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September 22, 2010


Ertai’s Trickery: The Mad Machinist’s Mash-Up (part 4 of 6)

by Dredd77

Once again we return to the lair of the Mad Machinist, and continue our Frankensten-like work on a hybrid deck combining the best elements of three different preconstructed decks! In the past three episodes of Ertai’s Trickery, we’re looking to build a powerhouse Artifact deck out of the 180 cards afforded us by Planechase’s Metallic Dreams, Archenemy’s Assemble the Doomsday Machine and the Tezzeret deck from Duel Decks: Elspeth vs Tezzeret.

In earlier articles, we’ve narrowed the colour scheme down to Blue/Black, and have made early rounds of cuts on our removal, and selected cards that would give us a steady dose of card advantage.

By the end of today’s column, we’ll have our second round of cuts comeplete, and ready to start deckbuilding! All that remains are critters, counters, and miscellany, and we’ll hit them all today!

A Pinch of Countermagic

This one’s easy, as there are only two counter effects in the entire batch: Foil and Wizard Replica. The Replica has an advantage in that it comes with a 1/3 Flying body, but the counter itself is quite weak (a lesser Mana Leak, essentially). The other- Foil- is a rather clunky counter as well. Essentially a “fixed” Force of Will, it commands a very steep price regardless of which method you use to pay it- the drawback of versatility! The nagging voice of reason tells me to cut it altogether, but I always feel better when I have recourse to countermagic, however thin. It may not make the final cut, but I’m not quite ready to sever ties.

Safe for Now: Foil

Goodbye Forever: Wizard Replica

A Bit of Garnish

Before we get to the main course (the Creatures), let’s take a look at all the other cards that didn’t quite fit into a niche but may be useful all the same. First we have three pieces of Equipment: Cranial Plating, Loxodon Warhammer, and Lightning Greaves. Each of these are very strong here, and easily pass to the next round.

Two additional cards are non-Artifact: Fabricate and March of the Machines. I like them both. Fabricate is about as good a tutor as you can hope for here, and should provide tremendous versatility- the card you need, when you need it. March of the Machines is a good ‘alpha strike’ card, but I’m concerned it might nuke my Artifact Lands when they become 0/0 creatures. It, too, makes the cut, but will need some thoughtful consideration before including.

Energy Chamber has been a very solid performer in Tezzeret, and as I’m beginning to see something of a subtheme here with +1/+1 counters, it stays as well.

That leaves five that didn’t make the cut. Sun Droplet does nothing but give you a small trickle of life, and while it’s nicely costed I just don’t want to devote a card slot to so marginal an effect. In the absence of White mana sources, Batwing Brume becomes even more marginal, an ultra-conditional Instant damage spell that is almost certain to sit in the hand for too long waiting for the ‘right’ time to be cast. I’ll pass.

I’m passing as well on the Thunderstaff and Skullcage. I like them both somewhat in the right environment, but this doesn’t seem to be shaping up to be that environment. Lastly, and this might well be the most contentious cut for some, but I’m leaving out Darksteel Forge.

Darksteel Forge, am I crazy? Everything… indestructible! What could I be thinking?

Well, I’ll grant that the card is pretty close to an insta-win (and far closer than the abysmal Door to Nothingness also contained in Metallic Dreams), but what most troubles me is its draw-to-cast ratio. We have some solid mana accelerants in conssideration, but even still havign a 9-casting-cost card in hand is essentially handicapping myself for most of the game. The Forge is awesome. But I want games under control well before I have nine mana free. It’s an unkind cut, but a necessary one.

Safe for Now: Cranial Plating, Energy Chamber, Fabricate, Loxodon Warhammer, Lightning Greaves, March of the Machines

Goodbye Forever: Batwing Brume, Darksteel Forge, Skullcage, Sun Droplet, Thunderstaff

Finally, the Main Course

This one is quite possible the most interesting, but also the most vexing. Quite simply, there are a ton of superb critters to choose from in our card pool. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve divided them up into definites, maybes, and cuts. Definites and maybes will pass on to the next round, cuts get to go home.


Esperzoa: A small drawback (unless we can mitigate it with enters-the-battlefield Artifacts) is easily worth a 4/3 Flyer for only three mana. This jellyfish is a steal.

Master of Etherium: Not only are these one of the best cards available to us in our pool, but there are two of them (one each from Planechase and the Duel Decks). With the amount of Artifacts and Artifact Creatures we’ll have in play, an absolute slam dunk.

Master Transmuter: She’s a great way to get around Artifacts with prohibitive casting costs, but of course requires a conditional set-up. But she’s also a great way to spring a “surprise” Creature onto the battlefield.

Steel Overseer: This M11 beauty has a definite home here. Although- astonishingly- none of these three decks included a Voltaic Key, I’m quite confident that even at one use per turn, he’s still worth the slot.

Synod Centurion: A 4/4 for four. If his drawback ever becomes a problem, we’ve got bigger things to worry about.


Arcbound Crusher: If we work this deck with the +1/+1 counter angle, this fella can get huge. Still, a 1/1 for 4 needs to be awesome, and I’m not sure the Crusher is.

Architects of Will: Decently costed and with Cycling, the fact that it’s enters-the-battlefield ability can be used on any player is a nice bonus. That said, it’s not an Artifact.

Arsenal Thresher: If you haven’t guessed by now, cards that require certain conditions to be met to be optimised are greeted with suspicion. This one’s borderline.

Broodstar: I’m going to include an ‘Affinity behemoth’ without a doubt. The only question is, which one(s)?

Juggernaut: Since most of Elspeth’s minions will be weenies, I like a 4/4 better than a 5/3- it’s a harder trade for Elspeth to arrange. The Juggernauts cost the same as the Synod Centurion but have an auto-attack drawback the Centurions don’t. That’s why you read about them above, but these ones here.

Lodestone Golem: Another 5/3, but without being forced to attack each round he could hang back and be a nuisance all game long. That said, he’s not a top performer against Elspeth’s deck- with a gutshot hole in the middle of her mana curve and most things being cheap, the Golem would be less of a burden than against other decks.

Lodestone Myr: Another 4-costed little guy, the buff he can get might be lovely if enough Artifacts make it through that don’t care about being tapped. Very conditional.

Myr Enforcer: Two of them, and almost definites. Affinity is conditional, but should make these abusive later in the game. A 4/4 seldom doesn’t matter at any stage in the game.

Qumulox: See Broodstar (above)


Clockwork Condor: I like the flyer, but these Clockwork beasts don’t seem consistent enough for me. They’re great fresh from the factory, but wear down fast. If it only lost a counter when they blocked, I’d be much more enamoured of them.

Clockwork Hydra: See Clockwork Condor.

Sarcomite Myr: Just didn’t do enough to justify the three mana. Not even with the nifty ‘draw a card’ activated ability.

Summing up, we have:

Safe for Now: Arcbound Crusher, Architects of Will, Arsenal Thresher, Broodstar, Esperzoa, Juggernaut, Lodestone Golem, Lodestone Myr, Master of Etherium, Master Transmuter, Myr Enforcer, Qumulox, Steel Overseer, Synod Centurion

Goodbye Forever: Clockwork Condor, Clockwork Hydra, Sarcomite Myr

And now, all the easy work is done… now comes the hard (but fun) part! Join us in our next column, when we fully assemble our deck from the remaining cards, then the column concludes when we take it into battle. See you then!

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. bertold
    Sep 22 2010

    What do you mean Architects of Will is not an artifact?
    An artifact creature counts as both, an artifact
    and a creature.

    • Sep 22 2010

      Ach, right you are! I caught the subtypes- Human Wizard- and overlooked the Artifact bit. At so packed a slot I remain unsold regardless, but am embarrassed at the miss! I can only beg indulgence by the fact that our baby is due in about two weeks’ time, and my brain is everywhere.

      Thanks for the catch!

  2. Jars
    Sep 22 2010

    Inspired by this, I mashed-up my brand-spankin’-new Tezzeret deck with my Esper deck. 🙂

    the Darksteel Forge cut was a painful one, but it had to be done. I too would pull it out at this stage (or probably earlier).

    What’s the difference between a Synod Centurion and an Arsenal Thresher? I was faced with this problem too. They’re both 4 CMC vanilla beatsticks. With this deck, though, the Thresher’s color requirements would be prohibitive.

    • Sep 22 2010

      The major difference I’d see is consistency- the Centurion will always be what it is, while the power and toughness of the Thresher will vary depending on what you have in hand. He’s a great play for your fourth land drop, when your hand should be fairly well stocked, but a potential liability later in the game.

      I’m always wary of cards that have a negative tension. For instance, the Thresher exerts negative tension on me when I have a thin hand. I want to play a critter, but I also want to get as much as I can out of him, so I’ll likely tend to hold him back. Then I might draw an Artifact that can help me, but be tempted to hold onto it so I can draw more and make a bigger Thresher. This is a drag on my hand and momentum, so I don’t know if the potential upside balances out the risks of paying double for essentially Bears.

      Ironically, having multiples in the deck might make me more inclined to run it. A one-of… you just never know.

  3. errtu
    Sep 22 2010

    Very nice, i’m looking forward to the next part(s) 🙂 Nice thing is that even though i don’t own all these decks, most cards you keep i have i my collection. So i’m going to build along with you and see how it turns out 🙂

    • Sep 22 2010

      Great! Keep us posted- we love reading about your own experiences here.

  4. Sep 22 2010

    Quite interesting … everytime I decide to build a casual artifact deck I would have to take the same decision: Go with the +1/+1 counter theme or go along the affinity road 😉

    Usually I end up with the counters as there are synergies with charge counters as well (looking at Power Conduit and Energy Chamber)

    • Sep 22 2010

      I’ve been a little more comfortable with the Counters strat, but with so many Artifacts crammed in Affinity- however inconsistent- has been too hard to resist entirely.

  5. troacctid
    Sep 22 2010

    Keep Architects of Will! It’s one of the best things to get back with Skeleton Shard! And it works with Esperzoa too, to a lesser extent. Dump Arsenal Thresher though, it’s really terrible. It has to struggle just to achieve parity with Synod Centurion, and Synod Centurion is not a good card.

    March of the Machines should go. It’s kind of embarrassing when you’re running it with artifact lands.

    • Sep 23 2010

      Embarrassing? Imho, artifact lands are by far the coolest items to boost count-me-strategies …

      … followed by manlands for Scion of the Wild-like beaters 😉

      • Sep 23 2010

        I love the Artifact Lands, they’re not only ideal for the count-me strats, but they’re almost broken when combo’d with the Master Transmuter. Tap Seat of the Synod and Master Transmuter, return Seat of the Synod to my Hand, play Pentavus, play Seat of the Synod, go. Vile!

        I think what Troacctid meant was that using March of the Machines is potentially dreadful with the Artifact Lands, since with it in play your Arti Lands are 0/0 critters and die immediately. Essentially, a one-sided self-inflicted mini-Armageddon. D’oh!

        • Sep 23 2010

          Good point … didn’t see that one.

          Alternatively I’d suggest using Tezzeret’s Ultimate to have an army of Stalking Stones quasi coming out of nowhere … that combination makes me consider land-hate …


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