Hardened Scales has slowly picked up, gaining more and more respect as a major deck in Modern. People originally thought of Hardened Scales as a “meme deck,” but as the metagame has evolved and the deck has been tuned, it has proven stronger and stronger. Scales has the ability to kill as quickly as turn 3, while also winning some long, grindy games. It’s a relatively linear strategy, but can fight through a lot of hate. Scrapyard Recombiner may push Hardened Scales even further toward becoming one of the decks to beat in Modern.
Modular goes pretty crazy with Scales, as the creature enters with an additional counter and gives yet another extra counter when it dies. In addition, almost every creature in Scales lists are Constructs. The only exception, unfortunately, is the best creature in the deck: Arcbound Ravager. That said, Recombiner can still pick up Walking Ballista, Hangarback Walker, and Arcbound Worker. If you’re playing a grindy game and want a pseudo-loop, you can even tutor for another Recombiner. The sack fodder in Scales is plentiful, be it Workers, Citadels, Opals, or Servo and Thopter tokens. Another thing Recombiner has going for it is that it costs 3. One of the most frustrating parts about Scales is that most of the threats cost 2, so getting something to play on odd turns is huge. The last thing Recombiner offers is another sacrifice outlet. Many Scales lists played Throne of Geth and Phyrexia’s Core to make sure you had a sac outlet when you didn’t draw Ravager, and that is likely not necessary anymore.
When looking at a new tutoring effect, it’s good to look at what silver bullets you may want access to. Unfortunately, Constructs don’t offer a ton in the way of variety. From my thorough search, here are the possibilities:
Adaptive Automaton: Could get this after a big Hangarback dies or when you’re going off with Animation Module.
Memnite: If you have a lot to do with your mana, maybe you just want something free.
Scrap Trawler: If you miss the good old KCI days. This could actually be pretty good in grindy games versus things like Grixis Shadow to rebuy Hangarbacks and Ballistas.
Traxos, Scourge of Kroog: If you really need something BIG.
Overall, none of these look quite good enough (with Scrap Trawler as the most promising), but I figured I’d mention them as possibilities.
9 Forest 1 Blinkmoth Nexus 4 Inkmoth Nexus 4 Darksteel Citadel 1 Horizon Canopy 1 Pendelhaven 4 Arcbound Worker 4 Hangarback Walker 4 Walking Ballista 4 Arcbound Ravager 2 Steel Overseer 4 Scrapyard Recombiner 4 Mox Opal 4 Hardened Scales 4 Ancient Stirrings 4 Welding Jar 2 Animation Module Sideboard 3 Damping Sphere 3 Dismember 3 Pithing Needle 4 Grafdigger's Cage 2 Nature's Claim
I don’t expect Recombiner to make an impact on many other decks in Modern, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the possibility of it helping the Grinding Station deck that’s been making the rounds.
4 Buried Ruin 4 Darksteel Citadel 1 Tendo Ice Bridge 4 Aether Hub 2 Inventors' Fair 3 Forest 4 Scrapyard Recombiner 2 Scrap Trawler 4 Myr Retriever 4 Ancient Stirrings 4 Chromatic Star 4 Grinding Station 4 Ichor Wellspring 4 Mox Opal 4 Semblance Anvil 4 Locket of Yesterdays 4 Workshop Assistant Sideboard 3 Lightning Bolt 2 Tormod's Crypt 2 Nature's Claim 3 Sai, Master Thopterist 3 Ancient Grudge 2 Ray of Revelation
The idea here is to get Grinding Station out and loop free Workshop Assistants or Myr Retrievers between your graveyard and deck while milling your opponent out. Workshop Assistant can work as a sac outlet, and can tutor up extra Assistants or Scrap Trawler for some value. I’m not convinced the Construct engine is good enough here as it’s a bit clunky, and the 3-cost Workshop Assistant doesn’t work as well with Semblance Anvil. Still, it’s worth a try!
I hope you enjoyed this look at what Scrapyard Recombiner can do in Modern. Until next time, find some sweet Constructs.