When the latest Commander decks were revealed, I wasn't sure how much of an impact they would have on my local metagame. Most of my friends aren't a fan of going too deep into multicolor. Three-color decks are rare, five-color nearly unheard-of.
And then last night one of my friends announced he was building Atraxa, Praetors' Voice as Superfriends.
I'm not sure how good the deck will be, but it isn't often that someone I know goes straight for an archetype like that, so it'll be very interesting to see how this impacts things. But as for me, I have my eye on a different precon…
I love a commander that can do a lot of stuff. I like options, and flexibility is necessary to the Commander environment. You can never tell what kind of weird game state into which you'll be propelled.
It's no surprise that Breya is my favorite of the new four-color legendaries. Good-sized body, brings friends to the party, sacrifice outlet that doesn't need to be tapped and not one, not two, but three different payoffs for sacrificing artifacts. I love the Lightning Bolt, I love the Grasp of Darkness, and I love the Chaplain's Blessing because each of them has a time where they are needed. Plus, there's no limit on how many times you can activate it in a turn. Mana and artifacts are your only limitations.
Plus, look at her artwork. Seriously, look at it right now. It has been a while since I have seen such a cool looking card. The red eyes staring at you are almost a little creepy.
I know the precon is already an artifact deck, but I am almost wondering if we can do better. The precons are fabulous, don't get me wrong, but they often don't play the optimal cards and they are usually torn into three different directions to give each potential commander an environment to shine. The first precon I bought was Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge, and while I liked all the cards in the deck, they didn't all help out Jeleva very much.
Here's my attempt of going down my own path to a Breya deck:
Now, my biggest concern is my lack of answers. I feel like I should be running some countermagic and indiscriminate removal. Breya will be able to handle a lot, I'm sure, but some things only a counterspell can tackle. Also, I am running a lot of artifacts, certainly, but I feel like the deck is in a weird spot. There's some combo potential with stuff like Clock of Omens, but for the most part I am aiming for a grindy midrange deck. I want to be able to go toe-to-toe with my opponents before hammering them down with either a smattering of artifact creatures or Breya's burn.
I prioritized cards that bring extra artifacts with them, like Whirler Rogue, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, and Tamiyo's Journal. I love that Clues are artifacts. I tried to include a lot of recursion as that is where my wanted grindiness will come from. Metalwork Colossus is a fun newer addition, but Myr Retriever and Junk Diver are always welcome in my artifact decks.
The one card -- one card -- that I do not want to see leave is Marionette Master. If need be, I would rather sculpt the deck more to its liking than remove it. I love the combination of a four-power Marionette Master dealing four damage each when I sacrifice Ichor and Mycosynth Wellsprings. If Breya is the sacrifice outlet, that is a choice of her abilities, drawing a card, ramping a land, and dealing eight damage. That. Is. Beautiful.
I am in your hands now, Dear Azami. Please help me build my bold Breya her own breathtaking deck.
This one was only a matter of time. I'm the resident artificer of my playgroup, and while I tend to skew more towards the combo and ramp side of the colorless card type, Barry's midrange take on the list captured my interest.
There are several themes at work here, and partially because of the nature of midrange strategies, you need some of everything, from token producers to versatile removal to recursion to threats. There are a lot of good elements here, so most of what I'll be doing is refining and tweaking instead of entirely cutting themes out of the deck.
That's a lot of good cards hitting the cutting room floor, so let's walk through them one at a time. First off, because of how much power this deck gains simply from having the word “artifact” on cards, I was very critical of your nonartifact creatures, even if they made tokens like Pia and Kiran Nalaar.
Second, I wanted to drastically cut down on you number of sacrifice outlets. Since Breya requires two artifacts per activation, even with all the Thopters and Servos running around, you'll be hard-pressed to keep up with your commander's demands and fuel a card like Sage of Lat-Nam or Pia and Kiran Nalaar.
Pentavus seems like it would be perfect here, but it's just slow and ponderous to get online, and without a consistent way to Flicker it, it'll almost always only represent five artifacts for eleven mana . That's not great.
Disciple of the Vault is a useful little effect, but without the scaling of Marionette Master, it's just slow at chipping your opponents down. Now, there is something to be said for a small effect like this that's unlikely to get targeted, but on the balance I think you can do better.
Trinket Mage and Treasure Mage actually have very limited functionality in your list, as you have few cards they can search for. Now, sure, sometimes you really need that Executioner's Capsule or Metalwork Colossus, but these were some of the few cards I could find that weren't necessary to the deck functioning.
Myr Retriever and Junk Diver are bad. I've played them in artifact decks for years, and even in a deck full of sacrifice outlets, there are just better cards out there for the role they fill. The bodies they come on aren't worth a card, and the other recursion elements out there are so much better than these.
As for Filigree Familiar, when it came down to it, I valued cards like Ichor Wellspring over the artifact Fox. It's a solid value card, but you have a lot of value cards already. If you want to cut one of the Wellsprings instead, that's fine, but I think this cut is correct.
Speaking of recursion, Scarecrone is a powerhouse. It has a higher initial cost, but returning the creatures directly to the battlefield and being a repeatable effect makes this card unbelievably strong. I legitimately rank this as strongly in artifact decks as I would Karmic Guide in a normal graveyard value deck.
Steel Overseer comes in to fill a role that you don't currently have in the deck, that of a lord. As is, your armies of Thopters and Myrs will get quickly outclassed and you're basically forced to fall back on Breya's burn to win, but when those 1/1s turn into 6/6s, you can legitimately win by just beating down and overwhelming your opponents. There's a lot of untapped potential in this area and it would be easy to double down with cards like Master of Etherium and Chief of the Foundry while adding as many token makers as possible, but I didn't want to change the deck too radically without permission.
I like the idea of Thirst for Knowledge, but there's a much better card draw engine that I want to include and this was the spell to cut to make room for it.
Argivian Restoration is a very handy effect to have, but if it isn't apparent by now, I'm trying to build this deck to have a lot of reusable effects instead of one-offs, and this simply doesn't have the raw power that keeps Open the Vaults and Scrap Mastery in the deck.
“Some problems, only a counterspell can deal with.” Truer words have rarely been spoken in Magic, and while I wouldn't want to dilute the deck with half a dozen of them, having a single hard counter will give you outs to situations that you otherwise couldn't do anything about. The reason I chose Arcane Denial over something like Counterspell is threefold. First, the card draw clause can help you from making an enemy in the game, and since you can't profitably trade one-for one with the whole table anyway, it isn't a big deal to give up a little card advantage to stop a backbreaking play.
Second, it's one of the only hard counters that only has a single blue in its cost. This deck is four-colored, and since a full manabase of fetchlands and shocklands (to say nothing of dual lands) is pricy, your access to multiples of one color is probably going to be pretty shaky, especially if you need to cast something else and want to leave mana up to counter something.
Third, with only one blue in the cost, it's easy to seemingly tap yourself out of meaningful responses while secretly holding this up in case someone tries to slam a Genesis Wave in the apparent opening. And once your opponents learn to play around it, you can still represent countermagic easily from almost any battlefield position.
I know. I must be crazy for even thinking about cutting Phyrexian Arena, right? This deck is running Tamiyo's Journal and (spoilers) I'm not cutting that! But that's how important the artifact card type is here. The fact that Phyrexian Arena costs double black and will almost never come down on-curve doesn't help its case either. In the end, as with Sage of Lat-Nam, it comes down to more card draw getting added later. Phyrexian Arena will be missed, but you don't need it.
This card doesn't belong in the deck. You already have a sacrifice outlet in the command zone, and the benefit of making a single Thopter and gaining a life is so incredibly marginal that the only nontoken artifacts you'd want to trade in are the Wellsprings or other cards that exist to be sacrificed. Let's just say that I'm extremely unimpressed here.
Let's start with the weird card from this list: Salvaging Station. When I was looking at Trinket Mage, I realized that you actually had a variety of effects that you could tutor for with it, but the card still wasn't worth the slot because any individual effect you could get wasn't that strong.
Salvaging Station, on the other hand, attacks that package from a different angle. Instead of going to find a one-drop, you rely on the fact that you have five noncreature artifacts that sacrifice themselves for effects to make sure you have one in the graveyard by the time you cast Salvaging Station. Once you get to that point, you have access to repeatable graveyard hate, card draw, ramp, spot removal, and/or Naturalizes, depending on which artifact you've found to recur. That is actually a very strong engine, and it only gets better as the game goes on and you find to other recurable artifacts.
This is actually another area where you might consider doubling down on a theme. Adding Auriok Salvagers, another handful of the better Spellbombs, and maybe something like Artificer's Intuition could turn this into a very interesting “converted mana cost one or less” deck. And now I kind of want to build that deck for myself…
You've got a lot of enters-the-battlefield triggers, so adding Conjurer's Closet made sense. In the worst-case scenario, it gives you two Thopters a turn for free by bouncing Breya.
Illusionist's Bracers and Rings of Brighthearth serve the fairly obvious role of doubling down on what you can do with Breya's activations. No, I don't think that you can choose a separate mode off of the copied ability, but even if you're just ratcheting up the power of her activations and not bothering to split the targets, dealing six to an opponent, giving a creature -8/-8 for the turn or gaining ten life is absurd. The -8/-8 mode is perhaps the most attractive, since the decks you face probably won't have more than one or two creatures that can survive a single hit like that, and taking out two utility creatures at a time this way is a little absurd.
Mirrorworks is a late-game powerhouse that doubles the impact of every artifact you draw from then on, and if it's not quite as good as usual, since a lot of your strategy heavily relies on tokens, it will still be one of your best end-game options.
Nim Deathmantle, Scourglass, and Spine of Ish Sah don't need much explaining; they're powerful cards that provide endless recursion, one-sided battlefield wipes, and a Vindicate that never really goes away. All three excel in the kind of grindy midrange game you want to promote and will let you gain much advantage against your opponents.
Myr Incubator is an often-overlooked card, but it's one of the best one-shot token producers out there. I'll be the first to admit it looks very unattractive on paper, but you only have to see the sequence of someone exiling half their deck in their end step and then immediately killing the table with an alpha strike once to respect this card.
Then we come to Well of Lost Dreams, which I'd be willing to bet is the best interaction that people overlook when thinking about Breya. How often as Commander players do we look at a lifegain ability and think something like: “Well, that might as well not exist” or “Maybe if I'm desperate; at least it does other stuff”? Admit it: when you first read Breya, you didn't really care that she could gain life. But the ability is there and it's powerful. When I was thinking about drafting up this deck, I spent a lot of time looking for cards that synergized with Breya, and it was only on the third pass that I realized there was a way to graft a fourth mode onto her activations.
"X: Gain 5 life, then draw X-2 cards."
That's an absurd card advantage engine and one that can let you bury the whole table. That it exists without giving up any of the deck's other utility is just great.
I actually really like your manabase. It's a great example of how to make a four-color deck consistent without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on duals. Sure, it'd be better if I put in the requisite filterlands or even the M10 / Innistrad checklands, but there's nothing wrong with the current list, so I'm only going to make one change, mostly for flavor's sake.
You had the other four artifact lands that you could play, and there's a nonzero amount of value to be had by hiding artifacts in your manabase where they're usually untouchable, so I made sure to squeeze the last of the cycle in where I could.
Putting it all together, we arrive at the finished decklist:
- 1 Baleful Strix
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Filigree Angel
- 1 Hangarback Walker
- 1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
- 1 Metalwork Colossus
- 1 Myr Battlesphere
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 1 Palladium Myr
- 1 Sanctum Gargoyle
- 1 Scarecrone
- 1 Sharding Sphinx
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
- 1 Steel Hellkite
- 1 Steel Overseer
- 1 Thopter Assembly
- 1 Goblin Welder
- 1 Marionette Master
- 1 Vedalken Archmage
- 1 Whirler Rogue
- 1 Sharuum the Hegemon
- 1 Padeem, Consul of Innovation
- 1 Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer
- 1 Ancient Den
- 1 Darksteel Citadel
- 1 Great Furnace
- 1 Seat of the Synod
- 1 Vault of Whispers
- 7 Island
- 4 Mountain
- 2 Plains
- 6 Swamp
- 1 Arcane Sanctum
- 1 Buried Ruin
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Crumbling Necropolis
- 1 Esper Panorama
- 1 Evolving Wilds
- 1 Grixis Panorama
- 1 Mystic Monastery
- 1 Nomad Outpost
- 1 Terminal Moraine
- 1 Terramorphic Expanse
- 1 Warped Landscape
- 1 Inventors' Fair
- 1 Armillary Sphere
- 1 Blinkmoth Urn
- 1 Chromatic Lantern
- 1 Clock Of Omens
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Conjurer's Closet
- 1 Darksteel Forge
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Dispeller's Capsule
- 1 Executioner's Capsule
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Ichor Wellspring
- 1 Illusionist's Bracers
- 1 Krark-Clan Ironworks
- 1 Mind's Eye
- 1 Mirrorworks
- 1 Mycosynth Wellspring
- 1 Myr Incubator
- 1 Myr Turbine
- 1 Nevinyrral's Disk
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Prismatic Geoscope
- 1 Rings of Brighthearth
- 1 Salvaging Station
- 1 Scourglass
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Spine of Ish Sah
- 1 Trading Post
- 1 Wayfarer's Bauble
- 1 Well of Lost Dreams
- 1 Rhystic Study
- 1 Thopter Spy Network
- 1 Arcane Denial
- 1 Tamiyo's Journal
- 1 Open the Vaults
- 1 Scrap Mastery
And the additions, sorted by price:
The changes add up to $57.66, and as always, Barry will receive twenty dollars in StarCityGames.com® store credit to help make those additions.
Normally I use this space to talk about some possible alternate builds of the deck in question, but since I talked about that in the article itself this week, I'll just end by saying that I was surprised by the potential that Breya has. I was initially underwhelmed by her, but while I doubt she'll ever head a dominant Tier 1 deck, she's incredibly versatile and can fit into a wide range of themes and will be a strong piece in any deck you build around her.
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