TWR: Tawnos, Master of Machines

Having all of these sweet new generals to build around has had me inspired to brew lately, and I’ve already written about a couple of those from two of the new Commander 2018 precons. The commanders that I covered were from the Subjective Reality (Esper) and Adaptive Enchantment (Bant) precons, which are the only two I’ve picked up so far. I’m avoiding the Nature’s Vengeance (Jund) deck mainly because my roommate was talking about building it, and our other friend already has an Omnath, Locus of Rage deck so I don’t want to make another landfall commander (at least in those colors). I am still interested in picking up Exquistie Invention (Izzet) though, and see one build path that I would shoot for once I get my hands on it. Saheeli is great and all, but I honestly think Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice is the real showstopper of the deck:

Tawnos is a 1/3 with haste for only two mana. I love low costed commanders because you can play them early and get your game plan in motion and you don’t have to worry about commander tax becoming a burden for some time. This isn’t why we love him though, no we love him because of his two mana tap ability to copy target activated or triggered ability from an artifact source. I wish this was from any source, but being in an artifacts matter deck, this was to be expected. Basically, Tawnos is a Strionic Resonator and a Rings of Brighthearth in one, but only for artifact sources. Despite this limitaton, there are a ton of artifacts out there with activated and triggered abilities, so lets get to those!

From normal artifacts to artifact creatures, there are plenty of effects to exploit with Tawnos’ ability. Create a Walking Balista or Hangarback Walker and then double up the amount of counters you put on it per activation. When your Wurmcoil Engine dies, you can created four 3/3’s instead of two. When sacrificing clues with Tamiyo’s Journal, you can tutor out two cards, or you can double up on the clue production at the beginning of your upkeep! Any of the triggered or activated abilities on display here can be doubled and you’ll be getting tons of value for only two mana and a tap of your commander. Being an artifacts matter theme, there’s plenty of ways you can add to the value, so here are the other support cards I’ve added.

This selection of cards support our artifacts theme by either making artifact spells cost less, giving them flash, giving all artifact creatures +1/+1 or otherwise benefiting from the number of artifacts we control. Some give them hexproof and others indestructible. The Antiquities War is some recursion and a large swing after 3 turns. Storm the Vault once flipped can give you a ton of mana. Also supporting our go wide subtheme is Brudiclad who gives our tokens haste and can turn them all into whichever token type you prefer of the ones you control. We have plenty of thopter generation in the deck, so we should be able to make all of our tokens hasty fliers with him. Master of Etherium also supports this by giving tokens +1/+1 but he also goes tall dependent on the number of artifacts you control so  you might be able to get him in for big hits. The Master Transmuter will also help us to get higher costed artifacts out on the cheap. Honestly though, given the tools in the deck you’ll be able to pick and choose from going wide or going tall or comboing off. Let’s look at a couple of the game winning combos:


There are two ways to make infinite mana in the deck. One is the Pili-Pala/Grand Architect combo and the other is Isochron Scepter and Dramatic Reversal. These are pretty well known but I’ll briefly describe how they work.

  • With Pili-Pala and Grand Architect on the board, you pay U to make Pili-Pala blue until end of turn. Then you tap Pili-Pala using Grand Architect’s second ability, generating two mana. You then pay that two mana to untap Pili-Pala which generates a mana of any color. You can do this infinite times to create infinite mana.
  • When casting Isochron Scepter, you must have Dramatic Reversal in your hand which you will then imprint onto the scepter. Then, for two mana and a tap of the scepter you copy that spell. With enough mana rocks on the board (need at least 3 mana) you can infinitely cast this and untap those rocks just to tap them again.

Using these infinite mana combos you can fuel interactions with Staff of Domination and Filigree Sages for tap/untap shenanigans, or use cards like Sands of Delirium or Keening Stone to mill your opponent’s libraries. Another fun interaction is using Crackdown Construct and Lightning Greaves. Using the greaves’ equip ability (which costs nothing) you can bounce the equipment between the construct and any other creature as many times as you like, making an infinitely tall construct. The same can be done with Wandering Fumarole, one of the “man-lands.” Use its ability to change it’s power and toughness infinitely to make a huge construct. I’ve included a tutor suite, Mystical Tutor for Dramatic Reversal, Fabricate and Whir of Invention for nearly anything in the deck, and the Mage cycle (Trinket, Trophy and Treasure) which can pull up a good selection of artifacts from the deck. I think it’s fairly well rounded, though I wouldn’t say it’s going to be super high tier.