If you’re anything like my wife, you know that the moment you finally find a deck that you love in Standard, it’s going to rotate and all of the key pieces are going to leave. To add insult to injury, new sets almost always have lots of great options for your deck, had it just stuck around.
That was true of the U/R Ensoul Artifact deck that Team ChannelFireball/Face to Face played to incredible success at Pro Tour Origins. Unfortunately, that marked the beginning of the end for critical pieces such as Ensoul Artifact and Shrapnel Blast, and we would soon see great artifacts again in Kaladesh.
Luckily, Frontier lets you finally put all of those awesome pieces together. Ensoul Artifact is as good as they come. For just 2 mana, you can turn any artifact into a 5/5 creature. The counters on it remain, as do the abilities (such as flying or indestructible). This is an incredibly quick clock, especially if you were able to put an artifact into play on the first turn.
Shrapnel Blast gives so much reach to any deck that can reliably cast it—5 damage is no joke. When coupled with Ensoul Artifacts dealing damage in increments of 5, a Shrapnel Blast or 2 can end the game in a blink.
With these 5/5 artifacts running around, pump plus trample with Built to Smash and Temur Battle Rage add a combo element to the deck and help pressure the opponent quickly. With Stubborn Denials to help protect your creatures, and Unlicensed Disintegration to clear the way and deal some bonus damage, the deck is filled with synergistic weapons.
The creature suite is different than what I would expect. This resembles a Standard aggro deck, with Bomat Couriers and Scrapheap Scroungers for early artifact threats, Thraben Inspectors for card advantage and a turn-1 artifact, and Toolcraft Exemplar as a 3/2 for 1.
Smuggler’s Copter is here, but only 2 copies, which is surprising to me. There’s also a single Fleetwheel Cruiser. With a few Clues to Ensoul into 5/5s, there are more creatures than you might expect, but I’m also surprised to see only 1 copy of Darksteel Citadel in the list. I would start with a straight U/R version and try to utilize more artifact creatures like Smuggler’s Copter and Hangarback Walker, but this list has already shown success, so who am I to argue?
The final piece of the puzzle is Ghostfire Blade. It’s unfortunate how hard it is to equip to creatures like the Toolcraft Exemplar, but the cheap cost with your artifact creatures is incredible. It’s also another way to make your combat tricks and Stubborn Denials more effective in those games you don’t find an early Ensoul.
I think there are going to be many ways to build a successful Ensoul deck in Frontier, and I look forward to seeing many more of them with one of my favorite cards in Magic!