Deckbuilding Tips for Urza, Lord High Artificer in Commander
Modern Horizons previews only started a few days ago, but the set has already dropped some jaw dropping cards. The most jaw dropping of them all is the original protagonist himself, Urza, Lord High Artificer.
Urza has a ton of text so I want to closer look. His enter the battlefield ability is reminiscent of one of Urza's favorite creations, Karn, Scion of Urza. The "Karnstruct" token can get to be huge, and assures that even if Urza is killed on sight, you get left with a scaling body.
His first activated ability is a mana ability and oh boy is it powerful. Most of the time when artifact cards ramp, it is for artifact only mana. Think cards like Vedalken Engineer or Renowned Weaponsmith. Urza is above all of that though, he adds 1 blue mana, to spend on anything! On the turn you play him early in the game, you may not have many artifacts, but his "Karnstruct" pal will make sure you can muster up 1 blue for protection in cards like Swan Song or Spell Pierce. Be wary of pesky opponents killing Urza with the enter the battlefield trigger on the stack, leaving him without an artifact pal to tap for mana to help protect him.
Urza's last ability is reminiscent of Temporal Aperture from the original Urza's Saga set, except Urza's version is better in every way. Aperture requires a tap, which Urza does not, which means Urza can go infinite on his ability if you have enough mana to feed him. I like having my commander be a payoff for any infinite mana combos in my deck, as it makes those traditionally 3 card combos much easier to pull off if you always have access to the payoff card. Basalt Monolith or Grim Monolith and Power Artifact can make infinitie mana or you can use Metalworker with 2 artifacts to reveal and Umbral Mantle to make infinite mana. The mana Metalworker makes can't be used for Urza's ability but you can use Urza's ability to filter the colorless mana by spending your infinite artifact mana to untap Metalworker and then use Urza's ability to tap him for blue. This isn't even mentioning the dreaded Paradox Engine, which seems like a match made in heaven with Urza. Urza's ability is a great mana sink even if you don't have infinite mana, and is great with cards like Blinkmoth Urn and Unwinding Clock.
So now that we have an idea of what Urza actually does, I want to go over cards that work especially well in the 99 of Urza decks. The card came out less than 24 hours ago when writing this, so I don't have a fleshed out 99 to give to y'all but I have had some fun ideas I'd like to share.
Traxos is a nice one with Urza because of the built-in untap ability. This can make Traxos net you mana when playing 0 mana artifacts or make 1 drop artifacts free. I like that Traxos is gigantic as well, which gives the deck even more beef alongside our Karnstructs.
Spellskite is not the most proactive card imaginable but it is a great protection piece and is great to tap for mana. It serves to protect your powerful artifacts or Urza himself, and if Urza or Paradox Engine go unanswered you will win the game. Urza even makes it easier to not have to spend 2 life to pay for Spellskite's ability. Champion's Helm sets up nicely to protect Urza as it can equip immediately if Urza taps it for mana. Soul of New Phyrexia is much more expensive manawise but sets up protection for your entire board and can be activated at least once even if Soul of New Phyrexia gets countered or destroyed.
All of these fun and wonderful artifacts have the "as long as this is untapped" templating, which can make them especially gross with Urza. You can tap Winter Orb or Static Orb at the end of turn right before your turn. That means your Orb will be off during the untap stap, which means you get to untap all of your lands and your opponents will still be stuck under the Orb on their turns. Trinisphere does something similar but can be turned off for your own benefit if you have a lot of spells to cast. Trinisphere does turn off the ability to cast spells for free off of Urza's Aperture ability, but you can always tap it down if you're going off. These artifacts may not be the most fun cards to play with or against, but they are powerful.
These three cards help enable you to set up a big board of creatures and therefore mana. Efficient Construction and Sai both spit out thopters and Sai can even convert some extraneous artifacts into extra cards. Genesis Chamber is a bit riskier and doesn't interact with your other token making effects but the upside is really big. I could see creature light builds that don't want Genesis Chamber, but I doubt many Urza decks won't have Sai and Efficient Construction.
Zero or One Mana Artifacts
While this one may be a bit obvious, I bring it up because usually in artifact decks, cards like Tormod's Crypt or Grafdigger's Cage wouldn't make the cut. In Urza though, these cards are mana rocks that can shut down whole strategies. Access to these effects is even more powerful with tutors like Whir of Invention, Reshape or Trinket Mage. Cards like Sensei's Divining Top, Aether Spellbomb and Wayfarer's Bauble also line up well with Urza. They are cheap artifacts that can use their own abilities or just hang out and tap for mana for other bombs.
Mind's Eye is already an awesome card, but Urza's mana production cranks that up a notch. Illusionist's Bracers and Rings of Brighthearth are expensive and a bit clunky for my taste, but doubling up on Urza's Aperature ability seems pretty juicy.
Ancient Stone Idol / Shimmer Myr / Vedalken Orrery
I'm not sure why but these flash tricks really tickle my fancy with Urza. I can't wait to get someone out of nowhere with a big metal surprise when they try to attack me! Urza makes this even sweeter because they may think you're leaving up a lot of mana to activate his ability until BOOM! Get Idol'd.
Staff of Domination + Urza + Wake Thrasher
You may have seen Wake Thrasher combo with Basalt Monolith in the past, and this one is the same concept. Staff of Domination tapping for a blue mana and then untapping itself does this same trick, leaving you with an infinite power attacker. Staff of Domination is a pretty insane card on its own and goes infinite with Metalworker as well if you have enough artifacts to reveal.
That's all I've got when it comes to Urza, High Lord Artificer! I think Urza is going to be a popular and strong commander, so expect to see a lot of him across the table! Let me know in the comments what awesome combo I missed or if I'm too optimistic!
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