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Budget Oathbreaker: Servo Overload


We've done Against the Odds with Kaya, Orzhov Usurper and we had rousing good time with Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord's reanimating vampires. Today's budget built is based on combo tokens. Oh another green or white weenie build? Sorry, but we won't be using pauper staple two-card combos like Presence of Gond and Midnight Guard. That is a bit too easy. After all the Selesnya color pairing matches the card types of the combo! Green is good at finding creatures, like Midnight Guard, and white is good at finding enchantments, like Presence of Gond. Today's machinations will us tinkering with Saheeli, Sublime Artificer to make a multitude of machines.

Should Servos Serve You?

Do you love tokens? Do you love value? Do you love your tokens making value? Then the artificer and vedalken lifestyles are lifestyles for you. This deck is all about fiddling together our value engine. Most of our actions will beget a token. "And what of this token?" you might ask. Well it shall serve on the front lines providing chip damage, the rearguard as a damage sponge, on the alter as a sacrifice, and as a cog of the combo. Rather than meddle too much in our opponents machinations, we are lost in our deep devotion to artifacts. Our industriousness will win us the day.

That said, if you are not a fan of infinite combos do not fret. Saheeli, Sublime Artificer servo synergy is strong enough that you can take out our infinite combo and still have a good time.


Self-Replicating Servo

Before getting into what cards we have in the deck, let us take a moment to understand the main combo driving it. Our goal is to make infinite servos. While there are many ways to do this, generally speaking, we first must make infinite mana. Then we can dump this mana into a mana sink for making servos. Since Oathbreaker is a singleton format, we are going to put the second half of our engine (making servos) in our Command Zone i.e. Saheeli, Sublime Artificer will seize the means of our servo production and our Signature Spell will help her do so.

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer [WAR]

With Saheeli, Sublime Artificer in play, we just need infinite mana to cast any noncreature spell infinite times to trigger Saheeli, Sublime Artificer for our infinite servos. In Commander this might actually be a bit troublesome. After all, once you cast a spell in Commander it generally resolves to the graveyard. Therefore, we would either need a way to constantly recur one key spell or a way to consistently cycle through our library (shuffling in our graveyard on occasion). In Oathbreaker, our Signature Spell will always return to the Command Zone. That means we can focus on setting up our mana engine. Since the Signature Spell is an instant or sorcery, in other words, a noncreature spell, with infinite mana what our Signature Spell is technically does not matter. I personally, however, have the view that if we employee an infinite combo it generally requires at least three cards. This gives our opponents a fair shot at disrupting us. So I will incorporate the Signature Spell with our combo engine.

Shell of the Combo

The "shell" of this combo leverages the Signature Spell mechanic and the fact that its Commander Tax is {2} for each time the Signature Spell was cast. Since our Signature Spell is a noncreature spell, every time we cast it we know we will make a 1/1 colorless servo artifact creature token. Why do we know this? Well we can only cast our Signature Spell when our Oathbreaker is in play under our control and that is the static ability of Saheeli, Sublime Artificer. Now all we need to do is make mana. The first key piece in making our infinite mana is Storm the Vault or more accurately, its transformed half Vault of Catlacan.

Storm the Vault [RIX]Vault of Catlacan [RIX]

Vault of Catlacan adds {U} for each artifact we control. Since when we cast our Signature Spell, Saheeli, Sublime Artificer will trigger making us one artifact (a servo) and all our Signature Spell needs to do is at least make one more artifact. Then the next time we tap Vault of Catlacan for mana, we should have increased our artifact count by at least {2} which is conveniently the amount of extra mana needed for the Commander Tax. So then what is left? An untap engine! Fortunately for us there is a series of dinky talismans from Ice Age which can fill this role. The two talismans relevant to us are Lapis Lazuli Talisman and Hematite Talisman:

Lapis Lazuli Talisman [ICE]Hematite Talisman [ICE]

These talismans state:

{3}: Untap target permanent. Use this ability only when a C spell is cast and only once for each C spell cast.

Where C changes depending on the talisman (e.g. blue for Lapis Lazuli Talisman).  Ergo the combo goes like

  1. Tap Vault of Catlacan to add {U} for each artifact we control.
  2. Cast our (blue / red) Signature Spell and make at least two artifacts.
  3. Untap Vault of Catlacan with mana floating from step 1.
  4. Repeat!

So that is the self-replicating servo combo in a nutshell. Now let us go into the specifics. Our overflow of servo combo works with a number of Signature Spells. Depending on which you choose you may also generate infinite excess mana in the process (mana not used to fuel the combo). So let us look at our contenders:

Servo Color Options

The Product Blue Loop

If we are going with the "blue loop,"then the second key combo piece is Lapis Lazuli Talisman and our Signature Spell options are Quasiduplicate, Rite of Replication, Masterful Replication, and Saheeli's Artistry.

Quasiduplicate [GRN]Rite of Replication [ZEN]Masterful Replication [M20]Saheeli's Artistry [KLD]

Each of these spells has different pros and cons in regards to their flexibility/competitiveness. Arguably the strongest of these options is Masterful Replication. Why?

  1. It is an instant.
  2. It makes two tokens.
  3. Its tokens are of decent size.
  4. We can use its alternate mode to make all our smaller tokens larger as a fallback.

To breakdown the math of our loop, let:

  • I be the iteration of our loop,
  • X be the converted mana cost of the Signature Spell, and
  • Z be the number of tokens made from both Saheeli, Sublime Artificer and our Signature Spell per iteration.

So generally speaking, starting on iteration zero, we see that:

Iteration # Artifacts Mana from Vault Cost of Signature Spell Cost to Untap Vault Tokens Made
I 3 + X + (Z * I) 3 + X + (Z * I) X + (I * 2) 3 Z

If we choose Masterful Replication, then

  • X = 6, and
  • Z = 3 = 2 (3/3 golems) + 1 (1/1 servo)

Plugging this in to our table:

Iteration # Artifacts Mana from Vault Cost of Signature Spell Cost to Untap Vault Tokens Made Excess Mana
0 9 9 6 3 3 0
1 12 12 8 3 3 1
2 15 15 10 3 3 2
3 18 18 12 3 3 3

Where the "Excess Mana" is equal to "Mana from the Vault" minus "Cost of Signature Spell" minus "Cost to Untap Vault".

How about if we chose Quasiduplicate, then

and the way we go infinite looks like:

Step # Artifacts Mana from Vault Cost of Signature Spell Cost to Untap Vault Tokens Made Excess Mana
0 6 6 3 3 2 0
1 8 8 5 3 2 0
2 10 10 7 3 2 0
3 12 12 9 3 2 0

As you can see from these examples, to ignite our combo, I am assuming we have yet to cast our Signature Spell (i.e. no Commander Tax). Further, we will at least need three artifacts in play for the Vault of Catlacan to cover its untap cost with Lapis Lazuli Talisman. If you are concerned about the starting condition of three artifacts, no need! It takes at least four to transform Storm the Vault into Vault of Catlacan.

The Product Red Loop

If we are going with the "red loop", then the second key combo piece is Hematite Talisman and our Signature Spell option is Brass's Bounty.

Brass's Bounty [RIX]

 

With our "blue loop" the steps are a bit simpler because Vault of Catlacan produces blue mana. This "red loop" works regardless because we can sacrifice one of our freshly minted treasure tokens from Brass's Bounty to make the red mana needed to cast Brass's Bounty again.  Thus the general steps are:

  1. Tap Vault of Catlacan for mana equal to the number of artifacts we control.
  2. Resolve Brass's Bounty to produce treasure tokens equal to the number of lands we control (plus a servo).
  3. Activate Hematite Talisman to untap Vault of Catlacan.
  4. Sacrifice one of our treasure tokens and tap Vault of Catlacan to pay for Brass's Bounty.


Let us try a concrete example. We will start with six artifacts in play, five lands, and at least one red mana source available (e.g. MountainIron Myr, etc). Why five lands? We can sacrifice three of Brass's Bounty's treasure tokens to pay for Hematite Talisman. That leaves us with two leftover treasure tokens. We will need one of which for the cost of Brass's Bounty. Then we have the servo from Saheeli, Sublime Artificer and one remaining treasure token which we must not sacrifice so we can augment Vault of Catlacan to pay for the Commander Tax. Without further ado, our starting board state:

 

To begin the "red loop"

  • We now have nine artifacts (six from the start plus two treasure tokens and one servo).

The second time through this loop:

  • We tap Vault of Catlacan for nine blue mana and then sacrifice one of our treasure tokens for one red mana (ten total mana) to cast Brass's Bounty. (eight artifacts total)
    • With Commander Tax this will cost us 9 mana leaving us with one blue mana floating.
  • Brass's Bounty resolves and we make five treasure tokens and a 1/1 servo. (14 artifacts total)
  • We sacrifice three treasures to untap Vault of Catlacan. (11 artifacts total)
  • We now have 11 artifacts (eight remaining after sacrificing the treasure, two new treasure and one new servo).

The third time through this loop:

and so it goes.


Saheeli's Servo Blueprint

Now that we understand how we can make a surplus of servos, let us take a look at the rest of the gears that make this deck work. For this version I will have Saheeli, Sublime Artificer as our Oathbreaker with the Signature Spell set as Masterful Replication. That means we are running Lapis Lazuli Talisman.

The Combo Package

As we have a combo engine in our deck, we will need support to enable it. Generally, the combo package includes four prongs: tutors, retrieval. protection, and fallback.

Tutors

An influx of servos stems from four cards, two of which are in our Command Zone and two are in our deck (Lapis Lazuli Talisman and Storm the Vault). How can we reliably get these two cards into play?

Fortunately, blue is good at finding artifacts with cards like Fabricate. Unfortunately the best blue tutors are somewhat pricey. One of the best budget artifact tutors comes from Modern Horizons with Tribute Mage. She will directly find our conveniently costed Lapis Lazuli Talisman. While not as powerful, Machinate can help us dig as well. Since a third of our deck is artifacts, we should usually not fizzle with Machinate.

What about our premium real-estate Storm the Vault? I'll be honest, we do not have access to the best enchantment tutors. However, we do have access to a strange overlooked tutor Noble Benefactor.

Noble Benefactor [WL]

Why is he overlooked? Well, our opponents can get a card too... maybe even an answer to our combo. Since a decent amount of our budget goes towards strong support cards, even squeezing Long-Term Plans was a bit much for this build.

Retrieval

With so many pieces, our combo can be easily dismantled. Further, with or without our combo, Storm the Vault is crazy strong in an artifact deck. How might we get back some cards that have been turned to scraps? Well Scrap Trawler can get us back our Lapis Lazuli Talisman and many of our other lower costed artifacts (e.g. if we were hit by a board wipe). We also include Conqueror's Galleon. Like Storm the Vault we are more interested in the flip side Conqueror's Foothold, where we can draw cards, or return any card from our graveyard to our hand. Need to reuse a board wipe in a grindy game? Not a problem. Storm the Vault in the graveyard? Not a problem. Part of our value engine in the graveyard? You get the idea.

Protection

Since we have ways to recur our combo from the graveyard and have a strong value engine, even without our combo, I am not too concerned with holding up mana for a counter spell war. Nevertheless, would it be a blue deck without one? Therefore we will be running Admiral's Order.

Admiral's Order [RIX]

Admiral's Order also opens up a point of discussion for picking counter spells. The original Counterspell costs {U}{U}. The majority of other counter spells either cost less with restrictions / downsides or cost more with upside. Admiral's Order also has an alternate casting cost of {U}, if we attacked with a creature. Say we are about to combo off, then we should have a servo we can send out before our second main phase. If we are attacking with a lethal amount of tokens, then we also get the discount on Admiral's Order. If we are behind enough to be concerned about a threat from our opponents, then holding up mana also isn't a big deal. In this context, Admiral's Order is often a better Abjure or Swan Song for us.

Fallback

We have several fallbacks in our deck. First, we have an alternate infinite mana engine: Myr Galvanizer plus some of our other myr mana dorks (e.g. Iron Myr, Silver Myr, and Palladium Myr).

Myr Galvanizer [SOM]

Unfortunately, the Myr Galvanizer combo requires two copies of Myr Galvanizer to untap one another. If only we had constant access to something that makes copies of artifacts... thanks Saheeli, Sublime Artificer!  In addition to a backup infinite mana engine, we have Mirrodin Besieged as an alternate win condition. Further, we do not even need these win conditions to win. We have more than enough redundancy in our token production that we can just put bodies on the board and send them to greet our opponents' faces.

Overtime on the Assembling Line

Our deck wants to make lots of artifact tokens. The more artifact tokens we have, the sooner we can start the Vault of Catlacan engine. In addition, all of our tokens can help us protect Saheeli, Sublime Artificer as well as draw us cards.

Some of our most loyal employee's are Sai, Master Thopterist, Sharding Sphinx, and Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer. With over a third of our deck being artifacts, Sai, Master Thopterist can help give us some aerial protection. Sharding Sphinx punishes our opponents without fliers by doubling up our air-based agents, and should we find ourselves cluttering the skies, we can scrap our excess thopters and servos into cards with Sai, Master Thopterist. While Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer won't directly draw us cards, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer provides a steady stream of hasty tokens.

Making infinite tokens with haste is often better than making them without. I wholeheartedly agree that this deck could use some more haste-enablers like Fervor, Hammer of Purphoros, Anger or Cavalier of Flame. Some of these are budget, so why did I exclude them? Well Storm the Vault transforms into Vault of Catlacan at the beginning of our end step. Since Vault of Catlacan is critical to our combo, making infinite hasty tokens in our end step isn't so great. There will likely be pushback from our opponents once Vault of Catlacan  (read as Tolarian Academy) is online. That is why I prefer Masterful Replication as our Signature Spell. As an instant we can still make use of Vault of Catlacan with Masterful Replication should removal for the Vault of Catlacan come our way. Likewise, if our opponents do not see our combo, during the end step before our turn we can go off.

There are some other cards making us tokens but we will talk about them in a bit.

Quick Stop at the Pit Stop

You might have noticed that only one of our tutors, Noble Benefactor, can get us any card in our deck... and conditionally at that. To help make sure we can tune our performance whenever we are lagging behind, we have a ton of cards that will be allowing us to filter through our deck. Who is the star of our pit crew? Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain will turn 1/3 of our deck into card draw! Thopter Spy Network overclocks our servos so that chip damage yields cards. Merchant's Dockhand is a repeatable Machinate with the upside that we can take any card into our hand. This pit crew is just the cards we did not already mention. Recall that Conqueror's Foothold and Sai, Master Thopterist also contribute to filtering through our deck. While Mirrodin Besieged can serve as a backup win con, although that is somewhat unlikely, we can utilize Mirrodin Besieged in whichever mode is more valuable for us at the moment.

Quality Control

While our combo is cool, it is cooler that our deck still performs without it. All our artifact cards and token generation means we will generally have a health servo population size. If we are dealing with finite numbers, how can we make sure our servos are serving at their best?

Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive will make sure our servos connect. Maybe this rouge is part of our Thopter Spy Network! In addition to being unblockable, we can turn our servos into removal. How?

Cavalcade of Calamity and Raid Bombardment guarantees that when we attack with a servo, even if they are blocked, we can point damage to chip away at our opponents life or their Oathbreakers. With Cavalcade of Calamity or Raid Bombardment in play, our servos are like little walking bombs that wander across enemy lines. If you are a bit skeptical of how go Cavalcade of Calamity can be, check out SaffronOlive's recent demonstration of its power.

Clean Room

Our strategy is best set up unperturbed. How are we going to keep our board safe from meddling hands? Kasmina's Transmutation is the blue Darksteel Mutation, allowing our servos to trade with whatever Kasmina's Transmutation enchants. Duplicant also deals with pesky creatures, while giving Masterful Replication an interesting target. To deal with planeswalkers, we have Incendiary Command. In a pinch we can also use Incendiary Command's wheel mode to get different cards in hand.

What about board wipes? Starstorm will deal with most threats and if not, we can cycle Starstorm away. We will also run the classic Nevinyrral's Disk to make the board mostly clean.

Fuel For the Cause

Our deck has a decent amount of card draw, filtering, and rewards for playing artifacts. Therefore it is also mana hungry. In addition to the standard ramp package, we add some extra creature ramp. First, we have traditional budget ramp package of Wayfarer's Bauble, Mind Stone, Izzet Signet, Talisman of Creativity and Dowsing Dagger. In addition to our mana rock collection,  Burnished Hart will help get lands onto the battlefield. Iron Myr and Silver Myr provide colored mana on a body, and Palladium Myr has a good return rate. Yes, in effect these creature ramp spells come in tapped since we can not activated them until they lose summoning sickness. However, ensuing colored mana is worth this draw back. Especially as they  can combo with Myr Galvanizer! Unlike the Myrs,  Etherium Sculptor reduces the cost of 1/3 of our deck without having to tap and in the late game and Conqueror's Foothold can also deepen our mana pool. Lastly, we have Chief Engineer which can let our servos serve double duty by paying the convoke costs.

Factory Grounds

Most of this mana base is what you'd guess from a budget brew. As an artifact-based deck, we can spice it up a tad with Seat of the Synod and Great Furnace. For mana fixing we have Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse and Myriad Landscape. Let's not forget our guild's tap land (Izzet Guildgate) and bounce land (Izzet Boilerworks). Then the Oathbreaker staple of Forge of Heroes. Since Saheeli, Sublime Artificer has no uptick ability, Forge of Heroes will help keep her alive and give her one more activation. Lastly we have 8 Islands and 7 Mountains.


Deck List


Upgrade Options

Tweaks to the Combo

The combo I present here is a Talisman plus Storm the Vault plus our Signature Spell. In effect, we are simply trying to make infinite mana. There is a few ways we can achieve this.

For a few extra dollars you can run Grand Architect and Pili-Pala. As creatures, they may be easier for your opponents to remove.  If you want to use a card from the new commander set, you could put in Empowered Autogenerator and Filigree Sages. Although Empowered Autogenerator has seen general disapproval, with consistent untap engines it is actually bonkers.

Empowered Autogenerator [C19]Filigree Sages [ALA]

Once Empowered Autogenerator can tap for {U}{U}{U} you can infinitely power up the generator with Filigree Sages. Although the  Empowered Autogenerator enters tapped, should Filigree Sages already be in play you can speed up Empowered Autogenerator's clock.

If you want to make the combo more of an instant kill, Purphoros, God of the Forge will do the trick, pinging our opponents with every servo from the assembly line. Otherwise, there are the standard haste enablers like Anger, Hammer of Purphoros, and Fervor as well as the new Cavalier of Flame.

Fluff the Pillow Fort

Servos are great. They chump block, they get in chip damage and they can be sacrificed for value. However, they are not the most comfortable pillow fort. To help give us more time to set up the combo, cards like Propaganda, Crawlspace, Collective Restraint (often just Propaganda for one extra mana), Ensnaring Bridge,  and Farsight Mask can help buy us time.

I would also recommend considering Curse of Opulence and Curse of Verbosity. While the curses were somewhat mocked when they first came out, do not underestimate what your opponents will do for extra mana and card draw. Just look at the monarch mechanic. Curse of Verbosity functions similarly without the downside of someone coming to hit you for the crown!

Pillow forts are more than just preventing combat, we also need to keep our board in tact. If your meta is heavy with pinpoint removal Padeem, Consul of Innovation can help protect the artifact portion of your board. If board wipes are more of a concern, Darksteel Forge makes them irreverent. Eldrazi Monument falls a bit lower on the mana curve and has a similar effect as Darksteel Forge. Just make sure you feed Eldrazi Monument a healthy diet of servos.

Purge the Bugs

We can of course improve our removal options as well. For example Imprisoned in the Moon is better than Kasmina's Transmutation. Alternatively, Chaos Warp can truly remove what was on the board. Since we are playing blue we can run Cyclonic Rift. Vandal Blast can handle our opponents mana rocks and Blasphemous Act is a pretty standard red board wipe.

Adaptive Automatons

We do not have that many non-artifact spells, so Shimmer Myr, Vedalken Orrery and Leyline of Anticipation can make our entire deck more reactive. Then we can drop in the talisman on the end step before our turn and our opponents have a very small window to deal with our combo.

Regarding our tutor package, we could toss in Gamble. I personally am not the biggest fan as Gamble as it may mean you are now looking for one of the cards that saves our combo from the graveyard. However, Gamble is more flexible than an artifact specific tutor. Likewise Fabricate, Long-Term Plans, and Arcum Dagsson are all better than Noble Benefactor.

NOS for the Engine

For ramp I would swap Dowsing Dagger with Sword of the Animis in a heartbeat. Unwinding Clock rewards our artifact heavy deck and its many creature-based ramp cards. If you want to be more of a spell slinger version of this deck (e.g. a bunch of card draw cantrips to find the combo),  then you could use Inspiring Statuary to turn the servos into mana rocks.

Our deck already stacked regarding mana. While we also have a fair amount of draw effects, they can definitely be improved. Unlike Thopter Spy Network, Kindred Discovery triggers both on when a creature enters play and on attack rather than on damage. Smuggler's Copter can evade creature-based board wipes as it sits idle as a vehicle, while also allowing our creature-based mana ramp and weaker tokens to take flight.  Tezzeret the Seeker serves as a tutor and can buff the servos in the late game to swing in for lethal. Oh, and how did I almost forget Skull Clamp?

Expanding the Factory

I won't touch on all the lands you can use to upgrade the mana base. The standard budget to bling rules apply: grab those dual lands, shock lands, fetch lands, check lands, etc. I will mention, however,  Buried RuinInventor's Fair, and Darksteel Citadel. The first two either retrieve an artifact from our graveyard and library respectively, while Darksteel Citadel is indestructible and ups our artifact count.


Wrapping Up

What do you think our servo overload? Which Signature Spell would you run and how would you find tune our factory? Please send your feedback via the Thopter Spy Network to the comment section below.

Like Oathbreaker content? Requests for budget deck techs? Suggestions or feedback? Let us know! Contact us via email at contact@mtggoldfish.com or on twitter at @mtggoldfish.


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