Toolbox

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'Toolbox' refers to a deck archetype that seeks to answer and respond to opponent’s threats by repeatedly searching their library for specific cards that adequately deal with each of those game scenarios, often with forms of removal. Toolbox strategies are primarily more reactive than proactive, relying on heavy amounts of interaction and searchability to find ‘silver bullets’ for opposing threats. Toolbox decks typically require both a search component as well as an array of ‘tools’ to handle various situations in game.

Toolbox decks can be found in any color combination.

Popular Toolbox Cards

Popular Toolbox Commanders

Strategy

Toolbox decks require a mix of tutor effects that search their libraries for any card (or specific types of cards) as well as a mix of 'silver bullets' (usually removal) that will help overcome threatening cards played by their enemies.

Toolbox decks commonly use cards with niche applicability, which are not useful in the majority of game scenarios, but offer immense power under specific conditions. Alternatively, Toolbox decks may use highly flexible and/or modal spells that can help respond to a myriad of unpredictable game states.

Toolbox as a Subtheme

Many other archetypes employ Toolbox characteristics to further their own strategies. Reanimator decks, for example, may use effects such as Buried Alive or Entomb to put powerful creatures into their graveyard, for the purposes of reanimating them later and to overwhelm their enemies. However, they may use these effects to locate creatures that help respond to specific game states, rather than searching for their most powerful creatures (for instance, searching for a Bane of Progress to respond to an enemy Enchantress player, rather than searching for a different powerful creature).

Propensity for Combo

Because Toolbox decks involve so many tutors to search their library for specific cards, these strategies may find themselves streamlining into a more proactive strategy than a reactive one, by searching for the best cards in their decks, rather than cards that specifically respond to the current state of the game. This can cause Toolbox decks to drift into an entirely different type of deck archetype, especially combo, a strategy that also frequently contains a high number of library-searching effects to locate specific cards to help win the game.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Due to their reactive nature, toolbox decks are highly resilient and often include heavy amounts of interaction. Once established, a tutor/search engine with a library of various ‘silver bullets’ can often protect itself and neutralize opponents simultaneously.
  • Toolbox decks have a lot of potential for politicking, as they are often able to best deal with mutual enemy threats in exchange for future favors from other players.

Weaknesseses

  • Toolbox decks often lean heavily on their means of searchability and/or library manipulation, whether it be the commander or a supporting card within the 99. Removal or neutralization of these engines often slows down toolbox decks tremendously.
  • ‘Silver bullets’ are often only situationally useful, which means their efficiency is dependent upon there being the right threat at the right time (for example, a Reclamation Sage is useful against threatening artifacts and enchantments, but does little against problematic creatures). The reactive nature of many toolbox decks means they can also be slower to advance their own game state, and can slow the game by virtue of so much tutoring, searching, and shuffling of the library.
  • Toolbox decks require a solid memorization of one’s own deck to know which tools are available at any given moment. Toolbox players who do not know the contents of their library may fail to respond adequately to game states if they have misjudged or forgotten the cards they have access to.


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