Bring to Light has had some time now to make its mark on Modern. While largely a niche card, it’s rare for a 5-mana, multicolored sorcery to see any kind of Modern play, and it has even found an upper tier home in Scapeshift.
Both tutoring and casting the card immediately is a powerful effect, and it has a way of capturing the imagination despite requiring 4 to 5 colors to be worth the effort.
Gifts Rock is a known, if underappreciated, archetype in Modern. The shell is a typical Junk deck with some mana, some removal, and some value threats, but you splash for Gifts Ungiven as a trump card. Against creature decks, you Unburial Rites targeting Elesh Norn. Against control, you tutor for value.
Of course, the problem with Gifts in a deck like this is that it slowly strips the deck of threats. If the opponent deals with your first salvo or two, you start running out of things to get with Gifts. By running 3 instead of 4, Mattia greatly reduces his chance of clunky multiple-Gifts draws.
Here, Bring to Light is a 4th Gifts Ungiven, but it’s also a 5th Siege Rhino. Tutoring a single threat into play as opposed to grabbing 4 and allowing the opponent to throw the best 2 in the bin helps keep the deck threat-dense for the grindier games.
It’s also a decent target for Gifts Ungiven, serving as another effective copy of what you’re really looking for.
Luis broke his Bringing Gifts deck on the mothership back in the ancient times of yestermonth, and since then he’s been tuning it on stream. While he doesn’t think it’s ready for a big tournament like a Grand Prix, it’s undeniably sweet and has some good things going on.
Here are a couple strengths and weaknesses about this build/archetype in particular:
- This is one of the best Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy decks out there. One of Jace’s problems is that it isn’t pressure in and of itself, and it only fits in decks that can afford to durdle. Here, the emphasis is on value, and Jace fits in perfectly with a nice curve of spells.
- Sylvan Caryatid adds a bit of robustness to the mana base that Mattia’s Rock list lacks. Modern is a Lightning Bolt format, and making sure your mana fixers stick around means that Bring to Light is more consistent, and you’re more likely to cast Abrupt Decay or Maelstrom Pulse through a Blood Moon.
- No Liliana. Liliana of the Veil was a mainstay of the old Gifts Control lists, and it filled a lot of holes. It removed hexproof creatures, it supplemented the discard suite, and it combined well with the deck’s graveyard-based value engines (Unburial Rites, Life from the Loam, Raven’s Crime), and we’re reliant on Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy to bin a naturally-drawn Elesh Norn. While Liliana could possibly fit, we do have a higher curve than the more traditional Gifts Control lists, and the higher the curve the less good it is to drain both player’s resources.
- More clunk. If anything, this list is durdlier than the typical 4-5 color control list, and because we have two different tutor packages there are even more situational bullets than usual. Cards like Glen Elendra Archmage are a lot more attractive when you can tutor them into play, and the Loam package wouldn’t make sense without Gifts.
Many players and writers have pointed out how Bring to Light fixes some of the problems with Scapeshift, which is a deck that needs Scapeshift on time but also doesn’t want multiple copies clogging up the hand. Bring to Light fills that role by finding ramp spells, by impacting the board when you need to live, and by tutoring for Scapeshift when you’re ready to win.
The only time the extra mana matters is if you’re facing soft countermagic. With 7 lands in play, casting Bring to Light leaves you vulnerable to Mana Leak. Still, it’s not like players have been skimping on copies of actual Scapeshift, and I’ve yet to see a list with fewer than 3. In places where Bring to Light has to play into Leak, a more traditional version would lack Scapeshift entirely.
One point that people seem to agree on is that you don’t want to lean too heavily on the 4th color. It’s there as a necessary evil for Bring to Light, and you don’t want to have to fetch weirdly in the early game or draw an off-color basic when you need that third blue for Cryptic Command. As such, the best tutor targets will either be on-color (RUG) or light on the splash color.
Strong Main-Deck Targets
Scape to Light
If you’re already stretching the mana base for Bring to Light, Worldly Counsel seems a little better than Anticipate or Peer Through Depths. Peer doesn’t let you hit land drops, and you don’t need to look as deep for Scapeshift because you have more effective copies thanks to Bring to Light. Meanwhile, Anticipate is always going to look at a flat three cards.
Sure, sometimes Worldly Counsel will only look at two cards on turn 2, but if you’re cantripping to hit land drops in the early game then looking at fewer cards doesn’t matter as much since the bulk of the deck is devoted to mana. Meanwhile, looking a card deeper in the late game is much more important because at that point more of your deck is chaff.
Pia and Kiran Nalaar is a spicy target, and it gives the deck a way to gain value and develop a board presence without opening itself up to spot removal, which is the problem with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Post-board, with an additional copy as well as a few Kolaghan’s Commands, the potential to grind only increases.
PV and Hoogland prefer Cultivate and Hunting Wilds in that slot, respectively, because it allows Bring to Light to ramp you from 5 to 7 mana. I’m not sure which I prefer, but they all seem fine on paper.