Grixis Thopter Sword Combo in Modern after Modern Horizons

Parker Ackerman
July 19, 2019

For quite some time now, I’ve wanted to cover a deck centered around the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo. Also during that time, the deck seemed to be missing something. Not necessarily power, or jank, but just that extra oomph to really make the deck interesting.


But with the release of Modern Horizons I think we finally have that, and thanks to MTGO user kadashi6351, we even have proof that it’s a viable choice.


The deck is very creature light, and considering the fact that most of our creatures come from the combo, this makes sense. Goblin Engineer is a nice little tutor to find our artifacts, and Urza does all sorts of fun little things. Urza makes mana, makes a big beater, and gives us an outlet for that mana if we don’t have the combo assembled. We’re pretty spell-light as well, with Collective Brutality acting as our catch-all two-drop, Metallic Rebuke giving us access to what is essentially a one-mana Counterspell, and Whir of Invention acting as even more ways to assemble the combo.

For artifacts, we basically have two categories: acceleration and combo. The acceleration gets us to the combo faster, either by making mana, fixing mana, drawing cards, or some mix. Mox Opal is a huge early mana advantage, with Chromatic Star and Terrarion only fixing our mana while also digging through our deck to find our combo. The combo wins us the game, and is primarily Sword of the Meek and Thopter Foundry. These two cards together give us a value engine that can beat a variety of decks on its own. However, with either Time Sieve or Urza, we can go infinite and win practically on the spot.

For lands we have Darksteel Citadel, helping enable Mox Opal and also being a sacrifice target to bring back a combo piece with Goblin Engineer and does a Seat of the Synod impression with Urza in play. Otherwise, the mana base is a familiar mix of “typical artifact deck lands” and “typical grixis deck lands.” We have fetches, shocks, basics, and artifact staples Glimmervoid and Spire of Industry. These are great for fixing, ensuring we can hit all of our color requirements.

The sideboard is also a lot of what you would expect, with a little bit of spice thrown in. Engineered Explosives, Fatal Push, Nihil Spellbomb, and Pithing Needle are all cards you might expect from this kind of deck to deal with a wide variety of decks, but Swan Song is where things get interesting. Being able to counter any instant, sorcery, or enchantment spell for just 1 mana is huge, especially against opposing Blood Moons and artifact destruction. The 2/2 Bird the opponent gets is definitely a price, but in a perfect world we can make more than enough thopters to handle something as small as a 2/2. Thoughtseize is also mostly expected to deal with opposing hate, Damping Sphere pulls its weight against big mana decks like Tron, and Sorcerous Spyglass is another copy of Pithing Needle that gives us a bit better idea of what we should name. Ashiok does a great job of shutting down tutors and graveyard strategies, and The Antiquities War lets us assemble the combo reliably, then gives us a way to quickly close out the game on turn 6.

The Combos

This deck has, essentially, three combos, although two of them are really just “evolved” forms of the primary combo. These are all almost guaranteed to win you the game if left undisturbed, and while the “evolved” forms are more likely to win on the spot, the basic form at least gives you a huge advantage.

Basic Combo: Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek


The main combo here revolves around these two cards. If you’re not seeing the synergy here, that’s okay, because a lot of people don’t at first glance. This combo can make you an amount of life and a number of thopters equal to the amount of mana you have open at the time, allowing you to pull ahead in both life and board presence.

  1. Have both cards on board.
  2. Pay 1 mana to sacrifice Sword to Thopter Foundry.
  3. You create a 1/1 Thopter and gain 1 life. This triggers Sword of the Meek’s ability, returning it to the battlefield.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

This may not win the game on the spot, but it does do a lot towards protecting you and giving you an army to pressure your opponent with.

Infinite Thopters/Life: Add Urza, Lord High Artificer

This combo is a much more reliable way to win on the spot, and while it doesn’t technically win instantly, it does give you a nearly-perfect defense against your opponent.

  1. Have Thopter Foundry, Sword of the Meek, and Urza on board.
  2. Pay 1 mana to sacrifice Sword to Thopter Foundry.
  3. You create a 1/1 Thopter and gain 1 life. This triggers Sword of the Meek’s ability, returning it to the battlefield.
  4. Tap your newly-created Thopter to create one blue mana with Urza.
  5. Using that mana, return to step 1.

This may not allow you to win before your opponent’s next turn, but it does allow you to gain infinite life and make infinite thopters. This means your opponent will have a really tough time killing you before your next turn because of your high life total and number of blockers. It also means that your opponent will have to find a way to completely clear your board before the next turn comes around, since you’ll be able to swing in with your entire army of Thopters.

Infinite Turns: Add Time Sieve

Once again, this combo is much better at winning on the spot than the basic combo, and unlike either of the two previous combos, this one actually does let you win before your opponent takes their next turn.

  1. Have Thopter Foundry, Sword of the Meek, Time Sieve, and at least 5 mana on board.
  2. Pay 1 mana to sacrifice Sword to Thopter Foundry.
  3. You create a 1/1 Thopter and gain 1 life. This triggers Sword of the Meek’s ability, returning it to the battlefield.
  4. Repeat until you have at least 5 Thopters. Spend the rest of your mana either casting spells or creating more Thopters.
  5. Use Time Sieve’s ability to sacrifice 5 Thopters and take an extra turn.
  6. Repeat these steps until you have enough Thopters to kill the opponent in a single swing.


  • Chromatic Star and Terrarion can dig through your deck even faster than you might expect thanks to our new friend Goblin Engineer. Sacrificing one of them to return an artifact, then repeating this process to return the sacrificed star or Terrarion means you can draw even more cards, and if you have two of these guys you can just keep trading them back and forth.
  • You technically don’t need Sword of the Meek on the battlefield to start the combo; you can have it in the graveyard instead. By sacrificing another unneeded artifact, you can make a thopter, bring back Sword, and then continue on with the combo from there.
  • If your Foundry gets destroyed, you can bring it back pretty easily by sacrificing a token to Goblin Engineer.
  • On a similar note, your thopters can be sacrificed to Goblin Engineer, which means it can be used to reuse cards like Engineered Explosives.

Extra Spice:

  • Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas used to see a good bit of play in these sorts of decks, and for good reason. A +1 that finds the combo, a -1 that makes a big threat, and a measly -4 that can win the game on the spot. The card hits hard, and is an excellent choice if you’re looking for some higher-CMC cards.
  • Tezzeret the Seeker is a great card, untapping Citadels and Opals on the +1, tutoring the combo on his -X, and giving you a way to alpha strike with his -5. Ultimately though, the -X is the big draw here, allowing you to tutor both halves of the combo without ever plussing him.
  • Ensnaring Bridge. I will never stop recommending this card in artifact decks. Play with this card while you can, because you never know: Wizards may have just started on a Bridge-banning binge.

The deck is a lot of fun and gives you a lot of flexibility. Ultimately you’re trying to hit the combo as quickly as possible, but there are so many different ways to do it that you’re putting together a new puzzle each time. The deck is all the fun of artifact combo, with none of the things that will get your opponent to hate you! Take the deck for a spin, and you’ll find that it has something to love for a wide variety of players, and can be tweaked to suit even more playstyles.

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