Stop! Hammer Ti…I probably should avoid copyright issues in the first sentence, huh?
Hammer Time — or, as I like to call it, Bonk Tribal — has been quite the force on Magic Online over the last few weeks. While it certainly isn’t a new deck, it did get a few new toys from Modern Horizons 2 that have led to a renaissance of sorts. Let’s break it down as we enter a new age: The Bonk Enlightenment.
Hammer Time by CrusherBotBG, 1st place Modern Challenge
Last week, I wrote about how Izzet Murktide is the spiritual successor to Grixis Death’s Shadow. Similarly, the closer you look at Hammer Time, the more it starts to look like an upgraded Infect deck. That’s because Hammer Time and Infect are decks with similar play patterns and goals: small, cheap creatures and huge pump spells combine for early kills.
The key difference between the two decks is creature quality. Infect is limited to — well, creatures with infect; other than useful abilities like flying or unblockable, those creatures tend not to have much else going on. The denizens of Bonk Tribal are all certified carriers of Colossus Hammer, but most of them have added utility.
Puresteel Paladin lets you grind by both being a combo piece and by providing passive yet effective card advantage. Colossus Hammer has a hefty equip cost, but thanks to Puresteel Paladin, you can move it around freely. The ability to move Colossus Hammer around for free makes every creature in the deck a legitimate threat, which puts a ton of pressure on decks trying to grind you out with creature removal.
Memnite and Ornithopter both serve an important role as zero-mana artifact creatures. Getting to metalcraft by the second turn for Puresteel Paladin is quite important in games where speed is important. Being able to develop a creature and Sigarda’s Aid on turn one, means that you can easily be attacking for at least 10 damage on the second turn.
While CrusherBotBG’s list doesn’t feature any copies, Ingenious Smith has been in quite a few Hammer Time lists. Smith plays a role similar to Militia Bugler in Humans: providing some additional value on a scaling body. In grindy metas like this one, I’d expect to see more of it.
Quest for the Bonk
Hammer Time has access to 16 Hammers — a jam-packed toolbox. Between the four Hammers, four Stoneforge Mystics, four copies of Steelshaper’s Gift, and four of Urza’s Saga, you have tons of access to Colossus Hammer, or really any Equipment you’d like.
Urza’s Saga is an all-star in this deck, pumping out scaling artifact creatures that turn on metalcraft. In turn, those creatures get pumped by all the various artifacts in the deck, and they carry Equipment well. After you’ve made two huge creatures, then you can search up a Shadowspear to make sure those bruisers get their damage through.
Why Play Hammer Time?
Hammer Time exists to punish slow decks, or decks that can’t interact well early in the game. Cascading Footfalls can’t play one-mana removal, so you get a turn free from worry to set up. Their two-mana removal consists of Fire//Ice and Petty Theft, neither of which are particularly strong against Memnite and Ornithopter. Amulet Titan can’t interact at all in game one, and after sideboarding, they may have a couple copies of Dismember and Foundation Breaker. Beyond that, Hammer Time is just simply too fast for Amulet to race.
Food decks are also solid match-ups for Hammer Time because your creatures can get under them surprisingly quickly. Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar poses a bit of an issue if left unchecked, but setting up can be tough for them. While the Food decks can bank a lot of life, without Urza, Lord High Artificer, they end up fairly constrained on mana.
Kolaghan’s Command and Engineered Explosives are the natural predators of Hammer Time, especially when paired with Lurrus. Rakdos Midrange sports a strong match-up against Hammer Time by having access to a ton of early disruption, backed up by these haymaker cards.
Mill is also surprisingly good against Hammer Time, in large part due to Tasha’s Hideous Laughter. One of Hammer Time’s strengths is that it is easily the lowest curve in Modern, but against Mill, it’s almost a downfall.
Chalice of the Void is a common sideboard card at the moment, mostly to keep the Cascade decks in check. If an opponent plays it on zero or one, it can be quite difficult for Hammer Time.
Force of Vigor and Wear//Tear will both almost always get two cards against Hammer Time. Being able to hit enchantments and artifacts with the same card is huge. Cleanly answering Urza’s Saga and Sigarda’s Aid with cards that aren’t specifically enchantment removal will go a long way.
If you’re looking for a powerful and fast deck with combo elements, Hammer Time is a great place to start. I’ll catch you all next week — until then, be safe and swing some Hammers!
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.