Abbot of Keral Keep in Modern

Abbot of Keral Keep

We’ve said it once: We’ve said it dozens of times probably.
Abbot of Keral Keep is like a red Snapcaster Mage

Abbot of Keral Keep is one of many cards from Magic Origins that is poised to make an impact in the Modern format.

What are some of the areas where Abbot of Keral Keep can be effective in Modern? How does it differ from Snapcaster Mage in some of the existing Modern shells?

Unlike Snapcaster Mage, Abbot of Keral keep does not combine well with permission spells. Not only does it not have flash, but flipping a permission spell with Abbot of Keral Keep will generally cause that card to brick.


Abbot of Keral Keep has great potential synergy with proactive cards. Think about Abbot of Keral Keep flipping over, say… An Inquisition of Kozilek. The combination of cheap cards and card advantage — and cheap cards and prowess — are both synergistic and valuable.

How about a Naya Burn deck in Modern? Abbot of Keral Keep can hook up with the efficient burn spells available in Modern to give an aggressive deck some extra oomph.

Consider this Patrick Sullivan-inspired Modern Naya Burn deck:

Patrick-Patrick Naya Burn

4 Atarka’s Command
4 Boros Charm
3 Lightning Helix

4 Wild Nacatl

4 Abbot of Keral Keep
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Searing Blaze

4 Arid Mesa
2 Mountain
3 Sacred Foundry
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

3 Dragon’s Claw
1 Lightning Helix
2 Ancient Grudge
4 Molten Rain
1 Skullcrack
4 Path to Exile

Abbot of Keral Keep is just one of several new Magic Origins cards that Patrick and Michael discuss in this episode; there are quite a few possible additions to Modern from this hot new set. Find out what the intrepid Top Level Podcast duo is thinking in “Abbot of Keral Keep in Modern”:

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Want to hear more from these guys?

Patrick’s Magic: The Gathering Books

Michael’s Magic: The Gathering Books

Jace, Telepath Unbound (who knew?)

Jace, Telepath Unbound

Here’s a funny story: Michael kinda sorta didn’t know how Jace, Telepath Unbound works / worked / etc. I mean if you “only” get a Snapcaster Mage you are [still] potentially playing in the big leagues in terms of card power and quality.

… But what if you didn’t have to pay the mana cost on that mid-paragraph [-3]? Well you’d be flipping Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy by dumping Worst Fears or other crazily costed sorceries like Nissa’s Revelaion* and really break the costing rules of Magic: The Gathering.

… Of course, that’s not how Jace, Telepath Unbound works 🙁

All-in-all Patrick isn’t sure where this one will land. I mean: It’s a Jace. But! among other things, you can’t control the flip condition on pre-spark Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

If Jace is feeling the spark… He’s going to flip. That puts different conditions on Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy than a regular Merfolk Looter. Besides which, Michael and Patrick seem to disagree about the playability of the classic Merfolk Looter anyway.

Is Jace, Telepath Unbound a powerful card with poor positioning? Well in terms of his [-9] Ultimate…

“It takes forever to get to it, and boy is it not good.”
-Patrick Chapin

A card Patrick finds much more interesting is (much to Michael’s surprise) Disciple of the Ring:

Disciple of the Ring

You’ll just have to listen to the podcast to get the full lowdown on this one, but Patrick has an unfettered Disciple of the Ring rated as an Opposition; an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite; and an Iona, Shield of Emeria all wrapped up into a single Aetherling.

Pretty high praise, no?

Both our intrepid podcasters seem to like Harbinger of the Tides best among the Magic Origins blue cards, ultimately.

Harbinger of the Tides

… But they play a little game about which card is best in the other four colors. Here’s a preview:

  • Archangel of Tithes or Kytheon, Hero of Akros?
  • Erebos’s Titan or Languish?
  • Nissa, Vastwood Seer v. Dwynen’s Elite?

Okay, maybe three of the five; Abbot of Kerl Keep is the whiz-bang winner in red + probably the best card in Magic Origins overall!

Abbot of Keral Keep

Sound fun? It is!

Listen to “Jace, Telepath Unbound (who knew)” now:

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* For those wondering last week, yes of course we know Nissa’s Revelation lets you draw cards! It is still hard to use in the current environment, but pending new Eldrazi might become an All-Star in the future. For now, green decks will probably use it to find Dragonlord Atarka… Though we’re still not too keen on it.

Where do you Rank Evolutionary Leap?

Evolutionary Leap
Evolutionary Leap

Where do you rank Evolutionary Leap? No, Evolutionary Leap is not better than “a certain banned card in Legacy” but it’s a Birthing Pod you don’t have to tap, and has quite a few ways of generating upside.

For instance, try sacrificing a Deathmist Raptor!

Evolutionary Leap beats removal — as long as you have enough mana, you can keep going and not run out of creatures.

Evolutionary Leap is deadly against control! Control probably has to have cards like Perilous Vault to keep from falling too far behind.

Evolutionary Leap is excellent with 187 creatures! You can get enters the battlefield triggers over and over.

Gaea's Revenge
Gaea’s Revenge

Oddly enough, Gaea’s Revenge can be killed by commonly played point removal now. Which card(s) can target this almost-hexproof threat?

Gather the Pack
Gather the Pack

Is this just a Commune With the Gods that can’t find enchantments, or is there some secret to triggering its Spell Mastery upside?

Fleshbag Marauder
Fleshbag Marauder

You can Can CAN play eight Fleshbag Marauders in Standard right now. You just probably shouldn’t.

Herald of the Pantheon
Herald of the Pantheon

Patrick thinks Herald of the Pantheon looks like Andrew Cuneo.

Mike says there is no way Andrew Cuneo has a greeen mana symbol anywhere near his top-right corner.

There are many, many types of decks Herald of the Pantheon can go into… Mike and Patrick discuss several of them.

And there’s more! What does Top Level Podcast think of…

  • The Great Aurora?
  • Nissa’s Revelation?
  • Outland Colossus?
  • Zendikar’s Roil?

… Would patrick run Valeron Wardens in his Undercity Troll deck?

There’s really only one way to find out.

Try “Where do You Rank Evolutionary Leap?”, the latest from Top Level Podcast

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Woodland Bellower and Demonic Pact

Woodland Bellower

When Woodland Bellower enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a nonlegendary green creature card with converted mana cost 3 or less, put it onto the battlefield, and shuffle your library.

Welcome back!

As you probably already know we did an extra episode this week around Infinite Obliteration

… But we weren’t going to leave regular listeners hanging on a Thursday! For the rest of this episode we focus on:

Woodland Bellower

“You can get anything three or less as long as it’s not Nissa, exactly.”

(to be honest both Mike and Patrick repeatedly suggest Legendary green targets like Anafenza and Yisan to each other)

Deathmist Raptor has implied value of greater than three mana… Having [potentially eight] Deathmist Raptors is a powerful deck building feature. The same is true of Courser of Kruphix and other standout creatures in Standard.

Woodland Bellower allows you to play both as a toolbox or just a powerful threat on rate.

Reclamation Sage
Finding Reclamation Sage allows Woodland Bellower to play as a giant Disenchant for versatility and card advantage.

Savage Knuckleblade
Finding Savage Knuckleblade (an additional 4/4 body in addition to its base size) puts Woodland Bellower on the order of Armada Wurm.

Shaman of Forgotten Ways
Besides setting up a potential Biorhythm kill, Woodland Bellower has sufficient power to “turn on” the Formidable on Shaman of Forgotten Ways… All by itself.

Woodland Bellower seems to be making Control’s life difficult in Standard. Not only can you buy resilience (like with Deathmist Raptor) just spreading value across multiple bodies makes point removal less effective.

… How do you get “one step ahead” in Magic in general? How can Woodland Bellower make a break in Modern?

Demonic Pact

Patrick and Michael finish off the podcast with a spirited discussion of Demonic Pact. What do you do with a Warleader’s Helix / Divination / Mind Rot… That might kill you? What kind of deck does this fit into best? What is the “sickest” combo with Demonic Pact?

Find out in “Woodland Bellower and Demonic Pact” now!

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Infinite Obliteration!

Infinite Obliteration
As if simple obliteration were not enough…

Top Level Podcast is proud to present Infinite Obliteration — our exclusive preview from Magic Origins!

For those of you who are used to visiting Top Level Podcast on Thursdays only… This week is a bonus.

For those of you who are visiting us the first time this week (to see our cool exclusive preview Infinite Obliteration)… Welcome! You can read some of our thoughts (largely curated from our podcast) here… But we’d really love it if you gave the podcast a listen. We are happy you are visiting and hope you enjoy your first experience with Top Level Podcast.

“You know what might be obliterated by this card? … Decks that have four Ojutais to win.”

Infinite Obliteration:

  • Can shut off every road to victory in an Esper Dragons deck
  • Takes advantage of an early game Silumgar’s Scorn or Foul-Tongue Invocation (the opponent tells you what’s in his hand)
  • Blunts the card advantage of Den Protector or Deathmist Raptor (because it can exile cards from the opponent’s graveyard, cutting off recursion)
  • Combines nicely with the BBB Spell Mastery trigger on Dark Petition (making for a tight toolbox “one-card combo”)
  • Comes out ahead of / pre-empts most of Standard’s big threats (because of its relatively cheap cost)
  • Really takes the wind out of a Siege Rhino deck’s sails
  • … And lots more we haven’t thought of yet!

Top Level Podcast is:

  • Patrick Chapin – “The Innovator”; author of Next Level Magic and Next Level Deckbuilding; member of the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Fame and winner of Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx.
  • Michael J Flores – The Resident Genius; noted writer and deck designer; author of Deckade and The Official Miser’s Guide.

Top Level Podcast is a competitive Magic: The Gathering podcast, generally focused on Standard and other tournament-relevant Constructed formats. We publish our podcast every Thursday. If you like what you see (and hear) on this visit, we invite you to come back next week, or subscribe.

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Why Nissa, Vastwood Seer Will be a Top 10 Card

Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Nissa, Vastwood Seer (aka Nissa, Sage Animist) is going to be a Top 10 Magic: The Gathering card in Standard.

What Mike has been thinking about all day…

He has a Hornet Nest in play. His opponent, feeling clever, dashes in a Goblin Heelcutter… The Hornet Nest will not be able to block.

But wait!

Mike casts Collected Company, revealing Nissa, Vastwood Seer and Liliana, Heretical Healer.

He goes and gets a Forest with Nissa, then blocks the Goblin Heelcutter (triggering Liliana, who then flips and makes a 2/2 token).

… And all these cards are good!

The number of amazing flips to Collected Company in Magic Origins is staggering. Nissa, Vastwood Seer isn’t the only Planeswalker you can flip with Collected Company… You can actually flip them all!

Patrick notes that “Mike has always had a fondness and appreciation for Borderland Ranger” … But it turns out that Mike really had always had a fondness and appreciation for Civic Wayfinder.

Civic Wayfinder is a card Mike learned to love in Ravnica Block; and later adopted in place of the less-consistent Knight of the White Orchid in Reveillark decks.

“Nissa is the worst ever Civic Wayfinder… But the best ever everything else.”

“Civic Wayfinder has the power of suck.

“It’s like SATYR Wayfinder… No one wants to kill it so it gets in for seven.”

In addition to fetching only basic Forests (instead of any kind of basic land), Nissa has the additional drawback of being a Legend.


The upside of Nissa is enormous. Patrick pegs the value of her flip-side (Nissa, Vastwood Seer) at five mana; and points out that flipping Nissa takes zero incremental mana.


  • Nissa is great on turn 2 (she is likely to be good friends with Elvish Mystic)
  • Great (or at least good) on turn 3
  • … But if you draw Nissa on turn 10, instead of sucking you win the game
  • Nissa, Vastwood Seer is essentially what you want in a Magic: The Gathering card. It’s good early and it’s great late.

With Windswept Heath, Wooded Foothills, or Evolving Wilds in play, Nissa has the ability to protect herself. If the opponent attempts to somehow kill her — either in response to searching for a basic Forest or putting her Planeswalker-flip ability on the stack — you can break the fetchland in response, putting another Nissa trigger on the stack.

Nissa, Sage Animist
It would be perfectly reasonable to pay five mana for this card.

While the focus of this podcast is Nissa, Vastwood Seer (and her opposite number) Michael and Patrick discuss numerous other cards from Magic Origins, plus make a special announcement! Check back early next week to find out more.

“Why Nissa, Vastwood Seer Will be a Top 10 Card”

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