Too-Specific Top 10 - Ashnod Pod
(Pyre of Heroes | Art by Piotr Dura)
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Thopter Engineer is the only Human Artificer that can give your artifact creatures haste?)
The Brother's War spoilers are almost over, and one of the first I saw caught my eye immediately for a ridiculous idea that absolutely no one should pursue: Artificer tribal!
Pyre of Heroes is a card that's been around for a while now, and it does some okay work in various tribal builds, but what if you could get twice the Birthing Pod action for your buck? With Ashnod the Uncaring, you can!
Now if only we could find some Artificers who might be able to snag Pyre of Heroes out of the deck for us...
Not the deepest pool, but I'm sure that we could make it work. Wait, what's this note from Maro I'm seeing?
"Over ten legendary Human Artificers". That makes me wonder how many Human Artificers there are total! Turns out, 88 of them, 60 of which are in Grixis colors. That seems like more than enough to make a deck out of, doesn't it? And then we could just look at which Humans could go find a Pyre of Heroes for us:
All right, so we're still not drowning in options, but Tribute Mage is a serious consideration that synergizes with the deck, Disciple of Deceit can go get us removal in addition to Pyre, and Imperial Recruiter doesn't go get us Pyre as much as it goes and gets us Tribute Mage or Goblin Engineer, which is fine.
All in all, what it seems like we're looking at here is a high-powered tribal deck? Odd, I realize, but we should be able to find Pyre of Heroes and then find a combo with it fairly easily, whether we keep Ashnod in play or not, right?
Let's find out by taking a look at the card pool, shall we?
Top 10 Grixis Human Artificers (of Each Mana Value)
Criteria: Human Artificers in the Grixis color identity. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
Should be simple enough, right?
10. Top 10 Ten-Mana Human Artificers
Nothing to show? Oh. Right. Ten-mana Humans aren't even a thing, much less ten-mana Human Artificers.
(0 Inclusions, 0% of 0 Decks)
There are a couple X-costed Human Wizards in the guise of Gadwick, the Wizened and Maga, Traitor to Mortals, but I'm not sure they're worth making an exception for, given that we want to be climbing a chain with Pyre of Heroes and they both technically cost three.
Still, things should get better as we move down the list, right?
9. Top 10 Nine-Mana Human Artificers
Still nothing, huh? Not even if we include Changelings?
(0 Inclusions, 0% of 0 Decks)
Wow, this could be a short article.
8. Scornful Egotist
(89 Inclusions, 0% of 852,173 Decks)
Well, it would appear that Scornful Egotist was indeed errata'd to be a Human. I mean, not a Human Artificer, but at this point it was good to just get something down on paper, you know?
7. Top 10 Seven-Mana Human Artificers
So there is technically one seven-mana Human Artificer, but I'm not sure that it's something you'd want to search up unless you had a pre-existing horde of artifact creatures, which isn't beyond imagination in an Artificer Tribal deck, it's just not that likely to be something you need if you're probably trying to win with a combo of two creatures, so let's run back our Scornful Egotist rule bend for a moment, shall we?
7. Top 10 Seven-Mana Humans OR Artificers
- Agent of Treachery
- Angrath's Marauders
- Kaervek the Merciless
- Scholar of the Ages
- Lim-Dûl the Necromancer
- Workshop Elders
- Chaos Lord
- Sivitri Scarzam
- Spellweaver Duo
- Riven Turnbull
Now here's some top end worth searching for, and I'm not talking about Sivitri Scarzam. Agent of Treachery is notorious for ending games, and it wouldn't be hard to sneak in a package where it does just that or even just include it as a means to snag a problem creature from someone at a critical moment. Similarly, there's no shortage of ways to end a game with a damage-doubler like Angrath's Marauders in play, especially if you searched it up in tandem with Kaervek the Merciless. Really, though, when your worst-case scenario search is Scholar of the Ages, you know you're looking at some decent options.
6. Top 10 Six-Mana Human Artificers
At first glance here, it might seem that the only Human Artificer that any deck would be interested in searching up with Pyre of Heroes would be Marionette Master, but I actually wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Glacian, Powerstone Engineer. Normally his six-mana cost is just too high for him to be considered for inclusion in just about anything, but given that we'll be looking at a deck full of Artificers it's entirely possible his ability will be able to look through enough of our deck that he'll essentially be a tutor every turn. Combine that with the very real possibility that we'll be able to get two creatures out with Pyre and Ashnod's copy ability, and it's extremely possible we're looking at our six-mana package right here.
6. Top 10 Six-Mana Humans OR Artificers
- Marionette Master
- Archetype of Imagination
- Godo, Bandit Warlord
- Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer
- Vela the Night-Clad
- Boarding Party
- Underworld Hermit
- Mirage Phalanx
- Magus of the Mirror
At the top end of a Pyre of Heroes curve, you're less likely to need to be picky about your creature having both creature types, because it's more the target being searched for than the target that will be doing the searching. Speaking of which, if you're looking for a combo win stapled to a creature, it's hard to do better than Godo, Bandit Warlord, who notoriously goes and gets Helm of the Host to just win the game. If you were going to have a second option to search for at the same time, however, then normally that would be Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, who would be able to transform the whole army of Servo and Thopter tokens your Artificers has been building into a ton of Constructs. In this case, however, it might do us a favor if we continued down the list to take a gander at Mirage Phalanx, which could easily copy the most impactful creature on the board we have, or even possibly a Combat Celebrant to have a second Godo-esque combo win.
5. Top 10 Five-Mana Human Artificers
Maybe further releases of The Brothers' War has made this list more impressive since the writing of this article, but as of now, at least, it's rather underwhelming. Cairn Wanderer is probably okay in a different deck, but everything else just makes a few Thopters, which don't work with Sly Requisitioner. That just leaves Mishra, Eminent One, who might be okay in the same vein as Mirage Phalanx. Still, let's bend the rules one more time, shall we?
5. Top 10 Five-Mana Humans OR Artificers
- Syr Konrad, the Grim
- Zealous Conscripts
- Massacre Girl
- Lier, Disciple of the Drowned
- Ghoulcaller Gisa
- Witch of the Moors
- Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
- Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
- Deekah, Fractal Theorist
- Azami, Lady of Scrolls
This list might also seem a bit underwhelming at first if you're not an Aristocrats deck, but there are a couple options here that can combo out, as well as a few others that will just give you enough advantage that you can find a win. First off, we have yet another option that will give you infinite combats with Combat Celebrant: Zealous Conscripts. Massacre Girl won't end the game, but she will wipe the board, which is something that's always worth having in your toolbox. The real winners here might just be Lier, Disciple of the Drowned and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, however. Having a creature on call that can make your opponents unable to interact with the shenanigans that are occurring is powerful, as is taking an entire graveyard of your own interaction and powerful spells and bringing them back into contention. Likewise, Deekah, Fractal Theorist and Lier would be a potent combination, allowing you to cast any number of spells from the graveyard and flood the board with Fractals while you do so. Not too bad!
4. Top 10 Four-Mana Human Artificers
- Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain
- Urza, Lord High Artificer
- Whirler Rogue
- Master Transmuter
- Arcum Dagsson
- Pia and Kiran Nalaar
- Wing Splicer
- Quicksmith Spy
- Mishra, Artificer Prodigy
- Scholar of Stars
All right, we've bent the rules enough, and there's no need to anymore. Urza is almost a combo unto himself, Whirler Rogue, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, and Wing Splicer could all spark a win through the air, and Master Transmuter has its own extensive combo page on Commander Spellbook. All right, none of those combos are really worth writing home about (although adding Replication Specialist to our list of five-drop Artificers seems worth pursuing, just in case), but even so, the ability to return artifacts from the graveyard to the battlefield by returning a mana rock to our hand to just replay it seems worth pursuing.
3. Top 10 Three-Mana Human Artificers
- Feldon of the Third Path
- Sai, Master Thopterist
- Quicksmith Genius
- Thopter Engineer
- Breya's Apprentice
- Ingenious Artillerist
- Audacious Reshapers
- Keskit, the Flesh Sculptor
- Pia Nalaar
- Muzzio, Visionary Architect
The meat and potatoes of any deck will always be in the two- and three-mana slots, and that's no different here. Starting the list off with a bang, Feldon of the Third Path will provide the deck with resilience and all sorts of repeatable graveyard shenanigans that will almost be a second copy of Pyre of Heroes in the late game. Thopter Engineer at first appears to be just another token-maker, which is a fine thing to abuse with Feldon, but its second ability might be the true all-star of the deck, allowing hordes of Servos and Thopters to swing in immediately before being sacrificed for further shenanigans. Maybe the best token-maker of them all with Ashnod, however, is Breya's Apprentice. Providing a Thopter is all well and good, but giving it +4/+0 or impulse drawing two cards every turn is just value anyone can get behind.
2. Top 10 Two-Mana Human Artificers
- Reckless Fireweaver
- Loyal Apprentice
- Sage of Lat-Nam
- Jhoira, Ageless Innovator
- Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice
- Renowned Weaponsmith
- Diligent Excavator
- Aether Poisoner
- Aether Chaser
The two-mana slot doesn't feel quite as full as the three slot (which is good, because we have to find room for Goblin Engineer), but there's still some great options in here. Number one on the list and number one in our hearts, Reckless Fireweaver is a threat that will have to be answered by our opponents or they'll simply fold up and die under the onslaught of Thopter, Servo, Construct, and Treasure tokens. Being able to keep your hand full is also important, however, and as such Sage of Lat-Nam will be an important addition, whether we end up doubling its draw ability or not. Speaking of doubling, Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice is a solid backup commander to Ashnod the Uncaring, and will be an absolute monster when he gets searched up due to his haste allowing him to be immediately usable.
1. Top 10 One-Mana Human Artificers
With there only being two true Human Artificers in the one slot for now, it already seemed like a good idea to include the Changelings, but there's an even better reason to do so in a Pyre of Heroes Human Artificer tribal deck: they're a translation device between Thopters, Servos, Constructs, and Human Artificers, allowing you to go from tokens with nothing to do with Humans or Artificers and start a chain leading up to real problems like Reckless Fireweaver and Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice.
Still, this is pretty light in the one-mana slot, and there are some one-mana Artificers that we're absolutely going to want to see in the deck, so...
1. Top 10 One-Mana Humans OR Artificers
- Goblin Welder
- Dragonmaster Outcast
- Disciple of the Vault
- Dragon's Rage Channeler
- Dockside Chef
- Bloodsoaked Champion
- Thousand-Faced Shadow
- Thieves' Guild Enforcer
- Fervent Champion
Keeping in mind that Goblin Welder's strange wording keeps it from working with Ashnod's copy ability, it's definitely still worth an inclusion in any deck with a reasonable number of artifacts. If we end up playing a copy of Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, then Dragonmaster Outcast may also be worth looking into, although typically I think there's just more exciting things to be doing in a Pod deck. The true all-star for this deck at the one slot, however, is Disciple of the Vault, which will be a backup Reckless Fireweaver. It's a bit problematic that it can't be searched up with a token, but you're still ecstatic anytime you rip this off the top.
After that, pickings are a bit slim. Dockside Chef might be worth an inclusion, as its draw ability can be copied with Ashnod, but it's far from a slam dunk. Bloodsoaked Champion can be sacrifice fodder and be brought back over and over again, which is something that's at least worth testing. All in all, however, it'd be hard to go wrong with just the Changelings and Disciple of the Vault.
And there we have it, from silly tribal idea to probably-too-powerful-for-most-pods Pod deck!
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This thing feels ridiculous to goldfish, and has a ton of interaction to boot. Just a quick overview of the Pod lines, in case anyone decides to build this powerpile of a deck:
- Zero-Drops (Tokens): Go get two Changelings.
- One-Drops (Changelings): Go get Corridor Monitor and Dockside, untapping Pyre and giving you mana to activate it again. Note that while this combination is excellent, it doesn't let you continue the chain, as neither are Humans or Artificers. Another solid option is Goblin Engineer, which will let you put a combo piece in the graveyard, including Illusionist's Bracers which can give you infinite mana/untaps with Aphetto Alchemist, which is also two mana.
- Two-Drops not called Corridor Monitor/Dockside: Tr__ Mages for two & three, which can go get Illusionist's Bracers, Basalt Monolith, or Rings of Brighthearth, Pia Nalaar/Breya's Apprentice for Thopters and relevant sac activations that get doubled by Ashnod, or Imperial Recruiter to go get a combo piece, Corridor Monitor, or Dockside Extortionist.
- Three-Drops: Urza is target number one, although bringing along a Whirler Rogue or a Pia and Kiran Nalaar to immediately net you three mana worth of tokens (and make your Construct huge) is also nice. Sakashima is also a great target here, especially if you have a Brudiclad out.
- Four-Drops: There are only two five-drops in the deck: the new Mishra, which copies Pyre on your combat step, and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, which keeps other people out of your business.
- Five-Drops: There are three six-drops in the deck: Marionette Master, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, and Mirage Phalanx. Mirage Phalanx and Brudiclad together get you a very fun combat step where you get to make a token copy of whatever creature you Soulbonded with the Phalanx, then make a Myr, then make all of your tokens into copies of the Soulbonded creature. This is often enough to win games outright.
- Six-drops: Kaervek/Angrath's Marauders are the only targets, but they're enough.
Would the deck be even better if it was just Human tribal? Probably. It might even be in a tier where it was playable in cEDH if you went all out with rocks, interaction, and a bit of stax, so maybe we'll explore that in the future.
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
I've been a bit combo obsessed lately, ever since I fiddled around with The Peregrine Dynamo, and it's got me dabbling in a field of play I rarely engage in: high-powered decks. With that in mind...
Finally, what is your favorite Human Artificer? Is it from The Brothers' War, or has it been around for a while? Have you ever built a tribal Pod deck with Pyre of Heroes?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table I hand-assembled from Ikea.