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?

Direct Download

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:

Direct Download

Serra the Benevolent from Modern Horizons (and even more Modern)


Serra the Benevolent is an exciting Planeswalker from the upcoming Modern Horizons set.

Serra the Benevolent

Mana Cost: 2WW
Types: Legendary Planeswalker – Serra
Card Text:

  • [+2]: Creatures you control with flying get +1/+1 until end of turn.
  • [-3]: Create a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying and vigilence.
  • [-6]: You get an emblem with “If you control a creature, damage that would reduce your life total to less than 1 reduces it to 1 instead.

Loyalty: 4
Expansion: Modern Horizons
Rarity: Mythic Rare

Patrick sees some immediate applications of Serra here… Spirits can cash in on her [+2] ability, and having any sort of creatures is great with the [-6].

An even better home might be a flying Tokens deck with Spectral Procession, Bitterblossom, or Lingering Souls. A deck that goes super wide with efficient flyers can really benefit from Serra’s [+2]!

The “fail state” of [-3] is really where Serra shines. Her worst implementation is to just make a Serra Angel for only four mana (instead of five). Plus you generally get to keep your Planeswalker in play, and might be attacking with a vigilant five the next turn.

Serra’s “Worship” [-6] is extraordinarily powerful. First off, people play with actual Worship in Modern sometimes. Being an emblem, hers is a “Worship” that can’t be removed by Cindervines! Try interacting with that!

The Best of the Rest

The Top Level Podcast boys spend only a short amount of time on Serra up there. Most of this monster Modern podcast is spent across the many events from last weekend: Classic, Open, and even Grand Prix!

Highlights:

  • Prismatic Omen – Mike likes this throwback for Valakut decks; Patrick loves the first one, whether or not a deck plays two or more. Prismatic Omen gives a Valakut deck a completely different chip-shot game plan so it doesn’t have to go all-in.
  • Tireless Tracker – Love it and love it (ditto). In Golgari, the presence of this three drop makes up for some of the missing red card advantage; meaningfully difficult (though clearly not impossible) to Fatal Push.
  • Bloodbraid Elf – Speaking of red cards… Is this one worth it going Golgari to Jund? Mike suggests spitting something very different out with it, though:
  • Anafenza, the Foremost! Awesome addition for Humans; may have wider applications in other archetypes. Incredibly high floor, but far from unbeatable (so not a great sideboard card). Just a great card.
  • Tempest Djinn… Would be bizarre playing next to Timely Reinforcements. Mike thinks this might be the Djinn’s moment, though; due to an all-time low in Grim Lavamancers.

… And a ton more!

Give it a listen:

Or a download

Much Modern

All About Amulet of Vigor in Modern

Amulet of Vigor

Amulet Titan is among the filthiest decks there is!

It has a lot of bad cards, a high failure rate, is mostly just air… But when it works, it WORKS.

This deck can start with an Amulet of Vigor to get incredible value from the “Karoo” cycle from the original Ravnica Block. Just imagine the fun of playing a Primeval Titan (ahead of curve, of course) and searching up a Slayers’ Stronghold and Boros Garrison.

The Garrison will enter the battlefield untapped, so you can immediately make RW to activate the Stronghold. Now your Primeval Titan can attack, searching up two more lands, for greater and greater nonsense.

Karoos usually slow players down. They bounce a land when entering the battlefield, after all; but in a deck with Amulet of Vigor, they can actually net mana before bouncing themselves; or make a mess with Tolaria West. Ever think about searching up Tolaria West and a Simic Growth Chamber with your Primeval Titan, tapping them both for mana, bouncing the Tolaria West… And then searching up a Pact of Negation to protect your incoming 6/6?

Nonsense!

The Most Miserable Card in Modern Is…

Possessed Portal!

Normally a Whir Prison deck will deck you with Ipnu Rivulet, recycled with its Crucible of Worlds… Or maybe get you over and over, two at a time, with Pyrite Spellbomb and Academy Ruins.

But mostly? It beats you by submission. By cruel and unrelenting horrible-ness.

Possessed Portal is even more cruel and more horrible than usual:

Step One: From Now On, Nobody Draws Cards

You feels me? 🙁

And it’s not like anyone pays eight for this thing. Not with Whir of Invention in their decks.

My Gosh is Modern Hostile to Burn Right Now

Mike’s beloved Red Deck is really, really badly positioned just this second. Not only is Dredge back in flavor — what with its innumerable free Lightning Helixes that cost neither a card nor mana — but other matchups can be equally challenging.

And by “equally” we mean…

Oh my God is that Mono-White Martyr of Sands?

More Modern:

Direct Download

Izzet Phoenix in Modern… And Legacy?

Arclight Phoenix
Izzet Phoenix won a[nother] Modern Grand Prix, in Los Angeles


Izzet Phoenix in Modern

We saw Arclight Phoenix jump back into Top 8 action just last week… Standard’s Mythic Championship Cleveland was the stage. The player in question, none other than the legendary Luis Scott-Vargas.

But it’s not clear that Arclight Phoenix even belongs in the best Standard U/R deck! The same is not true of Izzet Phoenix in Modern. If anything, this is considered the strongest current deck in Modern… And it’s not hard to see why.

Izzet Phoenix has some stoopid stupid draws.

Here’s one:

  • Mountain, Fathless Looting; discard two copies of Arclight Phoenix.
  • Gut Shot you. Gut Shot you again!
  • That’s eight! Your go.
  • Is that the most common first turn? Obviously not. But it’s certainly an available one. Izzet Phoenix has a ton of perfectly fine regular draws that are super aggressive while remaining card advantageous.

    Cantrips, Cantrips, Everywhere

    Mike and Patrick discuss the various cheap card drawing spells in Modern.

    Most important might be Faithless Looting. Mike doesn’t think this one is long for the format. It’s certainly been a problem child in a variety of decks before!

    Patrick thinks that Manamorphose might be the most broken of the cheap card drawers; but Mike draws a distinction at the one-versus-two-casting cost line.

    This dovetails into Patrick wondering how Grixis players pick which cantips they play in Modern, and how many!

    Why isn’t Arclight Phoenix a Bigger Deal in Legacy?

    A different Izzet deck won last weekend’s Legacy Open — a Delver of Secrets deck!

    Izzet is a great strategy in Legacy, due to the strength of cards like Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain… and now Light Up the Stage! Light Up the Stage is very Treasure Cruise-ish, and easily catalyzed by Pteramander or Delver of Secrets on turn one.

    But look at those cantrips: They’re great, but they don’t put creatures into the graveyard! There are no Faithless Lootings or Thought Scours in the Legacy builds. Therefore getting the Phoenix into the graveyard (where it can work its proper mischief) is a little more challenging than in Modern.

    But!

    There are some emerging Grixis deck lists that are looking to solve the Arclight Phoenix problem. And because it’s Legacy… The solution is pretty a good one.

    Learn how they’re doing it in this week’s podcast:

    Direct Download

    Supreme Phantom – How is This a Real Magic Card?

    Supreme Phantom
    Supreme Phantom

    How is Supreme Phantom a Real Magic Card?

    Not so long ago, our own beloved MichaelJ played a 1/3 creature for 1U. Its goal was just to slow down the many 2/1 creatures of the Standard Red deck of the time. The U in its upper-right helped to power up Master of Waves, but this card had to, more or less, contribute successfully on its own.

    This card served Mike super well. He sided it in in the Top 8 of the Regional PTQ, essentially cancelling all the Foul-Tongue Invocations his opponent had drawn. That card was, of course, Omenspeaker.

    Omenspeaker was fine. Unexciting, but Mike really wanted it for the 1/3 body. Compare that to Supreme Phantom…

    Supreme Phantom is also a 1/3 creature for 1U. But instead of a fairly minor Scry ability, it has two abilities… And they’re both doozies. Flying is maybe the best keyword evasion ability in Magic, and its +1/+1 buff ability makes the card a perfect anchor for the Bant Spirits archetype.

    Supreme Phantom in Bant Spirits

    Supreme Phantom is obviously a great card in Bant Spirits. The Grand Prix winning list by Peiyuan Zheng plays double-digit Spirits. That starts the Phantom off with tons of potential buddies to buff. But even better? Hexproof!

    With Geist of Sant Traft, or, perhaps more importantly, Drogskol Captain, many a Spirit will live to smash many a face.

    Bant Spirits in the Modern Context

    Besides its awesome sideboard options to dominate KCI or Dredge, Bant Spirits has a solid game plan of its own.

    It’s got the StOmPy draw enabled by the Phantom; Bant can turn up the speed sometimes! It’s got Spell Queller. But not only that, it’s got Collected Company off the green splash! This gives Bant Spirits essentially eight permission spells in Game One (as the Company can hit Queller).

    While not the most specialized archetype, Bant Spirits did win the Extended Grand Prix last week, and that makes it more than worth discussing / looking at.

    Direct Download

    Will Tajic, Legion’s Edge Take Over Modern?

    Tajic, Legion's Edge
    Will Tajic, Legion’s Edge break into a Humans deck near you?

    Tajic, Legion’s Edge provides Humans with Many Tools

    Kevin Ambler added Tajic, Legion’s Edge to his Top 8 deck from last week’s Modern Open. Tajic provides many awesome advantages to a Humans deck:

    • Tajic has much of the Mantis Rider to him. Mantis Rider was one of the highest performing cards in Humans before, and this is another three-power hasty attacker
    • Exalted is a little bit of a non-bo with Mentor, but to that Mantis Rider comment, above, Tajic is a sweet follow-up to Noble Hierarch on turn two
    • Further, you can drop Tajic with an Aether Vial mid-combat [with mana open]… And get a sweet block!
    • Most importantly, Tajic’s “Prevent all noncombat damage that would be dealt to other creatures you control” clause is just bananas in a deck with 35 other creatures! You can drop Tajic at instant speed not only for a sweet block, but to “counter” a burn spell. This can shut down cards like Izzet Staticaster or Grim Lavamancer that often lock down Humans. This card is amazing against sweepers. Trade your Tajic for a Slagstorm? Trade Tajic for the rest of your team.
    • “Very impressive advancement by Kevin.”

      “Could become industry-standard.”

    Guilds of Ravnica is Poppin’ in Modern!

    Tajic might be the most archetype-influencing, but he certainly wasn’t alone in Guilds of Ravnica’s additions to the format. Further highlights:

    • Risk Factor in Jund? Michael loves it, but is not in love with it. Patrick respects Risk Factor’s interaction with Liliana of the Veil. Both our hosts agree that for a deck that is sometimes beatdown, sometimes card advantage… You’re not likely to get the beatdown when you want it, and not likely to get the card advantage when you want it. But it won!
    • Creeping Chill in Dredge! One of the week’s most exciting innovations, Creeping Chill is turning the Dredge deck design on its ear. A man with Shriekhorn in his Dredge deck means serious business.
    • Knight of Autumn in Humans. Will it ever be “just a big guy”? Mike is a little incredulous. Knight of Autumn does what Reclamation Sage did, and the “gain four” mode is just as valuable in certain matchups.
    • Arclight Phoenix: Simply the future of Modern.

    Modern. Guilds of Ravnica. What are you waiting for?

    Direct Download

    Arcbound Ravager and Hardened Scales

    Arcbound Ravager
    It turns out Arcbound Ravager and Hardened Scales go together like peanut butter and chocolate.

    Arcbound Ravager is, and has always been, the Fairy Godmother

    The Ravager, mightiest of Modular cards, has always been a cut above the competition. With the ability to defy card advantage and throw all your deck’s power onto one threat, this creature has wowed crowds and defined formats for over a decade.

    The Ravager could always sacrifice an artifact that was about to die. In that way, it could mitigate the effects of cards like Searing Blood or Smash to Smithereens. More importantly, it could create size without using mana: This let the Beast take all kinds of explosive turns for years.

    So with cards like Myr Enforcer and Somber Hoverguard all but forgotten, this Affinity two-drop has remained relevant.

    But wait! There’s more!

    Arcbound Ravager makes (and moves) +1/+1 counters… Hardened Scales loves +1/+1 counters

    Hardened Scales may be the new boogeyman
    Hardened Scales

    What happens when every Worker enters the battlefield as a 2/2? How does Steel Overseer look when this enchantment is in play on turn one?

    Affinity was always a good Modern deck, but with Hardened Scales, the archetype is doing something cool and legitimately new for the first time in years.

    Consider for a moment what happens when you sacrifice an Arcbound Worker to an Arcbound Ravager with Hardened Scales in play…

    • The Worker dies, putting a +1/+1 counter on the Ravager.
    • But wait! Hardened Scales says to put two +1/+1 counters on instead.
    • The Ravager’s ability resolves, so we’re up to three +1/+1 counters already…
    • But then Hardened Scales checks again…

    Pretty cool, huh?

    Forget about cool, pretty powerful.

    Hardened Scales Affinity may be the new hotness in Modern. Learn about it, and all the latest modern tech, in this week’s podcast:

    Direct Download

    Palace Jailer Wins the Pro Tour!

    Palace Jailer
    Palace Jailer made two of the Top 4 Legacy decks at the Pro Tour… including the winning Death & Taxes!

    Death & Taxes is a “High Tier One” Archetype in Legacy… Thanks to Palace Jailer

    New addition Palace Jailer helps to catapult this strategy to a legitimately defining deck in Legacy.

    Death & Taxes has performed for years… But largely as a metagame deck. For example, the presence of main-deck Karakas has helped the deck to foil Sneak and Show. Sneak and Show’s key creatures — Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn — are perfect targets for the Legendary Land.

    But with Palace Jailer and other toys from Conspiracy: Take the Crown, the power level and flexibility of this already-viable deck has increased substantially.

    Palace Jailer doesn’t quite work like Fiend Hunter

    Fiend HUnter
    Fiend Hunter

    “Um… How do I become the monarch?”

    “Well… Did you play with any cards that make you the monarch?”

    Patrick notes that the Jailer offers exactly the kind of edge Mike loves. While Palace Jailer looks like another take on the Fiend Hunter mechanic, it actually relies on a unique Conspiracy: Take the Crown mechanic. Many players just won’t read the card and will snap Lightning Bolt the Jailer hoping to get their creature back… not realizing that they aren’t the monarch.

    That makes Palace Jailer essentially a white Nekrataal that exiles creatures with no targeting restrictions. Not only can this card smash almost any creature in a 187 — permanently — it can work well with Flickerwisp and other old standbys of the Death & Taxes archetype.

    Casual Sets contribute heavily to Death & Taxes

    Containment Priest
    Containment Priest

    From Commander 2014
    This card is an absolute monster against Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, or reanimation strategies.

    Council's Judgment
    Council’s Judgment

    From Magic: The Gathering – Conspiracy
    Council’s Judgment is like a Vindicate or Maelstrom Pulse that does extra damage against folks who don’t read the card. Here’s a hint: When the opponent casts this, agree with them. Otherwise, you could lose more permanents!

    Recruiter of the Guard
    Recruiter of the Guard

    From Conspiracy: Take the Crown
    This tutor helps search up cards like today’s Palace Jailer. Simply awesome in a deck with cards like Stoneforge Mystic, Containment Priest, and Aether Vial. Recruiter of the Guard can get you the right tool for the right matchup at the right time.

    There was lots more to the Pro Tour than Death & Taxes and Palace Jailer. Check all the tech out here:

    Direct Download

    Breaking Thunderbreak Regent in Modern

    Thunderbreak Regent
    Thunderbreak Regent is a key card in the new Skred Dragons deck

    Thunderbreak Regent won the Classic in Skred Dragons

    A brand new archetype has hit Modern! Though we’ve seen other “Skred Red” decks in the past, the won played by Ozzy Kelly last week broke quite a bit of new ground.

    Yes, it plays Skred and Snow-Covered Mountain.

    The new / important part is the addition of Sarkhan, Fireblood.

    While there have been predecessors packing five drop Dragons like Stormbreath Dragon or Thundermaw Hellkite, Ozzy’s plays three different kinds, including last summers hit, Glorybringer. Sarkhan, Fireblood makes the big Dragons much faster.

    Predictably, this was Mike’s favorite deck of the weekend. “There is nothing about that name I didn’t like,” says of the onetime Resident Genius.

    Would Nicol Bolas, the Ravager Improve Skred Dragons?

    Just as predictably, Patrick wonders if this straight red deck shouldn’t just be Grixis… Because of course he does.

    Wouldn’t Nicol Bolas, the Ravager be a welcome addition to any Dragons-centric strategy?

    He does have a good point. But of course you can’t add Nicol Bolas and stay mono-red. The question becomes why would you want to be mono-red?

    The incentives are Skred (need lots of Snow-Covered Mountains) and Blood Moon. How often would you prefer Skred on one mana to, say, Fatal Push? Fatal Push is better a lot of the time, and in particular against Death’s Shadow. Death’s Shadow, of course, made a mini-comeback this past weekend.

    Patrick does concede that you might just want to be a Blood Moon deck.

    The Best of the Rest…

    Sarkhan, Fireblood fronting a new archetype — that won the tournament, mind you — is the biggest news RE: M19 in Modern… But it’s not the only new card from Dominaria or M19 in Modern.

    Elvish Clancaller made a predictable debut in an Elves Overrun deck. A Crusade with upside, Elvish Clancaller is in particular synergistic with Collected Company for instant-speed buffs.

    Lyra Dawnbringer made numerous appearances in U/W or Jeskai Control decks… Sometimes with, sometimes in lieu of, Baneslayer Angel. What is interesting is that Baneslayer Angel is generally better than Lyra Dawnbringer (especially if Dragons are going to be a thing)… But the first Lyra Dawnbringer is better than the second Baneslayer Angel. Rawr.

    All your old favorites plus a brand new As Foretold deck are all one click away…

    Direct Download