Non-Basically Speaking – Karn, Silver Golem

Karn, Silver Golem Commander Deck

Hello friends and nostalgic Weatherlight fans, welcome back to EDHREC and our continuing biweekly column, Non-Basically Speaking, the series that strives to identify non-basic lands that should be considered valuable staples or hidden gems based on their visibility on EDHREC.


Karn Silver Golem EDH Deck

In our previous episode of Non-Basically Speaking we explored the spectrum of a five-color deck and how to construct a budget mana base to achieve our goals. What was missing from our five-color conglomeration was space for utility lands. Primarily because most utility lands are colorless, a luxury we could not afford when trying to build the rainbow. So this week let’s kick it old school in black & white, or in MTG terms, gray & brown with a colorless artifact deck. Interestingly enough, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, was just previewed as a legendary creature in the Commander 2017 pre-constructed cat tribal deck. It’s good to see Mirri again. She brings with her a bit of nostalgia for the crew of Magic’s infamous flying ship, the Skyship Weatherlight. In fact, since we are building a colorless artifact deck, why don’t we focus on one of Mirri’s crewmates this week? Are you with me? Good! Let’s take a look at Karn, Silver Golem.


Silver and Loving It

If you are looking for a unique commander, then the oddball engineer of the Skyship Weatherlight is an optimal choice. At one point in Karn’s storyline, this legendary golem was a bit of a pacifist. His refusal to fight off attackers is visible in his first ability. If Karn is blocking or blocked, his 4/4 body becomes a 0/8, a shift in power and toughness that signifies the lore of the card. Karn has our best interests at stake with this fantastic blocking ability, but he’s not too much of an attacking option.

What Karn lacks on the battlefield, however, he makes up for with his second ability, the power to animate machines and artifacts! For one mana, he can turn any non-creature artifact into an artifact creature with power and toughness equal to its converted mana cost until end of turn. Strange? Yes, strange indeed. Before we speak non-basically about Karn, let’s take a look through the telescope to see what a Karn deck might look like. Wally D. style, anyway.


Bedknobs and Broomsticks

I may be dating myself, but do you remember the 1970s movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks? A witch by the name of Miss Price was able to animate objects. At the end of the movie, she animated an entire museum of armor and military uniforms to fight off a Nazi invasion. Hey, our Golem buddy Karn can do that! Metaphorically speaking, Karn must be a witch, or wizard, whatever the case may be.

In this quirky, bizarro world of Commanderland, Karn can bring non-creature artifacts to life to serve us in combat or other military duties. With Karn in command, we can use his ability to attack our opponents with a 3/3 indestructible Darksteel Ingot or blaze the skies with a 7/7 Akroma’s Memorial that gives our entire animated army a plethora of keywords. How about a vehicle with no crew? Imagine the dumbfounded look on the good people of Kaladesh when the 5/5 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship drifts by with no one behind the wheel.

Karn’s ability can also reach across the battlefield and tinker with our opponent’s artifacts. For instance, we could respond to a Wrath of God by animating an opponent’s Sol Ring. This genius move will bury the 1/1 Sol Ring right along with all of the other creatures that were on the battlefield.


Akroma's Memorial in Karn EDHKarn Silver Golem ComboVehicles with Karn Commander Deck

Karn Spells Combo

So are we totally reliant on sending animated rust buckets into the red zone to win the game? Of course not. Karn, Silver Golem has a devious side to him that allows us to assemble game-winning or tide-turning combos. The grossest possibility includes Mycosynth Lattice (59% of decks). Combining Mycosynth Lattice with Karn’s ability allows us to tap one mana to destroy a land. While mass land destruction may skirt the lines of the social contract, we cannot deny the power to win by submission.

In a similar scenario, we have the two card combination of activating our Nevinyrral’s Disk (62% of decks) with Darksteel Forge (88% of decks) on the board. Since Darksteel Forge makes all of our artifacts indestructible we are able to “pop the disk” every turn to destroy our opponents board state. To take this a step further, if we have Mycosynth Lattice in play, our Disk + Forge combo obliterates everything our opponents have worked hard for all game. Including lands. A gruesome ending to a Commander game, for sure. Let’s just hope they don’t Capsize Darksteel Forge in response.

We could also take to winning by generating infinite mana. At the heart of our quest for an endless supply of colorless crude oil is Voltaic Construct (64% of decks). The Voltaic Construct’s ability to untap an artifact creature is the drillbit needed for going infinite. We can achieve the endless supply of diamond mana by combining the Construct with Metalworker (63% of decks) and at least two artifacts in hand or by using its ability along with Karn and a mana rock that produces at least three mana (like Thran Dynamo). So now what?


Metalworker Infinite ComboVoltaic Construct Combo DeckStaff of Nin Win Condition

With infinite mana, Voltaic Construct and Karn, Silver Golem on the battlefield we can use Planar Bridge (77% of decks) to cheat Akroma’s Memorial and a legion of animated artifacts into play with haste and swarm the board. Good times indeed. We also have the option to pull off some serious card drawing shenanigans with Staff of Domination (44% of decks) or animate Staff of Nin (65% of decks) to rapid fire our opponents life total into the ground.


The Dominaria Witch Project

Unwinding Clock

It’s time to take this project to janky-town. Let me introduce you to a few cards will not be found on Karn’s EDHREC page. While they may be less than ideal, I have this crazy habit of wanting to give oddball cards a whirl. Always striving to be different I guess. Feel free to replace them with something different if you want.

While we have mass removal represented by All is Dust (79% of decks) and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (58% of decks) I figured we may need to include some reusable spot removal. With this in mind, we have a handful of artifacts that can nullify a creature’s ability to attack or prevent damage with a targeted fog effect. There is no doubt that we will need to resort to politics as our method of defense before an opponent moves to combat. If their troops are eyeballing us, we can use Icy Manipulator, Amber Prison, or Pacification Array to tap a creature down.

Next up is another group of misfit machines from Magic’s past: Al-abara’s Carpet, Barl’s Cage, and Horn of Deafening. While I invite you to swap these cards out for something more competitive, I am actually looking forward to trying them out alongside Unwinding Clock (83% of decks) for a unique defensive strategy.

Our final plan to make things slightly uncomfortable during the course of the game is to include: Mana Web, Storage Matrix and Noetic Scales. Running these irritable speed bumps alongside Ward of Bones (24% of decks) should help us keep pace with faster Commander decks.

Let’s take a look at our deck list and have a non-basic conversation!


Karnimation

Commander (1)
Artifacts (49)
Lands (38)
Creatures (9)
Instants (1)
Sorceries (1)
Planeswalkers (1)


Karn’s Colorless Brew

Inventors' Fair Artifact Deck

It goes without saying that Inventors’ Fair (78% of decks) is an auto-include that allows us to tutor for a piece of our combo or other win conditions, but how do we fill in the remaining 37 land spots? Looking at our converted mana cost of the deck we are playing, mana resources will be crucial to keep the engine running. Finding lands that can potentially produce more than one mana for us will help fuel our expensive costs. We would be wise to include Shrine of the Forsaken Gods and Temple of the False God. Although they have requirements that need to be met depending on the number of lands we control, by mid game they should be pumping out a Sol Ring’s worth of mana.

One of my favorite new includes in this section is Scorched Ruins (44% of decks). This reserved list treasure from Weatherlight requires us to sacrifice two untapped lands when it comes into play but it can tap for four mana. This is an extremely high-risk, high-reward land that could be met with despair in a meta crawling with targeted land destruction such as Strip Mine or Acidic Slime. If one of the lands we sacrificed is a Drownyard Temple (0% of decks) or we have a Crucible of Worlds in play, any setbacks caused by Scorched Ruins should only be temporary.

Colorless Commander decks are the perfect opportunity for us to try and unlock the achievement of assembling Urzatron. With Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Tower, and Urza’s Power Plant on the battlefield, our mana pool will be overflowing with enough gas to fuel our cards in hand. If we are anxious to get Urza’s historical landmarks on the map we have Expedition Map (55% of decks) at our disposal to finish assembling the trilogy.


Defense Against the Dark Arts

Next, we should take a look at non-basic utility lands that could help alleviate the pain that our opponents may be trying to inflict. If our meta is crawling with cards like Wheel of Fortune or Sadistic Hypnotist then Nephalia Academy is an absolute must to ensure we don’t have to discard an essential card in our hand. Interestingly enough, Nephalia Academy is not currently recommended for Karn on EDHREC, a fault that will soon be corrected, in my opinion, as The Locust God brings forth another commander with wheel-like effects.

Hour of Devastation helped answer the call for the need for more universal graveyard hate with Scavenger Grounds. While Scavenger Grounds is definitely not Bojuka Bog, it is a worthwhile alternative and decent answer to graveyard shenanigans in a colorless Commander deck.


Nephalia AcademyScavenger Grounds Graveyard HateSequestered Stash

Our Icy Manipulator is absolutely worthless against a creature equipped with Lightning Greaves. Adding Arcane Lighthouse to our arsenal will put a shroud or hexproof creature in the glaring spotlight just long enough for us to interact with them.

The last thing we want is for our Commander to fall into enemy hands. Not only could our opponents halt our game plan, but they could potentially wreck our board by turning King Karn against us. Homeward Path will put a stop to this treasonous act and bring our warriors home.

More than likely a few of our key pieces will end up in the scrapheap we refer to as a graveyard. To help recur some of our necessary trinkets we can look to Buried Ruin, Haunted Fengraf and Sequestered Stash to recover the key cogs of our game plan.


Non-Basic Hocus Pocus

Tower of the Magistrate with Mycosynth Lattice

Here’s another interesting piece of technology that is absent from Karn recommendations on EDHREC, Tower of the Magistrate. With Mycosynth Lattice on the battlefield, Tower of the Magistrate will give one of our artifact creatures Protection for Artifacts until end of turn. Now that every card on the table is an artifact in addition to its other types, we can protect a creature from an opponent’s abilities or send one of our animated robots in to smash face. Rock em, Sock em style.

Mycosynth Lattice does have its drawbacks. It can help our opponents skirt around colored requirements of their spells mana cost and it also renders our two most efficient board wipes, All is Dust and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, useless. If things take a turn for the worse Phyrexia’s Core (49% of decks) or High Market (24% of decks) will provide the sacrifice outlet we need to protect us from ourselves.

Hour of Devastation’s Mirage Mirror should be an all-star in our Karn EDH Deck. With the mirror in place, we could copy any creature in play and then use Mirrorpool to obtain a permanent token copy of that creature. Brewtastic!

My final mention is the janky inclusion of Ghost Town. A selection primarily included for the nostalgia, but can be pulled to our hand in the face of Winter Orb lock down or replayed to trigger Seer’s Sundial’s Landfall ability.


We’re Off to See the Wizard

That’s all I have for you today my EDHREC friends! Do you like the idea of smashing into the red zone with a 9/9 Darksteel Forge? What would be a few synergetic pieces to add to Karn? Did I miss a non-basic utility land that should be in this deck list? Who is your favorite member of the Weatherlight Crew? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

On to the next!
—wallyd

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Nick (Wally D.) is an avid fan of EDHREC, cool Commander brews and cold frosty brews! He likes to build Commander decks that include EDHREC favorites alongside his eccentric, oddball choices. In addition to EDHREC, Nick also writes casual EDH articles on MTGCasualPlay.com.