Innovations – Exclusive M12 Preview: Solemn Simulacrum!

Yes, Jens is back, baby! This Commander/Cube all-star was first seen back in Mirrodin as Jens Thoren’s Invitational card. Patrick Chapin, one of the card’s developers, explains why this card will make leaps in Standard and beyond.



Is there any sweeter berry in all of Magic than pure value?

My preview card makes me happy for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is its embodiment of just this, pure value. Since many readers will
already know the card of which I speak by the title, let’s jump straight to the image.

Solemn Simulacrum and I actually go way back. It is, without a doubt, my favorite card that I helped develop when I was actually out in
Seattle at Wizards of the Coast. Jens Thoren’s Invitational card was originally submitted at 2UG but made for a far better fit as an artifact creature
in Mirrodin block. A variety of power levels were tried, but in the end, the version you see here was the best combination of fun and power. We were
excited about Solemn Simulacrum’s promise for Constructed, but Affinity rearing its ugly head removed most of the opportunity to take full advantage of
the card. Despite this, it has still managed to see play in every format its legal in, including all the way up to Vintage in Mono-Red Workshop decks.
A favorite in Commander, Solemn Simulacrum is so beloved it is a guilty pleasure of many a master deckbuilder, continually looking for an opportunity
to squeeze a copy into a deck, whenever possible.

Why was this my favorite card we worked on and such a beloved card by so many? We are nothing if not lovers of value.

Card advantage for any color? Mana-fixing? Acceleration? Mulldrifter-like properties at an even lower cost? The requirement that you work for his
value? This card is the living, breathing manifestation of pure value (assuming that “living and breathing” applies to robots). When you play Solemn
Simulacrum, it isn’t just a three-for-one, but if you play your cards right, that is exactly what you walk away with.

The card is subtle, as it is easy to lose sight of how awesome it is when standing next to Vengevines, Koth of the Hammer, and Tezzeret… but it every
bit deserves to be in that camp. Just as Mulldrifter took the public a while to realize its full power, so too will Solemn Simulacrum. In the end, I
suspect there is a good chance he ends up helping shape the format. To understand why it is so awesome, and why it is in fact, better than it ever was,
let’s break it down step-by-step.

First, you play it and immediately get a colorless Rampant Growth and a 2/2 body. How much should that cost? Ondu Giant had a slightly bigger body, but
missed a crucial element. Solemn Simulacrum is colorless. Of course the green mage would not value such a card as highly as the other colors, but it
can’t be stated enough that it’s dangerous when blue gets acceleration.

Solemn Simulacrum is great in plenty of monocolor decks, but will also shine as a fixer. There are already plenty of good dual lands, but Solemn
Simulacrum provides another way to ensure that ambitious mana bases will come together. It isn’t just fixing and card advantage, though. The Simulacrum
also accelerates you, by putting a fifth land onto the battlefield. This lets you untap and skip straight to your six-drops.

If only there were some good six-drops in Standard…

One of the greatest reasons why Solemn Simulacrum will be better than ever is the paradigm shift in card design. When Mirrodin came out, the best cards
cost one and two. Nowadays, many of the absolute best cards in the format cost exactly six, making Solemn Simulacrum an especially potent four-drop.
There is little better than a Grave Titan, Consecrated Sphinx, Inferno Titan, Primeval Titan, or Wurmcoil Engine… Other than having them a turn

Solemn Simulacrum doesn’t stop there, however. When it dies, you are blessed with yet another card. There is very little reacting to this card in any
meaningful way without losing value. You can be so fast you don’t care; you can ignore it and try to go bigger; but trying to actually fight it
directly is a losing proposition. Part of the beauty of the card, however, is that you actually have to work for it. How can you make the 2/2 body
worth a card, but cash it in as soon as possible to get that extra card?

Okay, so the card is unreal fun. Fine, but who can actually play him?

Tons of decks, and not just because he is an artifact!

To begin with, as we mention above, he is a fantastic card for many decks with Titans, Consecrated Sphinx, or Wurmcoil Engine. You don’t even have to
be content with a turn-five Titan, as cards like Everflowing Chalice and Sphere of the Suns ensure that anyone can have access to a top-notch six on
turn four!

Could U/B Control use Solemn Simulacrum? Sure, why not? They even have a little space at the four-slot, if you know what I mean. Besides, it is looking
like tapping out for sixes is just about the best thing you can do these days. Why not access Grave Titan and Consecrated Sphinx a turn early? It isn’t
even like you are giving up value for the ability to do this. Actually, you gain value in the process. Just about always worth at least two cards, with
a little finesse, you can even triple your investment in card economy in the process. Besides, there are worse fates than just dropping a Simulacrum
turn four, then facing down a freshly summoned Vengevine or Koth of the Hammer. Chump with the Simulacrum if you need, or counter-attack. Either way,
you are gaining a variety of small edges before you try to blow your opponent out of the water with a trump.

That Solemn Simulacrum fixes your mana means that adding a third color is no trouble at all. Red and white are obvious possibilities, upgrading your
sweepers and shoring up some weak spots in U/B. Even green is a possibility, as Beast Within may be especially desirable in the day to come (not to
mention a cute combo with the Simulacrum). In fact, it is quite possible that you’d actually want four or more colors!

What about U/W? Well Venser works with the Simulacrum right out the gate. Having some incidental creatures to help fight planeswalkers is certainly
much appreciated, and the use of cards like Celestial Colonnade and Tectonic Edge ensure that every extra land you get out of your deck really is worth
a card (as every basic land you get gives you that much more freedom to use spell-lands as spells, rather than land).

What about Tezzeret? As I said in my Monday article, I can scarcely imagine a card I’d want in Tezzeret more. With the Mind Sculptor gone, there is an
opening at the four spot. Solemn Simulacrum fits in so many ways. First of all, he is a great card to Tezzeret for. One of the hidden challenges to
building a Tezzeret deck is making sure enough of your “hits” are business and not just mana. Solemn Simulacrum provides a lot of business, since all
Tezzeret decks want to do at times is build up their resources. More mana, more cards, another blocker to help Tezzeret survive. Great, great, great.

Next, Tezzeret decks already want to play two-drop acceleration, like Everflowing Chalice and Sphere of the Suns. Now, they are even more likely to
have access to some game-changing trump on turn four. Whether this is Consecrated Sphinx, Wurmcoil Engine, or something else is not clear. However, one
thing is for certain, Tezzeret decks love getting as much mana as they

It’s very possible that Tezzeret decks adopt a Wellspring + Phyrexia’s Core engine to gain more card advantage and fixing. Solemn Simulacrum works
perfectly for this purpose. Phyrexia’s Core can be used to help cash in a Simulacrum when you really need to dig to something, as well as ensuring that
you “get paid” against opponents that try to Revoke Existence or Journey to Nowhere your guy.

Another possibility is that of Kuldotha Forgemaster. Ichor Wellspring, Mycosynth Wellspring, and Solemn Simulacrum provide no shortage of fantastic
artifacts to sacrifice in your quest to make a Myr Battlesphere, Blightsteel Colossus, or Mindslaver. Is this the direction to take Tezzeret? While the
expected surge of Dismembers has me hesitant to rely on the Forgemaster, it is certainly worth exploring, especially with fewer Divine Offerings to
worry about.

While Solemn Simulacrum is a fantastic addition to the discriminating blue mage’s arsenal, he goes so many other places, too. For instance, what about
Mono-Red? No, not like the Rainmaker would play. I am talking the sort of red decks that use Inferno Titan, Urabrask the Hidden, and maybe Kuldotha
Phoenix. It is definitely sweet that the Simulacrum helps turn on metalcraft for the Phoenix, as well as Galvanic Blast and Mox Opal. This also raises
the question of whether Solemn Simulacrum, along with the Wellsprings and the bannings, give Machine Red strategies the boost they need. Throne of Geth
sacrificing the Simulacrum is not half bad, but between Jens (the Simulacrum), Mox Opal, and Sphere of the Suns, one wonders why stay Mono-Red? Koth is
very alluring, but honestly, Tezzeret seems better for such a deck. If you are on the traditional Machine Red plan, however, Volt Charge and possibly
even Tezzeret’s Gambit seem like exciting ways to get that surprise ultimate, a strategy that’s easy to take advantage of in such a deck.

What about Valakut? While there is certainly no shortage of competition for acceleration in a Valakut deck, he does offer some advantages that other
forms of acceleration do not. Oracle of Mul Daya may have a greater “A-game,” but Solemn Simulacrum always delivers. Sure, you can’t search him up with
Green Sun’s Zenith, but he is not the worst Summoning Trap hit. Besides, he is actually reliable acceleration, unlike the Oracle. Between Rampant
Growth, Explore, and Overgrown Battlement, playing him turn three will be easy and will set up a turn-four Titan nicely. Unlike other forms of
acceleration, Solemn Simulacrum can actually defend you, as well as draw you into even more gas.

This is only scratching the surface! Mono-White Control? Why not use Solemn Simulacrum? Grand Architect? You at least have to consider Jens. Mono-Black
has no shortage of good options at four, now, but the Simulacrum is certainly a compelling option if your plan is to ramp into Grave Titan or Wurmcoil
Engine. What about a Glissa deck? Now this is an artifact worth getting back!  

It isn’t clear what sort of Tempered Steel deck would actually want Solemn Simulacrum, but he definitely fights removal. It is interesting that he is
taking the spot of Steel Overseer in M12 (which is 100% not in, having been “replaced”), but there is a three-month window where you could play both if
you wanted. It is interesting to consider the implications of him in this slot, though. After all, Steel Overseer was a little preview of Scars Block.
Is Solemn Simulacrum in any way connected to Innistrad?

Need someone to carry Equipment? Jens is your man! Did you used to play Pilgrim’s Eye for any reason? Jens is your man! Looking for card advantage in
your non-blue deck? Jens is your man! Have a way to take advantage of sacrificing creatures or artifacts? Jens is your man!

It’s interesting to consider not only the cards that work well with Solemn Simulacrum, but also against him. Steel Sabotage (maybe even Halt Order?)
and every other form of countermagic is far more effective than any removal (with cards like Geth’s Verdict getting hit the hardest). Despise is more
likely to hit against control now (a real risk, with the banning of Jace).
Fliers gain even more in aggro decks (not having to get chump-blocked by Solemn Simulacrum can attempt to make him nothing more than a glorified
four-mana Rampant Growth).

Solemn Simulacrum is a catalyst that helps make possible all of the cool and fun things you can imagine. It fixes your colors, speeds you up, fuels
your card economy, buys you time, provides backup win conditions and planeswalker defense, and more. Rarely has a card so perfect hit that sweet spot
where it is ultra-fun and a top-notch card, but not unfun to play against or oppressive to the format. Solemn Simulacrum will certainly be a Standard
Staple for the year to come, not to mention likely making the transition to Extended. He doesn’t fight Valakut or Twin, but he does help provide the
power and consistency you need to actually gain an advantage after loading your deck with plenty of cards that actually fight the combo matchups.

The biggest strategic takeaways are that every deck with Titans just got a lot deadlier, multi-color midrange and control decks got an important new
tool, and every color now has access to a Mulldrifter.

The biggest non-strategic takeaways? If you love value, you will enjoy this card ridiculously.

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”

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