Thursday 22 August 2019
Colossus Hammer .dec
Giver of Runes
Masterwork of Ingenuity
Sword of Fire and Ice
There were a lot of things I wanted to play in the mono white version but needed cutting for space reasons. Usually a pretty good sign a deck is going to be viable when you have more than you want for your list pulled out. It does mean that adding in that second colour will be a little trickier, especially as I have not fully worked out what my preferred choice is. The core of the deck are the following cards;
These are your optimal combo, the most efficient things to find your combo cards, and some of the things that back up the combo. You have more options in most of the areas but they start to get worse rather rapidly. With one of the main strengths this deck has being speed you are not really looking to find redundancy that is too much slower. The main defining factor in the rest of the build after these key cards was a desire to ensure Puresteel Paladin would have metalcraft. When a big part of your plan is to cheat on equip costs Puresteel is not just one of the good options but also one of the less abundant parts of the combo. Given I was not red and thus not having access to Magnetic Theft in this list I really needed my Puresteel to be reliable. As such I went pretty heavy on the artifact synergies. For the most part it was a good plan, it allowed for some more explosive mana which plays into the speed plan. It allowed Inkmoth Nexus to be my second best threat despite effectively costing two mana to attack with it. It is certainly the 9th card I would add to the list above in hindsight.
There was an interesting dynamic between the choice of doublestrike threats, infect ones, or just making a 2nd copy of the Hammer. The last option is least good but it is still something you want due to the number of utility dorks you are playing that have neither infect nor doublestrike. It is also works with the 0 mana artifact creatures best and those are nice things to have in the list for a variety of other support reasons. Both Ornithopter and Phyrexian Walker did good work turning things on, producing mana and getting stuck in. Flying is still really good in combination with Sigarda's Aid as you can flash in the Hammers once they have not blocked. Another reason Inkmoth was such a strong threat. As for cards you can one shot with they typically have issues with being too slow, too easily blocked, or killed. There are a bunch of two mana infect and doublestrike dorks on offer but they are generally one toughness and no evasion. Necropede got a pass as it is utility and synergy offering a touch of removal and being an artifact. It was fine at best. Arguably Plague Myr could also have a pass on this front but it just feels a bit slow to be interesting as ramp. All the other two mana one shot threats got cut. I much prefer the cards that give such things so as to assist your other utility dorks. Silverblade Paladin and even Ajani, Caller of the Pride got looked at. Obviously I canned the Ajani as soon as I remembered the flying didn't help a lot of the time. Mirran Crusader would be the kind of card I would play over Adorned Pouncer. The extra mana is slow and awkward but it is so much hardier and better at the job. Unfortunately Crusader is all a bit randomly good based on what colours you face. I should have been running it, likely over the Leonin Squire.
You may notice Mother of Runes is out and Giver is in. Turns out you are reasonably happy if they use removal not on your equipped cards so Giver not protecting herself is not a biggy. Being able to go past way more things is pretty important. Protection giving spells are especially juicy as they are harder to play around and often quicker. There is likely only room for 3 protection giving cards in the deck and I ended up leaning towards spells. Not sure it is right but it doesn't feel or seem wrong either. Certainly changing God's Willing out for a Mother of Runes would not be a bad thing to do. Blessing is absolutely the best though as it can protect the Hammer as well as the thing it is on.
After Leonin Squire the potential cuts are less obvious. Buried Ruin can probably go. The real strength of this deck is being able to do stuff so quickly and cheaply. It can win at the speed of other combo decks and it can do so through disruption. All the recursive stuff is just too slow and you lose the main edge you have. You might as well just play more cheap protective cards in their place to protect your stuff. The backup cards actually work out as a better way to win if your Hammer winds up in the bin. In hindsight a Welding Jar would have been better than the Leonin at providing security for being that much quicker. Sure it doesn't help against discard spells but at least in cube formats you don't tend to face that many of those across a meta. Dispatch is surprisingly cuttable as the cards like God's Willing are just better. You are not looking to go for the long game and so bypassing a creature for one turn is generally as good as doing so for good. God's Willing lets you get past multiple dorks while Dispatch only does one and that is really all the arguments you need. The generic deck thinning cheap cycle cards, or Buables as they all seem to be in this list, don't do loads. They help support the artifact themes a bit but you can easily trim them down. This list is certainly on the land heavy side rather than the land light side. That is fine as you want to attack with lands but you don't need the cheap cyclers to help your land ratios, it is mostly about the deck thinning and metalcraft.
Disruptive spells like Mana Tithe, Orim's Chant, Silence and Abeyance are all quite interesting. They give you a way to force through your combo against counter magic and often removal as well. The issue I have with these cards is you can't play many nor can you find them with tutors or dig. You either have it or you don't and they do generally slow your combo down. The cards like God's Willing are a little more useful in general as there are less control decks than creature decks in most unpowered cube metas. Both protect against removal spells to some extent and so it comes down to the balance of getting past blockers or getting past counterspells. Certainly you would play a bunch of these kinds of cards in the sideboard but for a main deck card I would go with the Mana Tithe as it has more rounded utility. I might also or instead go for Defense Grid as you can find it with Enlightened Tutor making it a more effective counter. Cards like Orim's Chant and Defense Grid boost the potency of your Blinkmoth cards. As an aside I think Abeyance is probably the least good just as a result of being too slow.
There was another dynamic at play as to which equipment to run. With so many cards tutoring for them it is good to avoid having dead cards and nice to be able to run a backup plan. Paradise Mantle, Masterwork and Hammer are all nice and work well together and with Puresteel but none offer a back plan. I looked at Ogre's Cleave as a terrible backup Hammer. I then just looked at Cranial Plating as a much better backup Hammer. Jitte affords some control, Batterskull is just a potential game plan in itself but is a little bit hard to play and abuse without Stoneforge. Skullclamp is a great way to draw into your combo but it would mean making a much more creature heavy deck and probably running things like Hangarback Walker or Myr Smith. I finally went with the SoFI based on someone else's suggestion. It is just a nice middle of the road card. It is a good threat, some control, some draw. It works very well with the protections and the doublestrike that is for sure! I was fairly happy with how the SoFI worked out but I will still probably try out the other top candidates. You can even go in an Argentum Armour and Quest of the Holy Relic direction with this basic shell. Again, it needs a higher creature count and would then likely also wind up with Skullclamp if it could. While this sounds strong extra combo elements muddy the waters and make initial testing harder, more so than extra colours do that is for sure!
I wanted to add in Board the Weatherlight mostly because I like playing card quality spells. With a few more Defense Grid style targets it is probably starting to be worth it. It seemed Wrong not playing Open the Armory but it is slow and you are already better at putting that half of the combo together. You might as well go with an Idyllic Tutor at that point! Soltari Foot Soldier was one of the next most tempting cards. It is basically unblockable which is about as good as you can do for one mana. Vector Asp is legitimately one of the best on offer and strongly made me consider a black splash. He is no Glistener Elf but he supports artifact synergies and needs far less coloured mana commitments. I considered a bunch of generic removal outs like Unexpectedly Absent but they are just not what this deck is really trying to do. If Dispatch is too slow then what hope do cards twice the cost have.
So green, blue and red all offer some interesting cards for this list. Red gives you some better two drop doublestrike dorks and the only remaining good way to cheat equip costs. Blue gives you an infect dork with proper evasion, cards that give unblockable and then all the usual card quality and countermagic trimmings. Green gives you the only other one drop one shot dork in Glistener Elf and the best card that turns any Hammer equipped dude into a one shot threat in Berserk. The combination of doubling power and some evasion is rather nice. Green also has mana dorks to offer up as well of course.
Kazuul's Toll Collector
Slip Through Space
Grip of Phyresis
Here are some of the cards I looked at playing but didn't mention in the article;
Hope of Ghriapur
Nahiri, the Lithomancer
Balan, Wandering Knight
Stern Constable or other tappers
Sram, Senior Edificer
Hammer of Nazahn
And lastly here is what I would build now based on my experience with the mono white build. I will certainly be trying out another mono white build but it will be a blend on Collossus Hammer/ Aid and Argeuntum Armor / Quest for the Holy Relic and thus look rather different overall. As the pure Hammer combo relies on speed and low costs so heavily it seems like madness to pass up on the premium cheap options other colours have to offer, especially when you have access to so much artifact fixing. It does now resemble an infect deck using equipment and artifact synergies rather than spell buffs with the added colours!
Giver of Runes
Masterwork of Ingenuity
Vault of Whispers
Tree of Tales
Spire of Industry
City of Brass