Too-Specific Top 10 - Great Ability
(The Peregrine Dynamo | Art by Zoltan Boros)
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 Basalt Monolith is the only artifact that can indefinitely tap and untap itself without the aid of another card?)
I have a confession to make: I've never made a colorless deck. I've tried a few here and there, but there's always been an elephant in the room that's made me uncomfortable: Eldrazi.
With a high end nearing $100, and even with many of the old uncommon Eldrazi creeping up on $10, Eldrazi are both ubiquitous and controversial. While I'm certainly no stranger to expensive cards, being the guy who advocates putting Scorched Ruins in mono-white decks for Land Tax exploitation, Eldrazi specifically have always just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it's because I remember the old days of EDH where Annihilator ran rampant; maybe it's because I've always been a fan of mill and the old Eldrazi titans' shuffle clause was anathema; maybe it's because I just don't like good cards that are $40.
Whatever the reason, anytime I started putting together a colorless deck, the options more or less seemed to boil down to "play an Eldrazi commander, or play an artifact deck where your only options for finishers are huge Eldrazi". Traxos, Scourge of Kroog almost got me there, what with its emphasis on untap shenanigans, but putting it together I still couldn't find the right pieces to make anything I was happy with.
Well, no more.
While initially the legendary rider in The Peregrine Dynamo's copy ability seems hugely limiting, in fact the card pool of legendary colorless cards with activated or triggered abilities is huge, clocking in at 93. So why don't we see which of those 93 would be the most relevant to making a non-Eldrazi colorless brew?
Top 10 Colorless Legendary Abilities
Surprisingly, eliminating the Eldrazi from my search only subtracts six cards from our 93, leaving us with 87. To be clear, almost every one of those six inclusions would be a slam dunk in the average The Peregrine Dynamo build, but we're going to be bit more biased because of my personal uh... bias.
Speaking of which, we have some other cards to arbitrarily eliminate due to my flurried whims. First off, lands. They may be necessary to play Magic, but that doesn't mean I've gotta like 'em. Combine that with the fact that The Peregrine Dynamo doesn't copy mana abilities, and we're probably better off just throwing them out, Inventors' Fair be damned.
That leaves us with a pool of 69 cards to choose from, but I find myself still drowning in all sorts of abilities that aren't really relevant to The Peregrine Dynamo, whether it be mana rocks that can't have their mana abilities copied, or Equipment and Vehicles who could have their abilities copied, but it wouldn't really do much if you did.
Unfortunately, there's not really a catch-all Scryfall search that's going to capture that, and so we're going to do something we don't do all that often here on Too-Specific Top 10: we're going to make individual judgement calls on each card's abilities, as to whether or not they are "relevant" when copied.
And so, with one final caveat to specifically weed out Monuments, we're ready to go!
Criteria: Legendary, nonland, colorless cards containing either an activated or triggered ability, denoted by the presence of a colon or the words "whenever" or "at", that is not a mana, equip, or Crew ability, would have a relevant effect if copied, are not on Eldrazi, and do not contain references to colors (get outta here, Oketra!). As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
10. The Chain Veil
(14,953 Inclusions, 1% of 1,561,294 Decks)
The Chain Veil cares about one thing, and one thing only: planeswalkers. That would be fine in any other color identity, but in colorless, we've got a grand total of six planeswalkers to choose from. Sure, it would be great to get Karn Liberated or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon to ultimate loyalty in a single turn, or to make Karn, Living Legacy pay for all of The Chain Veil's activation with Powerstones. That's three cards out of a 100-card deck, though, and the truth is that you're just not that likely to reliably draw both The Chain Veil and a planeswalker in the same game without a tutor of some sort stapled to a commander.
Still, it's fun to think about what you would do with three activations of Ugin, and (the legendary activated ability of) Planar Bridge exists.
9. Tamiyo's Journal
(15,463 Inclusions, 1% of 1,561,294 Decks)
I've never been that sold on Tamiyo's Journal, even in Clue or Tri-Token decks. Its best case scenario is to come down for five and immediately crack three Clues to tutor, something you could do for less mana and with fewer permanents even with the sub-par Diabolic Tutor. It being repeatable and making its own Clues makes it a lot better, to be sure, but it just seems like an awful lot of effort to all too often have it come down and have it get removed right as you're about to get that third Clue.
With all that said, this actually seems quite good in The Peregrine Dynamo. Being able to generate two Clues a turn with it and your commander means you'll stack them up pretty quick, and even if you never get to crack it to go find a two-card combo, like Basalt Monolith and Rings of Brighthearth, in colorless you'll have more than enough mana to crack Clues to draw cards anyhow. In other words, the downside of having this removed before it does anything is still 100% there, but your upside is so much bigger in every aspect of the card that you're okay with that.
Besides, if they have to remove it so you can't go win the game with Basalt Monolith, that just means they'll have one less removal spell when you play that Cogwork Assembler to go with that Powerstone Shard everyone was wondering why you were playing.
8. Forsaken Monument
(19,855 Inclusions, 1% of 1,561,294 Decks)
Speaking of cards that go infinite with Basalt Monolith, here's Forsaken Monument! A staple that simply has to be considered for any colorless deck, Forsaken Monument will make your creatures bigger, your lands and rocks produce more, and even make colorless Storm with Aetherflux Reservoir into a very real possibility via life gain. In other words, you were probably playing this even before you realized it was legendary.
This is why I am saddened to report that Forsaken Monument's mana ability is indeed a mana ability, and not multipliable by The Peregrine Dynamo. That doesn't mean you're not playing it, and it doesn't mean that you're not likely to find a circumstance where you're more than happy to double a life gain trigger, but it is something to know when you include both cards in the deck.
7. Karn, the Great Creator
(22,429 Inclusions, 1% of 1,561,294 Decks)
Karn, the Great Creator comes with a large target on his (and your) back because of his ability to turn off everyone else's mana rocks, so be aware of that when you're stuffing him in a deck. In colorless, however, you're bound to have a ton of expensive artifacts that can swing in for damage or a fair amount of damage-based removal that you can use Karn's +1 with to get rid of your opponent's pesky artifacts. His -2 is a bit less influential without help, though, as you never want to count on your opponents to do something for you. That's why I would be hesitant to be counting on Karn's second activated ability if I weren't playing a few shenanigans like Omen Machine or Knowledge Pool, since you're already getting some heat for playing "Stax" anyhow.
6. Throne of the God-Pharaoh
(23,419 Inclusions, 1% of 1,561,294 Decks)
Out of our pool of 69 legendaries with activated or triggered abilities, it turns out that, surprisingly, only four are creatures. Still, one of those is our commander, and it's not like we won't end up with artifact creatures and tokens besides. Whether it be Jhoira's Familiar, Foundry Inspector, or Millikin, we're going to want some ramp that doubles as blockers, and there's bound to be a smorgasbord of Construct tokens that we just end up with due to synergy as well.
Even with all that, Throne of the God-Pharaoh might be a stretch, if it weren't for the sheer amount of life loss it represents when we do double it with our commander. Even being conservative, having just our commander and a couple mana dorks in play would result in six life lost for our opponents every turn, to say nothing of what happens when we manage an alpha strike on the archenemy followed up by a double trigger of the Throne.
5. Lithoform Engine
(32,047 Inclusions, 2% of 1,561,294 Decks)
If you'd asked me for a list of legendary artifacts, I would not in a million years have been able to tell you that Lithoform Engine was one of them. Might've been a good idea to designate it with some kind of differentiating "this is special" word, maybe 'The' Lithoform Engine? In any case, the fact that what was surely meant as a drawback to this mightily pushed card can be copied with The Peregrine Dynamo seems pretty exciting until you do the abstract word problem and realize that while you can get infinite copies of either card's activated ability, you can only do so by targeting the ability itself, meaning you never get the extra copy you need to untap a Voltaic Key or a mana rock to really let things get out of hand.
With that in mind, I think the takeaway for Lithoform Engine in regards to The Peregrine Dynamo is that it's a decent backup commander, and maybe worth including for both that and the ability to copy spells and creature spells, possibly twice.
4. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
(37,261 Inclusions, 2% of 1,561,294 Decks)
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, far from the heights that made it outside-of-Magic famous as an allegory of a possible second Beanie Baby bubble, has settled in at a much more reasonable $20, which is great news for colorless decks. While pretty much any deck can slot in this eight-mana dragon planeswalker as a combination repeatable Lightning Bolt and board wipe, colorless decks specifically get that board wipe as a one-sided sweeper, making it all the better. That specific ability isn't very relevant when copied, but no one ever thumbed their nose at double the Lightning Bolt, much less drawing 14 cards and putting them all on the battlefield.
3. Ugin, the Ineffable
(37,573 Inclusions, 2% of 1,561,294 Decks)
The fairer of the two Ugins is cheaper to cast, and it also makes everything else you cast cheaper too! Combine that with two very copiable abilities, and this is kind of a slam-dunk inclusion in any The Peregrine Dynamo deck.
2. Helm of the Host
(51,531 Inclusions, 3% of 1,561,294 Decks)
If you'd rather just make as many copies of your commander as you have mana, then there's always Helm of the Host! You either have to have an untapper, like Voltaic Key, or you have to wait until you have two copies of The Peregrine Dynamo, but in either case, you can copy Helm of the Host's copy trigger until the cows come home!
1. Sword of the Animist
(94,342 Inclusions, 6% of 1,561,294 Decks)
Sword of the Animist is the kind of card that can slot into just about any deck, and that's why I'm all the more excited to blurt out that I don't actually think it's that good with The Peregrine Dynamo, despite making the top of our list. Don't get me wrong, paying a single mana to get an extra land seems great, but I don't actually think we'll be attacking that much with this deck to trigger things, meaning I think the slot could be better used with something that will go ludicrous speed with our commander's copy ability. Combine that with how easy it is to just play mana rocks in colorless for your ramp, and there's a serious "I don't think we need this" vibe.
Still, even if you're not searching for them, it's probably a good idea to include some Wastes in your deck in case someone else plays something that lets you go search for a basic!
First off, let's fix the whole "I haven't ever made a colorless deck" thing, shall we?
The Peregrine Dynamo DeckView on Archidekt
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This deck may be a bit confusing for you if you're not well versed in colorless combo lines, but to simplify things, the general idea of the deck is to get a legendary card draw or tutor engine, like Inventors' Fair, Planar Bridge, or Skyship Weatherlight, in play. From there, you can double that ability with The Peregrine Dynamo, and just go get an entire combo all at once. Not for your average durdle table, but a nice change of pace kind of deck that has enough different combo and tutor/draw options to stay fresh at a higher powered table. Just be careful: you have all the game-ending power in the world, but very little interaction to protect it or prevent someone else from winning!
As for the rest, let's be honest, there are a ton of great Eldrazi targets with The Peregrine Dynamo, so despite my bias, we should at least look at them:
Top 10 Eldrazi Legends with Activated/Triggered Abilities
- Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
- Emrakul, the Promised End
- Kozilek, the Great Distortion
- Emrakul, the Aeons Torn: NOTE - Banned
Okay, so there's only six, and only five of those are actually legal to play. Despite that, I guarantee you that the normal build of The Peregrine Dynamo will feature almost all of these Eldrazi, simply because they're popular and Annihilator is nuts when copied.
With that said, I would submit the hot take that, between the options of either a bunch of Eldrazi Annihilator effects where you have to play out a slow game you've already lost, OR losing instantly to infinite mana and a Rocket Launcher, I'd take the combo any day of the week. There's a time and a place for mid-level play and high-powered combo wins, and so long as they're both done in the right time and place, they're both a lot of fun. I'd just keep in mind that the combo builds of The Peregrine Dynamo are probably both going to be more unique and more powerful, so that's something to keep in mind if you are trying to stay hipster. Besides, when was the last time that anyone feared Skyship Weatherlight?
Another criteria we eliminated from our list was legendary lands, and if you look through my decklist you can definitely see that they're a huge part of the available tools with The Peregrine Dynamo:
Top 10 Legendary Lands with Activated/Triggered Abilities
- Inventors' Fair
- Geier Reach Sanitarium
- Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
- Dark Depths
- Eye of Ugin
- Miren, the Moaning Well
- Azor's Gateway (cheating, I know, but it's just so good with Dynamo!)
- Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
- Rath's Edge
Finally, there will be a lot of The Peregrine Dynamo play in the 99 as well, where there are a ton more relevant targets available. Some that people will probably end up ignoring, however, are the legendary tokens that have abilities:
Top 10 (cards that make) Legendary Tokens with Activated/Triggered Abilities
- Tamiyo, Compleated Sage
- Tatsunari, Toad Rider
- Icingdeath, Frost Tyrant
- The Book of Vile Darkness
- Volo, Itinerant Scholar
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?
Finally, what do you think of The Peregrine Dynamo? Are you planning on using it? As a commander? In the 99?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the puzzlebox table that can be configured as a square, rectangle, or hexagon, depending on how many folks you need to hold.