How They Brew It - Charge Karn

Michael Celani • May 5, 2022

Karn, Silver Golem | Illustrated by Mark Zug

You might not think about it every day, but you use it all the time. It has many purposes from heating our homes to cooking our food. Stumped? Take a look around you. The television, phone, lights, air conditioning, USB squirming tentacle, microwave -- what do they all have in common? That's right, Billy: they all run on electricity. But what is an electricity, and why does it?

Electricity was invented by Benjamin Franklin to help us play Fornite. Stored in rocks that used to be beautiful flowers, we set the dead, decaying remnants of our natural world on fire to boil water so we can turn a little crank. That "turbine" generates the power that makes iPhones and the crushing lonliness of social media a reality! As you tour our power plant, look out for more video kiosks where you can learn about all the wonders of the modern world that electricity has made possible. Welcome to the center of industry!


Karn Flakes

My name is Michael Celani, and not only am I chief power safety inspector here, I'm also the head organizer for Today's Engineers & Designers' Coalition for Robotic Utopian Zones, otherwise known as TED CRUZ. I'm here to talk to you all about robots.

Robotics has advanced far beyond just machines that squirt Go-GURT[1] into tubes; in fact, they're soon going to replace us all! To that end, I'm concerned about people coming to take robots' jobs, and to talk more about our friends of tomorrow, I'd like to introduce a very special guest.

Karn, Silver Golem is a machine in the command zone. He turns any artifact into a creature that's as big as its cost, meaning we're going to be putting together a huge mana deck that can not only beat down with bots, but also get massive value from their activated abilities!

[1]. Go-GURT is known as Frubes in Britain, which has nothing to do with this article, but I find it hilarious. Fruuuuuuuuuuubes.

Machine-Made

Like a Silicon Valley engineer without a girlfriend, Karn, Silver Golem is gonna need a lot of toys. We're going to want a lot of artifacts and also a few ways to synergize with the type. Uniquely for Karn, he's much harder to punish than most commanders for playing an abundance of mana rocks because those rocks are also blocks when they need to be. Here's what we're running to keep Karn well-oiled...wait, no, not like that!

  • Myr Retriever and Junk Diver both retrieve junk when they die. Since our deck runs a lot of sacrifice outlets, we'll be able to trigger this effect consistently to get back combo pieces and big threats.
    • Scrapheap works well with this strategy and helps us stay alive if our enemies are whittling us down in a way that blockers can't help with.
  • Speaking of corpses, Soul-Guide Lantern exiles our opponents' graveyards when we need it to and draws us a card when we don't.
  • Of course, we're running a bunch of rocks to ramp up to our main threats, including Mind Stone, Thought Vessel, Worn Powerstone, and Thran Dynamo.
    • Forsaken Monument not only gains you life and buffs your colorless creatures, it practically doubles the effect of your mana rocks and lands. Note that Moonsilver Key can find it!
    • Some artifacts won't tap too frequently on their own, meaning Clock of Omens is a great way to squeeze out some extra mana on big turns.
    • Of note, Sol Talisman seems counterintuitive in this deck. It doesn't have a mana cost, so animating it with Karn, Silver Golem should just kill it, right? Enter Salvaging Station. If you tap Sol Talisman for two mana and spend one to animate it, Salvaging Station will see a creature die and untap itself for you, letting you bring the Talisman back to the field untapped!
  • Additionally, Foundry Inspector, Jhoira's Familiar, and Cloud Key each reduce the cost of your artifacts, while Horizon Stone lets you built up to big turns.

Now that we've captured a sufficient percentage of the grid, we're going to run some machines so energy-hungry it makes the Bitcoin network look like an Energy Star refrigerator.

  • Darksteel Forge is an obvious choice: it attacks and blocks as a 9/9 and makes our board impervious to anything short of Farewell.
    • Add in a Platinum Angel and watch as your enemies scramble to find a way to take you out.
  • Duplicant and Myr Battlesphere are both solid high-end creatures for an aggressive strategy, but Spine of Ish Sah really is amazing; not only does Karn make it a 7/7, it returns itself to your hand when it dies in combat.
  • Once you cast Mystic Forge, you'll tear through your deck. Our low land count makes it unlikely we'll need to exile a card too often.
  • Kuldotha Forgemaster, Ring of Three Wishes, and Planar Bridge all help you find these game-ending pieces, but we've got the mana to pay those high prices.

Fast Charging

You may be wondering how we store all the electricity we extract from the people within the simulation. Surely we'd need a really big battery to store it all! That's where you're wrong, Billy, you absolute failure.

Charge counters are the energy solution of the future! These bite-sized pellets have been hailed as the "laudanum of machinery," and unlike oil, you don't have to invade foreign countries to get it. The process is simple: all the extra mana is combined in a large vat with recycled machinery and binders, chilled to room temperature, and then squeezed into molds by orphans. Isn't technology amazing?

We're going to be using our absurd amounts of mana to power charge counter spells. Though you won't be able to animate some of these artifacts using Karn, they're great sinks in the late game.

Power Lines

Sure, we have a lot of charge counter artifacts, but there's pretty clearly two categories here that don't seem to mix. There's the ones that you invest a lot of mana into to charge up, and the ones you invest a lot of time into to charge up. Sure, we'd love to put twenty charge counters on Otherworld Atlas right away, but that would take twenty turn cycles.

Or would it?

The Ozolith absorbs counters from any creature you control that leaves the battlefield. Thanks to our critical mass of sac outlets and the fact that Karn, Silver Golem blurs the line between creature and artifact more effectively than straight absinthe, we can easily move charge counters around.

Sun Droplet, Angelheart Vial, and Eternity Vessel are great ways to get a ton of charge counters for free. They're effectively based on your life total, which will be quite high thanks to Scrapheap, Tomb of the Spirit Dragon, and Forsaken Monument. The only question is, what to move them all to? Sure, Orochi Hatchery, Riptide Replicator, and Magistrate's Scepter are great candidates for forty or so charge counters, but there's an even better play available to us that requires no explanation.

Der Wille Zur Macht

That's right, Timmy! From scooters to kettles to chairs, everything's better when it's electric. Now that you know all there is to know about power plants, we hope you're chosen to come back to work here when you're ten and don't have a choice. Until then!


Charge Karn (Karn, Silver Golem EDH)

Commander (1)
Planeswalkers (1)
Creatures (11)
Sorceries (1)
Artifacts (53)
Lands (33)

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at https://gamesfreaksa.info and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.