usually names Auriok Salvagers anyway. If Meddling Mage start seeing a lot of competitive Type One play, I’d probably go for Aether Spellbomb anyway, since Aether Spellbomb can bounce the Meddling Mages when going off (hence allowing to cast Cunning Wish) while also being randomly useful against Dragon and Oath, contrary to the Pyrite one.

Trinket Mage

Trinket Mage is a three-mana Sorcery speed spell that only fetches Black Lotus or Phyrexian Furnace. Gifts Ungiven is an Instant that fetches all the Combo components when needed, and disruption / mana / draw early on. Trinket Mage is terrible overall, and a huge Mana Drain target.

Lion’s Eye Diamond

The Lion’s Eye Diamond is similar to Black Lotus when going off. But it’s terrible early on. As I said before, I want to minimize the number of cards that are only good when I’m ready to win. Fetching Black Lotus is not really hard with 3 Cunning Wish (for Vampiric Tutor or Gifts Ungiven), 3 Gifts Ungiven and the backup tutor / draw engine, so I’m fine with a single Lotus in the deck.

Oath of Druids

Oath of Druids was used as a sideboard card for the Aggro matchups. The basic plan was to go down to 1 Auriok Salvagers post sideboarding, cutting 3 Gifts Ungiven and 1 Auriok Salvagers for 4 Oath of Druids. After some testing, It turned out that this sideboard plan was most of the time only needed against Workshop Aggro decks packing Trinisphere. With Trinisphere gone, Swords to Plowshares and Pernicious Deed are better when facing Aggro.

A Prettier Picture Hath Rarely Been Seen

Part 5 – Matchup Analysis

5.1 – Combo matchups

The Perfect Storm (U/B or U/B/r)

There is something good in this matchup. TPS is a slow Combo deck, and you usually have the same goldfish rate as them. Except you run 4 Mana Drains and no Draw7. This gives you a huge advantage here. Duress and Force of Will are your strongest weapons in early game, until Mana Drain comes online. Then winning becomes quite a nightmare for them because you can put pressure on their resources while drawing into business. Phyrexian Furnace is obviously not really good in this matchup, but the slight tempo loss has almost never been an issue. You tend to keep the Phyrexian Furnace in hand, which makes most of your Thirst for Knowledge better. Just be careful about Mind’s Desire, so start countering the Dark Rituals or the Moxen if they start reaching the 6 mana threshold.

Slightly good matchup.


MeanDeath is far more explosive than TPS and often maindecks Xantid Swarms. Should Xantid Swarm resolve, you are in trouble. Use Duress and Force of Will in early game to prevent them from going off, and be aggressive on the Gifts Ungiven by aiming straight for the kill since they don’t run Force of Will to prevent you from winning. Dark Ritual is a threat, as well as Draw7s. If you make an efficient use of your countermagic and disruption and can keep Xantid Swarm off the table, things will usually go fine.

Slightly bad matchup if they maindeck Xantid Swarm, otherwise pretty even.


Dragon is a slow Combo deck, and getting Mana Drain online is not a problem there. The real good news is that you are maindecking graveyard hate, something Dragon usually has issues to deal with before sideboarding. Should you resolve a Phyrexian Furnace, just keep taking the cards off their graveyard, and cantrip away the Dragons if needed in response of the triggers of the reanimation enchantments. You can usually be aggressive on the Gifts Ungiven, but still less than when you are facing MeanDeath because of Force of Will. Racing an active Bazaar of Baghdad is quite hard even with Phyrexian Furnaces, so try to goldfish over them as soon as possible, ideally with Duress backup.

Overall a good matchup.

5.2 – Control matchups

3c-Control and 4c-Control

Your mana base can usually support their Wastelands and Duress will give them serious problems. You tend to run more card draw and more disruption than them, so you can afford to be the Control deck there. Another good thing is that an early Phyrexian Furnace is a really good deal for you because you can control their card draw by weakening their Skeletal Scrying (the remove card effect is an additional cost), often turning them into weak 1B cantrips. Swords to Plowshares is a significant threat for your Auriok Salvagers, so aiming at a fast kill with Gifts Ungiven is not necessary. The first Gifts Ungiven usually gets a mix of Duress and card draw or mana sources, depending on your hand and board position.

Overall a good matchup.

“Shay” Slaver

They badly need Goblin Welder to win, and you have Phyrexian Furnace in the maindeck to prevent them from doing nasty tricks with it, with Cunning Wish for Swords to Plowshares or Coffin Purge if needed. You also have Duress and a heavy countermagic base to make sure Tinker won’t resolve. Drain Slaver usually wants to be aggressive there, trying to get Goblin Welder active before your Furnaces have emptied their graveyard, and you have all the tools you need to make this hard. Just make sure you don’t get too enthusiastic with your draw spells and Gifts Ungiven, and you should have the edge on this matchup.

Overall a good matchup.

Goth Slaver / Cruci Slaver

Two different matchup analysis for the two different Slaver builds because Intuition really changes the deal there. Against Drain Slaver, you can usually sit on Phyrexian Furnace until they try to use Goblin Welder. Against Intuition, the deal is different. Intuition dumps a lot of cards in the graveyard, so you will be forced to cantrip the Furnace in order to prevent them from drawing 3 cards. This means they have a built-in way to deal with Furnace, by simply dumping more cards in the graveyard than what you can handle. Nevertheless, It’s still overall a good matchup, just a bit worse than the regular non Intuition Drain Slaver one.

Overall a good matchup.

U/R Stax / ChainStax

Stax is a terrible matchup. Trinisphere prevents you from goldfishing and getting 4 mana to cast Gifts Ungiven is hard. Oh, wait, Trinisphere is gone. Fine. One less bad matchup. Sphere of Resistance is not a problem and can easily be played around, thanks to Cunning Wish. Note that Auriok Salvagers + Black Lotus is still infinite Storm, so a win if you have Cunning Wish or a way to tutor for it in hand already. Chains of Mephistopheles is only a minor annoyance, because you still get to combo off with Gifts Ungiven, and actually tends to help you when going off because it feeds the Phyrexian Furnace recursion. The German original Gifts Ungiven based deck packed a couple of Chains of Mephistopheles in the sideboard.

*Was* an extremely bad matchup.

Oath of Druids

Oath runs a lot of countermagic, and has a really cheap win condition. Duress is one of your best weapons there, grabbing an Oath of Druids or countermagic. If you manage to get into late game, you should usually win because of your superior draw engine. If you manage to Cunning Wish for Echoing Truth with them having Oath of Druids and a creature on the board, you can often use their own engine to your advantage, getting Auriok Salvagers into play and maybe the Black Lotus in the graveyard if you are lucky. Then going off should not be hard with a full graveyard available.

50/50 matchup.

5.3 – Aggro matchups

Workshop Aggro

Another terrible matchup, for similar reasons. Trinisphere is gone, so this matchup should be a lot better now since they have no real way to force you to interact with their game plan now. Just goldfish as fast as possible and Mana Drain whatever they cast as long as you get enough mana as a reward. Basically, Mana Drain everything they try to cast that costs 3 or more, even if totally irrelevant.

*Was* an extremely bad matchup.

Food Chain Goblins

They can’t prevent you from winning, but they usually have a really fast clock. This is usually a goldfish race but you are well equipped to win it thanks to the Mana Drains and the Force of Wills. Duress is usually bad in this matchup but you can sometimes be lucky and catch a Food Chain. Post sideboard, Swords to Plowshares and Pernicious Deed make the matchup a lot better.

A slightly good matchup.


Madness tend to be faster than Food Chain Goblins if Goblins can’t resolve a Food Chain, but Madness also runs extremely expensive cards like Arrogant Wurm and Roar of the Wurm, which will make your Mana Drains insane. The matchup is a lot close to the Workshop Aggro in its game plan, just Mana Drain whatever they cast and win off the drained mana.

A slightly good matchup.

Part 6 – Conclusion

Even if It uses a crappy White card as Its win condition, the deck is really strong and consistent. It usually has a turn 4 goldfish kill and has a good draw engine. Gifts Ungiven is an extreme skill tester in the build, and I honestly think the card is far more potent than Fact or Fiction as long as you start designing an entire deck around it.

As a side note, Gifts Ungiven is also awesome in a Battle of Wits deck, because you can randomly get Academy Rector, Cabal Therapy, Animate Dead and Exhume with it. It’s soooooo good it might turn Battle of Wits into a Tier1 deck. Oh well, It probably won’t, but I’m still dreaming of epic battles between Battle of Wits and Carl Winter The Revenge at SCG Top8s. Philip Stanton would obviously be mad at us, but that would be *really* cool 😀

Matthieu Durand

a.k.a. Toad

Team MeanDeck

TheManaDrain.com administrator and MTGPics.com owner