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The Brothers’ War Retro Frame Artifacts Review for Historic

A bunch of sick old border artifacts are coming to Arena, but how good are they? Find out what our resident Historic master, Altheriax, feels about these new additions and what decks can make the best use of them!

Hey everyone! The Brothers' War will be releasing soon and it’s coming with a selection of Retro Frame Artifacts that won’t be Standard legal, but will be legal in Historic similar to Strixhaven’s Mystical Archive. In this article I’m going to go through all of the new cards to the format and assess whether they’re likely to see play in Historic, and where they could potentially find homes.

Of the 63 Retro Frame Artifacts cards, Mishra's Bauble will be pre-emptively banned (which I think is for the best) and the following cards are already legal in Historic so I’m not going to be covering any of those:

Let’s get into it!

Adaptive Automaton

Adaptive Automaton: Similar to the recently printed Coalition Construct, this is a nice effect to have for tribes that don’t have lords or want an additional lord effect.

Unfortunately I don’t think there is a tribal deck right now that wants this sort of effect that doesn’t already have it – at a stretch, the only two I can think of that might want this is Merfolk (if you wanted to go all-in on having as many lords as possible which I’m not sure is the best idea), or Shamans (where I think you’d probably prefer Coalition Construct instead since it gets doubled up if you have a Harmonic Prodigy in play, although you already have Rage Forger which does a similar thing, and the 3-drop slot is already pretty stacked in that deck).

Since this is already competing with Coalition Construct which has seen virtually no play in Historic, I can’t really see this one seeing play any time soon either, but if a tribal deck emerges in future that needs a lord effect then this is worth bearing in mind.

Altar of Dementia & Ashnod’s Altar

Altar of Dementia & Ashnod's Altar: I’ve grouped these two together because they’re quite similar in that they provide a free sacrifice outlet which is a pretty big deal in Historic because we don’t currently have a great selection of free sacrifice outlets.

Out of the two, I think Altar of Dementia definitely has much more potential because it acts as a self contained win condition, so if you’re running a combo that can go infinite with a free sacrifice outlet (like Putrid Goblin + Metallic Mimic / Grumgully, the Generous or Vesperlark + Body Double) then Altar of Dementia just wins you the game since you can mill the opponent’s whole deck. Being able to mill yourself is also pretty powerful so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it as part of a self-mill strategy at some point (although I don’t think we have the right pieces for that right now, especially in Best of 3).

Ashnod's Altar is a powerful effect too, but since all the combo decks would prefer to run Altar of Dementia instead (since you’d need an extra combo piece to sink the mana into), I can only really see it seeing play in fair decks that are looking to trade cheap creatures for additional mana. You would definitely need to build around Ashnod's Altar to make it work so you’d need to build a deck with cheap sacrifice fodder creatures or tokens, and colorless payoffs to use the mana on.

For example, you could run an Oni-Cult Anvil sacrifice deck with Karn, the Great Creator and other colorless artifacts to feed into Oni-Cult Anvil as a way to utilize the extra mana, or a cheap artifact deck looking to ramp into Hangarback Walker or Lodestone Golem, or pump mana into a colorless mana sink like Retrofitter Foundry or Staff of Domination, but in both cases, I feel like you’re jumping through a lot of hoops just to enable Ashnod's Altar when you’re probably better off just running more consistent versions without it.

Overall, I expect Altar of Dementia to see play as a win condition in certain combo decks, and while Ashnod's Altar is definitely a strong effect, you have to work a lot harder to get it to work so I’m a bit less high on that one.

Astral Cornucopia

Astral Cornucopia: This is a nice ramp option, but I feel it’s too slow for the current Historic meta, and doesn’t really have a good home either. The only decks that are interested in this sort of artifact ramp are Forsaken Monument decks which I don’t think are particularly well positioned right now, and I’m not sure they’d really want this either since they ideally want to be ramping on turn 2 off cards like Mind Stone and Guardian Idol.

With the influx of new artifacts being added in The Brothers' War, there’s a chance that a Mystic Forge deck could be more viable and this card could have a chance of seeing play there if you want access to a lot of mana to go off with Mystic Forge, but I’m skeptical whether that deck would be good (especially with the new artifact hate like Brotherhood's End), and whether that deck would even want this card anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in certain Historic Brawl ramp decks though.

Bone Saw

Bone Saw: While I doubt this will see any play right now, 0 mana artifacts are always worth paying attention to because they do enable certain combo decks like Song of Creation, and being an equipment is also relevant for cards like Sram, Senior Edificer.

I think this is only really likely to see play in combo decks that care about 0 mana artifacts like Song of Creation (although we already have a fairly high density of 0 mana artifacts so it might not make the cut there), but it’s worth keeping in mind in case we get more pieces for an equipment based Sram, Senior Edificer deck in future (although I don’t know if that will be better than a deck like Auras which we already have).

Burnished Hart

Burnished Hart: I don’t see this one seeing any play – ramp in general isn’t a popular strategy in Historic right now – the small number of ramp decks that do see play are green, and green has much better options than this.

There are some mono black decks that run ramp artifacts like Solemn Simulacrum, but I don’t think those decks are particularly strong personally, Solemn Simulacrum is generally better than Burnished Hart (since it only costs 4 mana to get the ramp, and draws a card when it dies), and I don’t think Solemn Simulacrum is a good card in Historic anyway. This is a nice addition to Historic Brawl though where I imagine non-green decks looking for ramp might like this.

Caged Sun

Caged Sun: This is a powerful effect, but is just too expensive and slow to be viable unfortunately. It’s quite reminiscent of Mirari's Wake which was added to Historic back in 2020 and didn’t even see play back then. Again, it’s another card that is probably better suited to Historic Brawl than Historic itself.

Chromatic Star

Chromatic Star: This is very similar to Chromatic Sphere which is a card that’s already legal in Historic and sees play in combo decks like Paradox Engine and Kethis combo, with the differences being that you get to draw even if Chromatic Star is destroyed or sacrificed by another card, the opponent has a chance to respond to the sacrifice trigger with Chromatic Star, whereas on Chromatic Sphere it’s a mana ability so you get the card draw immediately (which is basically irrelevant in most cases, the only time I’ve seen this make a difference is in Tainted Pact decks where you have a Jace, Wielder of Mysteries in play and you can sacrifice Chromatic Sphere to draw with an empty library and the opponent doesn’t get a chance to respond), and you won’t get the card draw from Chromatic Star if graveyard hate like Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void in play (since Chromatic Star requires it to go to the graveyard to get the card draw).

That last point will probably mean that Paradox Engine and Kethis will still prefer to play Chromatic Sphere since they’re both decks that use the graveyard to combo off and so it’s not uncommon that the opponent will have graveyard hate like Rest in Peace in play post-sideboard.

The main advantage of Chromatic Star though, is that you still get the card draw if it’s destroyed or sacrificed by another card which means it’s better in the face of mass artifact removal, and it pairs very nicely with sacrifice effects like Oni-Cult Anvil and Deadly Dispute.

Oni-Cult Anvil decks in general tend to have kind of lackluster 1 mana artifacts to enable Oni-Cult Anvil on turn 2 (like Terrarion and Implement of Combustion), and so I expect Chromatic Star do be an auto-include in those decks going forwards, plus if there are any decks that want more than 4 of this style of effect, Chromatic Star will be a great addition alongside Chromatic Sphere.

Cloud Key & Semblance Anvil

Cloud Key & Semblance Anvil: I’ve grouped these together because they both provide discounts to a particular card type for the same mana cost. I think that Semblance Anvil is definitely the more powerful of the two, even though you need to exile a card from your hand, because a discount of 2 allows you to do much more powerful things – setting up a Semblance Anvil reducing Artifacts alongside Mystic Forge for example is a really powerful synergy.

Even though I could see a deck with Semblance Anvil, and Mystic Forge or The Reality Chip doing powerful things, I don’t expect either of these cards to see that much play because these sort of discount effects are only really strong if you’re playing off the top of your library, and setting that up needs pretty specific pieces, and is both quite slow and fragile too, especially with the new artifact hate that’s also coming in this set.

Defense Grid

Defense Grid: This is a great addition to the sideboard of combo decks, essentially taxing all of your opponent’s instant speed interaction during your turn to maximize your chances of successfully going off. While combo doesn’t make up a huge portion of the metagame right now, that could potentially change with the addition of cards like Diabolic Intent from the main set, so I expect this to be run in some numbers in the sideboard of decks like Jund Putrid Goblin Combo, Acererak Combo, Charbelcher (that we’ll get to later) etc.

I don’t really expect this to see play anywhere else since most non-combo decks can still be interacted with during the opponent’s turn effectively, but this will definitely help improve the resilience of combo decks in the format.

Door to Nothingness

Door to Nothingness: I’m sure someone will successfully win a Historic game with this card, but for the most part this is way too slow to ever be competitively viable. In theory, you could run this in the wishboard for Karn, the Great Creator for when you’re ahead, but you’d need to be running a 5 colour Karn, the Great Creator deck (which isn’t even close to existing). Furthermore, you’d need to spend 15 mana uncontested, and if you’re that far ahead, just grabbing anything else proactive will probably win you the game anyway, so this isn’t a good option even in the best case scenario.

Elsewhere Flask

Elsewhere Flask: This is another one that I doubt will see play – the only decks that have run 2 mana artifacts that draw on ETB in Historic in the past are decks running Doom Foretold and Rite of Oblivion, and those decks aren’t particularly great, some builds would want to run 2 mana enchantments (like Lithoform Blight) instead so that they can run Divine Purge, and there are already much better artifact options like Ichor Wellspring, or even Golden Egg (since the ability to gain 3 life is generally more useful than turning all of your lands into the same basic land type).

The only situation where I could see this seeing play is if there’s a combo deck in future that takes advantage of the basic land activated ability as part of the combo, but overall I’m not optimistic about this one.

Goblin Charbelcher

Goblin Charbelcher: This is a very interesting addition to the format since it single-handedly enables a new combo deck. The idea with Goblin Charbelcher is you build the manabase of your deck using only the modal double-faced lands from Zendikar Rising like Shatterskull Smashing which count as spells and not lands until they enter play, and so if you can get Goblin Charbelcher into play and activate it, it will essentially deal lethal damage to the opponent.

Irencrag Feat is great here since it provides you with exactly enough mana to play and activate Goblin Charbelcher in the same turn, so the main question is how you build the rest of the deck and there are multiple ways you can go about it. The most important thing is having redundancy for Goblin Charbelcher as that is usually the way you win, and so any way to tutor it up is very desirable.

You could potentially run Indomitable Creativity and spells that produce artifact or creature tokens like Strike It Rich or Hard Evidence as a way to cheat Goblin Charbelcher into play. You could run Goblin Engineer to put Goblin Charbelcher into the graveyard and then reanimate it with something like Trash for Treasure or Refurbish. You could run Karn, the Great Creator with the 4th copy of Goblin Charbelcher in your sideboard, or run a bunch of looting effects like Faithless Looting and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker to try and dig for it.

It presents a very interesting deck building puzzle, and it’ll be interesting to see if it’s actually viable or not – my main concern is that it’ll be very weak to discard spells and counterspells, having to run tapped double-faced lands to pad out the mana base will make certain draws quite slow, and we have far fewer ramp effects in Historic compared to older formats, so there’s a chance this one might not get there. Either way, I’ll definitely be trying this one out.

Howling Mine

Howling Mine: This is an interesting card that is potentially very powerful if you can break the symmetry on it. The main two ways of doing this in Historic are either to tap the Howling Mine before your opponent’s turn using Moonsnare Prototype, or have a Narset, Parter of Veils in play to prevent the opponent from drawing a card.

In order to run Moonsnare Prototype, you’d probably want a high density of artifacts so you could try and run an off-shoot of Azorius Affinity with Howling Mine and Narset, Parter of Veils – that deck is already pretty tight for space with a lot of great options though, and will have to deal with more hate cards with the release of Brotherhood's End and Fade from History, so it might not be good enough, but I still think it’s something that’s worth trying.

Ivory Tower

Ivory Tower: This does represent a lot of potential life for one mana, especially if you can get multiples in play, but cards that exclusively gain life and don’t do anything else are almost always bad (so you won’t really want it in multiples anyway). Outside of very specific matchups like against Burn decks or alongside cards that allow you to pay life for card advantage (which we don’t have in Historic outside of Bolas's Citadel and Bolas's Citadel, decks wouldn’t want this anyway because they’re mainly interested in gaining life on the turn they’re going off with Bolas's Citadel).

Overall, the only place I could see this seeing play is in the sideboard if decks that are trying to deal a lot of direct damage like burn or sacrifice are very popular, but I can’t see that happening any time soon.

Jalum Tome

Jalum Tome: Repeatable looting effects can be powerful, but this is just way too expensive to ever be worth it. We already have one mana creatures that can loot every turn for one mana, and cards like Bag of Holding and The Celestus that do similar things, but are generally much better and they still barely ever see play, so this one definitely isn’t viable.

Journeyer’s Kite

Journeyer's Kite: This is another one that is way too slow and low impact to see play in Historic – I’m not even sure this one will see play in Historic Brawl because it’s so slow on rate.

Keening Stone

Keening Stone: This is a powerful effect, but is far too expensive to be worth running unfortunately. Even though mill did get some new tools recently in the form of Glimpse the Unthinkable and Founding the Third Path, I still don’t think it has enough pieces to be a viable deck in Historic, and Keening Stone definitely isn’t the answer since it’s way too slow.

Liquimetal Coating

Liquimetal Coating: This is a great addition to Karn, the Great Creator wishboards since it allows you to turn your opponent’s lands into artifacts, and you can then use the +1 ability on Karn, the Great Creator to essentially destroy the land since it will turn into a 0 toughness creature.

This is a great way to close out the game if you’re able to defend Karn, the Great Creator and do this every turn cycle, and the fact you’re using a plus ability to do this will make it slightly harder for the opponent to kill Karn, the Great Creator too. Having said that, you will need to be ahead when you start doing this or at least be able to defend Karn, the Great Creator or the opponent will just attack it down otherwise, but it’s a great option to have in the toolbox to press your advantage once you have a foothold in the game.

Lodestone Golem

Lodestone Golem: This is a powerful payoff for playing an artifact deck and can be very strong if you’re able to ramp into it early. With the addition of Springleaf Drum alongside Moonsnare Prototype, I could see a potential artifact deck that’s able to ramp this into play pretty consistently on turn 3, but it really forces you to go all-in on artifacts and would tax any non-artifact cards you want to run like Metallic Rebuke.

Similar to Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, it’s also a card that gets a lot worse as the game goes on so it’s not a particularly good top deck later in the game once the opponent has access to a lot of mana, and there’s already a lot of great options at the 4-drop slot for artifact decks like Karn, Scion of Urza and Karn, the Great Creator so I’m not sure if this will end up making the cut in affinity, but it has potential. One last upside is that I expect Brotherhood's End and Divine Purge to be the main artifact hate cards in Red and White going forward, and Lodestone Golem dodges both of those which could be valuable.

Mesmeric Orb

Mesmeric Orb: This is an interesting card for mill, which like I mentioned earlier, has received some nice new additions, but feels like it’s lacking some quality pieces and Mesmeric Orb can definitely mill a lot of cards for two mana if you can get it down early.

Even if Mesmeric Orb helps to fill the deck with more efficient mill spells, I don’t know if that will be enough for mill to be viable, firstly because the format is pretty aggressive right now with decks like Izzet Wizards and Boros Thopters being popular, so you’d need to have a fair amount of interaction to not just get run down by those decks, and Izzet Phoenix has started seeing more play this past week which is usually an auto-loss for mill unless you have graveyard hate.

I think this is also worth testing in self mill decks in Best of 1 like Reanimator, but I’m not sure it’ll be better than card selection spells like Faithless Looting or Tainted Indulgence, and it’ll mill your opponent too which would be less than ideal against other graveyard decks like the mirror, Greasefang, Okiba Boss, or Dragonstorm decks.

Mind’s Eye

Mind's Eye: This is just way too slow and way too expensive, plus the effect isn’t even that powerful anyway, so I’d be very surprised if this saw any play.

Phyrexian Processor

Phyrexian Processor: This is a cool effect, but again, this is just too expensive and slow for the format. Even in really slow, grindy matchups where the opponent isn’t applying a lot of pressure to your life total (which basically doesn’t happen in Historic outside of control mirrors where they’ll have counterspells and ways to kill this anyway) this probably isn’t good enough since you need to spend 8 mana before you even get your first token.

Phyrexian Revoker

Phyrexian Revoker: This is a great addition to the format that I’m sure will see play in sideboards of creature-based decks that want Pithing Needle on a body. There are already a number of reasonable targets for this in commonly played decks like Retrofitter Foundry, planeswalkers, Goblin Trashmaster (which is particularly relevant if you’re playing an artifact based deck),8 etc., and this will be more desirable than Pithing Needle in aggressively slanted decks since it can apply pressure, and can also be hit off cards like Collected Company and Inquisitor Captain.

While I’m not sure this will see a ton of play immediately outside of maybe the sideboard in Collected Company decks (I could see it replacing Pithing Needle in the sideboard of Boros Thopters, although it then makes it vulnerable to your opponent’s creature removal which is an issue if you name Goblin Trashmaster and Phyrexian Revoker gets killed by Munitions Expert for example), this is definitely one that I can see being played in future if decks built around activated abilities become popular.

Precursor Golem

Precursor Golem: This is an interesting card, but unfortunately is another one that I don’t expect to see play.

The main appeal here is to play the Precursor Golem and then target the one golem with instants or sorceries that apply buffs (similar to Feather, the Redeemed or Heroic decks) which will also apply the buff to the other golem too. However, those sorts of decks want their creatures to be very cheap so they can get them into play early, apply pressure in the early game, and have mana available to protect them from early interaction, so Precursor Golem is just way too expensive.

Additionally, it works both ways so if the opponent uses a removal spell on one of your golems, that spell will kill both which is a huge downside, so I don’t see this one seeing play anywhere.

Pristine Talisman

Pristine Talisman: The ability to gain a life every time you activate your mana rock can be potentially useful in matchups where the opponent is applying a lot of pressure to your life total. The issue with this card in Historic is that three cost mana rocks are generally too slow to see play overall, and cards like The Celestus or Chromatic Lantern in Niv-Mizzet Reborn decks (which are largely much better than Pristine Talisman) barely ever see play, so I don’t think this one is competitively viable.

Psychosis Crawler

Psychosis Crawler: We’ve recently seen the power of dealing the opponent damage when they draw from Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, but like a lot of other cards here, this one is just way too expensive for the effect you get. If we compare this to Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, it’s 1 mana more expensive, deals half as much damage, and doesn’t gain you life (which is often the more important part on Sheoldred, the Apocalypse).

Granted, Psychosis Crawler is colorless whereas Sheoldred, the Apocalypse requires double black, but this is still far too expensive to see play at 5 mana, and every color has better options at this cost.

Quicksilver Amulet

Quicksilver Amulet: This is a very powerful effect which you usually only get access to in green or red, so having access to this in all colors is nice, but again this is just too slow. Eight mana, even if it’s spread over two turns, just isn’t worth it to cheat a creature into play considering you can reanimate or Transmogrify a creature into play for 4 mana pretty consistently.

The other issue is that we still don’t really have amazing creatures to cheat into play – Serra's Emissary is usually the best and can be good enough to beat certain decks, other options like Titan of Industry and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite are also strong, but none of them really guarantee that you’ll win the game and most of them cost less than 8 mana anyway, so I don’t expect this to see play.

Quietus Spike

Quietus Spike: Equipment has to be really good on rate to see play in Historic because of the vulnerability of the opponent killing the creature you equip, and so the only equipment that’s really good enough to see play currently is Shadowspear (which is really good on rate and provides two of the most relevant abilities for combat), Embercleave (which equips for free at instant speed, acts more like a combat trick that sticks around then a regular equipment, and provides a boost and two incredibly strong abilities in combat) and Nettlecyst (which basically acts as a creature since you get the free token), so the bar is pretty high.

Even though deathtouch is a nice ability and being able to make the opponent lose half of their life points early can be strong, this just isn’t anywhere near good enough on rate in terms of mana investment to see play.

Ramos, Dragon Engine

Ramos, Dragon Engine: This is a really cool card, but is just way too inefficient to see constructed play. I imagine this one is much more aimed at Historic Brawl players where you can do really flashy things with this as your commander, but for 60-card Historic, most of the time this will be a 6 mana 4/4 flyer without any protection from removal. Even if it did have some protection from removal, say ward 2, I still doubt this would see play since it’s just too slow – it also doesn’t provide any card advantage which means you need to also have something expensive to cast if you wanted to use the mana it produces.

Runechanter’s Pike

Runechanter's Pike: I think this is better than Quietus Spike, because in theory, in a spell heavy deck you could attach this to one of your flyers to attack in for a bunch of damage, but it’s still definitely not good enough to see play because the bar is so high for equipment being playable because of the risk of your creature being killed.

If you had a way to tutor it up for cheap, then it might be fine in certain spots, but we don’t have any good equipment tutors in the format, and it just doesn’t seem worth the risk in the face of single-target removal when you could just run something like Haughty Djinn instead as a separate threat (which is already a card that barely sees Historic play).

Sigil of Valor

Sigil of Valor: I might sound like a broken record at this point, but this just isn’t good enough to see play since it’s an equipment, and the bar is so high for equipment to see play. It does provide a cool effect where you can just attack with one creature and buff it a lot, but decks that are going wide will typically just want to run more creatures, or top end cards like Collected Company or Embercleave instead.

Springleaf Drum

Springleaf Drum: This is a great pickup for the format, and I expect this to see play in a decent number of decks running cheap creatures like Paradox Enigne, and especially artifact decks like Affinity. This is similar to Moonsnare Prototype, but the fact it can tap for mana of any color is huge, and will likely be an upgrade for affinity, since Moonsnare Prototype only tapping for colorless mana often prevents you from casting additional spells. It could also potentially enable the artifact decks to splash into a third color if they wanted to, alongside lands like Spire of Industry.

You could potentially run Springleaf Drum and Moonsnare Prototype together in Affinity, supported by early creatures like Esper Sentinel, Ornithopter, tokens from Retrofitter Foundry, etc. which would allow you to have some incredibly fast starts, with cards like Thought Monitor and Reverse Engineer providing you ways to refuel once you’ve emptied your hand in the early game.

This would potentially make the deck more glass cannon, and potentially more vulnerable to mass artifact removal, but it would also make the deck more explosive and might help dig towards answers like Metallic Rebuke faster than regular builds.

Having said that, the current Affinity list is already tight for space, so it could be hard to fit everything in, but it’s definitely worth testing. Either way, Springleaf Drum is a great addition for both Affinity, and other decks that are looking to ramp fast, especially if you’re interested in running more colors or improving the existing mana base.

Staff of Domination

Staff of Domination: This is generally a pretty slow card, but this could be playable as a way to win with infinite mana (which there aren’t great ways to do in Historic right now but there might be in future), or as a way to go infinite if you can use it to repeatedly untap a creature like Elvish Archdruid or Sanctum Weaver that are capable of tapping for a lot of mana.

While I don’t think this card is particularly well suited for Enchantress (since it’s an artifact and they can already run Gauntlets of Light to do a similar thing which is also searchable with Sterling Grove), I think this could have potential to see play in an Elves deck.

I typically prefer Elves decks that run four Elvish Archdruid and four Circle of Dreams Druid to maximize the fast wins using the activated abilities on Allosaurus Shepherd and Elvish Warmaster, and I’ve tested builds in the past that run Karn, the Great Creator as a way to utilize that mana when you don’t have Allosaurus Shepherd or Elvish Warmaster, that also sticks around through board sweepers.

This seems like it’d be great in the Karn, the Great Creator wishboard as a way to go infinite with Elvish Archdruid or Circle of Dreams Druid once you have a high number of Elves in play. It could also be worth testing in the main deck if it proves to be easy to set up infinite mana with this.

Sundering Titan

Sundering Titan: This is an incredibly powerful effect, but it’s very expensive at 8 mana. Ramp decks are largely non-existent in Historic right now and so the only place I can really see this one seeing play is in Karn, the Great Creator wishboards. Even then, with the sheer number of new options for Karn, the Great Creator from The Brothers' War in addition to the ones we already have available, I think there’s a good chance that this just doesn’t make the cut unless it’s run in a green ramp deck that can play this ahead of curve consistently.

Swiftfoot Boots

Swiftfoot Boots: This is an equipment that I think actually could have potential to see play! Haste is a pretty nice upside, but the main reason I’m interested in this is for Hexproof, which is incredibly strong against a lot of decks considering single target removal is the most commonly played interaction in the format, and the fact the equip cost is only 1 is nice too.

The first potential home I can think of for this is Auras, where you can not only give your creatures like Kor Spiritdancer Hexproof, but it also gets haste so you can potentially deal a huge amount of damage out of nowhere if you have a lot of auras in hand, plus it triggers Sram, Senior Edificer to draw a card too.

It being an equipment does mean it doesn’t synergize that well with any of your other creatures, and unlike Selfless Savior or Slip Out the Back, it does give the opponent a window to target your creature, but it’s definitely an interesting option there, and seems like a consideration for any deck that has powerful creatures that you want to stick around.

Sword of the Meek

Sword of the Meek: This is another equipment that I think is likely to see play in certain decks. Unfortunately, we don’t have Thopter Foundry, which is the main combo with this card in older formats – we do have Sly Requisitioner which is capable of making infinite 1/1 tokens if you can assemble it with Sword of the Meek and a free artifact sacrifice outlet like Ravenous Intruder which is interesting, but seems quite hard to set up.

The main place I’m excited for this card is with Oni-Cult Anvil since it will return to the battlefield every time you make a token with Oni-Cult Anvil, essentially providing free sacrifice fodder for Oni-Cult Anvil every turn, and buffing one of your tokens too.

You can set it up fairly easily by using Goblin Engineer to pitch it into the graveyard (which means you can get away with only running a single copy), and Phyrexian Dragon Engine seems like another great addition to this shell as another great target to pitch with Goblin Engineer that you can start looping if Goblin Engineer lives, so I’m very excited to try this shell out.

Thorn of Amethyst

Thorn of Amethyst: This is a very interesting card since it allows every color to have access to a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben style effect. The main place I could see this seeing play is in the sideboard of non-white aggressive decks as a way to tax control or other decks that rely on non-creature spells like Wizards of Auras that’s more difficult to interact with. Since it’s not legendary, you can also stack multiples (although it does tax itself), so I think this will be a great option for the sideboard in non-white creature heavy decks.

Unwinding Clock

Unwinding Clock: This is an interesting effect, but it just seems too expensive to me, and there aren’t really enough payoffs for it either. There are certain artifacts that could benefit from untapping twice every turn cycle like Retrofitter Foundry, but past that the list of playable ones really isn’t that long, and the effect just doesn’t feel worth it at 4 mana.

Well of Lost Dreams

Well of Lost Dreams: This is another one where the effect isn’t amazing and it’s also too expensive. The only place this would ever see play is in the sideboard of life gain decks for grindier matchups, and there are already much better options: Angels already runs Black Market Connections which is much better than this as well as being cheaper, and Helioak would prefer to run planeswalkers instead.

Wurmcoil Engine

Wurmcoil Engine: This is another really powerful card that is particularly strong at stabilizing against aggressive decks, and is a great option in Karn, the Great Creator wishboards. I’m not sure if this will see much play in main decks since it is quite expensive (although much more likely to see play than something like Sundering Titan), but there could be same ramp strategies that are interested in bringing this in from the sideboard (although it is competing with Elder Gargaroth in green decks), and I’m sure Forsaken Monument decks will run this somewhere in the 75 too, even if that deck isn’t particularly well positioned right now.

Iroas, God of Victory Art


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Alth is an MTG Arena grinder who has been #1 on the ladder multiple times and is always looking to bring new ideas and archetypes to the format and push them to the top spots on the ladder. You can follow him on Twitter and YouTube.

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