Ever since the treasure mechanic was introduced, I’ve had the desire to build a deck around it. With the influx of great artifact reprints in Double Masters, now’s a great time to build an artifact deck.
Today, I want to take you through my Four-Color Treasure Hunt deck, helmed by Akiri, Line-Slinger and Silas Renn, Seeker Adept. It’s a blast to pilot, and leans into big, splashy, fun lines–leaving the combo pieces at home.
Building an Artifact Deck
When it comes to building an artifact deck, the world’s your oyster. There are a bunch of different builds to try out, from value-generating Esper or Jeskai builds helmed by Alela, Artful Provocateur or Kykar, Wind’s Fury, to “eggs” builds that want to play cheap or free artifacts to cycle through the deck and Storm off — and everything in between.
I’ve tried out both Kykar and Alela, and I have a storm deck currently built — in the form of Elsha of the Infinite — so I decided I wanted to try something a little bit different with my artifact list. I’m a big believer of conserving design space between the decks I have built, and so keeping things fresh was key.
One of the issues you can face when building a deck with so many options — made more complex by having access to four colors — is decision paralysis. All said and done, the amount of slots you have to work with in a Commander deck is fewer than you’d think.
If you’re a player who also values variance in games, this issue can be exacerbated further; having multiple win conditions can dilute the deck, but playing a completely linear strategy can get old quickly. Linear game plans also leave you wide open to having your strategy blanked by certain cards, too, which can be frustrating in its own way.
For this build, I decided straight away to drop some of the usual themes these decks can lean into. With treasure cards taking up a good deal of slots, I would be better off focusing on payoffs for amassing high numbers of artifacts. So, I left Krark-Clan Ironworks, Scrap Trawler and Myr Retriever at home. Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek didn’t make the cut, and neither did Time Sieve and Thopter Assembly.
These are all solid cards and combos, but ultimately didn’t fit my vision of the deck. Before we move on to looking at what did make it into my build, I want to stress that it’s okay to leave out powerful cards and popular, tried and tested combos. In fact, I guarantee that you’ll have a lot of fun with the slots their absence frees up in your deck.
The Real Treasure is the Deck We Made Along the Way
My final decklist looks a little something like this.
Our main theme is generating treasure. We do this through the following cards: Prying Blade, Dockside Extortionist, Treasure Map, Captain Lannery Storm, Smothering Tithe, Storm the Vault, Revel in Riches, and Brass’s Bounty.
The other “treasure” we seek to accumulate in this build is an army of Thopters. On our search for pirate gold, we’re employing all of the tech we have, and drones are particularly good for getting the lay of the land. Between the tokens generated by Sai, Master Thopterist, Loyal Apprentice, Whirler Rogue and Thopter Spy Network, we’ll have a squadron assembled in no time.
Thopters are great at getting in and drawing cards or triggering Prying Blade, and they can do double duty in other ways too. Distant Melody can let us draw a bunch off the Thopters we control. We can also tap them to draw cards with Shimmer Dragon, sacrifice them to Goblin Welder and Daretti, Scrap Savant to bring back better things, or just tap them to make our commanders or other beaters unblockable with Whirler Rogue.
Shimmer Dragon has become a fast favorite of mine, and I think the card is not-so-secretly very, very strong. If you didn’t pick one up from the Eldraine Brawl decks yet, I’d advise giving it a go.
A Token of Appreciation
So, what do we do when we have all of these artifacts in play?
Well, one thing we can do is deploy Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer. Brudiclad creates a Myr token at the beginning of combat on our turn, and also gives our creature tokens haste. Using their patented Telchor technology, Brudiclad can morph our tokens into different things.
We can convert all our treasures into Thopters to really swing hard; we can turn everything into Myr tokens so that when we swing with Myr Battlesphere; we can burn for a huge amount; or we can turn everything into treasure tokens to amass a huge amount of mana.
To really turn up the heat, we have access to two spells that can synergize incredibly with Brudiclad: Rite of Replication and Hate Mirage. Both of these spells are powerful in their own right, but in combination with Brudiclad, they can do some absurd things. We all know Rite of Replication is powerful, but Hate Mirage is seriously underplayed.
In testing, I copied a Borborygmos Enraged and pitched the three lands in my hand for burn damage to really set back my friend Anton. His only recourse was to sacrifice most of his lands to a Zuran Orb to stay alive. Give Hate Mirage a go — you won’t regret it!
Hit them Hard, Hit them Fast
We have plenty of other things to do with our trove of treasure, though. Let’s get the obvious of the way: Akiri can hit really hard, and she blocks like a champ. Without the need to play Voltron and stack the deck out with equipment, Akiri will get large naturally, and Commander damage is one of our win conditions. We have plenty of ways to make her unblockable with the likes of Trailblazer’s Boots, Rogue’s Passage, Manifold Key and Whirler Rogue, and we can ensure any of our creatures can hit equally hard by deploying Cranial Plating.
Speaking of other heavy hitters, we’re running two of the scariest threats an artifact build can muster. First up, Hellkite Igniter. This dragon comes down with haste, and can firebreathe for each artifact in play. This can stack up to just annihilate a player out of nowhere, and nobody sees it coming.
If that wasn’t enough, I was delighted to finally get my hands on a copy of Blightsteel Colossus when Double Masters came around. Blightsteel can just kill a player out of nowhere, and combined with our haste enablers, tutors, and Rite of Replication? Things can get messy real quick.
There are some great planeswalkers that care about artifacts, and more than a few have lent a hand to the great treasure hunt. The aforementioned Daretti, Scrap Savant gives us some good card draw, and can set up the graveyard for recursion through Goblin Welder and Emry, Lurker of the Loch — not to mention Silas Renn’s damage trigger.
I opted for Tezzeret, Artifice Master over Tezzeret the Seeker for this build. The Core 2019 Tezzeret makes us Thopters, but can also just sit back and draw two cards a turn very easily, which is some seriously good draw power.
The final two planeswalkers are versatile, to say the least. Saheeli, the Gifted can make Servo tokens, or just make our spells cheaper. Along with Ugin, the Ineffable and Blinkmoth Urn, we should be able to dump our hand with ease and refill it again with our many draw engines. Running Midnight Clock in the mana base can help us reload, too.
The star of the deck, though, is undoubtedly Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge. Giving creature and planeswalker spells we cast affinity is downright nutty, and having both recursion and a life drain effect means Tezzeret can really push us closer to victory.
That leads us nicely into the final alternate win condition of the deck: Marionette Master. By increasing the Marionette Master’s power through Fabricate or Cranial Plating, we can then sacrifice our treasure tokens to shred life totals. In combination with Tezzeret, big hits from Akiri and our other threats, and a continued assault from Thopters, we should be on to a winner.
Bringing it Together
To pull all of this off, we need to keep the cards flowing. On top of the card draw already mentioned, we’ve got the classic Skullclamp to cash in our tokens, Windfall to refill our hand — and potentially combo with Smothering Tithe — and the ability to recur Witching Well and Baleful Strix by hitting with Silas Renn.
Though 34 lands is a little light of where I normally am, with our masses of treasure generation, cost reduction, mana rocks, and our abundant card draw and cheap commanders, it’s not as bad as you’d believe. We’re also in the position where a number of our cards flip into lands, too, which can help to offset things.
We’re also using a few tutors. Tribute Mage gets us a good deal of cards, from ramp to draw; we can cast Whir of Invention at instant speed; and we can recur and sacrifice Wishclaw Talisman if need be to avoid handing it over.
Finally, having access to white, blue, black and red gives us the best of premium interaction and removal. From Blasphemous Act to Cyclonic Rift, Swords to Plowshares to Dovin’s Veto, we’ve got some great options. We’re also not ignoring our artifact and colorless synergy, which lets us run some of the best removal spells in the game. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, All is Dust, Duplicant and Dispatch are all quality pieces.
The drive to build and try something new is infectious. Between brewing Ayli Clerics, upgrading the Dimir Rogues precon, and now building this super fun artifacts build, I’ve been on a bit of a deck-building blitz. What’s important to remember is that motivation comes after you take the first step, not before.
It’s been tough to be a Magic fan lately, and tougher still to be a creator. If you’re feeling stuck with what to brew, just pick out a few cards, set yourself some rules of what not to include — restrictions breed creativity, after all — and just start pulling out cards. You might see a great interaction! This deck came together after watching a friend of mine double up Brass’s Bounty in a Gadrak deck, and I just had to try doing a treasure build after seeing Chris make those plays.
The beauty is, you don’t have to replicate entire decks — sometimes an interaction is all it takes to inspire an idea. Liked the deck today? Have some ideas of fun directions to take it? Tried a treasures build yourself? Let me know on Twitter!