The Great Henge and Other Great Cards from Throne of Eldraine

The Great Henge

  • 7GG
  • Legendary Artifact
  • This spell costs {X} less to cast, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control.
  • {T}: Add {G}{G}. You gain 2 life.
  • Whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on it and draw a card.

How Cheap Does The Great Henge Have to Be Before You’re Into It?

This Legendary Artifact is clearly powerful.

It’s reminiscent of top end threats like The Immortal Sun… A big artifact that helps you out with mana and makes your guys bigger and draws you extra cards. But then again, it’s nine — nine — mana at retail cost. Luckily you can get it for less mana… If you do the work.

Mike thinks The Great Henge is “stupid” at four mana.

What if all you did was cast this card on turn three?

If you play Lovestruck Beast on turn three, you will have a five power creature in play already. That discounts The Great Henge from nine mana to four… Which is how much mana you will probably have the next turn!

Boom!

Now go ahead and tap for Good Game and run out something like this… With an extra +1/+1 counter, even!

Barkhide Troll is durable with one +1/+1 counter on it… But two?

The Henge gets really powerful in the middle turns, where you can use its mana production to Ramp, rather than just make a two drop. It’s not out of the question to lay out a 5/5 Questing Beast (or so) the turn The Great Henge hits the battlefield.

So Many Great Cards from Throne of Eldraine

  • We already thought Throne of Eldraine was pushing Adventure creatures… And then we met Brazen Borrower. Wow what a future teammate to Nightpack Ambusher!
  • We finally have the context to talk about Edgewall Inkeeper and Lucky Clover. Will Adventures-linear be a thing?
  • Who would have thought that in a set this big and flashy that a common Island would be the cross-format All-Star? Mystic Sanctuary could be a problem with, like, fetchlands; Crucible of Worlds; Cryptic Command… You know, all the cards Azorius Control decks already want to play in Modern.

Check it all out now!

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So Much Brewing With Throne of Eldraine

Nobody’s Making You Tap Castle Locthwain

Castle Locthwain is a nuanced, powerful, but not obvious new tool.

Castle Lochtwain is already splitting the community.

“It’s not that good,” say some. “You’re just going to take, like, eight damage.”

Well… Did you think maybe you’re supposed to take eight?

The reality is that you don’t have to tap it. It’s relatively low cost to get into your deck, but presents a lot of useful options.

  • If you’re in topdeck mode, Castle Locthwain from Throne of Eldraine is pretty great. You’re only going to take one and you’re going to dig past your opponent.
  • Some strategies — like Death’s Shadow — actually reward you for losing life. You’re welcome.
  • Subtly, this is a way you can generate card advantage — at the end of your opponent’s turn, no less — even if they’ve got Teferi, Time Raveler in play!
  • Whatever Esper! It’s probably just great in black-red decks.

Castle Vantress is an Expensive Way to Do It

Castle Vantress offers an ability we all want… But it kind of costs a ton.

Don’t expect this member of the Throne of Eldraine “castle” cycle to be super popular. “It could be okay to play one” says our beloved Pro Tour Champion, but it’s essentially five mana to not actually draw an extra card.

Probably effective in slow, grinding, matchups; though.

Castle Garenbrig is going to be a four-of

There are totally going to be decks with, like 17 Forests, 4 Castle Garenbrig.

Castle Garenbrig, on the other hand, is a super obvious contributor from Throne of Eldraine. Many decks are just going to play Forests and Castle Garenbrigs (say four copies)… Which will turn Castle Garenbrig into, essentially, a Forest.

… Except you’re going to be able to land Feasting Troll King (and its Food tokens!) a turn early.

This card is essentially an Ancient Tomb with no life loss drawback that also washes mana. Castle Garenbrig just looks great!

Will Castle Ardenvale be the Gem of Throne of Eldraine?

Compare Castle Ardenvale to…
Kjeldoran Outpost.

Castle Ardenvale is more-or-less just better than Kjeldoran Outpost. If you think back to the Outpost’s era, you either had a strategy to beat it… Or you lost to it.

Cards like this one are especially useful because they occupy “land” slots instead of “spell” slots. That means you can save space for other things, and win incidentally with an army of free 1/1 creatures.

Stomp // Bonecrusher Giant will be a cross-format All-Star

Stomp would be close to good enough by itself… But add on the Giant?

Stomp // Bonecrusher Giant is “clearly of the Top 5 cards in the set” according to Patrick.

We agree the card will be highly played in Standard. Michael, for instance, thinks it will immediately Top 8 a Star City Open the first week the card is legal.

On top of that, though, Patrick thinks the card will see play in not only Modern but Legacy and even Vintage! In Legacy, they already play all kinds of terrible red three drops, and this one has a removal spell tacked on. The needs in Vintage are quite specific, and this card does multiple things reasonably well.

There is too much Throne of Eldraine in this podcast to summarize here

  • The Magic Mirror…
  • Fae of Wishes…
  • Black Lance Paragon…

… Really, more brewing than you can even fit in The Cauldron of Eternity.

You’ll just have to listen to the podcast:

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Rosethorn Halberd from Throne of Eldraine

Rosethorn Halberd is our exclusive preview card from Throne of Eldraine

Rosethorn Halberd: It’s Like an Unholy Strength for G

Unholy Strength was a playable card in multiple Constructed formats past. Giving a single creature +2/+1 for B was solid in certain Suicide Black builds…

Now we have essentially the effect at G!

It’s important to remember Rosethorn Halberd is kind of an Unholy Strength with upside. The free equip makes the card very comparable to that age-old creature enchantment, but the fact that you can move it if you have five mana (or continue to reap value in a long game) is all on the bonus.

Rosethorn Halberd… Plus Shimmer Dragon?

Shimmer Dragon is a new card from Throne of Eldraine that has Mike’s creative juices flowing. It’s reminiscent of Mahamoti Djinn… But has multiple abilities that come online if you have artifacts in play.

In a sense, Rosethorn Halberd is just a cheap artifact. You can drop it before you play Shimmer Dragon. If you have enough [cheap] artifacts, you might be able to start Shimmer Dragon off with hexproof!

Further, the tapped-ness (or not) of Rosethorn Halberd is irrelevant. Ergo, you can use it to help draw cards if you have another artifact!

It also plays both ways! If you have Shimmer Dragon first, you can just play Rosethorn Halberd, get the free equip, and end up with an even bigger Dragon. At the same time… Everything else still applies. You just get a quicker clock.

Rosethorn Halberd is Reminiscent of Rancor

Though Rosethorn Halberd is very reminiscent of Unholy Strength, there is a lot of Rancor to it, as well. Unlike Unholy Strength, Rancor has some grind and long game to it… Just like this artifact that doesn’t go anywhere if its creature teammate dies.

Rosethorn Halberd even has a little upside relative to Rancor! If you were to cast Rancor and the opponent removed the target creature in response, Rancor would go to the graveyard. If your intended creature is destroyed before Rosethorn Halberd can buff it, you get to keep Rosethorn Halberd. The next equip might be painful… but you won’t lose the card.

There are lots of tricky things you can do with this card, from receiving the ministrations of an Animating Faerie (Bring to Life), to buffing the same Faerie in another order!

But Patrick thinks its best contribution will be in green aggressive decks.

Let me introduce you to Barkhide Troll or Wildborn Preserver.

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Wildborn Preserver in Simic Flash

Wildborn Preserver

Wildborn Preserver is a home run!

On its face, Wildborn Preserver “isn’t too far off” …

A 2/2 Flash creature for 1G isn’t the greatest on its face… But it’s still pretty good. This card can come down on turn two to mug the opponent’s Healer’s Hawk.

Boom! Simian Grunts card advantage!

Of course it is a great compliment to — and just another fast drop for — the Simic Flash deck. You can play mostly on the opponent’s end step, leaving up mana for permission, or creatures like this one, obviously.

Given its Flash and low cost, this card is a great two mana teammate to Brineborn Cutthroat. Interestingly enough, it almost doesn’t matter which you play first: They buff each other!

Wildborn Preserver has great synergy with Nightpack Ambusher

Playing a fast Wildborn Preserver [whether or not you mug the opponent’s one drop] is potentially good on its own. But the card gets ca-razy once you add centerpiece Nightpack Ambusher to the mix.

Nightpack Ambusher is a creature itself (giving you the opportunity to buff the Preserver). But more importantly, it spits out more and more Wolf creature tokens in future turns. Importantly for specifically this card, it just matters that you make creatures… It doesn’t care if they’re Elves, Wolves, tokens, or anything else specifically.

Therefore you can make a 2/2 (really 3/3) Wolf creature token and tap a little mana to buff the Wildborn Preserver. You can always leave up 1UU for your permission spell… Or not, if you don’t think the opponent will have a play. It won’t take long for your 2/2 to grow up into a 10/10.

Wildborn Preserver isn’t the only great creature, or green creature we talk about this week…

Michael and Patrick are initially split on Questing Beast.

They are not, however, split on the unmitigated beatdown that will be Feasting Troll King. Wow is that card great.

Both play offense-defense, and both are aggressively costed. Not a bad time to be a green creature…

More in the podcast:

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Garruk, Cursed Huntsman and Our First Looks at Throne of Eldraine

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman looks to be “the big card” of the new set.

Elspeth is back… Just in Garruk’s body

A few years back, months before we knew the word “Abzan” (and fell in love with Siege Rhino) Patrick won Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx with Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.

Like Garruk, Cursed Huntsman, Elspeth had three abilities: One made token creatures to attack or defend; the “minus” could destroy a creature or some creatures with value; and her third ability gave a buff to all her friends.

Both Planeswalkers cost six mana.

Heck of an act to follow… But with these abilities? Garruk looks to be up to the task.

[0]: Create two 2/2 black and green Wolf creature tokens with “When this creature dies, put a loyalty counter on each Garruk you control.”

This sure is an interesting [0] ability!

Unlike most Planeswalkers Garruk, Cursed Huntsman can’t add loyalty naturally. Outside of a proliferate synergy or Ajani piggyback, Garruk will rely on his Wolf sidekicks to gain loyalty.

What should the opponent do when Garruk makes two Wolves? Attacking into them will put Garruk in position for the [-6] immediately! They’re tough to block, if you’re going to respect that eventuality, as well.

Not for nothing: If other Garruk Planeswalkers are legal in the format, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman will be able to make them that much better.

[-3]: Destroy target creature. Draw a card.

This second ability is just awesome.

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman can come down; whack the opponent’s best creature, and leave a two loyalty Planeswalker. This is essentially a three-for-one!

[-6]: You get an emblem with “Creatures you control get +3/+3 and have trample.”

This emblem is basically a persistent Overrun. Imagine Garruk lives. All your future Wolves will be 5/5 trample creatures!

In the alternative, you should have access to 6+ mana. Surely you can do something interesting with that (and your hot new emblem).

Throne of Eldraine is hot and hilarious already! We go over all the new mechanics, and many other cards in this week’s podcast. Give us a listen now!

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Get Ready for Stoneforge Mystic

This week, Ian Duke announced many, many changes to the Banned & Restricted lists. Three tournament-competitive formats all had their B&R lists changed simultaneously:

Standard:

  • Rampaging Ferocidon: unbanned

Modern:

Vintage:

  • Karn, the Great Creator: restricted.
  • Mystic Forge: restricted.
  • Mental Misstep: restricted
  • Golgari Grave-Troll: restricted
  • Fastbond: unrestricted.

Rampaging Ferocidon is back in Standard!

Rampaging Ferocidon

The second-best red 3/3 for three may be the first un-ban in Standard history!

If you don’t remember it, the Ixalan dinosaur had an extraordinarily short initial career in Standard; was banned; and now has only a few weeks to play before rotation. We speculate there are two reasons for this:

  1. It’s a great foil to Field of the Dead strategies. This card really punishes decks that want to put a lot of creatures in play [at the same time], and can exploit a lead you’ve already got. And of course…
  2. “This is a silly, silly card to be banned.” -Patrick

To the surprise of no one, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Faithless Looting got banned

Hogaak’s performance in Modern since its [very recent] printing in Modern Horizons has been spectacular. In three Grand Prix events in August, Hogaak…

  • Dominated! Hogaak took 5/8 of the Top 8, with the win
  • Regressed to “only” 3/8 of the Top 8, with “only” second place as its top performance
  • Once again owned 5/8 of the Top 8 with the second place mage from the last Grand Prix jumping to first.

Wow!

This creature (and sidekick Faithless Looting) both more than deserved their forcible ejections from Modern. This card was not only a four-of alongside Hogaak basically everywhere Hogaak performed, it was a four-of in Dredge, Izzet Phoenix, and even some Mono-Red Aggro decks!

Patrick’s hot take? Dredge will remain Tier One.

The “good” news? Hogaak will live on in Legacy.

Speaking of which…

Stoneforge Mystic is poised to be the Next Big Thing in Modern

Stoneforge Mystic

Michael and Patrick speculate wildly about what will happen given the premiere of one of Legacy’s proudest two-drops in Modern…

  • Will we see the emergence of a Modern Caw-Blade? Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are like peanut butter and chocolate
  • How about a “Tom Martell”-style U/W? More controlling with Lingering Souls?
  • Can Stoneforge Mystic take the Goblin Engineer role next to Urza, Lord High Artificer? A Sword of the Meek is still a Sword!
  • Which Sword should Stoneforge Mystic find? Patrick makes the case for Sword of Feast and Famine… Alongside Tasigur, the Golden Fang (Esper)
  • How about Manriki-Gusari? Talk about a way to win the mirror!

Vintage and More!

What are you waiting for? Give “Get Ready for Stoneforge Mystic” a listen now!

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Combo off with Kethis, the Hidden Hand

Meet Kethis, the Hidden Hand

Kethis, the Hidden Hand is the center of Standar’s most exciting strategy
  • Effect of Card: Legendary spells you cast cost (1) less to cast. Exile two legendary cards from your graveyard: Until end of turn, each legendary card in your graveyard gains “You may play this card from your graveyard.”
  • Converted Mana Cost: 3
  • Type: Legendary Creature – Elf Advisor
  • Sets: Core Set 2020

Okay… There is a ton to unpack here. Kethis, the Hidden Hand is, first and foremost, a nice creature. For three mana (albeit of three different colors) it provides a 3/4 body. Not insane by itself, but no slouch, and more than big enough to defend the battlefield while you’re setting the game up.

More importantly come the Hidden Hand’s two lines of text:

  1. The first makes Legendary spells — including not only creatures by Planeswalkers and big endgame stuff like Urza’s Ruinous Blast cheaper.
  2. The second is a kind of card drawing engine, provided you have sufficient Legendary cards and a way to stock your graveyard.

Diligent Excavator + Kethis, the Hidden Hand

By itself, Kethis, the Hidden Hand might have been able to drive a serviceable midrange deck. After all, its power and toughness are full-on “okay” for its casting cost, and if you have enough Legendary cards… It can do some good grinding.

But combined with Diligent Excavator and Mox Amber, this Elf Advisor can weave some legen — wait for it — dary game states.

Diligent Excavator sets up Kethis.

Unassuming in the abstract, Diligent Excavator makes for an extremely cost-efficient source of self-Mill. If you have this card in play, you can Mill yourself for zero — zero mana — using a [Legendary] Mox Amber. Go ahead and tap that Mox for a mana.

When you play another one, you will not only Mill yourself again, but the Legend Rule will put your original Mox Amber into the graveyard; you know, where you can cast it again using the Hidden Hand’s shenanigans.

Between these cards and a discount on Oath of Kaya, the Standard Kethis Combo deck can play for a Storm-like recurring Fireball plan, grind the opponent out with card advantage, or mold a plan to the other mage’s specific configuration.

Sure, there are ways to nerf the graveyard, but this deck plays Teferi, Time Raveler to bounce a Leyline of the Void, and conventional disruption like Duress is a little blunted (most of the combo pieces being creatures); as is creature removal (stuff like Cast Down is rather poor against all the Legends).

In sum: Awesome!

Stay Tuned for…

The best of the rest. We talk everything from Grixis Control to innovations in Golos for Field of the Dead. Standard is so dynamic nowadays! Enjoy!

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What Makes Bomberman Our Favorite Legacy Deck?

Modern Horizons in… Legacy?

Modern Horizons didn’t stop at just terraforming, you know, the Modern landscape with its Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis decks. Legacy is just staring to feel the impacts of this powerful new set.

Wrenn and Six is an amazing addition to Temur Delver. You thought Wrenn and Six plus Wooded Foothills was cute? Try Wrenn and Six plus Wasteland.

Wasteland

Wasteland puts itself into the graveyard, which is convenient for Wrenn and Six card advantage.

If you have these two cards working, the opponent will have to draw a land a turn just to keep pace. But of course an opponent who is drawing land every turn is kind of likely to fall behind, anyway. This new combo makes Temur Delver and Lands more powerful than ever.

What kind of world do we live in where there is an all-new Mono-Blue Urza, Lord High Artificer deck and it doesn’t come close to being our favorite.

Meet Bomberman.

Key Bomberman Combinations

Auriok Salvagers and Lion’s Eye Diamond make infinite mana.

With Auriok Salvagers on the battlefield you can play Lion’s Eye Diamond and sacrifice it for WWW.

1W of that WWW is used to retrieve the Lion’s Eye Diamond from the graveyard, netting the Bomberman one mana. You can do this over and over again, making any amount of mana.

So what do you do with all that white?

Walking Ballista
A Walking Ballista of literally any size is at Bomberman’s fingertips.
Monastery Mentor
How do you feel about any number of 1/1 Monk tokens… And any number of prowess triggers?

Bomberman can do this super quick, too!

Imagine this were your opening hand:

  1. City of Traitors
  2. Mox Opal
  3. Lotus Petal
  4. Lion’s Eye Diamond
  5. Auriok Salvagers
  6. [something]
  7. [something else]

You can play out City of Traitors, Mox Opal, Lotus Petal, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. The latter three cards (in total) give you metalcraft, allowing you to cast the Auriok Salvagers by sacrificing the Lotus Petal. So yeah, the Mox is “off” for at least a second, and Lotus Petal is gone to the graveyard.

But hey! You have an Auriok Salvagers. Now just sacrifice the Lion’s Eye Diamond and go off for infinite mana like we discussed, above. You’ll have to discard your last two cards, but if one is a Walking Ballista, no problem! You can get that back. Even a simple Mishra’s Bauble can draw you a lot of your deck, provided you piggyback off of the preceding infinite mana engine.

But yeah. First turn infinite mana. AND numerous backup plans.

Hear all about the recent developments in Legacy here:

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Why Leyline of the Void is the Most Popular Card in Modern

Leyline of the Void

Leyline of the Void was the most played card of Mythic Championship IV

Many decks played four copies of Leyline of the Void… Even if they couldn’t normally tap for black mana.

The winning “Mono-Green” Tron deck only has basic Forest for color-producing lands… But still ran the full play set. On the one hand, it can actually cast Leyline with Chromatic Star and Chromatic Sphere… On the other hand, “Plan A” is to drop the Leyline for free on turn zero.

There is some risk to the potential reward to playing a card you can’t cast… But there was a big enough problem at Mythic Championship IV to warrant so many.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Hogaak is a Real Problem in Modern

Almost immediately after it was printed, we asked if Hogaak should be banned.

With a Mythic Championship in the books… We’re even more certain!

There was only one Hogaak deck in the Top 8, but the card / deck(s) / strategy did remarkably well anyway. “Hogaak” was the most popular pure archetype in the tournament (at about twice the popularity of Izzet Phoenix)… And “Hogaak Dredge” was essentially the top performer on Modern record. (Remember: mixed format Mythic Championship Top 8s are heavily influenced by Limited records).

Of all the decks that went 8-2 or better, more than half played the Modern Horizons monster! More than half!

It’s crazy to think, but Hogaak was a top performer even with Leyline of the Void as the most popular card in the tournament… And that doesn’t even consider the popularity of alternatives like Nihil Spellbomb, Tormod’s Crypt, or Surgical Extraction.

The heavy anti-graveyard attitude of this Modern tournament looks to have been instrumental in holding down the former best archetype. It used to be industry standard to bring in Rest in Peace against Phoenix. Now folks have all four Leyline of the Voids… and might have two or three main deck!

The combination of open deck lists and so many anti-graveyard hate cards — not to mention the London Mulligan — made for some unusual incentives.

And again… Hogaak still performed great.

Where Does Modern Go from Here?

We predict “Tree of Tales”-level bannings. Tree of Tales never hurt anyone; all it ever did was cast the Oxidize that helped contain the Affinity menace… But Tree of Tales was close enough to the actual villains of the format that it got swept up in the bans.

So who should get the veritable Lightning Axe?

Faithless Looting – Is this card the real problem? It’s not just played in Hogaak and Hogaak Dredge, but Izzet Phoenix, Mono-Red Phoenix, and more.

Ancient Stirrings – If you’re going to ban Faithless Looting, it’s tough to justify keeping Ancient Stirrings… Especially given the winner of this Mythic Championship. Alongside the London Mulligan, Ancient Stirrings makes assembling turn three Tron just a little too consistent.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis – Hogaak itself, because we fear that just cutting Faithless Looting wouldn’t be enough!

… Izzet Phoenix would be a key winner with such changes; but this might just be setting up a domination of Urza-Thopter-Sword. Is the answer Mox Opal?

Lots to unpack this week.

We hit on Jund, Phoenix variants, and how much of a problem Wrenn and Six will be. Check it out!

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All the Ways to Play (and beat) Field of the Dead

Field of the Dead from Core Set 2020 defines the best decks in Standard

Scapeshift into Field of the Dead

Scapeshift is a longtime combo enabler. In Modern, it is liable to stack so many triggers from Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle some players have broken the sixty card rule just to cram more Mountains into their decks.

Some enterprising beatdown mages have cast Scapeshift with Steppe Lynx in play to get a ton of short-term buffs. Short, maybe; but you don’t need that many +2/+2 triggers if you’re just going to kill the other guy RIGHT NOW THIS TURN.

Now in Standard with Core Set 2020, Scapeshift combines with Field of the Dead to make a ton of 2/2 Zombie tokens. With any seven lands you can reliably Scapeshift into a two-turn clock. With eight you can get two copies of Field of the Dead and produce over thirty power!

Field of the Dead: Plan B

If for some reason your opponent neutralizes your Scapeshifts (maybe with an Unmoored Ego) you aren’t dead-dead.

I mean, they probably should have named “Field of the Dead” … But that doesn’t work so well if you already played a Field of the Dead. In this case, at some point (provided you have the minimum number of different lands in play) you can make a 2/2 Zombie every turn.

That might not be the best-sounding plan, but the Scapeshift deck is not apt to run out of lands any time soon. It’s real card advantage, and might be inevitable. Otherwise? Leverage your lands into Hydroid Krasis and cross your fingers.

Some Great Ways to Beat Field of the Dead

If no one is allowed to update their decks, Scapeshift with Field of the Dead is the best deck in the format by a wide margin; Bant Scapeshift in particular. There are other viable Scapeshift decks, but Bant’s ability to combo off at the end of the opponent’s turn (or just guarantee that Scapeshift resolves) with Teferi, Time Raveler puts it ahead of other aspiring lists.

But… We are allowed to update our lists! Here are some ideas for how to best Scapeshift (and where to play them):

  • Deputy of Detention – If you’re looking to play White Weenie, we recommend splashing blue for Deputy of Detention instead of red (or no second color). This card deals with as many 2/2 Zombies… As the opponent has on the battlefield.
  • Unmoored Ego – If you can resolve this card before the opponent successfully casts Scapeshift you can prevent the combo kill. If you can cast it and name Field of the Dead itself (instead of Scapeshift), the opponent will be in a truly desperate situation.
  • Ashiok, Dream Render – Our favorite answer! Ashiok prevents the opponent from successfully using Circuitous Route and its cousins to get ahead on resources (let alone a game-winning Scapeshift).
  • Simic Nexus – The Wilderness Reclamation strategy is just faster than Scapeshift. If you’re behind the 2/2 Zombie tokens, you can always Root Snare to buy more time.

Tons more in the podcast proper! Give “All the Ways to Play (and beat) Field of the Dead” now!

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