Hey there Magic people! There are all sorts of reasons people love Transformers, the transforming robot franchise that spans several TV series, multiple features, and an enduring juggernaut presence in the toy aisles.
When I was a kid, I watched the TV show, and the movie featuring Orson Welles as the voice of Unicron. I really liked a lot of the characters, and their voices. A lot of us kids mimicked Soundwave’s voice.
I was a little hesitant on the Magic versions of the Transformers, as they seemed overly complicated, but they won me over. Many of them, including Soundwave, Soundwave, Sonic Spy, are in my Battlebox/Cube setup.
But a few weren’t quite right for the concept. One of those, a card I still really wanted to play with, is Ultra Magnus, Tactician. Indestructible is a bit strong for the BB/Cube, and Magnus has plenty of other powerful abilities and great stats to boot.
So instead, I built a regular old Commander deck. To me, Ultra Magnus says robots and flexibility. If you like artifact creatures, making tokens, and having a variety of ways to win the game, this deck might be for you!
More than Meets the Eye
Here are both sides of the Commander because hovering over Ultra Magnus, Tactician or Ultra Magnus, Armored Carrier both show the front side.
Ultra Magnus is really great at dodging boardwipes, and is always classy, never crewed.
Obviously the deck is full of artifacts and artifact creatures. Instead of mana rocks or ramp spells, the deck has plenty of artifact mana creatures, like Copper Myr. There are also cards that generate artifact creatures, mainly thopters, like Pia and Kiran Nalaar and Breya’s Apprentice.
The deck has a large percentage of creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities, aside from making thopters, and there are plenty of cards to get extra value out of them. Stuff like Ephemerate and Eerie Interlude that can also be used to save creatures, or cards like Mirror March, Flameshadow Conjuring and Minion Reflector to make token copies for all sorts of tricks.
Not every copy is going to make for an additional ETB trigger. Sometimes copying something like Haywire Mite or Restoration Specialist is all about a flexible sacrifice piece.
I considered all of Panharmonicon, Anointed Procession, Mirrorworks and Prototype Portal, and while they didn’t do it for me for various reasons, they might suit your playstyle.
The mana base is fairly budget. I didn’t want too many lands that entered tapped. The curve of the deck is quite low, and there are plenty of colour fixing mana creatures. As well, a good portion of the deck can be cast for colourless mana. The deck could definitely have more utility pieces, and better fixing, but something like this works just fine and won’t cost much to put together.
There were a few things I wanted to focus on when building the deck. First, I wanted to make sure I had some big payoffs for Magnus’s front side, that could be cheated into play. Second, I wanted to be able to control my team’s power while on the back side, and be able to keep it under 8 so I could attack with indestructible every turn. Third, I wanted my various artifact creatures to be relevant at any phase of the game, even a late-game mana-dork topdeck. Finally, I wanted to make sure I had several ways to win. Tactics, y’know.
Big Payoffs for Free
The ‘big payoff’ artifacts range from some fun beaters like Darksteel Colossus and Metalwork Colossus to value creatures like Combustible Gearhulk and Sandstone Oracle, to removal like Meteor Golem and Duplicant. Steel Hellkite can be especially devastating as a surprise token sweeper.
Getting the best versions of Cradle Clearcutter and Steel Seraph for free is great, though the timing can be clunky. Like the Seraph, Myr Battlesphere coming into play using Ultra Magnus’s trigger skips the Battlesphere’s own attack trigger, and you can’t buff its power with myr, or buff something else with the Seraph.
There are plenty of other powerful artifact creatures to consider, like Wurmcoil Engine, Triplicate Titan and Cityscape Leveler. I’m not a fan of infect in Commander, but Blightsteel Colossus will add a wincon to your arsenal.
While there’s a direct card-based application for Magnus’s indestructible ability, and that’s post-combat boardwipes like Day of Judgment and Blasphemous Act, the main trick is not flipping the Commander and keeping the indestructible on demand. That’s accomplished with smaller creatures, which we have in abundance, and 7 or less total power. This way we can play a more controlling game and be a player with things like Initiative and The Monarch until the board is clear and we can swing in for much more.
Two things to remember are that Magnus itself is 4 power to start on the back side, meaning we can only add 3 more if we want to keep it from flipping, and that we can still increase our creatures’ power after his trigger using a card like Pia Nalaar.
The Golden Argosy makes for a fun, indestructible duo attack with Magnus, blinking the rest of our creatures, and keeping the total power at 7 to do again next turn.
Any Time is Artifact Creature Time
I’ve already touched on the various cards that make copies or blink cards for value, and there are a number of others that trigger on ETB, cast and such as well. All of these come together to make any artifact creature a value play. Stuff like Digsite Engineer and Losheel, Clockwork Scholar.
Cards like Guardian Project and Tocasia’s Welcome turn the blinking and cheating and such into cards, while Goblin Welder and Conjurer’s Closet add enter and exit opportunities. Determined Iteration can copy all sorts of interesting tokens. Most boardstates give us a bunch of dials to twist and switches to throw for almost everything we play.
Multiple Paths to Victory
A few of the ways our artifacts matter most are our wincons. Of course we have a big, indestructible attack in our pocket most of the time. We also have our Commander being a 7/7 on the front side, meaning a 3-hit Commander damage clock, which is a real goal.
But it’s the quartet of red cards: Ghirapur Aether Grid, Kyren Negotiations, Reckless Fireweaver and Outpost Siege, that can all get us there in a long game. It’s rare for Outpost Siege to be set on anything but Khans in a game of Commander, but we have enough leaves-the-battlefield triggers to make it a serious damager if we need it. Naturally we could add Impact Tremors and/or Purphoros, God of the Forge, but I feel like those cards take over too easily. Feel free to add them to your builds.
Down but Never Out
We have a few cool plays from the graveyard. The Dawn part of Dusk//Dawn hits a lot of our creatures at 2 power or less. Similarly, Throes of Chaos trades an extra land for one of our many 3 mana or less spells. Finally, Reality Scramble turns an innocent thopter token into something better. Ideally the start of a big turnaround.
That’s about it! The deck should have interesting games. It should be fairly quick and interactive, and a lot of fun! What do you think? Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!