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May 9, 2011

49

New Phyrexia: Artful Destruction Review (Part 1 of 2)

by Dredd77

Our next stop on our tour of New Phyrexia will immerse you in histories new and old, in particular the story of an entire class of creature that has long inhabited Mirrodin, and is now coming to the fore: the Golem. It’s fairly-well known that Mirrodin was once known as Argentum (see: Argentum Armor) and created by Karn, the Silver Golem. Karn was a part of the Legacy Weapon that destroyed the original Phyrexia. Unfortunately, during the course of the struggle against Phyrexia he had become unknowingly contaminated with Phyrexian oil, and when he created his artificial plane, the oil trailed behind him.

To safeguard and administer Argentum while he traveled the multiverse, Karn created a golem by the name of Memnarch. Memnarch became aware of a certain corrosion that was making itself apparent- a fungal contagion known as mycosynth (see: Mycosynth Lattice, Decimator Web) which converted metal into organic flesh. Memnarch couldn’t know it at the time, but the mycosynth was a byproduct of the Phyrexian oil. Recognising a threat, Memnarch created a group of golems (the Ur-Golems) to help stop the spread of the mycosyth. Ultimately unsuccessful, the Ur-Golems were dismantled by Memnarch (all save for Bosh, Iron Golem, who disappeared into the Dross).

While the Ur-Golems were the progenitors of the golem tribe, their story merely begins there. Flash forward in time to the Phyrexian war, and like most anything else the Phyrexians could get their hands on the golems have been repurposed, ‘compleated.’ With Phyrexia’s victory at hand, reads the flavour text for Master Splicer, each sect has begun perfecting its vision. Like Slivers and Allies before it, the Golems have become the latest tribal faction that reacts to the merest presence of its bretheren on the battlefield, and the venerable Golems have creaked back to life under the tender mercies of the Phyrexians.

Thus we arrive at Artful Destruction, a Green/White deck which relies heavily upon the Golems and their Splicer masters. In the past, reactive tribes like the Slivers and Allies have typically been relatively inexpensive options designed to swarm your opponent and grow beyond control (naturally, there were pricey options in both tribes, but they were the exception moreso than the rule). The Golems upset the applecart of the usual deployment method. While generally more expensive to deploy, they have built-in card advantage as each Splicer comes equipped with both the Artificer (a 1/1) and a 3/3 Golem (and in some cases, more than one). The Artificers are the weak part of the equation- not only are they frail, but they are the ones that grant the cross-tribe abilities. Expect them to have targets painted on their foreheads once they enter play, especially to multi-target burn like Arc Trail and Forked Bolt. But if you can keep them alive, your deck has a clear shot at victory.

Blueprints of Countless Atrocities

A look at the mana curve for the deck’s creatures is a little discouraging:

The creatures of Artful Destruction can be widely divided into four categories, and it is a credit to the deck that these groupings are rather coherent rather than being rather stretched or forced. The first category is ramp. With a colossal back-end of the mana curve, you’re going to need some assistance in getting there before dying, and the deck doesn’t shirk its duty. A trio each of Gold Myr and Copper Myr, plus a pair of Palladium Myr help ensure that you stay on a steady trajectory for manabase development. Indeed, the reason you’re seeing the mana curve’s top slot highlighted in yellow rather than red is precisely due to such an array. You’ll still face the usual problems of a back-heavy deck (namely, bad initial draws), but at least you don’t need to abandon all hope of ever casting any of them before your opponent tramples you into the earth.

Next up we have the Splicers. These are the 1/1 minders that power up your Golem army. The pick of the litter surely must be the Blade Splicer, who also happens to be the deck’s foil premium rare. Essentially delivering a 1/1 body and a 3/3 first striker for only three mana, she’s an absolute steal in White. In addition to granting first strike to all your Golems, she is also the least-expensive Splicer you have at your disposal. You’ll seldom be disappointed to draw her.

The 4-drop range offers us a pair of Vital Splicers, which bring along very cheap regeneration along with their Golems. A trio of Master Splicers are also a terrific bargain- their +1/+1 to all your Golems means that they provide a 4/4 Golem right off the bat for four mana. Two creatures- five power- for four mana? If you’re able to entrench and weather any early rushes by your opponent, you should soon find yourself catching up quite quickly with economy such as that.

Beyond there we have a pair of Sensor Splicers, a five-mana package which offers your Golems vigilance, and a single Maul Splicer weighing in at seven mana. Of course, this final Splicer brings along a pair of 3/3 Golems with her, and gives them all trample to boot.

The third category are your other Golems. The deck carries a few extra Golems which offer abilities quite independent of any sidekick Splicer, yet still benefit from bring card-carrying members of the Golem tribe. There’s a couple of straightforward beaters in the Stone Golem and Phyrexian Hulk. The Golem Artisan offers a raft of additional special abilities such as flying or haste. Finally, the deck’s second rare- Precursor Golem– gives you a trio of 3/3 Golems for only five mana, but with a catch- a single removal spell could wipe out your entire Golem army. Of course, the upside is that any combat tricks you might have can really stretch their value if cast on a Golem, so the ability will be hit or miss. It’s of note that this is a card from Scars of Mirrodin, but unlike the Tower of Calamities in Feast of Flesh, it’s a card that very much feels like it belongs here. If the idea was to use rares from earlier sets in the block that support the aims and themes of a particular deck, you could probably find no better support for it than in Artful Destruction.

Finally we come to the last group of characters, your comes into play supporters. The small cast here are creatures which synergise with your deck and give you a little variety in the process. A pair of Suture Priests are a rather clever addition. Ordinarily the services of this jumped-up Soul Warden might be easily dismissed, but with so many of your creature cards being two-for-ones, you’ll often get a steady trickle of lifegain from her. Since part of this deck’s strategy is to absorb early damage while trying to establish your Golem army, we grudgingly concede that she has earned her spot here more than the usual gaggle of filler.

Then there’s a Garruk’s Packleader. A complete flavour dud that feels shoehorned in at first glance, you’ll nevertheless find those misgivings slipping away under the stream of free cards it will typically yield. Although we’re only two decks in, early indications seem to be that the core set filler in New Phyrexia has been selected with a touch more regard for the aims of the deck than in past offerings. Rather than being the “token garbage cards” that call to nascent deckbuilders for early replacement, these are cards that have something to offer the deck, suboptimal though some of them may yet be.

Lastly, we have a Brutalizer Exarch, a nice (if pricey) bit of utility. It can either tutor up a creature for you (at the cost of a draw), or solve a particularly nuisome (noncreature) artifact, enchantment, or even a land. It’s six mana, but I suppose at a certain point when you’ve got so many expensive cards crammed into one deck, what’s one more going to hurt?

Horror Beyond Imagining

With so many creatures on offer for Artful Destruction, the rather threadbare pantry for noncreature support should come as little surprise. There’s a spot of ramp in a pair of Cultivates, and a splash of combat trickery in singleton copies of Mighty Leap and Giant Growth (which can be game-enders if the Precursor Golem is in play). The removal suite is laughably bad: a pair of Forced Worships and a Glissa’s Scorn. Be prepared for frustration, especially if your opponent manages to land a particularly nasty utility creature which they’ll keep out of the red zone. Even a single Vedalken Anatomist can spell ruin for this deck.

Moving on, there’s a token generator in the form of the underwhelming Conversion Chamber, which can convert trash to treasure. Of course, your first 3/3 Golem will set you back a total of seven mana, which tells you something about the efficacy of the Chamber. Finally, there’s another splash of lifegain to offset any early trouble you run into while building up your Golems. A Viridian Harvest is a rather unreliable way to get a solid chunk of life, but offsets this by being rather inexpensive to play. The twin War Reports are nasty in the same way that the Suture Priest is- you get to double-dip with your two-for ones, and dip again when you realise that your Golems- being artifact creatures- give you double the lifegain. It’s a clever interaction, though we’d have been far happier with a pair of Arrests.

Two decks in, and we are liking the look of New Phyrexia already. This deck in parts feels more like a theme deck than an intro pack, which is a change we welcome. We’re less enthusiastic about the change in rare cards, although it’s hard to argue the model as implemented here- Precursor Golem is a hand-in-glove fit for the deck. Still, one never knows how things will shake out upon first contact with the enemy, so we’ll be taking this deck into battle. Join us next time when we report our findings, and offer a final verdict on Artful Destruction.

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Read more from New Phyrexia, Scars Block
49 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aaro
    May 9 2011

    I am pleasantly surprised with the synergy present here, and I totally agree with the fitting use of precursor golem as an older rare. I might even sort of agree with the lifegain from war report, considering you’ll probably find yourself taking a fair bit of damage as you ramp up.

    This deck seems to be begging for some Tempered Steel though, to make your golems 5/5s right out of the gate. It’s even pretty cheaply costed at 3 mana (compared with the rest of the deck at least), making it even more enticing…

    Reply
    • Oceanus
      May 10 2011

      You should see the lifegain and the game overall in the Mirror match at Open Dueling :P.

      Also, Tempered Steel might work, but I also fear that card since it is only seen with tons of Artifact Creatures.

      Reply
  2. Ben
    May 9 2011

    This deck seems sigificantly more focused than Feast of Flesh and I love cohesion. So so far, we’ve had a deck stuffed full of semi-reasonable removal and a cohesive deck that can smash some serious face if it’s acceleration gets going. I’m honestly considering buying this deck, since I have very few 60s and having a golem tribal deck could be a hell of a fun deck.

    Reply
    • Prophylaxis
      May 10 2011

      I was actually considering buying this one too; the very least you can hoard them for a few years and sell them for more (players love tribal).

      Reply
  3. Icehawk
    May 9 2011

    Definitely could use a Golem Foundry with all those tokens and artifacts dropping, but overall looks fun. Make me want to make a golem deck.

    Reply
    • Aaro
      May 9 2011

      I think Golem Artisan would be real winner in this deck too… it not only can buff any artifact creature (including the mana Myrs), but it’s also a golem itself, so will benefit from all the buffs the splicers are handing out.

      Haha, we haven’t even seen the playtest and I already can’t help wanting to meddle it up. 😀 Sign of an interesting deck I guess!

      Reply
      • Aaro
        May 9 2011

        Er, I guess there’s already a golem artisan in there. Heh, well… keep up the good work, WotC!

        Reply
    • Oceanus
      May 9 2011

      Except Golem Foundry doesn’t work with Splicers since they aren’t cast as Artifacts. The unfortunate thing is, the fact that Golems aren’t cards you can cast, similarly they aren’t cards that can be picked out of the Graveyard by Conversion Chamber. (but much more likely than casting 3x as many spells as seeing 1 Artifact hit the grave.)

      There’s one light of hope, the fact Chamber only needs one counter. New Phyrexia offers up an interesting addition: Surge Node. Forget the 4 mana and 2 turns it takes to get one Golem out of Chamber. Instead, throw a counter on it for 1, and tap it for 2 and ta-da.

      This is something I’m experimenting with. There is also synergy as it all contributes to Metalcraft (for Dispatch, remember how lackluster the removal suite is?); but also the counters could go to some healthy additions in ramping up Everflowing Chalice, or getting long days ahead of time with the infamous Tumble Magnet.

      Just some tips.

      Reply
      • Icehawk
        May 10 2011

        And that’s why I normally don’t go by memory. So forgot the casting part of GF. xD

        Reply
  4. Alan
    May 9 2011

    Out of all of them, looking forward the most to seeing how this deck works out. Slivers came before my time and the allies only worked upon creature entry…so I’m excited to see how a field of golems and splicers work together. Precursor golem feels much more at home here than he ever did with Scars.

    Reply
    • Alan
      May 10 2011

      As a sidenote, in real play, a well-timed Asceticism could give you the few turns of security you need to combat trick your way to victory.

      Reply
  5. Varo
    May 9 2011

    Pretty nice deck, IMO. Early mana ramp, and late game card advantage with sliver-like abilities, although its removal suite is a bit underwhelming ( you could just fit a few oblivion rings or arrests )

    I’m really intrigued to see precursor golem in action, it seems awesome to me for its cost… unless it gets bolt’d!

    I just realized i have a bunch golems for older sets that i never used, they could be put in this deck.

    Reply
    • Oceanus
      May 10 2011

      I’m extremely worried about Precursor Golem. Is it a savior or reliability for Splicers? It floods the field with the creature you need, however, it puts ALL of your Golems in the same boat, all eggs in the same basket.

      Reply
      • troacctid
        May 10 2011

        If you have a couple other golems out, just don’t drop it. Shouldn’t be too tough to play around removal.

        Reply
        • Icehawk
          May 10 2011

          Imagine how fun a Shroud Splicer would have been.

          Reply
          • Varo
            May 10 2011

            I just realized the card says that the spells will be copied for ALL your golems, not only the three copies created by it.

            Now i see it as a high-risk, high-reward card, as a pump spell could give you the game in just one attack.

            Anyway, this card should be funny to play with (at least in casual)

            Reply
            • web8970
              May 11 2011

              I’m still torn on the card. While a Giant Growth and a Maul Splicer can have you effectively an Overrun, a single Doom Blade / Pacifism / whatever can spoil your plans for a bargain. I’m excited to see the Precursor in the following report.

              On second thought … splashing red and targeting the PC with a Fling would end the game … this card is mad.

              Reply
              • troacctid
                May 11 2011

                Using Fling on Precursor Golem would kill all your Golems. Seems like a bad plan.

                Reply
                • May 11 2011

                  Fling is pretty pedestrian with the Precusor Golem in play- you’re not going to get any additional mileage out of it, because Fling requires you to sac a creature as an additional cost. Paying that cost does not ‘target’ the Golem you’re sacrificing, so Fling neither eats all your Golems, nor replicates itself. You sac a Golem, deal its power in damage, and that’s all she wrote.

                  Granted, if your opponent targets one of your Golems with Fling, yeah, all your Golems get hit.

                  Reply
              • Oceanus
                May 11 2011

                Remember to only think of Sorcery and Instant.

                I don’t max out the card, but troacctid makes a somewhat true point. You don’t need to overextend, one Precursor Golem and a Splicer could win the game alone with the right support. Don’t throw too much on the table ever, at least not without Regenerate.

                I also tech a Vines of Vastwood. It could really finish a game involving Precursor Golem quick.

                Reply
            • web8970
              May 11 2011

              Shame on me, of course Fling requires you to sacrifice your creature … I was just dreaming of a lemming-like mass suicide the way Last-Ditch Effort provides it …

              Reply
              • troacctid
                May 11 2011

                Well yeah, you have to sacrifice your creature, but I was mainly concerned with the issue of targeting your own creature instead of your opponent’s face, which seems like a pretty sketchy play.

                Reply
  6. web8970
    May 9 2011

    I like the idea that Conversion Chamber implies: taking the other two charge counter-to-Golem artifacts (namely Golem Foundry and Titan Forge) and use some proliferation to pump out Golem tokens like mad. For that we could either use the corresponding artifacts (Contagion Clasp and Engine and Throne of Geth) or replace green with blue, granting access to another Splicer on the one hand and some more proliferation on the other hand …

    Now you got have me there wanting to start the meddle and lead a hoard of flying first-striking Golems to battle …

    Reply
    • Diennea
      May 11 2011

      You know, adding blue would not be a bad idea. It sure offers some protection in the form of counterspells to your Precursor Golem. And I like more flying than trample. You’ll lose mana ramp and combat trick, aside for distortion strike. Do you think it will be a good change?

      Reply
      • web8970
        May 11 2011

        Well, ramp is still given by the mana Myr, albeit not in spell form.

        And for combat tricks … when meddling the deck, you’ll surely take care to add some white removal and blue can come up with some nice (path-clearing) surprises as well. So I guess it’s rather a question of playing style whether to add U …

        Reply
        • Diennea
          May 15 2011

          You can also consider black. Glaze Fiend and Precursor Golem, seems nice. Maybe with Prototype Portal. So much potential for combo in a single card it hurts…

          Reply
  7. troacctid
    May 9 2011

    Garruk’s Packleader seems sweet here.

    Reply
    • Oceanus
      May 10 2011

      It really does. It seems off, but immediately thinking about it has powerful consequences. If you just have this guy, and you drop Precursor, you really are okay with your field getting wiped if it comes to that. It’s fairly impressive, if overcosted by 1.

      Reply
  8. Oceanus
    May 10 2011

    Don’t forget that Glimmerpoint Stag is like a 3/3 Splicer with Vigilance :P.

    Reply
    • Inigo
      May 11 2011

      I agree, I’ve been waiting for a deck to put some stags into and this seems ideal 🙂

      Reply
  9. Stric9
    May 10 2011

    I’ve never seen so much discussion over golems in my life. Amazing. BTW, I have 5 playsets of Precursor Golem. Now one of you go make Top 8 with a golem deck so I can sell them for profit!

    Reply
    • troacctid
      May 11 2011

      This is nothing. You should see http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Golem.

      Reply
  10. Jon
    May 11 2011

    I like this deck! The foil rare and nonfoil rare are both great for the deck, and it seems like you could make even the relatively worthless Phyrexian Hulk into a machine of doom with enough splicers out. Im excited to see how this one performs in playtest.

    Reply
  11. Oceanus
    May 11 2011

    I think the allstar single golems aren’t the ones they throw in here. It’s not even Lodestone Golem since that guy would have an issue with quite a few of your own cards. It’s a card of the same cost, though, Rusted Relic. In my deck Metalcraft is a focus, and it ditches the hit-miss ability for 2 more Toughness. It’s big.

    I also like Golems have their own manland.

    Reply
  12. Stric9
    May 11 2011

    Ahhh! I woke up this morning and the match for May 11th still hasn’t been posted! It’s impressive to see how many comments are showing up these days. I mean, I know you’re having a contest, but still, it always turns into genuine discussion. Neat-O!!

    Reply
    • May 11 2011

      It’ll be up this evening. We did an unusual thing for a weeknight and took the kids to the Y for a swim yesterday- even the 6-month-old- then out to dinner. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and when I fired up the computer, I decided I’d rather not rush it, given how many folks have mentioned interest in this deck. The games are played, though, and I’ll give this little teaser: yes, Precursor Golem is a high-upside, high-risk card. Especially when your opponent is holding her deck’s singleton Lightning Bolt. 😀

      Reply
      • Oceanus
        May 11 2011

        That card in particular is why I advise Master Splicers, Vital Splicers, and… wait for it… Steel Overseer! And maybe a Tempered Steel :D.

        Reply
  13. Charles R
    May 11 2011

    I really like the splicer mechanic. I’m trying to put together a Shape Anew deck with splicer’s and Master’s Call, to cheat out giant artifact.

    Reply
  14. Koga305
    May 14 2011

    I think in this case, the Precursor Golem was a fine idea. It really works with the deck’s theme.
    Also, Golem Artisan is very cool and I’m glad to see it find a home. This deck really shows off Golem tribal!

    Reply
  15. Ryknow041
    May 15 2011

    3 cheers for golem tribal!! I grabbed this deck at the pre-release and although the steep mana curve will hurt you, its an insanely fun deck to play. I added a pair of Platinum Emperions to the deck and have been mulling over a change to Bant colors so as to include the flying splicer and some Glassdust Hulks.

    Reply
  16. solomngrundy
    May 16 2011

    i love the new golems
    now i just have to figure out how to get out blightsteel without screwing my deck

    Reply
  17. Rob
    May 21 2011

    Precursor Golem + Growth or Leap = GG

    I love the flavor of this deck! I bet it’s a blast to play!

    Reply
  18. btspike
    May 25 2011

    Just wanted to say that the intro to this article adds a level of polish and detail rarely found in online reviews. I for one appreciate some narrative structure instead of simply barreling straight into the review. Well done guys!

    Reply
    • May 26 2011

      Thanks! We’re willing to bet you’ll be enjoying the upcoming Fun with Fungus review then as well- these are the kind that are really fun to write!

      Reply

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