Let's talk for a second about Whir of Invention.
When the card was printed, evoking the memory of Chord of Calling generated some buzz, especially when an artifact block should presumably support the same effect in a less-represented card type.
But X and three is a steep cost, and you really need a large number of cheap artifacts to feed improvise as well as powerful payoffs to find in order to make the card work. Even in an artifact block, there hasn't been enough in Standard for the card to see anything but fringe play.
For those who don't remember original Ravnica, Chord of Calling wasn't even a very prevalent card in the format outside of the Saffi Eriksdotter / Crypt Champion combo. The larger format provides a depth of options that Standard simply can't match. We like to think of power as this innate quality of a card and more powerful cards are better than less powerful cards, but it's very contextual and cards that are weak in Standard can be quite good in Modern or Legacy.
So what can Whir of Invention do in Modern, where there are plenty of good, cheap artifacts to choose from? Basically, anything you want. The toolbox has the typical things: removal for big creatures, removal for swarms of small creatures, graveyard hate, etc. Ensnaring Bridge gives you a powerful soft lock against creature decks, Crucible of Worlds combines with Ghost Quarter for a powerful late game engine, and you can find the second half of the Thopter-Sword combo.
Surrounding all of these utility artifacts is Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, an incredibly powerful planeswalker that requires a lot from your deck to leverage it effectively. Toolboxes are nice, but they tend to result in underpowered decks filled with narrow answers, so you need an extra payoff. The four-mana planeswalker is perfect.
But Whir of Invention isn't even the most important card this deck has gained recently. Fatal Push and Collective Brutality represent significant gains in the removal you have access to, which heretofore has been a death knell for straight U/B decks. I particularly like the prospect of discarding Sword of the Meek to escalate Collective Brutality at no significant loss, or simply using it to empty your hand quickly for Ensnaring Bridge. Having the quality disruption is crucial for a deck like this that is relying on internal synergy to overcome more powerful decks. The discard was always there, and now the removal is too.
Now, there are tons of options in a deck like this, so it's easy for anyone to ask, “Why not play card X?” But, at the risk of embarrassing myself, I have to know:
Ben, are there no copies of Academy Ruins in the entire state of Indiana?
- 1 Crucible of Worlds
- 1 Engineered Explosives
- 2 Ensnaring Bridge
- 1 Executioner's Capsule
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 4 Pentad Prism
- 1 Pithing Needle
- 1 Ratchet Bomb
- 1 Relic of Progenitus
- 2 Sword of the Meek
- 2 Thopter Foundry
- 1 Trading Post
- 2 Welding Jar
- 2 Fatal Push
- 4 Whir of Invention
- 2 Mox Opal
- 2 Collective Brutality
- 3 Inquisition of Kozilek