Push Back: The New Toys
By Roland F. Rivera Santiago
Hello everyone, and welcome to Push Back. This week, we’re taking a look at how Amonkhet has impacted the Modern metagame. Although the spoiler season for the set didn’t generate that much in the way of hype, a couple of cards from the set have started making noise on the Modern scene. The most obvious additions from Amonkhet were the new cyclers in Living End (as we have covered before), but it turns out that several other cards have proven useful. Without further ado, let’s take a look at which cards have made a splash:
One of the cards currently making the biggest impact is the humble Vizier of Remedies. While the card seems like it only caters to Standard’s current fixation with -1/-1 counters at first glance, it’s very synergistic with cards like Kitchen Finks (playing a similar role to Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit in Abzan Company) and Devoted Druid (where it forms a brand-new combo for infinite green mana). Toss in a couple of mana sinks to make sure that you win the game once you have gone infinite (namely Duskwatch Recruiter and Walking Ballista), and you have a pretty potent combo engine.
The most popular home for Vizier of Remedies has been Abzan Company, where it cleanly substitute for Melira (whose poison counter upside is close to irrelevant in the current metagame). If you go ahead and toss in the Devoted Druid in addition to the typical suite of game-winning combinations the deck usually features, you have a multi-faceted combo machine that has a been a driving factor in Abzan Company’s resurgence in the metagame standings. Here’s an example of what people have been running:
Abzan Company, by StickyWicket (5-0, MTGO Competitive Modern League, May 2, 2017)
As alluded to above, this deck can win games on the spot in a variety of ways, and the Vizier plays a major part in several of them. It can enable infinite green mana with Devoted Druid, infinite life with Kitchen Finks and Viscera Seer, infinite damage with Murderous Redcap and Seer, or infinite +1/+1 counters with Anafenza and Redcap ( the Redcap would target itself with its enters-the-battlefield ability while the bolster trigger is on the stack, thus generating infinite bolster triggers). Given such wide-ranging utility, I think that it has to be considered an essential piece of the deck going forward.
Next, we have As Foretold. This was one of the more heavily discussed cards during Amonkhet spoiler season, as its interaction with Time Spiral’s cycle of mana cost-less suspend spells generated quite a bit of interest. While applications in everything from Living End to Taking Turns have been discussed, the most concrete example of this card’s success is in classic UW Control. Here’s an example list:
As Foretold Control, by Matedge (5-0, MTGO Competitive Modern League, May 1, 2017)
As Foretold has two major functions here. The first is to weaponize any Ancestral Visions or Restore Balances in hand by allowing them to be cast immediately. Drawing 3 cards or wiping the board are powerful effects that virtually every control player is constantly in the market for. Its second role is to allow the control player to cast multiple spells in a single turn. Examples include tapping out for a planeswalker while holding up countermagic, or even something as simple as a free Serum Visions to dig for more options before making an important decision. The jury is still out as to whether this is a more powerful variant of the “classic” UW Control shell or not, but I would say that its track record thus far at least indicates it has potential.
Seek to Find
Finally, I’d like to leave you with a brew centered on an Amonkhet card, and that card is Pull from Tomorrow. Blue decks have been wanting an instant-speed “pay X to draw X” effect for quite some time now (Sphinx’s Revelation counts, but that card forces you to also run white). This card hasn’t made much noise on the competitive scene yet, but conversations with other players have led me to believe that it could feature prominently in reviving an archetype from Modern’s past: Temur Scapeshift.
Unlike its Titanshift cousin, which is all-in on the ramp plan, Temur Scapeshift is a combo-control deck that wants to use its control tools to buy time before using the namesake spell to win the game on the spot. Unfortunately, the waning effectiveness of cards like Remand (due to increased efficiency of opposing spell lineups and the increased proliferation of targeted discard effects) and Lightning Bolt (because of the rise of Eldrazi and Death’s Shadow) have left the deck in a tough spot. While the three-color toolbox does have some options for dealing with these threats, they don’t advance Scapeshift’s gameplan in the way a disruptive spell that draws a card does. Pull mitigates the need to have cantrip effects attached to as many spells, which in turn enables fitting a more impactful interaction suite. Here’s my attempt at putting a shell together:
Temur Scapeshift, by Roland F. Rivera Santiago
The inclusion of cards such as Cyclonic Rift, Engineered Explosives, and Mana Leak over the likes of Remand and Repeal is entirely due to Pull from Tomorrow – you can now assume a more traditional control role and try to 1-for-1 (or 2-for-1) your opponents, then use the Pull to refill. The sideboard is admittedly a bit more untested, but a bit of testing should suss out what matters and what doesn’t pretty quickly.
This is all I have for you today. If you have any comments on the decks I’ve chosen to showcase, or on any cards from Amonkhet that have been doing well and are not in this article, let me know in the comments. If you like these decks and would like to take them out for a spin, be sure to check out our TCGPlayer.com storefront for any cards you may need. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all next week.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roland F. Rivera Santiago is our senior modern analyst, a longtime paper Magic player, and a recent MTGO convert that is fascinated by grinding competitive play. Roland's academic prowess spills over to his MTG analytics and dissections of competitive metagames that help us understand what to play and why. He focuses most on Modern, and can usually be found in an MTGO league under the username Rothgar13 with his trusty Merfolk deck.