Feature Article from Bruce Richard

Breaking Commander 2016: Breya, Etherium Shaper

Bruce Richard

11/8/2016 10:01:00 AM

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Breaking Commander 2016 Series

Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis Breya, Etherium Shaper Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice Saskia the Unyielding

The idea of this week's Commander series is to find cards that turn into bombs. Today we are supposed to be seeing what cards go crazy with Breya, Etherium Shaper doing her thing. The difficulty I had with Breya, and the folks on Twitter had a similar problem, is that Breya really doesn't turn other cards into bombs. Breya offers far more opportunities to other cards to make her even better. Given that, we're going to Turn the Tides in this article and look at some cards that make Breya even more exciting!

Mana

Mana is a great place to start. With Breya's activated ability, I thought finding a way to reduce or eliminate that could only make her better.

Training Grounds will only reduce the cost by one, but if you have a large supply of artifacts, you'll be able to hit her activated ability multiple times in one turn. Nine damage to an opponent for only three mana seems like a good plan!

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 Training Grounds
$23.77
$18.49
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MilitaryGamer Supply 1 $19.48
ProfessorPleb 1 $19.78
The Archives 1 $19.99
Western Ohio Gaming 1 $19.99
Dark Side Magic 1 $19.99
NonStopMTG 3 $20.00
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Training Grounds Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

On top of the benefit for Breya, Training Grounds will likely be an all-star in most Breya decks. Artifacts regularly have activated abilities that cost colorless mana, so Training Grounds will likely help with several cards in the deck.

With Breya, Krark-Clan Ironworks and Ashnod's Altar are identical since most of the permanents we'll be sacrificing will be artifact creatures. Given some of the artifact creature producers in the deck, the ability to sacrifice some of them for plenty of mana will do wonders for getting multiple activations from Breya. With either of these cards and Breya, sacrificing three creatures will get you the same options that spending two mana and sacrificing two creatures was getting you before.

Doubling

Another way to reduce the cost is to double the benefit. Sure, you are still paying the full price, but getting twice as much is like paying half the price for the effect right? Well, maybe not, but twice as much is still twice as good.

I get the feeling I'm going to hate this card in the coming months. At some point almost 20 years ago, Wizards decided that creatures needed to be better, so they stopped all being vanilla creatures with some basic evergreen ability and started to have a little more text on the card. Many creatures had comes into play abilities—that's enter the battlefield abilities for you young'uns—and other abilities that affected the board state constantly. At some point Wizards decided the game states were far too complex, so fewer creatures were made with abilities that continued to affect the battlefield after they were played, but even more of them had enter the battlefield abilities.

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 Panharmonicon
$7.52
$4.96
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Panharmonicon Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

Now we have Panharmonicon, a card that looks at all those creatures with enter the battlefield abilities and doubles them. This is a card that is going to be in practically every Commander deck for forever. Even worse, it is a card I'm going to have to mention every time I talk about a new creature for casual play. You'll probably tire of this as much as you tire of hearing about...

In the end, both of these cards provide us with an extra pair of Thopters. The value of extra artifact creatures can't be understated for Breya, Etherium Shaper. Getting more chances to use her abilities is something we are excited about. Deadeye Navigator will be the more valuable of the pair as it will let you flicker Breya repeatedly to get even more Thopters. And if Training Ground is around it will only cost you one blue mana to get those two Thopters.

Breya, Etherium Shaper has a lot of things going on. While the first half of the text is focused on the Thopters that she brings onto the battlefield, the second half of the card offers a variety of delightful options. It would be a shame if we weren't trying to double those as well!

These suggestions opt to double the activated ability itself. Each card gives you the activated ability a second time without paying the cost again. And each of them will let you choose a different result the second time! You can target an opponent's creature with the -4/-4 ability, then add insult to injury by doing three damage to the player. Or perhaps you just need a Hydra Omnivore dead so two -4/-4 abilities are best.

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 Illusionist's Bracers
$4.48
$2.88
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Leonin Dealer 1 $3.15
BlitzkriegZ 2 $3.25
Snapcasters Gaming 6 $3.28
Snapcasters Gaming 1 $3.31
Tapped Out Gaming 3 $3.33
Geek, Games & Beyond 2 $3.37
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Illusionist's Bracers Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

For Breya, I think the Illusionist's Bracers are best. You can equip her, then from there onwards, you are getting the doubling benefit. The joy of the Rings of Brighthearth is that they work so well for every card in your deck that can use it. You'll have plenty of artifacts and creatures with activated abilities. The downside of paying two mana means that every one of those effects can be doubled. With the Bracers, you are only doubling the effects of the creature wearing the Bracers. This is Commander though, so I'd run them both!

Life Loss

Using Breya, Etherium Shaper is going to mean that a lot of artifacts are going to your graveyard. Two people suggested cards that would look to take advantage of what would normally be a downside for you.

The first suggestion was Disciple of the Vault. I've used this card plenty, often putting it in decks with Thopter Squadron, sacrificing Thopters again and again to run my opponent's life totals into the ground. Breya will be happy to continue this proud tradition. When she sacrifices two Thopters to do three damage to an opponent, with Disciple on the battlefield, Breya is essentially doing five damage to that opponent. The Disciple of the Vault can make opponents' life totals move very quickly.

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 Marionette Master
$0.49
$0.10
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Marionette Master Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

However, the Marionette Master from Kaladesh does an even better job with Breya than the Disciple does. By itself, Marionette Master leaves you wondering if you are better with three Servos and a Master that will cost an opponent one life per artifact lost or a Master with no Servos that will deal four damage whenever an artifact you control is put into the graveyard. Given what Breya does, I expect you'll usually take a 4/6 Master. One Breya activation could result in 11 damage to an opponent!

Extra Turns

I'm not a fan of extra turns. Decks that run cards like Time Sieve always seem to have a way to repeat the effect to the point that the person is taking one turn after another. However, not everyone shares my right-thinking viewpoint and Time Sieve is a beautiful fit for Breya. Sacrificing five artifacts seems a bit heavy, but with this deck I expect there will be plenty of ways to recreate the five artifacts that you lose to get the extra turn. Once you've found that, it is simply a matter of eventually being able to repeat damage to an opponent each turn. I encourage you to point out your loop as soon as you have it. Your opponents will likely rather be playing the game over watching you play.

Recursion

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 Nim Deathmantle
$9.58
$7.45
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Nim Deathmantle Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

With Breya, Etherium Shaper and Nim Deathmantle out you can do this:

You spent six mana to activate Breya once and get an extra Thopter, as well as a 6/6 Breya with Intimidate. Not something you can afford in the early game, but we are talking about Commander here. You'll see six mana before we get to the midgame! A 6/6 with intimidate can make Breya into a threat to deal 21 commander damage. I love cards that can open up alternate paths to victory that opponents might not expect!

Board Reset

If you are running a base artifact deck with white mana in it, why wouldn't you run Scourglass? It is a board reset that hits everyone but you. While I expect most of the damage done with a Breya deck is going to come by sacrificing artifacts, Scourglass means all the Myr, Servo, and Thopter Tokens you create can also attack before you sacrifice them. Scourglass means that you can afford to overextend on a turn, knowing that you can wipe out the battlefield. This is a security blanket for your robot army.

Thopters

Many of the cards already mentioned reduce the cost of Breya's effect or take advantage of what she does in some way. While returning Breya to the battlefield again and again is a good way to get the Thopter Tokens needed to sacrifice for Breya's activated abilities, there should be other ways. Thopter Squadron and Sharding Sphinx both provide plenty of Thopter Tokens.

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 Sharding Sphinx
$0.50
$0.20
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Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Sharding Sphinx Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

The Sharding Sphinx is a personal favorite, and not just because it makes for easy poop jokes. Thopters fly and there is usually someone who can't stop flyers. It doesn't take long to reach a point where the Sphinx is sharding out enough Thopters each turn to fuel Breya to the maximum!

Breya, Etherium Shaper does so many things, it is easy to find cards that let her go crazy. I'm confident you'll be seeing all sorts of interesting artifact builds at your kitchen tables in the months to come!

Bruce Richard
@manaburned