Reason: It has just been so warping in Standard (and other formats) essentially from the moment it appeared.
… But with Omnath join Uro?
We think so.
Among other reasons, banning Uro does very little to curb the dominance Omnath has already shown in Standard. Few decks play a full load of Cultivates and Beanstalk Giants. If all you did was cut Uro, making room for other three mana ramp cards might arguably make them more consistent at producing Omnath!
Uro might get an extra land into play, but it’s not great at fixing colors.
The Kitchen Sink
While Omnath is dominating a lot of Magic: The Gathering conversations right now, we did have a little time to go over how badly Mike missed on Sea Gate Restoration, some Pioneer talk, the newest Craterhoof Behemoth implementation, and even the hot new Modern tech!
Modal Double-Faced Topic #1: The 2020 Mythic Invitational!
Part One is a quick-ish review of the 2020 Mythic Invitational / Top 8 decks.
No doubt this tournament was stacked with DIs and absolute masters.
Spoiler! Our favorite deck from a Historic Top 8 that was largely Standard decks with one or two overpowered additions:
Mono-Black Gift played by Matt Nass
Part Two is a longer explorations of… You guessed it! Some more standouts from the still-emerging Zendikar Rising. Cards like…
The Two Sides of Valakut Exploration
Valakut Exploration as an Outpost Siege – In some ways, this card is a faster source of incremental card advantage. A little Outpost Siege, a wee bit Experimental Frenzy or one of the many card-drawing editions of Chandra… Valakut Exploration comes down a turn earlier and can give you some extra card oomph.
Valakut Exploration in Gruul Ramp – How about playing this card with Radha, Heart of Keld or Dyrad of Ilsyan Grove? The ability to draw extra cards and play extra lands — gaining extra advantages from either side — may make this three mana enchantment a main-deck option.
How to Think About Kazandu Mammoth
Kazandu Mammoth is arguably… Just a little bit better than our preview card, Murasa Brute. Sure, it’s not a Warrior, but this Elephant has options before you play it, and extra punching power after.
Is Kazandu Mammoth a kind of Woolly Thoctar with cycling?
Patrick thinks of this card, somewhat as one with Forestcycling 1? You can certainly “pay” G [by putting Kazandu Valley into play tapped] to “get” a “Forest”.
Michael likes it on the battlefield (unsurprising). Sometimes it dies to any old deal three; others it hits for nine.
Legitimately Exciting is… Swarm Shambler!
While this card is probably not good enough for your Gruul Ramp deck… It’s more than good enough for your Gruul beatdown deck, your Selesnya beatdown deck, or as a mirror-breaker for Mono-Green.
The synergies with Hardened Scales in larger formats are obvious. It’s going to be great with any kind of a Winding Constrictor; Standard just happens to have one, and a persistent source of +1/+1 counters to boot.
Not quite a Scavenging Ooze, maybe; but what can you really ask for from your one-drop?
What if Murasa Sproutling Were Actually Good?
Using a Murasa Sproutling to pick up another Murasa Sproutling is kind of a chain in and of itself.
The question is if Standard will be a place where 3/3 creatures for three are good enough; or certainly 3/3 creatures for five (no matter what advantages they generate).
There are certainly kicker-matters things that we want to try. Roost of Drakes is up there. Tajuru Paragon even more. Though Patrick really has to explain Sea Gate Stormcaller to his co-host.
This plus Into the Roil now? If you’ve got nine mana to burn, the other player is in trouble!
Just imagine all that were going to be good enough!
Is Murasa Brute “just” a 3/3 vanilla for three mana? With no rules text?
Patrick argues that that doesn’t just cover what’s really going on with this card… There is actually some hidden rules text!
First off, Murasa Brute is a little bit better than onetime tournament Role Player Gnarled Mass (a card Mike was once famous for advocating). But unlike Gnarled Mass at 1GG… Murasa Brute is a little less restrictive to cast.
But besides that, it’s also a Troll Warrior.
With Zendikar Rising, being a Warrior can help you out in building your Party. So you might just have a little more incentive to consider a creature like this one.
Now that said…
Tajuru Paragon can Help You Fill Your Party
Tajuru Paragon is a three power creature for only two mana. A 3/2 for two (with a lot of potential types), this card has a heck of a fail state.
It can help get your beat on early… While filling any slot in your Party. In addition, a late game Paragon can dig up other Clerics, Rogues, Warriors… Or Wizards.
What about nabbing a Fae of Wishes or Gadwick, the Wizened?
Snowballing card advantage is quite a possibility!
Maybe he’s friends with Red Decks; enabling Wizard’s Lightning or buddying up with a Rogue like Robber of the Rich.
What Makes Alpine Houndmaster Worth Talking About?
Alpine Houndmaster would certainly be an odd “best card in the set” if in fact it ended up the best card in the set. But this one is kind of like an Ancestral Recall.
You play the Alpine Houndmaster and get one 2/2 for two mana (1); but in addition you get to search up Alpine Watchdog (2) and Igneous Cur (3)… So three-for-one!
While potentially powerful, the Houndmaster demands a steep deck building cost. In addition to playing [presumably] four copies of Alpine Houndmaster, you have to play some copies of both of the other two to get maximum value. On the high end you might spend twelve slots in your deck for four copies of each of the three two drops; but at a minimum, you need to play at least one Alpine Watchdog and at least one Igneous Cur in order to get paid off by even the first Houndmaster.
Therefore the question can only be answered if we know if we want to actually pay the deck building cost. Or, would you want to play any of the other two at all?
Houndmaster’s Best Friend: Alpine Watchdog
Mike points out that twenty years ago, back when he was a kind of White Weenie player, he had to pay a full WW for a 2/2 creature with vigilance. For 1W he only got a white Grizzly Bears.
Not that he actually paid for either thanks to Ramosian Sergeant or anything:
Alpine Watchdog is an update to the same. You probably wouldn’t be stuffing either Fresh Volunteers or Steadfast Guard into your sixty without Rebel support; but Patrick points out that people weren’t really into 1/1 flyers for two mana either… Except Squadron Hawk proved everybody wrong.
Houndmaster’s (other) Best Friend: Igneous Cur
Igneous Cur is probably better than Alpine Watchdog all other things held equal.
If you’re stuck casting it on turn two… It’s still a better body — tapped out — than a Runaway Steam-Kin. It will trade for the Stomp half of Bonecrusher Giant or Shock like any other x/2 early.
Later in the game, it’s a legitimate threat. Igneous Cur and a ton of untapped mana is like a Fireball waiting to splatter the opponent; or at the very least, trade up with a more expensive creature. Not bad at all, being on the bonus.
The Best of the Rest
Is Alpine Houndmaster going to prove to be the best card of Core Set 2021? We’ll have to wait and see… But both hosts are cheering for it.
Potential payoffs include Rin and Seri, Inseparable; while Feline Sovereign can be a rival or teammate (probably with Rin and Seri, Inseparable).
Mike’s old school favorite Faith’s Fetters might be better than ever; while the even more ancient evil, spiteful Kaervek finally makes his way to a cardboard depiction.
All that and more in this week’s (slightly belated) podcast!
Terror of the Peaks is a 5/4 flying Dragon for five mana. It’s comparable to many other Constructed-playable Dragons.
But unlike many of them, it has a built-in defensive capability. They might get your Terror of the Peaks, but you give them a Lava Spike back.
If they don’t deal with it, though? Terror of the Peaks can be a true terror for the opponent! Not only will it not take long to kill the opponent “naturally” with five power and evasion, other considerations can close the kill super fast… Or even in just one turn.
For the “fair” take on Terror of the Peaks, look for this card to show up in Gruul as a straight swap to start.
What if You Weirdly Had this Spider?
“I didn’t like Gruul Spellbreaker anyway.”
Sporeweb Weaver is a pretty good creature on the merits. It’s a tenacious defender for its cost; and can put the big hurt on both Mono-Blue and Mono-Red Aggro.
So… Pretty good card; devastating in some matchups.
But how does this card go with Terror of the Peaks?
Putting it All Together
So you’ve got a Terror of the Peaks on the battlefield.
You play Sporeweb Spider. Ting for one!
Now you play a Selfless Savior. Trigger your Dragon, targeting Sporeweb Spider. In response, sacrifice Selfless Savior to give Sporeweb Spider indestructible.
Now when you finish resolving the ting on Sporeweb Spider, you can make a 1/1 and get other triggers. The new creature also gives you a Terror of the Peaks trigger. Target your 1/4 again; rinse and repeat.
Since your Spider is indestructible, you can do this as much as you want, gain essentially infinite life, make infinite power, and finish off with a point on the opponent.
In sum: Terror of the Peaks is great fair… And might be something else entirely when infinite or unfair.
Michael and Patrick discuss this quite a bit, mostly around large creatures (often Baneslayers) from the upcoming Core Set 2021. But you know what is, and unambiguously, a Titan?
Llanowar Visionary is a Titan
Mike has already drawn a line in the M21 sand: Llanowar Visionary is his favorite card; and he is unlikely to be moved from this point.
Drawing a card is approximately as powerful as searching your library for a basic land. Any longtime readers or listeners of Mike know his adoration for cards like Borderland Ranger. Borderland Ranger was a 2/2 creature for three mana that searched up a basic. No one wanted to trade with it.
Llanowar Visionary is largely an upgraded Borderland Ranger. In the early game drawing a card will often be worse than searching up a basic land (but will usually be better late game). The difference? The body on Llanowar Visionary actually matters!
That’s the difference between a Mulldrifter like Borderland Ranger and a Titan. Both cards generate value immediately; pointing a Doom Blade at either is going to put you at least a little behind. But while Borderland Ranger is a boring 2/2 after its 187, Llanowar Visionary is an awesome mana Elf and the opponent will often be overjoyed to Doom Blade one.
Basri’s Lieutenant or Baneslayer Angel?
Which is better?
We’ll actually get to find out, given that Baneslayer Angel — the original best large creature of all time — is back in Standard! This will allow for direct comparison to Basri’s Lieutenant:
Protection from multicolored might be a big game. Stonecoil Serpent certainly helped carve its niche on the back of that ability in Pioneer.
While it says 3/4 in the bottom-right, Basri’s Lieutenant is a de facto 4/5.
But maybe most of all, Basri’s Lieutenant can produce 2/2 Knight creature tokens when certain of your creatures die. It can defy removal and set up any number of profitable trades, therefore.
But will it be better than Baneslayer?
How to Play with Peer into the Abyss
This is a tough one to assess.
Do you target yourself?
When exactly do you target the opponent?
Some pretty good thoughts and one mondo combo one click away:
Interestingly, Vintage usually tries to deal with overpowered cards via restriction (rather than banning). But restriction under the current rules doesn’t stop Lurrus from being played as a Companion… So ban it is!
Joining Lurrus on the Legacy banned list is fellow Companion Zirda, the Dawnwaker. Zirda is abusively powerful with mana artifacts with “untap” abilities like Grim Monolith and Basalt Monolith.
There’s lots of ways that Zirda can break; here’s a simple implementation:
Turn two, play your second land and a Grim Monolith
Turn three, float 3 — and don’t even hit your land drop. Tap your original two lands, using one of the 3 Monolith mana to cast Zirda; you have 2 floating… Which, with Zirda in play, is exactly what you need to untap the Grim Monolith.
You can tap for 3, use 2 to untap the Monolith, and essentially make infinite colorless mana on turn three.
Zirda wasn’t a problem yet: But the writing was on the wall.
All the Companions! All the Standard!
Solar Blaze is the hot new tech in 80-card Jeskai. Unlike with Shatter the Sky, your Agent of Treachery and Yorion, Sky Nomad will live through the ‘Blaze
Heraldic Banner helps cast Obosh, the Preypiercer in Mono-Red! Accelerating three-to-five is less exciting than decelerating three-to-one to leave up Shock mana or pop out another hasty one drop.
Bolas’s Citadel replaces Casualties of War in Jund Sacrifice. Now that no one is playing permanents, six mana Desert Twisters are less exciting than forcing the opponent to take ten.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den enables a Bogles-like White Weenie deck that violates the spirit of the law… and the opponent’s life total.
The four-color Neoform deck that Patrick is afraid might be busted…
And the critical difference between Mono-Green Ramp and Simic Mutate.
You can get value with the Pact, and sacrifice it to Doom Foretold before it costs you the game. Or for that matter, just Emblem up Gideon of the Trials to prevent losing on the spot.
Of course playing especially multiple copies of Demonic Pact or other exciting reset-able permanents and then slamming Yorion, Sky Nomad makes for a really exciting strategy. Of course you’re ALWAYS going to be able to play Yorion on demand (provided you’ve hit five land drops)… So the downside risk on Demonic Pact is a lot lower than it has historically been in previous formats.
People are exploring the new seven mana Ultimatum cycle from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths… But this card gives you basically a delayed blast Ultimatum for only four.
Now for our scheduled Keruga, the Macrosage admiration session…
Keruga in the Fires of Invention deck was absolutely dominant last week.
Not only did it occupy 15 of the Top 32 slots in the MTGO Super Qualifier, it took both first and second place, posted five of the Top 8, and claimed six of the sevenwins in that Top 8.
Mike could not remember so dominant a performance in Standard.
It did not take long for Patrick to remind him:
The Best of the Rest…
Simic Mutate Linear
Jeskai Cycling… Also Linear (and how to improve it)
Kogla, the Titan Ape is Our Kind of Desert Twister
Mike has been joking forever how much we like six mana Desert Twisters.
Ugin, the Ineffable provides a Desert Twister-like effect (at least against colored permanents) that will leave you a one loyalty Planeswalker.
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman does you one better… two different ways! Still for six mana, you get to destroy a permanent (as long as it’s a creature) AND draw a card AND are even left with one more loyalty than Ugin!
Casualties of War is like five Desert Twisters! (at least as long as your opponent cooperates by playing enough permanents) Fail state? Regular-old Desert Twister.
Kogla, the Titan Ape fights a creature when it enters the battlefield. As long as that creature has toughness of seven — seven! — or less, Kogla will destroy it. Even if Kogla doesn’t survive, that’s six mana to destroy a key permanent.
… But it’s so much more! Like, whenever the opponent’s creature isn’t big enough to win, you get to keep a sweet 7/6.
THAT ALSO HAS OTHER ABILITIES!
Don’t be surprised to see Kogla, the Titan Ape in powered formats.
Because it destroys an artifact or enchantment every time it swings, Kogla might see play in formats where people play powerful artifacts and enchantments.
Might that be surprising to see? Maybe a little bit. But don’t sleep on how useful this Legendary Ape might be. Not only does it provide potential card advantage, a 7/6 is a pretty fast way to win.
They even gave it an activated ability for Zirda, the Dawnwalker
If a huge body… and a sick fight ability… and a persistent nuisance for expensive permanents weren’t good enough…
You can even play Kogla with Zirda!
But that’s not all!
Since you will often be playing Kogla with Nissa, Who Shakes the World already in play, you’ll often have 1G open to defend it.
Besides which… There is no shortage of humans you might want to return to your hand. Examples include everything from Charming Prince (which works coming or going) to Agent of Treachery
Lots and lots of other cards, brewing ideas, and good fun from Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths, of course. Give Kogla, the Titan Ape a little love now: