Hammer Time is a popular MTG Modern deck. Attempts to bring the deck into Pioneer have been met with mixed success. Saffron Olive made a Pioneer Hammer Time build on the 28th of May 2022. The content creator piloted the deck in five games, winning three of them. He concluded:
“I view this build as more of a starting point for the archetype than a finished product, so feel free to do some brewing and make some upgrades. But in the long run, I think it’s very possible that Hammer Time could end up as a real archetype in the format [Pioneer], if not tier one, then at least as a playable and fun lower-tier option!”
Phyrexia: All Will Be One will give Hammer Time decks two new cards which may enable the strategy to work in Pioneer. These new cards also grant the deck a potential two turn kill.
What Is Hammer Time?
Hammer Time derives its name from the card Colossus Hammer. A powerful two mana piece of equipment that grants the equipped creature +10/+10. Colossus Hammer is a strong card, but comes with the weighty downside of costing eight mana to equip once it’s in play. It also takes away the ability flying from any creature it is equipped to, making them easier to block. Hammer Time decks in Modern circumvent its huge equip cost by using cards like Puresteel Paladin and Kor Outfitter to equip the hammer for free. The card Stoneforge Mystic is also an essential component of the deck, as it can be used to tutor for the hammer.
Pioneer, unfortunately, lacks many of these tools. Fighter Class or Open the Armoury have to be used in the place of Stoneforge Mystic to tutor for equipment. There are also fewer options that allow players to attach equipment for free. Sigarda’s Aid is great, and is also used in many Modern Hammer Time builds, but other than it options are scarce. Bruenor Battlehammer works but is fairly costly at four mana. Resolute Strike can attach any piece of equipment, at the cost of only a single White mana, but only works on Warriors.
The New Cards
The first of these new cards is Kemba, Kha Enduring. A two mana 2/2 Cat Cleric, when Kemba Kha Enduring, or another Cat, enters play under your control you can attach a piece of equipment to them for free. Kemba, Kha Enduring can grab the hammer upon entering the battlefield. This card also synergizes nicely with several powerful Cats already in Pioneer. The card Lion Sash is a Cat that is already in Saffron Olive’s Pioneer Hammer Time build. Adorned Pouncer is a cheap Cat with double strike that can deal 20+ damage with the hammer. Brimaz, King of Oreskos creates 1/1 Cat Soldier tokens whenever he attacks or blocks. Kemba, Kha Enduring also grants all equipped creatures you control +1/+1 and allows you to create a 2/2 cat token for five mana, abilities which are nice bonuses.Kemba, Kha Enduring’s reveal got the community on Reddit very excited about the possibilities of Hammer Time in Pioneer…
“Kemba could singlehandedly make Hammer a thing in Pioneer. I mean not singlehandedly but you know what I mean.” Exploringdeathntaxes
“It could be a t3-t4 win.” D-fakkr
The second of these new cards is Cacophony Scamp. At first glance, Cacophony Scamp may not appear to offer much which Fireblade Charger doesn’t already provide. Both are 1/1 Goblin Warriors and both death damage equal to their power to any target when they die. Fireblade Charger even gets haste when it’s equipped, a trait not shared by Cacophony Scamp. The scamp has one trump card though which Fireblade Charger lacks. When Cacophony Scamp deals damage to a player it can be sacrificed to proliferate. It is this ability that earns it a place in a turn two kill strategy.
The two turn kill combo requires three cards. Cacophony Scamp, Colossus Hammer and then either Resolute Strike or Sigarda’s Aid.
On turn one you play your Cacophony Scamp.
On turn two you play the hammer and attach it to Cacophony Scamp using Sigarda’s Aid or Resolute Strike and attack.
If your attack gets through, it will deal 11 damage. Then you sacrifice Cacophony Scamp to its own ability, dealing 11 more damage and winning the game.
Will this combo work in practice, or is it a pipe dream? We will have to wait for Phyrexia: All Will Be One to be released to find out. One thing is for sure though, even if these cards don’t make Hammer Time work in Pioneer, the format is constantly evolving and getting new cards. It may only be a matter of time before all of the pieces fall into place.