Dice Factory with 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》

Jacob Nagro

Jacob Nagro

Introduction

Karn, the Great CreatorNarset, Parter of VeilsTeferi, Time Raveler

War of the Spark has already made a huge impact on the Modern format. In my most recent article I explored how to maximize 《Karn, the Great Creator》 in Modern, and it already seems like he’s proving himself as a serious contender of the format. Along with 《Karn, the Great Creator》, cards like 《Narset, Parter of Veils》, 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, and 《Blast Zone》 have also been showing up quite frequently in Modern.

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

Another card I was very excited about in War of the Spark, that I haven’t been seeing as much as I’d like, is 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》.

When 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》 was first previewed, people seemed to immediately recognize the power of her passive ability. While she is more costly than 《Young Pyromancer》, the ability to trigger on any noncreature spell is certainly an upgrade, and the difference between being a 5 loyalty Planeswalker compared to a 2/1 creature has both its upsides and downsides.

Relic of ProgenitusMishra's Bauble

I certainly do appreciate the passive ability of 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》, but when I tried brewing with her I wanted to also utilize her activated ability. I first started doing this by playing cards like 《Relic of Progenitus》 and 《Mishra’s Bauble》, cheap artifacts that replace themselves.

Not only are these types of cards good with her passive ability, but you can also use her activated ability to turn a Servo or some other artifact into a copy of a Cycling artifact, and then get a card out of it. The decks I built that involved these types of cards were good at accumulating value, but I didn’t feel like I was doing something powerful, which is generally my goal in Modern.

While brainstorming I realized something unique about 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》’s activated ability, when you turn one artifact into another artifact or creature, the original artifact will still keep all of the counters it had on it.

Surge Node

At this point it clicked with me that I could try to abuse 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》 with 《Surge Node》, an artifact that enters with 6 charge counters for only 1 mana. I knew from playing a lot of Modern that a 《Surge Node》 deck already sees fringe play.

Filigree SagesAstral CornucopiaWalking Ballista

The version I knew was a prison based shell using 《Ensnaring Bridge》 and 《Chalice of the Void》, and eventually combo killing with 《Filigree Sages》 and an 《Astral Cornucopia》 that taps for 4 or more mana, to generate infinite mana and cast 《Walking Ballista》. This deck is frequently called Dice Factory by the community that plays it, but after doing some research I learned that there are many different ways to build Dice Factory, not just the prison version.

As part of my research, I noticed hardly anyone had brought up 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》, and it seemed like no one was testing it all. On the other hand however, 《Karn, the Great Creator》 was seeing play in almost every version of Dice Factory, and people mostly only had positive things to say.

Paradox Engine

After I brought up 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》 someone started trying it in their 《Paradox Engine》 version of the deck, and they seemed to have been sold on her inclusion very quickly. I eventually gave it a shot for myself, and started with the following decklist.

I managed to 4-1 my first league with the deck, playing against 4 blue control archetypes and Hollow One. The deck certainly impressed me, but one of the first things I noticed is that it the 《Paradox Engine》 part of the deck didn’t really matter, what mattered was the charge counter cards and their interaction with 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》.

Deckbuilding

The Core

I would consider the core of a Dice Factory deck to be the following:

Ancient Stirrings

4

Mox Opal

4

Surge Node

4


Coretapper

4

Everflowing Chalice

4

Astral Cornucopia

4

This core gives you a mana production engine with a bit of redundancy. You’re looking for either a 《Surge Node》 or 《Coretapper》 as well as either an 《Everflowing Chalice》 or 《Astral Cornucopia》 to put counters on, and you have 《Ancient Stirrings》 to help tie it together.

Mox OpalSurge NodeEverflowing ChaliceSaheeli, Sublime Artificer

Currently I’m under the belief that 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》 should now be part of this core. Her ability to turn a 《Surge Node》 into a 《Everflowing Chalice》 or 《Astral Cornucopia》 can give you a ton of mana ahead of schedule, in fact with a 《Mox Opal》, 《Surge Node》, 《Everflowing Chalice》/《Astral Cornucopia》, 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》, and 2 lands you can have 6 mana on the second turn, and without the 《Mox Opal》 it’s still 6 on turn 3 with a 3rd land. On top of that, this deck is naturally filled with noncreature spells, which makes her passive ability very useful.

CoretapperEverflowing Chalice

This deck also has another, much more simple way to have 6 mana on turn 3. A turn 2 《Coretapper》 alongside a 《Everflowing Chalice》 or 《Astral Cornucopia》 means that on turn 3 you can tap the 《Coretapper》 and then sacrifice it to get to 6 mana alongside 3 land drops. What’s also nice is that if your opponent has removal for the 《Coretapper》 you can still sacrifice it and get the same kind of value a 《Sakura-Tribe Elder》 would produce in the face of removal.

These types of openings have given me the impression that 6 mana is a bit of magic number for this deck. Unfortunately we are a bit forced into playing colorless payoffs, given sometimes your piece of the puzzle is 《Everflowing Chalice》, but with 《Ancient Stirrings》 in the deck it isn’t so bad to have colorless payoffs.

Karn, the Great Creator

So what are the best payoffs we can play given our core? As funny as it is to keep including War of the Spark cards, I strongly believe 《Karn, the Great Creator》 to be the best payoff this deck can play.

With 6 mana 《Karn, the Great Creator》 has a lot of strong options in a variety of matchups, but on top of that he scales incredibly well later in the game as you get more mana, and also can be played in games without your best draws for only 4 mana.

I think my testing so far with this deck has taught me that 《Karn, the Great Creator》 is going to be a mainstay of Modern for the foreseeable future, and decks that can generate mana very quickly, like Tron, Amulet Titan, and this one, should heavily consider including him.

The Updated List

This now gives us an updated core of the following:

Ancient Stirrings

4

Mox Opal

4

Surge Node

4

Coretapper

4


Everflowing Chalice

4

Astral Cornucopia

4

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

3-4

Karn, the Great Creator

4

This leaves us with 10-11 more cards to include, as well as sideboard to fill with things to grab with 《Karn, the Great Creator》, and whatever else we may need to side in. From here is where I think a lot of the various ways to build Dice Factory can slot in.

《Paradox Engine》 and some card draw/selection like my above list will probably give you the ability to win the fastest most of the time, but 《Paradox Engine》 doesn’t actually do anything on its own, so the fact that you need extra resources will leave you vulnerable to disruption.

The general feeling I’ve gotten from playing the deck so far is you want about 2-3 more payoffs, and the rest of your cards to be card draw/selection or interaction. Here as an example decklist that I’ve tried recently.

I’ve found 《Ugin, the Ineffable》 to be one of my favorite additional payoffs. He is pretty powerful on his own ahead of schedule, he can be found with 《Narset, Parter of Veils》, he triggers 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》, and if you untap with him you can play 《Karn, the Great Creator》 and 《Mycosynth Lattice》 for only 6 mana, which you likely have given you had enough to cast 《Ugin, the Ineffable》.

Wurmcoil EngineKarn, Scion of Urza

The other strong colorless payoffs I’ve considered besides 《Ugin, the Ineffable》 and 《Paradox Engine》 are 《Wurmcoil Engine》 and 《Karn, Scion of Urza》. I think these cards both have a lot of upsides, and something notable about them is you can use 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》’s activated ability to turn an artifact you’ve started the turn with into a 《Wurmcoil Engine》 or large Construct token to get in damage.

Narset, Parter of Veils

I don’t think 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 or even blue spells are necessarily a core part of the deck. She is just another new card I want to try, and I like the additional digging because 《Karn, the Great Creator》 has just felt like the card I want to draw almost every game.

Geier Reach SanitariumTeferi's Puzzle Box

《Narset, Parter of Veils》 offers a cool lock with 《Geier Reach Sanitarium》 or 《Teferi’s Puzzle Box》, and also just has the potential to be very annoying for a deck with a lot of card draw. In addition, Planeswalkers in general just play very well with 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》’s passive, as you generate a lot of blockers.

Relic of ProgenitusMishra's BaubleChromatic Star

《Relic of Progenitus》 simply functioned as a cycling artifact of choice. Interacting with the graveyard will be very high upside in some matchups, and worthless in others. A card like 《Mishra’s Bauble》 or 《Chromatic Star》 would be just as synergistic with 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》 in a much more efficient manner if you don’t value the graveyard hate.

The mana base is also interesting in this deck. Personally I would like to always play 13-14 lands that can tap for 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》, and 4-5 colorless lands.

Darksteel Citadel

While 《Darksteel Citadel》 is always great with 《Mox Opal》, I’ve found the other colorless lands to provide a lot more value. On top of that 《Darksteel Citadel》 is just an additional liability against 《Stony Silence》 or opposing 《Karn, the Great Creator》.

Blast Zone

《Blast Zone》 has definitely impressed me a lot. In longer games you have access to a lot of spare mana and it can be used if the game slows down a bit. It also is a nice answer to 《Stony Silence》 or opposing 《Karn, the Great Creator》. 《Blast Zone》 also played a lot better when I’ve tried versions with 《Contentious Plan》 or 《Tezzeret’s Gambit》, because an opponent might suspect going into your turn that you can’t activate for a certain number, and then it turns out that you can.

Grove of the Burnwillows

Another cool part about mana base is that if you omit blue spells besides 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》 and potentially 《Tezzeret’s Gambit》, you can play with red sources instead of blue sources and use 《Grove of the Burnwillows》. 《Grove of the Burnwillows》 hardly has a downside in our deck given a lot of our wins involve locking out our opponent, and it even has upside against 《Death’s Shadow》 decks.

Moving Forward

Trinket Mage

More recently I’ve been experimenting with 《Trinket Mage》. Which not only allows you to find 《Surge Node》 or an artifact to add counters to, but also gives you access to a toolbox of cards like 《Engineered Explosives》, 《Chalice of the Void》, and 《Relic of Progenitus》.

Chalice of the Void

In particular 《Chalice of the Void》 plays very well in the Dice Factory shell. You can keep ticking up the 《Chalice of the Void》 to mess with your opponent’s curve, and even get it to much higher numbers than normal which can be very annoying for certain decks.

However, 《Chalice of the Void》 is also a little awkward in our deck with so many varying mana costs, that I think I prefer it as a tutor target for 《Karn, the Great Creator》, or perhaps also main deck with 《Trinket Mage》 or 《Tolaria West》.

Another funny thing about 《Chalice of the Void》 is when people try to play it against this deck. Both 《Surge Node》 and 《Coretapper》 can target your opponent’s artifacts as well, so don’t forget that when you’re facing down cards like 《Chalice of the Void》 or 《Aether Vial》.

Engineered Explosives

I’m also a pretty big fan of 《Engineered Explosives》 in the deck. I think fitting more main deck will probably be the right direction to go, as well as an 《Academy Ruins》 in one of the colorless land spots. 《Engineered Explosives》 is another card that can be used with charge counter manipulation, and it helps us become a Planeswalker control deck to some extent.

Also a neat trick with 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》 is to use 《Coretapper》 or 《Surge Node》 to put counters on something like a Servo, and turn it into an 《Engineered Explosives》 to control the board while keeping the original 《Engineered Explosives》.

Conclusion

Ancient StirringsMox Opal

I really don’t know the best way to utilize this core, and I haven’t played it enough to get a great feel for how good it is, but I definitely know there is something powerful here. It’s an 《Ancient Stirrings》 + 《Mox Opal》 deck that has the potential to get the game over with very quickly.

A lot of people that see the 《Paradox Engine》 version of the deck compare it to KCI, but I definitely don’t think this deck is as powerful as KCI was. One thing it has going for it is that it doesn’t care about graveyard hate, but with that being said it’s a lot more vulnerable to a card like 《Abrade》 or 《Ancient Grudge》.

Karn, the Great Creator

It’s also certainly a big concern that 《Karn, the Great Creator》 is seeing so much Modern play, because his passive is so effective against this deck. Luckily this deck actually has some ways to get a battlefield presence between 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》 and additional payoffs like 《Ugin, the Ineffable》 or 《Wurmcoil Engine》. So far in testing I’ve actually played against 《Karn, the Great Creator》 a decent amount and I’ve been able to attack and remove him over a few turns many of those times.

I’m really excited to continue working on this deck and also see the directions other people take it. I know that generating a lot of mana and playing a payoff is something Tron already excels at, but this deck is doing it from a very different angle, and perhaps in the world of 《Damping Sphere》 and 《Field of Ruin》 it can do it more successfully.

If you have any questions or cool decklists featuring 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》 and 《Surge Node》, feel free to contact me on Twitter @JacobNagro. As always, thanks for reading!

Jacob Nagro (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

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