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Electric Evolution
By David James Bruce
Long, long ago, I invented a Tinker deck. It was a natural progression from the artifact-only monster I had been piloting for some time and followed my first tournament appearance (ever), wherein a kind gentleman with far more tournament experience showed me a set of four Tinkers. He was additionally kind enough to trade all four to me and kept a copy of the Inquest Gamer handy for price-checking (back when that magazine had a purpose in print).

Here is what I can recall of the deck (I have since started chronicling my deck lists, as I am starting to loathe when I recall an old deck to put together and have nothing in writing to go on):

Electric Blue
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower
8 Island
4 Svyelunite Temple
4 Tinker
4 Counterspell
4 Mana Vault
4 Thran Turbine
4 Sky Diamond
4 Onulet
2 Teeka’s Dragon
8 ?

Honestly, I don’t recall the eight other cards. I do, however, recall Tinkering on turn two for Teeka’s Dragon. Bear in mind, at the time there was no way our local metagame could cope with a turn two Teeka’s Dragon. Terror didn’t work, they usually didn’t have enough burn to take it out…there just wasn’t a quality response, at the time. And, it was tons of fun to play.

I still have pangs of wanting to put the deck back together and piloting it, especially considering I came up with the above before I knew Magic: the Gathering discussion could be found on the internet. Several months later, I found Zvi’s list and realized I must be on to something good.

That was years ago, mind you. Two years ago, I came across another deck list that revitalized my interest in a Tinker-style deck, while I was perusing the 2003 State Championship entries. The following is a copy of that list:

2003 Michigan State Championships, Honorable Mention
“Urza’s Dragon”
Joe Knizacky

3 Clockwork Dragon
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Bottle Gnomes
2 Duplicant
1 Triskelion
1 Myr Retriever
4 Fabricate
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Sylvan Scrying
1 Culling Scales
3 Oblivion Stone
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Mind’s Eye
1 Myr Incubator
1 Mindslaver
1 Skeleton Shard

4 Urza’s Tower
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Cloudpost
2 Tree of Tales
2 Seat of the Synod
2 Forest
2 Island

For the past two months, I have had 2 Clockwork Dragon, 4 Bottle Gnomes, 1 Myr Retriever, 1 Skeleton Shard, 2 Tree of Tales and 2 Seat of the Synod sitting in a pile with a set of old Chronicles Edition Urza’s Tower, Mine and Power Plants, without putting forth any effort at putting the deck together. Dave Almansor and I traded a good chunk of cards last Sunday, though, of which was a Solemn Simulacrum, which inspired me to put the deck together in earnest.

The process evolved as follows; I pulled the missing cards I owned to form the following:

2 Clockwork Dragon
1 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Bottle Gnomes
1 Duplicant
1 Triskelion
1 Myr Retriever
4 Fabricate
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Sylvan Scrying
1 Culling Scales
1 Mind’s Eye
1 Mindslaver
1 Skeleton Shard

4 Urza’s Tower
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Cloudpost
2 Tree of Tales
2 Seat of the Synod
2 Forest
2 Island

Obviously, I was missing a full deck, down roughly ten key cards. Dave and I have long had discussions about building a deck and stinking with it to develop it more, instead of bouncing around each new idea, playing each maybe for a half hour. This was never more relevant than our quick abandonment/postponement of our Blue/Red Stax decks. Dave suggested we put together Stax decks and play them to death, building each one independently and seeing which ideas worked and which didn’t.

I was about to cannibalize the stack of Urza’s Dragon cards and mentioned the deck to Dave. He encouraged me to put it together since we had traded for a Solemn Simulacrum, so I thought, why not? As I set out the cards and began to assemble the deck, Dave noted, “Why are you playing Fabricate? Tinker’s so much better.”

The light bulb went on, obviously.

+4 Tinker, -4 Fabricate

Being down about ten cards, I immediately began cannibalizing my other artifact-based decks for powerful effects to Tinker for.

+4 Metalworker
+3 Staff of Domination

I am a HUGE fan of this combination of cards, having experienced it some time ago piloting MUD Domination, based on a deck list found on TheManaDrain.com. I chuckled and mentioned it to Dave, who immediately shook his head with an “uh oh.” I pointed out there were no accelerants of note, beyond Tinker, no Mana Vault to power out turn two Metalworkers. He still seemed less than thrilled at the possibility of a combo-kill.

The following changes came naturally, as I shuffled cards here and there:

-2 Clockwork Dragon, +3 Platinum Angel
+4 Junk Diver
+1 Darksteel Colossus
+1 Sundering Titan
-1 Solemn Simulacrum, +3 Sculpting Steel
+1 Skeleton Shard
+1 Mindslaver
-2 Forest, -2 Island, +2 Tree of Tales, +2 Seat of the Synod

When it comes to Dragons and Angels, Angels are far more inspiring. Especially when you cannot lose the game whilst they are in play. I had prior experience with Junk Divers back in the Urza’s Block days, combining it with Extruder in a further evolution of Electric Blue. Darksteel Colossus and Sundering Titan are huge favorites of mine. I would like more Titans, but availability and revenue are stalling me, there. Sculpting Steel was part of the trade with Dave, and I have always been a huge proponent of Copy Artifact, so it seemed a natural inclusion, here. I decided to bolster the lone Skeleton Shard and Mindslaver with a second copy to each, as I had two slots left to fill and owned only two copies of each; fate seemed to be guiding my hand. The artifact lands were a far more synergistic choice both with the Metalworkers and because of the lack of Solemn Simulacrums.

The list I finally settled on and shuffled up was as follows:

4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower
4 Coudpost
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Tree of Tales

4 Metalworker
4 Junk Diver
1 Myr Retriever
3 Platinum Angel
1 Darksteel Colossus
1 Sundering Titan

4 Chromatic Sphere
3 Sculpting Steel
3 Staff of Domination
2 Skeleton Shard
2 Mindslaver

4 Tinker
4 Sylvan Scrying

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being neither optimistic, nor pessimistic, I opted to shuffle it up and goldfish the deck for a while.

My first run-through resulted in a turn four board situation of a Sculpting Steel copying a Darksteel Colossus. Wow. Second goldfished hand was fairly similar. And, the third. And fourth. It became obvious that the deck wasn’t entirely dependent on Tinker; it had the raw power in the form of an escalating land matrix to hard-cast spells and creatures that had before been unthinkable.

Dave of course saw the broken plays I was making and had to comment that the deck seemed incredibly strong. One thing I mentioned to him was that our design flaw in Stax decks, while assumed, was only now beginning to be understood; the lack of Mishra’s Workshop. Mishra’s Workshop gave the option of simply hard-casting your lock pieces early enough in the game to make a difference. With a mana base above that has the full set of Urza’s lands bolstered by the powerful Cloudpost, not to mention the tutoring ability of Sylvan Scrying, you found yourself far more often in a position of being able to hard-cast your threats without having to fork over 150.00 USD per Mishra’s Workshop. Mind you, you’re not anywhere near as explosive in the early game, but your mid-to-late game is far stronger than it was. Probably for the better.

How could a deck without Mishra’s Workshops be considered superior to one with? Let me explain. Firstly, do you, fair reader, recall my prior entry on this fine website? I had mentioned my astoundingly fast kill of two players involving Land + Mana Vault + Metalworker, having a Staff of Domination and other artifacts in hand. That, to this day, has put a bull’s eye on my forehead in multiplayer games, which is pretty much the status quo for format of choice in our area. And, when considering a deck for casual play, one must consider the multiplayer aspect. You cannot expect others to stand idly by while you play a one-on-one game because that’s how your deck is designed. Additionally, single-player tournament-focused decks are often, as has been mentioned before, not ideally appropriate for multiplayer games and you might find yourself losing early by either making yourself a target with powerful, annoying spells or by focusing on one person to take down and having them bolstered by others because you’re singling them out.

Dave and I played several games and the deck only proved its inherent appearance of strength. Only Dave’s Blue/White control deck with multiple Seals of Cleansing, Disenchants, Swords to Plowshares, Isochron Scepters and Armageddons gave it a tremendous amount of trouble. Even in that match-up, Dave mentioned it seemed like a coin-toss to him.

I wanted to toss the listing out, for the benefit of the community, though, as my enthusiasm with the deck is very high, at the moment. Please feel encouraged to comment, I’m sure I’m not the only one out there with insight into these types of decks. Thank you, again, for reading.

theBruce

Read More Articles by David James Bruce!

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