Every once in awhile, a card comes around that looks to be ready to break multiple formats. Chief Engineer would appear to be that kind of card. A card that can make any artifact you cast gain Convoke sounds incredibly silly, in theory. Basically, what this allows to happen is giving each artifact you cast the ability to tap as many creatures that you control as you want to reduce its casting cost by one. The best part about Convoke that is often misunderstood is that Convoke is unaffected by summoning sickness. You can tap creatures as soon as they are played, meaning that Affinity in Modern (and Legacy) for that matter could soon become ridiculous. Right?
Chief Engineer is a 1/3 for 1U. Those are reasonable stats, but he’s not exactly very aggressive. Plus, multiple copies of him on board don’t do much for you. It’s not like Etherium Sculptor where its ability to make your artifacts cost 1 colorless mana less can stack. However, in concert with Etherium Sculptor and Grand Architect, Chief Engineer does have a chance to shine.
One question that has been brought up quite a bit already is, how much better is Chief Engineer than Grand Architect?
Grand Architect was a very strong card during the Scars of Mirrodin block, and still sees heavy Commander play, as well as some fringe Mono-Blue Devotion play in Modern in a deck called Master Architect (which is of course based around Master of Waves and the Architect.) Like Chief Engineer it’s a 1/3 but with a 1UU casting cost. It also is a lord for blue creatures and it has an ability for one Blue to make an artifact creature blue until end of turn. Then, if you tap an untapped blue creature you control, you get to add 2 colorless mana to your mana pool. You can only spend that mana to cast artifact spells or activate abilities of artifacts, but that’s pretty solid.
The obvious advantage of <strongChief Engineer is that it costs 1 fewer Blue mana to cast and it gives your artifacts Convoke, which means that the color of the creature you are tapping isn’t nearly as important. It is possible to see the Engineer working well alongside the Architect, however.
Etherium Sculptor was a very strong card back in the days of Shards of Alara. It’s been reprinted a couple of times since, most recently in Modern Masters. It hasn’t seen much Modern play, sadly, outside of Krark-Clan Combo, an inconsistent but at times highly successful deck. (I hate combo decks, and I am sure that SolemnParty will be covering some of my most hated combos in the Games and Mechanics series at some point in the future.) It’s an extremely popular Commander card, however, and it was very good in its Standard and Extended heydays. In an artifact based deck, it would seem that the Sculptor is a better turn two drop until you remember that Chief Engineer can be Convoked for Blue mana, and in Eternal formats likely you’ll have a Memnite or Ornithopter to tap for the colorless mana, meaning you get to cast a free Sculptor. That’s very solid.
That being said, many people are dreaming of turn three Wurmcoil Engines. While that would be technically possible, as many players have already pointed out on various forums and on Reddit, potentially playing out your whole hand for a turn three Wurmcoil is more than a bit risky. But here is a very playable scenario that doesn’t necessarily involve over-extending.
Turn one, play an Island and some one-drop or zero-drop creature. Turn two, play a land. Then, drop the Chief Engineer, then using the Sculptor’s new Convoke ability, tap both creatures to bring it out. You could then bring out another two-drop creature by tapping the Sculptor, or using the other Island, as well – but that’s not necessary. Even with just three creatures on board, and presumably two lands, with Sculptor on board, that’s all you need to drop the Engine. There. you now have a turn three Wurmcoil, and probably still a couple of cards in hand. Yes, you might be asking for removal to wipe it out, but you’re already greatly up on board position. Grand Architect doesn’t offer that sort of acceleration. But this scenario, of course, assumes that you have a Sculptor and one other creature to drop. Then again, that’s not at all far-fetched.
The card that Chief Engineer probably enables the best, however, is Mycosynth Golem. Yes, it costs 11 mana to play, but it does have affinity for artifacts. Let’s take the scenario with the Turn 3 Wurmcoil Engine
. You have four creatures on board and presumably three lands now. That’s 7 mana. So turn four, you’ll likely have at least 4 untapped creatures and 3 land. You may have a fourth land-drop, as well. Already Mycosynth Golem is a 7 drop, due to having 3 artifacts and the Sculptor on board. Therefore, you have the mana already to cast it on turn 4 by Convoking all four creatures and tapping three land. So yes, you have a turn for Mycosynth Golem, and after that point, since now your artifacts all have affinity for artifacts, you basically play everything else after that for free.
Right now, Mycosynth Golem is only played in Commander, but it is legal in Legacy and Modern. Chief Engineer has just made Mycosynth Golem far more playable in Modern and Legacy.
And there’s this guy:
Turn one creature, turn two Chief Engineer. Tap two creatures. Get a free 5/6 Myr Superion. Yeah.
OK, so that’s all well and good. Affinity in Modern got a new friend. It remains to be seen just how Chief Engineer is brewed with in Eternal formats, but there potential is definitely there. I don’t even have to begin to tell you how good Convoking Artifacts is in Commander, a format dominated by artifacts everywhere.
So what about Standard?
Well, Magic 2015 already has a fair share of decent artifacts. Our old zero-drop Ornithopter is back. Juggernaut is back. Phyrexian Revoker is back. Perilious Vault can wipe out a board, the exiling version of Oblivion Stone. You also have the lovely indestructible artifact land Darksteel Citadel.
Oh, and there’s Soul of New Phyrexia.
Yes, there’s definitely a lot of potential for Chief Engineer to go somewhere. He’s going to even be playable in Limited with the number of artifacts in this Core Set. Depending on what the Khans of Tarkir block has to offer for artifacts, he could find even more great synergies in Standard.
Regardless of what happens in Standard, he will be the nuts in Commander and Affinity players will get to visit Magical Christmas Land with their turn 3 Wurmcoil Engines and turn 4 Mycosynth Golems on a good many occasions. Affinity was already a deck in Modern without the artifact lands, and Legacy still has them. It’s really just a matter of figuring out where to stick your copies of Chief Engineer in Affinity lists. Not sure it will be run as a full play-set or not, but as it’s 3 toughness, it’s well in range to be hit by Lightning Bolt or Lightning Strike. Plus, you’ll want to have enough copies to open with one consistently.
Basically, if you get a great opening hand, Chief Engineer makes Affinity very tough to beat. It won’t be Mirrodin block all over again with artifacts overrunning the format – Wizards learned that lesson well – but artifact lovers are going to have some fun with this guy.
And he’s even Vintage playable with Moxen.
How will you use Chief Engineer?
– Elspeth for the Win