KCI Thopter Sword Combo and Primer by Jordan Lidsky

I would like to have a brief discussion on the merits of Thopter-Sword in the modern eggs shell.

I recently took 4th place at the SCG Classic in Indianapolis. Here’s the list I played:

Creatures (5):
1 Myr Retriever
4 Scrap Trawler
Lands (18):
4 Darksteel Citadel
1 Forest
1 Plains
3 Buried Ruin
2 Glimmervoid
4 Spire of Industry
3 Inventors’ Fair
Spells (37):
3 Chromatic Sphere
4 Chromatic Star
2 Engineered Explosives
4 Ichor Wellspring
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks
4 Mind Stone
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
1 Sword of the Meek
4 Terrarion
2 Thopter Foundry
4 Mox Opal
4 Ancient Stirrings
Sideboard (15):
2 Ghirapur Aether Grid
2 The Antiquities War
1 Fatal Push
1 Guttural Response
1 Lightning Bolt
3 Nature’s Claim
2 Path to Exile
2 Ray of Revelation
1 Silence

There are some notable differences from the stock builds of KCI like this one:
Louis Deltour (2nd place at GP Barcelona 2018):

Creature (6):
2 Myr Retriever
4 Scrap Trawler
Sorcery (4):
4 Ancient Stirrings
Artifact (36):
3 Chromatic Sphere
4 Chromatic Star
3 Engineered Explosives
4 Ichor Wellspring
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks
4 Mind Stone
4 Mox Opal
2 Pyrite Spellbomb
4 Terrarion
4 Darksteel Citadel
Land (14):
3 Buried Ruin
2 Forest
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
3 Inventors’ Fair
2 Karplusan Forest
Sideboard (15):
1 Defense Grid
1 Galvanic Blast
2 Ghirapur Aether Grid
3 Guttural Response
3 Lightning Bolt
4 Nature’s Claim
1 Wurmcoil Engine

In the main deck there are only 3 spell differences: I cut a Pyrite Spellbomb, a Myr Retriever, and an Engineered Explosives for 2 Thopter Foundry and 1 Sword of the Meek. Thopter Foundry forces you to change the mana base because it costs 2 colors you weren’t necessarily playing before. Luckily for us we have 15 5-color sources naturally built into the deck with access to the best rainbow lands ever printed in Glimmervoid and Spire of Industry. So I cut the 4 Groves and 2 Karplusan Forests and 1 basic Forest for a Plains, 4 Spire of Industry and 2 Glimmervoids. Glimmervoid is really bad in multiples in your opener, so I didn’t want more than 2 and to support the Plains I built my sideboard around white when possible. This puts us up to 22 sources for Thopter Foundry which is more than enough in order to cast it by turn 4. Thopter Foundry has a lot of upside to it.

As a friend described it: “It provides a lot of redundancy. Thopter Foundry on its own is good against both fast aggro decks and slow control decks, and with Sword of the Meek it’s nearly unbeatable. It can be hard to resolve a KCI against control, so having another threat that only costs 2 mana is very helpful against them. It also helps with the combo on certain board states, as you can get a 1-drop back from Trawler when Sword goes to the graveyard, and Myr Retriever is a 1/1 and triggers Sword to come back.”

It makes your control matchup game one almost unlosable as you set up a turn where you jamThopter Foundry with 4 mana backup. If they counter it you jam KCI and if they don’t counter ityou go off. Thopter Foundry basically acts as engine pieces 5-6 a lot of the time. Many decksjust can’t handle it even without Sword of the Meek involved, even to the point where I havethought about cutting Sword or moving it to the sideboard.
It also provides you with really nice insulation against Surgical Extraction because it gives you ways to win games no matter what card they hit. Even if they hit KCI you can just kill naturally with Foundry. It also allows you to sidestep a fair amount of the hate that people try to get you with. I have beaten many Eidolon of the Great Revels and Damping Spheres by making infinite Thopters.

Thopter Foundry adds five new infinite combos to the deck. Here they are:
Put 3 of any of the following onto the battlefield:
● Krark-Clan Ironworks
● Thopter Foundry
● Sword of the Meek
● Scrap Trawler
● Myr Retriever

Point to them repeatedly and shuffle them around until your opponent concedes.

But seriously:
● Thopter Foundry, Sword of the Meek, Krark-Clan Ironworks. Perform the regular
Thopter-Sword combo and sacrifice the tokens to generate more mana. Infinite colorless
mana, life, and Thopter tokens.
● The previous combo with a Scrap Trawler. Every time Sword of the Meek dies you can
return a 1-drop to your hand to draw cards. Usually you’ll just find your Spellbomb and
kill them that way.
● Any non-Thopter combo that generates infinite mana, along with Thopter Foundry. Once you have the mana, sacrifice the Retrievers and Trawlers to Thopter Foundry instead of to KCI in order to make infinite Thopters. (No Sword of the Meek needed.) This only comes up when you’re in one of the rare game states where you can get infinite mana but not infinite card draws.
● Krark-Clan Ironworks, Scrap Trawler, Sword of the Meek, and Myr Retriever. Whenever
Myr Retriever enters the battlefield it brings Sword of the Meek back from the graveyard,
so you can sometimes go off in cases where you wouldn’t normally have enough mana.
● Thopter Foundry, Sword of the Meek, Scrap Trawler, 2 Mox Opal. Perform the regular
Thopter-Sword combo, every time Sword of the Meek dies it brings back a Mox Opal
which you play and lose the other one to the legend rule. This doesn’t give you infinite
mana, but does give you infinite Thopters and life.

I’m going to give a short tournament report to show some examples of the power of this build.

Round one I played against Jeskai Control. In game one I activated my Inventors’ Fair on turn 4 to find Thopter Foundry. On Turn 6 I cast Foundry; he tapped down to 1 mana to counter it and I followed it up with KCI and the game ended. Game 2 I misplayed by starting with Darksteel Citadel and he had turn 2 Stony Silence and I was never able to overcome the tempo hit or remove the Stony (I probably would have had a decent shot with The Antiquities War if I had the tempo). Game 3 he had turn 2 Stony again but this time I had a Ray of Revelation. Turns 3 and 4 I kept a green up for Rest in Peace. On turn 4 he had it so I used the green but he Negated it. The next turn I slammed my Thopter Foundry on the table and over the course of a long game I beat him down with a bunch of 1/1s. I ended the game with more cards in exile than in my library.

Round two I played against Grixis control. Game 1 played out very similarly to the previous round, except this time he let my Thopter Foundry resolve so I made a bunch of 1/1s with Ichor Wellsprings and beat him to death. Game 2 I did the exact same thing but this time had Sword of the Meek, which he tried to Surgical but I always left one mana up so he never got a window.

Round three I played against Azorius control. I played game 1 with the same basic control game plan and he also never stood a chance (noticing a pattern?). Game 2 I don’t remember as well but I won.

Round 4 I played against Affinity. Both games my hand didn’t line up correctly and I got steamrolled. This matchup is good but sometimes you lose. What can you do?

Round 5 I played against Faeries. Both games were super tight and both revolved around mecreating more Thopters than he had 1/1 Faeries. I would have never won the match withoutThopter Foundry.

Round 6 was Nivmagus Elemental Combo. Game one he got stuck on 1 land and I managed to kill him on turn 3 when I was facing lethal turn 4. Game 2 he got stuck on 1 land again but this time had an 11/12 attacking me turn 3 so I put down Thopter Foundry and chump blocked it for a couple turns while setting up.

Round 7 was Elves. Game 1 he mulliganed to 4, watched what I did turn 1 to know what I was playing, then conceded. This put me in an interesting spot, I boarded in 3 Nature’s Claim, Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push, and 2 The Antiquities War because I felt like that would play around the hate that anyone could bring in. In game 2 he put 2 Damping Spheres on the battlefield with a turn 5 kill and I did nothing. Game 3 he put in 2 Damping Spheres again but I had Aether Grid and I picked off his whole board while he was stuck unable to double spell because of his own Spheres. I managed to remove his whole board before dying and he was never able to get anything going after that. This is an example of rather than trying to beat the hate just sidestep it.

Round 8 I played my win-and-in against Counters Company, which is not a good matchup
especially being down to only 1 Pyrite Spellbomb. Luckily in game 1 I happened to keep a hand with Pyrite and killed his turn 2 Druid only to see a turn 3 Druid. I topdecked KCI after cracking a Star and won on turn 4 though. Game 2 he had a Druid on board for about 2 turns when I had the option to pop Inventors’ Fair for KCI and go off the next turn or pop it for Pyrite and blow up the druid. I choose to go for KCI on his end step but he topdecked the Vizer. Game three I went for a combo early but he tutored up Phyrexian Revoker in response to my KCI and I didn’t have mana for the Bolt in my hand. He then untaps and slams Shalai, Voice of Plenty, leaving me facing those 2 cards and a Scavenging Ooze. I manage to have just enough time to tutor up an Engineered Explosives and pop it on 2 and then go off (thank god he didn’t have a Chord for
Selfless Spirit).

Round 9 ID

Top 8 I am playing against Humans; a matchup that gets slightly worse without the third EE butis still positive. Game 1 he has the nut: he plays turn 1 Aether Vial, into turn 2 Noble Hierarchplus Meddling Mage on KCI, into turn 3 Mantis Rider plus Champion of the Parish plus Thalia,into turn 4 Mantis Rider and Thalia’s Lieutenant. This hand was unbeatable, I couldn’t believe what hand just happened to me. Game 2 and 3 I boarded in 6 cards and managed to take them.Game 3 was really intense because he had double Kitesail Freebooter into double Meddling Mage into Thalia but I manage to top deck like a savage lucker and beat that draw. Top 4 I got absolutely destroyed by infect, this matchup is awful. But not as bad as 4c Death’s Shadow, apparently.

This is what I plan to play going forward:
Creatures (5):
1 Myr Retriever
4 Scrap Trawler
Lands (18):
4 Darksteel Citadel
1 Forest
1 Island
3 Buried Ruin
2 Glimmervoid
4 Spire of Industry
1 Yavimaya Coast
2 Inventors’ Fair
Spells (37):
3 Chromatic Sphere
4 Chromatic Star
2 Engineered Explosives
4 Ichor Wellspring
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks
4 Mind Stone
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
1 Sword of the Meek
4 Terrain
2 Thopter Foundry
4 Mox Opal
4 Ancient Stirrings
Sideboard (15):
2 Ghirapur Aether Grid
2 Sai, Master Thopterist
2 Fatal Push
1 Lightning Bolt
3 Nature’s Claim
1 Path to Exile
3 Negate
1 Ray of Revelation

This list should have slightly better mana. Sai, Master Thopterist is an interesting addition as it is a nice threat through graveyard hate. I worry that it will play similarly to Thopter Foundry but I think it is worth trying. Negate is amazing I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it until these pro tour lists came out. It is very similar to Dispel but can also counter hate pieces and can blow out planeswalkers. I found throughout the event that the Path to Exiles were nice, but I often wanted removal and didn’t want to bring in Path because the land was too important. Going forward I think 1 is correct. The second Aether Grid could easily become a Kozelik’s Return.

One of the major motivations for how I configured this deck list is that people will come at us with lots of different types of hate and some of it we will try to beat head on, but often times we can find another path to winning without our combo. Between The Antiquities War, Sai, Ghirapur Aether-Grid, and Thopter Foundry, KCI has many ways to win the game; they can’t all get turned off by a single card. I’m not giving up much in the way of our main game plan of comboing. In fact you could make an argument that this build is better at comboing but I am getting payed off by having the side plans available. The 3 cards that were cut from the main deck are often extraneous. I think the best argument against this build is the mana but I accept that I often won’t be able to cast Thopter Foundry early and view it more like a 4-drop than anything else.

I hope this article was informative and that you will try out a Thopter Foundry build of the deck at some point going forward. If you have any questions or want to share how you have been liking this deck, please comment below!

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