Cube Card Spotlight: Combustible Gearhulk

  Welcome into the Cube Card Spotlight where I focus on singles. Each installment will highlight the function of the card, its application in game, the archetype it supports, and a special section. The special section will touch on interactions that did not make it into the other sections, possible alternatives (Might not be present for all cards), and any differentiated application for multiplayer if any. The card names in bold are cards that synergize with the topic card.

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For those who want a quick run down of the post. 

Archetypes: Fires, Welder, Artifacts, Reanimator,  Wildfires, Sneak Attack

Synergies: Daretti, Scrap Savant, Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast, Goblin Welder, Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded

Special Notes: None

Alternative: Bedlam Reveler, Ruin Grinder


Combustible Gearhulk is a pet card that I enjoy a lot. The card does not see a lot of play in cube but I like a lot of the synergies that this provides for cube. The card is a 6/6 artifact creature with first strike for 4RR. When it enters the battlefield, you have the option to browbeat you opponent giving them to option to let you draw 3 cards or milling 3 and dealing damage to them equal to the combined MV of the 3 cards. I really like this effect because either way you are able to generate card advantage if you build around it or you just put your opponent closer to dead. The body is on par for its mana cost and after the initial ETB, this card really doesn't do much without the extra support, so you are wanting to support this card around its ETB. One other thing to note about the card is that there is not a card that can really fill the shoes this card wears, which doesn't mean its a must run. If you have not seen this card in action, it can potentially do some memey things as seen in the video below.


Most of the archetypes that this card thrives in are based around being able to abuse its ETB ability. All decks built around Combustible Gearhulk should be running a slightly higher curve to force your opponents into perilous positions as seen above (rip me). Even should you mill the cards, you now have a larger graveyard to reanimate cards from. The body is threatening on its own as well and there are strategies that are looking to take advantage of that as well.


As long as a card has an ETB ability, this deck is always a deck that should a considered home. For the uninitiated, flicker decks are looking to abuse ETB abilities to win games. Players can enable this deck by running a fair number of ETB effects which Combustible Gearhulk is a part of. What sets this deck apart is that it will run a fair number of cards that will retrigger the ETB. All colors have ETB triggers with a majority of the best creatures in cubes being creatures with ETB effects, so you shouldn't be worried about this. The harder part is rebuying the ETB triggers. More commonly, white and blue has become the colors to have these effects, but they are available in different colors These effects could look like exiling creatures that re-enter the battlefield, making copies of your ETB creatures, or returning your creatures to your hand to be replayed. Typically, the Gearhulk is not played in these decks, but he is playable there if needed.


Fire decks are midrange aggro decks looking to swing in with their larger creatures with haste. Do not mistake them with the Fire of Inventions deck that were around during Eldraine standard. Instead, these decks are named after Fires of Yavimaya. Generally the goal of these decks is to play large , hasted creatures early and overwhelm your opponents. You want a mix of either mana dorks, haste enablers, and large creatures. For this reason, the deck is typically Gruul, but can be played in other colors.

Your general game plan is to drop down early mana dorks or an early haste enabler, so that any large creature you play can swing earlier the turn they enter or should have entered. For mana dorks, you are generally looking at cards like Llanowar Elves, Birds of Paradise, and Orcish Lumberjack. With haste enabler Lightning Greaves or Fires of Yavimaya are more than adequate. Combine this elements with quality creatures like Thundermaw Hellkite or Combustible Gearhulk and you have a deck that can end games quickly.

Combustible Gearhulk fits well in this deck as he has a large threatening body being a 6/6. His ETB ability gives him a slight edge against some of the other choices. Generally your average mana value for this deck is higher, thus on average your opponents will generally be taking more damage as well with my guesstimate being 5-9 damage (or 16 in my case), which should be more than enough to close out the game or get close to it. If they chose to let you draw cards, you are potentially drawing your other large threats, which would then end the game regardless.


Though these three decks are different decks, when Combustible Gearhulk is involved they tend to be similar. These decks are looking to take advantage of Daretti, Scrap Savant and Goblin Welder to reanimate large threatening artifacts back to the battlefield. Reanimator in addition has access to reanimation spells as well for a similar effect. There are other components needed to facilitate this deck: artifact sacrifice fodder, graveyard fillers and targets. The sacrifice targets need to be artifacts if you are running Daretti and Welder, playing traditional reanimator you don't need this component. Graveyard fillers take many forms but they have one function and that is to fill your graveyard. Cards like Faithless Looting and Ransack the Lab are the type of cards you are looking for. For targets, you are looking for large impactful threats like Myr Battlesphere and Sundering Titan.

When piloting the deck, you are looking at playing mana rocks and graveyard fillers until you have a target out. Make sure to include some removal to stop anything threatening your life. Once your target is out, you can go on the beatdown plan with your target or if you have another target in your graveyard you can flip between the two of them with Goblin Welder for value.

Combustible Gearhulk excels in this deck because everything about it is desired by this deck. It fits the role of both graveyard filler, a welding target, and fodder for welder. When it ETBs, your opponent can either let you draw more gas for you deck or let you mill three adding potentially more targets to the pool and taking damage as punishment. This is just pure GAS,GAS, GAS. *initial D intensifies*


Wildfire decks are named after their namesake card Wildfire. They are red based control decks that lean into using Wildfires to cripple both players, however the deck pilot is set up to properly take advantage of the situation. Aside from Wildfires and friends, you want creatures with a toughness that is greater than 4 to survive Wildfires and mana rocks, so that the deck isn't completely dependent on lands.

Your game plan to play as a normal control deck, trying to control the board and setting up prominent threats. You may eventually get Wildfires and when you play it, the advantages created should set your opponent so far behind, you just win the game. It's not uncommon that you don't draw Wildfires. With only 2 other cards that are similar to it, you may opt to instead run damage based board wipes. These will function similar to Wildfires as long as the card doesn't kill your creatures.

Combustible Gearhulk is just a high toughness creature in this deck. Nothing special in this situation other than possible card advantage.

Sneak Attack

Sneak Attack decks are named after the card Sneak Attack. The main idea behind the deck is to play Sneak Attack or a similar card as early as possible and use it to play large game ending threats. These cards shove in a large threat with haste that will stick around for a turn. The best cards to use with Sneak Attack are cards with powerful ETB effects, Activated abilities, and/or Attack Effects. Games usually end with a couple activations of these cards.

Combustible Gearhulk is another target to slam down with these cards. The ETB ability is neat for this deck as it can give you more gas to thrown down with sneak attacks or do big damage to your opponents.


Combustible Gearhulk does not have a lot of other cards that fit in in the same niche as it. When I went to Scryfall to find cards similar to it, not much was present for large artifact red creatures. The alternatives don't fill the same role as Gearhulk, but they do have different aspects of it that can be incorporated to better fit your cube.

Bedlam Reveller may not seem like an obvious comparison, however the card does have the function of being able to discard cards into the graveyard and grabbing you more gas in your hand. This card is not as desired in welder decks other than decks running Feldon of the Third Path because it is not an artifact, which is where Combustible Gearhulk fit best. In Sneak Attack and Fires deck, this card is potentially better because you will always draw three cards which can keep these deck stocked up on threats in your hand. This card also fits into the spells matters theme by reducing its own mana cost for each instant/sorcery in the grave. In this deck, it can potentially become 2 mana to cast, which is extremely efficient and will serve to restock your hand at that point in the game.

Ruin Grinder
might be the best alternative to Combustible Gearhulk if you're in the market for a Red Artifact fatty. The card potentially fits much better into the same decks that Gearhulk does. The card is able to cycle itself for a land, which will guarantee your land drop as well as have it in the graveyard as well as a welding/reanimation target for when you're ready. It has 2 more power and trades first strike for menace makes it a more evasive threat, however it does only have 4 toughness making it easier to kill. This lowered toughness is damages its prospects in Wildfire decks, one of the few situations its worse. On death, the card wheels both players hand to a fresh 7 cards, giving you more gas making it great in Welder and Sneak Attack. This death effect and other factors are also what makes the card worse. When the death triggers occur, it gives your opponents a fresh 7 cards to potentially giving them the ammo they need to deal with any of your threats. In addition the card cost 7 mana, making it harder to cast, and it has no immediate impact since the card needs to die to trigger giving your opponent's a window of opportunity to exile him or play Rest in Peace.

Colossus might just be the best artifact finisher available in Cube. Generally, the turn this card is played the game should be ending this turn or the next. The combination of indestructible, trample, and infect stapled onto a 11/11 is hard to deal with makes it ideal. The card does cost 12 mana to play and has a self shuffle effect, which makes it more difficult to play in welder and reanimator decks with some exceptions: One of them is instant speed Feldon of the Third Path and instant speed Goblin Welder. This card will invalidate many of your other options for artifact finishers because it's just that much more power.

Commander Cube Considerations

In commander cubes, he's a great versatile option if you support red artifacts, red reanimator, and just big creatures, though he is not an auto include because the card is weaker than its contemporaries in a vacuum, but excels with the right support. I would only recommend the card if you have a deck that can fully support the ETB ability without warping your cube around it.


Unlike the last two cards mentioned (Kiki-jiki and Whirler Rogue), this card isn't as universally as beloved or powerful. I just really like that the card is a red artifact creature that can serve a fatty cheat target, while synergizing with graveyard strategies, which is a weird niche that really only Ruin Grinder could potentially fulfill. Had it not been an artifact, I would not be running it and be as fond of it since Bedlam Reveller fulfills similar functions, but has more versatility. In slower, environments I like this card a lot. In fast pace environments, Blightsteel is just better suited.

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