CUT #11 - CUT Games On Motorcycles
Nashi, Moon Mage's Scion | Illustrated by Yoshiya
Ninjas, Kami, Dragons, oh my! Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty has been out for a little while, and I have loved every minute of it. I unfortunately started actively playing Magic during Magic Origins so I missed out on a lot of great worlds and sets, Kamigawa being one of them. As I have heard/seen, the actual sets that took place on Kamigawa weren't the best received. The set was full of misses in flavor over function and a not great metagame, but I do see a world rich with storytelling and potential. I haven't yet read the novels, but from what I have heard they were also great overall. The novels were another thing I missed by starting Magic as late as I did. Playing now, I'm glad that I get to see this cyberpunk/futuristic variation on Kamigawa.
Neon Dynasty has offered some great cards to Commander, like Boseiju, Who Endures and Farewell, not to mention some very strong legendary creatures, like Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant, Isshin, Two Heavens as One, and Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice, to name a few. Hopefully this encourages Wizards to go back to Kamigawa in the future, because 17 years was a little bit too long.
If you can't tell already, this round of CUT will be featuring cards and commanders from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty!
Before we introduce our deckbuilders and their creations, here is the update I promised you about the upgraded holiday decks. The end result was much more in line with how the voting ended up the first time. For this round, you voted that Ben would win, now here's how it went down. First it was the friendly "draw, land, go" old song and dance. My deck ramped a bit, (being Simic, of course it did), and that allowed me to land a turn-three Wilderness Reclamation. When I say that basically ended the game right there, I really mean it. That let me to cast instant cantrips to fill my hand on my opponent's turn while still letting me play cards like Cultivate on my turn, allowing me to ramp out that much faster. The game really ended, though, when I landed both a Hullbreaker Horror and a Leyline of Anticipation on the battlefield. Needless to say, they were both stuck underneath that oppressive Kraken for quite a few turns, giving me enough time to ramp out and drop giant haymakers like Ulvenwald Hydra and Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar to close out the game, not to mention being able to activate Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios multiple times in a row because of how much mana I had.
After playing with Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios, I can say that she is more powerful than people give her credit for. Now we have these decks to do with what we please; I plan to keep mine together and have already bought a Helm of Awakening for more Jadzi shenanigans. I look forward to bringing out Jadzi again and again until next Christmas where we'll do this again and get new decks and commanders to try out.
Back to the main event!
The challenges our deckbuilders faced were:
- Commander has to be from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty
- The 99 must be Modern-legal
- 10 Cards must be Vehicles
First up is Merlin; let's see what Merlin has cooked up!
Mighty Morphin Dermotaxi THE CUTView on Archidekt
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It has become somewhat of a cliché to say restriction breeds creativity in regards to Commander decklists. However, sometimes it's just true. While I'm usually a pretty vanilla deckbuilder and gravitate towards linear strategies, this list emerged very differently.
The restriction of ten Vehicles quickly led me to Mechtitan Core, as I am sure it did for my co-competitors. I mean it's Voltron (not the deck-style, but the TV show), it's Transformers (not Magic's werewolves, but the toy/other Hasbro franchise), but to me it represents the MegaZord from Power Rangers. In the early 90s I loved the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers so much my mom sewed me a Green Ranger costume. While I have not been in the fandom for 25 years, I still have a nostalgic fondness of the series.
But something felt off turning a Smuggler's Copter and Parhelion II into the biggest, baddest brawlin' bots, so I devised a plan: I would build my own "Zords" and turn those into the MegaZord. Since I can't simply play a Swift Reconfiguration on a Dinosaur and copy the enchantment (because it's not Modern-legal), I had to approach this goal differently. Thus, I arrived at the one and only Dermotaxi. It even looks like the Black Ranger's Zord!
From there everything fell into place quite quickly.
Step 1: Discard creatures that become Zords
Step 2: Play Dermotaxi, Imprinting one of those creatures
Step 3: Copy Dermotaxi
Step 4: Play the Mechtitan Core
Step 5: Make a MegaZord and punch Rita Repulsa and her minions back to the moon!
With the copy effects, I had to make sure the artifact entered the battlefield so it would have the Imprint trigger. The most notable inclusion here is Mechanized Production, which can not only produce Zords, but also can be attached to one of the Modern Horizons 2 indestructible artifact lands for a steady stream of mana and a potential secondary wincon.
I buried the lede a little bit by leaving til now to talk about the commander. This article was inspired by those cooking websites that have 3,000 words of backstory for a pancake recipe. It's Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa, representing the dragon in Dragon Zord. Kyodai mainly allowed me to get into all five colors, but it's also just a neat combat trick and can easily be a threat in the form of commander damage. For the other Zords, I wasn't able to find legendaries for every animal that weren't humanoid (get on it, Verhey!), so I just chose ones that were inherently powerful or had cool pictures. (Also, I know the Pink Ranger flies a Pteranodon Zord and Zetalpa, Primal Dawn looks more like Thapunngaka, but I hope you'll cut me some slack).
First, I thought about making our six heroes all creatures with "Ranger" in the name, but I didn't like the haul that scryfall search produced, so instead I opted for legendary creatures that preferably correspond with their suit color. This worked for everyone but the Yellow and Pink Ranger (again, get on it Verhey!), both which I put in white. As a lot of 5-year-olds in the 90s will tell you: the secret seventh member of the team is Alpha 5, the trusty robot companion to the Rangers. He is played by Myr, which provide the deck with mana and can (even though it's a flavor fail) crew a Vehicle in a pinch. Citanul Flute is another flavor inclusion representing the Dragon Dagger the Green Ranger uses to call upon his Zord.
The card draw in the deck is based around discarding so I can get the big animals in the bin for the Taxi to pick them up. I obviously included a few more Vehicles (because of the restrictions) and cards that synergise with Vehicles. Muddle the Mixture, Deadeye Quartermaster, and Tribute Mage can get me either Dermotaxi or the Mechtitan Core.
The deck has performed surprisingly well in pods that aim for turns eight and longer. To assemble the Megazord, you'll have to have everything fall into place perfectly, but if you can pull it off, you win in my books (even if it immediately gets a Swords to Plowshares).
Next we have Robyn! Let's see what Robyn brewed for us!
Hidetsugu, Devouring PunisherView on Archidekt
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Hidetsugu, Devouring his Mad Max Minions
Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos might not be the obvious choice for a Vehicle deck, but using sacrifice fodder to drive cards before their inevitable demise into the maw of the vile demon seemed like a way too cool of a concept to pass up. The new Ogre Demon is perfect for a Rakdos aristocrats strategy: he provides a sac outlet, card filtering, and draw (with a little burn flavor of the old card).
The creature suite in this deck aims for both recursion and token generation. Recursive creatures, like Bloodghast or Nether Traitor, are the easiest to use. They come down early, come back easily, and require little investment to make many trips to and from the graveyard. These creatures also have the benefit of being nontokens, which helps with several of our payoff cards, including our token-makers, Anax, Hardened in the Forge and Sifter of Skulls.
We also have a host of Goblin drivers, like Sling-Gang Lieutenant, Legion Warboss, and Goblin Rabblemaster. Never mind that "must attack each turn" clause, we'll be cramming them into cars anyway. Finally, Bitterblossom makes an appearance, a card once considered powerful enough to sit on Modern's naughty list.
While our devouring Demon general might like to eat up all these tiny creatures, his sacrifice ability isn't the only one we have access to. Viscera Seer and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician serve as backup, along with the newly Modern-legal Goblin Bombardment. We also have some one-shots, like Village Rites and Deadly Dispute
We have our sacrifice engine established, now what are we getting out of it? Here is where the deck shines and where friendships are lost. Cards like Midnight Reaper keep our hand nice and full while our Grave Pact effects keep opponents' boards empty. Blood Artist-type effects are the mainstay of this archetype, so the deck is loaded with them. Mayhem Devil acts this part but can also ping down pesky threats and triggers off what our opponents are doing - meaning their fetchlands or Treasures get a bit dicey. One of the spicier inclusions is the Minotaur Pirate Angrath, the Flame-Chained, providing a repeatable threaten effect to steal creatures which we can then kill with impunity.
Hidetsugu's Chaotic Car Garage
It wouldn't be Cut without some fun challenges thrown in, but the 10 Vehicles in my showroom today aren't just making up the numbers. From Kaladesh we have a fine selection of motors: the 'too good for Standard' Smuggler's Copter, which allows us to loot away our recursive bodies ready for return from the 'yard, and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship to burn away opponent's chaff and fly through for big chunks of damage.
If you'd prefer a more fantastical mode of transport, why not take a ride on our Enchanted Carriage, don't worry about the mice - they won't last long. If Magic's history takes your fancy, consider a flight on the Weatherlight. If you're looking for something a bit more futuristic, how about Mukotai Soulripper or Reckoner Bankbuster?
I really do want to point out the great interaction between Vehicles and the Inspired mechanic. Not the most popular mechanic ever, but a slam dunk when you need to crew your Vehicles. No need to worry about putting them in danger or waiting for summoning sickness to wear off. Pain Seer can do a passable impression of Dark Confidant, but the real star pilot is King Macar, the Gold-Cursed. A powerful effect but unfortunately hamstrung by a very clunky mechanic, all unlocked by putting him behind the wheel.
The Meathook Massacre just does everything this deck could want, as both a payoff and a board wipe in case things are looking dire. The deck also includes some mild reanimation: Claim // Fame and Unearth are great at getting our cheap stuff back, while Command the Dreadhorde can be completely game-breaking. The two-card combo of Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose and Exquisite Blood also makes a cheeky appearance too, giving a chance for the deck to win from anywhere, although with access to only one tutor, it's a benign threat. The mana base contains some spell-lands for extra value with Agadeem's Awakening as my pick of the bunch. Finally, my favourite Magic card, Blood Moon, makes the list. I can hear the crowd groaning already, but I've been playing Skred-Red in modern since 2016, so that groan feeds my soul.
I doubt you'll make many friends with it, but this deck is a blast to play. Fitting for a deck led by Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos.
Finally, I would like to introduce Charles!
Kodama of the Primal TreeView on Archidekt
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For this challenge, I chose Kodama of the West Tree.
Regarding the restriction that I had to use at least 10 Vehicles, I did not want to be left in the dust and settled on a fairly aggressive deck.
We start with a solid base of around 18 permanents (Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Stonecoil Serpent, Wildwood Scourge, to name a few) that enter the battlefield with little work to become Modified. The least obvious ones being Reckoner Bankbuster and Wickerbough Elder, as Modified does not care about what type of modification, just only that there are any.
If your army is a bit vanilla, we can suit them up with cheap shoes (Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots) or enchantments (Rancor, Roaring Earth, Jugan Defends the Temple).
When we connect, we get a tapped Forest (mismatched for maximum style) for our trouble, and we can utilize our newly acquired real estate right away with Landfall triggers (Evolution Sage, Stone-Seeder Hierophant, Tireless Provisioner, etc.).
So an average aggressive strategy with one big ace in the hole: Primal Surge
It's every child's dream to one day build a Primal Surge deck. I'm sure we all have a shoebox full of tokens that we hoard for that one EDH session where somebody needs ten Thopters, sixteen green Elemental tokens and/or thirty-seven Plant tokens. Well, folks, today is that day. With the printing press of lands that Kodama of the West Tree gives, we can very quickly reach the hefty ten mana required (or we can get lucky and hide it away with Mosswort Bridge).
The sky's the limit when your entire 99 is on the battlefield.
- Attack for a boatload of nigh unstoppable damage (thanks to Champion of Lambholt or Akroma's Memorial)?
- Add about +20/+20 power and toughness to your mean green army by stacking all the triggers from Stone-Seeder Hierophant and Oran-Rief, the Vastwood?
- Generate infinite mana with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Temur Sabertooth, and Saryth, the Viper's Fang?
- Make an enormous army, only to move all their counters onto your Walking Ballista via The Ozolith and shoot the smile off that player in their ivory pillowfort?
- Assemble Mechtitan Core and show that Voltron player who has the biggest robot of them all?
Although we hamstring ourselves a little by not being able to run instants and sorceries, we gain a much more stylish way to win. Unfortunately, there is only one way in the deck to actually tutor for the hefty sorcery in Ring of Three Wishes, but our plethora of card draw (Bonders' Enclave, Seer's Sundial, Tireless Tracker) and tree-planting should get us there a good amount of the time.
PSA: please for the love of all that is holy, make sure your opponents will be dead at the end of the combat phase because Toski, Bearer of Secrets is primed to score on his own goal if you don't return them back to hand.
The West Won the Cold War
First we get the modifications, then we get the combat damage triggers, then we get the Forest. But what if our opponents start accumulating armies to blockade us into a stalemate?
We can start getting crafty with evasion via the skies (Arcbound Stinger, Cliffhaven Kitesail, High-Speed Hoverbike, etc.).
Or perhaps some pseudo evasion with a little rules interaction involving trample (Kodama of the West Tree) and deathtouch (Bow of Nylea). When all your attacking creatures have deathtouch, you can wait for blockers to be declared and pop a +1/+1 counter onto any of the blocked creatures, which will then deal a single, very lethal point of damage to the blocker and the rest to your opponent. Since the creature is now Modified, you get another basic Forest and your opponent gets the shame of losing all their blockers to an onboard combat trick. Even if they do know the trick, they end up in a lose-lose situation and will be discouraged from blocking your swarm of tokens.
Rebuilding from the Ashes
A mono-green deck without instant-speed protection might sound like it would be miserable to play after an opponent drops the olde board wipe.
The fleet of Vehicles give a way for your summoning sick creatures to contribute to the war effort on the same turn.
Eldrazi Monument, Predator Ooze, and Toski, Bearer of Secrets are little cockroaches that stick around and embarrass your opponent for even trying.
Also in the mix are cards like Hangarback Walker, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and Zendikar's Roil, which allow us to hit the ground running again after the board is nuked.
Frankly, I think we'll be okay. It might even clear up all the pesky blockers that were standing in the way of the forest.
These wonderful deckbuilders have presented you with a look at their shiny, neon-lit decks. Remember to vote for your favorite and we'll see the top 2 duke it out in the finals. As we wade into the depths that is the Streets of New Capenna spoilers, the next article will still be featuring cards from Kamigawa, to savor it before it drifts out of our ever-changing focus. As always, if you or a friend would like to be a part of a future CUT article, feel free to email email@example.com or @ me on twitter @chipman007. If you ever have trouble deckbuilding, always remember: if you don't love it, CUT it!
Poll closes: April 14th, 2022