One of the coolest decks to come out of Kaladesh is built around the biggest, baddest creature on the block. The power and resiliency of Metalwork Colossus is a huge draw to find the best build of the deck.
Metalwork Colossus is the centerpiece of the deck. The casting cost is high, but drops off dramatically with help. When the best removal spells in the format are cards like Harnessed Lightning and Grasp of Darkness, cards that can deal with an early Smuggler’s Copter, then a 10/10 creature that you can cast as early as turn 4 starts to look even better.
The fact of the matter is that even if you can kill Metalwork Colossus, you are far from out of the woods. A Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet backed up by Murder or Ob Nixilis Reignited will get the job done, as will a Declaration in Stone or Stasis Snare, but there isn’t much else. The ability to come back from the graveyard is relevant when you’re playing a bunch of artifacts that gain value when you cast them. Artifacts with enters-the-battlefield triggers are going to be most useful so you’re getting that Colossus “mana boost” without having to invest too many cards. Sacrificing these artifacts will make the Colossus cost more the second time around, but there are enough artifacts to mitigate this.
Once in play, we’re talking about a truly massive creature. Verdurous Gearhulk looks like it should be the biggest creature on the block, but even the Gearhulk is on chump-block duty against a Colossus. A single Colossus can end the game in 2 turns, but they also happen to scale well. As with all previous creatures with the affinity mechanic, such as Frogmite and Myr Enforcer, the second Colossus is going to receive the same boon as the first. Even if you have to sacrifice a Sanctum of Ugin to go get more copies, you can potentially cast them all for free in a single turn. This can turn almost any board state into one where you’re threatening lethal immediately.
The interesting aspect of the Metalwork Colossus’s affinity is that it will only take into consideration the noncreature artifacts you have in play. This is fairly counterintuitive as you’re going to want to have early artifact creatures in play to both accelerate out your Colossus, and to be able to play offense and defense as you set up in the early game. The way to help get around this is with the Vehicles in Kaladesh. These do not count as creatures until they’re crewed, but will help reduce the cost of your Colossus. The biggest Vehicle you realistically want to play?
Skysovereign’s triggers are reminiscent of Inferno Titan’s, a card that I still use as a finisher in Modern in my R/G Land Destruction deck. For 5 mana, you’re getting an enters-the-battlefield effect that will kill most moderate-sized creatures or the occasional planeswalker. The really nice thing about being able to play Vehicles is that they both reduce the cost of the Colossus and then can all be crewed immediately by the giant artifact creature. If you have an excess of Vehicles in play without the necessary crew, you can always sacrifice them to return a Colossus from your graveyard.
With both a Colossus and Flagship in play, you’re able to cut off all angles of attack. Even if they have an 8/8 Verdurous Gearhulk in play alongside an Avacyn, neither will be able to attack profitably since the 10/10 can block on the ground or jump in the big ship to block in the sky.
Cultivator’s Caravan has seen its stock rise dramatically since the Pro Tour. The Mardu Vehicles deck was able to make great use of it as a way to fix your colors early and then become a 5/5. In this deck, it does even more work.
You’re instantly getting what amounts to a 4-mana discount on your Colossus, and Caravan only being a 3-mana artifact means that it will come down in the early stages of the game. If you don’t need to use the mana, that means your Colossus threatens to enter the battlefield and immediately crew a Caravan to start getting in for huge chunks of damage.
A curve of any 2-mana artifact into Caravan means that another turn-4 Caravan, or any 3- or 4-mana artifact that taps for mana, will allow you to play a turn-4 10/10, attack for 5, and threaten lethal on the following turn if you can crew the Caravan once again.
Prophetic Prism kind of does it all. This is a card that first started to see some serious play several years ago when Jund was one of the most popular decks in Standard. The mana base was fragile, and players would use Spreading Seas to shut them down. With Putrid Leech, Terminate, and Sprouting Thrinax that required heavy and specific color requirements, being able to turn a land into an Island was often the equivalent of straight up destroying it. This is when Prophetic Prism’s time as a sideboard option began.
Here, we’re getting a number of very basic functions that all combine to create a very useful card. Prism is a 2-mana artifact, which helps with your Colossus. You get to draw a card when it enters the battlefield. It can help provide you with the colors you need, allowing the deck to splash or to play cards with slightly heavier mana requirements. And finally, as a card that gets the majority of its value when it enters the battlefield, it’s the perfect fodder to sacrifice to make sure your Colossus gets new life when needed.
Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot has a similar effect. You’re getting the lion’s share of the value on the enters-the-battlefield trigger, replacing your card in hand, but at the cost of a life. You also get to keep the 2-mana artifact in play to help with Colossus. The option to cash in your Puzzleknot in the late game for an additional card, assuming you’ve found one of your many sources of black mana, makes sure the Puzzleknot is a strong card in this style of deck.
On the surface, Hedron Archive looks like one of the most powerful cards you can play in a Colossus deck. It’s a 4-mana artifact that essentially counts as a 6-mana discount for a Colossus. This means that if you cast a turn-2 and turn-3 artifact into a turn-4 Archive, you’ll be able to cast a turn-5 Colossus. If your turn-3 artifact in this sequence was a Cultivator’s Caravan, you have the option of using a turn-4 Colossus to crew and attack for 5.
That all sounds incredible, but it comes at a reasonable cost. Drawing too many 4-mana artifacts could leave your hand looking quite clunky. If you don’t have enough 2- and 3-mana plays in your deck, then your turn-4 Archive still won’t be able to cast a Colossus. That said, a turn-4 Archive with nothing but lands in play still will allow a turn-5 Colossus with no other help other than hitting all of your land drops.
The late-game benefits of Hedron Archive are undeniable. You’re able to ramp up your mana and then sacrifice it for legitimate card advantage when that mana is no longer needed. The real issue here is that paying 6 mana for drawing 2 cards is a terrible rate, so you really need to be making use of either the excess mana or just having that 4-mana artifact in play. Both are useful, but neither are critical, especially in a deck where the curve tops out at 5, more or less.
In summary, I believe it’s a mistake to include too many copies of a card like Hedron Archive. I’ve seen lists out there trying to run 4, and the risk of drawing too many too early is a real one. The most successful versions tends to run 2 unless you’re also trying to accelerate into the big Eldrazi late game to go alongside your Colossus. In that case, Archive is the best card you can have, but for most decks I wouldn’t want more than 1-2 copies.
The other creatures in the deck don’t technically help reduce the cost of Colossus, so it can be tough to figure out which to include. That is, all but Foundry Inspector. The Inspector is a critical piece of this puzzle as it reduces the cost of Colossus, but more importantly can make sure you play plenty of artifacts to make your Colossus free quickly.
Although it’s a creature, it will still function in the same way as any other 2-mana rock when it comes to acceleration. With the Inspector, the Archive itself would cost 1 less, freeing up a single mana. Because it reduces the cost of Colossus by 1, you can still play any 2-mana artifact into Inspector into Archive. With 1 mana from your lands still available, and with a 2- and 4-mana artifact in play, your Archive can tap to give you 2 more. With Colossus being reduced from 10 to 9 via Inspector and down to 3 from the other artifacts in play, you still have turn-4 Colossus.
Being able to play turn-4 Skysovereign and have the creature already in play to crew it is incredible synergy. Chaining Prisms and Puzzleknots together, each for just a single mana, feels like going off. There are even versions out there with Panharmonicon to double the triggers of the Flagships, Prisms, and Puzzleknots.
Glint-Nest Crane is a great blocker that should draw a good card. This particular version of Colossus is running 27 artifacts, meaning that nearly half your deck is live. If you assume you’ve already drawn 2 lands and the Crane you’re casting, that leaves 27 hits in 57 cards. With 4 looks, you should hit around 93% of the time. This gives you incredible complaint equity when you happen to miss, but also a valuable card that will also make sure you’re able to dig deeper to find the most important cards in your deck when needed.
Elder Deep-Fiend is a great way to close out games. You’re generally paying a fairly reduced cost for a huge creature, which is a great start. Tapping your opponents’ lands is definitely valuable, but this deck is going to try to tap down creatures when your central strategy revolves around an undercosted 10/10 creature that doesn’t have evasion.
With Sanctum of Ugin, any time you cast an Deep-Fiend or Colossus, you can sacrifice your Sanctums and search your deck for—you guessed it—more Deep-Fiends or Colossuses. With a pair of Sanctums in play, the first Colossus can search up the second and a Deep-Fiend. The Deep-Fiend can threaten to tap them out and you can attack for 20 or more.
Sacrificing a creature to emerge your Eldrazi isn’t the easiest thing to do in a deck with only 14 creatures, but you do have the option to use a Colossus to crew a Vehicle to emerge. You can also sacrifice a Colossus to make sure your Deep-Fiend is as cheap as possible and then return the Colossus to your hand to create a massive board presence.
Most versions of this deck will include a pair of Deep-Fiends. You don’t want to draw too many, but the option to chain them together to kill an opponent is important. Keep in mind that all of the Vehicles in this deck are going to attack for 5 or more damage, so the line where you play Colossus into Colossus into sacrificing one of them to Deep-Fiend will often leave you with 20 damage in play. Even though a Colossus has gone to the graveyard, if you have enough artifacts sitting around, you can bring it back on your turn with your opponent tapped out, use it to crew a Caravan or Flagship, and then attack alongside the Deep-Fiend and other Colossus for 20.
With so many cards in this deck dealing damage in chunks of 5 or 10, each hit is going to make it even harder for an opponent to react.
A newer addition to the Colossus strategy has been Deadlock Trap. This is not the fastest way to interact, but it does provide powerful options. Being able to shut down a planeswalker is massive, especially if the format continues to see an uptick in Gideon, Ally of Zendikar—or just tap down a blocker that could have potentially stood in the path of your 10/10.
Having a card in your deck that will seriously reduce the cost of Colossus while helping you to stay alive and finish off an opponent is a nice touch. If you can find even more uses for energy, that would be perfect.
Harnessed Lightning is the perfect energy sink while adding to your reserve. If you just need more energy for your Traps, Harnessed Lightning can be a Dark Ritual for energy. An answer to Spell Queller is a step in the right direction. Skysovereign is already solid, which helpfully can’t be snagged by another Queller, but it has some weaknesses to Selfless Spirit and Avacyn, so you’ll want some backup.
The lands are a big part of the success of a Colossus deck. Sanctum of Ugin has been discussed in conjunction with a number of cards, but it truly is the most critical piece of the deck. You would absolutely love to run 8+ copies in this deck as, once there are 10-mana in artifacts in play, each one just becomes a free 10/10.
Aether Hub is a nice way to fix your mana and add to the reserve for Harnessed Lightning and Deadlock Trap. You don’t require many colored sources, as there are only 8 colored cards and 2 Deep-Fiends in the entire deck. There are lots of sideboard cards, but you have lands that tap for colors, as well as Prisms and Caravans. Hubs are there when you need them, but give you a little energy boost when you don’t.
Inventors’ Fair is really sweet, but is held back slightly by being legendary. It’s tough to just load up with 4 copies, but the ability to search up a Colossus, especially when they’re free and you have Sanctums in play to get more, is awesome. The little bit of life gain will matter from time to time, and the games where you need to search up a specific artifact (like Flagship) make Inventors’ Fair a really solid addition.
Here’s the list that Marcos Paulo de Jesus Freitas piloted to the Top 8 of GP Santiago this weekend:
Marcos Paulo de Jesus Freitas, Top 8 GP Santiago
I’ve tried to break down every card in this main deck for its function and synergy with the rest of the deck. Being armed with this knowledge both shows you how the deck works and where you can consider making tweaks for your local metagame or to fit your play styles and preferences.
One card that seems to have fallen out of favor is Key to the City. In my experience , Key was mostly unnecessary. That said, there were games where Key would have been crucial. With 4 Glint-Nest Cranes to dig deep, and a pair of Inventors’ Fair to legitimately tutor up the exact artifact you need, I would still strongly consider playing a single copy.
The sideboard addresses a number of concerns. The first of which is when decks can go wide and around your Colossus while also having plenty of blockers to prevent the 10-point hits.
The best answer in the current format is Incendiary Sabotage. The casting cost is a little bit prohibitive with the double-red, but this particular version runs far more Mountains than I’m accustomed to seeing to help ease this pain. If Sabotage is going to be a big part of your sideboarding strategy—which it really should be with so many white decks in the format—then make sure you can cast it.
Sabotage being an instant is incredibly important in the format. First off, you have Smuggler’s Copter that can only be hit at instant speed. If an opponent is going to tap out for a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, you can wipe out the token and their Spell Queller during their end step. With Vehicles decks being very popular, this can really destroy their entire strategy. Incendiary Sabotage in itself is a huge draw to playing a heavy artifact deck as the card is very well positioned.
Tears of Valakut is an incredible answer to the rise of U/W Flash, killing Spell Queller and Archangel Avacyn alike, while not having to worry about getting hit by a Spell Queller. It happens to also take down Selfless Spirit, Smuggler’s Copter, and opposing Flagships, making it a really strong sideboard weapon right now versus white decks.
Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot is really interesting. I’m not sure there’s a deck aggressive enough that I want to board in a card that simply gains 6 life, but I’m not totally sure that’s true. The Puzzleknot is an interesting answer to decks with Fevered Visions, however. Not only is it a cheap card to get out of your hand early, but it counters a couple of burn spells.
Sideboarding life gain is a really interesting strategy against burn decks. Every time you gain 3 it’s akin to countering one of their Lightning Bolts, or any similar effect, but you can do it proactively without ever having to leave up mana.
I love Padeem, Consul of Innovation, but I haven’t had the chance to play with it at all. I’ve built decks that try to take advantage of the incredible effects, but didn’t really get past preliminary stages. It does offer a tough body to deal with in a handful of matchups. Giving all of your artifacts hexproof can completely swing the course of a game, making sure that opponents need to kill Padeem before they can even think about killing a Colossus or Vehicle. If their removal happened to be something like Appetite for the Unnatural instead of Murder, that’s no longer going to be possible.
I don’t need to tell you why drawing an extra card every single turn is potent. A personal Howling Mine is going to be tough for any control deck to beat.
With the rise of control decks (thanks Shota), the power level of Negate is really high. You’re going to spend 2 mana to counter most of the cards in their deck—a planeswalker or Aetherworks Marvel, or just an opposing Ceremonious Rejection.
Ceremonious Rejection is insane against this deck. It counters half of the total cards in the deck. It also does serious work against Aetherworks Marvel, countering their key card or simply a Puzzleknot they needed to get going. It also happens to counter Smuggler’s Copter, Void Shatter, and Scrapheap Scrounger to keep them from tempo’ing you out.
There’s also an extra Elder Deep-Fiend for all of your deep, fiendish needs.
The Colossus decks are fast and powerful while also just being really cool to play and watch. Combining all of the various cost reduction benefits in Standard between emerge, Colossus, and Foundry Inspector allows you to make busted plays at a fraction of the cost. Hitting for 5 on turn 4 and 15 on turn 5 is a real possibility and you have tons of card draw and filtering to help make sure that happens.
Colossus is one of the biggest payoff cards from an artifact set that is sure to see an increase in power with more sets. Which versions of Colossus do you expect to be the best by the end of Kaladesh Standard? Is Panharmonicon a critical piece of the puzzle? Should we be playing even more colors with all of the “free” fixing? Or is combining Colossus with Aetherworks Marvel the way to go?
Sound off in the comments!