Around the time that Urza was revealed I had been playing chain veil Teferi for a over two years, and at that time felt that the deck was in quite the slump. The prevalence of creatures strewn across the battlefield were not only difficult to interact with in a mono-blue deck but posed a threat to using the commander as card advantage. Furthermore: it was untenable to compete on the card advantage axis in the face of Tymna/Thrasios, and without a significant density of creatures the deck had few ways to stave off players drawing 2-3 extra cards a turn. Urza immediately upgraded artifact centric blue decks by being cheap, providing two effective blockers, mana advantage, and an infinite mana outlet in the command zone. Urza is more resilient as creatures are not only more difficult to remove/counter than planewalkers but isn’t as susceptible to hate. With the advantages offered by Urza I set about experimenting.

By pivoting away from Teferi we had to drop the namesake combo of the deck, chain veil. This wasn’t a huge loss in my mind since it incentivised playing over-costed mana rocks like basalt monolith and gilded lotus, as well of course as the eponymous chain veil. Instead we got to dramatically lower the mana curve and include a host of cheap artifacts. I’m a firm believer in the turbo xerox philosophy as it allows us to use all our mana every turn and grants an additional element of explosiveness to surprise our opponents and win out of nowhere. I’ve included a large number of cantrips (brainstorm, preordain, ponder, impulse, sleight of hand, gitaxian probe) to find our missing pieces or interaction as well as many free artifacts (mishra’s bauble, urza’s bauble, everflowing chalice, lotus petal, jeweled amulet) all of which either cantrip or produce mana in a failure case while acting a mox sapphires when Urza is around.

The abuse of “symmetrical” artifact-based mana denial by Urza is one of the most attractive aspects of the deck. Not only are we better prepared for a long grindy game than most decks but being able to tap them with Urza so that they are one-sided is the single strongest aspect of this deck. Trinisphere, static orb, and winter orb all heavily tax our opponents, and require them to assembly their combos over the course of several turns, making them much easier to interact with on the stack. I tried stasis as a carry over from teferi, but with no real way to break symmetry it wasn’t as powerful or consistent other options. Back to basics remains hugely punishing against so many decks, and with the prevalence of tainted pact there aren’t many ways for decks to play around it. Grafdigger’s cage is similarly effective at attacking a metagame overrun with flash hulk and Kess decks. Unfortunately, cursed totem wasn’t possible to leverage since it shuts off our own win condition. Most games involve searching for one or more of these hate pieces to slow everyone else down enough to overtake them in the late game.

The dark times came unexpectedly when paradox engine was martyred. This was a huge blow to the deck since it allowed Urza to easily win through null rod effects, and with such a density of cheap artifacts to trigger and tap Urza made great use of engine. It is my opinion that the printing and subsequent strength of Urza was one of the driving forces behind the paradox engine ban. I won’t linger on the subject for too long as it is far too painful, and progress should be our focus. Structurally the only changes the ban induced was that I had to converge more completely on dramatic scepter by removing engine and voltaic key to make room for another cantrip and reshape.

The loss of paradox engine also induced my research into future sight with a cost reducer and top. This proved too difficult to execute since not only is five mana a lot, but a triple blue casting cost is daunting. I liked the additional avenue of attack, but as a value engine over the course of a long game future sight is mediocre, only being truly excellent when executing the combo. Instead I’ve opted to replace future sight with the cheaper, and less cost intensive mystic forge. Similarly, the range of possible cost reducers (cloud key, helm of awakening, etc.) was narrowed down to just the Etherium Sculptor. Conveniently this combo is entirely composed of artifacts which are not only synergistic with Urza but are much easier to tutor for than any other card type. I’ve been impressed by this combination since each piece is individually powerful, providing sources of card advantage and selection, and mana acceleration.

Proteus staff and its partner in crime tidespout tyrant were long time considerations, though I found there were too many hoops to jump through to achieve this, and neither is particularly powerful without Urza in play. There is also a very real deckbuilding restriction to playing no creatures, and the need for tutors in mono-blue makes tribute mage, trinket mage, and spellseeker indispensable. Gilded drake is the best creature removal in the entire format, snapcaster provides valuable card advantage while contesting the board (and making any Tymna think twice about attacking into two open mana) and Etherium sculptor is part of a combo. Overall the opportunity cost is too high to force in a combo which is itself not particularly good in the first place. I’ve played around extensively with both Sai and Jace, Vryn’s prodigy, both of which I’ve found to be too slow and provide painfully medium advantage. By the time Sai is in play I’d have wanted to cast most of my artifacts, and there isn’t an abundance of sacrifice fodder to make the second ability useful, mostly he recoup one mana from any artifact, but Etherium sculptor already does that by reducing the up-front cost. Jace is just too slow, and the flashback comes too late to be convenient. Planeswalkers must provide substantial value immediately or such a powerful effect that their liability it worth it. In the case of this deck that limits the choices to Tezzeret, since he can tutor for artifacts and Narset, since her static effect limits other decks.

Gameplan: This deck doesn’t have to ability to outrace the fastest decks in the format since assembling the combos requires either multiple tutors or several different pieces to all be simultaneously on the battlefield, moreover this opens you up to some degree of risk since playing a combo out piecemeal allows your opponents to prepare themselves with interaction or remove the pieces. Instead waiting for one player to “go for it” first and exhausting the board of resources before untapping an making use of all your mana to fight through whatever interaction is left over. To this end slowing your opponents down should be your number one priority. Knowledge of the format is paramount to determine which piece of hate you should find first, though it is usually static orb or graftdigger’s cage. Ideally you can have both in play early to safeguard yourself against both Kess and Hulk variants. If you have Urza in play static/winter orb and trinisphere will all likely lead to your victory, but this deck is able to operate well under these pieces so don’t be afraid to drop them down before Urza resolves to grind the game to a safe standstill. Worth mentioning of course is back to basics, which is perhaps the single best stax piece in the deck given the prevalence of three and four colour decks, though there are unfortunately no ways to tutor for it.

Once you’ve slowed the game down to a crawl by restricting your opponents access to mana you can begin pressuring their life totals with your large construct, ideally aiming for the player who has the most advanced boardstate or else is likely to assemble their combo quickly. Consider prioritizing players who use their life total as a resource through ad nauseum/necropotence and leaving the players who have access to counter magic alive so they can leverage it to stop anyone from going off explosively. Ideally the pressure will mount as you assemble more interaction/stax/cards until one player tries to go off half-cocked and the table fights to stop them. After resources have been exhausted or you feel it is safe to do so, dump your win conditions into play in one turn, preferably with either countermagic backup or under trinisphere so you know your opponents can’t interact. The mystic forge combo can be assembled one piece at a time and is safer to do so with, however the eponymous forge itself should usually be deployed last as it often sparks the most directed response.

As this is an adaptive deck to play your style will depend a great deal on the decks you’re playing against and the texture of your hand. Given how much mana acceleration is packed into this list you’re certainly able to quickly dump your hand and deploy an early Urza. From that point your most powerful play is to either win (obviously) by assembling a combo, but more realistically it is to play windfall/Twister/Spiral to refill your hand and disrupt your opponents’ gameplans. If you have a hand with few sourced of acceleration and/or are part of a pod with faster decks, you should focus instead on holding up interaction and trying to deploy mana denial permanents, in fact doing so before resolving Urza is often an effective way to ensure that he resolves since few people want to heavily commit to a counter-magic fight with stax pieces in play knowing they won’t be able to untap their mana sources. Pick your hate pieces carefully, if you’re playing against a Hulk/Yisan/Kess/JVP list then grafdigger’s cage is a superstar, static orb though is almost always your best card across most matchups. Comparing the two cards on the basis of incremental card advantage is fundamentally inappropriate. While there are certainly instances where they can be resolved and protected behind a wall of countermagic, these are few and far between and tapping out for a 4/5 mana sorcery is a recipe for disaster, especially when that spell doesn't immediately accrue value. Notably this is because you need to pay mana to cast the spells off the top.

Future sight versus mystic forge: Advantages of future sight over mystic forge include: 1. Being able to cast ~3 x more of the spells in your deck. You can play lands and any non-artifact permanenta you wish. Notably the high density of countermagic makes for many awkward reveals, so it's not like every can is a win. Also playing lands isn't exactly the kind of value you want so that's hardly a highlight either.

Advantages of mystic forge over future sight: 1. Four mana is fewer than five. This is even more important if you're hard casting your whole combo (sculptor, top, MF) since it's 5 mana with the cost reduction where as FS will be 8. That's a huge difference and allows you to combo out both sooner and with countermagic backup. 2. Being an artifact means it is tutorable by 6 (fabricate, whir, transmute, reshape, tezzeret, inventors fair) other cards in your deck. Having access to forge when you have your other, easily tutorable pieces makes it much more reliable and consistent. Future sight is a prayer. 3. It can clear the top of your library, meaning you get to look at the top 2 instead of top. This doubles the number of hits you get. 4. You look not reveal so your opponents don't get free information on every single card you draw. I can't emphasize enough how important this is, knowledge is power and your opponents will know exactly what your capable of doing. This is further compounded in multiplayer since you can be forced to use your interaction by players earlier in the turn order. 5. UUU2 isn't a trivial colour restriction, although urza is best equiped to pay a steep blue cost, he isn't always in play and therebare many colourless producers which can be taken advantage of, eespecially if you'd like to holdbup UU.

Basically both FS and MF are poor value cards so should primarily be compared on the basis of their ability to combo. The only advantage FS has is in grindy situations to be used as a value engine. For the above reasons mystic forge is better.

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Date added 4 months
Last updated 1 month
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.01
Rarity (main - side)

10 - 0 Mythic Rares

38 - 0 Rares

19 - 0 Uncommons

31 - 0 Commons

Tokens 1/1 Construct, 2/2 Manifest, 1/1 Bird
Folders Uncategorized, cEDH, Blue, Ideas, edh, Commander ideas, cool decks, 1
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