Fatal Push is easily the most hyped up Aether Revolt card, but at the end of the day it’s not going to unseat Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile. Nor is it going to fully replace Terminate. High-cost threats like Tasigur and Primeval Titan do exist in the format, and sometimes you have to kill them.
Most of the time, Fatal Push will augment and diversify a deck’s removal suite. The places where it’s a huge upgrade are in archetypes that can’t play Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile for some reason and have to turn to terribad cards like Smother or Disfigure.
The following 3 archetypes come to mind:
- U/B Faeries
- U/B Control
B/U/G was always fine, and Push makes it better. My problem with B/U/G is that your Tarmogoyfs and Tasigurs want you to play discard, but your Snapcasters want some number of counters. Without Lightning Bolt, you miss out on some free wins, and that’s relevant. You need a combo-heavy metagame for B/U/G to look better than Jund or Junk, and Fatal Push doesn’t change that.
Faeries is a flawed archetype because the card you’re building your deck around (Bitterblossom), is worse than Lingering Souls, and Lingering Souls doesn’t see much play these days. Fatal Push helps, but not enough to make Faeries good. Note that this is coming from someone who hasn’t put much time into the deck, so take that with a grain of salt. Fortunately, salt is delicious, and you should be taking everything with it anyway.
U/B Osmanozguney-style Control is a legitimately strong archetype. It is difficult to play, but gains a lot from having a 1-mana removal spell. The reason to play U/B is that it, like U/W, gets to run 4 Tectonic Edge.
Here’s one of his lists with +4 Fatal Push.
U/B Osman Control
I don’t think the revolt on Fatal Push is worth adding more fetchlands, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Narnam Renegade, Hidden Herbalists, and Greenwheel Liberator
Zoo decks in Modern have to be able to fetch the correct dual lands to turn on Wild Nacatl, Kird Ape, and Loam Lion, which means that they’re heavier on the fetchlands than most archetypes. This means they are already equipped to turn on revolt.
Narnam’s most obvious upside is that deathtouch allows it to attack into opposing Tarmogoyfs and Tasigurs, which is a huge deal in Modern. A more subtle bonus is in the casting cost. Another aggressive 1-drop allows some decks to adjust their color ratios. It also means that you have another solid threat to drop into play off of a Burning-Tree Emissary.
Speaking of which, Hidden Herbalists functions as another 4-of Burning-Tree Emissary, increasing the chance of dumping your hand on turn 2 or 3. One important difference is that you can’t use Herbalists’ mana to cast the red in Reckless Bushwhacker, so you’ll need to save a Burning-Tree Emissary for the end of the chain or wait to Bushwhack until turn 3.
Greenwheel Liberator is going to be much worse than Tarmogoyf in any deck that has a bunch of discard and removal. But the Burning-Tree Emissary deck doesn’t really have that—it has a critical mass of cheap threats to swarm the opponent. Also, it cares about raw stats to grow Experiment One, so this might be the perfect home for Liberator in Modern.
Renegade Rallier is legitimately good. The stats are where they need to be for a value creature, and in Modern you’re going to be able to turn on revolt often, especially if you build around it. If you collect value from Kitchen Finks, you get a bonus 2/1 and some life. Rallier lends itself to curves like turn-2 Tarmogoyf when it gets Fatal Pushed, and turn-3 fetch into Rallier. When it works, the effect is similar to a 3-mana Bloodbraid Elf, or some hybrid between Bloodbraid and Snapcaster Mage.
Renegade Rallier isn’t necessarily an aggro card, but the 3/2 body combined with getting back a permanent pushes it in that direction.
The worst case for Eternal Witness is getting back a fetchland. That situation is a little bit better with Rallier because it puts the card into play, thus acting like a 3/2 Wood Elves. My most successful attempt at brewing around Rallier began with the question, “What if I want to get back a fetchland?”
One of the main differences from my earlier list is -2 Tarmogoyf. In testing, it spent a lot of time rotting in my hand. It’s still one of the best threats in a grindy Tarmogoyf mirror, but it’s bad while racing, and that’s largely what this deck is set up to do.
Another shift was swapping out Treetop Village for Dryad Arbor. Treetop fits the deck well, but there were a lot of situations where I wished I could turn an extra fetch into a 1/1 body. Besides, Knight of the Reliquary can still tutor up Horizon Canopy.
Untested Cards I’m Still Considering
- Apostle’s Blessing/Emerge Unscathed could be good for protecting the landfall creatures, and possibly better than Blossoming Defense because it can also work as evasion, preventing the opponent from chumping to force through lethal.
- Temur Battle Rage could be better than Ghor-Clan. Currently, I haven’t cast Ghor-Clan very much. It’s better in the early game when you might want to force a Wild Nacatl through a Tarmogoyf or something, but there are times where Battle Rage represents much more damage. It’s even possible that a split is ideal.
- Mishra’s Bauble seems like a cute way to turn on revolt, but I think you’d want a Grim Flayer shell to fully take advantage of the free artifact.
Here, Rallier plays the role of an Eternal-Witness-type value card that puts the creature it’s recurring directly into play. The extra mana or two is huge in a deck based around Chord of Calling, potentially allowing the deck to combo a full turn earlier.
There is a combo with the Rallier as well. If you combine it, Saffi Eriksdotter, and Viscera Seer, you can get infinite comes-into-play triggers, with Anafenza as the payoff card. You have to be careful to stack the bolster triggers to resolve after revolt, looping it to get infinite bolster triggers on the stack.
Another interesting way to build around Rallier involves blink effects like Restoration Angel and Flickerwisp, since blinking a card with revolt is always going to give value. Unfortunately, Rallier doesn’t quite fit into stock G/W Hate Bears lists because Leonin Arbiter doesn’t play well with fetchlands, but there might be something there anyway.
The Expertise Cards
Which means we get to revisit this spicy little number:
I’ve yet to play any games with this version of the deck, and like any fresh list there are going to be cards that work and slots that don’t. The only way to find out is to test, but this seems like a fine starting point. I don’t think I would’ve settled on Detention Sphere and Vendilion Clique if I wasn’t thinking about random cards I wouldn’t mind playing off of Sram’s Expertise.
Baral’s Expertise is technically an option, but 5 mana is just too much for Modern.
Yahenni’s Expertise might fit what we’re doing better, and some have already built Bird Brain with black for Esper Charm and the like. Come to think of it, Esper Charm isn’t bad off of an Expertise anyway.
Kari Zev’s Expertise is the cheapest, thus allowing for the fastest Bird combo and most aggressive opening, but it’s also the least controlling of the various options. I do think 4 Kari Zev’s Expertise and 4 Beck // Call would be a hysterical sideboard package for a Burn deck. Maybe Kuldotha Red could even be built to cast Beck, giving you a strange Cheerios list that could randomly Expertise out some Birds.
Sram, Senior Edificer
When Sram first got spoiled, a few people mentioned how it could add some increased consistency to the Modern Puresteel Paladin Storm deck, which uses 0 costing equipment to cantrip through until it finds a lethal Grapeshot.
At the time, I thought the deck was just too janky to be good even with another card, and I wasn’t even sure adding 4-of a 2 casting cost legend was the way to go. This is why testing is so important, because sometimes our assumptions are just wrong. It turns out that the added consistency makes Puresteel Cheerios into a very real deck.
Recently, Zak Elsik Top 8ed a 60 player tournament with the deck. Here’s his updated list:
When Zak tweeted out the deck I took notice, and my interest intensified when Louis Kaplan took the deck to a Top 8 finish in a local 57 player event over the weekend. Louis has a pretty good eye for when a combo deck is actually good.
I took the deck for a spin, and 4-1ed a league with a Twisted Image and a few Path to Exiles in the sideboard. The Image was worse than a redundant Grapeshot, but the Path to Exiles were clutch against Thalia and Eidolon of the Great Revel, and if anything, I’d go up to 3-4.