Portable Hole, Prosperous Innkeeper & Modern Horizons II!

Prosperous Innkeeper, Power Word Kill, the villainous Tiamat… There are so many new — even newer — cards for Standard, the format is about to burst! But first? What’s on the horizon for Modern?

UU: Counter Target Spell

Remember way back when, when we did an episode about how Silumgar’s Scorn was a messed up Magic card?

I mean, on the back of that card — which was pretty restrictive on deck building cost (i.e. you had to have a Dragon in your hand or a Dragon on the battlefield to fully turn it on) Mike qualified for the Pro Tour after a ten-year hiatus!

But with Modern Horizons II… They’re just letting us have the original.

Don’t go too gaga on that spoiled image from our good friends in Renton, WA. Just because it says “Standard” under one version doesn’t mean that Counterspell will be Standard-legal. That’s just in reference to the art-type, not format legality.

Modern Horizons II *AND* Dungeons & Dragons?

We’re barely two weeks into the all-new Strixhaven Standard, and there are spoilers from not one — but two — new tournament legal sets! Modern will certainly get a facelift from Modern Horizons II… Counterspell alone is going to boost traditional Control decks; but also the reprinting of enemy fetchlands. This will be a great opportunity to pick up the Zenikar classics:

  • Arid Mesa
  • Marsh Flats
  • Misty Rainforest
  • Scalding Tarn
  • Verdant Catacombs

Wait a second… Did you say “Dungetons & Dragons”?

Yeah! What do you think about this one?

Portable Hole from Dungeons & Dragons

Portable Hole
Portable Hole
  • Portable Hole
  • W
  • Artifact
  • When Portable Hole enters the battlefield, exile target nonland permanent an opponent controls with mana value 2 or less until Portable Hole leaves the battlefield.

So is Portable Hole the white Fatal Push?

On the one hand, this card is sorcery speed instead of an instant. It can’t punch up and take out more expensive creatures [given the right circumstances]. Still, Portable Hole seems pretty exciting!

Not only is it a fast and great removal card (you can take out a first turn mana creature or a Death’s Shadow)… It can also deal with cheaper non-creature threats. For example: Mazemind Tome or upcoming equipment Vorpal Sword.

How about this one?

Just How Great is Prosperous Innkeeper?

Prosperous Innkeeper
Prosperous Innkeeper
  • Prosperous Innkeeper
  • 1G
  • Creature – Halfling Citizen
  • When Prosperous Innkeeper enters the battlefield, create a Treasure token. (It’s an artifact with T:, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana off any color.”)
    Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life.
  • 1/1

Our hosts agree… This one is awesome!

First off, it’s got a lot of Wily Goblin to it. In fact, Prosperous Innkeeper is easier to cast (1G rather than RR). That said, Halfling Citizen is a lot worse than Goblin Pirate… But regardless, Wily Goblin has been popular in multiple sets.

But it’s got even more text than Treasure-making! Prosperous Innkeeper is a slightly easier to land Wily Goblin but has a lot of Soul Warden to it as well.

We are confident this one will see play in multiple archetypes.

Seems like the new set fun this summer is just beginning. Check out now:

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Blade Historian is Just Incredible

The Rate on Blade Historian

Blade Historian
Blade Historian
  • Blade Historian
  • (r/w)(r/w)(r/w)(r/w)
  • Creature – Human Cleric
  • Attacking creatures you control have double strike
  • 2/3

This card is not out of the question when considered purely on rate. A 2/3 for four mana isn’t anything to write home about, but — even without wide-going teammates or buff spells — it is essentially a 4/3 on offense. And of course you only play Blade Historian with teammates.

This is a card that really makes our old pal Alpine Houndmaster look good. You were already in red and white, right? One Alpine Houndmaster gives you plenty of material to give double strike to, and this is a red-white card that can in fact magnify the power buffs on the Houndmaster or Igneous Cur.

But.

That’s.

Not.

All.

Blade Historian is Basically a Seven Drop Human

Winota, Joiner of Forces
Winota, Joiner of Forces
is always looking for a good hit

The real gas for Blade Historian is in the old Agent of Treachery role. Play Winota on your fourth turn, swing with some Dogs, make the Strixhaven Human Cleric, and hit really really hard.

Again, all these cards are already in red and white; so unlike with Agent of Treachery, you don’t have to bend on colors or anything. In fact, you can just cast either four on four to set up a high impact attack.

To that end, you can also not cast one of your big four creatures on that critical turn. If the opponent is holding back a key removal spell, you might be better off showing them Showdown of the Skalds for a similarly powerful play that doesn’t play into a removal-heavy hand.

All That and a School full of Wizards

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Lots of ways to be a Prismari Command guy…

Prismari Command
Prismari Command
  • Prismari Command
  • 1UR
  • Instant
  • Choose two —
    • Prismari Command deals 2 damage to any target
    • Target player draws two cards, then discards two cards
    • Target player creates a Treasure token
    • Destroy target artifact

The Command is already showing up in multiple kinds of decks. Welcome to Standard, Strixhaven! Whether a new addition to Temur Adventures or backing one of many brand spanking new Izzet — sorry Prismari — u-r decks, this card is surprising no one with its contribution.

Prismari Command draws and discards two cards

One style of Prismari in Standard is focused on drawing and discarding cards. The Royal Scions and Teferi, Master of Time power the engine of the archetype. On the one hand it’s boosting this two drop enchantment:

Improbable Alliance
Improbable Alliance

At the same time, it generates extra cards by playing with Escape. Ox of Agonas and Phoenix of Ash give it additional paths to card advantage.

Or… Make a Treasure token!

The other new Izzet build plays a ton of cards that make a Treasure token. Consider Magma Opus:

Magma Opus
Magma Opus

This card can make a Treasure token on turn two. Consequently, you can play a four mana spell on turn three! A Torrent Sculptor appreciates its total casting cost. So does a Draconic Intervention. Galazeth Prismari will just replace the Treasure on the spot!

Our Command might not be as fast at producing a Treasure to Ramp. But it’s certainly on plan!

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Gnarled Professor, learns, Lessons, and more Strixhaven

Gnarled Professor from Strixhaven

Gnarled Professor
Gnarled Professor

There was a time when Gnarled Professor would have been about the best creature there was.

A 5/4 for 2GG mana is not too far off of the legendary Erhnam Djinn (4/5 for 3G)… And old Ernie had a disadvantage while Gnarled Professor has two clear advantages. It starts off with trample and you essentially draw a card via learn.

More than that, “learn” is like drawing drawing with selection; it’s Demonic Tutor-ish.

Gnarled Professor is near the top of the efficiency list for learns and Lessons. For the most part, the learn cards are a little inefficient and the Lessons are a little overcosted. The trade-off being that you got card advantage along the way. How about another?

Let’s go on a Field Trip!

Field Trip
Field Trip

Field Trip is pretty similar to some other cards that people play in Standard. The main difference on the front side is that Field Trip can only get a basic Forest; whereas Cultivate or Fertile Footsteps can get any sort of a basic land.

So the color restriction is a definite disadvantage on the front end. On the first card, this is a little weaker than the market at 2G. The real question is how you value the learn ability.

Would you rather have the option of buying a Beanstalk Giant from exile? How about a second basic land [that may or may not be a basic Forest]? How might you rate those against the front-side learn on Field Trip?

The answer, of course, depends on how much space you set aside for Lessons. None of the Lessons is particularly efficient, but you can stockpile removal, dig for basics, or draw cards… Essentially on-demand; and generally care of card advantage. Both Gnarled Professor and Field Trip here grant a Lesson on top of doing something you might want to do for a reasonable amount of mana.

Lessons from Strixhaven (that might not be Lessons)

  • A modal double-faced Gnarled Mass
  • The return of a beloved Planeswalker card as… kind of one Planeswalker card
  • Michael loving one kind of 40/40 (and Patrick trying to get him to like another flavor)
  • “More” Lots more!

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Expressive Iteration Will be Good in VINTAGE

Expressive Iteration
Expressive Iteration

Expressive Iteration Will be Good in Vintage…

… And great in Standard. It’ll be all over Historic, Modern, Legacy…

So what’s so exciting about this card?

Here’s the secret: Don’t play it on turn two (in non-Vintage). If you play it on turn three, you can exile a land card (and play it that turn). Sure, there will be times that you have to Iterate Expressively on turn two… Just know that that won’t be the norm.

In Vintage the rules will be a little bit different. Not only can you play this with a Mox Sapphire or Mox Ruby (without first making your second land drop) you can also just exile stow a zero casting cost artifact.

In a sense Expressive Iteration is just better than drawing two cards. You get to “draw” the best two of the next three. (As long as you know the play pattern). But now you do!

More Strixhaven Hits and (near?) Misses

Mike absolutely loves Body of Research! Not only is this a 40/40 (or so) for six mana, it can be part of a killer two-card combination. Deceiver Exarch + Splinter Twin required seven mana; but could be awkward to set up due to timing. Body of Research + Fling is only one more mana and still a reliable kill.

… Did we mention it’s also a 40/40 (or so) for six mana?

Body of Research
Body of Research

What’s up with Shadrix Silverquill?

Shadrix Silverquill
Shadrix Silverquill

There is a LOT going on with this Elder Dragon. It’s essentially a four power flyer on offense… Maybe more with its self-buffing ability.

Our hosts are only medium on it. Lots of hoops to jump into before it even gets interesting… Do they have any creatures? How many? Can we kill 2/1 creatures without using a card?

But the bigger issue is that — between white and black — Standard has plenty of competition at the “four power flyer” category… Especially after all those Angels in Kaldheim.

Whether you want to murder the opponent’s creatures or fight fair, “Expressive Iteration Will be Good in VINTAGE” has got some great Strixhaven takes for you. Listen up now!

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Going Deep into the Strixhaven Previews

Some Assorted Strixhaven Previews…

Lorehold Excavation
Lorehold Excavation is probably MIke’s favorite of the Strixhaven Previews so far

Will it be good?

Deeply, deeply, mediocre?

Great against control? Or embarrassing against control in a world word where it coexists with Yorion, Sky Nomad?

There is no way to know just yet… But our hosts, at least for now, have not reached consensus.

Let’s look at some big “Boros” cards from Lorehold

Velomachus Lorehold
Velomachus Lorehold

Imagine a deck that hunkers down with big Planeswalkers or seeks to control the midgame.

Might the red-white Elder Dragon Velomachus Lorehold be productive as the biggest of the big?

“What did you think you were going to get for seven mana?”
-Mike

Probably if you’re going to dig seven deep, there is going to be something waiting there you might want to cast. That “something” might be regular cards; or, in one host’s opinion… If you’re playing Velomachus Lorehold, you’re probably playing weird cards to exploit its presence.

Radiant Scrollweilder
Radiant Scrollweilder

Notably, neither Lightning Helix nor Warleader’s Helix actually has lifelink. So, if you’re going to stretch far enough into the instants of red-white’s past, there is some extra synergistic spice waiting for you!

This is a card that, if it’s going to be good, it’s going to be really good because of that lifelink ability. Think a Pyroclasm of sorts. Your Radiant Scrollweilder will live; the more guys they have, the more lifelink is going to make it look good. But even non-creature heavy decks are going to have to respect its ability to procure extra cards, even when you can’t pick and choose.

Valentin, Dean of the Vein from the Strixhaven Previews

Valentin, Dean of the Vein
Valentin, Dean of the Vein

This card is spectacular… Especially for one mana.

On its face, Valentin, Dean of the Vein is comparable to Healer’s Hawk. Sure, menace is a little worse than flying… But it also doesn’t have to share Standard with Goblin Chainwhirler.

Valentin can be sweet on one; and if they don’t kill it, it’s probably going to get some immediate money. Unlike Healer’s Hawk, it’s in black, meaning you can clear a path more efficiently and can set up the pest-making triggered ability. That really pushes Valentin over the gop!

Plus, if you have access to green, you can “kick” it for four mana. At which point you know you already have multiple sources of life gain in your deck.

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Village Rites is Our Official Strixhaven Preview

Look What’s Back… It’s Village Rites!

Village Rites
Village Rites

Our good friends at Wizards entrusted us with this exciting news: Village Rites is sweeter than ever in its Strixhaven form!

Village Rites was already a popular card in the Rakdos and Jund Sacrifice decks of Standard and Historic. The card continues to give you opportunities for card advantage, and sacrifice synergies! All for one measly mana.

And… That’s some fun art.

Professor Onyx from Strixhaven

Professor Onyx
Liliana Vess… now cosplaying as Professor Onyx

Our heroes are torn on their assessment of Professor Onyx.

  • Michael: Unbridled enthusiasm. He imagines this card as kind of a one-card High Tide deck. He imagines untapping with this powerful permanent in play, and passively killing the opponent while doing what a control deck might want to do anyway. Like drawing cards or killing creatures.
  • Patrick: The rate on this Strixhaven Planeswalker is just too bad. Six mana is a ton… And this incarnation of Liliana is no Dreadhorde General. Who do you want it against? Fast Red Aggro? Mono-Blue? How about Elspeth Conquers Death? Exactly.

Kasmina, Enigma Sage from Strixhaven

The other recently-revealed Planeswalker from Strixhaven ends up well worth the discussion. This one has a lot that it might be able to contribute to… But most importantly via that passive ability.

Each other planeswalker you control has the loyalty abilities of Kasmina, Enigma Sage.

Kasmina can grant Ultimates to Planeswalkers with no natural payoffs… And can turn high loyalty Planeswalkers directly into huge creatures.

How about that fail state?

Imagine you just played this card for three; and immediately made a 1/1.

“I won a PTQ with the card Wood Elves in my deck.” -Mike

What’s better as a remainder? A Kasmina with one loyalty, or a basic Forest. Exactly.

Give it a listen now!

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Patrick’s Sweet Mono-Blue Snow Deck!

Here’s a Build of Mono-Blue Snow:

4 Ascendant Spirit
4 Frost Augur
3 Icebreaker Kraken
4 Brazen Borrower
4 Cosima, God of the Voyage

3 Opt
2 Disdainful Stroke
2 Essence Scatter
1 Into the Roil
1 Neutralize
3 Saw it Coming
4 Behold the Multiverse
4 Shark Typhoon

17 Snow-covered Island
4 Faceless Haven

sb:
2 Brinebarrow Intruder
2 Threnody Singer
3 Mystical Dispute
3 Negate
2 Disdainful Stroke
1 Essence Scatter
2 Jace, Mirror Mage

There is a lot going on here! What kind of opponents does this deck murder? Where does it struggle?All in good time… But what kind of deck is Mono-Blue Snow?

Snow as a Delver Deck

Ascendant Spirit
Ascendant Spirit
aka “The Good One”

Ascendant Spirit is a great way to start the game for a Mono-Blue deck. This deck plays eight one mana creatures, which makes it a little challenging to categorize… But the presence of this one means that it can play a potentially aggressive game.

Using your one mana on turn one to get a body on the battlefield just allows for a wildly different kind of game than one where you have to invest the mana later.

Mono-Blue Snow as Jushi Blue

Frost Augur
Frost Augur

Supplementing Ascendant Spirit at the one is Frost Augur. Mono-Blue Snow utilizes this creature like an cheaper Jushi Apprentice. Yes, it has one less toughness. Yes, it’s card draw is a lot less consistent than just always drawing a card.

But it’s half the mana to get on the battlefield, and two-thirds less to operate! Regardless, a 1/2 for one mana is a nice body for slowing down opposing offense.

Icebreaker Kraken
“Tap out” for Icebreaker Kraken!

At the high end of the curve is Icebreaker Kraken. “High end” being a little misleading given that you will often spend very little mana for this alleged twelve drop.

But imagine you have six lands in play… That’s six remaining, for an 8/8! MichaelJ used to take control of the battlefield by making a 5/5 for six. The 2021 version of Keiga, the Tide Star is actually 60% bigger. And by Keiga, we mean Yosei.

Check out the chatter on this exciting new deck, including detailed matchups and brewing new tools here:

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Egon, God of Death in Historic

So What Makes Egon, God of Death so Good in Historic StOmPy?

Egon, God of Death
Egon, God of Death
  • Starting on Llanowar Elves, Historic StOmPy is already optimized to hit three drops, so Egon, God of Death is 100% on-plan
  • In fact, already welcoming Rotting Regisaur, StOmPy has an established black splash
  • Between its size and deathtouch, Egon is a great mid-combat Collected Company hit
  • Egon makes The Great Henge cheaper (of course)… But after, The Great Henge can keep Egon going. This is kind of weird since The Great Henge loves hand and Egon devours graveyard, but maybe you’ll be playing so many cards that the opponent will have to react or die anyway
  • Its a nice new addition to a Pelt Collector’s evolution… Think Steel-Leaf Champion; Egon, God of Death; Rotting Regisaur for 5-6-7
  • Finally, Egon is a table-snapping combo with Rhonas, the Indomitable. Or, “they always take seven”. Trample + deathtouch and all that.

Throne of Death (the opposite number to Egon, God of Death) is Part of the Range, too…

Egon, God of Death // Throne of Death
Throne of Death

Typically, the mill doesn’t matter.

But!

Sometimes you’ll hit your own Resilient Khenra.

Throne of Death is an excellent tool for grinding an opponent with a lot of one-for-one removal. Essentially, they kill your creatures; you draw a ton of extra cards… They run out waaaaay before you do.

And the rest of the emerging Historic Decks

We start on StOmPy… But hit a ton of other archetypes this week. So many burning questions will be answered, like:

  • Is Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose in Historic Angels just a meme deck?
  • Why does Mike hate about Historic Jund?
  • Is the heretofore-unmentioned Captain Sisay deck just sweet, or possibly good?
  • What makes Dreadhorde Arcanist the deck of the week?
  • Which version of Bant Collected Company is more exciting? Angels or Party?
  • Can there be even more in-depth discussions of even more decks? Spoiler: Yes.

Check out the latest episode now!

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Pick a Side on Reidane, God of the Worthy

Were you perhaps asking after Valkmira, Protector’s Shield?

The flip side on Reidane, God of the Worthy

Actually… No.

To be fair, we are in fact talking about a modal double-faced card. But I wasn’t in fact talking about the Legendary Artifact mode on Reidane, God of the Worthy. Certainly there are applications (and things can go comically wrong for certain opponents going wide)… But I was really just thinking about the range of damage that the front-side can do.

Reidane, God of the Worthy is great going multiple directions

Reidane, God of the Worthy

So this creature is a 2/3 flyer for three mana… with vigilance to boot!

That’s… Not bad. It’s got a little less deathtouch and lifelink than a onetime best 2/3 flyer for three mana ever; but vigilance can give you a nice measure of offense-defense.

But what’s so devastating about this card?

Snow lands your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped.

What an awesome way to race! Both your fellow mono-white aggro decks and the current incarnation of the Red Deck play 20+ snow lands. How else are they going to turn on Faceless Haven? Power up Frost Bite?

Noncreature spells your opponents cast with converted mana cost 4 or greater cost 2 more to cast.

While Michael’s perspective on this card is — perhaps predictably — as a Red Deck foil, Patrick thinks this card is mostly there to keep opponents off of being able to cast Emergent Ultimatum and other Ramp-driven nonsense.

In fact, it’s good in both cases!

How do you fight Reidane, God of the Worthy?

Not well, in all likelihood.

If you go low, trying to handle it one-on-one, you run the risk of a Selfless Savior or Alseid of Life’s Bounty keeping it around.

How about sweeping up all the white creatures at once? What? With your four-or-more-mana Wrath of God effect?

It’s tough.

Also Featuring…

  • That awesome Emergent Ultimatum list!
  • Sweet Standard singletons
  • The return of Improbable Alliance to Boros Cycling
  • And more!

Listen now:

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