Card/Deck Earthcraft/Cryptolith Rite Archetype

TLDR; looking for some card ideas that slot into this archetype and general feedback on archetype viability.

GW continues to be unexciting in my cube and my playgroup hasn't had much interest in traditional ramp decks. Over the past week I've been pondering over a Cryptolith Rite-style archetype, especially with Katilda, Dawnhart Prime making its debut in MID (and later remembering that Earthcraft exists). In short, I want to create a unique experience for my players in GW/Gx decks and forego more traditional ramp options. The proposed plan is to remove traditional non-creature ramp cards, add in the engine cards, and determine the best way for players to use those engines without it being an all-in strategy.

1) On the surface, this archetype compares to an A+B(+C) mechanic, like madness. You need creatures to tap, one of your engine cards, and a payoff for the mana. How does this setup provide a better experience than simply playing mana dorks and finishers? Is there a way to provide this experience in less steps or with greater consistency?
2) This archetype is at the mercy of having creatures available to tap for mana. Similar to aggro, having your early creatures picked off, or a boardwipe on later turns, is a large loss of tempo; unlike aggro, you haven't pressured your opponent's life total and are instead trying to race to a large threat or sink your mana into a relevant ability. How can this tempo loss be mitigated while taking a turn to set up the engine?

Potential Solutions:
1) Despite Cryptolith Rite being the card knocking around in my head over the last week, it's probably the worst of the engines. Conversely, Katilda, Dawnhart Prime and Rishkar, Peema Renegade provide a body which creates its own mana unlike C. Rite, and Earthcraft ignores summoning sickness, allowing the player to chain off plays and gain a tempo boost. It's best to focus on these more impactful cards as the engines.
2) Tutors like Green Sun's Zenith and Finale of Devastation can be used to find early mana creatures and large threats, providing more consistency. Secure the Wastes and Finale of Glory can provide provide a few bodies early or fill up the board once you have plenty of mana.
3) This plan should be used in tandem with another strategy, like go-wide or Natural Order, so a deck doesn't fall apart when it's missing an engine piece.
4) Convoke cards such as March of the Multitudes and Chord of Calling bypass an engine card.
5) Provide some mana dumps so there's something to do when a finisher isn't in-hand. Level up a Ranger Class or crack clues with Tireless Tracker.
6) If the archetype feels like it's a piece short, or a card like Katilda is too restrictive, a custom card may be the solution.

Current considerations by type:


Double-duty cards (Enabler + Payoff)

There are way too many token/mana generators to list, so I'll call out only a few efficient players:

A fun one that buffs the team, but can also provide a Copperhorn Scout effect:

Another way to put the dorks to use when you need more to do with your mana:

I'm hoping that there's enough here to give this legs and keep it playing nice with adjacent archetypes. Any thoughts on the archetype or potential includes are appreciated!
I first saw Katilda Rishkar Mike deck here, from @sigh

I might just call it "ramp" with this as a subtheme of it, in case this doesn't pan out. Or put Gx Ramp next to This next to Wx Tokens.

I don't think it's parasitically A+B because A is making (a lot of) mana and B is playing spells. None of the cards are bad on their own.

There's a lot of +1/+1 play.

There's some multicolor ramp

There's this Rite


The amount of overlap, particularly in Naya, between Humans, counters, multicolor, and ramp is really high. There's more intertwining to go on than I care to detail in one post, but if you were to fully explore those four themes, there'd be a lot of directions for Naya to go.
The ol' KRM deck.

You can certainly pursue token strategies if you want, but I've personally found most token strategies to bring more negatives than positives to the average environment, largely due to hard to avoid board clogging issues. Some ways around those issues that I've used with mixed success:

Flying tokens

These handily avoid an opponents board state, mostly; but do bring their own issues (they ignore the opponent's board state, mostly). Still my favorite token type overall thanks to their assertive damage-dealing nature while still retaining that go-wide army feel.

Big Tokens

These don't operate like your typical 1/1 schmuck and actually pressure your opponent on their own.

Give the tokens pants

Adding an equipment subtheme into a format can help give a way for token decks to profitably use and attack with their tokens. Also a RW theme for me at least, which helps tie the whole thing into Naya.

Besides tokens I think there is fun stuff we can do.

A great crossover card that I did mention in the thread Brad linked and am excited to test

Human, X spell, +1/+1 synergies. What's not to love.

Another flexible spell that bridges "put counters on things" and "have a lot of mana" is

Very decent fight effect and midgame really packs a puch with the kicker mode.

In that same vein, another very flexible fight effect that would love to have some extra mana lying around:

Since you are generating a lot of mana, tapping things, all that good stuff, I think there is good crossover with this sort of card:

Helps you spend all that mana you are generating by recurring ETBs while also adding a body to the field.
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Could get a little toolbox going with the tutors in the OP.

Additional cards that tutor K, R, and M.

Can just get M and are generally decent, too.

I left some weaker ones out and I'm not too convinced by Congregation.
Can just get M and are generally decent, too.
Also gets contortionist troupe ;)...

And many of the humans that can power K (and are both humans themselves!). Many humans are stacked into CMC 1:
Deck does flex pretty well into Naya as Brad mentioned:

P&K offer some (flying!) tokens to slap +1 counters onto, is a human, and has that artifact-eating mana sink. Great card.

Radha is a great mana sink as another option besides K, and offers that sweet, sweet land advantage like Courser does.

Winota is a nice human tutor that is also a human. Nice mid-end beater too.

Phylath.... technically does +1 counter stuff, but is a nice ramp target and interacts with land shenanigans from something like KotR and provides some planty bois to power Cryptolith Rites and friends.

Devil's Play is a representative example of any applicable X burn spell. They make sweet ramp targets.
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Some other cards to push into Gruul/Naya

Altar can be another engine that converts creatures into mana. The payoff is big (2 mana!) but so is the risk of losing your board.

Radha also makes a bunch of mana and cares about going wide. Once again, you have to gauge the risk/reward which is fun IMO.

Big X spell in Red for the win and provides a different payoff than either Green or White.

Finally, Chandra let’s you use your X spells all over again while also provide the fodder for your engines.
I think that there's an alternate direction to take this:

Obviously, they're at different power level, but the idea is simple. If you attack with Tenth District Mentor with a Rite out, you can tap it to cast a combat trick or sneaky bit of removal, without having to leave back any attackers.

And hey, who would complain if they drafted a solid creature with Vigilance? No-one, that's who.
You all gave me a ton to chew on, I appreciate it XD

There's this Rite

SoF is a good one to try, definitely forgot about it. I'm liking Knight since it overlaps with some of the land and graveyard themes I have going on.

Currently running Winota in RW as part of Go-Wide Aggro, which pairs well with the human overlap of Katilda and the recommendations above. P&K also fits in great.
Could get a little toolbox going with the tutors in the OP.
Speaking of Time of Need, if the legendary creature density was greater, this could be another consideration as an engine

I'm not sure at what point Circle of Dreams Druid is a consideration if 3mv enablers are worthwhile.

To tangent off Brad and sigh, I've had a few long conversations with Justin Parnell on the topic of GW in cube, mostly at Legacy power level, and how WotC seems to keep splitting the difference of strong signposts between +1/+1 counters and tokens. There's a lot of pros for +1/+1 counters and tokens, making them common themes for GW, but the cons and power delta cause them to fall short as the power level increases. I think utilizing them as tools (more or less what you each suggested) is the better approach than the primary focus.

I think that there's an alternate direction to take this:


Obviously, they're at different power level, but the idea is simple. If you attack with Tenth District Mentor with a Rite out, you can tap it to cast a combat trick or sneaky bit of removal, without having to leave back any attackers.

And hey, who would complain if they drafted a solid creature with Vigilance? No-one, that's who.
This cool cat isn't bad either:

The only reason I didn't bring up the kitties is that a lot of people around these parts don't do planeswalkers.

Frondland Felidar is also pretty cute, especially since it turns into "tap two creatures: tap target creature" once the Rite + Vigilance engine gets online. That gives you plenty of control over combat.

There are also some cute ramp payoffs that are uniquely suited to a Rite-based ramp suite:

Alongside, like, Village Bell-Ringer.
I see a lot of cards here but are there any example 40 card decks to check that this is even viable?
Is that you volunteering? ;)

This is mostly a deck I already support in my format in various forms, so I'm guessing it's viable at the very least. Can't put an example deck together rn, but it isn't a bad ideato make a couple.
yeah i wanna see this drafted, this is kind of a wild sideways archetype
Please feel free to try it out with my cube if you want. I have a lot of the pieces being talked about here, some other counter support, and I've (temporarily) made some additional swaps to include more of the pieces discussed above. Mostly GW that is supported still.
I've supported some versions of this archetype for a while, so I can share some decklists - at least from my idiosyncratic implementation.

The first is a pure combo version which is probably a bit too goofy for what people here are interested in:

GWRU Untap Combo

The second, is a really powerful version in GW which emphasizes the incredible synergy of bouncing/replaying your cards with Earthcraft since Earthcraft doesn't care about summoning sickness. This was a fair-ish deck with lots of disruption that could sometimes just play 10 creatures in a turn. Super fun.


The base Green/Red tokens version has been enduringly popular. Here you're taking advantage of the fact that token spells all cost close to zero when you have Earthcraft in play. I think I've seen this style drafted at least 4 times so far. Here's an example from much earlier on in my cube:

Green Red

and here's a more recent example. This recent one was particularly powerful, because Skullclamp + Earthcraft with Pia and Kiran Nalaar + Siege-Gang Commander is a monsterous engine. And they die instantly if you have time to cast Purphoros.

Naya Tokens

Finally, there's good potential overlap for both tokens and untapping stuff with Artifacts. Here's an Earthcraft deck that doesn't actually play green or the card Earthcraft!

UW Artifact Untap

Thanks for all these examples @dbs !

I squeezed in a draft of my cube with the temporary setup and came up with a pretty compelling GW deck following the themes be3ing explored here. The Cryptolith Rite can probably even be removed for something else (probably Ranger Class) because I have both Rishkar and Katilda pulling their weight on the creature-ramp plus a way to search them out.
All the dbs lists have a backup plan of like 38 of the cards wanting to be in the deck without any combo potential, too. (I just chose 38 randomly, please don't go count.)

EDIT: Just saw sigh posted a list in that url: I like how seamlessly the deck goes land -> landfall token -> Rite stuff

Kind of sad that Earthcraft is so much better than the secondary options for that effect.