Bigger and Better
The first card that caught my eye was Muzzio, Visionary Architect. Any card that can put things onto the battlefield for free has potential, and this ability seemed particularly interesting to build around.
Muzzio requires two things to really work well. You'll want some sweet artifacts to cheat into play, and some way to make sure you find them when you activate the ability. You could use a card like Brainstorm to make sure you hit what you want, but I wanted to go a different route. I wanted to actually look at a giant chunk of cards.
To do that, we'll need some artifacts with high converted mana costs that can be cast for much less. I started out looking at Draco. With the highest converted mana cost of any card in the game, it can dig through more than a quarter of your library. It also costs ten mana less to cast if you have a land of each type.
The only problem was that ten mana less is still six mana, which is more than I wanted to pay for an enabler. Therefore, I turned to another way to may my artifacts cost less: affinity. Myr Enforcer has a high converted mana cost of seven, but with enough artifacts on the board, it can be easily cast for three or four mana.
Another card perfect for the deck was Mycosynth Golem. Not only does it have a converted mana cost of eleven, it gives all your other artifact creatures affinity. That could let you just cast whatever giant creature you want at a huge discount. If you don't have a finisher in hand, Muzzio can look at the top eleven cards of your library and put one straight onto the battlefield for you. In addition, multiple instances of affinity for artifacts are cumulative, so any other Myr Enforcers and Mycosynth Golems will cost two less for each artifact you control.
When it comes to giant artifact creatures to cheat into play, it doesn't get better than Blightsteel Colossus. With the potential to kill an opponent in one attack and an immunity to most removal spells, it will almost always win you the game when put out this far ahead of schedule. As a backup, its uninfected brother Darksteel Colossus is no slouch either, although it does take two attacks to end the game.
To get the requisite number of artifacts to make affinity effective, I turned to some old staples of artifacts decks in different eras.
Mox Diamond and Mox Opal each make one mana each turn for free, provided you can meet their conditions. Since that mana can be of any color, they also help you get the blue you need to cast Muzzio, Visionary Architect. Izzet Signet and Azorius Signet serve a similar purpose. Although they appear to cost two mana, if you can use them immediately the net cost is only one.
Frogmite joins its affinity brethren as a potentially free artifact that can come down early in the game, and Thoughtcast serves as a one-mana Divination most of the time. Powering these affinity spells are a number of artifact lands, including Seat of the Synod, Great Furnace, Ancient Den, and Darksteel Citadel. When casting spells with affinity, they effectively produce two mana, which is why they have been banned in a number of formats over the years.
Let's be Treasonable
Another card that I wanted to experiment with was Treasonous Ogre. Although 3 life for one mana is a lot, anything that allows you to get free mana can be broken. Unfortunately, even if you can prevent yourself from losing the game you can't pay more life than you have, so you can only activate the ability six times.
Or can you?
If you can gain life somehow, then you can make even more mana. Here's what I came up with.
First, you use Sunspring Expedition or Rest for the Weary to gain 8 life. Now you can activate the Ogre's ability nine times. Then sacrifice Children of Korlis or Tainted Sigil to get all your life back, allowing you to get another nine mana. Add in some mana from other sources and you can cast an X spell to deal 20 damage to your opponent.
Normally you'll need to get five mana from lands or other sources, but if you have a Tainted Sigil and two X spells you can reduce that a bit. Activate Treasonous Ogre nine times, then add in three of your own mana to deal 10 damage to your opponent. Tainted Sigil will give you back all your life plus 10, and you can activate the Ogre twelve times to deal the other 10 damage.
Braid of Fire can give you an assist on the mana production, so long as you can use the mana before it empties from your pool at the end of your upkeep. This is why it's worth paying the extra mana for Comet Storm and Aurelia's Fury instead of something like Blaze or Fireball. Braid of Fire can give you back far more than that if it stays on the battlefield for a few turns.
Unneeded X spells can be used as spot removal, but I wanted a way to clear the board and keep your life total high enough to pull off the combo. To that end, I added in Blasphemous Act, which should annihilate just about any creature you run into. Although the mana cost seems high, in the situations you want to cast it, it will most often cost around half as much.
The Drafting Table
There are a variety of cool interactions you can put together in Conspiracy, and some of them can happen before the game even starts. The set includes a number of cards that have effects during the draft, and some of them can be combined to great effect. Here are a few examples of some of the coolest things you can pull off during the course of a Conspiracy draft.
If you manage to draft two of these in a row, start taking every one you see. When you cast one in a game, you can search for another copy of Æther Searcher, which can search for another copy, and so on. You'll have an instant army for seven mana. Note that the card searches your hand and library, so you can also take an off-color bomb afterward and use the robot to cast it even if it's in your hand.
Agent of Acquisitions/Lore Seeker
If you've already drafted Agent of Acquisitions, you might want to keep an eye out for Lore Seeker. When you draft that, you can add a booster pack of any set to the draft. If you like what you see, you can use Agent of Acquisitions to keep the entire pack to yourself.
A pack of Mirrodin or Darksteel could give you access to powerful common and uncommon Equipment cards such as Bonesplitter, Vulshok Battlegear, Vulshok Morningstar, Loxodon Warhammer, and Skullclamp. You could also luck out and get a Sword of Fire and Ice or Sword of Light and Shadow. If you've picked up a copy of Worldknit or think you can grab one later, a pack of Alara Reborn will give you a whole pile of powerful multicolored cards. Since Conspiracy games are multiplayer, you could also use Rise of the Eldrazi to pick up a suite of giant creatures that will help you win the longer games.
If you grab several copies of this early, you can then ignore any other copies you see throughout the draft. Unless your opponents waste their early picks taking other Automatons to make sure yours aren't good, you'll be left with a bunch of massive five-mana creatures. Most players won't want to use an early pick on what might just be a five-mana 4/4, so whenever one of the Automatons sticks around until later in the pack, you'll have several of them to take advantage of.
You can go even further by taking the conspiracy Secret Summoning. If you name Lurking Automaton before the game starts, you can start chaining together a string of enormous creatures as soon as you hit five mana. You can also use Brago's Favor to reduce the cost even further, making your giant robots cost four or even three mana.
This conspiracy is pretty good no matter what instant or sorcery you name, but there are a couple that are particularly effective. If you name Tragic Slip, you can target a large creature with the original, and a 1-toughness creature with the copy. The copy will kill the small creature, activating morbid and making the original give its target -13/-13.
Æther Tradewinds is also more effective when copied. You can target the same permanent you control with both copies, but choose different permanents your opponent control. The copy will return your permanent to hand, and since the original still has one of its two targets, it will resolve and return the other opposing permanent with no downside.
If you name a card like Howling Wolf or Screaming Seahawk with this card, you can be sure to take advantage of that extra +1/+1 counter multiple times. You can also use it in combination with Secret Summoning to make a creature like Courier Hawk into a much beefier version of Squadron Hawk.
You can also use Brago's Favor to great effect with creatures that search for each other. Screaming Seahawk and Howling Wolf both cost a couple extra mana in exchange for having the search ability, but Brago's Favor can fix that quite nicely.
The Game is Afoot
The Vorthos deck-building contest is still going on, so make sure to get your submissions in by next week. If you missed last week's article, all you have to do is build a deck around some part of Magic's storyline and send it in, along with a description of the cards chosen. In two weeks, I'll highlight a few of my favorites here. So get cracking, and until then, may all your conspiracies remain undetected until it's too late. See ya!