For the month of June I want to discuss two different decks that I have tried to make work for quite some time. While not originally intended, it just so happened to be that both decks fell into the Izzet color identity, so welcome to Izzet June! In the case of this week’s deck, I didn’t have the finer points figured out at first; but after some experience against a boat tribal deck last Fall, some experimenting with a recent preconstructed deck, and additional brewing on Magic Arena, the concept really fleshed itself out for me.

The deck itself explores the vehicle archetype, which is something that I have definitely had a lot of interest with in the past but have never been able to generate a list that really tickles my fancy. With the release of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, the saturation of the card type has become such that we are actually able to be selective with which vehicles we use. Surprisingly, this deck did not end up being an upgrade of the pre-constructed deck that came out at the same time as Neon Dynasty, instead taking cues from that deck to port over into the Izzet color identity in a way that I have found to be rather compelling.

Not Settling for a Precon

Earlier this year, I picked up the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Commander deck, Buckle Up, because the vehicle archetype has intrigued me, despite failing in he past to get a list off the ground. While I had to make a few tweaks to the deck, including adding Glory, Rebbec, Architect of Ascension, and Cosima, God of the Voyage, I found the experience of piloting the deck extremely invigorating. But, as is common for me, the instinct to forge my own path led me to want to develop something different. I wanted to take what I liked about a Kotori, Pilot Prodigy led deck and make my own mark.

At first, I considered simply building around Cosima, aftering playing against a boat tribal deck last September. But I knew that mono blue just wouldn’t do. Then I remembered the deck I built on a lark this Spring, a Historic deck in Arena built around Saheeli, Sublime Artificer. The War of the Spark planeswalker has been one of my favorite planeswalkers to experiment with since its printing. I had used my limited cache of wild cards to create a vehicle deck that may only win 40% of games, but had made the impression that sparked this new idea. Of course, Sublime Artificer couldn’t be my commander, but Saheeli, the Gifted absolutely can and she’s proven before to be a commander that can snowball very easily. Over the last three months, I’ve made my way to this deck list:

Commander: Saheeli, the Gifted

Creatures: Alloy Myr, Artificer’s Assistant, Chief Engineer, Cosima, God of the Voyage, Cyberdrive Awakener, Deadeye Quartermaster, Enthusiastic Mechanaut, Etherium Sculptor, Glasspool Mimic, Herald of Kozilek, Jhoira’s Familiar, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, Kuldotha Forgemaster, Myr Battlesphere, Myr Enforcer, Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded, Research Thief, Sharding Sphinx, Sojourner’s Companion, Thopter Engineer, Traxos, Scourge of Kroog, Tribute Mage, Vedalken Engineer

Artifacts: Aradara Express, Brute Suit, Conqueror’s Galleon, Cultivator’s Caravan, Dragonspark Reactor, Funeral Longboat, Hammer of Purphoros, High-Speed Hoverbike, Hoard Hauler, Imposter Mech, Izzet Signet, Mechtitan Core, Mirrorworks, Mizzium Tank, Mobilizer Mech, Ovalchase Dragster, Skullclamp, Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, Smuggler’s Copter, Sol Ring, Thundering Chariot, Thundersteel Colossus, Unwinding Clock, Wayfarer’s Bauble, Weatherlight

Planeswalkers: Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, Tezzeret the Seeker, Ugin, the Ineffable

Enchantments: Artificer Class, Efficient Construction, Mirrodin Besieged, The Antiquities War

Instants: Reality Heist, Spell Swindle, Valakut Awakening, Whir of Invention

Sorceries: Anger of the Gods, Fabricate, Saheeli’s Artistry, Saheeli’s Directive

Lands: 15 Island, 7 Mountain, Darksteel Citadel, Flamekin Village, Great Furnace, High Market, Otawara, Soaring City, Riverglide Pathway, Seat of the Synod, Shivan Reef, Silverbluff Bridge, Spirebluff Canal, Stormcarved Coast, Sulfur Falls, Treasure Vault, War Room

The appeal of dodging wrath effects has given me the impression that going forward the vehicle archetype might have a strong staying power in Commander games. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of the creatures crewing them being very wrath adverse. That is why part of the fine tuning of this deck revolved around addressing how to consistently crew vehicles.

The Buckle Up deck addresses this by creating Drumbellower to allow you to crew defensively and Katsumasa, the Animator, to allow the use of mana to animate vehicles directly or turn non-vehicles into 1/1s. But they also include established token creators Myrsmith, Sai, Master Thopterist, and Thopter Spy Network to help ensure that we have a consistent flow of creatures to crew our suite of mobile suits and the occasional Parhelion II. After some reps with the deck, porting the Azorius deck list into Izzet was not too difficult.

Saheeli, the Gifted becomes a great commander to lead this deck, because she is able to support multiple aspects of the deck. Creating tokens that can help to crew our vehicles and also making out spells substantially less expensive in the event that we don’t need the help. Her ultimate may prove to be unused in many situations, but it shouldn’t be overlooked how critical it can be to protect our creatures and vehicles from combat math outside of our control or act as emergency pseudo-vigilance.

Finding a Good Tutor

The primary building blocks of this deck were the cards that were going to help prioritize our artifact spells. This should come as no surprise, as the only deciding factor for most artifact-matters suites are the color identity they fit into. Artificer Class is a new card that admittedly has gone untested up to this point, but even at level one, becomes an effective copy of Enthusiastic Mechanaut, Etherium Sculptor, and Jhoira’s Familiar for the purposes of our deck. The real fun begins, once we’re either sorting through our deck with Artificer’s Assistant or just drawing a card off of nearly half the cards in our deck with Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain.

After having those building blocks in place, I knew this deck needed an artifact tutoring package to make sure that we have toolbox access to the artifacts that we are going to need the most. Within a vehicle deck, I think this is even more important, as there are specific vehicles that are going to be prioritized above the rest. Chiefly, Deadeye Quartermaster and Tribute Mage are both very specific about which artifacts they can tutor for, but both will be able to find some of the most useful vehicles: namely Imposter Mech, Mechtitan Core, and Smuggler’s Copter. Additionally, Tribute Mage can find Dragonspark Reactor, which has proven to be both an alternate win-condition or more simply an effective way to clear a path.

The remainder of our artifact tutor effects fall into the generically good and useful suite. Fabricate, Tezzeret the Seeker, and Whir of Invention are staple tutors, with the latter two putting the artifact directly into play. Then there is Kuldotha Forgemaster, which has proven to be an unrivaled toolbox powerhouse if allowed to get past summoning sickness. With the sheer amount of artifact tokens we are capable of creating, the Forgemaster should have no issue producing whatever we’ll need in the moment.

Easy Riders

While a lot of the inspiration for this deck was built around Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, taking advantage of The Omenkeel, as the second face of Cosima, God of the Voyage, also drove a lot of the appeal to build a vehicle deck as well. The Omenkeel is very useful, as it can come down after the battlefield is already stocked with at least one other vehicle and it can line up future land drops right away. But what other vehicles are we looking to get the most use out of?

In the artifact rich world that Commander currently exists in, Hoard Hauler should be able to provide us with ample mana to either hoard or create explosive post combat main phases. Imposter Mech has proven to be an undeniable Clone-effect, allowing you to copy creature effects at a cheap cost, while dodging certain removal. Ovalchase Dragster has proven useful for brute forcing through damage, especially when The Omenkeel is in play. And the legendary vehicles, Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and Weatherlight both represent excellent evasive attackers, while also acting as either removal or card selection.

In the end, the creme de la creme of vehicles is Mechtitan Core. In practice, it has proven to steal a lot of wins, simply by presenting a threat that can be difficult to answer. With the amount of artifact tokens this deck is able to generate, it is not uncommon to drop the Core, pay five mana and have the 10/10 token attacking for the huge life swing. Additionally, exiling Myr Battlesphere, High-Speed Hoverbike, and/or Skysovereign, Consul Flagship can mean our opponents’ eventual removal will still leave us with a board state and/or combat tricks.

As I said before, I think we are on the verge of seeing the vehicle archetype really prosper. But I am hesitant to say that color identities without blue will flourish in Commander in the near future. I think that Greasefang, Okiba Boss is a very powerful card in 60-card formats and a general to keep an eye on, but I have yet to see the depth of cardpool that I believe would allow an Orzhov Commander deck to represent vehicles properly. I hope that customizability is just around the corner, because even with a commander that was not intended to facilitate this archetype, I’m really happy with the results.

Next time, we will be continuing Izzet June with Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, a general that I know has risen in stock over the last four years and I simply have not dedicated the time to examine. Until then, thank you for reading.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH and the EDH community. He has been playing Magic: the Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.

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