A Masterwork of Spite

Posted in NEWS on July 3, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome to the second week of Magic 2015 previews here on Perilous Research. Last week, we discussed Perilous Vault, the heir to Nevinyrral's Disk and Oblivion Stone. Today, we'll be discussing the newest top-end threat for decks that like taking big chunks out of opponents' life totals.

Scuttling Doom Engine | Art by Filip Burburan

Cuddling Doom Engine sounds like a masterwork of softness, inspired by love. The most wonderful of all the artificers' creations. Cuddling Doom Engine was designed to make peace with our opponents, ensuring that games would end with an intentional draw, a trip to the movies, and ice cream afterward.

It's an interesting concept, but that's not what we're trying to do in a game of Magic. We want to mercilessly obliterate our opponent. This makes the idea of a Cuddling Doom Engine a less enticing creation. We're looking for a death machine, a behemoth of metal and coal that rumbles into battle amid a cloud of hot smog. We need a little less cuddle and a little more scuttle.

Scuttling Doom Engine is hard to interact with. There's a whole slew of cards that can't chump block it, and any trade is sure to go in Scuttles's favor thanks to the triggered ability. That 6 damage is very nice for killing Planeswalkers but it's best for killing opponents. The card is obviously weak to Banishing Light and Detention Sphere, but Detention Sphere isn't long for the Standard world and Banishing Light shouldn't be seen in huge numbers unless things get weird.

Scuttling Doom Engine is a beast in Limited. It may even end up being one of the best first picks in the set.

It's colorless, so we can gladly take it and cooperate with the players around us, taking the colors we're passed and staying out of the colors we pass to the left. Cooperating with one's draft pod is extremely important; it's a lot easier to do this when our first pick is an artifact, because we don't have the gravity of a first-pick quality card pulling us in a specific direction.

As a colorless 6/6, we should be able to play this on the sixth or seventh turn in the vast majority of our games. If we had been applying virtually any pressure, then we can start scuttling into the red zone and the game will quickly get out of hand for an opponent. I can imagine a lot of situations where an opponent is at 6 or less life and needs to manage to block Scuttling Doom Engine indefinitely without actually killing it. Needless to say, we should be playing this no matter what if we're lucky enough to open it in our Prerelease Sealed Deck.

In Standard, Scuttling Doom Engine is best with haste creatures that apply quick pressure through opposing removal. I'd like to try it in a big Red Devotion strategy. Cards like Fanatic of Mogis, Boros Reckoner, and Stormbreath Dragon should apply a lot of pressure on our opponent's life total. By the time we're casting Scuttling Doom Engine, it's reasonably likely that our opponent will be at six or less life.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx seems like a great way to generate a lot of mana and start the pressure with Scuttling Doom Engine. Ash Zealot gets swinging right away and provides us with two devotion to red for our Purphoros, God of the Forge and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Aggressive strategies find Boros Reckoner virtually impossible to attack through or around. It's extremely difficult to interact favorably with Boros Reckoner without Devour Flesh or Doom Blade, which are seeing very little play in a world of Black Devotion. Blocking with our Boros Reckoner will often put our opponent in range to be dead to Scuttling Doom Engine, Stormbreath Dragon, or Soul of Shandalar.

Burning-Tree Emissary is good at creating a lot of devotion and it combos nicely with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Think about it this way: We can turn-two Ash Zealot, turn-three Boros Reckoner, turn-four Nykthos, Burning-Tree Emissary, Scuttling Doom Engine. This line works with any six-drop, any two of Ash Zealot, Boros Reckoner, Frostburn Weird, plus a copy of Burning-Tree Emissary and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. There's a surprising amount of consistency to the explosiveness of this deck when the opponent doesn't interact in the early turns.

Fanatic of Mogis is like a haste creature, only the first hit is often huge and can't be blocked. This is a great card for putting our opponent in range to die to one of our big spells.

Purphoros, God of the Forge is going to be a 6/6 indestructible force in a lot of our matchups. Our deck is almost entirely creatures, so the 2 damage we get from Purphoros's trigger will definitely be relevant. The activated ability can also be quite relevant in a deck with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and this much devotion to red.

Stormbreath Dragon comes down swinging and forces a lot of opponents to have very specific cards thanks to its protection from white. This is probably the best card to play alongside Scuttling Doom Engine in the current Standard environment.

Hammer of Purphoros is incredible with Scuttling Doom Engine and happens to fit beautifully in this deck. We're going to be playing a lot of land here if we want to reliably cast Boros Reckoner and have Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in our deck. Being able to trade in these lands for 3/3s is going to be very important. Otherwise, we might lose too many games to flood. Getting two devotion off of a non-creature card is also important for our Nykthos, Fanatic, and Purphoros. Most importantly, the haste granted by Hammer of Purphoros makes Soul of Shandalar and Scuttling Doom Engine into magnificent threats that end games very quickly.

Soul of Shandalar is a great six-drop here and I'd like to try a split between this and Scuttling Doom Engine. I'm not sure what the right mix of six-drops is, but I'm sure that both cards have a home here. Soul of Shandalar is great with Hammer of Purphoros and incredible alongside a well-endowed Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. I don't think it will be unusual for us to be able to ping twice for 3, killing threats and the opponent very quickly. Also, 6/6 first strikers are generally hard to deal with for the green-based decks, even without any help. Once this dies, the threat of having it in our graveyard is extremely relevant as a red-based strategy.

Given all of that, here's a potential list for Red Devotion with Scuttling Doom Engine, it's subject to change with more cards from Magic 2015 being announced, but this is a great starting place for the archetype.

Scuttling Red Devotion by Jacob Van Lunen

Download Arena Decklist

Red Devotion will definitely be happy to receive some big upgrades to the top end of the strategy in Scuttling Doom Engine and Soul of Shandalar. The deck has access to Burning Earth, which should pose a big problem for a lot of its opponents.

Don't miss the rest of the Magic 2015 previews here on DailyMTG.com. We're less than two weeks away from the Magic 2015 Prerelease, and we want to be prepared for the newest set. Magic 2015 has some of the most exciting cards in recent memory. Don't miss your opportunity to battle in your local Prerelease event. Most stores are already accepting preregistration and it would be wise to secure your spot at one of these spectacular events!

Knowledge is Power!