In the time before the Wizards of Yonder Coasts took us on wanderings through the metallic plains of Mirrodin, artifact-creatures were a rare commodity. These strange colorless creatures were sporadically found between the legions of creatures, an abundancy of enchantments and far-reaching stretches of land. It was certainly possible to dual fellow wizards with decks consisting mainly of artifacts, but only a handfull of artifact-creatures could prove their worth.
Among those who ventured to the winding path of tournament worthiness, Jorael has found a lonesome wanderer. The others were boasting about their networth and stock-portfolio; this humble metallic man was still making minimum wage. Though oozing with applicability, he is not a very bright fellow. I would like you to meet:
Mindless Automaton 4
Mindless Automaton comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it.
1, Discard a card: Put a +1/+1 counter on Mindless Automaton.
Remove two +1/+1 counters from Mindless Automaton: Draw a card.
This modest metalhead has several characteristics which all have certain implications about what cards he should team up with. Let listen to the breakdown by Captain Obvious:
"It's an artifact creature"
Nowadays, I am unsure if being an artifact is an asset. Surely it has the advantage of not requiring colored mana to be cast, but recently the number of artifact removal has grown to unseen levels. One could opt for three different tactics to ensure that the Mindless Automaton will live to see an untap phase, namely protecting, flooding and praying.
With "protecting" I mean dedicating a good portion of your deck to the protection of your most wanted cards. Targeted removal will not be able to mess with the Automaton if Leonin Abunas is around. Hanna's Custody will work too; Relic Ward is overdoing it. Back this up with some Counterspells to prevent mass destruction of artifacts and/or creatures and you have a solid base to set up your board position. This strategy is best deployed to set up some combo were most of the combo pieces are of the same cardtype.
"Flooding" is a less subtle approach to the problem of artifact removal. Play a lot of artifacts. Break out an Affinity-deck stockpiled with ancient relics and flood the table. You'll be a lot more vunerable to mass artifact removal; but many players will take a shatter over a pulverize.
"Praying". Especially useful in multiplayer games. Plead and beg. Offer to sell one of your livers. Falls into the same category as "whining".
"It's a Discarder of Cards"
For one measly mana you may put a card from you hand into your graveyard. What's that? Just one mana? Of any color? It's no Wild Mongrel (or a Aquamoeba for that matter) but it gets the job done. Though it might not quite make it in a UG Madness deck, the Automaton could be useful in a Reanimator, or Threshold deck. A particularly fun trick is to discard a Carrionette when someone doesn't have the mana to stop the skeleton from going on a holiday with your opponents' Exalted Angel (who looks stunning in a bikini, by the way).
"It's a Gatherer of Counters"
We might almost forget this part of the card, simply because Oddessey block ruined us all. We can't see an ability involving discarding a card and not think of how the discarding itself can be used to our advantage, when putting a +1/+1 counter on a creature might be a very compelling reason to abandon the land of options. Combined with Brawn and Anger, Mindless Automaton has serious beatdown potential.
"It's a Drawer of Cards"
Sooner or later, your opponents will realize the importance of the Mindless Automaton and will find some way to destroy it. Better start saying goodbye now, your metal compadre is going to that great scrapheap up in the sky. As a farewell present though, he gives you a card. If we can dedicate a deck to him, the event of his death will probably net us multiple cards or he can give us a hand in searching for combo-pieces, if your deck is so inclined.
Perhaps it is a good idea to find other ways to place +1/+1 counters on our metal friend, turning him into a real carddrawing engine. Combined with Spikes or Modular creatures, or just using a Sadistic Glee or Dragon Blood, could do the job.
Now it is time to build a deck. I have pointed out there's a lot of decks in which the Mindless Automaton would be right at home, but because I couldn't playtest them all (well, I could, but I'm trying to keeping up the appearance of having a life) I have set some ground rules:
It has to be about the Mindless Automaton
Sure, I could give you a decklist containing the word Arcbound several times and point out how neat a mindless Automaton would let you recover from a Wrath of God (given that you packed a sacrifice outlet, like Altar of Dementia), especially when combined with the underrated Arcbound Reclaimer. Obviously, I could give you the decklist for a R/G beatdown deck which uses the Automaton to put Anger, Brawn and Genesis in your graveyard. But in these decks the Automaton is just a little add-on.
It has to abuse several abilities
We didn't have Captain Obvious do his breakdown for nothing; the deck must use as many of the Automaton's abilities as is humanly possible.
It has to be as versatile as the Automaton itself
Not just beatdown. Not just combo. Not just control. The Automaton can do it all, and so shall we.
It has to be fit for multiplayer
I mostly play multiplayer; wouldn't want to be building a deck I'm rarely going to play.
It has to be budget
The Automaton is at ease only when surrounded by budget-rares and simple commonfolk. No expensive muckery here; Mindless Automaton is a friend to all, rich and poor alike.
3 Mindless Automaton
2 Sensei's Divining Top
Black Creatures (12)
1 Body Snatcher
1 Havoc Democ
2 Morgue Thrull
4 Nantuko Husk
1 Quagmire Druid
Green creatures (9)
2 Nantuko Tracer
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
2 Spike Feeder
1 Wood Ripper
Black Spells (6)
4 Haunted Crossroads
2 Sadistic Glee
Green Spells (5)
2 Call of the Wild
1 Emerald Charm
3 Tainted Wood
A closer look at some of the cards..
I choose to play a simple BG recursion deck. The main engine is Haunted Crossroads, which works well with every creature which has an ability you want to use. Once the Haunted Crossroads hits the table, you usually be drawing a creature from your graveyard every turn. The Sakura-Tribe Elder's really shine here; slowly developing your mana while also giving you a way to shuffle your deck. This makes the Divining Top a really choice artifact; Letting you draw what you need and replaying an Elder the next turn. When three lands are on top of your library, better get the Morgue Thrull to do his thing.
This versatile deck is all about thinning your deck and recurring utility creatures, like the Spike Feeder. Life loss got you down or you just want to draw some extra cards? Recur the Spike and either sacrifice him to please the gods or put his counters on your Mindless Automaton.
In this toolbox deck, Havoc Demon is either a savage beatstick or a global creature killer. Wood Ripper will usually come in handy, but could easily be replaced by a Sex Monkey or Sex Elves if you think your metagame warrants fast artifact hate.
Most interactions are obvious; playing your Sadistic Glee on the Mindless Automaton will turn him into a psycho-carddrawer, laughing inappropriately whenever there's a funeral. Call of the Wild with Haunted Crossroads lets you reanimate any creature from you graveyard. The single Body Snatcher is mostly there for flavor, but it gives you an additional (one-shot) discard outlet and of course a single-shot reanimation...Wait? Did I say single? With the ability on the stack, you can quickly use the Haunted Crossroads to set the Body Snatcher up for the next turn and still get your Havoc Demon back from the dead.
Of course, graveyard removal is the bane of this deck. Planar Void and Samurai of the Pale Curtain will really slow you down, but can eventually be worked around. All round creature, enchantment and artifact removal should be enough to break free.
Adding money to the deck
Oversold cemetery? Pernacious Deed? Phyrexian Plaguelord? Birds of Paradise? The Rock anyone?
But do you really need all that when you have the Mindless Automaton?
Till next time,
a last word from Captain Obvious: