Claim // Fame, the new black-red aftermath spell from Hour of Devastation, is a powerful card. On the front side, for only 1 mana, you get to reanimate a creature of your choice that costs up to 2. In ideal circumstances, this is a tutor that is mana advantage rather than disadvantage—you select what card you want, and then it’s put directly into play. Then, on the back side, you get to give anything +2/+0 and haste, which is not an effect that you’d play by itself, but is a nice bonus, especially if you’re reanimating heavy-hitters in the late game.
The tricky part, of course, is to make sure that you are in the ideal circumstances. For Claim // Fame to be good, you have to have creatures that cost 1 and 2 and that you want to reanimate, and it’s good to have at least an aggressive component in your deck so that the back side is more threatening.
Claim // Fame is not an early game card because it requires a creature to already be in the graveyard to do anything. In Standard, most 1- and 2-mana creatures are weak in the late game, which makes this card a little at odds with itself—you get a 2-drop of your choice in the late game, but 2-drops aren’t impactful in the late game, so it doesn’t matter much.
Luckily for us, there’s a format in which 1- and 2-drops are very impactful in the late game: Modern. Modern has creatures like Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster Mage, and Death’s Shadow, all of which have high impact in the game even if they come down after turn 2.
The perfect deck for this card, in my opinion, is Grixis Death’s Shadow. It has 3 very important synergies:
- It has powerful 1- and 2-drops that you want to return. Returning Snapcaster Mage in particular is very nice, as it lets you immediately flashback Claim and return something else, which means you get a free 2/1 (though you don’t get to cast Fame then). Returning Death’s Shadow in the late game is obviously great.
- It has creatures you want to give haste. Death’s Shadow hits for a lot, and the deck can threaten your life total very quickly and out of nowhere. Right now, people are scared of Temur Battle Rage, but they at least know that if the board is empty, then they’re not going to die this turn. With the haste ability of Fame, you force them to play a lot more conservatively if you ever put a big Death’s Shadow in the graveyard.
- It has ways of putting cards in the graveyard via Thought Scour, which works both ways—either you put Claim // Fame in the graveyard and then you get a use of Fame for free, or you put a Death’s Shadow or Snapcaster Mage in the graveyard and then you can bring them back.
Now there’s the question as to what you would cut for the card. Kolaghan’s Command is its strongest competition, and I think both have their merits—Kolaghan’s Command is obviously more versatile and shines against decks like Affinity, whereas Claim // Fame more focused. Claim // Fame also requires more setup since the card does nothing by itself, whereas Command can do three different things even if you have nothing.
The real win in Claim // Fame comes from the mana department—to get a Death’s Shadow in play, you need 1 mana as opposed to 4, and that’s a huge difference in a deck that has fewer than 20 lands. Most of the time with Death’s Shadow, you play Kolaghan’s Command in one turn and then you play your Death’s Shadow the following turn, in which time you’d get two extra attacks with Claim // Fame.
Given that Affinity just won the last Modern GP, I expect hate for it to be high, which means that paradoxically, it probably won’t be very popular right now. Therefore, I’d start with Claim // Fame main deck instead of Kolaghan’s Command to try it out, and then I’d probably have Commands in the board.
This is what I’d start with:
Grixis Death’s Shadow
Other than Grixis Death’s Shadow, there are other applications for Claim // Fame. You can play it in Jund, where it can reanimate Dark Confidant, Grim Flayer, and Tarmogoyf. The Fame part may seem innocuous, but it actually adds a lot of damage—6 or 7 with a Grim Flayer or big Tarmogoyf, which is a lot in a deck that can Lightning Bolt them to death. Or you could play it in a Vizier of Remedies deck—it can reanimate either part of the combo (Vizier, Druid, or a mana outlet) and it can give Druid haste for a surprise kill.
Overall, I’m very excited about this card, and I want to see what it can do in a format that has as many powerful 1- and 2-drops as Modern.