Welcome back to the dungeon. Today, we’ll explore the ancient artifacts and weapons that lie in the catacombs. Some of these require power to use that drains away over time. Others need to charge up slowly to be effective. Some of the weapons can even grant magical abilities to those who wield them.
Grimoire of the Dead is an interesting artifact with a very powerful ability. It does require a bit of work to get going, though. Fortunately, Scars of Mirrodin provides a way to get around this to an extent: Proliferate. After getting just 1 counter on the Grimoire, you won’t have to discard any more cards to get it up to 3.
Contagion Clasp is the simplest way to proliferate repeatedly. It can also kill a small creature when it enters the battlefield, helping to keep you alive until you can win the game.
Steady Progress is a simple and easy way to proliferate. It only works once, but it replaces itself, and it only costs 3 mana.
Surge Node is an extremely cheap way to add counters to one of your artifacts. Once you have, proliferation will add counters both to the Node and to whatever you added the counter to.
Shriekhorn will mill cards from your opponent’s library, putting creatures into the graveyard to reanimate with Grimoire of the Dead. Although it requires counters to use, those can be easily proliferated.
Grindclock can add counters to itself, and those can be built up even further with proliferation. Once you’ve built up a good amount, you can start milling your opponent’s library a chunk at a time.
Lux Cannon is a prime target for proliferation. By saving 4 mana for mana to activate Contagion Clasp, you can destroy a permanent every two turns. With a couple Surge Nodes on the battlefield, the destruction is doubled.
Contagion Engine will shrink your opponent’s entire army, then proceed to slowly kill off every one of his creatures. In the meantime, it will do a wonderful job of ensuring that all your artifacts have plenty of counters.
Fabricate will, for only 3 mana, let you search your library for any of the pieces you’re missing. Whether it’s a Surge Node, a Grindclock, or a Lux Cannon, this little spell will happily put it right into your hand.
After adding in some Islands and playing with the numbers a bit, we end up with something like this:
3 Steady Progress
4 Tezzeret's Gambit
1 Contagion Engine
1 Keening Stone
4 Contagion Clasp
4 Lux Cannon
4 Surge Node
3 Grimoire of the Dead
Invisible Stalker and Butcher's Cleaver is a nearly unbeatable combo in Innistrad Limited, one that I was unfortunate enough to experience firsthand at the prerelease. Although I lost that game, I was inspired to create a deck whose sole purpose is to assemble this combo, or at least a similar one.
Blighted Agent is the same price and the same power and toughness as Invisible Stalker, but it trades Hexproof for Infect. This is a bit risky, since if the Agent is killed before your opponent gets to 10 poison, you won’t have accomplished anything. However, cutting the damage you have to deal in half is certainly a tempting offer.
Horsemanship is essentially the same as being unblockable these days, although most of the more powerful cards with the ability demand a heavy premium. Wu Scout, however, can usually be found for around $0.50 each. It has the additional advantage of letting you look at your opponent’s hand, giving you the ability to plan around any removal or counterspells they might have.
Escape Artist is another cheap unblockable creature, this time with the ability to save itself from a removal spell if necessary. Although discarding a card to do so isn’t exactly ideal, there may be times when that becomes your best option.
Loxodon Warhammer serves as a second playset of Butcher's Cleaver. Since every creature in the deck is Human, and Trample doesn’t matter when your opponent can’t block, they usually do the exact same thing.
Silver-Inlaid Dagger provides a power boost just as potent as the Cleaver’s, but doesn’t grant the creature Lifelink. What it does do is curve out perfectly on turn three so your 2-drop can immediately begin sneaking in for 4 damage.
Inquisitor's Flail will double the damage any of your creatures deal to your opponent, making his death come that much more quickly. Its drawback shouldn’t matter at all, since opposing creatures won’t have a chance to deal damage to your unblockable friends.
Swiftfoot Boots gives any of your creatures the invaluable Hexproof ability that Invisible Stalker already has. It also grants Haste, which isn’t entirely irrelevant, even if your creatures won’t deal much damage before they are suited up with various equipment.
After adding in a slightly lighter dose of Islands thanks to the low cost of these cards, you should end up with a list like this one:
2 Escape Artist
4 Blighted Agent
4 Invisible Stalker
4 Wu Scout
4 Butcher's Cleaver
4 Inquisitor's Flail
4 Loxodon Warhammer
4 Silver-Inlaid Dagger
4 Swiftfoot Boots
I hope you enjoyed this visit to the dungeon. Come back for the next installment, when we’ll look at some strange combinations of spells that defy all reason.