How NOT to Deal with a Prized Amalgam

Prized Amalgam
Prized Amalgam is centerpiece to some of the best decks in Modern AND Standard both

Prized Amalgam in Modern

We begin with Patrick trying to talk Mike off the Inspiring Vantage cliff for Modern.

Yes, Inspiring Vantage goes straight into Mike’s Burn deck… But Patrick’s argument is that Burn sucks. Part of the reason is that one of the most successful Prized Amalgam decks can “dredge” its way into Gnaw to the Bone, effectively countering many, many burn spells.

And what if a Dredge player sideboards in Collective Brutality?

Can you imagine a second turn of killing poor Mike’s Goblin Guide AND taking his Skullcrack AND getting him for a four-life swing… While discarding Prized Amalgam and Stinkweed Imp (which is what he wants to do anyway)?

Mike will have gotten what he deserved in our estimation, you know, for playing Burn; especially since the Inspiring Vantage version doesn’t even play Atarka’s Command (further reducing the deck’s resistance to Gnaw to the Bone).

Prized Amalgam versus Void Shatter

We move to the Zombie in Standard.

Over two Standard Grand Prix, Top 8s were dominated by U/W Flash and Boros / Mardu Vehicles decks… The lone exception was one Zombie Madness deck… Featuring four copies of Prized Amalgam.

Here’s the thing — Prized Amalgam costs 1UB. One BLUE Black. The deck doesn’t even have blue mana! It can’t cast Prized Amalgam, only kill you with it.

Cathartic Reunion, Insolent Neonate, Cryptbreaker, new superstar Smuggler’s Copter, and even Lightning Axe put Prized Amalgam into the graveyard for you; from there Haunted Dead and Scrapheap Scrounger are waiting to put it directly into play. B/R is a beatdown deck that starts off on turn one, gets in there flying-Watchwolf-Looter-style, puts plenty of pressure on you… But has a tremendous graveyard-driven value engine too. You can’t deal with it like a straightforward beatdown deck or it will bury you; you can’t sleep on Voldaren Pariah.

This deck is inevitable.

This deck is deceptively card advantageous.

What’s the point of playing Void Shatter if you can never actually Counterspell the Zombie in question?

More Modern, more Standard, and (we hope) an answer or two in “How NOT to Deal with a Prized Amalgam”:

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Torrential Gearhulk Masterpieces

Torrential Gearhulk
The “original” Torrential Gearhulk Masterpiece

The story so far…

Wait a second! Isn’t this supposed to be the uber beatdown format?

Hold on! You mean this isn’t the Standard where Dead Weight is better than Ruinous Path?

So like… Is Smuggler’s Copter not the best card, aggressive or no?

It turns out… Gifts Ungiven beat Umezawa’s Jitte (again).

Don’t Call it a Comeback

Smuggler’s Copter was good… But Gideon, Ally of Zendikar was great. One-upping (literally one-upping) Smuggler’s Copter in the Top 8, Gideon battled to the most populous position. In addition to supplementing the Copter beatdown decks (whether Boros or Mardu), Gideon contributed to Azorius and Jeskai midrange and / or control decks.

So… Gideon was great, but Torrential Gearhulk was best.


It turns out you can play any number of Torrential Gearhulk decks.

The finals included a Gearhulk mirror match between former World Champion Carlos Romao with Jeskai Control, and former Player of the Year Shota Yasooka with Grixis Control. Both control masters — Pro Tour Champions with B/U decks each — packed Torrential Gearhulk as the powerhouse finisher.

Carlos used a variety of spot removal and permission spells to fight aggressive opponents one-for-one early. These all made for solid Torrential Gearhulk targets.

Shota’s black splash allowed for two copies of Unlicensed Disintegration. In case you missed, Torrential Gearhulk is an artifact creature. Holy mondo combo Batman Shota! Along with the Gearhulk’s big body, Unlicensed Disintegration helped set up a monster race position.

Both decks packed Radiant Flames and light Energy sub-themes to really punish the predicted attack decks.

… And the finalists weren’t even the only Gearhulk decks in the Top 8!

Find out more about this still-evolving Standard format, and the trends in both the incumbent attack decks and the rising control decks in “Torrential Gearhulk Masterpieces”:

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Meet Blossoming Defense, Cross-Format All-Star

Blossoming Defense
Blossoming Defense – It isn’t just for Standard Smuggler’s Copter defense

Two sweet topics this week!

Topic Number One: Schools of Magic, 2016

Patreon supporter Sean O’Brien suggested we revisit the seminal Schools of Magic and talk about how some of Rob Hahn’s “Schools” figure into “modern” Magic: The Gathering.

I mean, everyone knows the Weissman School… But have you heard of Kim, Chang, or (topically here), O’Brien? Many of these Schools are alive and well twenty years after the publication of Schools of Magic, and their ideas of card advantage, blanking the opponent’s win conditions, or overloading a single type of resource remain key ideas still.

Thanks to Sean for such a great topic springboard (and, you know, his seminal contribution to Magic theory).

Further Reading: The Schools of Magic

Topic Number Two: (more) Kaladesh in Modern

I know, I know… We just did a “Kaladesh in Modern” episode two weeks ago… But that was before there were even any Modern tournaments with Kaladesh legal yet!

  • Per our predictions, Madcap Experiment into Platinum Emperion has already made Top 8 of an SCG Classic (albeit in the sideboard) of Wesley See’s U/R Storm deck.
  • Multiple Modern decks have already adopted Kaladesh “fast lands” … Both Grixis and Naya Boros Burn decks have improved their mana bases this way. Arya Roohi played only one Inspiring Vantage but Patrick thinks four might be the right number… And Mike not only likes four, but is seriously considering cutting green for it!
  • The most significant contribution to Modern (to date, at least) has got to be Blossoming Defense from Kaladesh. Basically all the U/G Infect decks are running some number of Blossoming Defense, but our hat tip has to go to Brad Carpenter, for winning it all! Great job Brad.

Check it all out as we “Meet Blossoming Defense, Cross-Format All-Star”

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Play Any Smuggler’s Copter Deck You Want

Smuggler's Copter
The first SCG Open with Kaladesh featured 32 copies of Smuggler’s Copter in its Top 8

Here’s the good news: You can play any Smuggler’s Copter deck you want.

After all, Smuggler’s Copter does so So SO much!

In a sense the existence of Smuggler’s Copter throws green and white under the bus. For all of two colorless mana you get the equivalent of a flying Watchwolf… That is also a Merfolk Looter.

Smuggler’s Copter is great with cards like Fiery Temper (which can get opposing Smuggler’s Copters out of the way), and it can smooth out your draws and help you hit your land drops.

Smuggler’s Copter is basically Umezawa’s Jitte. Actually… It may be even more ubiquitously playable than Jitte. After all, you didn’t generally see Jittes in Mono-Blue Control or most Gifts Ungiven decks. Smuggler’s Copter is already played in Grixis decks as well as Boros Aggro of at least three different flavors, plus a big, fat, G/W Ramp deck.

If you’re playing Delerium, Smuggler’s Copter can help you completed Delerium… Including by getting a land into your graveyard without dipping into Evolving Wilds.

This card is great in aggro decks… But it’s also great in color combinations like Grixis. Grixis might want the Copter just to help feed Prized Amalgam.

This card isn’t just good, it’s almost unbelievably flexible, and capable of contributing to a wide palette of different decks from Humans to Vehicles to a faux Reanimator.

… And it’s only Week One.

Listen to “Play Any Smuggl’er’s Copter Deck You Want” here:

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