One of the seasonal new set traditions is the Gatherer search. It starts with the new set and an open Notepad document and ends with a list of a bunch of card names. Half of them I probably won't even play, but at least I thought about them!
Fortunately, my fellow writers have done a good job of covering some of the ones I was more concerned would be solo ventures. Conley Woods finding a good home for Trove of Temptation was one of those small wins. Still, there are plenty more to try out.
The first thing that hits me with Primal Amulet is that I would much rather cast it and immediately cast another spell in the same turn. That implies two-cost interaction that gets reduced by it or one-drop interaction. That basically describes the best red cards in the format, which in turn says that people weren't just defaulting to the Pyromancer's Goggles decks for no reason (or were accidentally right to do so). Black is also an option due to Fatal Push, as showcased in Sam Black's list from a couple of weeks ago.
I do want to point out that Pyromancer's Goggles was played in nonblue decks as well. Primal Amulet is a bit different, as you need to chain off spells first before you start copying stuff, which implies a very spell-heavy deck and not quite the ramp decks incidentally using Pyromancer's Goggles mana I'm referring to. Primal Amulet also doesn't immediately pay off to nonspell mana like Goggles and doesn't force you to play Tormenting Voice-style card draw that is more of a natural fit in ramp decks with lots of conditional blanks. There might be a nonblue Primal Amulet deck at some point, but I want to start by assuming I'll be copying Glimmer of Genius.
I also want to note that Primal Amulet is also useful in multiples as a nonlegendary permanent. I don't know if "good" is the exact word I'm looking for, but transforming the first Primal Wellspring is almost an eventual win without help because the double spells will find the next Primal Amulet, which turns into more double spells, and so on. I'm half-sad that my third Primal Amulet transforms regardless of what I want, so I can't just use the cost reduction and go off, but also half-happy that I eventually get back to two-mana Lightning Strikes so I can use double Wellspring mana for nine damage.
The other half of this point is I'm not even sure you need a win condition besides Primal Amulet. Unlike Todd, I'm not going to worry about Hazoret's Undying Fury or The Locust God. I just want more Glimmer of Genius-style four-drops I can just cast and take over.
That said, I think providing a list at this point would be irresponsible and only promote bad ideas. Like I said last week, I can't imagine control shoving on a plan that isn't Duress-proof, and Primal Amulet certainly isn't that.
Looking at the list of control nightmares, I think you may also have to play U/B to have outs to Carnage Tyrant. Technically a copied Sweltering Suns does that, but let's be real here. Playing U/B does mean you can just play The Scarab God in addition to your Doomfalls or whatever else beats Carnage Tyrant, but at the same time I'm wondering why your The Scarab God deck plays Primal Amulet…
Oh well, not every start comes to a successful finish in the brew process. Next up!
The answer is that it is close. You really need creatures that cost one or zero for this strategy to work, similar to the Shadows over Innistrad Humans decks. You need to be able to cut land and have multiple spell turns, as, if you are matching your opponent on number of spells drawn and cast, you are not going to beat their Glorybringers.
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Aether Swooper
- 4 Siren Stormtamer
- 2 Skyship Plunderer
- 4 Slither Blade
- 4 Storm Fleet Aerialist
- 4 Hope of Ghirapur
I got about 30 cards into this deck before knowing this wouldn't quite get there, but it shocked me how close it is to working. Let's look at some of the hurdles it needs to clear.
The first hurdle is easy: this deck is not just a worse Ramunap Red. It certainly lacks the staying power of Hazoret the Fervent and Ramunap Ruins, but it is definitely more aggressive in its own way. Soul-Scar Mage and Bomat Courier are pretty bad attackers, where these one-drops are still worth damage in the mid-game. If enraging Dinosaurs are in the way, this deck has no problem chugging along. You can make arguments that Earthshaker Khenra and Ahn-Crop Crasher solve that problem a little too well, but the difference is still there.
The second issue is a bit trickier: like I mentioned earlier, the deck needs a good backup plan. I am literally playing Dinosaur Stampede as Trumpet Blast because there isn't a better option I saw in green or red. I didn't look in black or white because those would involve some terrible mana. Having access to a true untapped multicolor land in Spirebluff Canal is huge for a deck that is trying to cast spells on turn 1. If you have to play Drowned Catacomb or Fetid Pools, there is no chance your "flood the battlefield" plan is going to work, much like how the W/R Humans decks of last year needed Battlefield Forge and hated Needle Spires.
The missing piece could also be a slightly bulkier payoff. Heart of Kiran is pretty impossible to activate in this shell, and as mentioned, the allied versus enemy fixing is absolutely devastating to Tezzeret's Touch which otherwise seems similar to Ensoul Artifact in the old Magic Origins Thopters decks.
One interaction that might help with that bulkier payoff is tying in Heart of Kiran with Jace, Cunning Castaway. Brian Gottlieb of The GAM Podcast was pretty excited about this interaction in one of the past couple of weeks, and I think the missing piece might be in here. Not only does Jace, Cunning Castaway naturally curve out to crew Heart of Kiran, it lets you loot away extra copies of either legendary half of the pair.
While I am not impressed with Jace in general, I had it in this deck to showcase the Skyship Plunderer interaction. When Skyship Plunderer first came out in Aether Revolt, I was pretty interested in using it to boost planeswalkers into a quick ultimate. Jace, Cunning Castaway is a clean turn 4 ultimate with Skyship Plunderer, which in turn sets up another Jace ultimate the next turn with a Phantasmal Bear and some loots for your trouble. That's a worthwhile planeswalker.
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 4 Hostage Taker
- 3 Kitesail Freebooter
- 4 Ruin Raider
- 2 Siren Stormtamer
- 4 Skyship Plunderer
This isn't so much of a true Pirates deck as it is U/B Tempo. Lookout's Dispersal is the only convincing reason to play to the tribe when you already have Vehicles fighting for the Fell Flagship spot and Fathom Fleet Captain doesn't crew Heart of Kiran. The upside is that Scrapheap Scrounger is a great Magic card and a great card to discard to Jace, Cunning Castaway, bringing you closer to the "good cards with bonus synergies" model that it seems like current Magic wants us to play.
I'll probably say this again, but please don't be Todd and play Never // Return and Ruin Raider in the same deck when you can play Vraska's Contempt. I get that back in my JSS days we played Dark Confidant, Greater Gargadon, and Hit // Run in the same deck, but I have never figured out if we were just maniacs or those were truly unique effects worth the risk. Either way, learn from the past and don't take it as an example of mistakes to repeat.
Spectral Flight was a Constructed-playable card in Innistrad, and it's back. I'm thankful we don't quite have Invisible Stalker or Geist of Saint Traft, but that doesn't mean we aren't able to make the card do some work.
About a week ago as the last Standard format came to a close, a kinda cool variant of a "not yet rotating throwback" finished 5-0 in a Magic Online League
While I'm not the hugest fan of playing Trophy Mage one turn to set up Electrostatic Pummeler the next turn and finally try to combo off the turn after that, the idea of a heavier blue Pummeler deck stuck with me.
One with the Wind seems great here. One of the past issues of Pummeler was that the non-Pummeler threats were a bit less threatening than they should have been. Sure, you had Uncaged Fury for the backup combo, but that wasn't great. It was expensive, which made it awkward to protect, and on top of that you often needed chip shots to make the attack lethal. You couldn't just win a game the normal way.
One with the Wind into Longtusk Cub kills in a hurry, and even on a Servant of the Conduit it probably closes out the game by turn 6, given your other pump spells. Bristling Hydra is an even better clock that is already a reasonable threat. One with the Wind isn't quite the perfect one-two-punch kill with Electrostatic Pummeler, but it does do the five-ten-twenty thing with Blossoming Defense.
One of the cool things about the Pummeler archetype is that it can use its sideboard to transform very effectively into more traditional Temur versions in matchups where the combo isn't as effective. Carnage Tyrant seems like exactly the control breaker you need for half of those matchups, while Glorybringer handles the ones where Walking Ballista is a bigger issue.
The biggest change from the G/R lists I'm familiar with due to the heavier blue base is the swap of Voltaic Brawler for Rogue Refiner. Voltaic Brawler quite frankly wasn't a great card, which is pretty absurd when you think about it being largely a 4/3 trample for two with energy value in the face of removal. The issue is that, in the cases where all of your cards are just dying, it doesn't help; in the cases where you are getting run over by Winding Constrictor or Earthshaker Khenra, it doesn't help; and without Uncaged Fury, it isn't a good combo finisher. Rogue Refiner at least helps solve the removal issue.
Chart a Course is a pretty darn good card, and another step in building a slightly more resilient Pummeler deck. The old list ran Anticipate, and Chart a Course has to be better. Yes, you see one less card, but you can replace in-hand blanks or just actually Divination two-for-one with the card. You know, more actually playing Magic.
That said, all of this discussion is pointing in a slower direction that doesn't seem perfect for the Week 1 large event metagame. You are going to run into a fair amount of Ramunap Red and I don't have a great answer there. This is more of a wait-and-see kind of deck, or a "tune the deck at Friday Night Magic and crush the right PPTQ" kind of deck. Ramunap Red won't be one of the two decks to beat forever.
Okay, I'll fully admit I wanted to build this deck to do the thing. You know, where they say the name of the article in the article, only it's a card and actual words, and.... there's no chance Dive Down is worth playing. It does surely counter removal and Sweltering Suns, but Spell Pierce and Negate are just better single-blue-mana protection now that Turn Aside is gone.
Oh well, not every start comes to a successful finish in the low-payoff-punchline process. Guess I'll try again next week!