Four Thunder Junction Cards Can Take Mediocre MTG Archetype to Colossal Heights!

Since Outlaws of Thunder Junction released, the Pioneer metagame has shifted substantially. Obviously, well-established tier one decks like Izzet Phoenix and Rakdos Vampires still remain very strong options. However, multiple lower tier archetypes have risen in popularity quite a bit thanks to some powerful new additions.

Niv to Light saw a big upgrade in the form of Pillage the Bog. Similarly, Gruul aggro has become a force to be reckoned with in large part due to the power of Slickshot Show-Off. Outlaws of Thunder Junction is filled with awesome options to build around and players are still exploring all that the set has to offer.

One archetype that is extremely underrated and actually got a big boost is the Metalwork Colossus shell. This deck received a plethora of tools from Thunder Junction that help make the deck stronger and more consistent. While the deck hasn’t had a breakout performance yet, it has been featured in multiple recent Magic Online 5-0 League dumps. There’s a lot of potential here, so let’s take a look at the deck’s core gameplan and what Thunder Junction brought to the table.

Enabling Metalwork Colossus

Metalwork ColossusMetalwork Colossus

Metalwork Colossus builds are not entirely new to Pioneer, and this deck still revolves heavily around maximizing the powerful Artifact Creature. Metalwork may have a very large mana cost, but don’t be fooled. Casting Metalwork Colossus is surprisingly easy, assuming you put in the work.

Outside of Metalwork Colossus itself, Ingenious Smith which can help dig for your win condition, and a couple copies of Metallic Rebuke, every non-Land card in the maindeck is a non-Creature Artifact. Cards like Moonsnare Prototype and Fabrication Foundry act as efficient ramp elements that also naturally reduce Metalwork Colossus’ casting cost. Meanwhile, Portable Hole helps you buy time to cast your namesake bomb.

Perhaps the most interesting card featured in this deck is Brass Knuckles. Brass Knuckles is a rather inefficient Equipment, but thanks to its triggered ability upon casting it, actually synergizes quite nicely with Metalwork Colossus. Because the token copy of Brass Knuckles also has a mana cost of four, the card effectively reduces the cost of Metalwork Colossus by eight!

This level of dedication ensures that when you draw Metalwork Colossus, you’ll be able to play it rather quickly and consistently. With a playset of Sanctum of Ugin in the mix, casting a single copy of Metalwork Colossus can start a chain reaction. Even if your opponent manages to answer your 10/10s, you can always sacrifice a couple Artifacts to bring them back from your graveyard. This makes it quite difficult to fight an attrition war against this strategy.

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Another Necessary Win Condition

Simulacrum SynthesizerSimulacrum Synthesizer

When this deck gets its engine rolling, it’s extremely strong and hard to disrupt. Unfortunately, there have always been multiple issues with the archetype in the past that have prevented it from maintaining a significant foothold in Pioneer. Luckily, some of these potent problems have been alleviated by Thunder Junction additions.

The first area of weakness for this strategy has been the general lack of top-end. A high density of cheap non-Creature Artifacts is required to enable Metalwork Colossus. As such, this deck naturally has a lot of fluff. Before Thunder Junction, if you didn’t draw Metalwork Colossus or your opponent was ready with exile-based removal such as Leyline Binding, you were in a world of trouble. The printing of Thousand Moons Smithy certainly helped add a bit more beef. Still, the Metalwork Colossus shell severely needed another way to reliably close the game.

Enter: Simulacrum Synthesizer. We’ve already talked about the power of Synthesizer in Modern and Legacy Affinity. Now, the card has a home in Pioneer. Obviously, the card works well with Metalwork Colossus by reducing its casting cost and providing Construct tokens when Colossus enters. However, in games where you don’t draw Colossus, Synthesizer can take over singlehandedly. For example, casting Brass Knuckles as a follow up to Synthesizer will net you two enormous Construct tokens to Equip!

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Upgrades Galore

Assimilation AegisAssimilation Aegis

Another weakness this strategy has suffered from in the past is the lack of interaction for opposing haymakers. Portable Hole and Glass Casket provided extra breathing room in the early game. Cards like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse or Archfiend of the Dross, though, were tougher to deal with. Sure, white has ample removal spell options like Get Lost, but you only have so much room for non-Artifact spells.

For this reason, Assimilation Aegis was a sneaky solid printing for this archetype. It answers the opponent’s biggest Creatures, triggers Synthesizer, and can even let your Ingenious Smiths become copies of the scary monster you exiled when applicable.

Besides Synthesizer and Aegis, Lavaspur Boots and Fomori Vault round out the new Thunder Junction inclusions. Letting your Constructs and Colossuses attack immediately can be essential in the face of board wipes. In the case of Fomori Vault, you get a neat utility Land that can dig super deep for Colossus. There isn’t a ton of extra room for colorless Lands given how important Sanctum of Ugin is, but having some flood protection goes a long way.

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Heading in the Right Direction

Slickshot Show-Off | Outlaws of Thunder JunctionSlickshot Show-Off | Outlaws of Thunder Junction

Notably, even with all these recent improvements to the deck, there are still some weak matchups worth addressing. Right off the bat, the rise in aggressive strategies thanks to Slickshot Show-Off is a bit of a concern. Portable Hole only does so much in stemming the bleeding. Slickshot Show-Off in particular is decent against Sorcery speed removal spells. Its Plot ability guarantees that the opponent will have extra mana available to pump it, enabling a big swing before you can exile it. As good as Synthesizer is, it’s a bit slow in Pioneer without all the mana acceleration and Affinity payoffs that you’d find in older formats.

This also means that some of your combo matchups aren’t the greatest, either. Your clock isn’t fast, making it tough to race Lotus Field combo. You have some disruption for Abzan Amalia Benavides Aguirre combo, but it’s often not enough.

The good news is that the new cards improve your midrange and control matchups quite a bit. Synthesizer is an incredibly hard card to grind through. It can create a wide board of Constructs, making you less vulnerable to The Wandering Emperor out of control. At the same time, Lavaspur Boots makes it easier to beat board wipes. If the opponent taps out for Supreme Verdict, making a Construct or casting a Colossus and Equipping lets you attack for a bunch of damage right away.

On top of that, your Colossuses and Constructs are typically too big for damage-based removal out of Izzet Phoenix to handle. Aegis can answer scary threats like Sheoldred or Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal out of mono-black midrange. Fumori Vault lets you turn excess Lands into action. Depending on the metagame you are expecting, the Azorius Metalwork Colossus shell seems like a perfectly reasonable choice. There’s definitely room for the deck to be fine-tuned even further, too. Perhaps a breakout performance is on the horizon, but we will just have to wait and see.

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