This past week I got the chance to play a few six-person games of Commander. That used to be the norm in my playgroup, but as people moved away after college it became much rarer. (One of my old roommates came back to town for a visit, which is how we got the group together.)
The reason I bring this up is that it gave me an opportunity to play some of my old decks that’ve become much worse when all the games have two to four players. It was a blast all around, although my favorite play of the night was when I overextended by sticking my commander under Mimic Vat, only to have Bosh exiled forever when my last opponent found the Naturalize for it.
Even though I wound up losing, that kind of crazy, swingy play is exactly what makes Commander my favorite format. Nowhere else could those kinds of moments happen all the time.
Mono-blue Commander decks–especially ones with an artifact slant–usually set off busted-combo-deck alarms. However, I was happy to see Padeem, Consul of Innovation was not the next Arcum Dagsson. Padeem simply offers hexproof to your artifacts and some situational card draw. Sure, one could go down the busted-combo-deck road, but Padeem isn’t forcing you down it; it’s merely offering the choice.
Where I want to go with Padeem is artifact beatdown. March of the Machines is one of my favorite cards, and granting immunity from targeted removal to my robotic beaters is delightful. Plus, beatdown decks could often use a bit of passive card draw, and with Padeem and expensive artifacts in play, that passive card draw is more likely to be active, if you catch my drift.
Here is where my journey left me:
Rage Against the Machine…I Dare You
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
I like a lot of what’s present in the deck. I have good artifact mana generation and a handful of card advantage aside from Padeem. I like my aggressive elements, and I feel like I am making the most of my land base despite being monocolored. Plus, any deck in which I get to play Colossus of Akros makes me happy. The titan-esque statue is one of my favorite pet cards.
There are two sticking points, though. First, March of the Machines decks have been done before, and I feel as though mine retreads a lot of covered territory. Is there any way to be a bit more innovative with my artifact beatdown deck? Padeem wants to be impressed, and I would love nothing more than to do just that.
Second, am I missing any helpful blue or colorless aggressive elements? I want to make sure this deck hits hard and hits often.
Thanks for the help!
Longtime readers know that I have a fondness for artifact decks, so despite Bennie Smith’s fantastic take of Padeem, Consul of Innovation last week, I decided to take a crack at the new Artificer legendary creature myself.
Beatdown is a somewhat unusual strategy for an artifact deck to take, especially a blue one that has access to all the best tutors and some truly busted combo potential, but it’s definitely an approach I can get behind. Craig’s deck isn’t just dead in the water without March of the Machines either, which can be a fatal flaw when you’re building around a card that isn’t your commander.
I’ve played Myr Retriever in several artifact decks, and the only time I’ve ever been happy to have it is when I need the ability to recur very specific combo cards. This isn’t that kind of deck, and I’d much rather just have more aggressive creatures than a slow way to bring one of your beaters back after it dies.
I know people are quite high on Filigree Familiar now, but let’s make one thing clear. Filigree Familiar isn’t Solemn Simulacrum. It doesn’t generate so much value that it’s a shoo-in for every commander deck ever. Gaining two life is so much worse than ramping a basic land onto the battlefield that the Fox costing one less doesn’t come close to making up for it. This deck has enough card advantage built in that you don’t really need the death trigger here, and you have much better bodies than a 2/2 for three.
Similarly, Wizard Replica is just underwhelming. It’s your only piece of countermagic, but countermagic that your opponents see coming is always subpar, and the 1/3 is just going to sit there and get outclassed.
The last two creatures I’m cutting are powerful, but they have other problems. Sage of Lat-Nam is great for combo or control decks where you just want to fill up your hand, but in a beatdown deck, battlefield presence is far more important, especially since your commander negates spot removal, so you won’t even have the benefit of sacrificing doomed creatures to draw cards.
Memnarch is very, very, strong, but he draws hate like no other card I’ve seen. Since there were other high-costed artifacts I wanted to include that are both better for your gameplan and would bring far less hatred down on your head, I didn’t feel too bad about cutting such an individually strong card.
When talking about artifact beatdown, Darksteel Juggernaut was the first card that leapt into my mind. It’s been cut from many of my decks because I always shy away from combat and a massive beater that has to attack is pretty much the antithesis of that style, but it’s everything this deck wants. Being indestructible is just gravy.
One of the things I wanted to add to the deck was more ways to find March of the Machines, but since blue has almost no ability to tutor for enchantments, I added Karn, Silver Golem instead. Karn acts as a limited version of your favorite enchantment. Each has its ups and downs, as Karn needs a constant stream on mana to use fully while March of the Machines opens you up to a complete blowout from a battlefield wipe, but it’s still an amazing effect for the deck and you definitely want both of them.
Arcbound Overseer is a bit questionable as an inclusion, but you have the ramp to get it out early, it starts as a 6/6 and only gets bigger from there, and when it dies, you can put all of that power onto another creature. Add in the potential to make an endless recursion engine with Arcbound Reclaimer and I decided that the Overseer was a better pick for this slot than any of the expensive artifact creatures with downsides, although Mage-Ring Responder could potentially be good enough thanks to your untap effects.
And speaking of Overseers, Steel Overseer packs a terrifying amount of damage into a two-mana package. If you can get this creature to stick around for a few turns, it can take over a game pretty much single-handedly, and that’s even in games where you don’t find any token engines. If you want to be aggressive, this card is well, well worth the price tag.
If this card didn’t have the phrase “or more” on it, it’d be an amazing home run for the deck, but as is you can do much, much better. The trickle of Thopters it provides is nice but rather irrelevant compared to what your other cards are doing.
Don’t get me wrong. I know Archmage Ascension is slow. But with Padeem drawing you an extra card on each turn and other engines at your fingertips, you’re unlikely to miss a trigger. Once it’s online, every draw becomes a tutor for any card, which is a terrifying prospect even without infinite combos to dig for, and it should be fairly trivial to bury your opponents in card quality over the next few turns. It doesn’t hurt that this was one of the only blue cards I found that could tutor up March of the Machines.
Voltaic Key and Clock of Omens are both fantastic cards that are getting cut because they don’t really do anything in this deck. Key and Clock are both fantastic combo pieces for a wide variety of decks, but other than marginally speeding up your ramp and letting you untap a few creatures as surprise blockers, you simply don’t have a use for these cards.
Mind Stone is a fine mana rock, but I wanted to trim your ramp package a little, and I much prefer the bigger rocks you were running like Dreamstone Hedron, at least for a deck that needs to reach eleven mana at some point in every game.
Lightning Greaves was simply redundant given Padeem’s hexproof ability, and while it was true that the Greaves could protect Padeem, I have a better pair of cards in mind for that purpose.
I’m not sure what to think of Ratchet Bomb in this deck. Your curve is all over the place, so it’s almost always going to kill something of yours. Maybe tokens are a big enough part of your metagame that you needed a hate card, but for everything else I prefer Spine of Ish Sah as a much better way to deal with problem permanents.
Speaking of ways to protect Padeem, Liquimetal Coating and Silverskin Armor take advantage of the hexproof Padeem grants to all artifacts in different ways. Silverskin Armor simply equips to Padeem and buffs Padeem while letting it synergize with both it and all of your other artifact cards. Liquimetal Coating, on the other hand, lets you turn any card into an artifact at instant speed, essentially giving you free counterspells for anything that targets your permanents. Admittedly that’ll mostly mean removal against Padeem and/or land destruction spells, but it’s still a very useful effect to have on tap.
Bident of Thassa is the card that you wanted Thopter Spy Network to be, since it triggers for every creature that hits an opponent, not just one per damage phase. It won’t make Thopters like the Spy Network, but the ability to open your opponent’s defenses up by forcing them to attack more than makes up for it.
Mimic Vat is a great card that gives your deck an amazing amount of resiliency, letting you churn out value and damage turn after turn despite battlefield wipes. It’s best with value creatures like Solemn Simulacrum for obvious reasons, but it’s good with any creature imprinted. Also, don’t forget that you can nab your opponent’s creatures if you want to.
The last three artifacts I’m adding are all quasi-lords for your beatdown plan. Glaring Spotlight makes sure that you’re the only one who can take advantage of hexproof and shroud, but more importantly it lets you pick your turn to force through a lethal attack. One of the biggest dangers for beatdown decks is stalling out, and having a card to ensure you can punch through that last attack is crucial.
Eldrazi Monument and Akroma’s Memorial both grant a whole boatload of keywords to your team, making your creatures faster, more evasive, harder-hitting, and much more resilient. Both cards are Commander staples, so I won’t go on and on about how good they are, but just consider what will happen if you ever get Akroma’s Memorial down at the same time as March of the Machines.
I’m making a few tweaks to your manabase, cutting some clunky lands and adding in some fresh utility.
I’ve already made my dislike of Myriad Landscape known, so there’s not much to say here that I haven’t already said. It’s slow and I’d rather have a basic.
Urza’s Factory is a token producer hidden in your manabase, but it might just be one of the most inefficient token makers in the game. Trust me, I’ve run this card, and in six years of playing with it I’ve never encountered a scenario where I wanted to make a 2/2.
I actually like Faerie Conclave as a creature-land, but there’s a much better one for the deck that doesn’t enter the battlefield tapped.
You have a lot of card draw engines built into the deck, so adding Reliquary Tower is a natural choice. This deck doesn’t want the effect badly enough to include Spellbook, but in a land slot there’s no reason not to.
Blinkmoth Nexus is the creature-land I wanted for the deck. It’s a little less aggressive than Faerie Conclave, but it benefits from Padeem’s hexproof when animated, is better on defense, is cheaper to animate, and can grow to huge sizes if you have Steel Overseer or a similar effect.
As for the last land, I wanted a land that tapped for blue, since you already have a lot of colorless lands and good utility built into the manabase. In addition, with a Caged Sun and Vedalken Shackles in the list, basics have a little extra value built in. More basics are rarely a bad thing.
Putting all together, we arrive at the following decklist:
- 1 Darksteel Colossus
- 1 Metalworker
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Karn, Silver Golem
- 1 Arcbound Overseer
- 1 Vedalken Archmage
- 1 Arcbound Reclaimer
- 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 Steel Overseer
- 1 Steel Hellkite
- 1 Palladium Myr
- 1 Grand Architect
- 1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
- 1 Myr Battlesphere
- 1 Darksteel Juggernaut
- 1 Shimmer Myr
- 1 Treasure Mage
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Colossus of Akros
- 1 Muzzio, Visionary Architect
- 1 Soul of New Phyrexia
- 1 Chief of the Foundry
- 1 Metalwork Colossus
- 1 Foundry Inspector
- 1 Phyrexian Processor
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Darksteel Forge
- 1 Vedalken Shackles
- 1 Sculpting Steel
- 1 March of the Machines
- 1 Loxodon Warhammer
- 1 Vedalken Orrery
- 1 Blinkmoth Urn
- 1 Akroma's Memorial
- 1 Archmage Ascension
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Dreamstone Hedron
- 1 Liquimetal Coating
- 1 Mimic Vat
- 1 Silverskin Armor
- 1 Spine of Ish Sah
- 1 Mirrorworks
- 1 Caged Sun
- 1 Unwinding Clock
- 1 Staff of Nin
- 1 Cyclonic Rift
- 1 Glaring Spotlight
- 1 Bident of Thassa
- 1 Hedron Archive
- 1 Thought Vessel
- 1 Tamiyo's Journal
- 1 Saheeli's Artistry
And the additions, sorted by price:
The changes added up to $55.12, not bad for such a significant overhaul. As always, Craig will receive $20 in StarCityGames.com store credit to help make these changes.
There were a few aggressive artifact cards that escaped the final draft of the deck for price concerns, Blightsteel Colossus chief among them (Blightteel was also excluded because infect is heavily frowned on in many playgroups), but if you have the resources, cards like Arcbound Ravager could easily take this list to the next level.
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