Welcome back to the Lab. I am very optimistic on how Dominaria has affected Standard. It has given a lot of decks new lines of play and has revitalized dead archetypes which makes the playing field quite diverse. The most diverse it’s been since I can remember.
Tonight I want to bring you my take on this card which caught my attention when it was spoiled. I don’t see as much online deck lists that features this but I know Saffron Olive from MTGGoldfish took a recent 5-0 decklist for a spin but ended with a 2-3 finish in a semi-competitive league facing against UW, Mono Red, Sultai Hadana, a BG Fungus deck and a BW vehicles list.
After replaying the video 2-3 times and see what cards could be improved and I ended up with my own take on the deck inheriting the cards that seemed to work and replaced those that didn’t.
Herald of Anguish was at $15 during pre-order season and now siits between $3-4 and I think this is his time to shine before he rotates. With so many artifacts, HoA can get down as early as turn 4, which is pretty scary. It’s a 5/5 flier which is super difficult to get rid off with damage based removal. It can make other things smaller or kills them outright. Plus it impacts the board immediately on your end step forcing the opponent to discard a card. I ordered this card a $10 back then but never got a chance to use it so I am very happy I can play with it now.
Dominaria’s chase mythic also finds it way into the deck. Why? Well because it can churn out 5/5s and 6/6s easily in this deck. Not to mention it gives the deck some selective card advantage which is not bad. Do not be surprise if you suddenly have creatures much larger than a mono green player. If you drop this on curve after playing a 1-mana artifact, into a 2-mana Servo Schematic, into a turn-3 Puzzleknot, you will end up making a 5/5 on turn 4 which will stop almost everything non-flying from attacking you. On your next turn even if you don’t play anything else, negging Karn again will net you two 6/6’s. Crazy! No wonder Karn is still rising in value. But I think he’s about to plateau pretty soon at maybe $45.
The deck play with more than 2 dozen artifact cards to make sure you have enough 5/5s once you turn to the 3rd page of the Antiquities’ Saga. Starting off with the 1-drops:
Renegade Map lets us drop our land count a bit without hurting our curve. Surprisingly we have a pretty low curve if we don’t consider Herald as a 7-drop. Renegade Map also helps fix our mana which isn’t really a problem because of Nagivator’s Compass.
Initially I had a Walking Ballista in the deck but I think the 3-life on turn 1 and the ability to produce white mana is relevant to our strategy. More life means we can stay in the game longer against aggressive decks. Once we get enough trinkets on the board the aggro player should not be able to catch up.
Merchant’s Dockhand is a 2-off in the deck. If you have it in your first 7 cards, it does a great job stopping Bomat Courier. Late in the game, his ‘Search for Azcanta’ ability is very powerful in getting you the answers you need or another Antiquities War to close the game. I love finding a Karn off of this.
Another reason for playing a lot of 1-drop artifacts is to cash in a huge Battle at the Bridge on turn 3 or 4. Against an aggro deck, gaining 3 life from the Compass and another 4 life from Bridge sets them behind and gives your room to build your board and stabilize. I used to have Fatal Push like Saffron did but at times when I’m down to 2 life, I can’t escape Hazoret’s shock ability.
On our 2-drops we play our ‘Ramp’ cards. Nothing beats cluttering the board with multiple permanents to bring Herald’s cost down or soup up Karn’s constructs. Though you will usually put the servo in front of something, it still leaves you a permanent to count towards improvising the demon out. Prism is there to further fix our mana and replaces itself conveniently.
We don’t have any other 3-drop apart from Metallic Rebuke. It’s our safe net in case we encounter something we can’t easily kill like Planeswalkers or an Ixalan’s Binding. The opponent will not expect an untapped swamp to suddenly counter their spell (Navigator’s Compass turns it to an Island, then tap Prism/Puzzleknot/Servo for improvise).
On the 4-drop we finally have The Antiquities War. Brewers rejoice for having a card like this which allows us to close out games in 3 turns. I think this is the best designed Saga next to History of Benalia. Digging 5 cards deep will rarely brick you and by the time you get to the 3rd counter, your board should be full of prisms, compasses, servos and constructs that suddenly went haywire that smashes for 5. The opponent would probably keep his creatures on defense if he suddenly finds himself facing lethal damage.
Playing mostly colorless lands lets us play with a lot of functional lands. I like Zhalfirin Void the most because it doesn’t enter tapped, it scrys to fix my next draw and can cast our 1-drops. This card has helped me dig into my next land with ease and also makes the deck mulligan a bit better.
By playing plenty of 2-for-1 cards like Schematics and Puzzleknots, it is very easy for us to get the City’s Blessing. We don’t have space in the deck for card draw so I’m taking advantage of putting it in our land base to save some space.
We only play 1 Island to produce our blue colors naturally but we do have other ways to make sure we can play Metallic Rebuke on time. Remember that you can always use Navigator’s Compass to turn a nonbasic land into a Swamp or Island to make your Catacomb enter untapped.
We’ll also play some utility lands against Flip lands and Graveyard. This is just a precautionary measure for game 1, we will have other cards in the SB for matchups that rely on the graveyard.
2 Merchant’s Dockhand
4 Herald of Anguish
3 Karn, Scion of Urza
3 Battle at the Bridge
4 Metallic Rebuke
3 Navigator’s Compass
4 Renegade Map
4 Cogworker’s Puzzleknot
4 Prophetic Prism
4 Servo Schematic
4 The Antiquities War
1 Arch of Orazca
2 Drowned Catacomb
1 Field of Ruin
1 Scavenger Grounds
4 Spire of Industry
4 Zhalfirin Void
Sideboard : 15
1 Battle at the Bridge
1 Arguel’s Blood Fast
2 Crook of Condemnation
2 Tezzeret the Schemer
3 Vraska’s Contempt
2 Yahenni’s Expertise
You might wonder why Tezzeret didn’t make the cut. I tried him out and watched how he performed in Saffron’s game play and I wasn’t impressed. He would usually make Etherium cells but don’t really impact the board immediately. When he does find a target to kill, usually the opponent has something else left behind to take him out. For a 4-mana investment, I don’t want to end up using him once and let it die, especially in very aggressive meta I don’t think Tezzeret is worth in the main. But in the sideboard against known opponent that don’t explore out of the gates, Tezz does a great job holding the fort and keeping the board clean.
Against go-wide decks, I like Yahenni’s Expertise because it also catches Goblin Chainwhirler and Benalish Marshall. This was originally Golden Demise but I think having enough each to take down even Whirler Virtuosos, Rekindling Phoenixes and other 3-toughness creatures is worth the added mana, plus it lets us play some of our artifacts for free after it resolves to get us back into the game.
Crook replaces some copies of Compasses if we are playing against GPG decks. They don’t hit very fast so the 3 life isn’t going to be important but having ways to empty their graveyard is sweet to keep them off of their GPG tricks. This is also good against Azcanta decks and RG monsters to some extent because this card can answer 12 of their creatures permanently – Earthshaker Khenra, Resilient Khenra and Rekindling Phoenix.
Against control decks we need to outdraw them and win some important counter wars to keep them off of their Approaches.
We don’t have white lands but Prophetic Prism and Navigator’s Compass will allow us to pay for the white activation of Cogworker’s Puzzleknot and Fragmentize which is specifically for Ixalan’s Binding and Cast Out which cripples our game plan if they get to exile our Karn or Antiquities War. It’s also another great SB card against Vehicles which is again rising in popularity because of Karn.
The deck looks sweet. I tried to draw out a sample game against Saffron’s opponent in his video and I am quite happy how the list turned out. I’ll bring this out soon and hopefully we can talk about this if we face each other in our local FNMs.