Hi, I’m Bobby Fortanely. I’m a Magic player from New York City. You may know me from my getting Summer Bloom banned with a win at SCG Cincinnati 2016, or from my 10th-place finish at GP Houston 2016 with Rally the Ancestors. I recently got 11th place at GP Denver with U/B Metallurgic Summonings, designed by Thien Nguyen, with some help from me. While I often play the consensus “best” deck at big events, I have found most success with decks off the beaten path. In this article, I’ll break down my card choices and sideboard plans so you can take down your next event with X/X Construct tokens. I’ll throw in a brief tournament report, but you can assume most of my wins involved beating an opponent down with Constructs on turn 10 or later.
U/B Metallurgic Summonings
The Game Plan
This is a true control deck. Its fundamental game plan is to make the game last longer than other decks are designed to play. Decks in this format play a high land count, because hitting every land drop on the early turns is so critical. This means that they’ll flood out when the game goes 10 or 15 turns when your end game takes over. You’ll typically spend turns 2 to 4 trying to not fall too far behind on board, and slam a Summonings on turn 5. At that point, take over the game when your entire deck is Mulldrifters and Shriekmaws with flash. In games where you don’t have a Summonings, you play like a normal control deck.
Summonings gives inevitability. You want to draw 1, but usually not 2. The card filtering allows you to pull this off. A Summonings in play puts a hard floor on how bad getting Emrakul’d can be. Casting spells will just make tokens, even if those spells are removal spells on other tokens. There aren’t really main-deck answers to it, and very few sideboard answers. U/W has 2 Revolutionary Rebuffs, and G/B Delirium has 1-2 Transgress the Mind. Nahiri doesn’t really see play among the top decks. In the sideboard, G/B Delirium and R/G Aetherworks both have 1 Appetite for the Unnatural, and G/B Delirium has more discard between another Transgress the Mind and 2 Pick the Brain.
Gearhulk gives you a way to close games quickly, but more importantly it helps you bridge the gap to your late game. It can rebuy a removal spell and block on a critical turn, or rebuy a card draw spell and push you into your late-game plan. It usually eats a removal spell that’s rotting in your opponent’s hand, so the deck isn’t designed to leverage it as the main win condition.
Blue and black control decks have few proactive 2-mana plays in this format. Grasp is the premier 2-drop. The most important creatures it kills are Avacyn, Grim Flayer, and Spell Queller through Selfless Spirit. There isn’t a replacement for it.
This deck needs unconditional instant-speed removal so that Gearhulk can kill anything the turn it comes down to stabilize the board. It is usually a more expensive version of Grasp that has to play around Avacyn’s trigger. In games where Gideon makes an emblem, it will be your most reliable answer to Avacyn.
Answers to Gideon are important, but the inability to tag a Smuggler’s Copter makes this a 3-of. The awaken on this card is very real because this deck is designed to go very late and hit land drops, which gives this deck another win condition after it has stabilized. It also kills Emrakul as long as you keep the rest of the board clean, so the Emrakul player can’t cast the Path. You can also dig for it the turn after being Emrakul’d, since they’ll usually empty your hand of removal spells.
On the draw against U/W, you have to take hits from Smuggler’s Copter in order to leave up Spell Shrivel for Gideon and end-step a removal spell on the Copter when they pass the turn doing nothing. Essence Extraction makes the plan of taking hits from Copter more tenable.
To have more plays on turn 2,Transgress makes the main-deck cut. The ability to take an opponent’s only 3-drop is powerful, as well as taking Ishkanah and Emrakul. You don’t want too many since this deck needs to spend its early turns answering the board. This is especially the case against U/W where it gets sided out. You also might cast it on turns 4 or 5 with another piece of interaction up, but I find myself prioritizing Glimmer on turn 4.
The mana in this deck is terrible. It can’t afford to run Submerged Boneyard, because it needs every land between the second and sixth to come into play untapped. Other U/B control builds can afford to take the fifth land drop off, but this deck wants to use that turn to slam a Metallurgic Summonings. For this reason, double-blue is much less reliable on turn 3, so Spell Shrivel gets the nod. It typically does the same thing, but it can go dead on turns 8 through 15. Still, it makes a 3/3 with Metallurgic Summonings even if it doesn’t successfully exile something.
Again, this deck wants more proactive spells on 2 mana, but most of the threats that this deck cares about are creatures. It answers Smuggler’s Copter on the play against U/W as well as Gideon, Liliana and late-game Traverse from delirium, and Aetherworks Marvel. There’s only 1 in the main deck because the easiest way to lose with this deck is getting beaten down by creatures.
This deck wants to have a single, large, instant-speed card advantage spell, and this one also interacts with the stack. This deck can trivially crack all the Clues right away if need be, but you often don’t want to as you’ll discard to hand size. Being able to flash this back with Gearhulk is a big game, as is making a 5/5 off Summonings.
Card Draw and Filtering
The filtering allows you to line up your answers to your opponent’s threats, as well as bottom excess Summonings. It allows you to chain card draw spells with Summonings.
This is the glue that ties everything together. It’s the most common Gearhulk target, and your best way to punish opponents that pass on turns 4 or 5 to try to blank your countermagic and removal.
This deck wants lands 2-6 to be untapped, so Submerged Boneyard has no place here. I want the good dual lands, Sunken Hollow and Choked Estuary, to be untapped as often as possible. There are 9 Swamps because I highly prioritize playing Grasp on turn 2. I find most games you do that are hard to lose, as long as the rest of your hand does something.
The lack of Void Shatter gives this deck space for a single colorless land, and Blighted Fen, much like Ruinous Path, is a great answer to Emrakul, as long as you keep their board clear. Blighted Fen doesn’t even require you to stop yourself from having any creatures in play in order to tag Emrakul.
The Aether Hubs are a mixed bag. This deck has 15 spells with a single colored mana symbol, and 19 with 2 colored mana symbols. The only way to get more energy is from Glimmer, so you’ll be in for a world of hurt if you’re relying on Hub to make mana multiple times, but it can give that early extra colored mana that this deck needs. It lines up poorly against Spell Queller because if you’re counting on Glimmer to refuel your energy, you’re going to have a bad time. I rarely want to draw a second copy, but having only 2 makes that unlikely. Hub gets the nod because of sideboard Dynavolt Tower. The 1 energy from Hub allows you to activate Dynavolt Tower the following turn off a single Glimmer of Genius or a pair of cheap spells, which is fairly important after taking a turn off for a do-nothing.
Negate gives you more answers to Marvel. One comes in on the play against Flash because it can counter Smuggler’s Copter on the play.
This is the premier answer to Emrakul—other than taking your turn, it’s not that impactful.
Resolving a Metallurgic Summonings post-board is difficult against the additional countermagic that U/W brings in. Dynavolt Tower fills that role while dodging Revolutionary Rebuff. This plan is less good as a known quantity, but at the GP none of my opponents boarded in Fragmentize for game 2. Furthermore, Tower can shoot down the 3-toughness flyers in Spell Queller and Smuggler’s Copter, whereas Summonings can not.
This deck struggles against aggro—maybe it has something to do with all the do-nothings. Contraband Kingpin is a proactive 2-drop against decks trying to flood the board with cheap 3/1s and 3/2s, while also forcing the opponent to extend into Flaying Tendrils.
Don’t let Gideon resolve! Take a hit from Smuggler’s Copter in most situations on the draw to prevent an early Gideon. Post-board, Dynavolt Tower fills in the Summonings role, as a 5-mana enchantment is hard to resolve.
I am willing to leave Towers in for game 3 even if the opponent has seen it, because I’m okay with the game going longer when they draw Fragmentize. That means they have one less threat. I will, however, go back to the Summonings plan if I see Always Watching, as that effectively blanks the Tower plan.
On the Draw
On the Play
The game plan here is to go bigger than them. Keep the board clear and let Metallurgic Summonings take over. Post-board, Essence Extraction can’t reliably kill Grim Flayer past turn 3, and sometimes can’t kill it even then.
Liliana is less threatening when it’s ticking up to ultimate, as it can be answered by Ruinous Path, Gearhulk, or Constructs from a turn 5 Summonings. Liliana is more threatening when it is used to minus multiple times, overpowering you with card advantage in the midgame. My current plan doesn’t involve boarding in Negates, as I can answer anything they Traverse for, and the way you typically lose is by being overrun by early creatures. I could be convinced that this is wrong, though. If they sideboard in 2 Pick the Brain and 2 Transgress the Mind, as long as an early Pick with delirium doesn’t take Metallurgic Summonings before turn 5, I’m okay with my opponent spending early turns not applying pressure as I think this deck has inevitability. If Lost Legacy starts picking up, this Summonings deck becomes a slightly worse choice and I’m more in favor of boarding in Negates.
The game plan here is to counter Aetherworks, which makes the Spell Shrivel choice more painful on turns 8 to 12 when they try to resolve Aetherworks, but it still counters a hardcast Emrakul. The Aetherworks deck has very few creatures, so Emrakul turns are usually not that effective. I typically plan to have an Emrakul trigger to resolve one or two times per game. Especially with Metallurgic Summonings out, the trigger isn’t that bad.
Post-board, I’ve found that the easiest way to lose games is by getting beaten down by a draw that involves multiple creatures, between the 4 main-deck Servant of the Conduit and the 3 Tireless Tracker, while a stack of counterspells rot in your hand. For that reason, I like 2 Flaying Tendrils on the draw as a way to catch back up against aggressive starts, and 1 on the play. If the Aetherworks player has both the aggressive start and the Aetherworks, you’re going to feel the pressure either way, and I like it over spot removal spells. Flaying Tendrils can also make it more tenable to just let Ishkanah resolve, as well as allowing you to exile a World Breaker in concert with an attack or a second removal spell. World Breaker also makes Summonings a touch worse on the draw, so I board 1 out. I think the deck’s main game plan is so well covered by this deck post-board that it’s probably okay to go down one win condition. Gearhulk stays in for its ability to close games quickly and rebuy a counterspell.
On the Draw
On the Play
Mardu Vehicles and R/B Aggro
These are the most popular decks after U/W Flash, B/G Delirium, and R/G/x Aetherworks, but the drop-off is fairly sharp from the top 3 in terms of market share, so I’m okay taking a worse matchup. These matchups are where Essence Extraction shines. This configuration is weak to Gideon from Mardu Vehicles, but those decks will force you to answer the board so you don’t have the luxury of leaving up countermagic. As long as you can exile Scrapheap Scrounger with Flaying Tendrils or blank it with Contraband Kingpin, you have inevitability and the aggro deck will flood out, just like everyone else.
Against both of these decks, prioritize getting their artifacts off the board before committing a creature, lest you get burned out by Unlicensed Disintegration. Against R/B Aggro, you usually want to kill Pia’s Thopter and not the Pia when they’re holding cards in hand, because there’s probably at least 1 Pia that you don’t want to make worth a full card too soon. Try to resolve Essence Extraction on an artifact creature with Pia in play while your opponent is tapped out, or it’ll get sacrificed and you won’t gain any life.
I played against 3 U/W Flash (2-1), 3 Aetherworks (2-0-1), and 2 B/G Delirum (2-0). The 1-of decks were G/W Humans, R/W Midrange, Temur Colossus Reservoir, Termur Energy Aggro, and Mardu Control. Of those, I lost to Temur Energy Aggro. This deck is fairly weak to Bristling Hydra.
Almost every opponent read Metallurgic Summonings, usually multiple times, followed by a shatter-pause when they realized its implications on the game, and often preceded by a passing of the turn without doing anything to try and blank my countermagic.
I got an early draw in round 4 against Aetherworks where I should’ve played faster. Playing fast is important with this deck. If you’re picking this deck up, you may want to practice with some friends before you take it to an event so you can get a feel for it, or play it on MTGO. This deck requires lots of physical actions to win.
I got feature matches in rounds 11 and 12 showcasing the deck. Round 11 demonstrated the power of Metallurgic Summonings, which my opponent didn’t see until game 3. I got to snowball a single Glimmer of Genius into 16 power worth of Constructs in a single turn. Round 12 showed off the Dynavolt Tower sideboard plan against U/W, which I swear is still good when you only draw 1. It bolted down a Jace, threatened to multi-bolt anything they could play, and then bolted my opponent out. The replay for round 11 can be found here and round 12 here.
Emrakul allowed my opponents to take my turn many times during the tournament. Those turns were usually unimpressive.
Gaby and LSV wondered during the stream how many X/X Construct tokens I had brought, and the answer is 14—all with the correct art. I never got to use more than 10 during the event.
Tips and Tricks
• Remember that you can just cast Summary Dismissal under Summonings to make a 4/4 on your opponent’s end step, as it doesn’t target. This might happen if your hand is stacked and you need a threat.
• You will often want to throw out a turn-4 Glimmer against U/W in game 1 so that they Spell Queller it and leave down Revolutionary Rebuff mana. That way, you can slam a Summonings, and then kill the Spell Queller at your leisure while making an additional 4/4 from the recast Glimmer.
• The second ability of Metallurgic Summonings isn’t activated all that often, but is an additional source of inevitability. If that’s your plan, be sure to leave up mana for a removal spell on your own Construct token against white decks, as they may have Declaration in Stone.
• Try not to keep too many Clues from Confirm Suspicions in play against Emrakul decks. Your opponent can crack all your Clues and discard your good cards to hand size. I haven’t had an opponent notice this line of play yet, but it’s worth playing around anyway, if possible.
• While this is situational, you’ll typically bottom lands off of Glimmer even if you have access to 5 lands and a Gearhulk in your hand. This deck plays 26 lands, so you’ll draw lands eventually. The easiest way for this deck to lose is getting flooded, and you’ll want to have interactive spells to play even if you don’t slam a Gearhulk the following turn or two. Remember, this deck is playing to go to turns 10 to 15.
• Play fast!