PDH Brew: Esper Artifacts
In this article series I look to find interesting commanders or themes I can construct decks around. I’ll break down my card choices and highlight some of the synergies that exist within each deck. I hope this will serve as a nice creative exercise for me, and in turn give you some inspiration in your own deck construction.
For my first brew, I decided to try and build an artifact-centric deck. This meant I had the full color pie to start from, but I ultimately settled on Esper colors where the highest synergy existed. Similarly, this gave me access to the right mixture of control elements (draw, removal, graveyard recursion and prison cards). Let’s dive in...
Sludge Strider is one of the few Esper commanders available in pauper EDH, and it’s easy to see how it's ability can be punishing in a deck with 33 artifacts and a ton of recursion. Expect Sludge Strider to be heavily targeted for removal... but honestly, it doesn’t make or break our strategy. Sludge Strider is emblematic of the type of grindy and controlling deck we’re playing, just one more powerful tool for keeping the life tempo in our favor.
While we prefer to get most of these low cost creatures out early, they still provide value later in games. Etherium Sculptor is a no-brainer by reducing artifact casting costs. Consulate Skygate is a cheap defender to gum up the board that provides anti-air support. Disciple of the Vault brings half of the value of our Commander on a cheap body. Our opponents will have to spend removal on it or deal with steady life drain. Ethersworn Shieldmage makes for some incredible combat tricks. Trinket Mage has six targets to tutor; we’re primarily gonna be pulling our artifact lands early on or our cheap equipment for our evasive creatures to help close games faster. Building your PDH deck with cards that have versatility at all stages of the game is crucial.
Our deck has a nice assortment of midrange creatures. Faerie Mechanist can help us dig for the right artifacts, while Sanctum Gargoyle allows us to bring back whatever artifact we need. Windwright Mage is a flying lifelinker who’s gonna be activated more often than not. You can expect Glassdust Hulk to get triggered a lot, bringing steady beats (the cycling is just a bonus). Bleak Coven Vampires brings the pauper equivalent of “Thragtusk” value and can make for swingy turns. The effectiveness Arsenal Thresher’s ability depends on each game and how much you can afford to forecast your hand, but the potential to drop up to a 9/9 is part of the flexible fun!
We have two creatures to help us filter and two to help us finish the game. Architects of Will serves as a semi-Ponder on a body who can be cycled in a pinch. We want Dimir House Guard mostly for his Transmute ability, but in the right matchup he can be a pain for our opponents to deal with. Gearseeker Serpent can come down extremely cheap and punch through crowded boards with its ability-a “must deal with” threat when you get the mana to fuel its attacks. Ulamog’s Crusher is THE “must deal with” threat.
I included a solid suite of spells that help us filter, draw, and dig through our deck. I particularly appreciate how Thoughtcast and Tezzeret’s Ambition synergize with our artifact theme. Consult the Necrosages and Pilfered Plans allow us push draw/discard tempo on our opponents.
Graveyard recursion is an important element of the deck, allowing us to restock on threats and valuable utility artifacts. Ghostly Flicker helps us take advantage of our triggers. Capsize also allows for some recursive tricks or can help turn the tide late game when the board is crowded-very versatile and extremely powerful.
We have seven different prison enchantments; I value these over straight removal because they aren’t condition-based. In the case of Cage of Hands and Cessation, we have recursion and strategic versatility as the board progresses. Encrust can help us shut down our opponents troublesome artifacts as well, while Faith’s Fetters extends to lands and enchantments (the life gain is a nice bonus). I opted for Murder and Tidy Conclusion for my removal spells as they lack conditions-and while expensive, Tidy Conclusion can double as an extremely powerful life boost. Stoic Rebuttal is our lone counterspell, but I figure we win more from our recursion and overall tempo advantages than being more of a traditional “permission” control deck (and I just preferred it being on-theme over regular Counterspell).
These are our mana and life gain rocks.
Here is our equipment suite. Cranial Plating is as powerful here as it is in other formats. Neurok Stealthsuit and Whispersilk Cloak provide evasion that can lead the way to victory. Explorer’s Scope helps us ramp and smooth out our land flow. Cathar’s Shield helps us block and attack favorably.
These artifacts help us draw, filter, and smooth things out.
These are a few artifacts that don’t fit neatly into a category but provide value. Aether Spellbomb gives you options and can be tutored by Trinket Mage. Glint Hawk Idol is an evasive flyer. Golem Foundry helps you grind out battlefield advantage. Our two vehicles provide some additional, hefty evasive threats.
As far as lands go, this deck utilizes all the dual lands of the Esper shard. Command Tower and the artifact lands are a given in this deck. Radiant Fountain is always a viable bounce target with incremental life value.
So there you have it! For those of you who enjoy artifacts like I do, this can be an extremely fun way to get a mechanical edge over your opponents. Are their cards you think deserve a spot that I missed out on? Is there a Commander or theme you’d like to see me brew around? Please let me know in the comments below!
Click here to find the full deck, via TappedOut!