I actually think the token is the biggest draw for this guy. Unlike Jace who you very often have to fateseal with first less he eat a bolt, Karn's minus puts 2 valid threats on the field and even if you lose Karn to a bolt you still have dude who can threaten. Karn is also structured in such a way that if your Karn dies and you cast a new one it's more like a refresh than a restart.

I would love to figure out the math and permutations to find out in a deck that runs a full compliment of reasonable ways to drop Karn turn one, how often that happens. It will surely be more than a t1 Jace because of the color requirements.

  • Sol ring
  • Mana crypt
  • Mana vault
  • 5 moxen
  • Lotus
  • Mox Opal
  • 4 Ancient tomb
  • 4 City of traitors
  • Tolarian Academy
  • Spirit guides?

The nice thing about that workshops free manabase is you can also run lodestone golem as a 5th 4 mana point threat pretty well, and even though knot seer.

@protoaddct Sounds like maybe a variant of colorless Eldrazi?

@dr-j possible. But Eldrazi proper really wants to hit null rod and that is not great here.

I think you have to run blue though, youll need force and misstep to push this through just like jace. Probably at that point you can run tinker engine, jace, and blue power and its basically just a big blue artifact list.

This might fit well in the crucible #2 slot of budget eldrazi.

@protoaddct I agree here, seeing potential for sol lands the first thing I thought when he came up is “This could potentially help out the mono Red hate deck!”

While it doesn’t run the moxen and sol ring, I feel like one or two of this guy who can sneak out pretty easily turn one or two when you are still ramping Red to get Chandra out might be dandy. Card advantage early and a sort of mid game rabblemasteresque effect could be meaningful...or it could be crap...but more often than not he’ll be running out a 2/2 or 3/3 token with EBridge and Rod in play. There are probably a number of wiser brains in the room who will say this is foolish. But it might be just the right flavor of jank for Red.

I would agree if 4 mana Chandra was not just better. Starting with 4 of her as a base, plus all the hate you use, i'm not sure that deck has the slots. Plus you likely want 3 karn minimum since one can rescue cards from anothers exile.

Now in modern, this card is redonk in colorless anything. Even legacy I think this sees play. Vintage has so many options I think you have to structure a build around this to really capitalize.

@protoaddct said in Karn, Scion of Urza [DOM]:

I would agree if 4 mana Chandra was not just better. Starting with 4 of her as a base, plus all the hate you use, i'm not sure that deck has the slots. Plus you likely want 3 karn minimum since one can rescue cards from anothers exile.

I think you still Chandra it up, but I think maybe you run one or two of these instead of Hanweir Garrison #3/4? The ability to field threats via those tokens gives it an edge, plus it replaces itself, plus helps you take better advantage of the low-red mana hands that you occasionally wind up having to keep.

@bandswithothers said in Karn, Scion of Urza [DOM]:

I think you still Chandra it up, but I think maybe you run one or two of these instead of Hanweir Garrison #3/4? The ability to field threats via those tokens gives it an edge, plus it replaces itself, plus helps you take better advantage of the low-red mana hands that you occasionally wind up having to keep.

I think my issue with it is that in a deck that has a low artifact count the tokens are not great, plus if you run Ensnaring bridge they will often be unable to attack, which relegates Karn to a draw engine.

The issue with Karn being a draw engine in mono red blood moon list as it currently stands is the fact that
A) it conflicts with Ensnaring bridge and
B) what do you draw into?

Chandra does not face these issues because she does not actually draw and she is a wincon through the bridge, where as Karn is not. Any card that you cannot fully utilize in that deck is likely not good enough at this point.

I almost feel as if a lot of the mono-red decks, if looking to drop Garrison or Rabblemaster, would be totally better served to just run Honden of Infinite rage or Curse of the Pierced Heart or some other source of repeatable damage.

I think it is more likely that this karn either ends up in a modified Eldrazi shell, possibly with that new sphere but no null rod, or a Blue/Red core that runs Force, Misstep, Dack, Jace, and heavy artifact removal to compensate for the loss of null rod and basically just plays keeper that just happens to sometimes play a turn one walker that makes you a 4/4 gro creature backed up with counter magic.

I think he is a good contender for a smokestack build as both the draw engine and a win con. That's where I think I'm going to try him first.

@trius Mmmmmm Smokestack... Is it just too slow to shut down Rav Shops though? I don't know if the cantrip decks struggle to out tempo ravager, no matter how much I love Smokestack...What kind of list would you consider here?

@Protoaddct You know, it's a noobxor thing but I hadn't really thought about the draw into bridge vs chandra's exile. I think it's not a matter of trying to drop Garrison, but to find the right utility to either gain some tempo early to make a sol land heavy keep possible as even a mull to 6 can be just awful compared to other decks.

This would be my first pass. I'm sure it could be greatly improved upon:

4 Hangarback Walker
4 Tangle Wire
4 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Lodestone Golem
1 Staff of Nin
1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
4 Sphere of Resistance
1 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Trinisphere
4 Ancient Tomb
2 Ghost Quarter
4 Crucible of Worlds
4 Mishra's Workshop
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Karn, Scionof Urza
4 Smokestack
2 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Inventors' Fair

4 Grafdigger's Cage
3 Witchbane Orb
1 Dismember
2 Jester's Cap
4 Tormod's Crypt
1 Ensnaring Bridge

I think this guy would work best in a metalworker style deck, trying to poop out Karn and a handful of artifacts to start making tokens.

Completing my trinity of stream-relevant Dominaria cards, I think @Prospero and @Protoaddct have added pretty good insight here. First, I agree with Nick when he says he doesn't see this card being playing in Shops. It's just too hard to reliably cast the card through Sphere effects when you can't count on Mishra's Workshop to help you. If it was an Artifact, the card becomes pretty absurd in Shops, but I guess WotC didn't want the marquee Planeswalker in the set getting killed by Abrade. That's actually good news for Blue pilots as it means Null Rod doesn't shut Karn down and Dack doesn't steal him.

@Protoaddct has identified the most relevant ability on the card - the -2 ability is where the money is at. Once you deviate from cards like JTMS, JVP, and Dack, what you are looking for isn't typically a draw engine but a win condition. Chandra in the various decks that have run her hasn't been there for the card advantage or the creature removal. Now, she can be used for that and that's part of her utility, but for the most part I want to -7 her asap and win the game while the opponent struggles to answer her. Similarly, Karn as a card advantage engine is somewhat anemic. Someone previously summarized this but the +1 ability is worth less than a random card from your deck since you are getting the worst of the top 2 cards. The -1 is worth more than a card as you get to chose from the best of multiple cards. The net advantage is 1 card a turn unless you have some sort of deck manipulation to extract value from digging two cards deeper each activation. Again, not bad but JTMS provides that +1 raw card advantage and increases the quality of cards in your hand. This happens immediate where Karn has a delay, meaning a JTMS topdeck is very likely to win you the top deck war, where card provides a pretty significant window still for your opponent to draw some of those broken Vintage cards and end the game.

Now there are certainly ways to extracting more value from Karn - Dack can address the card quality issue through the card selection he provides. I think it is better though to aim to maximize Karn's strengths. It's pretty clear that the power of the -2 is contingent on the number of artifacts that are in your deck. What power and toughness would you expect on a creature for 7 colorless mana? A 7/7 with downside like Traxos? Juggernaut? What about when you get to add a second copy the next turn? In my games on stream, Karn was typically making 6/6 or 7/7 constructs. Which is well above the curve when you consider the fact that you still have a Karn in play that the opponent has to deal with or face a stream of constructs or card draw. Granted this is a deck that is running a ton of artifacts (Seat of the Synod, Mox Opal), but why would you want to run a card in a deck that doesn't make full use of its abilities? Oh, and I've tweaked that deck a bit. Is 4 mana for a 20/20 good?


The deck above was running 1 Karn in a The Antiquities War/Paradoxical Outcome deck. I'm still feeling out both those cards, but I will say that the added dimension of attack is very powerful. Karn and TAW function as win conditions that work independent of PO (unlike Tendrils) and are compact in that you don't have to run cards like Voltaic Key and Blightsteel to make them work (improving on consistency, which is a major issue with PO decks). Opponent plays Kambal or Damping Sphere, make artifact creatures and beat down. Don't draw artifacts or PO, make artifact creatures and beat down. The advantage of Karn in this context is that he works well within the actual PO loop as you play him, make a creature, pick him up with PO, and then repeat until you find Time Walk and attack for 80. In many ways, Karn is more akin to Monastery Mentor in the PO deck. And that certainly deserves exploration going forward.

@ChubbyRain Just curious but have you tried Aetherflux Reservoir in these lists? It seems it would be another win con in PO lists as well as a defensive measure versus aggro.

@serracollector i have tried Reservoir in PO when both cards where printed. It was in a moni U "Storm" like PO shell with just it and vault/key as win cons. It basically took the place of tendrils at first, but it has some distinct features:

  • Its a win con you have to plant before or as you go off as opposed to the finisher after it. As such it is not a absolutely dead card in your hand, when you are not about to win, and can provide some marginal lifegain over a few turns.
  • Planting it a turn early before going off also frees up the 4 mana, which is not possible with Tendrils, but makes it pretty vulnerable.
  • Beeing colorless makes it much easier to cast of course, but beeing an artifact makes it very vulnerable and way easier to handle than when Tendrils hits the stack.
  • Having to play it before or while going off, makes some lines of play, that work for a tendrils finish storm decks more risky. If you don't have the card in your hand, trying to find it while going off might result in you finding it too late and not having a critical mass off spells left to trigger it. This can be played around however (holding some not needed Mox opals and such), and the card counts how many spells have been played before it hits the battlefield, so playing it while going off, will still give you a ton of life.
  • (If you play n cards in a turn and reservoir is already in play you will gain (n+1)*n/2 life. This means if you play 10 spells in a turn, this beeing the first you will gain 54 life, ensuring the kill. This of course gets lower quickly the later you play reservoir, but increases by a ton for each additional spell played. )

Back then the Deck suffered from the same problems that any list trying to maximize the brokeness of PO did, and the win con beeing a null roddable artifact didn't make it better. Still, definitely playable....as a combo Deck.
I do not think reservoir is a fitting win con for a Deck that likes to play it a bit slower with Karn and win over multiple turns with Karn tokens and value. Casting just 1 or 2 spells a turn after reservoir sits on the battlefield does not generate any significant amount of value. Sure it will sometimes safe you from an aggro deck, but there are a ton of way better cards to do that job. Also Karn tokens can do that job as well.

Those two cards just fit in different strategies.

last edited by Aelien

@Aelien Well stated

@Serracollector The most aggressive deck in Vintage is Ravager Shops, which is naturally resistant to Aetherflux Reservoir by virtual of its Sphere effects. That ended up being a pretty big strike against the card in testing. I actually have a mental note to look to Reservoir if Kambal becomes much more prevalent, but the metagame is simply not at that point right now.

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