Amulet Titan Deck Guide

I recently went 12-3 at GP Vancouver with Amulet Titan, good for 16th place. After getting Summer Bloom banned with a win at SCG Cincinnati 2016, I couldn’t resist taking the deck out for a spin for old times’ sake. The deck has an excellent combination of an explosive early game and a grindy late game. I had been testing it on and off since mid-December with Edgar Magalhães and Jake Haversat, both of whom provided invaluable insight.

Fundamental Game Plan

This deck is all about Primeval Titan and lands. All of the card choices exist to make Primeval Titan into the ultimate Swiss Army knife. The lands give the deck access to additional Primeval Titans, hard countermagic, conditional sweepers, additional blockers, life gain, land disruption, graveyard disruption, hard-to-counter threats, haste, and double strike. Plan A is cast Primeval Titan and ride it to victory.

Deck Building Choices

2 Botanical Sanctum

This card is an excellent addition. The deck has 17 1-drops, 8 of which cost green and 5 of which cost blue. Additional ways to reliably cast multiple 1-drops on the early turns add much needed consistency to the deck. It can often enter the battlefield untapped as a fourth or fifth mana source thanks to bouncelands counting as a single land.

1 Vesuva

The first Vesuva offers utility and enables certain combo lines, but the second is rarely needed with proper planning. I consider the second Vesuva to be training wheels.

3 Tolaria West

Good for grinding out removal spells by enabling Titan to fetch another Titan with Summoner’s Pact.

1 Slayers’ Stronghold, 1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion

These lands are critical for enabling big turns with Amulet and Primeval Titan.

1 Radiant Fountain, 1 Khalni Garden

Life gain and blockers can be critical in a race, and getting multiple uses out of these lands with bouncelands and Vesuva can swing a close game.

1 Cavern of Souls

In countermagic-heavy matchups, the deck can afford to play a little more slowly and transmute for Cavern to ensure that its threats resolve. It is also an extra land that can cast Sakura-Tribe Scout on turn 1. Remember that Sakura-Tribe Scout and Melira are both Scouts, and Sakura-Tribe Scout and Reclamation Sage are both Shamans.

2 Forest

Ghost Quarter and Path are prevalent in this format and are both effective against this deck when backed up with pressure. It’s important to not let these cards be Strip Mine and Swords to Plowshares.

4 Gemstone Mine

This deck uses every part of the Gemstone Mine. Green and blue are needed early, white and red can be required during combo turns, untapped lands in the late game are necessary for casting Primeval Titan, and bouncelands allow you to regenerate the mining counters. The deck would play 8 if it could.

4 Serum Visions, 4 Ancient Stirrings, 1 Sleight of Hand

The cantrips give the deck much needed consistency. When given the choice of which to play on turn 1, I typically lead with Serum Visions if I’m trying to find an accelerant, and I lead with Ancient Stirrings otherwise. If I am going to play both on the same turn, I usually lead with Stirrings so I don’t mess up my scry. The Sleight of Hand is easily the worst of these, and is a flex slot that can be moved around depending on your metagame.

4 Sakura-Tribe Scout

Summer Bloom this is not. It is, however, the next best replacement.

4 Azusa, Lost but Seeking

Azusa is the best accelerant in this deck. Early in testing, I kept fighting Jake and Edgar by saying that I wanted less than 4, but I finally realized that this deck really, really wants 4 Azusa.

1 Pact of Negation

Useful both for locking your opponent out once the first Titan hits that battlefield as well as forcing the Titan through against decks with countermagic.

1 Engineered Explosives

You can tutor this answer to a number of problematic permanents.

1 Batterskull

A resilient threat you can find with Ancient Stirrings. Sakura-Tribe Scout only ramps to 5 mana on turn 3 without additional help, so having a solid 5-drop threat that can prolong the game is a good place to be.

1 Obstinate Baloth

In the matchups where you need help in game 1, Baloth is the kind of card you want. You can Summoner’s Pact for it in response to a Liliana of the Veil uptick and then discard it into play.

This deck is really a 57-card deck. The Sleight of Hand, Obstinate Baloth, and Batterskull are all flex slots and can be moved around to suit your expected metagame.

Sideboard Choices

1 Pact of Negation, 2 Swan Song

More countermagic is important for combo mirrors, other big mana decks, and decks with countermagic but not discard.

1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast

Infect isn’t a great matchup, but it’s better than in the Summer Bloom days because Sakura-Tribe Scout can block. Remember that you can Pact for Melira on turn 2 with a turn-1 Sakura-Tribe Scout, and you can pay for the pact by flashing in a land during your upkeep.

1 Reclamation Sage

Mostly for Blood Moon decks. It’s a tutorable answer for Blood Moon and only requires 1 Forest in play.

1 Obstinate Baloth

You want to be able to draw this more consistently against Jund and decks where Baloth is a good blocker.

1 Sigarda, Host of Herons

The play pattern most common with Sigarda is to use Summoner’s Pact for it on turn 5, right before Liliana of the Veil goes ultimate. It also stops All is Dust and Living End from forcing you to sacrifice creatures.

1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

It’s a bullet against other non-interactive, linear decks like Lantern. In the matchups where it’s good, it’s insane.

1 Hornet Queen

Buzz buzzzz. Hornet Queen creates so many deathtouch blockers that fair creature decks are hard-pressed to break through the wall of Insects. As an aside, I really enjoy that this sideboard has green creatures at each converted mana cost from 2 through 7.

Firespout

Swarm aggro can be tough for this strategy. It’s also another early answer to card-advantage-generating threats like Dark Confidant and Grim Flayer. Firespout lines up well against a number of the threats from Bant Eldrazi.

2 Seal of Primordium

Seal answers Blood Moon. If you’re bringing this card in, the matchup is likely bad.

1 Bojuka Bog

Bog shuts off opposing delirium, can be bounced and replayed to set Tarmogoyf down to 0/1, and is a house against Dredge. Part of the plan against Snapcaster/Terminate decks is to use Bojuka Bog to keep them from having access to too many Terminates from their graveyard. Otherwise, this deck gets tempo’d out while performing the Titan chain.

1 Ghost Quarter

The second Ghost Quarter is critical for the post-board Tron games.

1 Chalice of the Void

This was a late addition in testing for some of our bad matchups. It’s great against Cheerios and Storm. Chalice on 3 also shuts down both win conditions from Ad Nauseam.

Mulliganing

Hands without accelerants or ways to find them are typically mulligans. On the play, turn-3 Azusa hands are usually a keep, while turn-3 Azusa hands on the draw are typically mulligans without additional action. This deck contains 27 lands, so it’s typically fine to keep hands where the only thing it needs is more mana, but keeping land-heavy hands will typically not pan out.

Common Play Patterns

Azusa, Followed by More Land Drops

When you play a land, it’s a special action, and your opponent doesn’t get priority. When playing additional lands on the turn you play Azusa, play a land with a triggered ability last if possible. A common play pattern is to play Azusa on turn 3, play a non-triggering land, then play a bounceland and pick up a land that enters the battlefield untapped. This allows you to play an untapped land and a Primeval Titan on turn 4 even if Azusa dies before your next turn.

Which 2 Lands to Get Off of Primeval Titan

• With an Amulet in play, get Slayers’ Stronghold and Boros Garrison if your opponent can’t answer a Titan. Otherwise (or after attacking), get Tolaria West and Growth Chamber to chain more Primeval Titans.

• Without an Amulet in play, things get a little tricker. If you can make R/W, get a bounceland and Slayers’ Stronghold, pick up and play the Stronghold, and attack.

• If there’s another Titan in your hand, I typically get Boros Garrison and Tolaria West to set up the above line on the following turn.

• Against Jund, Khalni Garden is a good grab to protect yourself from Liliana’s -2.

In most scenarios, you can’t mess it up too badly if you just get Simic Growth Chamber and Tolaria West, and have the ability to get more Primeval Titans off of Summoner’s Pact. It’s difficult for any deck in Modern to beat 4 consecutive Primeval Titans fairly.

Ideal Curve

Your best draws with this deck involve Sakura-Tribe Scout. Curves like Scout on turn 1, Amulet on turn 2, and turn-3 Primeval Titan are among your best openings. Even if the Sakura-Tribe Scout eats a turn-1 removal spell, that means your opponent isn’t casting a discard spell or holding up countermagic.

Average Case

One of the most common lines is to have an Amulet and 3 lands in play while your opponent is tapped out on turn 4. From here, Pact for or play Azusa, make 6 mana from a bounceland, and play a Primeval Titan.

Tips and Tricks

  • Multiple Amulets allow this deck to really go off. You can net mana with Titans and attack with two or more in a single turn.
  • Casting EE for 1 using colorless mana allows you to destroy a Chalice of the Void on 0.
  • If you have a land drop left when you play a Titan and only a single Amulet, getting Slayers’ Stronghold and Boros Garrison followed by picking up and replaying Boros Garrison allows you to have enough mana to activate a tutored Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion on attack.
  • Leaving a bounceland in your hand with this deck is underrated in certain situations. If you draw or cantrip into an Amulet, it’s a Lotus Petal at worst and a double-Black-Lotus at best.
  • Tolaria West doesn’t have to just get Pacts. The ability to get bouncelands can be critical when you’re short on land drops.
  • Vesuva can be played as a land with no text, just to have something to bounce to a bounceland.
  • Vesuva can also be played as a land with no text under Blood Moon to be an untapped Mountain, as the “enters the battlefield tapped” only applies if Vesuva copies a land.
  • Vesuva can copy basic lands under Blood Moon and is still a basic land under Blood Moon.
  • Often it’s correct to preemptively Pact for Obstinate Baloth against G/B/x decks at their end step and spend the following turn paying for it, as a hedge against future discard.
  • Having multiple other green creatures capable of winning the game is critical post-board in matchups where your Primeval Titans can get Surgical Extraction’d.
  • If Eldrazi Displacer blinks Primeval Titan with an Amulet in play, the Primeval Titan will untap. Often, it can even be given haste again with Slayers’ Stronghold.
  • Vesuva can copy opposing creaturelands, and this deck has the mana to activate any of them, even Celestial Colonnade or Raging Ravine. They can even be given double strike with Sunhome!
  • Sakura-Tribe Scout can flash in a bounceland to pick up another land in response to land destruction from decks like Jund and Tron.
  • Plant tokens can attack under Ensnaring Bridge, then be given +2/+0 by Slayers’ Stronghold. Planty beats!
  • Ghost Quarters come in against Blood Moon decks to preemptively to turn your own lands into Forests. In most other cases, you don’t want to be Ghost Quartering yourself.
  • Don’t ever miss a Pact trigger! Not even once! My personal recommendation is to put a number of dice on top of your library, each showing the CMC of the Pact they’re reminding you to pay for. One Pact, one die, two Pacts, two dice. You can’t be sloppy when you have cards with the text “You lose the game.” Your opponent will almost always have the out of you forgetting to pay for a Pact, and you should never oblige them. I personally love paying for Pacts. I know one player whose most vivid association about me is how excited I am to pay for my Pacts and how emphatic I am about not missing them.

Tournament Report

During the event, I lost to Merfolk, Death’s Shadow, and Jund. I beat 2 more Jund decks, 2 Bant Eldrazi, Ad Nauseam, Tron, Living End, Knightfall, 4-Color Gifts, and Abzan Scales. Some highlights from the event include:

  • I fizzled an Unburial Rites on Iona by flashing in Bojuka Bog with Sakura-Tribe Scout and exiling my opponent’s graveyard. I finished this game by winning the race with a double-striking Sigarda, Host of Herons.
  • Engineered Explosives did work. I EE’d 2 Thought-Knot Seers in one match against Bant Eldrazi, hit 3 Eldrazi Displacers in a different Bant Eldrazi match, and 2 Tireless Trackers that had produced zero Clues against Knightfall.
  • In my match against Living End, I got to use my Magic Player Rewards promo Beast token with a real Magic card back when my opponent Beast Within’d my Primeval Titan. Even better, they drew none of their 4 main-deck Fulminator Mages nor any cascade spells.
  • Post-board against Knightfall, I resolved a Hornet Queen the turn before my opponent drew Unified Will. My opponent never had more creatures than me for the rest of that game. I then combined my deathtouch Insect with double strike from Sunhome to eat a Voice of Resurgence token.
  • You can watch game 1 of my round 12 feature match here. Game 2 was non-competitive as my opponent got stuck on lands, but I did have an interesting line where I had an Amulet, played a Titan, and didn’t attack so I could transmute for Pact of Negation while still being able to hold up Swan Song, leaving my opponent on what I believe was zero outs.
  • Most of the last 2 games of my round 13 feature match against Tron are here. As a teaser before you watch it, it made #3 of the Top 5 moments of the weekend here.
  • My round 14 feature match against Josh Utter-Leyton on Death’s Shadow is here. This matchup is rough.
  • The last 2 games of my round 15 feature match against Merfolk are here.
  • Games with this deck take a lot of wall clock time, even though the number of turns isn’t necessarily that large, so I was on camera a lot toward the end of rounds. Still, I only went to turn once the entire tournament. With this deck, it’s important to play fast, but be sure to not miss any Pact triggers!

Does This Deck Need a Ban?

A year ago, I was a vocal proponent for a piece of this deck being banned. I made the claim that if Summer Bloom were banned, “I’m not saying that the deck wouldn’t be playable. I’m saying that I, as a rational actor trying to maximize my expected placing in a given tournament, wouldn’t play a variant on this deck without Summer Bloom.”

I definitely didn’t expect to be eating my words. Until Kevin Grove’s 9th-place finish at GP Lille 2016 and CFB article, I did not consider the deck to be remotely playable. This deck is solidly in the realm of playable. I think that the current build is good, but not ban good.

Where the Deck Goes From Here

I think this deck is well positioned in certain metagames. It beats midrange decks and decks designed to beat midrange decks, such as other big mana decks. It’s less well positioned in a metagame filled with aggressive decks with hand disruption, such as the new Death’s Shadow deck with 3 copies in the Top 8 of GP Vancouver, as well as faster combo decks. I think this deck will be much better positioned after the Modern metagame adapts to the rise of the new Death’s Shadow builds, but in the meantime it’s still quite fun. I’ll never cease to savor the feeling of picking up a stack of lands capable of producing 20+ mana at the end of a competitive Modern game where I used almost all my mana every turn.

Sideboard Guide

Affinity

Out (On the Play)

Out (On the Draw)

In

Buy time. Hornet Queen buys infinite time.

Abzan

Out

In

Jund

Out

In

Expect to get Fulminated a lot. For this reason, the deck goes up to 28 lands. Jund can easily destroy or discard the Amulets and combo’ing quickly is not really on the table with the amount of disruption they have. Your fair game goes bigger than what they can handle, thus Amulet of Vigor gets cut here so that Kolaghan’s Command is a mediocre 2-for-1 instead of a very good 2-for-1.

Bant Eldrazi

Out

In

Amulet is very important. EE for 4 is an out to Worship.

Eldrazi Tron

Out

In

Only keep hands that can beat Chalice.

Death’s Shadow Aggro

Out

In

Burn

Out

In

This matchup is great. Your mana base is painless and your threats line up well against their strategy. Radiant Fountain and Khalni Garden are great. Post-board, you typically want to slowroll attacking your Primeval Titan by a turn to get Pact of Negation, since your opponent will almost certainly have a useless Deflecting Palm rotting in their hand. This deck has 27 lands, so Goblin Guide will often draw you a card. Goblin Guide revealing Radiant Fountain is one of my favorite feelings in Magic.

Green Tron

Out

In

This matchup is a straight race to expensive spells. Vesuva copying Ghost Quarter is a big game. Ulamog is usually 100% game-over, so stop your opponent from casting it.

TitanShift

Out

In

Valakut Breach

Out

In

Grixis Control

Out

In

Ad Nauseam

Out

In

Put the Chalice of the Void on 3 to stop win cons, 0 for Lotus Bloom.

Grixis Delver

Out

In

Goryo’s Vengeance

Out

In

Knightfall

Out

In

Abzan Company

Out

In

Merfolk

Out

In

Dredge

Out

In

U/W Control

Out

In

U/R Gifts Storm

Out

In

Elves

Out

In

Infect

Out

In

Lantern Control

Out

In

Eldrazi & Taxes

Out

In

R/U/G Scapeshift

Out

In

Jeskai Nahiri

Out

In

Puresteel Paladin

Out

In

Sun and Moon

Out

In

Skred Red

Out

In

U/R Prowess

Out

In

Hate Bears

Out

In

Esper Control

Out

In

Living End

Out

In

If you can, on the draw, play a bounceland on turn 2 and discard a Primeval Titan to hand size.

8 Rack

Out

In

In general, I’ve heard the metaphor that playing a bounceland is like drawing a card. Against 8 Rack, playing a bounceland is actually drawing a card.

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