Madcap Experiment: Too Good in Modern?

Madcap Experiment
Madcap Experiment is “Treasure Cruise” good. -Patrick

Kaladesh looks like it’s going to be great for Modern. There will be fair, regular, good cards like Smuggler’s Copter and there will be new enablers like Cathartic Reunion. But nothing is exciting the boys at Top Level Podcast like Madcap Experiment.

Madcap Experiment is like a Tinker for one more mana… But that does not require you to sacrifice an artifact.

The problem, of course, is that when you turn over all of those cards… Ouch! You don’t want to turn over too many, or you’re going to get dead… Unless the artifact you reveal is Platinum Emperion.

When Platinum Emperion is on the battlefield, your life total can’t move… Including as a penalty by Madcap Experiment! This is a one-card combo that both protects your life total and gives you a powerful way to win the game. Consider…

  • This is “just” an 8/8 creature for four mana. Madcap Experiment into Platinum Emperion is the best Hunted Wumpus ever! Instead of a 6/6 creature with a drawback, it’s +2/+2 bigger and has a bonus!
  • Madcap Experiment only has a single R in the top-right corner. This card is not only eminently splashable but it is an easy sideboard transformation. You can devote as few as six slots (four copies of Madcap Experiment and two copies of Platinum Emperion) and end up with a very serviceable pivot.
  • It’s really tough to make progress against this combo. Dismember just doesn’t do enough. Decks like Affinity will have trouble in Game One.
  • This isn’t a “combo” that wins the game immediately, it is simple to assemble, super cheap, and gives you a lightning quick way to kill the opponent.

Too good?

While Madcap Experiment takes center stage in this podcast, Michael J. Flores and Pro Tour Champion Patrick Chapin go over 1:51 this week, hitting all manner of Modern cards (not the least of which is another infinite combo kill you can pull off on the third turn, plus an avenue to infinite mana!)

Find out more here:

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Toolcraft Exemplar is a Cross-Format All-Star

Toolcraft Exemplar
Kaladesh is going to make Magic fast again…
And Toolcraft Exemplar will be one of the best, and fastest (and not just in Standard).

Will Dead Weight be better than Ruinous Path?

If Patrick’s vision for the Kaladesh-upcoming Standard comes true, it will be!

Toolcraft Exemplar is an obvious addition to a potential White Weenie deck, for instance. If all you do is play Thraben Inspector Toolcraft Exemplar will be a one drop 3/2 on offense. Given the low threshold necessary to get the bonus, Toolcraft Exemplar might be better than Wild Nacatl! Wild Nacatl is a Pro Tour winner and currently tearing up Modern, remember.

Now adding Toolcraft Exemplar to White Weenie is obvious because of the Clue token synergy… But what about Smuggler’s Copter?

Smuggler's Copter
Smuggler’s Copter… Better than all?

Patrick has Smuggler’s Copter as his current top card for Kaladesh; it is an obvious addition to fast beatdown decks like White Weenie… And quite obviously gives you an artifact for your Toolcraft Exemplar.

The learning curve on some of the new Kaladesh cards will be steep!

Smuggler’s Copter is a fast, flying, threat… That is also a Merfolk Looter. This isn’t an ability to be dismissed given the prevalence of the Madness mechanic in the previous block.

But as for having more than one (sorry more than two) artifacts in play… the Exemplar will prove problematic. The first strike isn’t going to matter in a lot of games, until it does. This Dwarf Artificer is going to mess some folks up when they block lazily.

These are two great cards, that will serve great beatdowns (and soon).

More preliminary Kaladesh discussion here:

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Voltaic Brawler and Building Energy Aggro

Voltaic Brawler
Voltaic Brawler will be the centerpiece of a new G/R Energy Aggro deck.

Voltaic Brawler is an outstanding card. Even if Energy Aggro isn’t a thing — just a Gruul aggro deck of some sort — it will likely see play. There will likely be decks where Voltaic Brawler is the only Energy card.

Voltaic Brawler is great when it is working right, due to the nature of the Energy mechanic. For example, you can lead on a second turn Longtusk Cub follow up with Voltaic Brawler, and either put (or threaten to put) counters on the Longtusk Cub to force it through a 2/2 blocker. It can stack with other Energy cards like Lathnu Hellion, or even take advantage of turn one via Attune with Aether.

But that’s not all!

Voltaic Brawler has a sweet fail state (or two, depending on how you look at it)…
You can get in for four, get in for four again, and be left with a card that is on the order of Lambholt Pacifist (which just won both the Pro Tour and World Championship).

“It’s better than Putrid Leech.”

Patrick outlines how Harnessed Lightning will play like Valorous Stance, and Mike points out how seamlessly accurate it will be relative to historical burn cards.

Top Level Podcast also goes over Energy Ramp, B/G Energy Midrange, and intersections between the energy mechanic, and even Emrakul!

All this and more in this week’s podcast!

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Combustible Gearhulk is Our Exclusive Kaladesh Preview

Combustible Gearhulk
Combustible Gearhulk completes the Kaladesh Gearhulk Cycle

Okay, quick list:

  • Combustible Gearhlulk is a 6/6 creature for six mana… But has a “Browbeat” type ability attached
  • Will opponents consistently let you draw three cards? I mean if you can get that, you have accomplished much, because a 6/6 first striking Ancestral Recall for six mana is spectacular.
  • We think opponents might give you three cards more often than you might initially think. Many opponents will live in fear of the idea that there are three Combustible Gearhulks waiting on top of your library.

Context and Synergies:

  • If you can stack the top of your library, this card gets better and better; imagine a format where Congregation at Dawn is legal: You can put Combustible Gearhulk on top of your deck with, say, Emrakul and Ulamog… Congregation at Dawn itself becomes a conditional Draco-Explosion!
  • Combustible Gearhulk is best buddies with Saheeli Rai: Not only is Combustible Gearhulk a great card to nab with Saheeli’s Ultimate, a post-Gearhulk Saheeli makes for a great use of her middle ability.
  • When you’re not actively trying, Combustible Gearhulk is still pretty good; however, remember that even Ramp decks with high casting costs need both cheap Ramp cards and [zero mana] lands to get their big spells out. Will you do ten sometimes? Yes. And you’ll do less than that, often, too.
  • As long as we care about what the top of our libraries cost, Sorin, Grim Nemesis can provide a useful redundancy.

And for kicks, Patrick and Michael talk the other four Gearhulks (and more!) in “Combustible Gearhulk is Our Exclusive Kaladesh Preview”

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The Planeswalkers of Kaladesh

The new set Kaladesh is bringing in some awesome new Planeswalkers.

Isn’t that right Director of Magic R&D Aaron Forsythe?

Well… No.

Those were quite the Nissa and quite the Chandra we were looking for, Aaron. Luckily Kaladesh has got some other options.

Let’s check out the new Planeswalker Nissa, Vital Force:

Nissa, Vital Force

[+1]: Untap target land you control. Until your next turn, it becomes a 5/5 Elemental creature with haste. It’s still a land.

This first ability has amazing implications.

First of all, Nissa, Vital Force is more than 80% of a Reality Smasher. Five mana; five power of haste. Sign me up?

You aren’t forced to attack with the animated Elemental land, of course. You can leave up a 5/5 to block; or if you untap a red land, use it to remove one of the opponent’s threats. In either case, you can protect this Planeswalker.

Nissa, Vital Force’s [+1] is a useful ramp ability (she takes you from five to seven)… But really this is about going straight to six loyalty to get her emblem.

[-3]: Return target permanent card from your graveyard to your hand.

Niss’a [-3] is great; in fact, Patirck points out that there is some Den Protector going on here. But the [+1] straight to [-6] is such a powerful incentive, look for this ability to be used less commonly than it might have been in other contexts.

[-6]: You get an emblem with “Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may draw a card.”

This is a shockingly potent Ultimate given how easy it is to set up.

Consensus: This Planeswalker will be both a Staple and a Flagship.

Saheeli Rai

Saheeli has the worst fatal flaw of Planeswalkers (can’t defend herself), but as a three mana one, has something special going on.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance

The comparisons to Jace, the Mind Sculptor are probably by design.

With the least of her abilities, Chandra produces mana more efficiently than Hedron Archive.

More about all the Kaladesh Planesalkers in “The Planeswalkers of Kaladesh”:

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Is Wild Nacatl a Great Choice for Naya Burn?

Wild Nacatl
The jury is still out on Wild Nacatl in Modern Naya Burn… But for now it is the accepted take.

So… Is Wild Nacatl where Naya Burn players should be at for Modern?

Consider Brandon Burton’s GP-winning list from Grand Prix Indianapolis:

Naya Burn – 1st Place Grand Prix Indianapolis, by Brandon Burton

4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
1 Grim Lavamancer
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Wild Nacatl

4 Lava Spike
3 Rift Bolt
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
4 Atarka’s Command
4 Boros Charm

3 Arid Mesa
4 Bloodstained Mire
2 Copperline Gorge
2 Mountain
3 Sacred Foundry
2 Stomping Ground
4 Wooded Foothills

2 Deflecting Palm
3 Destructive Revelry
3 Kor Firewalker
1 Lightning Helix
4 Path to Exile
2 Skullcrack

Mana base aside, this deck is only four cards off of the PPTQ-winning deck Mike played just a few weekends ago. But the four cards different are the one mana kitty cats in question.

Patrick thinks the addition of Wild Nacatl — brining the creature count up to seventeen — might push Naya Burn from “The Lava Spike Deck” to “Red Aggro” … These are two different macro archetypes entirely from the perspective of Next Level Deck Building.

The difference in Modern is not trivial. When you are more purely a burn deck, mid-range opponents like Abzan and Jund are pretty easy to manage; but when you add Wild Nacatl, you can be fighting legit green creature decks on an axis where they are generally superior. On the other hand, Wild Nacatl — especially unopposed, especially on the first turn — “is like a Lava Spike every turn” (which is kinda sorta exactly what the deck wants to accomplish).

Not trivial.

Not trivial in the least.


The more interesting creature addition (from Mike’s perspective at least) is Kor Firewalker out of the sideboard. Mike calls this “bringing a gun to a knife fight” and believes that if Kor Firewalker becomes the accepted tech for Naya Burn, all Naya Burn players have to start respecting it or they will fall behind in mirror match sideboard games. Kor Firewalker itself is an interesting card to play, being WW in a deck with Copperline Gorge, basic Mountain, and only twenty lands. Still, quite a breaker if you expect Naya Burn and Suicide Zoo.

Speaking of Suicide Zoo…

Suicide Zoo – 3d place GP Guangzhou, by Lim Zhong Yi

4 Death’s Shadow
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Street Wraith
2 Steppe Lynx
1 Tarmogoyf

4 Gitaxian Probe
3 Thoughtseize
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Temur Battle Rage
3 Become Immense
2 Lightning Bolt
4 Mishra’s Bauble

4 Windswept Heath
4 Bloodstained Mire
2 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Arid Mesa
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
1 Blood Crypt
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Godless Shrine

1 Forest
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Traverse the Ulvenwald
2 Hooting Mandrills
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Stony Silence
1 Pyroclasm
2 Path to Exile
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Dismember

Patrick makes an interesting observation about this deck. It has relatively few cards “you would actually spend mana on” and an effective average casting cost of below 1.

Yi’s version, with Traverse the Ulvenwald in the sideboard, can do some interesting things… Like find that basic Forest, or double up the ability to hit Ranger of Eos (without having to play a second copy of Ranger of Eos). Patrick and Mike both think Ranger of Eos is a perpetually underplayed card; in this deck it can get a hasty Monastery Swiftspear, or multiple Death’s Shadows. If all it does is find two copies of Wild Nacatl, Ranger of Eos is already a more mana efficient Broodmate Dragon (nine power over six mana instead of eight power over six mana, and starting up two turns faster).

Jund — one of the most popular Modern archetypes — had many different takes over three gigantic Grand Prix last weekend. One of the most interesting ones was in the hands of Hall of Famer Raph Levy:

Jund – Top 64 Grand Prix Lille, by Raphael Levy

4 Liliana of the Veil

4 Dark Confidant
1 Grim Lavamancer
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
4 Tarmogoyf

1 Dreadbore
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Thoughtseize
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Slaughter Pact
4 Terminate
4 Blood Moon

4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
3 Bloodstained Mire
1 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
4 Swamp
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wooded Foothills

1 Thoughtseize
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Spellskite
1 Thragtusk
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Damnation
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Collective Brutality
2 Shatterstorm
1 Rakdos Charm

Blood Moon?

Is that four copies of Blood Moon? And main deck?

“Why should anyone be allowed to do anything?” Sure, sometimes Blood Moon messes up Jund; but there are spots where it will mess the opponent up even worse.

“Is Wild Nacatl a Great Choice for Naya Burn?” covers much, much more than a couple of green Modern decks, from the control side of Grixis and the various brands of Azorius; all the way to the mindset of a Hate Bears player. What is the Hate Bears Plan A, anyway?

All your questions will be answered in “Is Wild Nacatl a Great Choice for Naya Burn?”

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