Master Transmuter has been one of my favorite cards for a very long time, and Heartless Summoning seemed like the engine that could elevate Master Transmuter from the realm of pet card to the competitive world. I've dug as deep as Semblance Anvil in the past when looking for the same effect. Heartless Summoning works beautifully with Master Transmuter, Sphinx Summoner, Treasure Mage, and Wurmcoil Engine.
My first Heartless Summoning deck in Modern was blue and black, splashing white for Sharuum the Hegemon, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV in the sideboard. (Grand Arbiter Augustin IV and Lodestone Golem make things very hard for combo opponents, especially when you have four of each.) However, the mana was rough for the three-color deck, I even used fetch lands and Ravnica dual lands to test the deck's maximum power level, and I was disappointed with how painful the mana base became.
I decided to switch the deck to a more consistent model. I cut the white entirely, and the deck became a Platinum Angel deck. I played three to four copies of Platinum Angel and four copies of Pact of Negation. Heartless Summoning, Master Transmuter, and other accelerators allowed me to quickly stick the Platinum Angel and use Pact of Negation to protect it. (You don't have to pay for Pacts when you have Platinum Angel on the battlefield.) This version of the deck had one Wurmcoil Engine, and I found myself searching for it A LOT. I was searching up the Wurmcoil Engine so much, that I ended up cutting the Pact of Negations and a bunch of the Platinum Angels in order to fill the deck with more copies of Wurmcoil Engine and to max out on Treasure Mages.
I would like to thank Magic Online user Danger (who says his real name is Jace) for playing a bunch of matches with me in the tournament practice room on MTGO while I refined my list.
After many games, I settled on the following list:
Heartless Summoning works really hard here. All of the creatures have a ton of value and making them all cost less is a huge deal. Don't cast a second Heartless Summoning unless it's absolutely crucial to stick a Platinum Angel when you already have Lightning Greaves on the table. One Heartless Summoning is enough of an advantage mana wise, and losing Master Transmuter, Etherium Sculptor, and Treasure Mage is enough of a disadvantage that we don't want a second copy on the battlefield.
Lightning Greaves are ridiculous here. Currently, I have three in the list, but I wouldn't be opposed to cutting a Lodestone Golem for the fourth one. Lightning Greaves works especially well with Master Transmuter, often leading to turn-four Sundering Titan or Platinum Angel with Lightning Greaves equipped. It's also nice to haste up your Wurmcoil Engines and make them untargetable. In fact, it's nice to equip Lightning Greaves to just about anything. It makes your clock deceptively fast and, in conjunction with the Wurmcoils, it makes it really hard for your opponent to set up a plan to burn you out.
Master Transmuter is up to her old tricks. Sphinx Summoner is her best friend. It's worth noting that Master Transmuter's ability returns the artifact to your hand as part of the cost. This means that your opponent can't respond to the ability by killing the artifact you're bouncing. Master Transmuter does a lot of work throughout the game. Once you've established a livable board situation you should find your Sundering Titan and use Master Transmuter to systematically destroy all of your opponent's lands. Once they have no lands you can further establish board presence and ensure victory with some Wurmcoil Engines.
Wurmcoil Engine is the most important fatty for the archetype. These can be difficult to acquire, but the rest of the cards should all be very easy to pick up. Wurmcoil Engine was the Prerelease promo for Scars of Mirrodin, so if you're having trouble finding the last copy or two you can probably borrow them from your friends who attended that Prerelease.
The interactions that occur in this deck can become very complex. I've lost at least two matches online because of the clock. Make sure you take your time and play a bunch of practice games with the deck before you start entering Constructed queues.
Speaking of Constructed queues, I've played a ton, and I'd like to share a few of my matches with you.
I won the roll and kept River of Tears, Buried Ruin, Academy Ruins, Dimir Signet, Mind Stone, Lightning Greaves, and Sphinx Summoner. I played River of Tears and passed the turn. My opponent played a fetch land and passed the turn back. I drew Master Transmuter, played Buried Ruin, cast Dimir Signet, and passed the turn. My opponent played Grove of the Burnwillows and passed the turn. I drew Treasure Mage and went into the tank.
I could try to cast Master Transmuter here, but I know my opponent is playing Punishing Fire because of the Grove of the Burnwillows. I decided to play it safe and cast Mind Stone and Lightning Greaves before passing the turn. My opponent played another fetch land and sacrificed it, put a dual land onto the battlefield tapped, and cast Life from the Loam returning both fetch lands. I drew an Underground River, cast Master Transmuter, equipped it with Lightning Greaves, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and passed the turn. I used the Master Transmuter to bounce my Mind Stone and put my Sphinx Summoner on the battlefield. I searched for Sundering Titan. I drew Wurmcoil Engine, used Master Transmuter's ability to return Sphinx Summoner to my hand and drop Sundering Titan, destroying all my opponent's lands except the Grove of the Burnwillows. I moved the Lightning Greaves onto Sundering Titan and attacked for 7. My opponent Lightning Bolted my Master Transmuter. I cast Mind Stone and passed the turn. My opponent dredged up Life from the Loam and cast it before passing the turn. I drew an Island, played it, cast Wurmcoil Engine, equipped it with Lightning Greaves, and attacked for lethal.
I went down to five cards and kept 2 Darkslick Shores, Island, Heartless Summoning, Sphinx Summoner. My opponent played a land and passed the turn. I drew another Sphinx Summoner, played my land, and passed the turn. My opponent played another land and passed the turn. I drew Wurmcoil Engine, cast Heartless Summoning, and passed the turn. My opponent played a third land and passed the turn. I drew Buried Ruin, played my land, cast Sphinx Summoner, searched for another Sphinx Summoner, and passed the turn. My opponent played a fourth land and passed the turn. I drew another Island, attacked for 2, and attempted to cast Wurmcoil Engine, but my opponent used Cryptic Command to counter it and draw a card. My opponent played a fifth land and passed the turn.
I drew Shadow of Doubt, played my land, attacked for 2, cast Sphinx Summoner, searched up another Sphinx Summoner, and passed the turn. My opponent attempted to cast Gifts Ungiven during my end step, but I had just mised the Shadow of Doubt. I cast it to stop my opponent from searching up anything and drew into a Mind Stone. My opponent untapped and cast Damnation and wiped my board. I drew a Buried Ruin, played it, cast Mind Stone, and cast Wurmcoil Engine. My opponent cast Worm Harvest and made four Worms. I attacked for 6 and my opponent chump-blocked with a Worm, allowing me to gain 6 life. I cast Sphinx Summoner and searched for Sundering Titan, cast Master Transmuter, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and passed the turn. I entered my combat step, and my opponent tanked forever before letting me attack. I assumed this meant I was facing Cryptic Command, so I attacked with my team and gained some life. I used Master Transmuter to return my Sphinx Summoner back to my hand at the end of combat and put Sundering Titan onto the battlefield, destroying four of my opponent's lands. My opponent floated a bunch of mana, but I went to my second main phase and cast Sphinx Summoner again. My opponent conceded.
The Gifts matchup seems very good. I've played against it three times now in the two-player queues and the only game I lost was due to a few brutal misclicks on my part. (Not equipping Master Transmuter with Lightning Greaves is bad.)
I won the roll and kept River of Tears, Darkslick Shores, Heartless Summoning, Etherium Sculptor, Lightning Greaves, Wurmcoil Engine, and Master Transmuter. I played my Darkslick Shores and passed the turn. My opponent played a Stomping Grounds, cast Kird Ape, and passed the turn. I drew Sundering Titan, played River of Tears, cast Heartless Summoning, and passed the turn. My opponent played an Arid Mesa, attacked for 2, and passed the turn. I drew Buried Ruin, tapped River of Tears for blue mana, cast Etherium Sculptor, cast Lightning Greaves, played my land, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Lightning Helix on the Etherium Sculptor after fetching a Hallowed Fountain, then untapped, attacked me for another 2, played a fetch land, grabbed another Stomping Grounds, and cast Knight of the Reliquary.
I drew a Mind Stone, cast Master Transmuter, equipped the Lightning Greaves, activated the ability, and put Sundering Titan onto the battlefield, destroying all my opponent's lands. I equipped the Sundering Titan with the Lightning Greaves and passed the turn, and my opponent passed it back. I drew a Treasure Mage, cast Master Transmuter, equipped the Lightning Greaves, activated the ability, returned the Master Transmuter to my hand, and put Wurmcoil Engine onto the battlefield. I equipped the Lightning Greaves to it and attacked for 5, going to 21. My opponent passed again. I drew an Island, played it, cast Treasure Mage finding another Wurmcoil Engine, and used my Transmuter trick to put another hasty Wurmcoil on the table. My opponent conceded.
I went down to six cards and kept 2 Island, Dimir Signet, Mind Stone, Treasure Mage, Wurmcoil Engine. My opponent played a Temple Garden and cast Wild Nacatl. I drew Master Transmuter, played my land, and passed the turn. My opponent cracked a Scalding Tarn for a Steam Vents tapped, and attacked for 3 before casting another Wild Nacatl. I drew a Swamp, played it, cast Dimir Signet, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked for 6, and passed the turn. I drew a Buried Ruin, cast Mind Stone, cast Treasure Mage, and searched for another Wurmcoil Engine. My opponent attacked for another 6, and I chumped one of the kitties with my Treasure Mage. I drew a Sundering Titan, cast Wurmcoil Engine, and passed the turn. My opponent hit me with a Lightning Bolt on my end step and cast Path to Exile on my Wurmcoil. Just like that, we're on to Game 3.
I went down to six cards again and kept Swamp, Buried Ruin, Dimir Signet, Heartless Summoning, Sphinx Summoner, Sundering Titan, and Lightning Greaves. I played my Buried Ruin and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Loam Lion off a Sacred Foundry and passed the turn. I drew a Treasure Mage, cast Heartless Summoning, and passed the turn. My opponent found a Breeding Pool and attacked me for 2 before casting a Kird Ape and a Wild Nacatl. I drew an Island, played it, cast Treasure Mage searching for Wurmcoil Engine and cast Lightning Greaves. My opponent attacked with everything, and I chump-blocked the Wild Nacatl. I drew another Island, played it, cast Wurmcoil Engine, and suited it up with the Lightning Greaves, but my opponent cast Ancient Grudge on the Wurmcoil in response. My opponent untapped and used Ancient Grudge's flashback to destroy the unequipped Wurm token and attacked with the team. I blocked one of the 2/3s, and it was my turn again. I drew Master Transmuter, cast Dimir Signet, cast Master Transmuter, equipped it, and used its ability to return Dimir Signet to my hand and flash in my Sundering Titan, destroying both of my opponent's lands. My opponent drew a Stomping Grounds and attacked with everything again. I blocked the Nacatl and the Loam Lion and took 2. I drew a River of Tears, played it, used Sphinx Summoner with Master Transmuter to find another Wurmcoil Engine, dropped a hasty Wurmcoil onto the battlefield while destroying my opponent's only land with Sundering Titan's leaves-the-battlefield trigger, and attacked for 5 lifelinking damage. My opponent conceded.
The Zoo matchup seems very die roll dependent. I didn't see many Ancient Grudges in testing, and I think people aren't playing more than one or two copies. A Zoo deck that draws more than one Ancient Grudge will be nearly impossible to beat.
This deck is competitive. I won over 50% of the Constructed two-player queues I entered. The deck handily crushes the Gifts Ungiven decks. Be sure to shoot me an email or hit the forums with your latest deck ideas. I hope this deck was enough to get you excited for Modern season.