The Cutting Room Floor: Artificer’s Intuition
One of my all time favorite cards is that of a notorious (but seldom used) blue enchantment from Fifth Dawn known as Artificer’s Intuition (A.I.). As most of us know A.I. is one of those cards that have the potential to be really good in a deck that can make the most out of converted mana cost zero and one artifacts. There are plenty of those in existence but the real trick is finding the ones that really help the player to win the game. Today we’ll dip into some of the cooler “silver bullets” with A.I. and look at the card’s potential in general!
[Editor’s note: Click any of the linked card names (in blue) or featured card images to view / purchase the card from Jupiter Games – http://jupitergamesonline.com!]
First, let’s take a look and see exactly how the card operates.
Similar to its ancestor, the late, great Survival of the Fittest, A.I. has an identical cost and activated ability, albeit being blue. Additionally, there are conditions that must be met in order to use the card. First, you need to have a ‘disposable’ artifact in your hand of any converted mana cost in order to search through your deck for an artifact that costs one or less. What makes this card so interesting is that it forces the player using it to do their homework. If you want to play A.I., you’re going to need to know the artifacts that are currently legal in Legacy in order to maximize its potential.
Easier said than done, but with a solid core of useful artifacts it’s possible to create a well-oiled machine that can not only find answers when you need them but potentially win conditions in a hurry. Think about this: imagine playing a Painter’s Servant deck. Need a Grindstone in a pinch? Fetch it up by discarding an artifact land. Looking for that Dreadnought to go with your Stifle? Have at it.
Being able to find answers and cards that help you win the game at such a low cost is an attractive quality for any singular card, but it can be difficult. Remember: if you’re playing A.I. then you’re probably going to need to build your deck around it. But once this card hits the table and goes live, things can get fun for you and bad for an opponent in a hurry.
Let’s look at some of the cards that make A.I. incredibly fun and powerful at the same time.
This is just downright awesome if you ask me. Being able to locate Sensei’s Divining Top can be an incredibly powerful bonus in many circumstances. Let’s assume you’re running some combination of these and Counterbalance. Being able to find Sensei’s Divining Top with a Counterbalance in play is just awesome. But there’s another cool utility hidden in the value of Top with Intuition.
There might be an instance where Top hits the battlefield and you need to search or dig deeper and deeper to find a specific card. With A.I., you can look with Top and if you don’t like what you see you can discard an artifact on the fly to get a shuffle and look again. This is excellent with that Counterbalance trigger on the stack and makes for a truly blossoming set of circumstances for you. Being able to shuffle your deck to find what you need and also ensuring the soft-lock is in place for the rest of the game.
Fetches are always a big deal in mana-bases nowadays. Consider that you’re not only activating them to look for the appropriate land, but you’re thinning your deck out in the process. This is important for those reasons, which is why A.I. ensures you’ll be able to not only find the lands you need in a pinch but serve as fodder when you want to thin your deck out to locate an artifact that can help you win the game.
Take for instance a situation where you’re playing a deck with A.I. and a bunch of artifacts. Concurrently, you’re also playing a deck that runs planeswalkers or specialty cards (maybe something like The Abyss) and you’re having trouble finding them. With a sufficient battlefield state and perhaps some extra resources, you can begin chaining these into your graveyard in order to find what you need in the circumstance you cannot find it. Artifact lands just shine in general because they are all-purpose with A.I., which is why you should consider running plenty of these when coming up with an initial list.
As a side note: Mox Opals are also nice to run with A.I. for several obvious reasons, but none more important than the ability to drop one onto the battlefield turn one. Assume you have an artifact aside from Mox Opal that costs zero mana and you play an Opal and an artifact land. This enables Metalcraft and grants you access to a turn one A.I., a truly scary set of circumstances for your opponent. It also gets you mana faster and acts as perfect fodder for A.I. when you already have one of these in play.
There’s going to come a time at some point in a competitive event where you’re bound to run into a deck that is largely based off of the graveyard, be it Dredge, Reanimator or what-have-you. When that time comes, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your deck not only has some game against those decks but also is able to find those cards when you need them. The image provided indicates Grafdigger’s Cage as a choice for hate with A.I., but that’s far from where it all stops. Most graveyard-hate cards come in the form of converted mana costs of one or less like Relic of Progenitus or Tormod’s Crypt, so finding an answer isn’t all that hard when you have multiple ways of finding them…or by filter-drawing into them naturally.
Having an answer to graveyard decks is always a nice bonus, especially in a format like Legacy. You never know when you’ll need it, and having outs in game one can be incredibly relevant in some metas.
If you want to shore up some match-ups that you feel uncomfortable playing, you have plenty of options to choose from throughout Magic’s storied history. In a Burn-infested meta, something like Elixir of Immortality can create fits for an unknowing opponent. What’s even better is that it continues to get shuffled back into your deck so that when your life is high enough and you’ve maxed out on value with it, you can pitch it to A.I. and find something more useful when you need it. Pretty nifty!
There is virtually a bottomless list of cards you can choose from that you can include in an A.I. deck depending on your meta. Some of the better options include:
- Zuran Orb
- Pithing Needle
- Engineered Explosives
- The Spellbombs
And the list goes on and on. A.I. is such a fun card and in some ways has distinct advantages over its ancestor from Exodus. Being able to find cards aside from creatures is really cool, but being able to find specialized cards that are not creatures for specialized match-ups is what makes the card stand out. While certainly more restrictive, A.I. can be incredibly diverse in a deck utilizing it in obscure ways.
But let’s not forget what else it can do…
I don’t know if there’s a better creature you can fetch up for one mana than the dreaded Dreadnought. If you can find a way to support it, using it in a shell with something like Vision Charm or Stifle can be really fun and just plain nasty. If you really want to take it a step further, there’s always Volrath’s Shapeshifter, too!
Certainly you could take A.I. more casually than competitively, and that’s fine too. In doing so you can find a plethora of artifact creatures that cost one or less: Ornithopter, Heap Doll, you name it. It really all depends on what you’re trying to do with the card. If you’re building your deck around it to competitively support it, then you might want to look elsewhere from these less optimal choices. The card’s strength really lies in its ability to fetch up specialty artifacts, but at this point I just don’t know if any truly exist at one mana that can realistically alter the course of an entire game more than Phyrexian Dreadnought, which wins games flat-out.
I just think it would be incredibly hilarious to use this card with Dreadnought in a shell that can support it.
I think this is where A.I. shines in many ways. There are lots of odds and ends you can weave into the fabric of a deck flowing with bizarre trinkets, but being able to locate and obtain combo pieces can be incredibly powerful. Assuming you’re on some kind of Painter’s Servant-variant, you can find that Grindstone and get the win right then and there. Not enough mana to activate it on time? Pay a blue, ditch that artifact land and find that Lion’s Eye Diamond in your deck to seal the deal!
Or let’s say for instance you’re running a deck that plays combo, much like a gentleman named Travis Gibson did at a Star City event back in December of 2011. In that particular list, Travis decided to run multiple copies of Enlightened Tutor to supplement his Intuitions while mixing the deck with several combo elements: Painter-Grindstone, Salvager-LED-Spellbomb and Thopter-Sword. In that deck, he was able to find what he needed to get any aspect of any combo going by having redundancy in A.I.
Check out his list:
As you can see, his list is really all over the place with the aforementioned combo pieces. But I think it’s a creative endeavor that stands out among its peers by how effective and competitive it can be, while being extremely fun at the same time!
Also present are the usual suspects: Force of Will, Swords to Plowshares and Brainstorm, easily making this a combo-control variant of the coolest kind. It can play and keep up with the early game in Daze while being able to shore up opposing combo with Counterbalance and the like. Being able to circumvent those match-ups with Enlightened Tutor’s utility is incredibly powerful and should not be overlooked.
I don’t know if I like the singleton Painter’s Servant and Grindstone in this build, though. I know Tutor can grab them in a pinch, but realistically you’re not doing anything else with the Painter so if we can build a shell using Painter more effectively, that might be the way to go. I do see what he was trying to do here with this list in the, “Oops, I win” factor. It works sometimes, but with one Painter I’m not so sure.
It’s still pretty cool to pitch a land to Force of Will with Painter on “blue,” though!
I’m not quite sure Travis did overly well at that event but don’t let that be a turn off to you. If you’re looking for a challenging yet rewarding card to play in a competitive environment, then look no further than A.I. You’ll be sure to have a great time playing the card in both casual and competitive play. Just make sure you think carefully how you want to build your deck around it; it’s the choices you make in each individual slot that make up the framework from which the entire deck will operate.
While certainly fun, A.I. also falls into the realm of “dangerously cool” cards where a fine line is drawn between competitive and casual. You need to be careful how you walk that line when building a deck around this card, because it can cost you in a tournament if you don’t prepare adequately. Fortunately I hope to be prepared to walk that line as I will aim to pilot an Artificer’s Intuition deck I’ve been tuning for over a year in the February NELC event next week!
Wish me luck!