8, May, 24

Robust Big Score Haymaker Helps Failing Archetype Crush the Competition!

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Article at a Glance

Since the release of Outlaws of Thunder Junction, it’s incredible how much the Pioneer metagame has shifted. Prior to Thunder Junction, the format mostly revolved around three specific decks: Abzan Amalia combo, Izzet Phoenix, and Rakdos Vampires. While there were other options to play, these decks were clearly the most dominant.

These archetypes are definitely still good, but Thunder Junction has opened a world of opportunity in the format. Niv to Light with Pillage the Bog has been crushing Pioneer tournaments as of late. Slickshot Show-Off has given new life to aggressive red decks. The metagame simply feels more open, as there a high number of elite archetypes to choose from.

On top of that, players are continuing to innovate with Thunder Junction cards in the format. This weekend, a Magic Online Pioneer Challenge was won by Indomitable Creativity combo. However, there are no copies of Worldspine Wurm, Atraxa, Grand Unifier, or Torrential Gearhulk to be found here.

Instead, a new payoff from The Big Score in the form of Vaultborn Tyrant has emerged as top dog and has recently spiked in price. Along with a couple other underrated Thunder Junction cards, this shell has been completely revamped.

Enabling Creativity

Indomitable Creativity

Like most iterations of Indomitable Creativity, this deck functions similar to a control deck, just with a combo finish. Vaultborn Tyrant is the only Creature or Artifact in the entire deck (though there are four copies). This ensures that when you cast Indomitable Creativity targeting your own permanents, you are guaranteed to only hit Vaultborn Tyrant. Before we discuss why Tyrant is such a cool upgrade for this shell, we’d be remiss if we didn’t go over how this deck enables Creativity in the first place.

In order to maximize Creativity, you need to be able to produce Artifact or Creature tokens with cards that aren’t Artifacts or Creatures themselves. Cards like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Big Score, for instance, both produce tokens when they resolve. Mirrex is an excellent Land for this shell, repeatedly spitting out tokens to target with Creativity.

In the past two premier sets, Creativity decks got two more solid token producers that fit the deck’s main gameplan. In Murders at Karlov Manor, we got Deduce. What’s nice about Deduce is that it fits this deck’s controlling nature well. When you have Creativity rolled up, you can obviously slam Deduce and use the Clue token as a target. However, Deduce naturally provides card advantage on its own at Instant speed. As such, you can hold up pieces of disruption and if your opponent doesn’t play into your open mana, simply cast Deduce and move on.

Now, with the release of Outlaws of Thunder Junction, the deck gained Phantom Interference. Phantom Interference is completely serviceable as Quench when necessary, but unlike Quench, scales well in the late game. If your opponent ever taps low on mana, you can use Phantom Interference to make a 2/2 token on the opponent’s end step, take your turn, and resolve Creativity. The versatility of Interference and Deduce in this shell is part of what makes it so scary to play against.

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The Role of Vaultborn Tyrant

Vaultborn Tyrant

While the addition of Phantom Interference helps make the Creativity archetype more consistent, the biggest piece of innovation comes from the choice to prioritize Vaultborn Tyrant as the primary threat. With so many top-end options available, what sets Tyrant apart? To help answer this, let’s start by going over the other options and the weaknesses associated with them.

Before the printing of Atraxa, Grand Unifier, Creativity decks were primarily built around Worldspine Wurm and Xenagos, God of Revels. The goal was to get cast Creativity with two targets, put both Wurm and Xenagos into play, and attack for 30 damage. While this kill condition has the highest upside of closing the game immediately, required having multiple targets for Creativity to make work, which wasn’t always feasible.

Decks running Atraxa as the primary win condition could get by casting Creativity for X=1. However, Atraxa suffers a bit from being legendary, so you could only have one copy in play at a time. Lastly, if you chose to run Torrential Gearhulk, you had the opportunity to put multiple Gearhulks into play at once and Flashback multiple spells. Gearhulk is also easily castable. The downside, though, is that if you don’t have anything amazing to Flashback, such as Magma Opus, Gearhulk isn’t necessarily good enough to win the game on its own.

Vaultborn Tyrant is special in that it naturally solves a lot of the problems associated with each haymaker. First of all, Vaultborn Tyrant is not legendary and excellent in multiples. This is because Vaultborn Tyrant triggers not just when it enters the battlefield, but also any other Creature with power four or greater. So, let’s say you put two copies of Vaultborn Tyrant into play at once. Both copies see the other enter play, so you will immediately get to draw four cards and gain 12 life!

On top of that, even if the opponent can kill one of your Tyrants, they then have to compete with the token copy that generates additional value when it enters play. If that weren’t enough, hard casting Tyrant is very realistic. Some games, you will simply cast Big Score on turn four and slam Tyrant turn five, using the Treasure tokens to make green mana. The card is flexible, generates card advantage, provides a life buffer, and matches up well against removal. What more could you want?

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Covering Your Bases

Slickshot Show-Off | Outlaws of Thunder Junction

Overall, these Thunder Junction inclusions go a long way in making this deck more competitive. Decks like Rakdos Vampires, mono-black midrange, and Izzet Phoenix will have a very difficult time grinding through multiple Vaultborn Tyrants. At the same time, the immediate life buffer Tyrant provides can be a life saver against aggressive Slickshot Show-Off shells. Removal like Volcanic Spite and Torch the Tower do a solid job in helping you buy time until Creativity shuts the door.

The one area where Tyrant doesn’t line up super well is in the face of exile-based removal. Azorius control comes equipped with Sunfall and The Wandering Emperor, so closing the game may not be as easy as you’d hope. Not to mention, getting Tyrant into play in the first place in the face of Dovin’s Veto and Hallowed Moonlight can be rather difficult.

Still, this deck lines up well against a lot of the best strategies in Pioneer. There’s no denying it’s impressive performance over the weekend, so if you’re looking to pick up something a little different to play in Pioneer moving forward, consider giving this deck a whirl.

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