Wow, has Commander 2016 been a great product to dive into! I've spent the past month or so going over the preconstructed decks: first I took on Open Hostility (no blue), then Entropic Uprising (no white), then Breed Lethality (no red), and then Stalwart Unity (no black). Which brings us around to the final Commander 2016 precon, one that eschews my favorite color green: Invent Superiority! Here is where I insert a lame joke about how silly it is trying to invent superiority when you eschew the superior color in Commander, but I digress. Let's instead focus on the “artifacts matter” themes presented in this deck, since many of them are just really fun and cool Commander cards.
Commander 2016 Deck Name: Invent Superiority
Development champion: Ben Hayes
On the mothership, lead designer Ethan Fleischer gave us some details into the color underpinnings of the themes:
“White embraces the progress exemplified in civilization. Blue finds technology fascinating. Black sees no moral distinction between the natural and the artificial. Red is happy to create and to destroy. But green? Green hates all of these things!
This deck utilizes a variety of "artifacts matter" cards from all four of its colors, along with a selection of colored and colorless artifacts. This is for players who want to build an intricate machine and use it to gain advantage over time.”
Okay, so what are our commander choices for Four-Color Not Green? From what's included in Invent Superiority, we have:
Let's not kid ourselves here—if you want to build a four-color artifact themed deck, the artifact creature Breya, Etherium Shaper is the slam dunk choice. Commander fans the world over know this already—Invent Superiority is just behind Breed Lethality in terms of cost, and Breya, Etherium Shaper is on the heels of Atraxa, Praetors' Voice on the deck aggregator site EDHREC. Breya's abilities are fueled by sacrificing artifacts, and she makes two artifacts when she enters the battlefield. There are tons of artifacts you don't mind sacrificing to Breya's ability, and there are also artifacts like Illusionist's Bracers that can give you more bang for your buck.
That's not to say the other options are without merit. Silas Renn, Seeker Adept (also an artifact creature) plays well with artifacts you may have in the graveyard that you'd like to play again. Partnered up with Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder, you get a double strike deathtouch creature that no one wants to block, but if it's not blocked, you'll get two triggered abilities.
Akiri, Line-Slinger isn't an artifact creature but loves to have lots of artifacts lying around to boost power for first strike and with vigilance plays great on offense and defense. But ultimately I think having Breya as your commander ensures that you'll have artifacts in your graveyard for Silas Renn to play with, whereas if you're playing Silas Renn as your Commander you'd probably need to make quite a few adjustments to your deck or build it from scratch to maximize Silas Renn's ability. Since this build is trying to utilize our precon as much as possible, let's stick with Breya, Etherium Shaper.
Okay, let's see what we have to work with from the other cards in Invent Superiority. Here are the brand-new ones:
Faerie Artisans knocks my socks off as a Commander card I can see wanting to play in any deck with blue. If there's something you can bank on in Commander, it's that people love to play value creatures, so being able to piggyback off them with a copy of your own is fantastic. It's a little annoying that you don't have any control over the copy-making and each one you make exiles the previous one, but the card would probably just be busted if those drawbacks weren't built in. That the copies are artifacts in addition to its other types feels a bit random but obviously work wonders alongside Breya who is going to be happy to sacrifice the token if it's going to be exiled anyway.
I'm also a big fan of Grip of Phyresis. You gain control of the Equipment at instant speed and can even use it as a blocker since you equip it with a Germ token. In a pinch this can be used as an Equipment removal spell since you can sacrifice it to Breya. There are so many fantastic Equipment cards that can pretty much go in any Commander deck, I can't ever see this being a dead card.
The basic landcycling spells are generally awesome, great for fixing early on with decent effects late when your mana is fine. I have been really impressed with Ancient Excavation as a way to replace any less-than-useful cards in your hand with better cards, all at instant speed. Ash Barrens is an astonishingly good card with basic landcycling for only one colorless mana, and if you're fine on colors, it doesn't enter the battlefield tapped.
Let's look at the non-land reprints they gave us.
This is a fantastic collection of “artifacts matter” cards across the four colors in the deck. If you know a newer player who enjoys synergy between cards, Invent Superiority is a great place to start. I mean, just look at all the cards that have “artifact” in the text box! And there are lots of ways to get artifacts back from the graveyard, including one of my favorite cards of all time, Trading Post. Hanna, Ship's Navigator can bring artifacts back one activation at a time, and you get to enjoy that fantastic Terese Nielsen artwork.
Hellkite Tyrant is a great way to steal artifacts from opponents and doubles as a win condition. Cranial Plating is an Eternal tournament powerhouse and does fantastic work around the Commander table turning any random creature into a significant threat. Trinket Mage offers up a utility toolkit – fetch up a Dispeller's Capsule if you need to destroy an artifact or enchantment, Executioner's Capsule if you need to kill a creature, or Sol Ring or Skullclamp to advance the battlefield.
I recently was reacquainted with how potent Ethersworn Adjudicator is if you get to keep it around for any length of time when I made a copy of it and then killed the one my opponent had. I also had lots of mana. It's definitely one of those “must-deal-with” creatures that can tax your opponent's spot removal.
I kept thinking about cutting Whipflare since I have a few nonartifact creatures in the deck, but it seems like a good idea to have a way to sweep away token creatures.
So after some thinking and some hard choices, here are the cards I'm cutting from the deck:
Many of these cards are perfectly fine in the deck, but I ended up cutting them for what I thought might be a little better. Everflowing Chalice is a decent mana accelerator but it works better if you've got ways to add counters to it. I absolutely adore Armory Automaton, but it feels a little disjointed here since you don't actually control any of the artifacts you equip to it. I can't wait to put it into a deck specifically focusing on Equipment, especially one that plays Bludgeon Brawl. Maybe with Mycosynth Lattice too --equip with all the noncreature permanents! I'd probably put Godo, Bandit Warlord in that same deck.
Magus of the Will is obviously a sweet card, but feels a little out of place when looking at all the cards I'll be keeping. If I were building this deck from scratch, I might build it with a lot of small artifacts that sacrifice for good effect (Lotus Petal, Mishra's Bauble) along with Feldon of the Third Path, which could copy Magus of the Will in your graveyard so you could use it over and over again.
I cut Temple of the False God because I cannot abide drawing it when I've only got a couple of lands on the battlefield. There are better colorless options. Bruse Tarl does good work but doesn't have any direct artifact synergies so got the boot. Nevinyrral's Disk is a classic battlefield sweeper, but I can't help but think this deck wouldn't really want to have all its permanents swept away too. I've got an idea for a better sweeper for an artifact deck.
Here's what I'm adding to the deck:
Okay, so speaking of sweepers, you've got to love Scourglass. Sure, it's a little on the slow side, but it's going to be nearly one-sided, so the wait is worth it. Since I've got a fair number of nonartifact creatures, I thought it might be handy to be able to make them into artifacts, so I've added Ashnod's Transmogrant and Liquimetal Coating. And of course there's the sweet combo of Liquimetal Coating along with Hellkite Tyrant.
Since we've got Thopter Foundry, we might as well toss a Sword of the Meek into the mix so you can generate a ton of sacrificial fodder for Breya. Even without Thopter Foundry, you can always sacrifice the Sword to Breya whenever some other 1/1 enters the battlefield. Speaking of, Sharding Sphinx seems like a great way to generate token creatures for sacrifice in a deck with so many artifacts.
I'm a fan of Journeyer's Kite in any nongreen deck, and since this is a four-color deck with no green, I certainly wanted to make room for it. And if you somehow have searched out all your basic lands, it can always be sacrificed to Breya.
I've increased the number of one-mana and zero-mana artifacts to make Salvaging Station do good work, providing Breya with even more things to sacrifice. Further up the mana curve I thought now might be a good time for Sphinx of the Steel Wind to shine given our new infusion of four-color decks. I'm pretty sure nearly all opponents are going to have either green or red in their decks. To top it off, we have Metalwork Colossus, which should pretty easily be cast for a decent discount, and if it's destroyed, it can piggyback off all this Breya sacrificial fodder to come back from the graveyard.
Here's what the deck looks like with my adjustments and Breya, Etherium Shaper as the commander:
- 1 Baleful Strix
- 1 Etched Oracle
- 1 Etherium Sculptor
- 1 Ethersworn Adjudicator
- 1 Filigree Angel
- 1 Master of Etherium
- 1 Metalwork Colossus
- 1 Myr Battlesphere
- 1 Myr Retriever
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Sanctum Gargoyle
- 1 Scuttlemutt
- 1 Sharding Sphinx
- 1 Shimmer Myr
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Soul of New Phyrexia
- 1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
- 1 Sphinx Summoner
- 1 Chief Engineer
- 1 Faerie Artisans
- 1 Hellkite Tyrant
- 1 Trinket Mage
- 1 Vedalken Engineer
- 1 Sharuum the Hegemon
- 1 Silas Renn, Seeker Adept
- 1 Akiri, Line-Slinger
- 1 Hanna, Ship's Navigator
- 1 Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer
- 1 Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer
- 1 Sydri, Galvanic Genius
- 1 Darksteel Citadel
- 1 Seat of the Synod
- 5 Island
- 4 Mountain
- 5 Plains
- 4 Swamp
- 1 Arcane Sanctum
- 1 Ash Barrens
- 1 Azorius Chancery
- 1 Boros Garrison
- 1 Buried Ruin
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Crumbling Necropolis
- 1 Dimir Aqueduct
- 1 Evolving Wilds
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Mystic Monastery
- 1 Nomad Outpost
- 1 Rakdos Carnarium
- 1 Rupture Spire
- 1 Terramorphic Expanse
- 1 Transguild Promenade
- 1 Inventors' Fair
- 1 Ashnod's Transmogrant
- 1 Blinkmoth Urn
- 1 Bonehoard
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Cranial Plating
- 1 Cultivator's Caravan
- 1 Dispeller's Capsule
- 1 Executioner's Capsule
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Ichor Wellspring
- 1 Illusionist's Bracers
- 1 Journeyer's Kite
- 1 Liquimetal Coating
- 1 Loxodon Warhammer
- 1 Mycosynth Wellspring
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Salvaging Station
- 1 Scourglass
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Spine of Ish Sah
- 1 Swiftfoot Boots
- 1 Sword of the Meek
- 1 Thopter Foundry
- 1 Trading Post
- 1 Welding Jar
- 1 Ancient Excavation
- 1 Grip of Phyresis
- 1 Open the Vaults
- 1 Trash for Treasure
- 1 Whipflare
It's pretty easy to juice up the power level on this deck while keeping most of it intact. What do you think? Do you like my commander choice or would you go a different route?
We do have other options utilizing partner legendary creatures to build our deck outside of what's found in Invent Superiority. The enemy-color legendary creatures from Open Hostility and Stalwart Unity give us four different partner configurations that are also Four-Color Not Green:
What sort of themes do these various configurations suggest? None of them directly play nicely with artifacts, but you can assemble a team that provides decent card advantage. Ravos, Soultender can provide a nice boost to a Thopter horde.
The allied color partner cards from Entropic Uprising and Breed Lethality gives us one last option for Four-Color Not Green:
Vial Smasher the Fierce would play quite nicely alongside "affinity for artifacts" cards if we wanted to push in that direction. Metalwork Colossus in particular could really dish out the damage! Equip the Goblin with Loxodon Warhammer or something else to give it lifelink and you've got quite the life drain. Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker can be the focus of a “Voltron”-style deck, loading it up with Equipment and protecting it from a premature end while it grows and grows.
Which way are you planning to build your Four-Color Not Green deck?
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
Commander write-ups I've done (and links to decklists):