We Adore This Colossus Hammer Deck

You don’t know what a Colossus Hammer is, you say? Let us help you out with that…

It’s Hammer Time!

More on Colossus Hammer in a second; but before we get to Modern and Pioneer [with Companions!] it’s probably worth mentioning Vintage, which is “in a kind of weird, unplayable state” might just feature the first banning of a card before it is actually printed:

To be fair, we did warn y’all that Lurrus of the Dream-Den Sure is Good with Black Lotus.

All Kinds of Companions in Modern and Pioneer!

  • Blinking Ice-Fang Coatl with Yorion, Sky Nomad [and wouldn’t Magic be more fun if all the decks were 80 card decks?]
  • Your standard* Uro / Urza deck, with Emry and Galvanic Blast [* where “standard” is actually Modern]
  • Seal of Fire just seems better than Burst Lighting in this 18-land Burn deck [that really only splashes white for Lurrus]
  • Why there really are no prohibitive costs in Modern
  • The card LITERALLY NO ONE should talk about in Modern [Weather the Storm]
  • Klothys, God of Destiny; Glorybringer; Bonecrusher Giant… All in a viable Modern deck? [aka “the good guy”]
  • … And so much more

But Our Favorite Deck is Colossus Hammer Beatdown!

Let’s start with Bogles; aka “Infect that’s great against Burn” according to Mike. While Patrick isn’t super happy with that description, the decks are often spoken about in relation to each other. Both are about playing small creatures with specialized abilities that specialize in putting a ton of pants on one of those creatures to win in a small number of attacks.

Infect is historically much more explosive, and a bit faster; but can be vulnerable to point removal.

Bogles, with mostly hexproof creatures, is far more resistant to removal, but less explosive than Infect. But Bogles is slower and — at least prior to the recent availability of Lurrus of the Dream-Den — could collapse like a house of cards if the one creature it drew was dealt with via discard or a Liliana activation.

But now we have Colossus Hammer!

What makes this deck so exciting?

  • Colossus Hammer plays actual good cards. Don’t forget: Stoneforge Mystic spent most of Modern on the Banned List
  • This deck can be as explosive as Infect. Kor Duelist + the Hammer itself is worth more than 20 damage
  • Though the Hammer is a permanent, this deck has some instant speed play. Sigarda’s Aid and Magnetic Theft can act as lethal “Giant Growth”-type cards.
  • It can defend its combo. Giver of Runes (or Spellskite in some versions) can keep your attacker alive to attack for lethal.
  • It’s ALSO an Infect deck. What’s better to give +10/+10 to than an Inkmoth Nexus?

Ready to pound the opponent for 20+ (or lethal Infect)? What are you waiting for?

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Underworld Breach Decks Break Modern AND Legacy!

Underworld Breach is already famous for its performance in Pioneer… But what it can do in Modern and especially Legacy is nothing short of format-snapping. Make that formats-snapping!

Underworld Breach + Grinding Station is a Hell of a “Plan A”

Here’s a version of the Underworld Breach / Grinding Station strategy by Patrick; based on a build advocated by Pascal Maynard:

You’ll notice that Maynard’s deck looks a lot like… “a real deck” with far less fancy than we might have looked at last week. The presence of cards like Teferi, Time Raveler can bounce hate cards like Leyline of the Void to help win through resistance.

Everything You’d Ever Wanted to Do with a Muddle the Mixture

One of the key additions of this build is Muddle the Mixture. 

Muddle the Mixture can get two mana spells like — you guessed it — Grinding Station OR Underworld Breach! This can help set up your combo… Or in a pinch, protect it.

But that’s not all!

Did you see the one-of Dance of the Manse?

Not just a Standard playmate to Doom Foretold any more, Dance of the Manse is a cool backup in this build. If your opponent has answered both your Grinding Station and Underworld Breach, searing up Dance of the Manse [with Muddle the Mixture] can get you back on track… All at once!

Some additional novel ways to win…

Breach, Galvanic Blast you three times… That’s twelve!

Cards like Galvanic Blast are cheap to re-buy with Underworld Breach (I guess, assuming you have enough red mana), and can kill the opponent the good old fashioned way, seemingly out of nowhere. How much did they Shock themselves with fetchlands? Don’t miss that angle of attack.

Hall of Heliod’s Generosity

Hall of Heliod’s Generosity is another weird way to win. More often you can force the opponent to have an answer to Underworld Breach over and over and over again… But in certain unusual games, you can deck the opponent if they don’t manage to kill you first. Again, make sure you know your ways to win! (Or in this case, kind of just not lose.)

Mystic Sanctuary

The one copy of Mystic Sanctuary is a cool little wrinkle as well. Not only can you re-find your solo Dance of the Manse (and maybe in a situation where you can actually make a team of giant 4/4 creatures!) but buying back that sideboard Timely Reinforcements is sure to ruin Mike’s day [you know, if you happen to be playing against him.]

Underworld Breach is Even More Broken in Legacy!

Brain Freeze largely replaces Grinding Station in this strategy.

While this deck can honestly still be optimized (probably via the addition of black mana for Infernal Tutor), the concept is very strong. Brain Freeze itself can get the deck moving… And it’s important to note that any subsequent Brain Freezes you play out of your graveyard will fire off Storm copies.

The ability to buy back Lion’s Eye Diamond for essentially no mana (but three cards) makes the Brain Freeze pairing truly outstanding… And the de-emphasis of Grinding Station for a card that can also kill the opponent makes the deck itself more streamlined.

There are a lot of possibilities still for Legacy Underworld Breach decks! And Patrick’s description of what is right around the corner has Mike ready to hang up his Basic Mountains in that format.

Get ready to share all this week’s excitement (and gear up for Modern Regionals) right now!

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All the Homes for Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger in Modern

Get Ready for Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger
from Theros Beyond Death

Kroxa in Traditional Jund

Michael Farrell won the recent Star City Classic with traditional Jund…

… with some notable Rakdos additions.

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger falls into the traditional Jund model of a card that can generate card advantage… But is also a threat. In a sense, it’s kind of like a Bloodbraid Elf!

… But Patrick points out that it kind of sucks to flip over Kroxa with you Bloodbraid Elf.

A terrible person of enormous focus…

-Mike, seeing Collective Brutality, Huntmaster of the Fells, and Kitchen Finks in the side

Kroxa in Death’s Shadow

  • MF: It’s weird that this deck doesn’t have Lightning Bolt.
  • PC: What does Lightning Bolt even kill… Other than Lightning Skelemental?

While this deck is cool, Mike can’t get off the fact that this deck has all these aggro elements — four copies of Lightning Skelemental, come on — but no Lightning Bolts.

It even has Hazoret, the Fervent in the sideboard!

This deck doesn’t quite know what it wants to be yet… At least according to Mike. On the other hand, it has sweet new technology, like Unearth backing Lightning Skelemental for mad haste, more damage, and a shocking amount of card advantage.

Kroxa in Brand New Black-Red

By contrast there is a sweet new Rakdos list that inherits many of the same principles of the Jund — and previous Mardu — decks in Modern.

Mike calls this 5-0 list from a recent Modern League “the deck of the week” and Patrick points out its inspired use of “the black Strategic Planning”, Ransack the Lab.

Good removal, great disruption, and more Unearthed Lightning Skelementals!

But Wait! There’s More!

This episode covers a wide range of Modern movement since the banning of key format Staples like Mycosynth Lattice and Oko, Thief of Crowns. The best of the rest:

  • The deck that is probably going to get Underworld Breach banned in Modern (and how to beat it)
  • The rise of Dryad of the Ilysian Grove in Primeval Titan decks
  • Stoneforge Mystic and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath together (with Blood Moon) for the first time
  • Scale Up in Infect
  • Finding Kess, Dissident Mage with Bring to Light
  • Turbo “Impossible to Cast” Spells
  • Novel ways to get Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play
  • … And THE BEST Once Upon a Time deck in Modern

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Once Upon a Time (and more!) in Modern

Once Upon a Time there was this sick card called Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time in Amulet Titan

The powerful Throne of Eldraine instant provides great stability to the explosive — but sometimes inconsistent — Amulet Titan deck.

This card can help set up a first-turn Sakura-Tribe Scout, find a particular land (say green source), or of course ensure that you have Primeval Titan as soon as you have the mana to play it.

But that’s not all from Throne of Eldraine! Castle Garenbrig makes an appearance here, and even comes into play tapped sometimes (to help net mana with Amulet of Vigor). Another recent addition [with the superpower of entering the battlefield tapped] is Field of the Dead.

Field of the Dead is a “one-card combo” in the land rich Amulet Titan deck, a powerful tool for long games.

Once Upon a Time in Selesnya

The “Devoted Devastation” version of Selesnya makes abusive use of Once Upon a Time to find the Devoted Druid + Vizier of Remedies infinite combo. The new instant is just one of many Tutors in this deck, though…

  • Eladamri’s Call
  • ‘Eldrich Evolution
  • Finale of Devastation
  • (and of course this card)

The deck can be fast.

That isn’t even the only Selesnya deck performing! In Selesnya Eldrazi Once Upon a Time teams up with Ancient Stirrings to assemble mana acceleration [lands] and ensure action.

Once Upon a Time can find Stoneforge Mystic, which is a big game for a deck with so much upside potential on the mana. Remember, Once Upon a Time can also help get you a first turn mana accelerator or Eldrazi Temple! Or one of the big guys later, of course.

The Best of the Rest

Urza Outcome versus Urza Ascendency: Fight!

Why would you want to cast Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Oh, and what (if anything) is getting emergency banned in Standard?

All that and more is one click away!

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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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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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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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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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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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