With Jund available as an opponent deck, my nemesis this time could be no other than Sam. In addition to loving the shard of Jund, Sam also happens to have a devour deck of her own that she delights in playing. For my part, I’d be leading the more thoughtful and pensive shard of Esper into battle, though certainly not a shard without its own formidable resources. In our analysis of Esper Artifice, we found it a solidly-built skies deck with some unique artifact twists. Now we’d see just how well that strategy paid off. Our notes from the three matches are as follows…
Thus far in our tour of the various shards of Alara, we’ve found three new keywords: Bant’s exalted, Grixis’ unearth, and Jund’s devour. The designers of the set wanted to give each shard its own identity through a mechanic, but for the last two shards on our list no keyword was needed. Instead, they have a more thematic approach, and for Esper that meant a new innovation- coloured artifacts. Sure there had been a smattering of these before, but Esper was designed to be dedicated to them fully- every Esper-themed creature is an artifact.
Esper in some ways is something of a mini-Mirrodin, a land where artifacts and artifice holds sway. Visually and conceptually distinction from Mirrodin, however, was achieved through the concept of etherium, a metal infused with Magic that could be not just grafted onto, but actually replace body parts and appendages. The most notable example of this is the iconic right arm of Tezzeret, but it extends to all living things on the shard.
This gives the shard’s denizens a cohesive look and feel, and Esper Artifice takes full advantage. Many of the deck’s cards care about artifacts in some way- either through direct interaction or passive bonus. Nowhere is this more prevalent than with the deck’s creatures, and so there we’ll begin.