This week in Magic: a look back at Pro Tour Origins


Welcome back to another “This week in Magic.” For this week’s topic, we’re going to cover what was played at Pro Tour Origins. Surprisingly, a many of the matches that were played out on camera were not the same deck over and over again. It was quite refreshing. In fact, if you were one of those lucky viewers you got to see Andrew Cuneo pilot a crazy UR Sphinx deck that definitely caught people by surprise. Sadly, though, he could only manage a 6-4 Standard record. Give him big props for maintaining a winning record at least. The deck of the weekend had to have been UR Thopters. Who saw this one coming? I’m not going to lie. Most of this deck comprises of glorified Limited cards. However, Standard seems to have slowed down just enough that it’s survivable to play these cards. Some would argue that the deck is, shockingly, just as fast as thanks to cards like Shrapnel Blast and Ensoul Artifact.


These cards have been around in Standard for quite some time, but, for some reason, only now has made a dent in the Standard format. Let’s break the deck down and find out why this deck was such a powerhouse at Pro Tour Origins.


UR Thopters by Mike Sigrist
Pro Tour Origins, 2nd place


Main Deck
4x Hangerback Walker
4x Ornithopter
4x Phyrexian Revoker
4x Chief of the Foundry
4x Whirler Rouge
3x Stubborn Denial
1x Collateral Damage
4x Ghostfire Blade
3x Springleaf Drum
4x Shrapnel Blast
4x Ensoul Artifact


4x Darksteel Citadel
4x Shivan Reef
4x Temple of Epiphany
1x Mana Confluence
1x Mountain
6x Island
1x Foundry of the Consuls


3x Disdainful Stroke
1x Rending Volley
4x Roast
3x Seismic Rupture
1x Negate
3x Thopter Spy Network


I think the biggest reason this deck was so successful was because of Hangerback Walker. This card is so powerful, I saw it in a lot of other decklists besides UR Thopters at the SCG Regional event (which took place the same weekend as Pro Tour Origins). Against early aggro decks, the big play was to play this guy on turn two making it a 1/1. For Mono Red players, they really had to think if they wanted to throw their creature into it, or use a burn spell on it. Either way, when it died, it left a 1/1 thopter in play to block the next guy.


You really have to deal with the walker right away or else it’s controller will start storing counters on it. If this begins to happen, then you’re really in trouble. Let’s talk about these other abilities. So, yes, the Walker costs XX to cast. Meaning that if you pay two mana, it will come into play with one +1/+1 counter on it. If you pay four mana, it will come into play with two counters on it, and so on. I initially thought this card would be a great late game play in slow control decks like UB Control. However, I failed to recognize it’s other abilities.


Even if you drop the Hangerback Walker onto the battlefield as early as turn two, it can still grow into a very large threat. Some of the best plays I watched being made with the artifact was blocking a creature, then activating it’s ability to add another counter. Now, the person facing the Walker had several options, either bite the dust and have their creature die, use a removal spell earlier than expected, or watch as the Walker died leaving a trail of Thopters behind.


In some cases it was necessary to destroy your own Walker. That’s where Shrapnel Blast came into play. Collateral Damage was more of a fifth copy of Shrapnel Blast, but since you can have only four, you can see the dilemma. One of the best plays of the entire Pro Tour utilized Shrapnel Blast and Hangerback Walker. At the end of another player’s turn, the controller of a Walker had blown it up thanks to a Shrapnel Blast dealing five damage to their opponent. This had also left them with three 1/1 flying Thopters. On their turn, they took their creatures and flew over their opponent’s dealing three more damage. To finish them off, they cast a game winning Wild Slash. That totaled 10 damage in a blink of an eye.



Chief of the Foundry is another welcomed addition that makes this deck more viable than ever. Previously, Ensoul Artifact decks weren’t doing enough to keep themselves afloat. Due to creatures like Whirler Rogue and, in some lists, Thopter Engineer, combined with Chief of the Foundry, the deck now has the reach it didn’t have before. There is nothing worse than staring down a fleet of thopters, especially thopters that have grown and are now 2/2’s or even 3/3’s.


UR Thopters is a very synergistic deck that can kill fast. It’s only downfall, it seems, is that it has terrible mulligans. If you watched the Pro Tour then you’ll know that Sigrist had one of the worst cases of a deck failing on him during the finals. It’s something that, as Magic players, we’ve all been through and know all too well. Don’t let this deter you from playing the deck. It’s one that will give grief to many other while it still exists in Standard.


About the author

Simeon is now the Community Manager for Battleground Games & Hobbies. If you have any questions or inquiries, then you can reach him at He is also an avid gamer who loves to play board games and video games. He graduated college with a degree in Political Science, and now serves the public by writing about games. You can check that out here. Don’t forget to “like” him on Facebook as well. It’ll update you on all of his newest content. Best of all, you can follow Simeon on Twitter (@SimeonCortezano) for some real time hilarity. Thanks for reading!



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