Great Creations with Karn in Modern

Jacob Nagro

Jacob Nagro


War of the Spark is looking to be one of the more powerful sets in a long time, and there is no card I’m more excited to start trying in Modern than 《Karn, the Great Creator》. On the surface the card looks very unique, but perhaps too costly to be Modern playable. Sure the ability to wish up an artifact from your sideboard is cool, and so is a one-sided 《Stony Silence》, but what are we really accomplishing? The answer involves the card 《Mycosynth Lattice》. With 《Mycosynth Lattice》 and Karn in play together, your opponent can no longer activate any abilities, including mana abilities! This basically locks them out of anything but combat.

Karn, the Great CreatorMycosynth Lattice

Normally a combo that involves a 4 mana Planeswalker and a 6 mana Artifact wouldn’t be that appealing to me for Modern, but the exception here is that you don’t actually have to put 《Mycosynth Lattice》 in your main deck. You only need to play a single copy in your sideboard, which you can have access to whenever you already control Karn and believe it’s an appropriate time to grab it. The setup for this situation still isn’t easy, and I believe from this point you have to build your deck in a way to support getting Karn on a stable board with 6 mana. I do believe Modern offers a few different ways to accomplish this however, and that’s what I’d like to focus on in this article.

Prison with Karn

Ancient StirringsMox Opal

To start, an artifact based Karn deck already gets access to two of the best cards in Modern, 《Ancient Stirrings》 and 《Mox Opal》. 《Ancient Stirrings》 makes it a lot more reasonable to actually build a deck around setting up Karn in play, and 《Mox Opal》 gives you the potential to play him faster, and also helps you get to 6 mana for 《Mycosynth Lattice》.

Darksteel CitadelChalice of the VoidInventors' FairAcademy Ruins

Here is a starting point based on the Whir Prison deck we already see in Modern. I figured Karn and 《Whir of Invention》 would be a little too clunky, especially with 《Ensnaring Bridge》, and I wanted to go all out on Karn. Also by removing Whir, we can play 《Darksteel Citadel》 in our mana base to enable faster 《Mox Opal》 starts, including something like a turn 1 《Chalice of the Void》 for 1. Removing Whir also lets me feel comfortable adding an additional 《Inventors’ Fair》 and 《Academy Ruins》.

Ensnaring BridgeSai, Master ThopteristSpellskite

《Ensnaring Bridge》, 《Sai, Master Thopterist》, and 《Spellskite》 can all help you develop Karn and help keep him around.

Tormod's Crypt

The sideboard might be a little too littered with 1 ofs to grab with Karn, but I figured a lot of these could have their spots. I certainly can’t imagine ever registering Karn without at least having 《Tormod’s Crypt》 to tutor up the turn I play him.

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Tron with Karn

Urza's TowerUrza's Power PlantUrza's Mine

Another way to potentially support Karn is to play him in a deck that has access to a lot of mana very fast. Tron is already a deck trying to get 7 mana on turn 3, and even already plays 10 mana cards, which is conveniently the cost of the Karn + Lattice combo.

Crucible of WorldsEnsnaring BridgeOblivion StoneTrinisphere

Here I just removed some of the payoff cards from a normal Tron list and added 4 Karns. In the sideboard I tried to include a few high impact 3 mana cards to be able to play in the same turn as Karn should you have Tron on turn 3. Other cards that I considered were 《Orb of Dreams》 or 《Tumble Magnet》, but I think 《Spellskite》 or 《Ensnaring Bridge》 can get the job done in a lot of spots where those would be good.

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Control with Karn

Thopter FoundrySword of the Meek

A third way to support Karn is to play him in a control deck. Modern decks are already trying to get 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 or 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 on an empty board, so why not try doing it with Karn? An added bonus is trying to incorporate the 《Thopter Foundry》 / 《Sword of the Meek》 combo, as Karn can also tutor up a missing piece.

There are certainly a lot of ways to build a deck like this, especially given we already see plenty of ways to build traditional UW Control in Modern. 4 Karn is probably too many for a deck like this that can prolong the game, but I like maximizing my ability to find out how good newer cards are when testing them.

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In general I don’t expect it to be likely that shells with Karn end up playing the full 4 copies. Although, having more copies lets you set up lines where the first one gets a 《Mycosynth Lattice》 and dies, and the 2nd one isn’t vulnerable to 《Lightning Bolt》.

It’s also possible a deck built entirely around Karn is just too slow for Modern. I definitely expect him to show up either way though. At the very least I think Whir Prison will play a copy to try to find so they can lock out cards like 《Shatterstorm》 and 《Cryptic Command》. I also think certain Eldrazi decks might just want access to a colorless 《Stony Silence》, even a costly one that can be attacked. It’s also just worth noting with all these decks I’ve built, that Karn is just an incredibly main deck hate tool for both his passive ability, and his ability to grab cards from the sideboard. Even if 《Mycosynth Lattice》 didn’t exist I wouldn’t be shocked to see Karn show up in small numbers in Modern anyways.

I’m certainly excited to start testing with Karn in Modern, it’s somewhat unfortunate the Mythic Championship in London doesn’t allow the War of the Spark cards in constructed, but definitely reasonable given card availability and testing time. If you have any questions or input about these decklists or Karn in Modern, feel free to ask me @jacobnagro on Twitter.

Jacob Nagro @jacobnagro on Twitter

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Jacob Nagro

Jacob Nagro Jacob Nagro is a pro player from United States. His first appearance was GP Denver 2016 where he made top 8 with UW Flash. He keeps trying hard and his effort was paid off as the Silver Level Pro in the 2016-2017 season. He played a spicy RB Bridgevine deck featuring Greater Gargadon and Bloodghast at the Pro Tour 25th Anniversary. His team went 7th place and he became a Gold Level Pro with the impressive record. Read more articles by Jacob Nagro