Metalworks is an engine built to present multiple resilient Metalwork Colossi while simultaneously executing a beat-down plan and assembling one of two combos. The deck often produces 20+ power on turn 3, alpha strikes on turn 4, and threatens a combo kill in the second main. Presenting multiple lines to a win makes this deck difficult to answer, and the forward-moving nature of this deck gives a certain inevitability. It is truly powerful and very consistent.
Tapped Out Decklist/Playtest
4x Metalwork Colossus
4x Semblance Anvil
4x Cloud Key
4x Mind Stone
4x Ichor Wellspring
4x Alchemist’s Vial
4x Prophetic Prism
4x Elsewhere Flask
4x Ancient Stirrings
3x Aetherflux Reservoir
1x Scrap Trawler
1x Ghirapur Aether Grid
3x Inventors’ Fair
4x Sanctum of Ugin
4x Phyrexia’s Core
4x Grove of the Burnwillows
Why not KCI?
This is the elephant in the room, and it is the first question that many people ask when they first see my list. The easiest answer to this is the namesake of the deck: Metalwork Colossus. This deck started as a delve into maximizing Semblance Anvil and finished as a supporting engine for Metalwork Colossus. Each iteration of the deck leaned more and more toward Colossus synergy, and it wasn’t until later stages that the deck could fully realize how powerful it is. It is a beat-down win condition, a combo piece, a sac outlet, easily searchable, and a flagbearer for nearly every other card in the deck. I have cast Metalwork Colossus (outside of arbitrary loops) 12+ times in a single game against UW control. When the engine is running Metalwork Colossus is undeterred by counterspells, sweepers, and spot removal. Without supporting/specific hate alongside answers, it will come back turn after turn and cause constant hindrance to the opponent executing their offensive gameplan. I believe this card is the reason to strongly consider trying this deck.
II. Card Explanations
Metalwork Colossus x4
This is our first game plan. The goal is to cast some number of these on turn 3 by committing 11+ total CMC of artifacts to the board. Our lands (specified later) help us find multiple copies, and the ability to return Colossus from the graveyard to our hand gives this card staying power. Many of our lines involve sacrificing 1 Metalwork Colossus + 1 Cantrip Artifact to buy back a Metalwork Colossus that is already in our graveyard. This position is the bread and butter of our deck: it allows the deck to protect Colossus from exile/terminus by always having a sac outlet in our graveyard, and is a strategy to give Colossus pseudo-vigilance. I will go into more details when I discuss play patterns.
Semblance Anvil x4
This card is at the center of our explosive starts. It alleviates our need to spend mana when committing artifacts to the board, and it allows us to instead use mana to begin loops and tutor for cards. It also enables us to chain multiple free (2 mana) cantrips and play out our colossi on turn 3. Having Semblance Anvil in play, with an artifact imprinted, contributes 5 mana reduction to Colossus.
Cloud Key x4
This is the sidekick of Semblance Anvil. While not as powerful as the Anvil, copies 5-8 of a mana-reducer contributes heavily to the stability of this deck. Cloud Key shines in matches of attrition where leading on an Anvil will likely get you 2-for-1’d. It is yet another spell that must be countered, and it allows us to accelerate our ability to commit devotion to our Colossi; a Cloud Key in play contributes 4 mana reduction to Colossus.
Ichor Wellspring x4
All hail Ichor Wellspring. This gives us two devotion to colossus, draws us a card when it enters, and draws us a card when we sacrifice it to buyback a Metalwork Colossus from the graveyard.
Alchemist’s Vial x4
This is the sleeper cantrip in this deck. We get two devotion to Metalwork Colossus, draw a card, and have a useful ability in combat. It often takes only the threat of preventing blockers to allow us to stabilize against a developing opposing board. The threat can be leveraged to allow our Colossus attacks to chip away at creature counts until they get through.
Elsewhere Flask x4
This is probably our worst cantrip, but the deck is still perfectly happy to play it. Two devotion to Metalwork Colossus, draw a card, and occasionally use it to generate green/red through a Blood Moon or to get our second color for Firespout.
Prophetic Prism x4
This feels like a slightly better Elsewhere Flask. Two devotion to Metalwork Colossus, draw a card, and filter a mana into green/red as needed.
Mind Stone x4
This is simply the best mana rock for this deck. It helps accelerate our mana in early turns and cantrips when our need for mana has dwindled. Alongside Scrap Trawler, we are able to generate arbitrary amounts of mana for combo kills with Mind Stone. Playing a Mind Stone on turn 2 allows us to play an Aetherflux Reservoir on turn 3, or commit a Semblance Anvil or Could Key to the board on turn 3 even if we are stuck on two lands.
Ancient Stirrings x4
This is our only one drop in the mainboard. While it’s not technically a tutor, I think anybody reading this primer knows of the power of Ancient Stirrings in Modern. Very rarely do you not find one of the pieces that you are explicitly looking for, and it is a stabilizing force for consistency in any artifact based deck. Early on it can dig for your turn three Anvil, get your second land, or find the Colossus that you need to get things going. This is the primary reason the deck slants toward green.
Inventors’ Fair x3
Inventors’ Fair generally gains a couple points of life over the course of a game, but we run it because it tutors for nearly any card in the deck. It most frequently tutors for a 0 mana Metalwork Colossus.
Sanctum of Ugin x4
This is my favorite land in the deck. It turns any free Metalwork Colossus into multiple free Metalwork Colossus. It is also able to tutor up our 1-of Scrap Trawler when the opponent has their shields down and assemble an infinite loop to win on the spot.
Aetherflux Reservoir x3
Aetherflux Reservoir is important as a non-combat win condition, as well as an important piece to help us turn the corner against aggressive strategies. It is usually cast on turn 4 at a reduced cost, converts cantrips into life (explained later), and quickly allows the deck to pivot from defense to offense. Padding our health allows us to start attacking with Metalwork Colossi and force chump blocks, which keeps opposing boards from growing too wide. The 4 devotion to colossus also proves itself to be invaluable. This, a Semblance Anvil, and a single cantrip will allow a Colossus to be cast for free. Keep this in mind when I discuss Aetherflux strategies below.
Scrap Trawler x1
This is a one-of combo piece that can punish our opponent when their shields are down. When this card is on the board our Colossus loops allow us to draw our deck, make arbitrary mana, gain arbitrary life, etc. This has been performing well as a singleton as it can be tutored for via Sanctum of Ugin or Inventors’ Fair. It is surprisingly easy to find from many board positions, and the 1-of nature keeps this card tucked away until exactly when we need it. Note that we don’t generally want this card unless a Colossus is in the graveyard, and it does not contribute to Colossus Devotion.
Ghirapur Aether Grid x1
This is currently in the list as an alternate win-con for Reservoir (in case our Reservoir gets hit by something like Surgical Extraction or Unmoored Ego). It’s great at killing some smaller creatures but is generally too slow in this deck to dig you out of a bad situation—it works best alongside some number of colossi to clear out chump blockers. I have this as a 1-of because of how terrible it feels to draw into a second copy. I don’t bring more copies in against small creature decks because sideboarded copies of Firespout feel more effective.
The Boring Stuff
We need to be able to cast Ancient Stirrings early when we have it, and there are enough copies of Field of Ruin and Assassin’s Trophy that I wouldn’t feel comfortable running any fewer than 4 basics. I recommend getting pretty ones.
Grove of the Burnwillows x4
Having a painless mana base is important due to our weakness to aggressive decks. This gives us color fixing for Firespout from the sideboard and additional green sources for Ancient Stirrings.
Phyrexia’s Core x4
This is our initial sacrifice outlet. This is used to protect a Metalwork Colossus from being exiled or bottomed by Terminus. This can convert an Ichor Wellspring into another card if the deck needs to dig. Lastly, it can kick off a Colossus loop when trying to combo.
Metalwork Colossus has the ability to sacrifice two artifacts to return it from your graveyard to your hand. One of the most fundamental moves in this deck is trading a Metalwork Colossus in play with a Metalwork Colossus in the graveyard. By sacrificing a Colossus and a cantrip to this ability, you are able to re-play a Colossus from your graveyard at the cost of a free cantrip artifact. This technique allows us to create both mana and card advantage as our opponents expend resources on our free rebuilding.
It takes 10 spells to gain 55 life. Executing the Colossus loop while a Reservoir is in play converts our cantrips into life. Hitting higher spell counts is usually done by casting just a few cantrips and trading them back in through a Colossus loop. Then you get to Death Star people—that is, pay 50 life to do 50 damage to a target. You can also Death Star planeswalkers or creatures if needed (Gideon/Worship). The latter option is more feasible when you generate an arbitrary amount of life (Trawler).
This one requires that you have artifact mana reduction of at least 2, but is pretty straightforward. Executing a Colossus loop while a Scrap Trawler is in play buys back the cantrip that was sacrificed (or any artifact in your graveyard). The end result is that you can draw any number of cards. Doing the Colossus loop with a Mind Stone lets you generate arbitrary amounts of mana. Ghirapur Aether Grid or Aetherflux Reservoir can be abused by continuing to Colossus loop with Mind Stone (so you don’t deck yourself). I find the most success with this combo once my board has already been established. At any point where you can do a Colossus loop, you can then sacrifice a Sanctum of Ugin or Inventors’ Fair to grab the trawler and try for the win. Sacrificing a Trawler + Colossus protects Trawler and buys back a cantrip.
*Note that the loop can be executed with a single Cloud Key and Mind Stone, but you will not draw cards. This is sufficient when a Reservoir is in play.
Cards that can be cut
This deck has a lot of locked pieces in the deck, and it can be difficult to make room for sideboard cards. Cloud Key and Mind stone have worked very well for me as cuts. Cards to bring in instead are pretty straighforward. Explanations are below.Cloud KeyIf the deck across the table is trying to kill me on their 3rd turn, then it’s very likely casting Cloud Key on 3 is a losing line. This is the first card that I’m looking to cut. We need to bring in interaction for the early turns and find an Anvil to get things moving. Firespout makes for a much better turn 3 against a swarm of aggressive creatures than a setup card like this.
This is my go-to card to cut when I’m trying to make space for grindy matchups. Mind Stone helps to smooth out the deck, but is not essential to any of our lines. This is also the only card that is useless against a Stony Silence.
What we bring in
Nature’s Claim x3
The cards that we are looking to hit are Damping Sphere, Leyline of the Void, Rest in Peace, Blood Moon, and Pithing Needle on Metalwork Colossus. We generally do damage in groups of 10 or 50. The 4 life that we give opponents often pushes them above 20 life so it has a drawback, but the minimizing our loss of speed is worth it. Side note: Blood Moon does a better job taming the deck than I anticipated. I usually side in 2 of these for almost any match. Most lists will have some form of hate, and Damping Sphere can come out of nowhere.
Note that Damping Sphere is only medium vs the deck. It certainly slows us down, but the Colossus plan will set in motion and be solid. Damping Sphere primarily interferes with the Reservoir strategy.
This is the best sweeper that I believe this mana can support. We need to hit 3 damage for this card to be relevant, and Anger of the Gods just doesn’t seem like it would be cast consistently on turn 3. Firespout comes in against aggro decks.
Guttural Response x2
This card is a house versus Cryptic Command. My early builds focused more on Defense Grid, but I ran into enough Cryptic Command ‘tap team’ instances that I added these in. It has been effective as a surprise spell to close out a game. This can also help to resolve a turn 4 Semblance anvil if you are trying to push through counter magic.
Grafdigger’s Cage x2
These have proven effective against chord/coco decks, as well as a number of graveyard-recursion strategies. I have been happy with two of these along Tormod’s Crypt. Artifact Sideboard cards like this have the added benefit of being usable when imprinting on Semblance Anvil. Note that this doesn’t prevent us from activating Colossus from the Graveyard.
I bring these in when I’m in denial about trying to defeat infect. The main cards that I’m looking to bring these in against are Thalia, Meddling Mage, Baral/Goblin Electromancer, Thought-Knot, or again…anything with Infect.
Tormod’s Crypt x2
This doesn’t interfere with out graveyard, and it’s fast enough for decks like Dredge. We can also imprint this on an Anvil. This is my personal favorite as it has no resource cost to us.
Defense Grid x1
This is a great tax against blue decks. I’ve found that control decks respect this list starting on turn 3, and can get greedy with a card like Search for Azcanta as a setup. Resolving this early can be a blowout.
V. Already Tested
We can’t make use of this card until turn 3, and by that point Mind Stone just feels better. One consideration is to add more 1 mana artifacts to turn on Mox sooner, but this generally leaves the Colossus devotion far short of where it needs to be.
Simian Spirit Guide
This one feels very close, but it fell short most of the time. Generally I was able to commit an Anvil on turn 2, but having drawn one less card and losing an artifact slot to SSG meant that I was usually short on devotion until turn 3 anyway. The result was that I wasn’t meaningfully speeding up my strategy.
Chromatic Star/Chromatic Sphere
We need artifacts that stay on the field, and these have negative synergy with colossus.
This card is perfectly find as the next cantrip for the deck. I spent spent more time running the odds of getting a Colossus on turn 3 and goldfishing this deck than I care to admit. I landed on 16 cantrips being the right number. If I’m wrong, or if something changes, then this card is on standby.
VI. Not Tested
Chalice of the Void
If the meta is right for this card, then it feels like it could find a home here. Currently our only main deck consideration at 1 mana is Ancient Stirrings. This feels like it could be great.
VII. Thank you!
Thank you for taking the time to read all/some/none of this. This deck has been a real joy to work on, and if it seems like something that you might enjoy then please leave any questions, suggestions, or constructive criticisms below. I look forward to reading all of the comments and responding as soon as I can. I’ve already got a few people hooked on the deck and I’m hoping I can get a few more of you to test it out!