Aaaaah, yes. Finally summer holidays! This spring has taken quite the toll workwise, but now we are here. Yesterday was my ten year wedding anniversary and I surprised my beautiful wife with a house full of guests. Today has been all about coffee, Lego-building and relaxing. And tomorrow starts the packing-frenzy for the long-awaited five-day trip to Scotland.
Yes summer has finally arrived.
But before it all turns into airport chaos, two-year olds throwing tantrums, heavy day rain and six-year-olds dropping their ice, I thought I could get to do just one more blogpost!
So I have poured myself a hefty glass of leftover white wine from yesterday. Has assembled and photographed some decks, and now there is no way back!
Today is all about Urzatron!
Some weeks ago a friend of mine asked if I wanted to test some Modern (it is a Magic format… and not a very recommendable one at that…) with him, for an upcoming tournament he was going to. I have played Modern a total of maybe four times, and I have sold most of my collection outside of my old school cards, but I figured I should be able to build a half-decent Urzatron deck (which may still be all, or at least some of all the rage in Modern).
I have kept singles of almost all my Legacy and Modern cards as well as a lot of singles for cubes and commander-purposes, and I still just have a bunch of weird cards lying around, so the only card I really missed was Sylvan Scrying of which I could only muster a single copy. You will not get a deck photo (most of those cards are really not for this forum… And if you haven’t followed the power creep and only know about the Old School power level of cards, they will probably melt your brain. We can’t have that.
Anyway, unfortunately due to reasons, me and my friend never got to play any Modern. Alas. It will be another time.
But all that fiddling around with my Urzatron lands and the fact that I have just acquired two Candelabra of Tawnos made me brew up some lists for the beautiful format I normally play. And those brews, are the ones I am going to show you here today.
So what about this Urzatron
As you probably know Urzatron is the nickname for the three Urza lands: Urza’s Tower, Urza’s mine and Urza’s Power Plant. If you manage to assemble these three cards on the battlefield you get quite the advantage mana-wise. Urzatron has been a strong tier1 staple of the Modern format ever since the inception. It also has some showing in Premodern.
But we almost never see it put to use in Old School. Why is that?
Basically the main point Andersson makes, is that an Urzatron deck is going to be tight. Real tight. It is pretty much impossible to get the number of mana sources below 28 or something (unless you play unpowered, but I wouldn’t recommend that with this kind of deck), and still have a quite low amount of available colored mana. There are so few “open spots” if you play with the standard package of restricted cards, and there are really few noteworthy or – much less – even great payoffs. We only have so many X-spells, and the really interesting ones are red…
For these reasons, and because I like to design new decks, I have opted to build some mono-colored versions of some Urzatron builds.
First the completely colorless…
Well, okay, maybe not the best name. I stand by it. Sue me.
Okay, so a monobrown version of the deck, which eschews all colors, solve some of the aforementioned problems. First of all, that you can ease the mana base a bit, and you will never have problems needing colored mana of any kind. That is neat.
Unfortunately it also foregoes all the relevant X-spells, as there are none in monobrown (unless you count Rocket Laucher, but seriously that card is ONLY relevant if you can produce unlimited amounts of mana. Or at least around 40. That is not the case here).
Building monobrown in Old School, you can basically go two ways: Prison-ish or midrange bigboys aggro. I opted for the road right down the middle, but with some emphasis on the prison:
See, this deck is really to my liking. I have always been fascinated by playing monobrown, and this deck can actually do a lot of things. It is, of course, rather slow if you do not manage to assemble your tron very fast. But I would argue that it is still possible to fight with this pile, even if you don’t assemble tron in turn three or four.
Su-Chi, Icy Manipulator, Maze of Ith, Mishra’s Factory and to some extent Relic Barrier can hold your fort until that mana gets in. And once it does, you do ugly things swinging with that nasty 9/9 Colossus!
I have opted to play both Howling Mines (because I love them, and they are great with Relic Barrier) and Tome because the deck wants to refill the hand and keep finding and playing threats.
In playtesting, the deck actually seemed rather strong. I was very lucky in several games – the Tron simply put itself together for me most of the time, and I started swinging with a Colossus in turn four and the likes.
Winter Orb may seem out of place at first glance, but you can tap it, making it one-sided, and the game can very easily reach a state where you can make a lot of mana by tapping two-three lands, and thus make the Orb one-sided.
There is no denying that the deck is very susceptible to artifact hate (especially Energy Flux) and land destruction. But I must say that Energy Flux is not necessarily enough against this deck. At least not, if you have some lands assembled, because your creatures are big and strong. Disenchant is annoying…
Right on to my blue version.
As should be clear by now, I really love Copy Artifact. I also think it is a criminally underplayed card. Why does it only see play in Robots or Artifact heavy decks? I don’t get it. It is almost always relevant. Especially if you play in a spikier meta.
Anyway. My blue version of the deck is a midrange controllish deck. I actually don’t know exactly how to label it. Judge yourself, it looks like this:
I have opted for the Nevinyrral’s Disk Hurkyl’s Recall synergi. Why? Because I basically tried to build an Old School variant of an Upheaval deck I guess.
The optimal course of a game for this deck, is to halt the enemy’s onslaught and then blow a disk, saving your own ramp etc. with the Hurkyl’s to then play all your cards again. This is of course possible because you can make a lot of mana with your Tron. Also you can reuse your Mox-copying Copy Artifacts for better things after such an explosion!
Anyway I tried the deck out, and I was quite disappointed. I didn’t play that many games, but the deck just really didn’t seem to work. I never drew the disk, and I was completely wrecked by an Energy Flux (because I also saw very few tron-pieces in most of the games).
There is just so many manasources in the deck! More than half of it. It is really annoying to keep drawing lands, when you just long so much for a measly world-shattering disk or a just a little cold manipulator!
Of course the deck is capable of doing naughty things – it is blue afterall – and I did win a crazy game where I had done almost nothing but play lands and moxes the entire game, then I drew the Timetwister and drew a hand-full of Trisks – enough to shoot my opponent to death.
I have for a long time wanted to play two cards together: Angelic Voices and Urza’s Avenger. This called for a white version of the deck. Behold:
I cannot claim that there is a meaningful or streamlined strategy here, other than to play the above-mentioned cards (and Tetravus, because Angelic Voices and Tetravus is great!).
A set of Disenchant some Swords and a Balance is a great idea in most decks. But other than that there is not much craziness going on here. Howling Mines are in again because they are one of the only ways to get extra cards in white.
And then of course the Avenger. I really like Urza’s Avenger and if you manage to play it together with an Angelic Voices or even two, you should be in rather great shape.
This deck plays a little different from the others. It is more of a dedicated control deck, in the way it plays, and it may not have enough tools at its disposal to actually survive to the late game, where the really big, violent robots should take over. One should probably add an Alabaster Potion somewhere, but unfortunately I don’t own one. Yet.
And now for the most obvious choice when building decks around lands that make a lot of mana – The red scare:
Not really too much to say here either. Again we have a problem drawing cards, and Howling Mine is of course both a liability and our only (early) possibility. I haven’t tested this deck in actual games, but I am very unsure about the Lightning Bolts. Of course, Lightning Bolts are often great. But it is not always you have access to red mana in the first Two-Three turns (where you want to burn that Factory or Lion or whatever) because there are so few red mana-sources. I am not sure what to replace them with, though.
The deck seems to play rather strong. This is without a doubt the build where you get the most out of the namesake Tron part of the deck. If you are lucky enough to also draw the Candelabra, things can get really fiery really fast! A mountain, Urzatron and a Candelabra is 12 mana. 11 damage aimed right at your foes dice! This is exactly how Garfield intended it!
And really how I enjoy it…
The core and the others – building Tron
Okay, so there you have four different mono”colored” Urzatron builds for a summer-y Friday in July.
I think Urzatron is great fun to build around and I will certainly get back to it once in a while. There are some intrinsic problems with building around the three lands, but I think it should be possible to craft quite decks packing a whole bag of punches.
It is so much fun when you assemble the three lands and either start slamming big, evil robots or simply unleash giant Fireballs at your opponent.
If you’ve catched some bug to build on, I’d say that these cards seem to be the core of the deck:
Of course most of them are really obvious. But I really think that both Trisk and Tome are some of the best value you get for your colorless mana.
And these – or at least some of them – seem to be very close to the core. Something one should consider:
So, oddly there may seem to be quite a lot of space left to try out your favorite cards. But just beware: The manabase will take up A LOT of space in the deck.
I was also considering both a black and a green build. The green was hastily discarded: As much as I love the color, there are simply no real good reasons to play it in this shell. Black on the other hand has The Abyss. That is a great card. And Howl From Beyond. It is completely resonable to assemble such a deck. Not least because it would be aptly named Howl from the Abyss! Anyway, it would look a lot like the other decks I have posted here today, so if you want to try it out, please do so!
There are a lot of relevant cards to be considered. I won’t list them all here, but – again – read Gordon Anderssons articles linked at the start. He has some interesting thoughts of some of the more fringe cards, that can be great payoffs in decks like this.
That is it for tonight! My glass of white wine has emptied, and I have to go to bed, to be ready for some packing frenzyness tomorrow.
Have a great summer…