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Much Abrew: Powerstone Shard Combo (Pioneer, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week, during our Instant Deck Techs, the spicy Powerstone Shard Combo build came out on top. As such, we're heading to Pioneer today to see if we can play through our entire deck in a single turn with the absurd mana-generating power of Paradox Engine and Powerstone Shard. If that plan doesn't work, we can always just cast a few copies of Metalwork Colossus for free and go on the 10/10 beatdown plan. Just how good can a fully colorless combo deck be in Pioneer? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Powerstone Shard Combo

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  • Record-wise, we finished 3-2 in our recorded matches, which is a fine record for a very rogue brew (especially when you consider that one of our losses came to an Electrostatic Pummeler that we could have shut down with Karn, the Great Creator's static ability but didn't). Overall, including some test games to get used to the deck, we finished right around 50% in terms of match win percentage. 
  • Let's start with the good news: the combo itself is very powerful. Once we get the engine of Mystic Forge, some mana rocks like Powerstone Shard and Hedron Archive, and Paradox Engine on the battlefield, it's really hard to fizzle. Odds are we'll play through our entire deck and then finish the game with a massive Walking Ballista
  • The deck also has a fairly solid backup plan. Thanks to Metalwork Colossus and Sanctum of Ugin to find more copies of Metalwork Colossus, we sometimes just end up with two or three 10/10s on the battlefield by Turn 4 or 5, which is often enough to win the game even without the combo. 
  • There's also some sneaky value in being fully colorless, especially in terms of the mana base. Since we don't need any dual lands to make our mana work, we can overload on powerful utility lands. Blast Zone was especially important—we managed to beat Bogles without really doing anything of note by drawing multiple copies, while Radiant Fountain is helpful against aggro, Zhalfirin Void helps to filter our draws, Inventors' Fair can snag a combo piece, and Mutavault gives us a way to pressure opponent's planeswalkers early in the game. 
  • Witch's Oven looked weird at first, and I mostly glossed over it during the Instant Deck Tech, but it actually has a fairly important purpose that helps to support our combo. Thanks to Metalwork Colossus's ability to return itself from our graveyard to our hand by sacrificing two artifacts, if we need another spell to untap our mana rocks with Paradox Engine, we can sacrifice Metalwork Colossus to Witch's Oven (making an artifact Food token) and then sacrifice the Food and another artifact to get back Metalwork Colossus to cast from our hand (hopefully for free), to trigger Paradox Engine and generate a bunch of mana. Once we start comboing and flip a Treasure Map, we can do this a bunch of times without losing any non-token artifacts, which ends up generating a ton of mana with Powerstone Shard / Hedron Archive and Paradox Engine
  • As for the bad news of the deck: the biggest problem is the curve. We're overloaded with four-drops, so we occasionally lose games to aggressive decks where we do basically nothing and get run over. Something like Mind Stone would go a long way toward upping the deck's power, but sadly, Mind Stone isn't legal in Pioneer. The next best colorless option is probably Hedron Crawler, which might be worth trying, even though as a creature, it dies to everything. 
  • The deck's other big issue is the prevalence of Oko, Thief of Crowns. While we managed to dodge it during our matches, it seems close to unbeatable since it can turn our combo pieces like Mystic Forge, Paradox Engine, and mana rocks into 3/3 Elk every turn. It also downgrades Metalwork Colossus from a 10/10 to a 3/3. 
  • The biggest question for the deck is whether it really needs to be completely colorless. While it has to be mostly colorless to make the Mystic Forge / Paradox Engine combo work, splashing lightly into the world of colored spells might offer some potential. For example, blue would give us Whir of Invention to find combo pieces and cards like Metallic Rebuke. Meanwhile, green could offer some mana dorks to help speed up the deck. Black could give us Battle at the Bridge for removal and maybe Thoughtseize from the sideboard. While we'd have to give up some sweet utility lands to make the mana work, the power increase might make it worth the cost. 
  • While the epic discussion of Pithing Needle vs. Sorcerous Spyglass was unnecessary since we could have played Karn, the Great Creator to shut down Electrostatic Pummeler, in reality, I still can't see a reason to play two copies of Sorcerous Spyglass and zero copies of Pithing Needle in a deck that can tutor artifacts from the sideboard with Karn, the Great Creator. As a general rule (and assuming budget isn't a concern), I think that you should always play Pithing Needle over Sorcerous Spyglass unless you have a specific reason to play Sorcerous Spyglass (for example, you're a Modern deck trying to play Chalice of the Void on one). Another exception might be that you are new to the format and not sure what to name, but if you're sideboarding in (or tutoring up) a Pithing Needle / Sorcerous Spyglass, you should probably have a specific card in mind that you are trying to stop anyway.
  • Basically, Powerstone Shard Combo is powerful but has a tendency to be clunky since so many combo pieces are concentrated in the four- and five-mana slots, and Pioneer doesn't offer good colorless ramp that costs less than three mana. To improve the deck, we either need to speed up the rate at which we get to four mana (either with Hedron Crawler or by splashing into green for additional mana dorks) or add more cards to slow our opponent down (likely by adding blue and / or black cards) and help make sure we live long enough to play our combo pieces. The deck is good enough to win quite a few games as is, although be warned that you will get run over by aggro decks, especially if you lose the die roll (and we're almost never beating an Oko, Thief of Crowns). 
  • So, should you play Powerstone Shard Combo in Pioneer? I think the answer is yes but with the knowledge that it's a somewhat middling deck in terms of win percentage. It is good enough to win a decent number of games, but the slow curve (and Oko) makes some matches very difficult. The combo turns are amazing, and the deck does some crazy things once it gets its engine online. The only problem is that sometimes we're dead before we get the engine online. I plan on trying Hedron Crawler over Inquisitive Puppet next time I take the deck out for a spin, and if that's not enough, splashing into a color or two might be worthwhile.


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

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