Infinite Research


With the banning of Mox Opal, the original infinite combo no longer works, which is a real shame even though I support the ban. There is a mox free version of the combo using desperate ritual, but it's at least one turn slower than the mox version.

There is also a new alternate combo win where you research for 3 copies of repeated reverberation and go off as described in the section for it below, it has some drawbacks compared to the infinite combo but it also has the significant upside of not requiring any specific maindeck cards aprt from enabler+sunforger, and also it's a two card combo as opposed to 3, so it allows us to remove the wheel and the desperate ritual for a more consistent deck. Testing indicates this is the way to go, so with some melancholic feelings I am removing the infinite combo from the deck now. I will leave the name as a tribute to the combo that was, and to not confuse people who migh be following the development of the deck.

Another major update is the change to a snow manabase with astrolabe, this removes the ramp aspect of signets but gives you more turn 1 plays, shrinks the effective size of the deck and makes blood moon irrelevant. So I think it's definitely better. It's plausible astrolabe gets banned at some point, but it's easy enough to switch back to signets if that happens.

The Stoneforge Mystic unban is a BIG deal for this deck, replacing Steelshaper's Gift, upping the much needed creature saturation and making Batterskull a major early threat and alternate gameplan.

On top of that we are getting a new enabler with Throne of Eldraine, Fervent Champion is everything Kazuul wishes he was and then some. Equips sunforgers for free, has haste and first strike and on top of that he's a one drop, making the prospect of comboing off early much more plausible. The only downside is that he doesn't have Kazuul's ability to sidestep Stony silence and Karn, but I think it's still a no-brainer replacement as 1 vs 3 cmc alone is so huge.

The problem I've run into when trying to build Sunforger decks is inconsistency and protecting the key creatures, the best Sunforger targets are often not very good on the draw and makes it hard to reliably get a Sunforger Engine out quickly.

The idea of this deck is to reduce these problems by keeping all the fancy toolbox cards in the sideboard, and instead maindecking tutors, protection and mana fixers to quickly set up and protect your Sunforger engine, and then use Research/Development to access the toolbox as needed. This deck also sports three maindeck combo wins to end the game quickly, as well as the stoneblade threat/value package of Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull + Swords.

These videos are from before the unbanning of SFM and printing of Fervent Champion and Repeated Reverberation, therefore they are quite out of date and unfortunately show a much weaker version of the deck. The current version is A LOT stronger. I will update with new videos asap, but I'll leave them here because they still show off the general concept pretty well. Decktech: Gameplay:
Your core gameplan revolves around abusing the card Sunforger in a number of ways. Either to win fast through one of the combos detailed later in the primer, or to control the game by using sunforger activations to answer and disrupt your opponent, and using Research to restock your deck with the answers you need.

Thanks to the unbanning of Stoneforge Mystic, replacing the 4 Steelshaper's Gifts the list had previously, we now also have a much stronger alternate midrange gameplan, where the usual stoneblade package can either replace the Sunforger strategy or complement it. Stoneforge Mystic can be such a strong threat in itself that your opponent is ofter pressured to spend resources to kill it, and since we are basically just using it as a tutor for sunforger most of the time this takes a lot of pressure off of our main game plan. Also just the increase in creature density by 4 is huge as well, getting stuck with equipments and nothing to put them on used to be a problem, but it really isn't anymore as you'll topdeck a creature much more often and SFM can wear a Sunforger or a sword herself. Fervent champion is also a great sword wielder as well as a sunforger enabler, SFM into sword plus champion swings with an equipped sword on turn 3, making the option of not getting batterskull (with the risk that play always has of skull sitting dead in hand due to them killing SFM turn 2) much more pleasing. But enough about the stoneblade package, you can read more about that in any SFM or stoneblade deck discussion, on to the good stuff!

Puresteel Paladin is the most powerful enabler if you can establish metalcraft fast, but Fervent Champion is better if you're short on artifacts since it doesn't need metalcraft to set up for Sunforger, and he's also a turn faster. In most cases either of them will do the job, and it's usually a good idea to only have one at a time in play and keep copies in your hand.

If you only have one enabler in hand, you can lead with a Spellskite to protect it, depending on matchup it's often worth a turn to secure against removal.

If your enabler + Sunforger is out but unprotected leave WR untapped so your opponent thinks you have an answer to removal in the library even if you don't. (but hopefully you should)

Once Sunforger is set up you'll want to find an opportunity to either cast Research to restock your toolbox and tune it to counter your opponents deck, or to simply find a way to combo off and win.

Remember that you don't need to reveal the cards you fetch with Research, it's pretty nice to see your opponent trying to second guess you over which weird answers you brought in this time. This allows you to be more unpredictable.

The Development half of Research/Development is useful in a pinch when you're not drawing the cards you need, since it either creates pressure or digs.

Inkmoth Nexus provides another combo win: Activate Inkmoth Nexus, forge/cast Boros Charm to give it double strike, attach a Sunforger and swing for 10 infect. This can steal a win from under the radar when your opponent is focused on stopping your infinite combo or control game. This is usually not viable unless Puresteel Paladin is out to provide the free equip on the inkmoth, but with him out it is another possible turn 4 win.

Example turn 4 infect win:

  • Turn 1: land, anything
  • Turn 2: land, Paladin
  • Turn 3: Inkmoth nexus, Sunforger
  • Turn 4: land, Any of the 4 free artifacts, execute infect combo as per above (the inkmoth being the 3rd artifact for metalcraft.

There are a number of combinations involving less lands and more ramp etc.

Inkmoth is also pretty good when you're down to just lands and artifacts, like after a board wipe against a control deck and so on. It's cheap to put a sword on and 2 swings with a Sunforger is lethal. At the very least this threat can force your opponent to leave up interaction so you have more time to draw into more outs.

The third combo win involves casting Research, usually in your opponents end step in a situation you can be sure to pull this combo off, to put the 3 copies of Repeated Reverberation in your deck (4th research slot can be anything). This also requires having a Sunforger + enabler in play + 4 mana(rrww).

Then on your turn, you forge for Repeated Reverberation, then for Manamorphose ramping you to 6 mana (if you have 6 mana naturally you can skip this step), then you forge for Reverberation again, and then again for the third Reverberation (making 3 copies) followed by the final activation getting a burn spell which will be copied 6 times.

This means a Boros charm deals 7x4=28 damage and a bolt 7x3=21 damage, so you need to keep your opponents life total and which burn spells are left in your library in mind when deciding to go for this. You can, of course, go for copying some other spell if 21/28 damage isn't enough and thereby generate a winning position. 7 copies of Kolaghan's Command, Wrecking ball or whatever should put you in a pretty comfortable position to win next turn, and you can conveniently get that spell with the 4th Research slot too.

The Manamorphose ramping step can unfortunately fizzle this combo by accidentally drawing into a Repeated Reverberation, which is why having 6 natural mana is a bit safer and preferable if possible.

This is normally not a turn 4 kill but rather a turn 4 EoT Research into turn 5 kill or something you do later in the game in an opportune moment to win on the spot. If you get some crazy ramp hands you can actually pull it off faster, or even without ramp you can potentially go Champion>Research(fxing UG with a Manamorphose)>Sunforger>combo kill on turn 4. The problem with that is you are leaving a gap between researching and comboing which isn't ideal, it leaves a window to kill your enabler and then you're stuck with Repeated Reverberations in your deck that you don't want to draw into.

It's worth mentioning that the deck can also do very explosive normal damage and attacks. Especially now that we have Stoneforge mystic and Fervent champion. It's perfectly viable to cobble together a win with just some interaction and the right sword or batterskull as well, the swords also have great value plays with the double strike from Boros Charm.

Example turn 4 damage win:

  • Turn 1: land, Fervent Champion, attack for 1.
  • Turn 2: Land, Anything. For example Stoneforge mystic fetching Sunforger.
  • Turn 3: Land, Sunforger, equip and attack for 5 (alternately play the Champion this turn and put Sunforger into play with SFM)
  • Turn 4: land, forge for boros charm giving champion double strike, attack for 10, forge for another boros charm to deal 4 damage for a total of 20.

This is probably the most straightforvard and consistent turn 4 goldfish because it only involves Champion + Sunforger or equipment tutor (which you have time to cast on turn 2) and 4 mana, which is a state that quite a lot of starting hands can reach, unfortunately it is also the easiest to interact with since it requires non-evasive attacking and can just be chump blocked by anything. One advantage is that not many opponents expects the ability to deal 14 damage on turn 4 with just those 2 permanents out (especially if your hand is empty), so it's quite common that aggro decks sitting at about 10-14 life just attacks you thinking they are the much faster deck and have at least another turn to kill you. So it can be quite an unexpected wincon just like the infect kill.

As you can see there are plenty of early wins to be had with the deck, and most of them involve sunforger, but the deck can reach some strong game states without it or hold out for a while to get there.

Puresteel Paladin + Paradise Mantle + metalcraft allows you to tap all your creatures for mana. Fervent Champion + Paradise Mantle also ramps you as early as turn 1. Astrolabe gives mana fixing.

In order to consistently find Sunforger we are running 4 Stoneforge Mystic, these can also be used to tutor up the other equipments in the deck and go for a more traditional stoneblade strategy if the sunforger plan seems bad at the time.

Stony Silence: This shuts down quite a lot of our cards and is one of the most popular cards to side in against us. You research and sideboard for your 4 enchantment removal: Hide/Seek, Scour, Wear / Tear and Utter End. I usually side in the 2 cheap ones against white decks game 2 in case they board in stony and then if they do I get the other 2 as well for game 3.

Damping Matrix: Actually a little harder to beat than Stony Silence for us but not nearly as common, otherwise dealt with the same way except there are fewer removal cards available.

Artifact removal spells: People often bring in stuff like Naturalize and Disenchant etc against our deck. That isn't actually that bad for us as we can employ more or less the same protective measures as we do against creature removal and they are weakening their deck to bring that in. If they side out creature removal to bring in artifact removal it can even improve the matchup for us since it's easier to grind through a split removal suite than one focused on either creatures or artifacts.

Pithing Needle: Similar to Stony Silence and Damping Matrix and dealt with along the same lines. One of the harder cards to deal with as it's sometimes a maindeck card that comes down game 1 when we have less answers, otherwise same plan as for those cards.

Kataki, War's Wage: This is another less common but very effective counter against us. Luckily is should only take 1 Sunforger activation to get rid of, so the plan is to simply remove it. If we can't remove it that means playing artifacts more conservatively, for example not playing multiple sunforgers, and try to find a window to play and activate the same turn.

This is where the real fun of playing this deck is!

There are so many cards you can cast off Sunforger, and therefore there is great flexibility in building the sideboard as well. You can go for modern staple white and red instant cards that are easy to hardcast and therefore friendly to board in (which is probably the most competitive approach), you can go for a host of powerful controlling cards and counterspells or you can go for weird complex tricks. Here is my current sideboard:

Advent of the Wurm: Instant body, just nice to have. I find it's never a bad idea to throw in some additional access to bodies in decks that are thin on creatures like this one.

Boil: Make blue decks hate you.

Crackling Doom: A good way to deal with creatures that can't be removed with spot removal. Typically indestructible or hexproof creatures etc. The great thing about this spell, compared to alternatives like Blessed Alliance or Dispense Justice, is that it forces your opponent to sac their largest creature and also can be used before attacks to avoid attack triggers from eldrazi titans and such. This makes it much better at dealing with Emrakul or bogles. Another great thing is that it is "each opponent" so it doesn't need to target the enemy player, which makes it work through things like Leyline of Sanctity.

Hide/Seek: A very flexible little card, get rid of that mindslaver in a way that can't be brought back with academy ruins, remove Emrakul from their deck in response to Nahiri/Tooth and nail/Polymorph etc. And against Angel's Grace and such you can finish the infinite combo in style by just chaining seek to remove their whole deck and pass the turn.

Jund Charm: Graveyard hate and wipe against wide boards. One great thing about it is that if you can cast it twice in a turn (with wheel) you can use the first casting to protect your enabler with the +2 counters so it survives the wipe.

Kolaghan's Command: Just plain good modern staple solving many kinds of problems.

Ojutai's Command: Very versatile answer, great for bringing back Paladin and for stabilising against aggro.

Punish Ignorance: Probably the most flavorful card to pair with research, and it's also a pretty good counterspell when cast through Sunforger. A little clunky to cast from the hand sometimes so it should be used mostly when you can chain reseach into a sunforger activation the same turn.

Render Silent: Great counterspell, if you get this going with wheel/forger it resembles an isochron/silence lock as well. This is also the best counterspell against Bloodbraid Elf and other cascade cards as the silence effect stops the cascaded spell from being cast.

Scour: Supercharged enchantment removal, one of the more common cards to board in game two expecting Stony Silence.

Settle the Wreckage: So powerful with Sunforger it's not even funny.

Utter End: Sometimes you just need to remove something without compromises, planeswalkers usually.

Wear/Tear: Since we really don't like facing cards like Stony Silence, Pithing Needle and Damping Matrix, it's good to have some hate that is also easy to cast from our hand, so this goes in game 2 against white decks pretty much every time along with hide/seek.

Wrecking Ball: Land hate, can also kill creatures.

Here are some other Sunforger targets that I like using, some are good and some are just awesome or hilarious.

Congregation at Dawn: Creature tutor that can be good at recovering from removal and wipes, also a combo piece for Drooling Ogre.

Mirrorweave: A board wipe effect when targeting a germ token, and the second combo piece for Drooling Ogre.

Drooling Ogre: One of the most outrageous tricks with Sunforger, and also pretty redundant because if you can do this you can probably win in a simpler way, but who doesn't like to show off? You need Research plus an artifact in your hand, an equipped sunforger and enough mana, which is going to be WRUG the first turn and 4+the cost of the artifact the second turn. In opponents end step Research for Drooling Ogre, Congregation at Dawn and Mirrorweave, forge for Congregation at Dawn putting Drooling Ogre on top. On your turn draw and play the Ogre, forge for Mirrorweave targeting the Ogre, play the artifact and steal all your opponents creatures.

Vanish into Memory is a wonderful card with Sunforger. It can kill tokens, it can protect your enablers, it can draw you insane amounts of cards. It's great against nasty transformer lands, big tokens and all sorts of things.

Wild Ricochet is awesome to answer any kind of targeted removal or burn spell, usually much better than a normal counter.

Master Warcraft let's you swing things for lethal like inkmoth with sunforger etc, or buys you a turn if your opponent would be able to swing for lethal against you.

Dawn Charm is a great defensive option that is also easy to side in or mainboard, with wheel out it can be used to lock down the game against some decks.

There are lots of more possible cards out there, but in tournament play I've found so far that the best way is to pack up on different kinds of counters, damage dealers and removals. The more fancy tricks I usually only use in casual play.

Here is a readymade search for all legal Sunforger targets in Modern so you can forge in your own fabulous style.

So a lot of people who likes the idea have asked this. The short answer is I don't really know, I'm not going to big events and a positive win record on MTGO isn't something to read all that much into.

The long answer is it's meta dependent, as you do struggle a bit in a meta with too much artifact hate. Uninterrupted the deck goldfishes turn 4 kills quite well, so in a meta where interaction is low and kills happen turn 4-5 it's pretty good. I also have to point out two major weaknesses: 1. This deck has no real sideboard, you are sacrificing a normal sideboard for a research wishboard, which probably isn't a very competitive concept at high levels. 2. The deck is pretty wild, I mean it's complex as hell. The SFM stoneblade package adds a lot of resiliance and an alternate gameplan but there is still a lot of moving parts and things that can go wrong. I would probably not play this deck if I wanted to win big events even though it's quite successful in my online casual play (tournament practice queue on MTGO) and my LGS tournaments.


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+4 Arcum's Astrolabe main
-3 Boros Signet main
-1 Godless Shrine main
-1 Inspiring Vantage main
-1 Lightning Bolt main
+2 Marsh Flats main
-1 Mountain main
-2 Mox Opal main
+1 Paradise Mantle main
-1 Plains main
+2 Ranger-Captain of Eos main
-1 Rugged Prairie main
-1 Sacred Foundry main
+2 Snow-Covered Mountain main
+4 Snow-Covered Plains main
-1 Spire of Industry main
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