Today, I wanted to talk about the Krark-Clan Ironworks deck’s infinite combo. Now, you may have heard about this combo from GP Phoenix last weekend. A lot of pros were playing this deck, and so if you have a modern tournament coming up, this might be an important interaction for you to be familiar with. It’s kind of complicated, and requires some pretty fine knowledge about the process of casting spells and how triggered abilities work. So let’s check it out!
We’re going to focus on the version of the combo that was described on the Wizards website. Other combinations exist that also net you infinite mana or infinite cards, but they work off of the same principles. Here’s what we’ll need: First, Krark-Clan Ironworks, the namesake card of the deck. It lets you sacrifice an artifact to add 2 to your mana pool. The other card that makes this deck really come together is Scrap Trawler. This card has a triggered ability that triggers whenever an artifact you control goes to the graveyard and it lets you return an artifact with a lower converted mana cost from your graveyard to your hand. Myr Retriever is another card we’ll need to go infinite. That’s because of that restriction Scrap Trawler has. We’re going to be sacrificing a bunch of artifacts to make mana and getting them all back to our hand to play again. Since Scrap Trawler only lets you return cheaper artifacts, you’ll need another returner to get back the most expensive thing you sacrifice, and Myr Retriever fits the bill. So with this, we’re almost ready to go. We also need some more artifacts that cost less than 2 mana so that we’re netting mana each iteration of the loop. We’re going to use Mox Opal and Chromatic Sphere because those are the cards they used on the WotC website when they wrote about this combo.
So once we have all five of these in play, what can we do? How about drawing infinite cards, for starters? Tap and sacrifice Mox Opal to give yourself 3 mana, one of which will be any color you want. Here’s where it gets tricky. Announce that you’re activating Chromatic Sphere. As part of the process of activating an ability, you get a chance to activate mana abilities. Obviously, you don’t need any more mana to activate Chromatic Sphere, but there’s nothing saying you can’t take advantage of that rule here to make some more. So sacrifice Myr Retriever and finally KCI itself for 4 more mana, bringing you up to 7 total, one of which is any color. Doing this will cause Myr Retriever’s ability to trigger once and Scrap Trawler’s ability to trigger for KCI and Myr Retriever. It will also trigger for Chromatic Sphere when that gets sacrificed as the costs to activate its ability are paid. Paying the 1 generic mana to activate this ability brings us down to 6 total.
All those triggered abilities don’t go on the stack right away. They wait until a player is about to get priority, which in this case means right after we finish with Chromatic Sphere’s ability. Since Chromatic Sphere has a mana ability, it resolves right away, before players get priority. This draws us a card and brings us back to 7 mana, two of which are any color we want. Because choosing targets for a triggered ability happens as part of the process of putting the ability on the stack, Myr Retriever, KCI, and Chromatic Sphere will all be in your graveyard when you are choosing what to return with your Scrap Trawler and Myr Retriever triggers. This is why we needed to sacrifice Myr Retriever and Krark Clan Ironworks as part of activating an ability. If we sacrificed them normally like we did with Mox Opal, KCI wouldn’t be in the graveyard at the time when we needed to pick a target for Myr Retriever’s ability. Because we did things the way we did, both artifacts are in the graveyard before targets get chosen, so we can return Myr Retriever with the Scrap Trawler trigger from KCI going to the graveyard, Chromatic Sphere with the Scrap Trawler trigger from Myr Retriever dying, and KCI with the Myr Retriever trigger from itself dying. We also will return Mox Opal with the Scrap Trawler trigger from Chromatic Sphere. Then we’ll use our 7 mana to replay Krark-Clan Ironworks, Myr Retriever, and Chromatic Sphere, which puts us exactly where we started, but with an extra card in hand from Chromatic Sphere’s ability.
If you’re running out of cards in your library, you can still do this loop to get more mana. You just need to sacrifice Myr Retriever and KCI in the process of casting a spell. Once you get a second Scrap Trawler or Myr Retriever, getting infinite mana is trivial because of the extra return triggers you get.
After you get infinite mana you have to finish the opponent off. KCI decks have most commonly turned to Pyrite Spellbomb for this task. Let’s take a look at how that works. Remember, we have infinite mana, and Mox Opal and Chromatic Sphere make colored mana, so we don’t need to worry about paying for any mana costs anymore. Starting with all your artifacts in play, you just need to activate Pyrite Spellbomb’s “2 damage” ability and sacrifice Myr Retriever and KCI as part of the process of activating this ability. As before, return KCI with the Myr Retriever dying trigger, then return Pyrite Spellbomb with the Scrap Trawler trigger for Myr Retriever and Myr Retriever with the Scrap Trawler trigger for KCI. Use some of your infinite mana to replay all three artifacts and repeat until the opponent is dead.
This whole combo is pretty complicated, and there’s a lot of ways you can mess it up. For instance, because you can only activate mana abilities while casting a spell or activating an ability that requires a mana payment, you can’t sacrifice KCI and Myr Retriever while you’re, say, casting Mox Opal or activating Mox Opal’s ability. These do not require a mana payment, so the game never gives you a chance to activate mana abilities while you’re casting or activating them.
Another thing to be careful of is sacrificing Scrap Trawler for mana. After you sacrifice Scrap Trawler, it won’t be in play to see any subsequently sacrificed artifacts hit the graveyard. Even though it seems like the artifacts hit the graveyard at the same time, there’s actually an order to it defined by the order they get sacrificed. So if you sacrifice first Scrap Trawler and then KCI in the process of casting a spell, you would be able to return a 2 drop, but you wouldn’t be able to return a 3 drop because Scrap Trawler wasn’t in play to see KCI go to the graveyard. Of course, you can’t sacrifice KCI first and then Scrap Trawler because after you sacrifice KCI, there won’t be anything in play letting you sacrifice Scrap Trawler for mana anymore.
This has another important consequence if you’re sacrificing Scrap Trawler in the process of activating Chromatic Sphere or Star. Because the step where you can activate mana abilities happens before the step of paying costs in the process of activating an ability, you won’t get a Scrap Trawler trigger from your Chromatic artifact hitting the graveyard if you sacrifice Scrap Trawler for mana while activating that ability. In that case, the Scrap Trawler would die while you were generating mana, and it wouldn’t be around to see the Chromatic Sphere or Star die in the next step, where you pay the costs.
Some closing thoughts before I sign off. First, this isn’t the only way to go infinite with this deck, there are a lot of variations that are possible depending on what the KCI player has available, so if a player describes a loop that’s different from what I described here, he or she isn’t necessarily wrong. Just make sure the player can accurately describe what trigger is letting him or her get each artifact back and look for the crucial step of sacrificing both Myr Retriever and KCI as part of casting a spell or activating an ability, which allows each one to return the other. Remember, players aren’t judges, so it’s not necessary for someone to describe the combo in the level of detail I just did as long as it’s clear that he or she understands what each step is. Finally, yes. Infinity doesn’t exist in Magic. Whenever I said that before, it was an abuse of notation. In a real game, the player will have to specify a number of times to perform a loop. Drawing 30 cards and netting a million mana sure does feel like infinity from a gameplay perspective, though.
I hope this answered all the questions you had about the KCI combo. If you want more info, reach out to me via Facebook or JudgeApps, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.