skeptimist last edited by skeptimist
After seeing the KCI deck tear up modern over the last couple of GPs (and just winning GP Hartford) I'm starting to wonder if the deck might have legs in the format with the best artifacts and mana acceleration. Being vulnerable to counters, graveyard hate, AND artifact destruction is definitely a concern, but I think the shell is powerful enough to overcome this. I don't have a finalized list yet, but would like to go through my thought process for constructing the shell for the Vintage version of the deck
For those unaware, the KCI deck has been revisited in modern because of the discovery of a way to go infinite with KCI, Scrap Trawler, Myr Retriever, and any 1 and 0 mana artifact that is explained in detail here:
Core Combo Pieces:
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks
4 Scrap Trawler
4 Myr Retriever
These are the core cards for going infinite. There is an argument for 3 Myr Retriever but I think it is good enough.
Best Mana Acceleration:
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Vault
4 Mishra's Workshop
4 Ancient Tomb
1 Tolarian Academy
Not much to say here. These are simply the best mana accelerants available and the reason to port the deck to Vintage in the first place.
2 mana artifacts:
4 Defense Grid should probably be in the 75 in some configuration. It is the best way to fight countermagic
Ichor Wellspring and Mind Stone are reasonable ways to churn through the deck to find the full combo. Not sure how many we want though. Maybe 4 and 2.
Grim Monolith: This is worth considering but isn't really necessary. The deck has plenty of mana acceleration at 1 and 0 mana
Time Vault (with Voltaic Key): Another consideration but it doesn't actually win the game so I don't think we need it.
Other 1 mana artifacts:
4 Sensei's Divining Top: This is a huge upgrade to Chromatic Sphere and Star, and doesn't require colored mana like Ancient Stirrings. I think we should play 4.
Pyrite Spellbomb: This is a decent way to kill while also having utility against creatures, but requires mox opal or ruby to use the shock. Walking Ballista is usually better but it is good to diversify win cons with things like Surgical Extraction and Phyrexian Revoker / Pithing Needle/ Sorcerous Spyglass in the format. I would play 1.
Skullclamp: I like the idea of playing a 1-2 of these. It is very good with Myr Retriever and Walking Ballista in particular.
Voltaic Key: As stated on Time Vault this probably isn't necessary, although it does have a cute interaction with Sensei's Divining Top to draw more cards.
Other 0 Mana Artifacts:
Mox Opal: We probably want access to some of these for redundancy but perhaps not the full 4
Lion's Eye Diamond: powerful but not necessary. We will hopefully be drawing a lot of cards so saccing LED would be detrimental.
Walking Ballista: The win condition and great utility removal. I would play 3-2.
The only other lands I'd consider are Inventor's Fair and Buried Ruin. We don't intend to take enough turns to want more than 9-12 lands, but if the game gets into a grind fest we might appreciate these.
Overall the biggest issue is that I'm not sure how the deck can fight through graveyard hate. You can't play something like Silent Gravestone because it interferes with your own combo.
If my understanding is correct ... and it very much may not be ... this combo only works when you're activating the KCI ability while paying for the cost of a spell or ability. In the examples given in the link you provided, they used a Chromatic Star to let that happen. Not only that, the Chromatic Star lets you return an additional 0 drop with Trawler - I don't know that you generate enough mana each loop without that.
I believe you can't actually go infinite with just KCI/Trawler/Retriever/an artifact. I think you're going to need Chromatic Spheres or multiple Trawlers. You can definitely run all of those cards, but that's a lot of cards to assemble, and I think that's starting to stretch the bounds of what you can fit in a vintage deck to make a combo work.
skeptimist last edited by skeptimist
You need any 1 mana artifact AND any 0 mana artifact in hand or grave to go infinite with the aforementioned 3 cards. You just need to sac everything to pay for the 1 mana artifact so that the Trawler and Retriever triggers are put on the stack at the same time AFTER the cards have been binned. KCI + Trawler + Retriever + 1 mana artifact cost a total of 10 mana to cast and you get 10 mana from KCI by looping the 5 cards. You just need some additional advantage from the loop to make it do something. If the 1 mana artifact draws cards (as Chromatic Star or Sensei's Divining Top do), you can draw your deck. If the 0 mana artifact makes mana, you get infinite mana. The deck is also much more capable of setting up the full combo than it appears, because KCI + Scrap Trawler is a very powerful engine. Ichor Wellspring Draws 2 cards for free and lets you recur a Top, which then essentially allows you to Ponder for free (or draw a card and net 1 mana) and recur a 0 drop. You then have 2-3 mana from saccing and/or tapping the 0 drop to play whatever you drew and go down the chain again.
I played against Vintage KCI in a league a few weeks ago, right after Matt Nass’s first top 8. Here's an album of the board state after all three games.