In almost a full year of writing here, I have probably said the same things about inspiration an inordinate number of times. After all, there are only so many sources of inspiration and so many clever ways I can talk about them. I've shared decks made by friends, decks made better by new cards, decks discovered by rooting through binders, and decks built around unique effects printed on new cards. Today's brews are all of the above. Isn't that splendid?
A Reclamation Project
My friend and fellow Level 2 Judge Elliot Raff is known to most of his friends as Shrek. Not because he is green, has a fondness for onions (though he is very good with layers), or lives in a swamp, but because he has played Shrek onstage. Like me, he does enjoy a good brew, and his ideas are often far from mediogre (not even a little bit sorry). Recognizing our shared love and the value of spreading the love, Elliot has been working on this list (with a little help from me) since Eldritch Moon was released:
A new twist on the usual Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle combo decks, this one looks to win in multiple ways. If the “dump lands in the graveyard, cast Splendid Reclamation, win game” plan doesn't work out, the deck is more than capable of winning with Seismic Assault or Molten Vortex with Life from the Loam, or with Countryside Crusher getting huge.
The synergies in this deck are beautiful. My favorite card to demonstrate that is likely Edge of Autumn, a seldom-played card that in this list has several jobs. In a deck that basically never needs more than four lands on the battlefield, the first of those roles is to ramp us to that fourth land. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can start pitching lands to Seismic Assault. As Countryside Crusher is fond of stopping us from drawing lands, it is useful to have a way to still hit one after casting the Crusher.
The second task is of course to put a land in the graveyard, drawing us a card in the process. That we can do this without worrying about most countermagic is a nice little fringe benefit. The third mode is possibly the best in terms of utility, as we can protect our Valakuts from the likes of Sowing Salt and Crumble to Dust. We can also use it against a Tectonic Edge activation to make sure we get a draw out of the deal.
Magmatic Insight really shines in this deck. It's seen some play in Standard already, but it hasn't really cracked Modern for some reason. Discarding a land to draw two cards is a steep early cost in many cases but one that can be manageable in the mid- to late-game. Given that this deck is running 26 lands and wants to put lands in the graveyard anyway, we get to turn the alleged drawback into a win-win for us.
Elliot and I have chatted about a few changes, including possibly adding Raging Ravine to the deck. Splendid Reclamation is a great card in the deck and can win out of nowhere, but it does need a lot of lands in the graveyard to win via the combo. Raging Ravine gives us another impressive thing to do with a lot of lands and would also up our land count to 30 without diluting our threats. Ideally I would like to find another way to sacrifice lands, but R/G isn't exactly heavy on sacrifice effects. Crack the Earth and Boom // Bust are both on my radar here.
Put the Shackles Back On
The original version of Elliot's deck was three colors, adding black for Grisly Salvage, Raven's Crime, and The Gitrog Monster. The requirement for a critical mass of Mountains to trigger Valakut made the third color unrealistic, but while flicking through old bulk rares, I came across a card that could possibly make a two-color G/B version viable: Ob Nixilis, the Fallen. His landfall trigger is possibly even better than that of Valakut, triggering no matter how many lands we have and no matter which land has entered the battlefield. Black also gives us back Grisly Salvage and The Gitrog Monster, but we do lose Seismic Assault, Molten Vortex, and Magmatic Insight.
Since we now want to win with a creature, by default more vulnerable than a land, we want to look at ways to either protect it or get it onto the battlefield on the same turn as we want to win. Fortunately the black version of the deck wants to run two legendary creatures that both cost five mana, and we also want to fill up our graveyard. Goryo's Vengeance is a consideration for the deck to ensure we can win before turn 6.
Eldritch Moon gives us one potential answer to this predicament in Noose Constrictor. Free, repeatable discard outlets are valuable and this one can also beat down while discarding redundant pieces or something like Life from the Loam or putting an Ob Nixilis, the Fallen in the graveyard to reanimate later. We also have cards like Gather the Pack to dig for our win condition while still putting the right cards in the graveyard.
This is very much a concept right now, but I think it can do some damage. You trade the need for a bunch of lands in red for the need to keep Ob Nixilis, the Fallen alive in black. Without Seismic Assault we don't need a four-pack of Life from the Loam, and in fact we'd be better off leaving the lands in the graveyard.
Is there perhaps a B/R version that splashes green purely for the Reclamation? We don't lose a lot that way and we get to play both Valakut and Ob Nixilis, and we don't have to sacrifice the card draw and additional damage sources that Seismic Assault provides us.
Amulet You Finish
The printing of Splendid Reclamation could well change that. Until now, Scapeshift has been the only way in Modern to get multiple lands onto the battlefield tapped. Following a Scapeshift with a Splendid Reclamation could easily make enough mana to start up a chain of Primeval Titans, for example. It's possible this idea is not one that can be fleshed out enough, but the baseline has potential.
Modern also has a bunch of creature-lands that, naturally, sometimes end up dead. Reclamation can give those lands a second life, and as they are already hard to deal with it seems unlikely that an opponent will be able to do so twice. They too benefit from Amulet of Vigor, of course.
Is Legacy Splendid, or Squandered?
Remember this deck?
This is the deck that turned me from a kid who played the game once a week at the local store into a combo-loving brewer. Mike Long has a reputation for many things, several of which are undesirable, but there is no doubt that this deck was a stroke of genius (and ironically would have been better if it could have played Stroke of Genius).
People have toyed with Natural Balance and Squandered Resources in the past in Legacy, but it was always just too slow. With Splendid Reclamation we essentially double the mana to which we have access, assuming we can fill our graveyard with enough lands. Although we would love to have Hermit Druid here, we are talking about Legacy. Filling the graveyard should not be hard.
Squandered Resources is a fundamentally broken card. Even if we don't try to recreate Long's masterpiece, we can use the combo to power out a giant Eldrazi or cast something like The Gitrog Monster. With everyone's favorite Frog on the battlefield, we can cycle through the deck at high velocity to find whatever we want to use to win the game. Legacy is such a huge format that I am certainly missing some pieces to this engine, but I love that we can run Constant Mists in the sideboard without much worry.
The current Lands deck in Legacy could definitely find room for Splendid Reclamation. A deck that is sometimes as much as 66% land is going to find multiple spots where they want to cast this, not least of which would be to recur their Glacial Chasms, Wastelands, Dark Depths, and Mazes of Ith. We don't need to stop there; Twelve-Post is another deck that could benefit from bringing back a bunch of lands from the graveyard, being as weak as it is to Wasteland.
There's no doubt that the land-based shenanigans are fewer in Standard, as we lack the broken lands that older formats give us. Any power we are able to glean in Standard will come from one of two places: landfall triggers and creature-lands. We are also sorely lacking in ways to get lands in the graveyard in a hurry, so any deck we come up with here would need to be a little more on the grindy side than the combo angle we have explored so far.
With most of the landfall effects that we actually want to play being creature-based, it is possible this card is one that is just better in older formats. The creature-land idea is one that bears further investigation, but the stars would have to align before I wanted a four-mana, highly restrictive reanimation spell.
Reclaiming the Land
I think we are only just scratching the surface of what this card can do. It's the nature of brews that someone else will come along, read what I want to do, and find some ways to tune it. I'm especially excited by the potential Legacy implications of this card, which is hard to find in new sets.
That's all I have from the LAB this week. Lansdell's Always Brewing, except when he is very tired after a long Grand Prix weekend. Next week I want to look at enchantments, inspired by a brew from another one of my local players. As always, thanks for stopping by my new Wednesday home, and until next time...Brew On!