For the past few weeks, I’ve been rejecting the three-color theme of Khans of Tarkir in favor of decks with more budget-friendly mana bases. I’ve built a deck with two colors and a deck with one, but now it’s time to go all the way. This week, I put together a deck in which most of the cards have no color at all.
U/R Artifacts ? Khans of Tarkir Standard | Mike Cannon
- Spells (21)
- 4 Shrapnel Blast
- 4 Crater's Claws
- 4 Ensoul Artifact
- 2 Haunted Plate Mail
- 3 Prowler's Helm
- 4 Ghostfire Blade
Ensoul Artifact is the primary incentive to play an artifact deck. A 5/5 with flying or indestructible can be pretty hard to deal with, especially if it starts attacking as soon as turn two or three. Even if you don’t have one of the primary targets, there are plenty of artifacts in the deck that cost just 1 or 2 mana.
Ornithopter won’t deal any damage on its own, but cards like Ensoul Artifact, Ghostfire Blade, and Haunted Plate Mail can fix that. It’s also a free artifact to sacrifice to Shrapnel Blast if you don’t have any way to pump up its power. At worst, it can still take a hit from a Stormbreath Dragon for you.
Phyrexian Revoker seems to be a pretty solid creature with how many Standard decks are playing one or more Planeswalkers. If cast early enough, it can also invalidate Sylvan Caryatid, forcing your opponent to rely on a greedy, three-color mana base without a fallback to produce any missing colors of mana.
Juggernaut was once banned for the deadly power it wielded in combination with Invisibility. Although I’ll admit it’s not nearly as good these days, it still presents a fairly imposing threat for 4 mana, particularly when equipped with Ghostfire Blade. You also have Prowler's Helm, which can do a pretty good Invisibility impression.
Scuttling Doom Engine is the deck’s top-end threat, and it’s a pretty good one. It can’t be blocked by the usual late-game throwaways like Sylvan Caryatid, Courser of Kruphix, or various tokens. If your opponent does manage to take it down, the Doom Engine still gets the last laugh with 6 damage to the face. You can also sacrifice it to Shrapnel Blast for an instant 11 damage.
Ensoul Artifact may be the centerpiece of the deck, but there’s a reason it’s suddenly back on my radar. In a deck in which all the creatures are colorless, Ghostfire Blade is better than Bonesplitter. For a total of 2 mana, Phyrexian Revoker can now take down a Courser of Kruphix, and Juggernaut can chop away a third of your opponent’s life total in one swing. Even just a 2/4 Ornithopter has an impact that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Although it may not appear so, Haunted Plate Mail is a powerful late-game card here. It turns every creature you draw into a deadly threat, giving Ornithopters the power to take out Stormbreath Dragons. If you do run out of creatures, it can become a 4/4 to allow you to continue attacking.
The biggest problem you run into after making Darksteel Citadel a 5/5 is chump-blockers. If your opponent can keep throwing small creatures under the bus while attacking you with the larger ones, you can lose the game before you manage to punch through. Prowler's Helm solves that problem. In combination with Ensoul Artifact or Juggernaut, it gives you an unblockable threat that will end the game in four turns.
Shrapnel Blast deals 5 damage for 2 mana. When it comes it burning your opponent out, it doesn’t get much better than that. With so many artifacts in the deck, you’ll always have something to sacrifice when your opponent eventually drops to 5 life.
Crater's Claws is just about the best removal spell you could ask for in a deck like this. There are plenty of cards in the deck that turn on ferocious, and as soon as you do that, this becomes the best Fireball ever. It’s a Shock, a Lightning Strike, a Flame Javelin, and more. Along with Shrapnel Blast, it makes ending the game with burn spell surprisingly easy.
Abzan Aggro — Game 1
My opponent cast Sorin, Solemn Visitor and used his +1 ability. He ended his turn. I equipped Prowler's Helm to Phyrexian Revoker and attacked for 2. I cast a second Revoker, this time choosing Sorin.
My opponent played a land and ended his turn. I attacked for 2 again, cast Juggernaut, and passed the turn.
My opponent drew his card and conceded.
Ornithopter as well.
My opponent attacked for 3 and then cast a second Fleecemane Lion. I played a land and passed the turn.
My opponent cast Sorin, Solemn Visitor. He used the +1 ability and attacked with the Lions. I sacrificed an Ornithopter to Shrapnel Blast to kill one, taking 4 damage. Phyrexian Revoker attacked Sorin for 2, and I cast Prowler's Helm, missing my land drop.
My opponent attacked with both creatures, and I dropped to 5. He cast another Deathdealer and passed the turn. Still lacking a fourth land, I passed the turn with no play.
My opponent played a land and passed back. I still couldn’t find a land, and so passed the turn with no play.
Swiftwater Cliffs, gaining 1 life.
My opponent attacked with everything, putting a +1/+1 counter on the Vampire token. I killed Anafenza and Fleecemane Lion with 5/5s and blocked the two Deathdealers with Phyrexian Revoker and Juggernaut. My opponent used the abilities on the Deathdealers to make sure my creatures died and his didn’t, and I took 3 from the Vampire. My opponent cast another copy of Anafenza and passed the turn. I cast Phyrexian Revoker, naming Rakshasa Deathdealer.
My opponent attacked with everything again, putting a +1/+1 counter on a Deathdealer. I blocked the larger Deathdealer with my Revoker and killed Anafenza and the Vampire with 5/5s. I dropped to 1 life, and my opponent cast Courser of Kruphix. I cast Scuttling Doom Engine and passed the turn.
My opponent attacked with everything. Doom Engine blocked the 2/2 Deathdealer, Prowler's Helm blocked the 3/3, and Ornithopter killed Courser of Kruphix. My opponent regenerated both Deathdealers and pumped up the 3/3 to kill Prowler's Helm. He cast a third Deathdealer and passed the turn. I cast Haunted Plate Mail, made it a 5/5 with Ensoul Artifact, and ended my turn.
My opponent attacked with the 3/3 Deathdealer, and I blocked with Scuttling Doom Engine. He pumped it twice to kill the Engine, which dealt 6 damage to him. I attacked with both creatures. My opponent blocked the Plate Mail and regenerated his Deathdealer. He took 5 from Ornithopter. I sacrificed the Plate Mail to Shrapnel Blast to hit him for 5, and then I cast Crater's Claws for exactly lethal.
This deck isn’t the most consistent choice, but in exchange for that inconsistency, it gains some truly absurd draws. New additions such as Crater's Claws and Ghostfire Blade make a big difference, although I never saw the latter in that match. It’s also most definitely off the radar, so opponents will make mistakes that they wouldn’t if they knew the contents of your deck. If you’re looking to try out something a bit unusual for your local Standard tournaments, this might be a good way to go.