That’s nobody’s business but the Kurk’s. That’s what I call Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient. Kurkesh is a doughy-looking Ogre spirit from . . . a place (help me Vorthos nerds!) in the Magic multiverse and you may recognize him from saying “It would be cool to build a deck around this guy” and then never doing it because of course you didn’t. There are fewer than 200 Kurkesh decks on EDHREC, and if you’re wondering whether that’s a small number the answer to that is yes; that is a small number. There are 6,600 Daretti, Scrap Savant decks for reference. When it came time to choose between which of these two Red, artifact-based commanders with which to throw down, the tribe has spoken. But why, though? Kurkesh doubles stuff, and isn’t doubling stuff the most Commandery thing you can do? You have to “cheat” to win and getting double your effects seems like a great way to cheat. They’re just doing a bunch of regular single stuff and then you do your single stuff but then you do it again and they start to panic. By then it’s too late! You’ve figured out a way to double your doubling and they’re quadruply behind.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
I read your comments because it’s only a part-time job to do that. Last week’s article only had one comment, which is fine because it meant it was a light reading day. However, this one comment was a real bummer because it indicated that I had disappointed a reader. I’m not about that life and I had to find a way to make it right.
Evan’s making a deck full of contraptions so why shouldn’t I? Contraptions are another great way to cheat because if you’re the only one doing it, you’re getting extra effects that your opponents aren’t. Since we only have a few weeks to do this, you probably won’t get too terribly, you know, punched in the throat if you bust out your little sprocket array and your contraption deck and start assembling contraptions like you’re a Rigger and your Steamflogger Boss is watching. Also, is this even a thing? To the “very specific ‘pedia for this type of game, probably called ‘Magikipedia’” (I was wrong, it’s called something else. I like mine better.) Per the rules set out in this very official-looking (easily more official than the official rules of Commander which are still sent out via 1990s-era Angelfire website message board). Per this wiki, which references the relevant Maro article on the subject, when it comes to assembling contraptions outside of a booster draft:
That’s cool, we can definitely follow those rules. But which 15 contraptions would we play, and who would be the commander of such a . . . right, I forgot I already spoiled that with the whole TMBG joke I insisted on making. It’s Kurkesh, everyone. The commander I already talked about. That’s our deck. Anyway, on to the contraptions! Let’s talk (briefly) about all 45 of the stupid things because I don’t want to be in the business of disappointing readers. Either you want this or you’re aware you can skip straight to the decklist so everyone should be happy here. I’ll go by faction.
Targeting Rocket — Not great for our deck but pretty useful in general. There are a ton of annoying utility creatures you can kill with this plus good attackers.
Boomflinger — Dealing up to 5 damage per crank is formidable in a 20-life format like draft. Is it was good here? I think so. I like it.
Goblin Slingshot — In a deck where you’re going wide, this could be very powerful. Krenko wants to sligshot gobbos for sure. Will this Kurkesh deck? Unlikely, but it might if we get a lot of tokens from contraptions like Gnomeball Machine.
Head Banger — Not worth a slot.
Hard Hat Area — I’d call this a shoo-in. It’s mythic for a reason.
Turbo Thwacking Auto-Hammer — Might not be great for this deck but I could see it being great in quite a few decks. This obviously does work when we serve with Wurmcoil or something.
Inflation Station — This is solid and wins games in draft, but I’m not thrilled with it in Kurkesh.
Quick-Stick Lick Trick — Naming this card was probably more fun than playing with it, but this is OK. I won’t use it.
Refibrillator — Yes, we absolutely use this. Great googily moogily.
Oaken Power Suit — This is a pretty solid contraption and could get us a ton of extra damage given the big bruisers we have in the deck, but this might not make the cut.
Dogsnail Engine — This is more of a Commander card than most of them and it may be useful in a non-Kurkesh deck, maybe featuring group hug shenanigans.
Genetic Recombinator — A lot of the cards that add to a creature’s power and toughness are outscaled a bit in a 40 life format and I think I’d rather have an effect that scales well into Commander. Drawing a card is always drawing a card. This seems weak.
Sap Sucker — Not for us
Arms Depot — However, if the boost to power and toughness is permanent, it is more useful, especially given all of the things that have extra effects if a creature has a +1/+1 counter on it. Not necessarily for Kurkesh, but not necessarily not.
League of Dastardly Doom
Sundering Fork — This is better in Commander than it is in Draft. This is stupid good.
Guest List — Removal is always good. Pumping our creatures can seem weak but shrinking theirs is always good, especially if it kills them. I think the League’s contraptions in general will scale better to Commander.
Jamming Device — LONESTAR! Also, I’d play this.
Dual Doomsuits — This is much better than giving a creature double strike. Is Kurkesh just a League of Doom kind of commander or are these cards just speaking to me in particular?
Neural Network — This is the most 75% contraption of all time. I mean, so far.
Lackey Recycler — Even the commons in the League are solid. Good gravy.
Division Table — Meh. Finally one that feels common.
Agents of S.N.E.A.K.
Dispatch Dispensary — Getting extra creatures is not a bad thing and this could help us go wide.
Twiddlestick Charger — This is an example of something that scales well to Commander from Draft. Removing a blocker is always removing a blocker. I don’t love this, but it’s not outscaled by the life total change at least.
Faerie Aerie — Solid. We want to be getting card advantage and this is one way to do it.
Dictation Quillograph — This is above average but with 45 contraptions and 15 slots, this likely doesn’t make the cut.
Hypnotic Swirly Disc —This isn’t going to kill them in Commander and may end up helping some decks. With Feldon, Daretti, Kurkesh, etc, this actually lets us put a bunch of artifacts in our yard that we can Scrap Mastery back in. I like it.
Accessories to Murder — I have a love-hate relationship with puns. I went through a pretty brutal phase where I would make pun jokes onstage and then get upset with the audience if they laughed. I outgrew that but I still make dumb puns all the time and this is a good one. I’m not sure the card itself makes the cut.
Insufferable Syphon — This could get pretty annoying since we plan to try and get multiple cranks a turn.
Order of the Widget
Duplication Device — This is pretty solid. It’s a very “Blue” ability and given that we’re Mono-Red, being able to access Blue stuff is non-trivial.
Tread Mill — Meh.
Applied Aeronautics — Making creatures into artifacts isn’t a huge deal for us so a lot of these have one fewer ability than you think. Jumping a creature is OK, but not great. I’m probably wrong and I’ll win a game with Darksteel Forge and an indestructible widget creature.
Widget Contraption — This is an auto-include.
Gnomeball Machine — If we go wide, this is part of that machine we try to build.
Rapid Prototyper — ^ this but moreso.
Record Store — In an artifact-based deck, this is scry on steroids. AND you draw the card? Yes, please.
Auto-Key — Meh.
I think we have quite a few very powerful ones to choose from and we’ll build around doing 75% stuff which means we’ll use a lot of the ones I identified. Kurkesh plays a certain way and having a bunch of contraptions doing the things we want will help us win. Add to that how Kurkesh will double some of our shenanigans from our regular deck and you have a whole lotta shenanigans.
So let’s figure out our deck and then look at the 15 contraptions we want.
Kurk Diggler ? Commander | Jason Alt
- Creatures (20)
- 1 Bosh, Iron Golem
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Cogmentor
- 1 Foundry Inspector
- 1 Goblin Welder
- 1 Hellkite Tyrant
- 1 Junk Diver
- 1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
- 1 Myr Battlesphere
- 1 Myr Retriever
- 1 Pentavus
- 1 Scrap Trawler
- 1 Shimmer Myr
- 1 Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Steamflogger Boss
- 1 Steamflogger of the Month
- 1 Steamflogger Temp
- 1 Steel Hellkite
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- Planeswalkers (1)
- 1 Daretti, Scrap Savant
- Enchantments (1)
- 1 Pia's Revolution
- Artifacts (36)
- 1 Basalt Monolith
- 1 Caged Sun
- 1 Clock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM
- 1 Clock of Omens
- 1 Contagion Engine
- 1 Contraption Cannon
- 1 Darksteel Forge
- 1 Dreamstone Hedron
- 1 Everythingamajig
- 1 Gilded Lotus
- 1 Hedron Archive
- 1 Lux Cannon
- 1 Magistrate's Scepter
- 1 Mimic Vat
- 1 Mindslaver
- 1 Mind Stone
- 1 Mirage Mirror
- 1 Mirrorworks
- 1 Mycosynth Lattice
- 1 Nevinyrral's Disk
- 1 Oracle's Vault
- 1 Prototype Portal
- 1 Rings of Brighthearth
- 1 Sculpting Steel
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Spine of Ish Sah
- 1 Staff of Nin
- 1 Steamfloggery
- 1 Strionic Resonator
- 1 Tamiyo's Journal
- 1 Thran Dynamo
- 1 Titan Forge
- 1 Trading Post
- 1 Unwinding Clock
- 1 Voltaic Key
- 1 Wayfarer's Bauble
This is a pretty standard Kurkesh combo build that has included a bunch of relevant Unstable cards to really get us assembling those contraptions. The 15 contraptions I chose for my deck are as follows.
Contraption Deck ? Commander | Jason Alt
This was harder than I thought. I wanted to add quite a few more than 15, but it’s probably super unfair, especially if they don’t have any contraptions. I wanted to add stuff that played well with our deck and I think that using our Clock of DOOOOOOOOOOOOM! to get multiple triggers a turn, which we’ll copy with some of our abilities, means we’ll have twice as many contraption shenanigans which will really help us get there.
This is a fun, temporary thing but still make sure your playgroup is cool with the silver bordered cards. Have fun with it; and, maybe if it’s enough fun, the group will keep allowing a few, or maybe have a silver-bordered night where you can all play your favorite un-cards or even an un-commander. Remember, don’t be a jerk about it, don’t nerf gun anyone and try to keep on assemblin’.
That does it for me this week. I built a fun deck that is worthwhile after January 15th if you take out the Un-cards and replace them with some good Kurkesh staples, I went through what I thought of every contraption and I even gave you the ones I’d play with this list. You already knew all of that, since you read the article. I’m just recapping for my own benefit. I had fun writing this and I hope it wasn’t a chore to read it. Let me know what you’d do to run your own contraptions deck. Breya? Feldon? Sliver Legion? Leave it in the comments section — we’ve established I read the comments. Until next time!