I laid out a challenge to Ben Weitz to 5-0 any Daily Event on MTGO with a deck that wasn’t Mardu, Saheeli, or B/G (and now Tower and Marvel, just because we’ve discussed them at length) and I guaranteed that I would write about his deck. While this may not have been Weitz taking down the event, I suppose it’s fair to make this an open challenge to all the brewers out there. We all want to see something new, so let’s see what you’re capable of!
The first deck to fit the bill is one that our team worked hard to make successful before Pro Tour Aether Revolt. The improvise mechanic feels like one that can definitely be broken as you’re getting essentially a mana reduction on your spells. This becomes even more exaggerated the faster you can go, and with the ability to turn your early artifacts into relevant spells late.
There were people who attempted to play improvise at the Pro Tour, but they did poorly as a whole. When looking at some of the deck lists, it wasn’t too surprising to see why. It’s hard to play enough lands with enough colors to cast your spells, enough artifacts to actually get your payoff, and then still have those big spells and removal spells. Where these decks were trying to accelerate into a turn-3-or-4 Bastion Inventor, other people were just playing Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.
Herald of Anguish is far and away the best payoff. It’s a huge flying creature that can dominate the board and wipe out planeswalkers. You get the card advantage from forcing your opponent to discard, and you’re potentially turning your artifacts on the board (a.k.a. your “mana”) into removal. This all adds up to a great card, but the cost to get there is steep. If your artifacts aren’t doing much, you’re playing a bunch of “dead” cards for something that can be answered by Unlicensed Disintegration, Stasis Snare, and other removal spells. You also need to have more payoffs for when you don’t draw Demon, and Bastion Inventor won’t be cutting it.
The other improvise creature is Maverick Thopterist, a card that Pro Tour Champion Joel Larsson was big on in our testing. If you’re able to consistently cast this on turn 3, you’re getting a really under-costed threat. That said, your ceiling is basically Whirler Rogue, and that wasn’t a sure-fire Constructed staple. Turn-3 Thopterist is definitely a good start and something to write home about.
Pia Nalaar is a baby Thopterist that can help you improvise. It’s also a great way to turn your artifacts into a finishing blow, making sure your opponents can’t block.
The bulk of the early artifacts come from Servo Schematic and Cogworker’s Puzzleknot. You need no other help than these artifacts and their Servos to cast a turn-3 Thopterist. That leads to a lot of turn-4 Herald scenarios, but you’re also playing 7 copies of cards that are awful if you don’t have a payoff (and terrible late-game top decks), so that can be an issue.
Implement of Combustion is a way to get improvise on early and combat the Saheeli combo. It replaces itself, even if you’re sacrificing it to something like Pia, so that’s a nice upside.
The only other artifact in the deck is Key to the City, but this is a great way to generate card advantage thanks to improvise. It’s mana intensive, but it gets results.
Fatal Push and Unlicensed Disintegration are great removal spells, although turning on revolt isn’t trivial. Metallic Rebuke is a massive payoff that will often only cost 1 mana. It’s also a turn-2 Mana Leak with an Implement.
The final payoff is Tezzeret’s Touch, and this is the one that could be a game changer. You can put it on a Schematic turn 3 to attack for a bunch of damage early. If they deal with it, that’s another Servo and the Schematic back in your hand. This can also go on a Thopter token to create an evasive monster. All that said, you’re only playing 12 artifacts total and 6 creatures that produce Thopters (and 4 of those are 5-mana spells if you didn’t draw your other artifacts).
This deck has a criminally low artifact count, but the ones you do have generate multiples. Your payoffs are powerful, so there’s potential here. I certainly made my skepticism clear, as Mardu and Saheeli feel like top decks that are here to stay, but a 5-0 is a 5-0, and he’s got the treasure chests!