Urza, Combo Painter

Theoric
Posts: 41
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Post by Theoric » 3 months ago

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About me

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I live in Canada, I've played MTG since 1996, and I've pretty much bankrupted myself foiling out over 90% of this deck. :)

I also love writing fantasy and I've published a trilogy of fantasy novels on Amazon (ebooks authored under the pen name, Raymond Cain). The books take place deep underwater, in a place brightly lit by a blanket of glowing vegetation and countless luminescent marine creatures. The deep sea adventures I write about are a fun escape for me, but I took a break from writing when Urza came along.

I've always played artifact decks and couldn't have been more excited the day Urza was spoiled. He's been a prominent figure in MTG books since I started playing and they finally made him a card. And what a card! By the time he was released a month later, I'd already played the deck dozens of times and made dozens of changes. In my opinion, the combination of control, stax, speed, and utility makes him a tier 1 deck. I've played it in two small local tournaments and won both times.

Now let's move onto the star of the show...

Here's pics of my underwater world map and book 1 cover, in case you wanna see something cool :)
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What can Urza do?

When Urza, Lord High Artificer enters the battlefield, create a 0/0 colorless Construct artifact creature token with "This creature gets +1/+1 for each artifact you control."
This is occasionally used to block creatures, but more often it's tapped for mana using Urza's second ability. Alternatively, if you create infinite mana and have Capsize in hand, you can create a massive token army by repeatedly bouncing and recasting Urza.

Tap an untapped artifact you control: Add u
Turning all your artifacts into Mox Sapphires is awesome, but even better is casting stax pieces and 'turning them off' so they don't effect you. It can also be used to turn off Howling Mine so it benefits only you. As soon as Urza hits the field, the deck starts flying because all your artifact permanents become mana sources in addition to their other abilities.

5: Shuffle your library, then exile the top card. Until end of turn, you may play that card without paying its mana cost.
This last ability is usually how the deck wins - once you have infinite mana, you can exile your library and cast whatever spells you need to win. This is usually done by casting Jace, Wielder of Mysteries and attempting to draw a card.


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Why should you play Urza?
  • The biggest reason is....because he's awesome.
  • And because he's been a prominent figure in Magic the Gathering novels for 20 years and he's FINALLY a creature card. Flavor-wise, it's a blast to play such an esteemed MTG character.
  • He's a top-tier commander. You only need a 2-card combo to win because Urza himself is a combo piece.
  • He has both stax and combo abilities, so you get the best of both worlds.
  • Unlike most generals, you don't need to wait a turn to use his abilities. He's deadly the moment he's on the battlefield.
  • He turns utility artifacts into mana sources, essentially doubling their power.
  • But mainly because he's a ton of fun to play. It's great to be able to use stax cards like Trinisphere/Winter Orb/Static Orb and not only do they not slow you down, they accelerate you. As soon as Urza hits the field, the deck starts flying.



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You might like Urza if...
  • You like powerful decks.
  • You enjoy consistent decks.
  • You enjoy combo and/or stax decks.
  • You enjoy playing a top-tier commander.
  • You like decks that make you think.
  • You like drawing cards and tutoring.
You might dislike Urza if...
  • You prefer creature-heavy decks.
  • You can't afford the more expensive cards that really make this deck great (eg. Power Artifact and Transmute Artifact).
  • You dislike combo and/or stax decks.
  • Your playgroup disapproves of people playing top-tier decks.
  • You want a deck to play against casual players.
  • You can't handle playing archenemy.
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What alternative commanders are comparable to Urza?
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  • Teferi, Temporal Archmage is another powerful commander that often employs stax and combo elements like those typically found in Urza decklists. There's a powerful but complicated combo with Teferi and The Chain Veil that can win games, but I prefer Urza's simplicity and power. At 6cmc, Teferi is also more difficult to cast.
  • Arcum Dagsson is top-tier, or nearly so, and he's a commander I've played extensively. When paradox engine got banned, Arcum became much weaker whereas Urza was largely unaffected. I'd say Urza has the edge in terms of power level, and is much more fun to play. Arcum tends to sit there and do nothing until he either loses or has an 'oops I win' moment, neither of which is fun for some people. Arcum also requires a lot of card slots to be dedicated to mediocre artifact creatures and he's a bit of a glass cannon that tends to stall when met with removal he can't counter. Urza is better at rolling with punches.
  • Derevi, Empyrial Tactician is a powerful commander typically used in stax decks loaded with tax effects to slow down your opponents. It often leads to long, slow games where you're the archenemy because you're preventing people from playing spells. I'm not interested in that.
  • Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain is another competitive commander that does well in a deck with a lot of artifacts and stax effects. Some people lean more toward storm than stax effects with her. I haven't tried her out yet but I feel she wouldn't be as fun or powerful as Urza.
  • Daretti, Scrap Savant is another strong stax commander that's especially good at utilizing artifacts in the graveyard. I ran him for a while and he wasn't great, plus I really prefer blue cards in an artifact deck.
  • Azami, Lady of Scrolls is no stax commander but she is a monoblue general that's good at finding combos and godlike at drawing cards. There weren't as many artifacts as I'd like and I found it's really hard to find a good wincon with her.
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Strengths
  • The deck isn't overly reliant on having Urza on the battlefield. There are many paths to victory.
  • It's a fast deck, and that speed is aided by stax pieces that slow your opponents.
  • Versatility. There are combo, control, and even aggro options for finishing your opponents.
  • Mana. Once Urza hits the field, everything generates mana.
  • Consistency - there's plenty of card draw and tutoring.
Weaknesses
  • Cards that destroy or nullify artifacts (like Collector Ouphe, Null Rod, and Stony Silence) can be hard to deal with if they get through.
  • Anything that takes control of Urza. There's a few cards in here that can get him back but it might take a while to draw or tutor for them.
  • Blue decks are generally good at countering spells but generally bad at dealing with problem permanents once they're already in play. This deck does have options for dealing with problem permanents though (Capsize, Chain of Vapor, and if it's a creature- Pongify and Rapid Hybridization).
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Budget Decklist

URZA'S TOOLBELT (budget decklist)
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This deck has two infinite mana combos (Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter, Grand Architect + Pili-Pala) and one infinite card draw combo (Future Sight + Sensei's Divining top + Etherium Sculptor) and a TON of card draw to find the pieces you need.

The game plan is to make infinite mana, use it on Urza's last ability to exile your library, and cast Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Or you could create infinite mana and Capsize all of your opponents' permanents, as well as bouncing Urza and recasting him to create an army of tokens.



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This is the hardest section for me because there are so many fantastic cards that I want to use but can't find the room for. People have different playstyles and metas so if you play cards I don't - great! The info under this spoiler is based on my experience playing people in my LGS and playgroup. I'll also discuss many of the great cards that I'm not using.
Creatures
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Creatures I use
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Why do you use...?
Creatures I don't use
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But what about...?:
Lands
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Lands I use
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Why do you use...?
Lands I don't use
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But what about...?
  • Darksteel Citadel - I don't use this because I'm occasionally short of blue mana, plus I want Vedalken Shackles to be as effective as possible.
  • Gemstone Caverns - this could be a bad draw or a great turn 0 play. Use at your own risk.
  • Seat of the Synod - this basically provides no benefit (aside from making your construct token slightly bigger) and a couple negatives: it makes Vedalken Shackles less effective and doesn't untap if Back to Basics is in play.
  • Strip Mine - you're never wrong to put this in a deck. And it would be particularly nasty with Rings of Brighthearth since you could pay 2 and destroy 2 lands. I don't use it because at 29 lands I already feel the deck is thin on lands and I'm not sure it's worth it to give up one of my lands for an opponent's land. Plus I want all the u-producing lands I can get and as many islands as I can to make Vedalken Shackles more effective.
Aftifacts
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Artifacts I use
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Why do you use...?
  • Various mana rocks (Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Mox Opal, Mox Diamond, Everflowing Chalice) - After Urza hits the field, mana usually isn't a problem. But I need ramp to cast him quickly and function without him.
  • Aether Spellbomb - it protects Urza, returns Gilded Drake to you so you can steal another creature, or bounces an opponent's creature. Sometimes I use it to bounce Urza in response to clearing the board with All Is Dust or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. And if you have Rings of Brighthearth, you could bounce 2 creatures or draw 2 cards. Plus you don't have to be afraid to use it for mana - you don't have to tap it to use its abilities.
  • Arcane Signet - once Urza hits the field, mana usually isn't an issue. But casting him from the command zone can be difficult sometimes, especially if he's been sent back there a few times.
  • Basalt Monolith - is good for ramp and it creates infinite mana with Power Artifact or Rings of Brighthearth.
  • Everflowing Chalice - A ramp spell that can be cast early or for extra value later on. Plus if you have voltaic key and Rings of Brighthearth in play, putting 4 counters on the Chalice can net you infinite mana. When Urza's in play, I usually pay 0 to cast this since he can still tap it for u.
  • Grafdigger's Cage - for one mana, it's tutorable by Trinket Mage and shuts down many of the most powerful CEDH decks.
  • Grim Monolith - is good for ramp and it creates infinite mana with Power Artifact.
  • Grindstone - combos nicely with Painter's Servant to mill someone's library. And if you have Jace, Wielder of Mysteries in play, you could mill yourself for the win.
  • Howling Mine - This should be the first card you tap for mana when Urza is in play so you're the only one who benefits from it.
  • Isochron Scepter - usually you'll imprint Dramatic Reversal on this and create infinite mana. Imprinting it with Narset's Reversal can result in neat plays too. Or you could go the simple route and just put a counterspell on it.
  • Jeweled Amulet - is a ramp spell you can cast on the first turn. Plus it has great synergy with Urza because you don't need a counter on it to use it.
  • Mind Stone - I like 2cmc ramp cards that can be used for mana the turn they come out. The ability to sack it for a card is nice, but I might swap this for Fellwar Stone since that can usually create blue.
  • Lotus Petal - can be sacked when you really need u. When Urza is on the battlefield, you can tap it for mana instead.
  • Mind Stone - a ramp spell that can be sacked to draw a card.
  • Painter's Servant - is backbreaking when paired with Grindstone, All Is Dust, or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
  • Rings of Brighthearth - does it all. It makes infinite mana with Basalt Monolith. If you pay 2, you can make a planeswalker's ability happen twice, you can make a fetchland grab 2 islands, make Strip Mine destroy 2 lands, make Buried Ruin fetch 2 artifacts, make Inventors' Fair fetch 2 artifacts, make Isochron Scepter cast 2 spells, grab an extra card with Sensei's Divining Top (which will usually be the top itself), make Aether Spellbomb function twice, or (perhaps my favorite) enable Vedalken Shackles to steal 2 creatures.
  • Sapphire Medallion - Reduces the casting cost of Urza, various Mages, various blue cards that tutor for artifacts, etc. Plus Urza can tap it for mana.
  • Sensei's Divining Top - is a staple in nearly every EDH deck for it's searching and card draw ability. In this deck it's even more powerful since Urza can tap it for mana. It also combos with Rings of Brighthearth, and Basalt Monolith to create an infinite card-drawing engine.
  • Static Orb and Winter Orb - are 2 of the most powerful cards in the deck since they'll only effect your opponents when Urza's in play.
  • Trinisphere - a stax card that slows your opponents and can be 'turned off' when Urza taps it for mana.
  • Vedalken Shackles - Some people prefer Legacy's Allure to this. The allure is great because it doesn't require mana to activate and the creature remains under your control. The main problem about the allure is, it's hard to tutor for and it doesn't matter how good a card is if you can't get it. There's plenty of cards that will find me the Shackles when I need it, it's colorless (points evil finger at Mother of Runes), it's re-useable (it's fun to repeatedly steal creatures and use them as blockers), and you can change your mind about which creature you want to steal. Also, you can use it right away, whereas with Legacy's Allure you generally have to wait a few turns before there's enough counters on it to steal the creature you want. Waiting sucks, especially with a combo deck.
  • Winter Orb - is the most powerful stax card in this deck. It slows down your opponents considerably, and doesn't effect you at all when Urza is in play since he can tap it at the end of the previous player's turn.
Artifacts I don't use
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But what about...?
  • Arcum's Astrolabe - most of the Urza decks I see don't use this but I think it's totally playable. It thins the deck, it ramps once Urza is on the field, and it fixes mana - which is nice considering a lot of the spells in this deck require uu or uuu and most of the mana rocks create colorless mana. It's a great first turn play and does a ton of work for one mana.
  • Aetherflux Reservoir - This card is great once you have infinite mana, but by then the game is basically already over. I consider it a bit of a dead draw and win-more card.
  • CHEERIOS! (Urza's Bauble, Mishra's Bauble, Welding Jar, etc) - these are all decent and you shouldn't hesitate to use them. Mishra's Bauble is probably my favorite, and I'd like to find room for it sometime.
  • Codex Shredder - good card and I can see why people use it. If you have this in play and a Dramatic Reversal imprinted on an Isochron Scepter, you can mill your opponents' libraries. I think most people use it to return Timetwisterto their library so they can do Timetwister loops, but Narset's Reversal accomplishes the same feat by returning Timetwister to your hand which makes Codex Shredder unnecessary.
  • Mox Amber - If a ramp card is only useful once Urza is on the field, it's not worth it. Don't use this.
  • Mycosynth Lattice - I had this in the deck for a while and it was decent. If I had Karn, the Great Creator in the deck I'd probably slot this in as another wincon, but I don't.
  • Thran Dynamo - too hard to cast. I want to be able to cast ramp cards early.
  • Gilded Lotus - too hard to cast.
  • Mystic Forge - there's only a 1 in 4 chance that this will let you cast your top card. Admittedly, there's a lot of shuffling effects in this deck but I still don't feel it's good enough. It's great if you happen to have Sensei's Divining Top and Sai, Master Thopterist in play though since it would let you draw your library.
  • Sky Diamond and Coldsteel Heart - they're pretty good. I was using both for a while. Don't hesitate to use them.
  • Tangle Wire - it's an amazing card in 1vs1 but in multiplayer EDH, I chose not to use it. For one - it's a bad political card. It's super annoying for everyone (including you) and people tend to forget the other threats at the table and focus all their hate on you. And it's hard to withstand that hate, especially when your own Tangle Wire is slowing you down. I prefer to stick to stax cards that only slow down your opponents.
  • Unwinding Clock - decent card. I'd use it if Urza's ability allowed me to play the permanents/sorceries he exiles on other people's turns.
  • Voltaic Key - great card. Maybe I'll make room for it one day. Plus it can make infinite mana with Everflowing Chalice (once you put 4 counters on it) and Rings of Brighthearth.
  • Walking Ballista - Another dead draw, win-more card. The game will be over by the time it's relevant.
Instants
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Instants I use
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Why do you use...?
  • Brainstorm, Fact or Fiction, Impulse - dig into your library to find you the card(s) you need.
  • Capsize - bounces a threat or protects one of your permanents. It's also essentially a wincon after you can make infinite blue mana, since you can bounce all your opponents' permanents and then bounce/recast Urza to create a token army.
  • Chain of Vapor - gets rid of a threat for only u. Keep in mind that you'll often leave one artifact untapped (such as one of the orbs or a Trinisphere), and you can tap that Trinisphere (or whatever artifact you choose) to bounce a threat or one of your permanents to prevent it from getting destroyed.
  • Counterspell - is pretty straightforward.
  • Cyclonic Rift - one of the most powerful blue spells ever made. The thought of an overloaded Cyclonic Rift strikes fear in the hearts of your opponents.
  • Dramatic Reversal - this makes infinite mana with Isochron Scepter. I occasionally use it without the Scepter, just to untap stuff.
  • Flusterstorm - only costs u and it counters most instants/sorceries. Great against storm decks. Plus it's essentially uncounterable.
  • Force of Will, Force of Negation, and Pact of Negation - for those times when you just don't have the mana you need to cast a counterspell.
  • Intuition - Casting this should result in you preventing a threat or getting you the card you need to win. Examples include tutoring for 3 counterspells or any 3 of the following: Transmute Artifact, Reshape, Whir of Invention, or Fabricate.
  • Mana Drain - is probably the best counterspell ever printed. For uu, it stops an opponent's spell and gives you some fuel on your next turn.
  • Mental Misstep - a free counterspell that's great against your opponent's first turn Sol Ring, Sensei's Divining Top, etc. A lot of the creature removal that people might use on Urza and tutors cost 1 cmc as well.
  • Muddle the Mixture - is amazing in this deck. It's almost always used to tutor for something with 2 cmc such as Power Artifact, Grim Monolith, Isochron Scepter, Painter's Servant, or Dramatic Reversal. It's so strong that I often use Merchant Scroll to fetch this just so I can transmute it for the combo piece I need.
  • Mystical Tutor - finds you the card you need to win or just to survive. Common targets include Dramatic Reversal, Transmute Artifact, All Is Dust, Cyclonic Rift, Pongify, or a counterspell.
  • Narset's Reversal - is a very versatile card. If you imprint it on an Isochron Scepter, then you can cast an instant or sorcery and pay 2 to cast your spell and return the card to your hand. If you counter a spell and someone counters yours, you can cast Narset's Reversal to return your counterspell to your hand and counter the original spell you were targeting. Being able to copy other players' spells such as tooth and nail for only uu is pretty cool too.
  • Negate - easy to cast and targets most of the spells that truly hinder this deck.
  • Pongify and Rapid Hybridization - great creature removal for only u.
  • Swan Song - this card targets a few different types of spells for only u. The 2/2 bird it gives the person is trivial. If someone's alpha striking you with a big flying creature, you could also cast an instant and Swan Song it to give yourself a blocker.
  • Whir of Invention - I love that this card is an instant. It's great to leave mana open, rendering your opponents too scared to cast any good spells, and then cheating in an artifact at the end of the previous player's turn.
Instants I don't use
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But what about...?
  • Arcane Denial - It's a great card but it benefits your opponent a lot.
  • Paradoxical Outcome - this is actually a great card. It protects permanents, 'untaps' things like Mana Crypt and Mana Vault, and provides a lot of card draw.
  • Spell Swindle - this card costs 5 mana soooooo..... no. Just no.
  • Archmage's Charm - the uuu can be tough sometimes in a deck with so many rocks that produce colorless mana. It's a pretty versatile card though so it's decent.
  • Disallow - powerful card but I just don't want to have to leave 3 mana open to use it.
  • Dig Through Time - I love how deep this spell digs but the casting cost is a bit much for my tastes. It's really good though.
  • Into the Roil - Another good card. I wish I had room for it.
  • (various other counterspells) - because I don't have room for them.
Sorceries
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Sorceries I use
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Why do you use...?
  • All Is Dust - A lot of Urza decklists don't use this but it's strong in artifact decks. The colored permanents you control are usually stuff you don't really care about losing - the mages, Gilded Drake, etc. It'll kill Urza too (unless you bounce him) but the deck ramps quickly so you'll likely recover faster than your opponents. Also, if Painter's Servant is in play, this card will wipe the board so you'll have a big advantage if you float enough mana to cast permanents afterward.
  • Fabricate - an excellent artifact tutor.
  • Gitaxian Probe - it's a free spell that thins your deck and lets you know if it's safe to tap out for the combo win. And it alerts you of potential threats.
  • Merchant Scroll - always finds me what I need. Surprisingly, I usually use it to get Muddle the Mixture so I can transmute that for a combo piece.
  • Ponder - it digs for a card and shuffles if it's not there. Not bad for a cantrip.
  • Preordain - scrying away the cards you don't need makes this a great cantrip.
  • Reshape - it's not as good as Transmute Artifact but being able to cheat an artifact into play is powerful. My favorite card to Reshape is a tapped Mana Vault.
  • Timetwister - good value in a deck where all your artifacts become mana sources, which means you can usually cast things faster than your opponents. And if Narset, Parter of Veils is on the field, you empty your opponents' hands while refilling yours. Once you generate mana, this also becomes a wincon because you can loop this spell to cast this and other spells repeatedly.
  • Transmute Artifact - this card is incredible. Cheating in the artifact you need to combo out will likely win you the game.
  • Windfall - good value in a deck where all your artifacts become mana sources, which means you can usually cast things faster than your opponents. And if Narset, Parter of Veils is on the field, you empty your opponents' hands while refilling yours
Sorceries I don't use
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But what about...?
  • Time Spiral - cool card but it's slower than timetwister/windfall and I feel it benefits my opponents too much.
  • Echo of Eons - in most cases this is a worse version of Time Spiral.
Planeswalkers
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Planeswalkers I use
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Why do you use...?
Planeswalkers I don't use
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But what about...?
  • Jace, the Mind Sculptor - most people use it to 'Brainstorm' each turn but against many deadly decks, the ability to bounce a dangerous creature is just as useful. Good card, just not good enough.
  • Jace, Wielder of Mysteries - Good card. It provides card draw and a win condition. An extra wincon isn't necessary though.
  • Karn, the Great Creator - A great card in duel commander where you start with 20 life and the deck is designed to beat down your opponents with aggro creatures, but in multiplayer commander I feel it isn't worth it. The top ability is cool but I don't want to stuff every stax piece I can in this deck because it'll be archenemy every game and people won't want to play against you. If I ran Mycosynth Lattice then I'd run this as well for another wincon, but I don't.
  • Ugin, the Spirit Dragon - is amazing in every artifact (ie, mostly colorless) deck. And when Painter's Servant is in play, you can exile all permanents, which will leave you with a big advantage if you can cast some permanents afterward. But I find that if I have the mana to cast him, I'm probably winning already. And if I'm struggling and need him, that's when I can't cast him.
Enchantments
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Enchantments I use
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Why do you use...?
  • Back to Basics - this card usually stops multicolor decks in their tracks. There's very few lands in this deck that are effected by this (keep in mind that fetch lands count as islands) so it's almost guaranteed to hurt your opponents more than it hurts you.
  • Mystic Remora - A great first turn play. I don't think I've ever cast this and not gotten at least one card out of it. Nobody will be able to pay 4 more to cast something, especially against a stax deck.
  • Power Artifact - makes infinite mana on Basalt Monolith or Grim Monolith.
  • Rhystic Study - this card is great in any blue deck, and it's even better in a stax deck. Even if they pay the extra 1, that's a win for you because you're slowing them down.
Enchantments I don't use
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But what about...?
  • Future Sight - is a card I tested a LOT. As I streamlined the deck I found it was too costly to cast, but it's sure powerful when it hits the battlefield. When combined with Sensei's Divining Top, it equals 1, draw a card, and if you also have either a Sai, Master Thopterist or Etherium Sculptor on the field, you can draw your library for free.
  • Legacy's Allure - I like Vedalken Shackles better. Mostly because it's really hard to find this when you need it and you usually have to wait a few turns for this to have enough counters on it to be useful.
  • Trail of Evidence - this doesn't do enough to excite me.
  • Copy Artifact - From what I've read in other Urza primers is people typically use this to copy Isochron Scepter. In my opinion it doesn't do enough.
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My philosophy on EDH

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In my opinion, the best way to win in EDH is to forget about winning and just have a good time.

Lol, just kidding. Let's talk about how to crush your opponents and destroy their will to live. ;)

Players generally don't mind losing a game, but they hate it when they can't play a game. Stax cards prevent people from playing so If I filled this deck with stax cards like Tangle Wire, Karn, the Great Creator, etc, it might be a stronger deck but it would probably lose more because people would be targeting you more. It's hard to win at archenemy, especially if your own stax pieces are impeding your ability to defend yourself. So I don't want a ton of stax pieces but I would like a few, especially the ones that can be 'turned off' when Urza taps them for mana.

Now let's move on to strategy.


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Strategy

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There's a few ways you can win with this deck. Usually what happens is you generate infinite mana with Urza on the board and then everyone quits. If they don't, you could do a Timetwister loop (where you use Timetwister to repeatedly cast spells, shuffle them into your library, then draw and cast them again) or use Capsize to bounce all your opponents' permanents, then bounce and recast Urza a million times to create an army of construct tokens. Using Timetwister over and over enables you to create an army of 2/2 birds using Swan Song. With Sai, Master Thopterist in play, you could use either a Timetwister loop or Capsize to recast artifacts over and over (for example, Lotus Petal) to produce an army of thopters. You could repeatedly use Capsize on Gilded Drake to steal everyone's creatures. Bouncing all your opponents' lands and casting Trinisphere afterward should make them realize the game is over too.

1) The mulligan: Before looking at your opening hand, it's a good idea to consider who you're playing against. Think about what threats could be coming your way and how you can overcome them. This puts you in the right mindframe for deciding what hands are worth keeping.

The first things to consider are lands and ramp spells - it doesn't matter how good your hand is if you can't cast it. Ideally, your opening hand would contain lands, ramp, countermagic, and combo pieces (or tutors to get them). Getting all of that is unlikely but at the very least it should have a land or two, and either ramp or cantrips to find the mana sources you need. If you draw a handful of spells you can't cast any time soon, mulligan it away. Mana isn't generally an issue once Urza is in play, but it can be a big issue before you cast him. Sure it's great to see Sol Ring or Mana Crypt in your opening hand, but if you don't have anything that can produce u then it might not be worth keeping.
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Another thing to take into consideration is how fast opposing decks are and whether or not they start the game before you (essentially putting them a turn ahead). For example, breakfast/hulk decks are insanely fast and consistent since they're full of tutors, and they only require two mana to go off. Against decks like these you'll want your opening hand to have something that can stop their combo, like Grafdigger's Cage or a counterspell. If a certain creature is vital to an opponent's combo, then Pongify, Rapid Hybridization, Gilded Drake and Vedalken Shackles are good options too. Trinisphere is another card that can interfere with your opponents' gameplans. Keeping a less than ideal hand is okay if it has what you need to slow down your opponents.

2) Early Game (Turns 1-2): The first couple turns are typically spent casting cantrips, countering threats, and laying down as many mana rocks and artifacts as you can. It's never a bad idea to cast Gitaxian Probe right away--this alerts you to potential threats and let's you know if it's safe to cast Urza. If you're playing against any fast cEDH decks that are dependent on a key creature (such as their general or a combo creature like Hermit Druid), this is the perfect time to steal or destroy it. And don't forget to assess your opponents - did the combo player cast a tutor? Is the blue player leaving islands untapped?

This is also a good time to work toward assembling your winning combo. If you have an Isochron Scepter or Dramatic Reversal in hand, do you have a spell that will find the other one? What about Rings of Brighthearth and Basalt Monolith, or Grim Monolith and Power Artifact?

If a combo win is not yet in sight, you could switch gears and focus on board control. Winter Orb and Static Orb can slow your opponents to a crawl, and playing Howling Mine and tapping it for mana each turn means drawing twice as much as everyone else.
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3) Mid Game (Turns 2-3): Usually the goal here is to find the cards you need to create infinite mana and/or establish board control. Don't be in a hurry to cast Urza as soon as you can - he's the kind of spell that people use their removal for. It's often better to establish some board control by laying down a few artifacts that will provide you with more mana once Urza hits the field. This also baits people into casting spells and using up their removal on each other.

That being said, if you have enough mana to cast Urza and a stax piece, this is a good time to do it. And keep in mind that the best time to cast a Winter Orb or Static Orb is when people are already tapped out. Sometimes you might have to drop a Winter Orb or Static Orb before you have Urza in play, but that should only be a last resort to prevent someone from winning on the spot.

One card that deserves special mention is Mana Drain. The ability to ruin one player's gameplan and use the mana from it to fuel your own is gamebreaking. Skilled opponents might notice your untapped islands and hold off on casting anything, or they might cast something less important. But even if that's the case, you're slowing them down. It's often worth it to counter a less crucial spell just for the mana boost.
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4) Late Game (Turns 4+): The deck wins on turn 2-3 sometimes but you will usually win on turn 4 or later. The goal here is to generate infinite mana, cast Urza, and exile your library. Ideally, you should do all that in the same turn but casting Urza and slowing your opponents with stax permanents for a couple rounds is fine too. Don't be reckless - if you cast Isochron Scepter imprinted with Dramatic Reversal and can't win with it right away, there's little chance it will still be there when you start your next turn. And don't pass your turn with an untapped Howling Mine - that should always be the first card you tap for mana. Once you exile your library, there'll be plenty of counterspells in exile you can use to protect your wincons.

Stealing creatures is another way to control the board. It's amazing what Gilded Drake does for only 1u, and it's even nastier in a deck with bounce cards like Aether Spellbomb, Cyclonic Rift, and Capsize. Also, Vedalken Shackles|Kaladesh Inventions (or Legacy's Allure, if you went with that instead) can steal 2 creatures if you copy its ability with Rings of Brighthearth.

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Combos and synergies

There's a lot of combos and synergies so I'll try to keep this as brief as possible
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On June 14, 2019, Urza, Lord High Artificer was unleashed on the world.
Changelog
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July 8, 2019
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October 4, 2019
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I've done a bunch of research and playtesting lately and I'm overhauling this deck. These changes aren't set in stone yet.
- Painter's Servant (I decided this combo is too weak and fragile)
- Grindstone
- All is Dust
- Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
- Arcum's Astrolabe
- Arcane Denial
+ Negate
+ Sleight of Hand
+ Windfall
+ Timetwister
+ The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
+ Arcane Signet
+ Sai, Master Thopterist
+ Etherium Sculptor
Last edited by Theoric 1 week ago, edited 46 times in total.

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Post by xeroxedfool » 3 months ago

Very cool deck and it seems pretty powerful. I think you might want to post it in the cEDH forum.
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Post by Theoric » 3 months ago

xeroxedfool wrote:
3 months ago
Very cool deck and it seems pretty powerful. I think you might want to post it in the cEDH forum.
Thanks!. I did that first. This forum seems like the place to be though and when a search revealed no Urza decks posted yet, I decided to post it here too. I imagine there's a lot of people out there hungry for Urza decklists.

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Post by shermanido37 » 3 months ago

Have you given any thought to Tribute Mage? You run Trinket and Trophy, and you seem to have a ton of important 2CMC stuff like Winter Orb, Isochron Scepter, Painter's Servant, as a few of the key ones.

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Post by Theoric » 3 months ago

shermanido37 wrote:
3 months ago
Have you given any thought to Tribute Mage? You run Trinket and Trophy, and you seem to have a ton of important 2CMC stuff like Winter Orb, Isochron Scepter, Painter's Servant, as a few of the key ones.
I'm so glad you said that. The card I use is tribute mage. I just had it mixed up so thanks for catching that.

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Post by shermanido37 » 3 months ago

Honestly I would give some thought to playing all three. Trophy fetches Static Orb, Vedalken Shackles, Trinisphere, Rings of Brighthearth, Basalt Monolith. If that's the entire list I can see why it's not great here, but these are still great cards to fetch so it'd still be on my mind.

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Post by Theoric » 3 months ago

shermanido37 wrote:
3 months ago
Honestly I would give some thought to playing all three. Trophy fetches Static Orb, Vedalken Shackles, Trinisphere, Rings of Brighthearth, Basalt Monolith. If that's the entire list I can see why it's not great here, but these are still great cards to fetch so it'd still be on my mind.
I feel he's the weakest of the three mages but still definitely a good card in this deck. I think I'll swap out windfall (which has been benefiting my opponents far too much for my liking) for him and do more playtesting.

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Post by benjameenbear » 3 months ago

I've been thoroughly unimpressed with Sai, Master Thopterist. Outside of the Future Sight + Top combo, I often find he just sits there and does nothing. I'd rather have pretty much anything else instead of him.

Can you provide any recent examples of him being relevant outside of the combo? I find that I often assemble Dramatic Scepter way before Future Top as the primary combo piece.

Also, I'm running Memnarch in my 99 for lols and it's actually been randomly effective against my wife's Kaalia deck and other decks. Gives a solid late game mana dump that advances my board state simultaneously. I get it's not optimized, but it's definitely cool for Urza to utilize his grandson to win the game!
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Post by Theoric » 3 months ago

benjameenbear wrote:
3 months ago
I've been thoroughly unimpressed with Sai, Master Thopterist. Outside of the Future Sight + Top combo, I often find he just sits there and does nothing. I'd rather have pretty much anything else instead of him.
It's interesting you say that because it took some convincing for me to put him in as well. A large reason why I included him in this list was because virtually every Urza deck in existence uses him and it wouldn't be easy for me to justify why I would have been pretty much the only person who didn't.

Yesterday I playtested Sai by putting him in my starting hand each game and played my Urza deck about a dozen times against my other decks. He synergizes great with top, which you will activate to draw a card every turn and play 'for free' thanks to Sai. His tokens made effective blockers, which were then tapped and sacrificed to draw cards. With rings of brighthearth in play I'd sometimes pay 2 to draw two cards off sacking each token. If all Sai did was make tokens, he wouldn't be good enough, but his ability to sack them for cards merits his inclusion imho.

I once was of the mindset that a combo deck should combo out as soon as possible. This playstyle tends toward faster plays that are effective in an inexperienced playgroup, but is usually disrupted in an experienced one. If I still played like that, Sai wouldn't be worth it.
Now I typically delay my combo win by a turn or so to establish better board control, have some counterspell backup, and bait my opponents into using their disruption on each other. An extra turn or two means more ramp and card draw with Sai. The stax cards in this deck help to support that approach.

If you playtest your decks and put Sai in each opening hand like I did, you might find he generates a lot of mana and card draw. It takes practice to utilize him well.

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Post by Theoric » 2 months ago

benjameenbear wrote:
3 months ago
I've been thoroughly unimpressed with Sai, Master Thopterist. Outside of the Future Sight + Top combo, I often find he just sits there and does nothing. I'd rather have pretty much anything else instead of him.
I playtested Sai more (this time I playtested drawing him on turn 3 a bunch of games instead of putting him in my opening hand) and I've had a change of heart. I agree with you. Sure, he's pretty good when you get him in your opening hand and you can use him to his fullest potential, but when you draw him later on when your artifacts are already on the battlefield, he's unimpressive.

I tested future sight and Jace, the Mind Sculptor to take Sai's slot. Future sight is a beast when it hits the battlefield, especially if you have sensei's top in play, but I hate its casting cost. I went with Jace because he's easier to cast, his brainstorm ability digs 3 deep to find you what you need, and his ability to bounce creatures to their owner's hand can be a real lifesaver.

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Post by darrenhabib » 2 months ago

Hey. Just letting you know that Power Artifact does not work with Mana Vault as far as infinite mana.
The oracle wording is that it triggers "At the beginning of your upkeep", so it is only an ability that you can use once.

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Post by Theoric » 2 months ago

darrenhabib wrote:
2 months ago
Hey. Just letting you know that Power Artifact does not work with Mana Vault as far as infinite mana.
The oracle wording is that it triggers "At the beginning of your upkeep", so it is only an ability that you can use once.
Ok, thanks for letting me know. All of mine say 'during your upkeep' and I never bothered to look them up.

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Post by benjameenbear » 2 months ago

Coongrats on your Primer tag, sir! It looks beautiful!
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Post by Theoric » 2 months ago

benjameenbear wrote:
2 months ago
Coongrats on your Primer tag, sir! It looks beautiful!
Woohoo thanks!

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Post by Rumpy5897 » 2 months ago

Nice, first Nexus-approved primer? The post's stunning, well deserved.

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Post by Theoric » 2 months ago

Rumpy5897 wrote:
2 months ago
Nice, first Nexus-approved primer? The post's stunning, well deserved.
Yup, sure is. And thanks!

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Post by benjameenbear » 2 months ago

I don't think that there's anything that makes the cut from Commander 2019. What do you think?
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Post by Theoric » 2 months ago

benjameenbear wrote:
2 months ago
I don't think that there's anything that makes the cut from Commander 2019. What do you think?
Agreed. I was kicking around the idea of tapping scaretiller for mana and returning fetchlands to the battlefield, but that's a little janky.

I'll probably be putting arcane signet from Throne of Eldraine in every EDH deck I own though.

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Post by mage7 » 1 week ago

So the major wincon is the conceding of the opponents after got infinite?

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Post by Theoric » 1 week ago

mage7 wrote:
1 week ago
So the major wincon is the conceding of the opponents after got infinite?
That's not a wincon, that's just what usually happens.
With Capsize, you can bounce and recast Urza repeatedly, creating an army of construct tokens.
With Timetwister, you can cast any spell repeatedly, such as Swan song, resulting in an army of 2/2 birds. Or you could use Sai, Master Thopterist and recast artifact spells (lotus petal, for example) and create an army of thopters.

Most of the other Urza decklists I see have wincons such as blue sun's zenith, hangarback walker, aetherflux reservoir, etc. These are only truly useful once you have infinite mana. But once you have infinite mana, you can win in other ways, which means those are wasted card slots. I've chosen not to use those in order to make the deck as efficient as possible.

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