Slobad, So Bad

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For week two of my artifact extravaganza, I wanted to move away from a more proactive beatdown deck to a deck more my speed - something more towards the combo or attrition end of the spectrum. To do that I'm recruiting Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer; a guy who's traditionally been looked down on because he doesn't do a whole lot. However, if there's one thing I've learned since I started playing this format, it's that sacrifice outlets are begging to be abused.

However, Slobad is in a little bit of a weird place, because he sacrifices Artifacts as opposed to creatures. This means that the cards that are more traditionally used to take advantage of sacrifice outlets - things like Nim Deathmantle, Saffi Eriksdotter, Grave Pact, and others - are of limited value because of the kinds of Artifact Creatures that are available. Really, there are creatures like Solemn Simulacrum, which is great value, but is never actually going to win you the game, and then there are creatures like Sundering Titan, which will either win the game or get you hated off the table immediately. When you're building a deck, you have to decide whether or not you're going to cross this line, and then commit to that mindset.

Speaking of crossing lines, a card which seems to shape the direction of an awful lot of artifact decks is Mycosynth Lattice. Once you include Mycosynth Lattice, there's an awful lot of temptation to become a very anti-social deck because of the number of silly interactions with Mycosynth Lattice. Whether it's Darksteel Forge and Nevinyrral's Disk, March of the Machines, Karn, Silver Golem, or even just Hoard-Smelter Dragon. You have to decide in the deckbuilding phase whether or not you want to play with these kinds of cards and then follow through in the rest of your deck. If you run any of these types of cards, the table has to aggressively try to kill you before you assemble them. If you run some, but not others, you won't have the tools to proactively fight an entire table at once.

Generally, I'm opposed to anti-social decks, since they oppose what I want out of a casual game. Everyone's welcome to have a deck that they keep in a black box with "In Case of Zur/Azami/Jhoira/etc" written on it, but beyond that, I'd rather have interactive games that focus on combat and swingy spells. That said, I've got my guilty pleasures too, and I'm not going to be able to give up running one of my favorite corner case combos in this deck. Feeling stupid? I know I am!

Stop Hitting Yourself!

Mindslaver is a card that is currently in exactly zero of my decks. I ran it once in a Yomiji, Who Bars the Way deck, but come on, it's a Yomiji deck! It's a card that takes forever to resolve, frequently locks players out of the game, and in general is a terrible, terrible card for the format if you're not looking to play high powered decks. However, there are some hilarious interactions that only come up when someone gets Mindslavered. One such interaction involves Chain of Plasma!

The way I'd play with Mindslaver in this deck is to steal someone's turn, draw as many cards as possible, and then cast Chain of Plasma, targeting them. Then they "choose" to discard a card to copy Chain of Plasma, targeting them again. The end result of this is that they discard their hand and take a ton of damage. Take that, Reliquary Tower!

With the interaction between Crucible of Worlds and Buried Ruin, especially in conjunction with Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer, you can protect your artifacts from just about everything, and rebuy them as many times as necessary. Conveniently, this can let you Mindslaver lock someone if you really want, but I'd rather just Chain of Plasma them. Unfortuately, I haven't found a great way to rebuy your Chain of Plasma outside of Surreal Memoir, which is pretty poor. If you've got any thoughts on that topic, be sure to let me know in the comments!

Sacrificing For Value

While the ability to make things Indestructible is certainly awesome and will always be relevant, the real upside of Slobad's ability is that you can sacrifice artifacts at will. It turns out that when you can do that, there are some neat things that you can do, most of which revolve around cards that like dying or seeing other things die. We've already touched on my favorite card in the format, Nim Deathmantle, but there's all kinds of other interactions with cards like Ichor Wellspring! Take a look:

Sacrifice Me!

Sacrifice other Stuff!

This is how you're going to get Artifacts to start going in and out of play, which is exactly what [card Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer]Slobad[/card] is best at. Now, unfortunately, most of your engines are creature-based, since there aren't a ton of cards like Salvaging Station or Goblin Welder that can rebuy artifacts. That's not too much of a problem though; you can either loop Junk Diver or just use Karn, Silver Golem to make some creature where there weren't any before.

There's only a few cards here that are powerful enough to really take over a game. Things like Nim Deathmantle and Goblin Welder are so important to pulling ahead that you want to be able to tutor them up as efficiently as possible. These cards on their own all but necessitate tutors like Goblin Matron and Godo, Bandit Warlord, just to find the few cards you have that are truly game-breaking.

Now, the other thing that you want to do besides just rebuying your artifacts is to actually get value and make progress towards the end goal of killing everyone. Enter Furnace Celebration and Vicious Shadows! Even if they have answers to your recursive guys, these two will let you just kill someone, especially once you have your other engines up and running so you can have plenty of artifact creatures jumping in and out of the graveyard.

Another thing you might consider is adding more [card Sword of Feast and Famine]Swords[/card] to this deck. Because Slobad can protect both your swords and your Artifact guys that you've suited up. The only Sword I'm running is Sword of Light and Shadow, simply for another recursion effect, but both Sword of Feast and Famine and Sword of Fire and Ice could be very good in this style of deck.

The Other Side of Slobad

Up until now, I've been focusing primarily on the cost of activating [card Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer]Slobad's[/card] ability; admittedly that's probably the most important thing that Slobad brings to the table. There is still the actual effect to take advantage of! Oddly enough, when you can make things indestructible, you're going to want to use that ability to protect your stuff from removal. The thing is that you can use this ability either proactively or reactively. You can either defend your important artifacts from other people's removal, or aggressively protect your stuff from your own mass removal.

Protect Your Stuff!

Now, there's not too much sweet tech here, but there's a couple of sweet choices. First though, the obvious ones. Oblivion Stone and Nevinyrral's Disk let you sweep everyone else's stuff while using Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer to protect your own things. Caged Sun and Gauntlet of Power let you go really big with cards like Furnace Celebration and Nim Deathmantle. Beyond that, you've got a number of sweet utility cards like Duplicant and Mind's Eye that you just want to protect.

The two cards that I think are most interesting are Platinum Angel and Uba Mask. Platinum Angel is a card that doesn't typically make the cut in Commander decks, since it's just so easy to destroy; but I think that changes when you're running it in a deck that can protect it so readily. The other interesting card, Uba Mask, is the first of several cards that hate on the blue decks. Uba Mask is pretty poor against bounce spells, but is absurd against decks that just want to draw cards and counter spells.

Card Advantage and Utility

At this point, there are about nine slots left in the deck for your favorite card advantage and utility spells. Generally, I dedicate a large number of these slots to instant or instant-speed effects, so that your deck can interact with the stack on other players' turns. For this particular deck, I don't feel that this is as necessary, because of the number of sacrifice tricks your can do, but it's still something to keep in mind.

So as you can see, the focus here is mostly on copying other people's spells, or doing more of what you're doing already. It's my opinion that Red has the most anti-social top-end spells in the format, because most of those spells are Obliterate or some such. So instead of worrying about trying to find fun spells to top off your curve, just steal someone else's Blue Sun's Zenith or Tooth and Nail.

Beyond that, we have the pretty typical card advantage engines of Chandra Ablaze, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Knollspine Dragon to reward you for doing the things that Red does - emptying your hand, being aggressive, and burning them out - and really that's all you want; something that dovetails nicely with what you're already trying to do.

The Mana Base

As I mentioned in my previous article, I tend to refrain from heavy suites of artifact acceleration, because I feel like they lead to degeneracy that I don't like in my games. That said, especially for mono-colored decks, that kind of power is necessary to keep up with some of the more powerful multi-colored decks. I tend to focus on the most powerful acceleration available as well as acceleration that can be cashed in for cards later on.

Mana Rocks

There are certainly additional powerful accelerants that you could be running, stuff like Mana Crypt and Worn Powerstone, but I really do want to limit the density of ramp to make sure there's only so much potential for degeneracy.

The artifact ramp isn't all that exciting. The lands, on the other hand, are pretty sweet. This is my pretty standard mana base for a mono-colored deck without many tough color commitments:


Alright, so there's some Artifact Lands that interact well with Slobad. Then there's utility lands like Strip Mine, Tectonic Edge, and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. But then there's the sweet colorless "ramp" package of Urza Lands and Locus Lands.

Even though these lands rarely get active you have to realize that, unless you have some hefty color requirements, there's very little downside to running them. Particularly in this Artifact-themed deck, the color requirements are so minimal that you can really run as many colorless utility lands as you want.

Really, that's what the Manlands are for. They allow you to run a relatively high land count and still have action, particularly with any Arcbound creatures you choose to run. Inkmoth Nexus is definitely the most powerful of the Manlands you can run, since it has effectively quadruple strike, but the others certainly earn their place.

Here's the final decklist:

[deckbox did="a144" size="small" width="560"]

Honestly, I'm pretty happy with the decklist. It does a lot of interesting things, and has a really powerful lategame. The best thing is that you combine a lot of fairly innocuous cards to do some pretty powerful things. If your group doesn't respect the power of cards like Vicious Shadows and Furnace Celebration, then they will pretty shortly after playing with something like this!

There's certainly some ways to power up the deck some; you can use Slobad to protect lock pieces like Storm Cauldron or Smokestack, or to protect Voltron-y equipment. You can run more degenerate artifact mana, and top out with things like Mycosynth Lattice to go with your Nevinyrral's Disk.

The moral of the story is that there's a ton of powerful things that you can do with an artifact shell. So far we've looked at a Blue beatdown deck and a Red attrition deck; next week I want to look at a White prison deck with Kataki, War's Wage. Be sure to check it out!

Carlos Gutierrez
@cag5383 on Twitter

3 thoughts on “Slobad, So Bad

  1. Personally I have Slobad build to be far more anti-social slobad. It usually wins the first game in the group, by sitting around and tinkering with its toys being ignored because it doesn't look threatening then the deck combo's off without any way to stop it and the table learns to respect it. It's also proven itself to be somewhat capable 1v1 by just powering out a lock of some sort. So if anyone would like to take a look at my list feel free to message me on salvation SN. "koloblicin"

  2. Can't you just put Chain of Plasma on an Isochron Scepter? I know it's fragile, but you're playing a guy that makes artifacts indestructible. It's not rebuying, but it's certainly re-using.

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