Commander Legends is fully spoiled, and with it one of my favorite toys for brewing has just had a massive injection of new cards: Partners! With 40 new Partners to choose from, the options have shot through the roof (105 to 1485, discounting the Piper, to be precise). Names from all over the Multiverse are getting new or even their first printings, and strategies of all sorts are being given new twists. This week, a couple of those partners are bringing an Artifact-based strategy to a color combination that usually shies away from them, with Armix and Ich-Tekik!
Armix is an aggressive little bot, wanting to rumble early and often, while tossing cards in the bin to fuel their shredding of enemy boards. Without any help, a repeatable -1/-1 on attack can be problematic, sniping utility creatures that would be kept out of combat otherwise, and pitching a single artifact each time can build up pretty quickly. That’s not even counting how many others are in play. Ich-Tekik also cares about artifacts finding their way to the graveyard, though he wants to see them in play first. Any time any artifact dies, though, he and all your golems (hey, lookie there, Armix is a golem) get bigger. The +1/+1 counters mostly just enable a more brutal beating on your foes, but there’s a few other tricks to be had with them.
The deck plays out much like a typical Green-Black recursion deck, grinding out incremental advantages turn after turn and wearing opponents down that just can’t keep the engine at bay. However, the shift in focus to artifacts opens a few different avenues up to the strategy, borrowing a few elements from Eggs shells to dig into your deck and set up for some explosive finishes or fast starts. The core of the deck is built around artifacts entering and leaving your graveyard while getting as much value as possible each time they do.
The first stop in doing so are some of the cards that break down your baubles to break down your opponent’s permanents. In addition to Armix, the Herald of Anguish can shred opposing boards, picking off small creatures especially well. The additional ability to tax your foes’ hands is just gravy, especially with how early the demon can show up and start beating down. Sylvok Replica and Executioner’s Capsule don’t sacrifice other artifacts, but taking an opposing card down with them is just fine. Especially with Ich-Tekik, the Replica can be a potent on-board trick for your golems, as blowing up another artifact will yield two +1/+1 counters, not just one!
Turning scrap metal into useful effects is a hallmark of the deck, and as such there are plenty of ways to do just that. Ich-Tekik adores the Throne of Geth, especially as the trigger will resolve before the proliferate ability, so even if the chair is the start of the chain, it’ll still hit all the golem buffs immediately, as well as the other cards that don’t mind a few extra counters stacked on top of them. Krark-Clan Ironworks is as good as it always is, turning extra iron into extra mana to power out huge plays or fuel endless loops. Newcomer Ingenuity Engine is a bit hefty in price, but Cascade is too much fun to pass up, and cracking some of your eggs to put the Engine or other big ETB effect back into your hand over and over is probably worth the mana.
With all these artifacts heading into the graveyard, it’s important that they don’t just languish there. Glissa, the Traitor hangs out with her favorite Capsule here just fine, but also is a fantastic teammate for Armix as long as the frenzied shredder takes out an opposing creature with each attack, making something akin to a build-your-own Squee for artifacts. The Myr Retriever hangs out with a Junk Diver, staples for this sort of strategy, happy to dive into the trash heap to pull something out in turn. Scrap Trawler joins the Ironworks to fuel the same shenanigans that tormented Modern for a time, while also just ensuring that you have a steady supply of cards going back to your hand and the board for your Commander Tag Team.
With all these machines tearing metal apart, there’s sure to be a few sharp edges laying around to make life difficult for your opponents. Noxious Gearhulk is a beefy Chupacabra that fits all the boxes this deck wants (short of being a golem, but constructs are a close second). It even nets a bit of life, which can be a huge boon for this deck. The Meteor Golem might be a little pricey, but it does what it needs to well, and with Ich-Tekik it can even be a truly relevant threat in short order. Meanwhile, while it’s also a construct and not a golem, the Walking Ballista is happy to be anything from a 0-cost artifact to feed loops to a massive game-ending missile salvo.
Sometimes, though, precision isn’t necessary, and things just need to get torn up. When it comes time for that, Casualties of War can tag a massive range of problem permanents and net some serious value. Windgrace’s Judgment is in a similar boat, making you spread it across all your opponents but allowing you to double up on permanent types if necessary. The big haymaker is All is Dust, and while this deck has more colored permanents than many of the artifact decks I like to toss this into, it definitely still has a home, leaving behind most of our engine pieces while devastating the rest of the table.
Everything has a use, but for some cards, their use is in being broken down to feed others. Treasure Keeper makes a pretty good Cascade impersonation every time it dies, chaining into other spells and grinding out that advantage bit by bit. Solemn Simulacrum fixes colors, ramps into bigger spells, and then draws you cards when it bites it. You can even keep it around and make it huge with Ich-Tekik if you want to make your sad robot swole instead. Ichor Wellspring is joined by its Mycosynth counterpart, as well as Commander’s Sphere, Golden Egg, Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot, and more as cheap artifacts that replace themselves and then sit in play to be broken down for Ich-Tekik, and fueling Armix wherever they are.
With all these artifacts cycling through the graveyard, a few effects that trigger off their passage can’t go amiss. There aren’t many in the deck, but the ones that made the cut are potent. Sly Requisitioner churns out a hefty supply of Servos in short order, that can simply go wide to beat down, or can serve as even more fuel for all the different engines in the deck. The Marionette Master is expensive, but it makes a fantastic impression of a Blood Artist for the deck. While it doesn’t gain you life, the option for each trigger to take out significant chunks of your opponent’s life totals makes up for it easily.
With +1/+1 counters and artifacts running around, it was inevitable that a few Modular creatures made it into the list. While only one is a Golem to pick up counters from Ich-Tekik, it’s a doozy. Arcbound Reclaimer can simply grow to massive proportions in preparation to dump all the counters onto a different creature, or it can bleed off all that steam to recur artifacts over and over. The Ravager is as terrifying as ever, offering a free, repeatable sac outlet and a massive infusion of counters for a cheap cost. The Scrapyard Recombiner trades that growth and repeatability for a powerful tutoring ability. Sure, it can’t hunt up Golems, but Constructs are a great second option, including Walking Ballista, Metalwork Colossus, and Scrap Trawler.
Now, the deck doesn’t go hard on Golem Tribal, but it would be a shame not to include a few cards that make them to help Ich-Tekik really pop off. The Legendary Splicer is joined by his two Green cohorts from New Phyrexia, the Maul Splicer and Vital Splicer. Maul is expensive, but the pair of bodies and trample work insanely well with Ich-Tekik’s ability to grow all of them, while the Vital Splicer can help protect the tokens as well as some of the other big boys banging around in the deck. Golden Guardian can be finicky to flip, but there are plenty of options, and once it is, the land is both a nice influx of mana and a resilient source of sizable tokens even without your Commander’s help.
The beef doesn’t stop there, though. Salvage Titan is a chunky creature, if a little fragile on the back end, but it can come down with an alternate cost that’s easy to pay and even beneficial in plenty of board states. Its recursion ability is a bit on the steep side, but in a pinch, bringing the Golem back to your hand to replay might just be worth it. The Metalwork Colossus is in a similar vein, offering a huge body for an easily discounted rate, and with a much less abrasive ability to bring itself back. Phyrexian Triniform joins Wurmcoil Engine as a large body that leaves behind small ones, trading the lifelink and deathtouch for the new Encore mechanic, which can make an absolute army of tokens when all is said and done.
Creating an implacable death machine that slowly and methodically marches over your opponents is all well and good, but sometimes you need to flip the switch and bust out a doomsday weapon cobbled together from scrap. Assembling an Arcbound Reclaimer alongside Ich-Tekik, a Krark-Clan Ironworks, and an Ichor Wellspring results in your entire deck in your hand and even more options at your disposal. All you need to do is sac the Wellspring to the KCI, then with the draw trigger on the stack, use the Reclaimer to put it back on top of your deck. Ich-Tekik will replace the counter on the Reclaimer while pumping any other Golems, and you’ll end up with the Wellspring back in your hand and the two mana to cast it again. Do that, draw a card from the ETB, then repeat until you find what you need. Swapping the Wellspring for a Golden Egg results in a loop that doesn’t force you to deck, and adding a Scrap Trawler can easily take you to infinite mana and a game-ending explosion with a Walking Ballista or Marionette Master.
All of that, and that’s just a single way to put together a deck around just two of the new Partners from Commander Legends. There are hundreds of combinations coming, some silly (Keyword Tribal with Akroma and Rograkh, anyone?), some potent, and everything in between. If you’re looking to get in on the hype right away, Commander Legends is available for preorder now. With You Box, We Buy, you can even turn all your old cards into sweet new Commander cards, and get a 30% trade-in bonus for Store Credit to really get the most out of them. Until next time, you can find me on Twitter @TheLeoRiser and tell me what Partner combinations you’re most excited about!