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By: stsung, Ren Stefanek
Jun 21 2016 8:15pm
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After my last article featuring a rather competitive deck I'd like to feature a casual deck. Coming up with a casual deck can sometimes be difficult though especially if your favorite colors are White-Blue-Black.

Those players wanting to play Esper colors had a problem finding a good general for casual EDH (not as much as BUG players though). The best generals are Sharuum the Hegemon and Zur the Enchanter. (Mieriki Ri Berit) was often chosen by those who did not want a combo deck. Sen Triplets is also a very nice general but due to the problem with not being able to produce colored mana that did not match the general's color identity the card wasn't that good, of course that has changed. Sharuum is a very strong card and allows for a combo kill and it seems many players decided to include it in their decks. This made players playing her being looked down upon no matter how their deck looked like. Even worse fate awaited Zur players. A tutor on a stick that can lock down opponents or win on the spot was even worse for players who actually wanted to play a game.

Mieriki is also a sweet card but among the newer cards it does not shine either. The general is good for a control deck and that is also something not really welcome in casual play. If someone plays Mieriki/Chromium etc it is usually a deck full of planeswalkers. Dealing with those is still problematic.

When Commander 2013 came out a new general was printed for Esper players - Oloro, Ageless Ascetic. Unfortunately this card is very strong as well. For 6 mana it is a 4/5 body that can draw cards and make opponent lose life. But even without this ability the fact that this card gives you 2 life each turn is huge. This way a control deck does not need to care about aggro strategies. What is worst, it can also mean that cards like Ad Nauseam can be abused. A Storm deck out of Oloro wasn't a rarity. In French EDH this card was banned but in multiplayer the card is still legal and many hate that card (on Magic Online one does not need to write the life totals down at least).

Those who don't want to experience the wrath of other players should avoid playing this general. If you really want to play it you can build a nice lifegain deck though without all those cards like Sanguine Bond/Exquisite Blood. Unfortunately it might take a while till people recognize what you play and stop hating you only for the reason you play Oloro (or just play Karlov of the Ghost Council).

The other Esper legendary creature in the Oloro deck is Sydri, Galvanic Genius. When I looked at her for the first time I thought 'Karn, Silver Golem'.

At first glance this creature does not look overpowered and does not usually make everyone turn against you so I thought that this might be the right Esper general to play.

Artifacts though can be really mean especially when combined with Blue (and Black does not help either since many players tend to play Mind Twist, Tutors and Exsanguinate). They can produce a lot/infinite mana that can be used to do mean stuff that usually end the game on the spot. Artifacts can be recurred rather easily. There are very strong cards and hated cards by EDH players. Keeping this in mind I tried to build a deck that wouldn't be too powerful and wouldn't kill at once (would need a rather long setup to be able to do something). Thus the deck is more suited for multiplayer games.

In order not to be hated by everyone, one should avoid following cards:

Sphinx of the Steel Wind
Liquimetal Coating
Mycosynth Lattice
Voltaic Construct and a 3 mana producing rock (Grim Monolith, Basalt Monolith, Thran Dynamo, Gilded Lotus if colored mana is needed)
Darksteel Forge and Nevinyrral's Disk
Magister Sphinx
Mind's Eye

Sphinx of the Steel Wind just kills some decks. Certain colors simply have no way of dealing with this card and that's probably why people hate the card so much.

Making a land an artifact means that it can be made into 0/0 artifact creature and as we all know 0 toughness creatures die. Blowing up all lands in not considered very friendly.

Generating infinite mana alone is not a problem but what can be done with it is. Many players on Magic Online (or probably IRL) play Exsanguinate thus killing the whole table. Even though mana  and Exsanguinate can be both stopped, if this does not happen it just makes everyone feel bitter. Many players doing this don't wait for the moment when the game is better to be ended but prematurely end the game.

Caltrops is a card that with Sydri's both abilities kills all attacking creatures, that is not something people would approve as well.

The same goes to Darksteel Forge and Nevinyrral's Disk. People may feel the same when Oblivion Stone gets recurred but they probably never experienced Darksteel Forge and Disk. This is something many can't deal with unlike with Oblivion Stone/Academy Ruins which can be broken relatively easily.

Magister Sphinx and Sorin Markov are cards that change life totals and are probably hated the most. Both set player's life total to ten. In an EDH game this is a huge effect and very bad one. Even though these cards can be used well everyone knows that it can mean losing 3/4 of their life total.

Mindslaver is a card that many do not like or fear. It is a win condition and not a bad one. It can also be used to manipulate other players. I don't use Mindslaver to kill one player but rather to bring balance to the game. But obviously people only see a bad thing.

Mind's Eye is often a card that in many groups also evokes bad feelings so it is better to avoid it even though artifact decks really need any kind of card draw.

While looking at Sydri there are cards that scream 'play me' (except the above). Sydri has two activated abilities. The first one allows the player to animate an artifact. This can either be to animate an artifact to swing with it or it can also be used to unattach opposing equipment. The second ability gives Deathtouch and Lifelink. This can just mean that your Thran Dynamo can attack for 4 and gain you four life but it also means that an artifact that can ping creatures will kill them no matter how big they are. That is why I decided to put Triskelion and Staff of Nin in the deck. These are the strongest cards of the deck and make up a bit for the lack of overall power of the deck.

So what are artifacts good at? They are used mostly for acceleration. Any deck can play cards like Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Sol Ring etc. A dedicated artifact deck can go a bit further though because there are also artifact ways how to untap artifacts - in the form of Unwinding Clock, Clock of Omens, Voltaic Key for example. This is a way how to go infinite if one wants (Voltaic Construct and an animated Grim Monolith for example). There are ways to bring back artifacts from graveyard or ways how to tutor them repeatedly - Academy Ruins, Arcum Dagsson, Scarecrone etc. Recurring artifacts can do almost anything from drawing a card, fetching a land, tutoring a (artifact) card, destroying a permanent etc. Often artifact decks were pretty inconsistent decks but when there is a way how to animate noncreature artifacts the deck can become deadly since it can win with a single attack. A Karn staxx deck can lock the opponent down and then overrun him with those lock pieces. Without the animating ability the deck could take ages to find a way how to win the game (Temporal Aperture and infinite mana). Blue (Esper) has access to more win conditions though. Except Sydri there are two planeswalkers that work with artifacts - Tezzeret the Seeker and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. Both of these cards can look for a card and both also have a built-in win condition.

My deck obviously runs some artifact acceleration. There are Talismans, Signets, Mind Stone, Hedron Archive, Gilded Lotus, Sol Ring, Everflowing Chalice. The deck also runs artifact lands because they can be either tutored (Trinket Mage) or sacrificed or used for other effects (Trading Post, Thopter Foundry, Kuldotha Forgemaster, Master Transmuter).

The deck should be centered around noncreature artifacts so Sydri can animate them. The more the artifact can do the better. All-stars are Staff of Nin, Trading Post and Spine of Ish Sah. The following cards can be more or less anything. But you should have a way how to fetch for Academy Ruins/Petrified Field, deal with at least some creatures/enchantments/artifacts, deal with graveyard (avoid cards that cards from all graveyards) and untap artifacts. Drawing cards is also nice so if the effect is on a card that also can draw a card the better (spellbombs in general). Coercive Portal pretty much draws an additional card each turn but the voting can get a bit crazy sometimes so consider that when building your deck.

Expedition Map
Voltaic Key
Executioner's Capsule
Nihil Spellbomb
Spine of Ish Sah
Unwinding Clock
Clock of Omens
Courier's Capsule
Coercive Portal

Choosing creatures for the deck is a bit trickier. While Trading Post, Staff of Nin and Spine of Ish Sah can become oppressive the cards alone don't usually have immediate strong effect (unless Spine hits something really powerful or stops some kind of recursion). There are creatures like Sphinx of the Steel Wind that many decks cannot really deal with as mentioned earlier. I chose certain creatures but there are more efficient creatures or ones that can be played instead of these.

Treasure Mage, Kuldotha Forgemaster, Sphinx Summoner and Trinket Mage are tutors. Some of the creatures can fetch an expensive creature or artifact. Trinket Mage can find a 0-1 CMC card, usually it looks for a land though.

I play Baleful Strix that just draws a card and can trade with something bigger. That is not really that necessary since Sydri can give any artifact creature Deathtouch. The card can be replaced by Vedalken Archmage for example which can possibly draw more cards in the long run. Myr Retriever brings back an artifact once but Scarecrone is a card that can recur creatures each turn. Sharuum the Hegemon brings an artifact card from graveyard. It can be looped (by copying it with Phyrexian Metamorph/Sculpting steel and bringing one of the artifact into play) to kill via Bitter Ordeal/Disciple of the Vault for example so those who experienced such death won't look nicely at you running the card. Solemn Simulacrum fetches a land and draws a card when it dies which is super cool. Nothing deadly but efficient. Enigma Sphinx is a very expensive creature that provides card advantage (even though rather random one).

Phyrexian Metamorph and Sculpting Steel can copy cards.

As a removal there is Duplicant. Steel Hellkite can also work as repeatable removal, but this card does not usually stay for long on the battlefield. Triskelion paired with Sydri can also take down almost any creature and usually when this shows up on the battlefield Sydri becomes target number 1.

The creatures not yet mentioned are Filigree Angel that can gain a great amount of life. Myr Battlesphere and Wurmcoil Engine are simply good creatures. Beware they can turn on you, be copied or reanimated and this deck has hard time dealing with those. Sharding Sphinx is a card I like and thus put it in the deck. It creates a Thopter token each time an artifact creature deals damage. With some mana rocks attacking or another Thopters attacking the card can create a ton of Thopter tokens. Master Transmuter not only can cheat artifacts in play but can also save them from being destroyed. Hangarback Walker is a creature that can be found by Trinket Mage and for that sole reason I put it in the deck. Players don't usually expect this to be the tutored card. It can also be cast for a big amount of mana and sacrificed to produce many Thopter tokens. Shimmer Myr is a nice little creature. If it sticks playing artifacts at instant speed is good.

Even though I wanted this to be all artifact deck there are nonartifact spells I decided to include. There is some spot removal, global removal, tutors and card draw. As for removal, I used to play Vindicate, but if there is a card that can remove permanent from play it is better. It does not matter if it cannot hit a land (Wasteland or other lands can do that instead). Thopter Spy Network is a sweet card. It draws cards and creates tokens. The condition is not difficult to fulfill in this deck. Tezzerets are simply too good not to be included. Artifact decks are their home.

Cyclonic Rift
Muddle the Mixture
Anguished Unmaking
Thirst for Knowledge
Toxic Deluge
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Supreme Verdict
Thopter Spy Network
Utter End
Tezzeret the Seeker
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

If you looked carefully at my decklist you probably noticed that there are two cards I omitted. The cards are Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek. These two cards create a combo. Sword of the Meek can be sacrificed to create a Thopter token. The Sword itself then comes back and attaches to the token. With a lot of mana one can get many Thopters (and life). Since the card changes zones there is not a possibility to auto-yield somehow so this requires some fast clicking. Thopter Foundry is good without the Sword in this deck because it works as a sacrifice outlet and can still produce some value when you are about to lose an artifact. The Sword is not necessary in the deck but sometimes it is nice to have this combo available in the deck. Muddle the Mixture/Tezzeret/Fabricate can find it if needed. 

This deck does not really feature too many expensive cards apart from lands. Lands I would include are Academy Ruins, Seat of the Synod, Ancient Den, Vault of Whispers, Buried Ruin, Phyrexia's Core, Darksteel Citadel. If you have cards like Blinkmoth Nexus, Inkmoth Nexus, Mishra's Workshop, Creeping Tar Pit/Celestial Colonnade you can include them but they are not necessary. Cards that I do not run but are a nice inclusion are Tolaria West, Bojuka Bog and Mishra's Factory (cutting Temples and Plains).

Cards more expensive than 2 tix Aprox. Price Possible replacement
Hangarback Walker 4 Pentavus
Phyrexian Metamorph 3 There are other 'clones' for lesser price but it is better to play this one
Wurmcoil Engine 8 Thopter Assembly
Sword of the Meek 4 No other card can replace the combo piece but not having the combo in the deck does not hurt it. This deck wants lands and mana so anything that helps with that is fine - Burnished Hart. Chromatic Lantern if your mana base will be budget one.
Toxic Deluge 12 Any inexpensive Wrath effect is fine - Day of Judgment
Supreme Verdict 3 same as above - End Hostilities
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas 17 Planeswalkers are hard to replace but Ethersworn Adjudicator is a nice card that can be strong

It is time for the decklist in a text form.

Sydri, Galvanic Genius
by S'Tsung, 261tix
1 Baleful Strix
1 Duplicant
1 Enigma Sphinx
1 Etherium Sculptor
1 Filigree Angel
1 Hangarback Walker
1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
1 Master Transmuter
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Myr Retriever
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Sharding Sphinx
1 Sharuum the Hegemon
1 Shimmer Myr
1 Sphinx Summoner
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Sydri, Galvanic Genius
1 Treasure Mage
1 Trinket Mage
1 Triskelion
1 Wurmcoil Engine
21 cards

Other Spells
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Fabricate
1 Impulse
1 Merciless Eviction
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Path to Exile
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Thopter Spy Network
1 Thoughtcast
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Utter End
16 cards
Artifact Spells
1 Azorius Signet
1 Clock of Omens
1 Coercive Portal
1 Courier's Capsule
1 Dimir Signet
1 Dispeller's Capsule
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Executioner's Capsule
1 Expedition Map
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Hedron Archive
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Sculpting Steel
1 Sol Ring
1 Spine of Ish Sah
1 Staff of Nin
1 Sword of the Meek
1 Talisman of Dominance
1 Talisman of Progress
1 Thopter Foundry
1 Trading Post
1 Unwinding Clock
1 Voltaic Key
24 cards
1 Academy Ruins
1 Adarkar Wastes
1 Ancient Den
1 Arid Mesa
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Buried Ruin
1 Caves of Koilos
1 Command Tower
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Flooded Strand
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
3 Island
1 Isolated Chapel
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
3 Plains
1 Phyrexia's Core
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Scrubland
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Swamp
1 Temple of Deceit
1 Temple of Enlightenment
1 Tundra
1 Underground Sea
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Vault of Whispers
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Watery Grave
1 Windswept Heath
38 cards


Fun deck. I tried running by Leviathan at Sat, 06/25/2016 - 00:35
Leviathan's picture

Fun deck. I tried running the Foundry/Sword combo (admittedly a while ago) and found it was just too slow. Interesting that it works for you tho.

Foundry/Sword combo by stsung at Mon, 06/27/2016 - 03:38
stsung's picture

Thanks for the comment!
When I build decks (especially those that are weak) I usually put some kind of combo in the deck. It does not need to be super efficient or something but should give me a way how to win the game against decks that are in general stronger (or so I could end the game when it just goes out of hand, happens when the players at the table are incapable of figuring out what are the real threats at the table and the game just goes awry).
In this case the primary win condition is swinging with some (noncreature) artifacts. I usually manage to deal about 15 damage with them, my opponent usually helps a bit. So in the end I need to deal about 15 damage with those Thopters and that is something you can do in 2-3 turns.
It takes some crazy clicking for few minutes but nothing that couldn't be managed. For some reason it usually costs more time for my opponents than me. (it's faster than Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows though)
Often the Thopter tokens are just giving me time so I could stabilize with Staff of Nin, Sydri or get Tezzeret to ultimate ability.
So well, yes, the combo is slow, but this deck is slow as well.