Chandra’s Spitfire and Key Changes to Mono-Red

It’s All About Chandra’s Spitfire

Chandra’s Spitfire gives Mono-Red a whole new endgame.

Aaron Barich took down the first big Standard event of Core Set 2020 Standard with… Mono-Red Aggro!

But Aaron’s Mono-Red was a whole new flavor. While related to previous incarnations of the deck, the Barich build featured four copies of Chandra’s Spitfire. What a weird three drop, you might muse to yourself: But this isn’t just a creature that you might play… It’s a dramatically different direction for Mono-Red that preserves most of what made the deck good before, but adds a Pyromancer’s Ascension-like end game.

Aaron’s build chooses Ember Hauler over Viashino Pyromancer, and consequently, Skewer the Critics over Wizard’s Lightning. While Viashino Pyromancer kind of always burns for two (and Ember Hauler only sometimes burns for two), the ability to choose when you do this for buffing Chandra’s Spitfire or setting up Skewer the Critics is a big deal in this more strategic build.

Of note: Both Runaway Steam-Kin and Chandra’s Spitfire are Elementals. As such, they don’t die to the sweeping [-3] of Chandra, Awakened Inferno.

Ember Hauler versus Viashino Pyromancer

Ember Hauler costs RR instead of R1… Which isn’t an issue in a deck with literally 20 basic Mountains.

The ability to deal two damage to a creature is of course an upgrade over Viashino Pyromancer’s 187 ability.

The downside, of course, is that Viashino Pyromancer always hits, and “hits” even if it would die in combat or to removal. That’s not necessarily true for Ember Hauler. Under Sixth Edition rules, Ember Hauler would have had the benefit of “damage on the stack” … But those rules haven’t been in play for years. If Ember Hauler is going to trade with something in combat, it will not also be able to deal its extra two.

There are pros and cons to both two drops. Ember Hauler is a little better with Skewer the Critics and Chandra’s Spitfire. Viashino Pyromancer is a little better at loading up damage against Planeswalkers.

The tiebreaker?

2/2 versus 2/1!

The second toughness on Ember Hauler, combined with the presence of the three-toughness Spitfire, makes Aaron’s Red Deck a bit more resilient against other people’s Goblin Chainwhirlers.

And that’s not a small thing if Mono-Red is once again Standard’s early leader…

But Don’t Sleep on Cerulean Drake…

Cerulean Drake is absolutely incredible against Mono-Red.

It’s like a Sea Sprite — and Sea Sprite was a legendary sideboard card against Deadguy Red “back in the day” — but has an additional ability!

Cerulean Drake’s most important function in the modern age is being able to wear a Curious Obsession. Decks that only have red removal (like Mono-Red, but probably not only Mono-Red) will probably just lose to that two-card combo.

But Cerulean Drake can be played in more than just Mono-Blue Tempo! This card seems like an outstanding sideboard card for Esper Control. Not only will it buy you a ton of time and life against the hated Mono-Red deck… It’s outstanding for Planeswalker defense!

Putting it All Together…

Patrick thinks the Mono-Red deck may want to be splashing green in the longer term.

Cindervines is one of the best sideboard cards in the format; and a great tool if Wilderness Reclamation decks return to popularity.

But maybe more importantly? Kraul Harpooner to knock Cerulean Drake out of the sky!

For more sick tech like this, listen up to this week’s podcast now!

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We are ALL ABOUT this New Nightpack Ambusher Deck

Meet Nightpack Ambusher from M20:


2GG
Creature – Wolf
Flash
Other Wolves and Werewolves you control get +1/+1.
At the beginning of your end step, if you didn’t cast a spell this turn, create a 2/2 green Wolf creature token.
4/4

It’s all about the Risen Ree… Err… Breeding Pool

The new Standard is chock full of awesome new Breeding Pool decks. Big mana ramp is giving our old buddy Hydrod Krasis new life.

Risen Reef is appearing in a variety of Temur Elementals decks, slapping palms with two different types of M20 Chandra, going wide, and going tall.

There is an unbelievable new Simic Deck with an infinite combo driven by Drawn from Dreams. Imagine having four permanents in play and then free-playing Omniscience (and everything else you might want to do right after). Mike thought this was going to be his favorite deck — or at least Simic deck — of the week.

That is, until Patrick introduced him to Nightpack Ambusher.

Nightpack Ambusher in Simic Flash

We’ve seen Azorius Flash decks for years… But URZA2109 gave us a sweet new Simic deck… That plays almost entirely on the opponent’s turn!

Check out this lineup:

  • Brineborn Cutthroat – Flash… And a ton of upside based on your other 16 flash guys (and permission)
  • Frilled Mystic – Flash… That utterly destroys last season’s crop of “big spell” decks
  • Merfolk Trickster – Flash (and flashy)
  • Spectral Sailor – Flash; flashy on one… and really flashy on five (Whispers of the Muse, anyone?)

The unbelievable beauty of Nightpack Ambusher in this deck is that you almost never cast anything on your own turn. The only card in the entire main deck that plays main phase is Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer. That means that — unless something is going waaaaay wrong — you are making a 3/3 Wolf every turn.

With 10 permission spells (and 3 Unsummons for those Frilled Mystics) this is a tough setup to beat once you get the big Wolf down.

Shifting Ceratops Ain’t no Slouch, Neither

URZA2109 put together a heck of a sideboard. All these cards are great; but the Core Set 2020 additions are super great!

There are already four Shifting Ceratops to kill Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to death (with haste); we just think a fourth Aether Gust might make sense… To counter other players’ Shifting Ceratops 😉

There were a ton of new Core Set 2020 decks revealed this week, from B/W Vampires to Jund Dinosaurs. Check them all out now!

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Goblin Engineer in All the New Modern Stuff

Goblin Engineer

Goblin Engineer

Creature – Goblin

When Goblin Engineer enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an artifact card, put it in your graveyard, then shuffle your library.

{R}, {T}, Sacrifice an artifact: Return target artifact card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.

1/2

Goblin Engineer in Grixis Urza

… Mike initially thought (from the deck title) that this was a newfangled color combination for the classic Modern UrzaTron shell… Turns out it’s an all-new infinite combo deck!

The “Grixis” part just refers to some black mana to activate Nihil Spellbomb or hard-cast your Leyline of the Void after sideboarding.

Here, Goblin Engineer does a Stoneforge Mystic Impression, when you… Get your Sword of the Meek!

Sword of the Meek

In fact, Goblin Engineer puts the Sword right where you want it… In the graveyard! If you naturally draw a Thopter Foundry you have a soft lock already.

Adding Urza, Lord High Artificer to an Already Established Combination…

… Makes it “boundless” according to Patrick.

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek can already make lots of tokens and life points based on how many times you can produce one mana. Urza’s ability to turn every incoming 1/1 token into a blue-producing Llanowar Elves means you can make… lots.

This is to say nothing of the Construct that comes in and gets buffed for all the artifacts you have.

Not only are there multiple different flavors of Urza, Lord High Artificer decks emerging in Modern… There are distinct new Goblin Engineer ones, too!

Example: Goblin Engineer in Rakdos Prison

What if you use your Goblin Engineer to get essentially just Ensnaring Bridge and Nihil Spellbomb.

Did you notice that Nihil Spellbomb can pay you back for being sacrificed to Goblin Engineer if you have a spare black mana? Mondo combo or what?

Combine with Karn, the Great Creator and you have an all-new Modern deck!

Don’t look now, but Karn might just search up a Snare Thopter. Yes, that Snare Thopter. Not quite a Slash Panther; or kind of a Bloodbraid Elf without the Cascade, Snare Thopter is… Certainly a creature you could potentially get with your Karn.

There are so many things going in on Modern due to War of the Spark and Modern Horizons we couldn’t really write about all of them here… But we probably talked about most of them. Was all that Hogaak worry overblown? Is Izzet Phoenix still a top contender? Is Mike’s beloved Burn still viable at all?

Find out in this week’s podcast:

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Marauding Raptor is Probably the Best Card in Your Deck

Marauding Raptor

Marauding Raptor is probably the best card in your deck.

We’ll get to that in a second; but how about some other hits from the upcoming M20?

Brought Back from Core Set 2020 Has Some Awesome implications for Modern

Brought Back

How about with fetchlands?

  1. Start with, say an Arid Mesa.
  2. Follow up with, I dunno, a Windswept Heath.
  3. Then crack them both! You can go and get basic Plains or some kind of Sacred Foundry action… Whatever. Cast Brought Back!

You’ll have four lands in play on turn two. Four!

While this is kind of color-bending-ly good, Patrick points out that it essentially costs three mana because you forego your first turn mana tap to set it up turn two.

How about good old Mulldrifter?

You know how you can cast Mulldrifter for five mana, get a 2/2 flying creature, and draw two cards?

In our hypothetical you play your fifth land (and crack it); then evoke Mulldrifter for three mana. You draw two cards and put your flying fish in the graveyard. Now cast Brought Back.

… You’ll not only get the 2/2 body back, but the land you played and cracked. The outcome on this sequence is two additional drawn cards (and a free Ramp) over the five-drop cast.

Colossus Hammer Will Create an All-New Archetype

Check out Colossus Hammer:

Colossus Hammer

This card is super cheap… But has a prohibitive equip cost. However, if you just neutralize that equip cost, you can give a creature +10/+10!

Here is Patrick’s proposed sequence:

  1. Kor Duelist (1/1 double strike for W)
  2. Sigarda’s Aid (W) + Colossus Hammer!

You’ll pay a total of three mana for a double striking 11/11 creature… Lethal (in most cases) on turn two.

Big game, right? Big and quick.

But sure… How About When Marauding Raptor is the Best Card in Your Deck?

This creature is quite impressive.

The obvious follow-up is Ripjaw Raptor. You can play it for three (perfect curve out from your two drop), buff your Ripjaw Raptor, and draw a card! Rawr.

But Raptor Hatchling is also great.

Raptor Hatchling is already a great card for defensive decks in Standard. In With Marauding Raptor, though? For only R — one mana — you get +4/+0 to your Marauding Raptor and a 3/3 Dinosaur! Being able to cast multiple Raptor Hatchlings [specifically] in one turn will provide enormous amounts of power.

We’ll just skip the Polyraptor “combo” for now.

Tons more in the cast. Give it a listen?

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Cards We’d Actually Want to Play from Core Set 2020

Wow! Core Set 2020 (M20) spoilers sure have been hitting rapid fire! It seems like just a few weeks ago that we were talking Modern Horizons… And it barely feels like the concrete has hardened on War of the Spark Standard.

But M20 is here, and while there are a ton of “interesting” cards (we’re looking at you, Atemsis, All-Seeing), there are more than a few that we want to jam into our decks and brew with. Following are a handful of these future Staples and combo pieces.

Corpse Knight from Core Set 2020 May Revitalize an Archetype

Corpse Knight

The Skinny: This card is great types. Zombie and Knight are both relevant text in Standard. Might Corpse Knight help bring back B/W Knights alongside Knight of Grace, Knight of Malice, or History of Benalia?

Maybe.

But this creature gets even more interesting when you treat it not just as a synergistic two-drop… But a Fireball!

What about Corpse Knight into March of the Multitudes? What if you have two copies of Corpse Knight in play?

Not bad, huh? We’re just getting started on the creature-combo Fireballs.

Pair Dread Presence from Core Set 2020 with Scapeshift for an instant kill

Dread Presence

“Necro!”
-Patrick

Yes, yes. Dread Presence has a little Necropotence to it; a little Phyrexian Arena, more like. And it has a little Sorin’s Thirst.

You can play Dread Presence as a five drop and turn it into either a cantrip or a Nekrataal of sorts. I guess that would be fine… But it might also be wasting the potential of this card.

How about you play Dread Presence with seven lands in play? Drop the eighth for two, and then Scapeshift the lot of them for another sixteen.

Can you manage two more points?

The only thing “bad” about this combo is that you’re playing a Hill Giant. Yes, yes. You’re playing a 3/3 creature for four mana.

It doesn’t take much to make Chandra’s Regulator from Core Set 2020 worth playing

Chandra's Regulator

First and foremost, this card is priced to move. It’s cheap to drop, and will usually get down before you play your first Chandra Planeswalker. Assuming you tap out for her, you’re not gong to get any Chandra’s Regulator benefit initially… But this artifact’s effect will put you way ahead after only one or two double-ups.

Can you imagine making RRRR for 1? How about double emblems?

The other ability on Chandra’s Regulator is also eminently relevant, and might help to produce an all-new Mono-Red archetype. Stay tuned.

As a matter of fact, just listen up now!

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Is it ALREADY Time to Ban Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis?

Meet Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis from Modern Horizons:

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Clearly Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is chock full of keywords. A one-card synergy squad, Hogaak rewards you for creatures in play, for cards in graveyard.

Ideally set up by Faithless Looting, Hogaak can exploit synergies with Bridge from Below, Vengevine, and a host of fast creatures.

Too fast.

Altar of Dementia isn’t Doing Anything Good for the Format, Either

Altar of Dementia

Altar of Dementia is back!

A source of sacrifice for zero mana; a way to win so long as you have any creatures… And in this deck a way to fill your graveyard (for Bridge from Below, especially)… Altar of Dementia is a powerhouse next to an 8/8 powerhouse.

Together, these cards are prohibitively fast. Check out this (representative?) Tweet:

You’ve got a Rest in Peace in your opener… But turn two is too slow? Eep!

In other news…

Chandra, Awakened Inferno is Just One Chandra in M20

Chandra, Awakened Inferno

After lots of Hogaak talk, Patrick and Michael muse over three new versions of Chandra Nalaar from the upcoming set. This one is particularly cool because of what the [+2] emblem does against a particular hated archetype.

But we’ll let you discover that in the cast. Give it a listen:

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Is Command the Dreadhorde the Biggest Big Spell in Standard?

Welcome to a new era of big spells in Standard!

Sure, Mono-Red is going to try to play Fun Police, but much of the rest of the format? They’re casting big, big, Magic: The Gathering spells. No no – Bigger than that.

Command the Dreadhorde

Command the Dreadhorde – Is it the Biggest?

Certainly not in every deck.

Ben Friedman played a copy in his main deck (and other copy in his sideboard). Otherwise? Just a modified “Esper Superheroes” deck. Yes, there were powerful Planeswalkers to get back (as well as a full quartet of Basilica Bell-Haunts… But this is not really where Command the Dreadhorde shines brightest.

Dedicated Command the Dreadhorde

Command the Dreadhorde is more central to the winning deck of last week’s Classic, played by Robert Hayes.

With a ton of Explore creatures like Jadelight Ranger and Merfolk Branchwalker, the Hayes deck willfylly dumps extra cards into the graveyard, making for potentially juiced commands. On top of this, four copies of Tamiyo, Collector of Tales both fills the graveyard and searches for our key spell.

Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

The card that laces everything together is Wildgrowth Walker!

Wildgrowth Walker can help you gain life along the way, which will either give you fuel to Command the Dreadhorde or a ton of triggers paying you back once you already have.

I’d say keep your Walker safe, but if you don’t you can always get him back later, life-granting Explore triggers and all!

Hayes is so big into having the biggest end game he even played Trostani Discordant.

Oh I get it… Is Mass Manipulation even Bigger of a Big Spell?

Mass Manipulation

Sometimes!

Your size will vary on Mass Manipulation depending on how big and strong and overall powerful the kinds of cards are that it will steal.

But what we do know: Trostani Discordant could be better.

Trostani defends creatures only… So if the opponent lines up to get Planeswalkers? The Selesnya Legend has no opinion 🙁

Check it all out:

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Everything Great About Wrenn and Six

Meet Wrenn and Six from Modern Horizons:

Wrenn and Six

Wrenn and Six has three Planeswalker loyalty abilities. Two of them are pretty great.

Remembering for a moment that this is one of only two two mana Planeswalkers ever printed… Imagine going first.

  • [-1]: Wrenn and Six deals 1 damage to any target

Your opponent might have opened on Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, Arcbound Worker, or any number of commonly played one mana, one toughness, creatures. Wrenn and Six comes down and can immediately punish the opponent.

You kill their guy and keep a Planeswalker with two loyalty!

Rakdos Spectacle cards like Skewer the Critics and Light Up the Stage have found fast homes in Modern. Not for nothing: Wrenn and Six and its [-1] ability are a great way to set up Spectacles.

But that’s not what this card is about…

  • [+1]: Return up to one target land card from your graveyard to your hand.

The [+1] ability on this card is one of the closest approximations of the mythical “personal Howling Mine” ever attempted. All you need is a single Wooded Foothills!

You break that Wooded Foothills (or whatever fetchland) in the first two turns to help cast Wrenn and Six and the party almost starts itself. Wrenn and Six almost implies that you never miss a land drop the rest of the game (or at least as long as your Planeswalker doesn’t leave play). Of course there are other applications…

Ayula’s Influence from Modern Horizons

Ayula’s Influence

This enchantment is very exciting!

Somewhere between a Zombie Infestation and a Bearscape, this enchantment is screaming its synergy with Life From the Loam. But! You don’t always have your Life From the Loam. You can slum it with the [+1] ability from Wrenn and Six just fine.

That said, Patrick suggests a combination with Beck // Call.

Beck // Call from Dragon’s Maze makes for a super cool — and super powerful — combination with Ayula’s Influence. Just cast the “Beck” side with Ayula’s Influence already in play. You can make 2/2 Bears — and draw cards! — pretty steadily.

At any point, if you draw (and discard) a Dakmoor Salvage… You should be able to draw your entire deck. Dakmoor Salvage is a land, so you can discard it to Ayula’s Influence. You make a Bear token and, as a result of Beck, can draw a card. Now just dredge Dakmor Salvage and start the loop all over again!

What Kind of Foolishness Can Echo of Eons Bring?

Get Ready for Echo of Eons
  • Lion’s Eye Diamond – There is all kind of material with this potential combo. But the simplest? Just discard Echo of Eons to your Lion’s Eye Diamond and then use the UUU you just made to flash it back.
  • Narset, Parter of Veils – “Seems like abuse” according to Mike. You draw seven, your opponent just discards his hand? Welcome to the new Modern.

More, much more, Modern Horizons right here:

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Ice-Fang Coatl and More Modern Horizons

Modern Horizons is an upcoming set designed specifically for Modern play. The cards so far look to be — in many cases, at least — not just functional, but flavorful as well. There are throwbacks to older sets and favorite mechanics.

So much so that some of the Modern Horizon cards are g-d keyword-tacular. Ice-Fang Coatl, one of our favorite cards, is a great example of, well… Everything.

Ice-Fang Coatl

Ice-Fang Coatl from Modern Horizons is Awesome

This Snow Snake has two broad things going for it. On the one hand, it is quite reminiscent of Baleful Strix. If you have three other Snow permanents in play, Ice-Fang Coatl is exactly a Baleful Strix once once the battlefield.

It draws a card when it comes down (regardless) and can trade with anything.

Baleful Strix is of course a defining card of the Sultai Legacy deck (forget about Modern)… So presuming you have sufficient Snow, this card is probably overpowered for Modern.

But wait! There’s more!

Ice-Fang Coatl — other Snow permanents or no — has Flash. As long as you are okay with trading in a blue mana for a colorless one, it’s just better than Elvish Visionary; a veteran of the First Place podium.

However when you combine Flash and Deathtouch… The card overall is largely a “cantrip Terminate” that can sometimes attack. Not bad. Not bad at all…

But What About That “Snow” Clause…

Haven’t collected enough Snow lands from the original Ice Age or Coldsnap? Not to worry! Modern Horizons has you covered!

Snow-Covered basic lands are back, with new art to boot!

Check out the Modern Horizons method for getting your Skred on…

Snow-Covered Mountain

Snow-Covered Mountain

But Wait! There’s still more!

Prismatic Vista is the Dual Land of Our Dreams

How about Prismatic Vista from Modern Horizons?

Prismatic Vista
Prismatic Vista

As long as you’re not, say, hunting for a Temple Garden or Godless Shrine, Prismatic Vista is the most flexible fetchland in the history of the Modern format.

Or, put another way, it’s what Evolving Wilds always wished it was!

Subtly, though not itself a Snow permanent, Prismatic Vista can get any basic land. That includes the aforementioned Snow-Covered Mountain (or any relevant Forest- or Island-types you might need to summon your Ice-Fang Coatl.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of Modern Horizons, but would love for you to join us. Give us a listen?

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Karn, the Great Creator Demolishes Modern

Meet Karn, the Great Creator from War of the Spark

Karn, the Great Creator

This week, Michael and Patrick review, among other things, the results from last week’s Modern MOCS.

The most impressive innovation — and there were a boatload of innovations — is around Karn, the Great Creator.

Karn, the Great Creator gets Mycosynth Lattice

BY FAR the most important interaction for Modern is Karn’s [-2 ability]…

[-2]: You may choose an artifact card you own from outside the game or in exile, reveal that card, and put it into your hand.

This ability lets Karn play “toolbox”. You can get all kinds of stuff, from Wurmcoil Engine (a giant, lifelink, monster to attack with), Walking Ballista (a threat, and an answer), or any number of so-called “Silver Bullets”.

But!

It is also a two-card combo.

Remember Mycosynth Lattice?

Mycosynth Lattice

Don’t worry, neither did we. Well, Patrick did because he helped design it way back when he was at WotC.

Mycosynth Lattice works with all three of Karn’s abilities.

Of course, as an artifact that presumably lives in your sideboard… Karn can go fetch it. But once it’s in play?

Because Mycosynth Lattice turns all permanents into artifacts, it becomes a one-two punch with Karn’s static ability.

Activated abilities of artifacts your opponents control can’t be activated.

Lands, too!

Your opponent will not be able to activate their lands — now artifacts — meaning they can’t tap for mana. This is a two-card Armageddon lock combo!

Liquimetal Coating: A Faster Mycosynth Lattice?

Believe it or not, WotC R&D thought Liquimetal Coating “might be a problem” back when it was about to hit Standard play. Liquimetal Coating could quickly enable some of its set’s signature interactions, and certainly turn on the specialized removal of the day.

How about now?

Well Mycosynth Lattice costs six. You might not have the mana to immediately go Karn into Lattice into Armageddon combo. Liquimetal Coating isn’t a full-on Armageddon, but it can certainly play Stone Rain machine gun.

Liquimetal Coating

Liquimetal Coating can turn the opponent’s lands — one at a time — into artifacts. Then we can combine with Karn’s last as-yet-unmentioned (in this blog post) ability:

[+1]: Until your next turn, up to one target noncreature artifact becomes an artifact creature with power and toughness each equal to its converted mana cost.

Land: You are now an artifact!
Artifact [Land]: You are now a 0/0 Artifact Creature!
See ya!

Conclusion? Karn, the Great Creator has already upended Modern. Both Patrick and Michael are excited to brew with this card in other decks than green-based Ramp. Colorless, it can go into many other strategies.

And poor Affinity… Karn doesn’t even need to spend loyalty to mess that once-storied strategy up.

Plus!

Give it a listen:

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