|Commander / EDH||Legal|
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|Shadows over Innistrad (SOI)||Uncommon|
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Trail of Evidence
Whenever you cast an instant of sorcery spell, investigate. (Put a colorless Clue artifact token onto the battlefield with ", Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.")
Trail of Evidence Discussion
2 months ago
You should play:
Chain of Vapor Narset, Parter of Veils , Mental Misstep Merchant Scroll Sai, Master Thopterist Arcum's Astrolabe Trail of Evidence ...literally anything that can consistently crap out artifact tokens Mirrodin Besieged
Why are you playing: Kozilek, Butcher of Truth is this just for the shuffle? Lux Cannon this is a win more card...you supposedly already have 2 artifacts so its better to play literally anything else and just activate urza Heartstone if you have infinite mana anyways then this card is a waste of your time Expedition Map ? you have perfect mana anyways is pumping 2 mana into this to grab like academy ruins the best use of mana?
why so many wincons? like you don't need chalice, aetherflux, lux cannon, and Jace. Its better to focus on 2ish combos, because your wincons are dead draws until you have the combo...I suggest Jace and Aetherflux because they dont require dramatic scepter just infinite mana and or a deck.
2 months ago
3 months ago
I know you're looking for non-wheel card draw. I don't love cantrips in EDH unless there is a number-of-spells-matters effect in play but they can smooth out a deck a bit. Ponder , Preordain , Portent , Sleight of Hand , Serum Visions , etc. The sweet spot in around 3-5 CMC for me, ideally drawing CMC -1 but there aren't a ton of spells that efficient. I don't love Divination in EDH (2 for 3) but it's the gold-standard in 60-card decks for a quickie hand refill. There are tons of efficient cards like Divination too.
There are a ton of "draw 3, discard 1" for 4 or 5 mana, which are okay. Sift , Trial of Knowledge , and Amass the Components , for example. Many are costed for being commons, which isn't where you wanna be in EDH. There should be plenty of good, efficient cards to draw from though. At the same time, you have a lot of great high-CMC draw, like Consecrated Sphinx and Thought Reflection, so having a few Divination effects might smooth out your draws.
Some suggestions: Concentrate , Windfall , Cathartic Reunion , Plea for Power , Tidings , Nin, the Pain Artist , Finale of Revelation , Mind Spring , Braingeyser , Stroke of Genius , Blue Sun's Zenith , Fact or Fiction , Chart a Course , Ugin's Insight , Treasure Cruise , Dig Through Time , Kumena's Awakening , Fevered Visions , Honden of Seeing Winds , Reverse Engineer , Read the Runes , Precognitive Perception , Distant Memories , Arcane Encyclopedia , Endless Atlas , Trail of Evidence , Theft of Dreams , Borrowing 100,000 Arrows , Nezahal, Primal Tide , Kefnet the Mindful , Cavalier of Gales , Combustible Gearhulk , Thassa, God of the Sea , Shared Discovery , Secrets of the Golden City , Vivisection , Weight of Memory , Recurring Insight , Breakthrough , Niv-Mizzet, Parun , Deep Analysis , Gush , Invoke the Firemind , Expansion / Explosion , Chandra, Flamecaller , Dragon Mage , Wild Guess , Tormenting Voice , Arch of Orazca , Runehorn Hellkite , Conqueror's Galleon Flip, Kraum, Ludevic's Opus , Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist , Commune with Lava .
5 months ago
Hissp looking at the build it seems casting tutor mages may be too slow, other than Fabricate all other tutor options put scepter/engine into play. All the tutors other than Tezzeret the Seeker create a clue off Trail of Evidence , and tezz is too strong not to run. Finally the deck has no way to utilize the body of the mages other than blocking tymna etc. T
TLDR The mages are low tempo low synergy.
5 months ago
@ jeacaveo Hey, thanks for dropping by. I've certainly been finding that high quality card advantage sources are tough to come by for this deck and that this seems to be perhaps the most necessary addition for the deck to be as competitive as possible against the top tier decks in the format. I'm not finding that Urza is a deck that has too much trouble against tier 2 and 3 cEDH decks, but as with most decks in the format the tier 1 are pretty troublesome and they seem to simply out grind in a meta that has become very grind oriented.
Power Artifact is in as one more means of redundancy and resiliency. It's relatively easy to fetch with a handful of tutors, and can be used on either Isochron Scepter or Grim Monolith to good effect. In a meta where every last single U/B deck in competitive play is now running Ashiok, Dream Render it's vitally important to have redundant engine pieces in the event that some are exiled. The very printing of that card is perhaps the most fundamentally format warping aspect of this new set in cEDH. Long gone are the days where decks could feel comfortable running one primary win condition and one secondary win condition. Multiple layers of redundancy are a must to be competitive at this point. Until testing demonstrably proves an acceptable degree of redundancy Power Artifact is in to provide it.
Karn, the Great Creator does indeed have a hefty price tag, but this is perfectly acceptable in the new meta we find ourselves in. Also long gone are the days where Turn 3 was the all encompassing turn and cards with higher converted mana costs didn't have a role. In this new, long, grindy as all hell meta, Karn shines as a way to asymmetrically disrupt the best opposing PS decks in the format as a passive hate piece (as well as destroying any 0 cmc artifacts opponents have in play while ticking up), and a way to actively recover important required combo pieces that might be exiled with Ashiok or even Praetor's Grasp (as Karn does not differentiate between face up or face down exile). He is deceptively tough to remove from the board as being at 4 cmc means Abrupt Decay can't hit him, has a rather high loyalty count making removing him via combat also difficult. Meanwhile the best decks in the format will find he is a piece that typically needs to be removed in order for them to effectively combo off as he completely shuts down all Isochron related lines, SDT related lines, etc. If the format meta at the top levels was still as fast as it was a year and a half ago he probably would not have a place, but the fastest decks in the format have long since been supplanted by superior decks in the intervening time that are better at controlling pace of the game and the best grinding deck in the meta is the deck most likely to win these days. Karn can help in that regard, and he has performed admirably in testing in a surprisingly wide range of match ups.
Mishra's Workshop is actually a card I'm a bit on the fence over. I do not, by any means, consider this card to be a requirement for this deck. There are even some situations as you so astutely recognize where it's drawback can be significant (there are times where you cannot cast a turn 2 Urza if Workshop is one of the lands in an opening hand). I will say that the situations in testing where it has been effective have been terrific, however. Turn 1 Astral Cornucopia , Mox Opal , Mana Crypt into Turn 1 Urza is extremely powerful. Turn 1 Trinisphere is extremely powerful. And it certainly never hurts to cast Paradox Engine off Workshop mana. I'll need more testing with it in before I determine whether it's use cases are too narrow for play, or if they are flexible enough to warrant an inclusion. It seemed like an interesting thought so for now it's in to be tested.
Howling Mine does indeed need Urza in play, but since the deck sort of revolves around having him in play and protecting him to keep him active it's not usually a case where the symmetrical effect is a drawback. I've been much more concerned with it's level of performance overall as a card advantage piece for Urza than I have with the rare moments it acts as a card advantage piece for opponents. I did try some other pieces that could turn it off ( Merchant's Dockhand for example), but ultimately found them lackluster and the times where they would be needed quite rare overall. Quite frankly, I'd prefer better card advantage sources, but in mono blue the options are rather limited in terms of quality.
Genesis Chamber is a new addition, it's being used with Skullclamp and other token pieces to see how that package performs in terms of providing a grinding advantage. I don't think I honestly expect it to perform at the level I'm looking for, but I also don't want to overlook any potential options in the quest to optimize Urza against the top tier decks, so it's going to get a fair shake in testing.
Elixir of Immortality is important for a few reasons. Ultimately, it's a layer of redundancy (recall the issue present at the moment in the meta with Ashiok) that enables looping, and it is a card that can be retrieved with Karn (even if all spells, every single one, are exiled from this list as long as the deck has Karn it has the ability to retrieve every required piece of at least one engine to combo win). Mostly it was included at first as a way to circumvent a particular looping issue however. Consider: in a deck where looping is the way to finish off opponents that only one real option can win on the turn where Urza combos off without having to wait a turn cycle to attack with Swans, Apes, or Constructs; Windfall. Only the deck could not actually perform this function as the only viable way to loop is Narset's Reversal + Timetwister . Using that loop enabler would restore the graveyards of opponents and the Windfall win line would not be possible. This means we would need to run an alternate immediate win con, but Lab Man, Jace, and Aetherflux Reservoir are all REALLY bad cards in cEDH being completely dead outside of comboing off. The better, more efficient option, is to simply run a mana efficient loop enabler that at worst is a 1 cmc mana rock. Urza doesn't mind cheap mana rocks, in fact, Urza likes those, and on occasion Elixir can also directly protect the graveyard from an Ashiok activation. It's inclusion was a natural progression of this line of thinking. The Elixir might ultimately be cut if I decide the deck is redundant and resilient enough without it, but I'm betting against that being the case with the way the meta has changed post Ashiok's printing.
Cryptic Command and Archmage's Charm are certainly on the expensive side, but again, as the format has slowed down significantly and grindier, more interactive decks are the prohibitive favorites in any given pod, these cards have a warranted slot in testing and testing has so far proven them to be very solid inclusions. I don't know about you, but I LIKE stealing an opponents Mystic Remora . It's far better than just destroying it. I LIKE stealing an opponents Sol Ring . Dack Fayden is still run in some cEDH lists and primarily is used to steal away mana rocks outside of being a win on a loop. The Charm is an even more flexible version of what he does and the mana cost isn't going to be tough for a mono blue deck based around a commander that turns all artifacts into blue moxen. Cryptic Command is also ideal on a loop to return all opposing permanents to hand in the event the deck must wait a turn cycle to attack with an infinite army as the risk of having that army destroyed or disrupted is much less if opponents have no board state at all the turn they need to disrupt it. A year or more ago, these are likely not cards I would have expected to perform well in the meta, but in the current meta these are cards with significant value.
Academy Ruins is the all important tutor land. I initially had Tabernacle in here in the original iteration before discovering that including that hate piece at all was extremely counterproductive and not an ideal direction for a deck that ideally wants Urza in play on turn 2 as often as possible. But when I cut the Tabernacle I didn't cut the land tutors because I noticed a particularly nifty interaction with, at first, Aether Spellbomb . Urza is not a deck that can operate like other PS decks where it tries to stutter start it's engine by using it's commanders ability to chug along on a slim mana margin until it eventually hits the pieces required for critical mass to begin generating infinite mana in a deterministic fashion. The process simply isn't as efficient as Thrasios and Tasigur and most often results in a fizzle and tapped out board state. This means Urza MUST already be able to generate infinite mana in a deterministic fashion using resources already available to it rather than relying on top deck RNG to find the proper resources. One good way I found to do this was to simply recast spells the deck already had access to (Crystal Shard being the most important method of doing so) and reliably being able to get Academy Ruins into play with Candelabra of Tawnos and Paradox Engine allows the deck to repeatedly cast Mind Stone or Aether Spellbomb and generate infinite mana from a deterministic line. The same 6 or so mana that might be used to blindly activate Urza's ability and hope and pray the deck hits (which the math proves, undeniably, is a lower percentage chance than a misfire) could instead simply be used to sacrifice a known quantity, hold priority on it's draw trigger, replace it on top of the library, draw it, and replay it to untap everything and proceed with the loop indefinitely. As long as the loop produces 1 net positive mana the loop succeeds in winning the game. The land tutors are in as ways to reliably enable this back up plan in the event it is required, which hasn't been too common in testing but it has happened a significant number of times.
High Tide and Extraplanar Lens were actually both in my original iteration of the deck and it was only after about 10 games of testing that I realized these cards don't actually do anything for this deck. Urza doesn't care about land mana generation, it runs off artifact mana generation. Dramatically more often than not these cards wound up simply being dead spells that didn't provide any value at all and the times where they did provide value it was of a negligible amount. Ultimately I realized neither of these cards was important to the way the deck wanted to operate and so I cut them. I do not expect I will return either to the list at any point, Urza, at least as constructed, isn't a Storm style deck that regularly makes use of untapping lands to generate extra mana and in the situations where this can be done it means the deck has already untapped a half dozen or dozen artifacts that are providing the mana needed. Essentially, these cards were identified as "win more" in function and summarily cut. Unwinding Clock was another cut in the same vein, dead out side of winning and only helped win harder as opposed to just helping win.
Back to Basics is a worthwhile consideration, but I've never felt like this was a particularly difficult hate piece to navigate when playing against it. Urza already has more universal means of locking down opponents resources that aren't limited to just lands and these means also don't care about land type, and are also able to be tutored for and more reliably employed where Back to Basics cannot. Rhystic Study is a card I am less and less and less enthused about in the current meta. It's a card that is essentially dead outside of playing it on Turn 1 or Turn 2, and Urza has things it already wants to be doing on those turns. If I get desperate for card draw sources this is a card that could make it's way back onto my list, but I'm going to have to be very desperate indeed as this card is no longer cEDH worthy. If you want to understand why just watch the most recent Lab Maniacs S3 gameplay video on YouTube. Sigi's Rhystic Study legitimately generated no value at all and sucked up 3 mana to play. Not a position I want to be in and yet that is the type of position this card puts players in given the state of the meta at the moment. Verity Circle has significantly out performed it in testing, dramatically so the longer a game goes on. Trail of Evidence is out for the time being while I test some other card draw sources. It performed acceptably well, it just didn't stand out and I was curious if I could do better. I think this is a card that could very likely make it's way back into the list, but I want to give every other potential option a try as well in testing so for the time being it's relegated to the bench.
Well, that was a lot of words! Thanks for dropping by though, it's always worthwhile to vocalize and consider the reasons for various inclusions and go over the reasons behind the choices. I expect a number of ridiculous seeming ideas will be tried in my attempts to make this list as competitive as possible and I fully expect most of these ridiculous ideas to prove unworthy in testing, but anything that has some degree of potential should be looked at and verified in practice or else I'd still be running cards like Rhystic Study blindly believing they would improve the overall deck performance. I'll certainly keep you posted on what worked out well and what silly ideas proved to be rather too silly as testing continues and I hope you'll return the favor with the things you test.
5 months ago
@ rphill82 I have indeed tried Trail of Evidence . It performed acceptably well in the 10 or so games I had it in to test it, but it did not stand out as a plus level performing card. Merely acceptable. I've tried about 40 or 50 cards in what amounts to about 10 flex slots now and mostly had a similar level of overall deck performance with these iterations when what I'm really looking for is an ideal combination of cards in those slots that can significantly improve overall deck performance. The core shell of this list is already performing as well, or even slightly better in some cases, as most tier 2 cEDH decks (think Kess, Zur, Flash Hulk brews, Food Chain here), but Urza still has trouble competing against the big 3 in the top tier of cEDH (PS Thrasios/Tymna, PS Thrasios/Smasher, PS Tasigur). This is surely to be expected as these 3 decks are significantly better than anything else in the format due to being the most consistent, card slot efficient, mana efficient, card quality efficient decks ever devised and the goal for Urza has now shifted away from competing with lesser decks and trying to be as competitive as possible against the 3 best decks. Trail of Evidence is a card I figure is liable to make it's way back in, but so far in testing it hasn't helped the deck to improve significantly enough on it's own to be as competitive with the top tier decks as I want. I strongly suspect a final iteration might include it, but I want to give every other possible option a shot in testing as well.
Genesis Chamber is in at the moment as part of a Skullclamp package to see if this package is any better at grinding out card advantage than packages that might include other card draw sources. I don't think I expect it to perform ideally, but I've only had 1 game with this package in so far and I don't have enough data to know what it's average level of performance will be against cEDH staples. Time will tell here.
5 months ago
jaymc1130 Have you tried Trail of Evidence ? It works like a psuedo Baral giving you card draw at a cost minus the discard or the mana coupon. Genesis Chamber could help when you're recasting your Trophy Mage as well, turning it off on your opponent's turn.
5 months ago
@ Kiyomei I don't know how competitive your regular tournaments are, so I can't speak to how "competitive" they might be. When I'm talking about cEDH and competitive play though I'm considering things from the perspective of my group mostly who will all be wielding 15 thousand dollar decks running the most powerful cards ever printed with a number of players (myself included) who have played MTG at a professional level or semi professional level since the late 1990s. Some of us have won PTQs, Pro Tours, and top 8'ed GPs. Certainly not Kai Budde levels of talented, but we're talking the upper echelons of of the upper echelons of MTG play. I mention this just so you understand where my thought process is coming from. I certainly don't claim to know everything, but I do feel I have some depth of knowledge when it comes to competitive level Magic and you said you were also trying to consider your deck from a cEDH standpoint.
On to some analysis.
Let's start with Unwinding Clock. There is no doubt multiple untaps at the start of each player's turn is powerful, the question is what you have to give up or sacrifice or risk to be allowed that power. In the case of Unwinding Clock at 4 mana this means you will not, in a mono color deck, ever be reliably casting it prior to turn 3. At best you've got the 7 one cmc or less rocks plus Mishra's, Ancient Tomb and Gemstone Caverns that can help you get this card out on turn 2. Some of the ways to get it out that early don't even include mana rocks for it to actually untap. The much more common scenario is that you will be required to tap out to play it on the all important turn 3. In cEDH this is the turn where you MUST be able to threaten a win or threaten disrupting a win in order to even be considered competitively viable. The second you tap out to play Unwinding Clock on turn 3 in a truly competitive environment is the second it gets Nature's Claimed, Chain of Vapored, or just plain countered. Your defenses are now down and your opponents have one blue mage without the ability to interact that they don't even have to worry about giving them an opportunity to combo off. Urza, as a deck, just isn't going to be able to be as fast as Flash Hulk brews, FC brews, and occasionally even Gitrog, Yisan, and Selvala brews. Since the majority of games you will not be able to threaten a win on turn 3, much like CVT, you must threaten the ability to contest a win attempt. Tapping out to play a low value, high mana cost piece of ineffective board advancement is a good way to lose games at the competitive level. If you happened to have started with a Mana Crypt, Mox Diamond, and Sol Ring in your opening hand (the one type of scenario where playing Unwinding Clock super early is actually relevant) there are equally effective alternate lines to take that come with significantly less risk outside of that scenario. This card is a very high risk, medium reward play in the opening turns and not where a competitive level deck really wants to be. Not that I don't think Unwinding Clock can't be played in the right type of build, but it doesn't really advance Urza's game plan down a primary path and comes with too much risk. It might be perfectly fine for the games you regularly play in and if that's the case by all means run what works, I'm just trying to give you some perspective on how that play will fare against other decks that have the monetary value of a new car and players that can pilot those decks at a very high level.
As for Tabernacle, I think it's a fine card against those types of decks. It's why I included it in my original list. It was only during play testing that I realized the effectiveness wasn't at the level I needed it to be at to be effective in enacting my game plan. Urza is a deck that wants to get out Urza. That's how it does most of it's things. And Urza comes with friend. As mono blue there is less access to mana rocks than many other decks have which is partially offset by the commander turning other artifacts into mana rocks, sure. But the question that needs to be asked is do we really want to have to tap our Top to pay for our Urza? This limits our ability to interact with opponents at times to not have access to the top 3 cards of our library where the needed piece of interaction might be. And even if we can get to that piece of interaction, will there be enough mana to pay for using it if we are spending 2,3,5 mana per turn on tabernacle upkeeps? In the end play testing consistently has shown that Urza is a deck that does not want Tabernacle as part of it's main plan because the turns where it is most effective against opponents (the first 3) are the turns where it hurts Urza the most, preventing a fast ramped up start or sucking up the ramp resources to pay for the tax negating the point of the ramp. At competitive level play this is simply too constricting and causes more losses than it does wins per 100 games played.
When it comes to Tezzeret the issue this deck has when compared to CVT is that Tezzeret doesn't provide much value the turn he comes down and he's very mana intensive to play. For CVT, in the early game. he often grabs a needed Monolith immediately and if he sticks around generates more value but if he dies right after (which is the case 90% of the time) he's done his job providing the exact type of rock Teferi needs to allow his Chain Veil shenanigans, furthering that deck's primary game plan. In cEDH terms, while fine for that deck, it's already considered slow and a less effective strategy than others that are available to other decks. Most opening hands with Tezzeret in CFT are not considered keep worthy, despite it being a payoff card. His best use cases in that deck come after CVT has established some sort of board control (often with a Stasis) and Tezzeret can come out more safely to help break stasis parity and tick up to be used multiple times, or as an immediate tutor into play for Chain Veil on the turn Teferi is looking to go off (which is by far the most common use of him in that deck). Tezzeret, in that deck, fills the role of a late game finisher. In Urza we don't necessarily need just a Monolith in that fashion (another pieces is needed to go with it), and his ability to grab the primary artifact Urza wants isn't available when he's cast with only 4 loyalty. This would leave him filling the role of a 5 mana tutor for a stax piece in an Urza deck as his primary use case. While this isn't exactly a terrible thing, it's probably not the best thing Urza can do for 5 mana on turn 3 or 4 and comes with a fair amount of risk given the mana investment at that stage of the game. It's not that what he does won't help an Urza deck, it's more that what he does isn't likely to be the most ideal play in the most common use case scenario and just running him decreases opening hand consistency (already a major concern for mono blue in competitive play). At a competitive level that's not really where the deck wants to be.
When it comes to Fabricate at a competitive level it really boils down to this: Tutoring for Paradox Engine (the target I surmise you would be talking about that is outside the cmc target range of the tutor mages) outside of the turn you are able to actually go off telegraphs your intent and is liable to get wheeled away or otherwise impacted. Tutoring for it on the turn you can combo off is now an 8 mana investment all at one time at sorcery speed which severely limits Urza's ability to actually force it down through opposing interaction (Whir of Invention would at least be able to attempt this on an opposing endstep for the same mana cost leaving more mana available on Urza's turn without leaving an opening for wheeling away in the event it can't be played). Using Fabricate can be like putting a giant target on your back and saying "I'm about to go off guys, spend your resources on stopping me", which can often be counterproductive. It might even mean that because you shifted the burden of interaction on opponents to stopping you that a number of spells they would have otherwise spent on one another (allowing Urza a chance to go off unimpeded) are focused on Urza and none are left to prevent an opponent from now having the chance to go off. In the event Fabricate isn't being used on Paradox Engine then there are simply more efficient cards that provide more value that can tutor the same targets. This card becomes a case of essentially only being able to tutor for your primary win condition if everyone else at the table is already out of resources, and chances are if that is the case then a number of game winning lines are already also available aside from that one. Again, as with Tezzeret, it's not that this card won't do things Urza wants it to do, it's just that it's primary use case either isn't as efficient as something else or won't be an ideal play given the game state in a competitive level game.
As for Rhystic Study, I don't think taxing the Paradox Scepter player 1 mana from every tap/untap casting loop is really going to be effective... All too often in the competitive meta at the moment this card is a 3 mana investment that does literally nothing to impede an opponent and literally nothing to gain you an advantage. I absolutely would not run this card in any competitive environment right now, 99 times out of 100 it's simply a dead card, and the 100th time out of 100 it found use by being pitched to cast Force of Will. A simple Serum Visions would often be a superior card to run given the competitive meta at this current juncture in time. I'm much more inclined to give Verity Circle a shot with all the mana dorks dorking up the scene.
As for swapping in Sai, I think that's a fine choice. Blocks Tymna, can generate card advantage, can be a mana sink for Unwinding Clock should you run it, and it can generate mana rocks from casting mana rocks. I also tried Mirrodin Besieged and Trail of Evidence in this slot but felt the best performer by far was Sai given the ability to prevent Tymna draws.
Crystal Shard. People continuously underrate this card for this deck. Let me explain why it's probably the second most important card to run after Paradox Engine. First, every win condition in your current list is predicated on already having access to infinite mana. Crystal Shard is a win condition that does not require infinite mana, and that can generate infinite mana as well. It is a 2 card combo with Paradox Engine, as all that is really being looked for when Paradox Engine is being run is to allow repeated untap triggers. Crystal Shard can provide the means to generate infinite untap triggers by continuously replaying a card, meaning there is no need to rely on RNG or top decking more gas. Urza can simply use the gas in the command zone to generate infinite loops. This means that as long as you have access to Urza in play, Paradox Engine in play, Crystal Shard in play and at least 3 blue mana and 2 colorless mana from mana rocks (with Paradox Engine providing blue and Urza's construct often providing a second blue) you can win the game be infinitely recasting Urza. Each time he comes into play he also makes a new construct, which means this simultaneously generates an infinitely large army of infinitely large creatures as well as infinite mana. The combo requires only 2 cards that aren't mana rocks and a card in the command zone, making it efficient to assemble. All this in addition to the fact that it can provide some form of utility outside of winning by bouncing your own Urza to protect him from a board sweeper, bouncing an opponent's creature when tapped out, or forcing an opponent to pay a Tabernacle Tax to keep a creature out when Urza just happens to have 1 blue mana to spend on an end step with nothing else to do. It costs less mana to cast than something like a Jace and is much easier to cast being all colorless. It is easy to tutor for. It is, without doubt, a must run card for a competitive level Urza lists running a primary Paradox Engine game plan. It's a must remove piece if it lands on the board as Urza can threaten a win at any point in time with it out and if it DOES get removed the investment made to play it might have already been recouped in value generated by activations. An extremely low risk with extremely high reward play at any point in the game. Simply a must run card for competitive play in this deck.
As for Trophy Mage and Trinisphere, these are cards that should be played together in Urza lists that run more 3 drops than the average competitive deck runs. This is how Urza can generate value from Trinisphere, by playing a handful of 3 cmc spells that aren't affected by Trini Tax and by leveraging the turns where it would play those cards against opponents who would prefer to be playing mana positive mana rocks and mana dorks on those turns. With Urza out the card can be deactivated at will to return the game state to normal and not impact any other plays Urza itself might want to make. Meanwhile, any extra mana opponents had to spend at all on anything they played that cost less than 3 cmc is a boon for Urza. The key to playing Trinisphere in this deck is creating a situation where Urza doesn't care if it's on or if it's off, it's just another mana rock to Urza, but your opponents do, drawing interaction on a card that isn't part of the primary game plan and that is only really affecting opponents from advancing board state. Without a good density of 3 cmc spells to make use of this, and in particular Trophy Mage to search those pieces up, I would not run this card. In a properly constructed deck however this is a card that can generate value by warping how opponents play and causing them to evaluate the board state incorrectly. As to whether or not this is an ideal strategy to employ for Urza decks I must admit I am not certain, I know that it has borne some fruit in testing so far, but I am not at all certain it's the most optimized path to take and will certainly be testing some different card packages employing other strategies as well.
Aether Spellbomb is never a dead slot. It provides useful interaction to the board at all stages of the game on demand (and that doesn't have to tap to provide this benefit), is a 1 cmc mana rock with Urza out, and can provide (with Candelabra and Academy Ruins) a loop with Paradox Engine that generates infinite mana in addition to providing a loop that can generate an infinitely large army of infinitely large creatures (depending on how many mana rocks are out with Urza and Engine it an do both at the same time). The most common loop is just infinite man with Candlebra out, Paradox Engine out, Urza and his Construct out, Etherium Sculptor out, Academy Ruins in play and any one other random artifact out. Looping the Spellbomb draw to draw itself and recast it generates infinite mana in that situation which is a lot better than tapping all those artifacts for one Urza Exile Cast and taking a chance on that card being a land. It's a win condition, piece of utility interaction, ramp, and source of card advantage all at 1 cmc of colorless mana. I would not consider it a must run in decks that don't have access to Candelabra and Ruins, but in Urza lists that are running those 2 it is without a doubt a must run card for competitive level play.
In terms of interaction stuff for competitive level play I think I should mention how our play group has come to view the required level of interactivity for a top tier competitive deck. We, as a group, unanimously, no longer consider decks like Food Chain Tazri, Breakfast Hulk anything, Doomsday/Shimmer Zur, etc to be top tier competitive. They simply waste too many card slots on combo pieces and are generally running about 13-15 pieces of interaction (which is right where your current list is). These decks don't have enough interaction to win longer and grindier matches against Paradox Scepter X decks (as the Paradox Scepter combos are much more compact and card slot efficient) and aren't fast enough to win consistently against the cheap and effective interaction of top tier competitive decks. Every deck we play that we consider top tier competitive at the moment is running 20+ pieces of interaction with extreme card slot efficiency and relying on loops to win games using the interaction pieces themselves. This doesn't mean they can't lose to decks like Breakfast Hulk (turn 1 flash combo when going first in a pod is a thing, it happens a certain small percentage of the time), but these decks are winning the majority of the time against pods that consist of those types of decks. More than 50%, which is an absolutely absurd win rate. This is the standard being used to measure competitive level decks in the meta at this point. Urza, no matter how constructed, simply can't compete with that consistently, but that doesn't mean that Urza can't get on the same level as Zur, Hulk, Tazri, Selvala, Yisan, and the like and it will certainly be a better deck than things like CVT if constructed properly.
Hopefully some of this insight proves useful for you in the future, and if anything said by any means caused any offense please understand that is not at all my intent here. I'm by no means a perfect player or deck builder and as the only player in our group with zero lifetime Pro points am even probably the worst player in our group. I just love talking competitive level edh, it's easily the most fun format for me these days and I feel like there's always something in it for me to learn and improve at despite 25 years of MTG knowledge and experience. Any time I get a chance to discuss things at that level with another individual is a chance I relish and enjoy and it has certainly been a pleasure so far to compare notes with you. I've even picked up Verity Circle for testing in my flex slots because I checked this deck out!
Trail of Evidence occurrence in decks from the last year
Commander / EDH:
All decks: 0.0%