A bedraggled man with a ragged black beard sitting amidst a room filled with gold
Magic: The Gathering
's plane of Theros
is one of its most beloved, a world drawn from classic Greek mythology and filled with enchantment, both metaphorically and literally. Its second set (Born of the Gods
) also introduced a lesser-known and lesser-beloved mechanic: Inspired. A future set is unlikely to see the return of Inspired, as Mark Rosewater (Magic
's head designer) rated the mechanic
as a seven on his "Storm Scale" when asked about it on his blog in 2017. A "10" means a mechanic has zero chance of returning, so a seven means we're unlikely to see Inspired again. But if there's one thing Magic
is about, it's finding ways to make even mechanics with only the scantest of cardpools and weakest of power levels work in your favor.
So what is Inspired? It's a keyword only seen on creatures, and essentially amounts to "Whenever this creature becomes untapped, do X." The result can be any number of things, from drawing cards to gaining life. So what Inspired creatures would you want to play? To start, pick a format. Inspired creatures aren't legal in Standard and are a little low in terms of power level for Modern, so we'll go with the middle ground: Pioneer.
Three cards from Magic: The Gathering: Arbiter of the Ideal, King Macar the Gold-Cursed and Pain Seer.
Step two is picking the colors for the deck. There are two white, five blue, five black, three red and two green cards with Inspired, along with two blue-black multicolored cards. This makes blue and black the obvious choice, as that will give you access to the widest cardpool. It's also wise to splash white in as well, making our final deck white-blue-black, also known as Esper
Now let's get to picking those creatures. First up is King Macar, the Gold-Cursed. He's by and far the best Inspired card, as he exiles a creature every time he untaps, in addition to giving us mana in the form of Gold tokens. Pain Seer is also an excellent addition to draw cards, as well as a couple copies of Arbiter of the Ideal for late-game value.
Now that you have your Inspired creatures, start building up the rest of the deck around them. First off is the Inspired mechanic's best friend: vehicles. Vehicles are powerful artifacts that turn into creatures when crewed. Crewing involves tapping creatures with a certain amount of power, which means you can tap down Inspired creatures without having to attack with them. The vehicles used in this case are Heart of Kiran, Aethersphere Harvester and Mobile Garrison. Both Heart of Kiran and Aethersphere Harvester are powerful flying blockers, while Mobile Garrison allows for untapping Inspired creatures to trigger their effects right away.
Three cards from Magic: The Gathering: Aethersphere Harvester, Heart of Kiran and Mobile Garrison
Vehicles aren't the only method for tapping your creatures. Survivor's Encampment is a pretty niche land that lets you tap creatures to generate any color of mana. This is important as a way to set up Inspired, but more importantly, it rounds out the three-color manabase. Now that you have a way to tap down creatures, you'll also need a way to untap them. Corridor Monitor is an efficient 1/4 creature for two mana that untaps a creature and Blessed Alliance is a flexible instant that can either untap creatures or force opponents to sacrifice their attackers. These cards, along with Inspired creatures and vehicles, all form the core "synergy package," giving you a gameplan and ways to generate value.
Now that you have the core of your deck, all that's left are staples, which is where splashing white pays off. Blue-black Control is all well and good, but Esper Control is one of the best control strategies in the format. Take the best cards from there and use them to round out your deck. Teferi, Time Raveler is well known for his power, being banned in both Standard as well as Historic. He's also a planeswalker, which means we can use his loyalty counters as a backup plan to crew Heart of Kiran. Thoughtseize is the best hand disruption out there, and Opt will filter draws in the early-game. To finish up the deck, you can include a playset of Fatal Push, since our other removal cards don't come into effect until later in the game.
This deck is not exactly a "tier one strategy" for the Pioneer metagame, but it has a lot of powerful synergies. It's also a fair bit cheaper than most tier one decks, coming in at around $200 compared to the average Pioneer deck, which tends to be around $400. It's also a great way to show off the Inspired mechanic since King Macar removing a creature every single turn is the most powerful thing the deck accomplishes flat-out, with Pain Seer and Arbiter acting as strong support players. Following this basic loadout, though, should inspire you to brew up a deck of your own.