The sun is finally back out. People are brewing and birds are chirping. Inventions. Dwarves. Cars. Oh my!
Just like you, I'm discovering the implications of every card revealed day by day. Vehicles may be great or a complete bust. Chandra, Torch of Defiance may just get smushed by haste creatures or Nissa, Vital Force.
With #SCGORL on the horizon, I've been thinking about Modern lately. Here's what I'm looking forward to developing once Kaladesh is legal.
Once upon a time I played Ranger's Guile in Modern G/U Infect. It was my first PTQ with Infect and I also had Plague Myr and Cathedral of War in my deck. Back then it was very unclear what the optimal build of Infect looked like. Most people were still playing black for Plague Stinger and discard spells.
Now, with so much information out there, Modern Infect decks have become fairly standardized. Maindeck singletons of Dismember, Spell Pierce, and Twisted Image have become the accepted norm rather than “fun-ofs” that should be cut in favor of a more turned deck.
Throughout the entire evolution of Modern Infect, the one non-creature spell that has never been touched is Vines of Vastwood. A protection spell hybridized with a pump spell has always been exactly what Infect has wanted to smooth out its draws, and Vines of Vastwood had great utility against the Splinter Twin decks to interrupt their combo. It's also one of the best cards in the mirror.
The moment Blossoming Defense was revealed, I got a rush of messages asking about its application in Modern Infect. Not to stray away from the established truth that the world has found optimal over the course of thousands of tournaments and tens of thousands of games, my initial inclination is that I wanted a couple, but nothing too fancy just yet.
Since then I've come around to thinking that the power level of Blossoming Defense is really high. So high that I'm willing to shave on a copy of Vines of Vastwood to complete a full set of them. After all, Splinter Twin is no longer a thing reducing the applications of Vines of Vastwood. Of course, if Infect becomes a highly played deck, I suggest switching the following numbers around to go back up to four Vines of Vastwood.
When we talk Cathartic Reunion, we talk about two cards.
Pyromancer's Goggles decks have waned lately and I don't think Cathartic Reunion will bring new life to them. Discarding twos is a big cost when you draw Cathartic Reunion late in a game if you haven't been sandbagging two cards. It's also not super-potent with madness either, as it's pretty hard to pay madness costs for two spells after already investing 1R.
It's also really terrible to get Cathartic Reunion countered. Discarding two cards is steep in Standard.
In Modern, however, you're not trying to cast to cast Cathartic Reunion on turn 5 or 6. You're casting it on turn 2 and flipping over up to eighteen cards with Golgari Grave-Trolls. It also lets you dump Bloodghast or Prized Amalgam. I've been on the fence on playing Tormenting Voice in Dredge, as the payout versus the cost of playing “a spell” instead of a dedicated graveyard card didn't quite meet my expectations. Cathartic Reunion is better in every way and by far worth playing. If anything will put Modern Dredge over the top in power level, it's this card.
Heck, Cathartic Reunion might even be good enough for Legacy Dredge. Anyway, this is what my Dredge looks like after Kaladesh.
A New Artifact Combo
Use Liquimetal Coating to make Saheeli Rai into an artifact. Use Saheeli Rai's -2 ability on herself. Sacrifice the real Saheeli Rai, keeping the artifact copy with the fresh 3 loyalty. Repeating the process puts “infinite” permanents onto the battlefield, specifically artifacts. With Altar of the Brood on the battlefield, you put every card in your opponent's deck into their graveyard in one shot.
There also existed another, similar combo about five years ago. It was a way for the Soul Sisters deck to “go infinite."
A Phyrexian Metamorph copying a Leonin Relic-Warder will be able to target itself for exile. It then immediately pops back onto the battlefield, ready to do the process over again. Add a Soul's Attendant to the mix and you've got yourself as much life as you please.
Both combos are frail and require some digging to piece together. However, when you have enough combo pieces that interlock well enough, something consistent and powerful begins to take form.
Liquimetal Coating can turn any permanent into an artifact to be targeted by Leonin Relic-Warder or to be copied with Phyrexian Metamorph. Saheeli Rai can copy a Leonin Relic-Warder or Phyrexian Metamorph to continue some interaction if needed.
Helps sift through cards to find your combo
Can exile tapped lands when Liquimetal Coating is going.
I remember spiking with Neurok Familiar and it being awesome. Glint-Nest Crane is much more likely to hit something while coming with a reasonable body too. A 1/3 flyer is quite respectable, enough so that I'm willing to risk missing a combo piece sometimes. Currently there are twelve artifacts in the deck, all combo pieces, and I like this little Bird over something like Anticipate. A few more artifacts wouldn't hurt. Pentad Prism, maybe?
Even so, I could see a few more artifacts getting into the deck, depending on what Kaladesh has left to offer. Glint-Nest Crane can even be copied with Saheeli Rai to dig further.
Tom, how does this deck beat an opponent with Emrakul, the Aeons torn in their deck?
You could Emrakul, the Aeons torn with Nahiri, the Harbinger first and just beat them with normal damage.
Sadly, you can't demonstrate an infinite loop with Altar of the Brood that leaves Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as the last card in their library. You need a sure game state after X number of iterations. X has to be a real number. Doing so manually one at a time doesn't work either and falls under Slow Play. Ask your local judge about it.
Overall the deck is sweet and needs some work. Those Remands are just kind of “there” as some form of cantripping interaction that could likely improve. Serum Visions seems decent all around. Maybe the deck could use some Path to Exile or Lightning Bolt. Maybe instead of a fetchland/shockland manabase, twelve fastlands would be better. Time will tell.
Standard Preview Thoughts
This is the red one-drop I've been waiting for!
We haven't seen a good 1/1 haste creature since Legion Loyalist. Village Messenger wasn't nearly good enough. Also, red hasn't had a saturation of good early plays like white has, so Humans has taken the spotlight as the go-to aggro deck.
A big problem with fast, aggressive creatures is that they're easily blanked by bigger creatures. Creatures like Kytheon, Hero of Akros; Town Gossipmonger; and Anointer of Champions either grow stronger or allow for better attacks. Red creatures lately have been rather flat.
Bomat Courier gets in for a few points early and then can be cashed out for several cards later on. You'll get one more card exiled than you've dealt points of damage with Bomat Courier, as you get to attack the final time and sacrifice before it dies in combat.
And who knows? Maybe you have Fiery Temper to discard when the time is right.
Inventor's Apprentice. Pia Nalaar. Chandra, Torch of Defiance to top off the curve. All great cards to fill out a strong mono-red deck with an artifact subtheme. I don't want to wrack my head too much with incomplete information, but I'm sure something really good will be available given the powerful cards that are already previewed.
Up and down,
over and through,
back around -
the joke's on you.
Counterspells have a natural risk associated with them. You have to leave up mana and have the opponent cast a spell worth countering, if they cast any spell at all. Counters that tend to “trade up” on mana are generally worth this risk. Spell Snare, Mana Leak, Dispel, and Spell Pierce are some examples.
Counterspells that gain tempo and/or card advantage are also good. Cryptic Command is the most notable. Recently, Summary Dismissal falls into this camp. You may be only trading your one Summary Dismissal for their one Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Emrakul, the Promised End, but it's well worth it.
Insidious Will falls into neither camp. If you've ever played with Voidslime, you can imagine how you feel when you have the luxury of leaving it up. Or possibly you remember how inefficient it was to cast.
I've had a chance to play with Dovin Baan already in some early playtesting. This is not a card that feels like it's going to win you the game on its own. However, everything that Dovin Baan was doing was very solid.
If the opponent only has one small- to medium- sized creature threatening to attack, then Dovin Baan's +1 shuts it down better than a Jace, Telepath Unbound would. Coincidentally, the -1 is much like Jace Beleren in that you slowly cash him in for three cards. The incidental two points of life gained was more relevant than I imagined, especially against U/R Thermo-Alchemist.
It'll take a very specific game-state to make your way up to seven loyalty. I won't tell you how great a one-sided Static Orb is because I honestly don't know. My gut is telling me it's pretty great, as are other ultimates that are similarly difficult to get to.
Kaladesh looks great, but there's one more tournament without it first. Good luck at #SCGORL!