Arguably one of the most broken cards know to magic-playing part of mankind, wouldn’t you say? Busted beyond belief in the constructed formats where it would be legal if it wasn’t banned in 5 formats and restricted in 2 others.
The remaining two … let’s just say they are slightly underplayed.
This is a good thing though! A copy of tinker is quite cheap, just four dollar at MTG Madness.
Tinker is quite notorious for what it enables. Turn 2 or 3 Blightsteel Colossus attacks being the most recent. It’s a play that’s strong enough to win many a Top 8 in Vintage, and yet some of us allow it to exist in out cubes. These are not the tinkers we’re looking for.
A tinker deck can be a fun, interesting and “enabling” archetype. Tinker is a scaling card. Many cards are like this, Snapcaster being a prime example. It’s only as good as the spells available in the card pool (and then just a wee bit better) the same goes for tutors, recursion, and most of the “specific” card-advantage mechanics. Tinker is one of these. It’s power is limited by the strongest Artifact in your cube. From here, I’ll start by disassembeling my own cube, and explaining the place the Tinker archetype has in that cube.
First and foremost, I support a wildfire archetype. It plans to drop a hefty critter like Hellkite Igniter, Pentavus or Thopter Assembly into play and resolve a wildfire afterwards. It plays many Mana-stones , and occasionally even splashes blue for control. Jhoira of the Ghitu, poster child for Tinker, is also often seen in this U/R version of the deck. A good primer on wildfire can be found here.
Tinker is a perfect fit for the deck. The abundance of fast artifact mana and fat artifact creatures makes it possible to tutor up a threat quickly and clean the field quickly afterwards. Tinker’s reasonable mana cost makes sure you can put it on the stack even after you cast a wildfire, make the deck quite flexible in a position where it normally would feel pressurized without a threat. The more often than not splash for blue makes it even more worth the effort.
Pod, as a four-of opens up a really interesting archetype. Tinker Pod. Tinker fetches your Pod, Pod fetches your creatures. Tinkering your Pod away can get you your ultimate artifact creature and push the game in the players favor in a desperate but strong way, right away. The deck can be a normal Blue/Green pod deck apart from the tinkers, and the artifact beater at the top of the cmc-chain and some manarocks down below, and is really easy to implement. (4 pods, 10-odd creatures and 2 tinkers)
Control is often in need of early mana in the form of rocks, but can just as often get sanded down when it starts drawing lands it needs to do so in rapid concession. As a result it loses options in hand, and eventually can get overthrown, losing your grip on the fight. A card-advantage machine combined with inevitabilitymakes such a deck increasingly more consistent, and generally stronger and more flexible. Enter Staff of Nin, a very nice card in any deck that doesn’t stay at Mach 2 fighting speed for the entirety of their planned 5 rounds of playing. It can almost slot into any deck tinker can slot into, making it an even greater card in combination.
A dash of uncertainty.
There are many, many fun combinations to be made around Tinker, and around its targets.
Stoneforge a Withengar, be a cool kid.
Tinker a Withengar, be a Hero
Dominate Withengar Unbound and become a God.
The observation that Tinker is a card that scales to its environment. One of the major challenges in including a card like Tinker is finding targets that are sufficiently powerful to be included in decks when hardcast, yet not overwhelmingly broken when cheated into play. I usually cringe at the site of Tinker combos in cube, and as argued in The Cube Fallacy, the “big cheats” style of cards often provide the least satisfying gameplay when explicitly power maximized.
Tinker’s efficacy as a card is primarily dictated by the combination of the following:
– The quality of the targets
– The speed (power) level of your environment
– The density of artifacts in the draft
– The specific array of Tinker targets
This entry did a good job covering the first bullet point, I didn’t get a great sense of the others. Cards like Myr Battlesphere and Pentavus are wildly different in power level, and I don’t know that a cube that could handle a third turn Battlesphere would ever be interested in casting Pentavus.
Further I like to see some competing demand for cards. The touch of using Stoneforge Mystic and Tinker as layered support for a card like Elbrus is smart. Maybe we could go a step further and include some blue unblockable creatures?
Lastly, it’d be neat to see “Value Tinker” as a playable route. Maybe some artifacts that want to be sacrificed?
On the whole, I like the idea of building an environment that makes the most (design wise, not power wise) of Tinker, and it’s a concept I’ve discussed before. It’s a fun idea in abstract, and one that requires significant tweaking and development to execute properly in a real cube.
So. Tinker, huh? This is positively frightening and exciting at the same time. Tinker is only one of the most broken Big Cheat-type cards of all time, but I’ll always keep my ears open as to how it can be incorporated into an environment in a fair and fun way.
Jason outlined the four parameters that control how well Tinker plays out, and I wish the author had explored each of these areas a bit further. Right away, Myr Battlesphere makes me a little nervous. This is a card that can get out of hand pretty easily, and I don’t see that being able to consistently Tinker into it turn three or four being a positive for net fun.
I’d like to hear more about the overlap of Tinker with the Wildfire archetype, as this seems like a natural place for mana rocks to reside. For the Wildfire archetype to have any chance at viability, a cube often needs to have double digits’ worth of signets and other mana rocks, to ensure that there’s enough to go around between that and the control decks. Is this what the author had in mind? Would the abundance of mana rocks skew the environment in favour of control, and slow down the pace of the cube overall? How would this affect the player going deep on Tinker? As someone who doesn’t have much experience with either deck type, I would’ve liked to hear more firsthand accounts of how this plays out in practice.
Tinker unquestionably holds the among the most promise for cards worth doubling up on, and this entry is one that gets the gears turning. But what’s on offer here is just a skeleton, and it needs some fleshing out before a cube could adopt it with some level of confidence.