The Commander’s Chair – Tap that Core

One of the most enjoyable Archetypes to play and to build for Commander is a Themed Deck. Themed decks are based around a specific card or mechanic. They are fun to build because they care more about playing with style than winning. There is a card out there that I absolutely love, but I do not play nearly enough;

I love this guy soooo much. First, he is adorable. Look how hard he is working to look awesome, while still appearing as if he loves fruitloops. Also, I love artifacts and charge counters. I will go out of my way to make this guy work.

Now, I have a mono-blue deck, a mono white deck and a mono-black deck. I have a mostly green deck, so I figure I need a red deck. If I am going to have a red deck centered on artifacts, I am going to be playing this guy as the general;

I predict this deck will have a lot of artifact acceleration. We will go ahead and slot in the appropriate 36 lands (that tap for mana). With Bosh and Coretapper, that leaves us 62 cards to work with. When we make a Themed Deck, we want to make sure we have plenty of cards that can use the ability of the card/cards the deck revolves around. For a Coretapper deck, this means artifacts that use charge counters. Here are some of my favorites;

  1. Chimeric Mass– This can begin as a small to moderate size creature, with the advantage of avoiding Wrath of God effects. Eventually it turns into a monster with Coretapper.
  2. Coalition Relic – Coalition Relic is good all on its own. This turns Coretapper into a mana myr.
  3. Darksteel Reactor – Win the game in half the time! This is the type of card that is in for theme more than anything else.
  4. Everflowing Chalice – Adding an additional cumulative mana a turn seems like it could get pretty nuts.
  5. Lux Cannon – One of a red deck’s only way to take out enchantments. In case of emergency, sacrifice Coretapper.
  6. Magistrate’s Scepter – Timewarp, out of the color pie. This was the first card I ever used with Coretapper, good times.
  7. Red Mana Battery – Charge the battery. There are cooler things to do with charge counters, but this is what they are made for.
  8. Titan Forge – I guess you can kill people with creatures, sometimes. I want the deck to make me feel like an artificer, who can build anything with the right pieces. I would not feel right if I could not construct giant creatures.
  9. Tumble Magnet – You can turn this into an Icy manipulator. Sure, you could just play an icy manipulator. But, this goes with the theme.
  10. Umezawas Jitte – This card doesn’t need help. That’s ok, we can pump it anyway.

52 cards to go. For a deck to be considered a theme deck, it needs to have more than just 10 cards that work together. If we want to depend on a card’s ability, we need to be able to use that ability as much as possible. For Coretapper, we will want cards that either copy his ability or allow us to untap him.

  1. Clock of Omens – Play this in your artifact decks. Seriously this card is nuts.
  2. Myr Galvanizer – When have your seen a Myr show up alone to a fight?
  3. Rings of Brighthearth – I find myself throwing this into nearly every deck I build. This card is so good, so often.
  4. Thousand Year Elixir – We get a double whammy here. It can untap the Coretapper and lets you use it the turn you play Coretapper.
  5. Voltaic Construct – 2 mana for unlimited untap effects . . . awesome. We will need to find other ways to abuse this later
  6. Voltaic Key – Everyone loves a classic.

46 cards remaining. Depending on just one card in the deck can be pretty risky. For a theme to be solid, there needs to be redundancy in the deck. You never want to build a deck that won’t function unless you draw a specific card. We should add a few cards that can functionally do the same thing as Coretapper.

  1. Energy Chamber – No untap effects will help this. It is only equal when there is no help for Coretapper.
  2. Contagion Clasp – Love it
  3. Contagion Engine – Love it even more. This could end up being better than Coretapper in many situations.

43 cards remaining. Unless you can find a massive number of redundant cards, theme decks will still need some tutoring to find the key pieces to helping the deck run. Coretapper will need cards that grab either artifacts or creatures.

  1. Citanul Flute – Find some creatures
  2. Eye of Ugin – A really expensive way to find creatures. I do not count this for a land slot, since it doesn’t produce mana.
  3. Kuldotha Forgemaster – Tinker grew legs!
  4. Myr Turbine – So far, it finds 2 things. Still, more friends for the Coretapper. He gets lonely.
  5. Planar Portal – Finds everything, great in non-black decks.
  6. Skyship Weatherlight –Luckily, Bosh can Chuck fling it like a monkey flinging poo.

37 Remaining. Sadly, sometimes a themed deck doesn’t contain enough cards. When this happened, you should add cards that can become copies, or make copies of the cards that you want more of. The more Coretappers the better!

  1. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker – The nice thing about copying a Coretapper is that you can feel free to sacrifice the copy for even more charge counters.
  2. Mimic Vat – Coretapper can sacrifice itself, so it is easy to imprint on this guy.
  3. Mirror Works – I am more and more impressed with this as I see it in action
  4. Prototype Portal – I enjoy the fact that this creates permanent copies of the imprinted card
  5. Sculpting Steel – This card sneaks its way into many an artifact themed deck.
  6. Splinter Twin – Sadly, this is expensive now that people are playing it in standard. This is almost as good as Kiki-Jiki.

31 cards remaining. When a themed deck has reached the limits of the core theme, you have to start adding cards that work well with the cards you have already selected for the deck. I like to think of this phase as building on inherent synergies. We will look for cards that just seem to fit in the deck.

  1. Thornbite Staff – You can attach this to either Kiki-Jiki or a Coretapper with Splinter Twin attached to make infinite Coretappers.
  2. Mana Echoes – This can help you get a little mana acceleration with anything that Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki.
  3. Myr Matrix – This will eventually create infinite mana and infinite creatures with Mana Echoes.
  4. Karn, Silver Golem – Karn will let you animate cards like Mimic Vat and Prototype Portal so that they can be used multiple times using either Thornbite Staff or Voltaic Construct.
  5. Mycosynth Lattice – If I have Karn, I have this in my deck as well
  6. Darksteel Forge – The deck is mostly artifacts . . . I think you see where this is going.
  7. Nevinyrral’s Disk – We do not have any Wrath of God effects, so this fits in perfectly. It is a mostly themed deck, but a few powerful combinations will help expand the number of locations you can play the deck.
  8. Spine of Ish Sah – The rest of the deck almost makes you forget that Bosh is the general. Spine of Ish Sah combines perfectly with Bosh for both damage and destruction.
  9. Pentavus – Pentavus is another card that lets you go Infinite with mana echoes. It also fuels cards like Goblin Welder, Thornbite Staff and Kuldotha Forgemaster (Spoiler).
  10. Myr Battlesphere – Similar to Pentavus, although you can’t go infinite with it. A great Kiki-Jiki or Splinter Twin Target.

21 cards remaining. One thing to remember when building a deck that relies heavily on a few cards, is that your opponents will try and destroy those cards. For that reason, you want to be able to return those cards from your graveyard. For

  1. Arcbound Reclaimer – Pretty good with the whole proliferate / adding counters theme.
  2. Goblin Welder – Amazing with Thornbite Staff
  3. Junk Diver – Good basic recursion. Great to use with welder
  4. Myr Retriever – See Junk Diver
  5. Scarecrone – I love Scarecrone in artifact decks. He can feed Bosh for a long time.
  6. Trash for Treasure – One time welder is still good.

15 cards remaining. Spells cost mana. The bigger the spells you want to cast the more mana you are going to need. Some players like to depend on consistent land drops over a long period of time. I am not one of those players. The quicker you get started, the less likely anyone will be able to stop you.

  1. Basalt Monolith – Goes infinite with Rings of Brighthearth.
  2. Caged Sun – We have to try some new stuff
  3. Extraplanar Lens – I see snow lands in the future
  4. Gauntlet of Power – Gauntlet of Might it a tad pricey for my tastes
  5. Gilded Lotus – Just add Karn and Voltaic Construct
  6. Grim Monolith – We have Clock of Omens and Voltaic Key for a reason
  7. Mana Crypt – Expensive, if you do not own one, it is probably not worth picking up. I own a few.
  8. Mana Vault – This card treats me well enough that it finds it way into many of my decks.
  9. Mox Opal – We are running more than enough artifacts for this bad boy.
  10. Sol Ring – Some say this goes in every Commander deck. I know it at least goes in this one.
  11. Thran Dynamo – See gilded lotus.

4 Cards Remaining. It is at this point that I start adding “Staples” or fun stuff. With 4 cards left, there is not a ton of wiggle room here.

  1. Crucible of Worlds – I admit, this is the card I have the hardest time removing from a deck. Crucible + Fetch or Crucible + Strip Mine are just so darn good.
  2. Temple Bell – I like this card better than Howling Mine. I even like this card better than Mind’s Eye in some decks. We have enough untap effects that I believe we can grab more value out of this, without people trying to destroy it.
  3. Solem Simulacrum – This is a good card. It will find a way into most decks. It is right beside Sol Ring and Crucible of worlds for format staples. In a deck that runs cards like Splinter Twin and Mirror Works, I think I can grab more value from this card than I could from a Top.
  4. Steel Hellkite – There are several ways in this deck to get infinite mana. That much mana makes a card like this both lethal and useful. Plus a Steel Dragon in a red artifact deck just feels right.

This is what the deck looks like complete;

Bosh, Iron Golem

Main Deck:
Arcbound Reclaimer
Goblin Welder
Junk Diver
Karn, Silver Golem
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Kuldotha Forgemaster
Myr Battlesphere
Myr Galvanizer
Myr Retriever
Steel Hellkite
Voltaic Construct

Basalt Monolith
Caged Sun
Chimeric Mass
Citanul Flute
Clock of Omens
Coalition Relic
Contagion Clasp
Contagion Engine
Crucible of Worlds
Darksteel Forge
Darksteel Ingot
Darksteel Reactor
Energy Chamber
Everflowing Chalice
Extraplanar Lens
Gauntlet of Power
Gilded Lotus
Grim Monolith
Lux Cannon
Magistrate’s Scepter
Mana Crypt
Mana Echoes
Mana Vault
Mimic Vat
Mox Opal
Mycosynth Lattice
Myr Matrix
Myr Turbine
Nevinyrral’s Disk
Planar Portal
Prototype Portal
Red Mana Battery
Rings of Brighthearth
Sculpting Steel
Sensei’s Divining Top
Skyship Weatherlight
Sol Ring
Spine of Ish Sah
Splinter Twin
Thornbite Staff
Thousand-Year Elixir
Thran Dynamo
Titan Forge
Trash for Treasure
Tumble Magnet
Umezawa’s Jitte
Voltaic Key

Ancient Tomb
Arid Mesa
Bloodstained Mire
Dust Bowl
Eye of Ugin
Mercadian Bazaar
Scalding Tarn
Snow-Covered Mountain
Strip Mine
Temple of the False God
Thawing Glaciers
Wooded Foothills

If you get a chance, check out Red Cast Wins at I get together with a few of the other authors here at Red Site Wins to chat it up. You can send your decklists to if you would like any advice. See you next week.



About SwordsToPlow

I like building and tuning decks to make them more fun and more effective.

Posted on May 24, 2011, in The Commander's Chair and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Bradley Rose

    Ah, yes, I also love that Coretapper dude. Your description of why he’s adorable is right on the money. The inclusion of Darksteel Reactor brings back fond memories of my past Magicking.



  2. Brien Borchardt

    I don’t think you can play red cards with a colorless commander… ?

    • SwordsToPlow

      Bosh is considered a Red Commander according to the latest commander rules update –
      “A card’s colour identity is its colour plus the colour of any mana symbols in the card’s rules text. A card’s colour identity is established before the game begins, and cannot be changed by game effects.”

  3. Cool deck, but I don’t think you can go infinite with Basalt Monolith and Rings of Brighthearth – Rings can’t copy mana abilities.

    • SwordsToPlow

      You don’t copy the tap for 3 mana ability. You copy the untap ability. Works like this.
      1. Tap Monolith for 3
      2. Use the 3 Mana to put the untap ability on the stack
      3. Pay 2 (using other mana) to copy the untap effect.
      4. Let the copied ability untap the monolith.
      5. With the original untap still on the stack, tap for 3 with the monolith.
      6. Original untap untaps the monolith – leaving 3 mana still floating

      Repeat this process, netting one additional colorless each time.

  4. The use of themes is something that I often find underused in EDH/Commander. I play countless decks at my LGS that are just 5 color, or 3 color Good Stuff deck. The commanders are never played, and the deck has no cohesion. I appreciate once again the approach here. This just makes me want to play my Angus MacKenzie (Tim the Enchanter) deck more. (it like’s to win by Helix Pinnacle…)

    • My fiance gave me a lesson recently on what a real theme is. This article is a mechanic themed deck where she really wants to see a visual themed deck. She wants a Ghost Council deck that is themed to feel like you are in a Tim Burton style Halloween movie, like sleepy hallow. I am finding it much harder to find effective cards that follow a visual / flavor theme than to find cards that work well with a mechanic.

  5. My Angus MacKenzie was based on art, in the sense that I really think he looks like Tim more than any other card, and then just went all enchantments and enchantresses from there (you know since he needs a harem)

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