By Michael Bomholt
Editor’s Note: Mike Bomholt is, in addition to being a great friend and teammate of mine, an accomplished deckbuilder and player. You know the Ill-Gotten Gains deck in Legacy? Mike invented it. He is also great with all kinds of artifacts in Vintage and Legacy. He was kind enough to write this tournament report for Quiet Speculation, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I’ve been developing this deck with local players at Miami University and my teammates on Team Meandeck since just after the release of Scars of Mirrodin. After having a bit of success with metalworker in vintage MUD decks, I thought I would attempt to port the deck over to legacy. My first attempts proved really powerful in testing, so I dug in and started tuning the deck to create the beast you saw me play in Indy. Here is the list, for reference:
4 Wurmcoil Engine
4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
4 Great Furnace
3 Mox Diamond
3 Mox Opal
4 Voltaic Key
4 Grim Monolith
4 Goblin Welder
4 Lodestone Golem
4 Kuldotha Forgemaster
2 Myr Battlesphere
1 Sundering Titan
2 Crucible of Worlds
1 Steel Hellkite
2 Lightning Greaves
2 Sensei’s Divining Top
Ancient tomb and City of Traitors are the Sol lands (from Sol Ring). These cards are what allow this deck to exist; because of them, your curve effectively starts at two. They both have their drawbacks, but I built in several synergies to deal with them. First, to make up for the damage you take from Ancient Tomb I’m packing 4x wurmcoil engine. One swing with that guy makes up for most of the damage you take from an Ancient Tomb. City of Traitors is addressed with the inclusion of two Crucible of Worlds and three Mox Diamond. Both cards turn the disadvantage of City into a kind of virtual card advantage akin to the Ravnica bounce lands or Gush.
Great Furnace is the deck’s primary red source for Goblin Welder and allows you to hit metalcraft for Mox Opal very easily. It also lets you get Goblin Welder active quickly by either discarding it to Mox Diamond or using Wasteland to get it in the yard. Sometimes, losing your own land is crucial to start swapping Wurmcoil Engines, for example.
Wasteland is just awesome in this format and tapping for colorless obviously isn’t much of a disadvantage in this deck.
Grim Monolith is one of the best cards in the deck. Opening up with turn one [card]Ancient Tomb[card], Grim Monolith will set you up for some insane turn two plays. It also enables things like Metalworker or Lodestone Golem on turn one. The obvious synergy here is Voltaic Key, which becomes a Sol Ring with Monolith in play. Voltaic Key is the Swiss army knife of the deck. In Meandeck MUD, it reads:
T: draw a card, or add 2-12 mana to your mana pool, or Tinker
All your creatures have vigilance.
Mox Diamond is probably one of the cards that will generate the most questions about the deck. At first glance, it doesn’t seem reasonable with only 16 land, but trust me – it works. It has a lot of important synergies in the deck. It enables more turn one Metalworker openings, it lets you “play land” with City of Traitors in play, and it is also a very good metalcraft enabler for Mox Opal. You need cheap artifacts like the Diamond to turn on Mox Opal, so in way, the two moxes are intricately linked.
Mox Opal is just plain awesome – this deck gets metalcraft very easily and makes this card feel like cheating. Welder, Metalworker, and Forgemaster also mean the legendary drawback doesn’t really matter. You can get rid of extra copies in play and then deploy the extra Opals. Both Moxes, plus the Great Furnaces, give us 10 red sources, making Welder pretty easy to cast.
Metalworker doesn’t really need much explaining. If he doesn’t get answered, it is pretty much game over because you play your entire hand. Metalworker plays much the same role as Goblin Lackey in Goblins. Aside from Welder, just about every card you draw makes two mana with Metalworker in play.
Wurmcoil Engine completely dominates the board, does broken things with Welder/Forgemaster and makes up for all the damage you do to yourself with Ancient Tomb. The mana acceleration means that this costs substantially less than six. On turn two, with Grim Monolith or Metalworker, the Engine is a real problem.
Lodestone golem adds to the light disruption package and is a nice fat dude. Sometimes you can win the game with just this guy and a Wasteland. He gets even better when you bring Phyrexian Revoker in from the board, because you can use both to apply a lot of early pressure to the opponent.
Kuldotha Forgemaster is one of the reasons to play this deck at all. His Tinker ability pretty much wins the game on the spot. I produced many a scoop when this guy dropped Myr Battlespheres and Sundering Titans onto the board. A 3/5 body isn’t terrible for five mana, blocking Tarmogyf and other dudes all day. His interactions with Welder and Key are some of the most powerful things you can do in the deck, allowing for extra Tinkers or rebuying sacrificed artifacts.
Myr Battlesphere is the go-to guy for Forgemaster and it is fairly easy to cast without a Metalworker. Sacrificing three permanents to Tinker up five is a pretty good deal, and the shenanigans you can pull with Battlesphere and Welder are just incredible. I run two so that I can kill my opponent with two Forgemaster activations, as well as having a target if I have drawn my first Battlesphere.
Steel Hellkite can win games on his own and turns Forgemaster into a one-sided 5/5 flying Pernicious Deed.
Sundering Titan is just amazing, and I doubt I really need to explain its inclusion. If you are new to Legacy, know that Titan can hit dual lands, meaning it is actually an Armageddon against most decks. With Welder and Forgemaster, you can give it to the opponent both coming and going.
Goblin Welder turns off your opponents countermagic and does completely broken things with all the comes into play and leaves play abilities that the robots in this deck have. One of the best cards in the deck. If left uncountered, Goblin Welder tends to dominate the board.
Lightning Greaves was suggested by some of my teammates and proved to be very potent. Giving Welder, Forgemaster or Metalworker haste leads to some incredibly explosive plays. It also makes your topdecks very dangerous, since any drawn Wurmcoil can immediately start doing damage. The shroud is also pretty important in a format crawling with Swords to Plowshares.
Sensei’s Divining Top was a card that I included the week before Indy. I wanted to shore up some of the inconsistencies that the mana base produces, while also giving myself something lower on the curve to cast. It’s synergies with Key/Welder/Forgemaster are just an added bonus. You can tap the Top and use any of those cards in response to get rid of the top, so you draw a fresh card and have something new on the deck. With Key, you activate the Top again, so you draw both a new card and your Top.
Chalice of the void stops so many cards in this format that I’m surprised it doesn’t see more play. Setting it at one counter on turn one off of a Sol land can win you games on its own. Against decks like Zoo and Elves, they have very few spells they can even play after this resolves. It is great against combo decks because you can lock out Dark Rituals and Brainstorms. Against many decks, Chalice is worth thinking about bringing in if you don’t need Goblin Welders very much (since they compete) or you really want to lock out a deck full of hate like Thoughtseize and Swords to Plowshares.
Phyrexian Revoker is a brand new card that I am super excited about. I was giddy the day this thing was spoiled. It comes in against most of the field and names powerhouse cards like Aether Vial, Top, Pridemage, Jace, Jitte, Gempalm Incinerator, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Engineered Explosives, Pernicious Deed and whatever you can think of. The only reason this guy doesn’t make the maindeck is because I don’t want to blindly name things when I drop him turn one.
Sword of Fire and Ice was included because I knew I would bring in Revoker against both Goblins and Merfolk and I wanted to make my little guys (Welder, Metalworker, Revoker) more of an aggro threat.
Trinisphere was an audible from graveyard hate in my last week of testing. I figured I really didn’t want to lose to Storm and the graveyard hate that I tried against Dredge wasn’t getting the job done. I only brought it in against Elves and Belcher, and it was probably the weakest card in my board.
Now, on to the tournament report!
I showed up at the convention center bright and early to pick up 2x Revokers I ordered from Starcity (I only managed to get two at my pre-release in Dayton). People start to show up and I realize I pretty much don’t know a single person at the event. I was very much a lone gunman in Indy. I eventually see the Team Lucksack crew from Columbus and head over to them to chat before the tournament. They know my deck from a Meandeck Open tournament we held earlier in the year (the list that got posted on The Source came from that event). Being a bunch of Mishra’s Workshop players, they seemed excited for me to bust it out on this event. While we are waiting for round one pairings, I tell the guys that I would probably play against Burn round one and how much that sucked because you either lose to the nuts draw or you win and it doesn’t contribute to your tiebreakers at all.
Round One: Dennis Taylor – burn 2-1
Game one: I win the die roll and lead with an early Metalworker. He Lightning Bolts it and I never really get anything going while he throws red spells at my face. He finishes me off with a Price of Progress.
Game two: In comes 4x chalice of the void, out goes Welders and other things that cost 1 so that I can set chalice at 1.
I go turn one Ancient Tomb, Chalice of the Void at 1, turn two land, Grim Monolith, turn three land, Myr Battlesphere. I don’t think he played a card.
Game three: turn one he suspends Rift Bolt, while I play Lightning Greaves off of Ancient Tomb. On turn two, he taps out for a guy. I play Metalworker, Greaves it, play Wurmcoil Engine, equip and swing, and then get a second Wurmcoil Engine next turn. He scoops. Six power and lifelink trumps burn pretty hard.
Round two: Steve Walsh – Goblins 2-1
Game one: he had a slower hand and I had the nuts with Forgemaster shenanigans.
Game two: I mulled pretty hard and he had a turn one Goblin Lackey. Sometimes they get the good draws, too.
Game three: I played turn one Ancient Tomb, Phyrexian Revoker on Aether Vial (the only card that can comparably accelerate against me). On turn two, I played City of Traitors, Mox Diamond, Mox Opal, Wurmcoil Engine. His buddy watching the game immediately ran off to tell his friends about it and I proceeded to win.
Round three: Stanley Smith – Zoo 2-1
I’ve found my deck to be pretty weak game one against Zoo but Chalice of the Void completely switches it into my favor postboard. This match demonstrated that.
Game one I lead with Welder and Metalworker early, but he has the removal and gets Wild Nacatl and friends online before I establish a board. He takes this game.
Game two: I bring in 4x Chalice and 4x Revoker, while I board out Welders, Top, and two other cards. I open with Ancient Tomb, Phyrexian Revoker on Quasali Pridemage. He gets an early Goyf, but I get big robots online pretty fast and beat him. I think I got Crucible of Worlds going with Wasteland in this one, but I’m not sure. After the game, he shows me the two Pridemages he had in his opening hand that I totally blanked with Revoker.
Game three: he leads with Forest, Noble Heirarch. I have a turn one Chalice at one off of a Sol land. Chalice at one is such a beating against zoo, since it blanks half of their deck. He plays a land and passes. I then got a second Sol land and played Lodestone Golem on my turn two. He never really recovers from that lock and I kill him with some robots.
Round four: Andrew Ellis – combo elves 2-1
This is another match up where my testing showed that Chalice of the Void completely swings the game in my favor.
Game one: I won the die roll and played Metalworker on turn one. He played a Forest and an elf, then on turn two I activated Metalworker and revealed three artifacts. That gave me six mana and three mana on the table. I have the option of either playing Lodestone Golem or Myr Battlesphere first and choose Battlesphere, taking the bet that he can’t kill me turn two. I don’t remember what his turn two play was, but he didn’t combo off. On my turn I swing in with the Battlesphere. He declines to block and I play the Golem. On his turn, he does some math and then scoops.
Game two: I bring in Chalice of the Void and Revokers and board out stuff that costs one (4 welders, 2 top, 2 key). I mulligan to a five card had that has a little gas but isn’t great. he establishes Viridian Shaman, Wirewood Symbiote recursion around turn three and I scoop to it.
Game three: I keep my seven and play Chalice at one on turn one. I don’t really remember how the game went after that but it involved him not playing any cards and me playing some robots to kill him. Chalice at one blanks most of his deck. I do have in my notes that I played a Revoker naming Elvish Archdruid at some point during the game.
I want to note here that Andrew was a real pleasure to play against and hope to see him at more events.
Round five: Nathan Connor – Belcher 0-2
This was really the only bad beats I had all day.
Game one: I keep a seven card hand with one of my favorite openings. I won the die roll and go turn one Great Furnace, Top, Opal, Welder. Feeling pretty good, I pass the turn. On his turn he has a substantially better opening of “make 16 goblins and pass.” Sad.
Game two: I bring in 4x Revoker, 4x Chalice, 3x Trinisphere. I mulligan to four and don’t see any of my hate but have a turn two Lodestone Golem. He makes 18 goblins on his first turn. Sometimes you just lose to Belcher.
Round Six: Rodney Beal – Merfolk 2-0
Game one: I win the die roll keep my opening seven and proceed with one of my favorite lines of play. I go Ancient Tomb, Grim Monolith turn one and pass. Rodney plays an Island and passes. I play turn two land, Greaves, Metalworker. At this point, Rodney does a double take and then produces my favorite moment of the entire tournament.
“…Is that card legal?”
We call the judge over and he confirms that Metalworker is indeed legal in the format.I mention that “he isn’t fair but he sure is legal.” The neighboring matches all get a good laugh and I attach Greaves and activate the Metalworker, then proceed to completely wreck poor Rodney.
Game two I don’t really remember but it involved large robots eating tuna sandwiches. NOM NOM NOM.
Round Seven: Patrick Becerra – 2-1 Landstill
This match started out very antagonistically. At the beginning of the match, I mulligan my seven away and begin to pile shuffle my deck. At this point, Patrick says something like “we don’t have time for that.” I shoot him an “are you f****** kidding me” look and think to myself “well, thanks for telling me you’re playing control”.
Game one goes back and forth for a while with me throwing out threats and him answering each of them. Eventually, I run out of gas and he establishes a Crucible/Waste lock on me and I scoop.
Game two: I mulligan to six again and begin to pile shuffle. I’ve been very deliberate about my shuffling the whole tournament because I know my deck can mulligan pretty hard but in no way have I been unreasonable about it. Patrick calls the judge over and tries to get me called for stalling. I let him talk himself deeper into a hole. The judge then rules in my favor because he is competent and we continue the match. I keep my six and play turn one Greaves, turn two Lodestone, equip, attack. Patrick attempts to play Peacekeeper on turn three with three mana, but I point out the extra cost and he passes. I Waste one of his lands and attack. He plays a land and passes. I attack him down to five and pass. He gets to four mana and resolves Peacekeeper. At this point, my only out to Peacekeeper is to establish Sundering Titan recursion to knock out his mana base and keep him from paying the upkeep. I realize this, but still try to put on the “oh man I lose” show to this guy. On his next turn, he plays Standstill and I just smile inside – that is exactly what I needed to give me the time to sculpt a hand.
We play draw go for quite a few turns, each of us playing a couple of lands. Once I have a hand with two Welders and two Forgemasters, I decide to break his Standstill. I play Forgemaster and he breaks Standstill. After drawing, he plays Force of Will. On his turn, he pays for Peacekeeper and pays five mana to play Jace, The Mind Sculptor, leaving only one land open. On my turn, I play Welder number one. He pays one mana for Lodestone and Forces the Welder. I play Welder number two with him unable to play any spells. Welder is equipped with Greaves and welds Forgemaster back into play. Forgemaster gets equipped with Greaves and Tinkers up Sundering Titan, who kills two of Patrick’s lands. I then play my second Greaves out of my hand and equip it to Sundering Titan so he can’t Jace it back into my hand.
On Patrick’s turn, he totally punts the game. He plays Engineered Explosives, announcing “X equals zero” and attempts to pay one colored mana for the extra cost from Lodestone Golem. I remind him that it is an artifact and he sinks, realizing that I’m perfectly willing to call the judge on his spell announcement after what he pulled when I was shuffling. On my turn, I proceed to use Forgemaster and Welder to recur Sundering Titan and completely blow out his mana base and he scoops.
Game three: I don’t remember the details but I boarded in a copy of Duplicant for his Peacekeeper. I resolved a Forgemaster, he resolved Peacekeeper. I Forgemastered up a Battlesphere and then a Duplicant to kill his Peacekeeper and won from there.
Round 8: Julian Booher – Goblins 2-1
Game one: he opens with turn one Badlands and I waste it on my turn. Second turn, he plays a Mountain and passes. I play Metalworker off of Ancient Tomb and Grim Monolith. Turn three, I activate Metalworker and drop 2x Top, Key, Forgemaster, Key+ Top to draw a card and cast Lodestone Golem… I won that game.
Game two: I mulled to five, keeping a hand with several land and a Sundering Titan. He opened with Badlands and Cabal Therapy naming Top. He doesn’t hit anything and passes. I play a land and pass. He plays [/card]Mogg War Marshal[/card] and sacrifices to flashback Therapy, naming the Titan which gives me a really nice out if I topdeck Welder. I don’t and he proceeds to make a bunch of little red guys and kill me.
Game three I play a turn one Metalworker and he doesn’t answer it. I then drop my hand on the table and win. This match really drove home the lackey-esque nature of Metalworker in the deck. It is one of those things where if they don’t answer it, you just win.
Round 9: Ben Wienburg – Intentional draw
We are given our opponents deck lists before the first round of the top 8 and Alex Bertoncini seems less than confident in his chances with mono blue Merfolk against my list. He exclaims “four Wurmcoil Engine!!” several times in disbelief.
I listed Merfolk as the deck’s best matchup in my top eight player profile and I’m eager to prove it.
Top 8: Alex Bertoncini – Merfolk 2-1
I don’t remember a lot of the early details of game one, but I certainly remember establishing Welder+Wurmcoil combo and Alex having no way to deal with it. I only brought two copies of each of the Wurmcoil Engine tokens to the event and, as one of the commentators noted, “if you need more than that you win.”
Game two: one of the big weaknesses of the deck reared its head and I mulled down to four cards. Alex commented that I still probably had a 30% chance of winning at four cards, which certainly bolstered my ego. I proceeded to not really get there game two with Alex commenting, after he killed me, that I still had a ton of permanents in play, considering I mulled to four.
Game three: I had a pretty broken opening – turn one Metalworker. He plays turn one Vial, while I play turn two Wurmcoil and Revoker on Vial. After a few turns, Alex is able to double block my Wurmcoil and kill it, but I had the Goblin Welder to seal the deal.
Semifinals: Bryan Fisher – 2-0
Looking over Bryan’s decklist before the semifinals, I was fairly concerned. He had a LOT of removal.
My opening hand had double Metalworker, Sol land, Mox Diamond, another land, and Forgemaster (if my memory serves me). He had a Swords for my first Metalworker but didn’t have one for the second. This let me drop my hand onto the table and tutor up Battlesphere and Sundering Titan for the win game one.
Game two: I kept a hand of nothing but lands and creatures and I think I opened with Revoker naming Pridemage. I know he spent a Mangara of Corondor to kill my Revoker and used Pridemage to destroy something. He resolved a Goyf and started beating down.
I was sitting on Ancient Tomb, Great Furnace Voltaic Key, while he had Goyf in play. Though he had Thoughtsiezed away a Lodestone Golem earlier, I had a City of Traitors and a Sundering Titan in hand.
I was in a grim spot but luckily, my deck topdecked like a champion and I rip Grim Monolith. I play City, Monolith, tap it untap it with Key, make 8 mana and resolve Sundering Titan at three life. From there, I draw into Wurmcoil Engine and Revoker. I made a bit of a misplay, naming Jitte with Revoker instead of Pridemage, but it didn’t end up mattering because I was able to attack for the win.
Finals Ben Wienberg – counterbalance 0-2
Going into the finals, I was happy to see that Ben had defeated Josh Guibault in the semi-finals because I was fairly anxious about facing cards like Moat, Ensnaring Bridge and Serenity.
You can see the recap of the match over at GGsLive; I mulled to six game one and kept a hand that resolved four quick threats, but unfortunately, Ben had very good answers to those threats and killed me.
Game two: I decided that Goblin Welder was more important against control than Chalice of the Void and only boarded in Revokers instead of Revokers + Chalice. I’m not sure if it was the right decision. I ended up mulling to five. I played four threats but yet again, Ben had answers for all of them. I feel like if I had drawn Wurmcoil instead of Battlesphere in either of the games, things would have gone a lot differently. My manabase in both games leaned hard on Ancient Tomb and his Grim Lavamancers were able to really capitalize on that when I didn’t draw Wurmcoils to counteract the effects of Ancient Tomb.
I’m extremely proud of the deck and my performance at this event but I couldn’t have done it alone. I’d like to thank my Miami University testing partners Stephen Seliskar and Adam Tukel-Finegood as well as the rest of the gaming club for all the help they gave me testing the deck against the field. I’d also like to thank my teamates at Meandeck for brainstorming with me on the deck and Wizards of the Coast for bringing us back to Mirrodin!
If you want to learn more about trading and making the most of the breakout MUD deck, with an analysis of what cards to watch, pop over to our Insider exclusive article Playing In The MUD, by Corbin Hosler. Get a sense of what cards in this deck will go up in value, which ones don’t have room to move, and what the long-term bets are in making money from MUD!