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Against the Odds: Voltron in Standard | Mechtitan Core


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 321 of Against the Odds. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is here, which means it's time to kick off our exploration of our new Standard format with a special episode. So, which card deserves the honor of being the first Against the Odds card from the set? Mechtitan Core, of course! That's right—today, we're looking to assemble literal Voltron in Standard! If we can get five Vehicles (or artifact creatures) on the battlefield and five mana Mechtitan Core rewards us with Voltron—a 10/10 hasty, lifelinking, trampling, flying creature that can close out the game in just two attacks! What are the odds of assembling Voltron in Standard with the help of Mechtitan Core? What are the odds of winning if we do assemble Voltron?  Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Voltron in Standard

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The Deck

As soon as Mechtitan Core was spoiled, I was 99% sure it would be the first Against the Odds card from the set. Being able to assemble Voltron in Standard was just too sweet and funny to pass up. As such, the main challenge this week was figuring out the best way to support the Mechtitan Core Vehicle plan. Thanks to Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, all five colors have support for Vehicles, which means there are nearly endless possibilities. After testing a bunch of different builds, I eventually ended up with the Bant build we're playing today, in large part because Esika's Chariot helps solve one of Mechtitan Core's biggest problems (which is that the Voltron token it makes doesn't have any protection, so it tends to get killed or bounced a lot). Thankfully, Mechtitan Core gives us back the other artifacts that we exile to make Voltron when the Voltron token leaves the battlefield, which makes Vehicles and artifact creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities—like Esika's Chariot—one of the best ways to "protect" Voltron because if our opponent kills it, at least we get to make a bunch more Cats.

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Mechtitan Core is—by far—the most unique of the new Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Vehicles. It's not great as an attacker or a blocker, but that's not really what Mechtitan Core is about. The main purpose of Mechtitan Core is to get it on the battlefield with a bunch of other Vehicles or artifact creatures and turn it into Voltron—a 10/10 flying, hasty, lifelinking, trampler that can kill our opponent in just two attacks! In theory, we can do this as soon as Turn 6 with our best draws, although we most often end up assembling Voltron in the late game as our finisher.

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Of course, to assemble Voltron, we need four other Vehicles or artifact creatures on the battlefield alongside Mechtitan Core itself. Thankfully, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty offers a ton of strong Vehicles. Reckoner Bankbuster gives us some card draw and eventually makes a Pilot token for crewing purposes. Prodigy's Prototype also makes its own crew members. Esika's Chariot gives us Cats with its enters-the-battlefield trigger and, as I mentioned before, helps make losing Voltron after we manage to assemble it a bit less painful because if our opponent deals with Mechtitan Core, we'll get back Esika's Chariot and make some more Cat tokens for crewing our other Vehicles. Finally, Surgehacker Mech is basically the Vehicle version of Flametongue Kavu. With 20 Vehicles in our deck, it's usually dealing four or six damage to a creature or planeswalker by Turn 4, which is enough to kill pretty much any common threat in the format. Being able to reuse its enters-the-battlefield trigger if Voltron dies also gives us another way to survive the worst-case scenario of exiling our board to make a 10/10 only to have it die. While the main purpose of all of these cards is to up our Vehicle count for Mechtitan Core, they are all solid cards on their own, which helps ensure that we live long enough to summon Voltron and (hopefully) take over the game.

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One of the weird things about our deck is that we don't really have many creatures. Normally, Vehicle decks need a bunch of crew members to keep their cars running, but our deck is a bit different for two reasons. First, we're not really planning to win by beating down with random Vehicles—our goal is to win with Voltron. Second, between Reckoner Bankbuster, Prodigy's Prototype, and Esika's Chariot (along with Mech Hangar in our mana base), most of our Vehicles make creatures that we can use to crew them, which minimizes our need for "real" creatures. That said, we do have two creatures in the deck. Ingenious Smith helps us assemble Voltron by digging through our deck to find Mechtitan Core and our other Vehicles. Meanwhile, Circuit Mender is great for exiling to Mechtitan Core, drawing us a card when it leaves the battlefield and then gaining us some life (and eventually drawing us another card) if our opponent deals with Mechtitan and gives us back our artifacts.

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The rest of our deck is removal to help us stay alive long enough to summon Voltron. Most of it is pretty self-explanatory, with Fateful Absence and Doomskar for creature decks and Disruption Protocol to help against control and protect Mechtitan should we assemble it. I did want to take a minute to mention The Wandering Emperor because it's super strong in general and even better in our deck. As removal, The Wandering Emperor is a bit overcosted at four mana, but exiling any tapped creature (and gaining some life as a bonus) is solid, especially if we flash it into play during our opponent's turn. More importantly, The Wandering Emperor also can make 2/2 Samurai tokens, which help crew our Vehicles. This combination—being a removal spell that can also crew Vehicles—is extremely powerful in our deck. Expect to see a lot of The Wandering Emperor in Standard moving forward—it's really strong.

The Matchups

The matchups for Mechtitan Core are really hard to figure out. We've got game against both aggro (thanks to our removal and having good blockers) and control (where Vehicles are solid since they dodge a lot of removal), although I'm not sure we're heavily favored against either. In general, Mechtitan Core felt like a solid midrange deck, where we have the ability to beat pretty much anyone but can also lose to anyone, depending on our draw. Perhaps the scariest matchup for the deck is dedicated aggro, against which we can get off to some slow starts where we play a bunch of Vehicles but can't turn them into creatures. In practice, we were able to beat most of the aggro decks we played, so maybe it's not as bad of a matchup as I thought when heading into our games.

The Odds

Record-wise, we ended up 3-2 with Mechtitan Core, giving us a solid 60% win percentage. More importantly, two of our three wins came thanks to assembling Voltron with Mechtitan Core! While we probably got a bit lucky that our opponents didn't have answers to Voltron (and if our opponent can't kill Voltron, then Voltron is going to kill them super quickly), overall, the deck felt a lot better than I expected. Having so many Vehicles that can make creatures to crew themselves is pretty insane. This is what makes Esika's Chariot so strong, and while cards like Reckoner Bankbuster and Prodigy's Prototype take a bit longer to get going, they do work in a similar way. It was surprising how often we'd end up with a big board full of tokens even without drawing any actual creatures to crew our Vehicles. Add in the possibility of a 10/10 hasty, flying, trampling, lifelinker to close out the game, and Standard Voltron was oddly effective. While Mechtitan Core might be a bit too risky for top-tier decks (and there is a cost to having to play so many Vehicles and artifact creatures), it feels almost unbeatable when it works. Plus, it's a really hilarious way to win a game of Magic!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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What Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty card should we play next in Standard? Help decide by voting here!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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