Do you like insanely powerful combo decks? Me too! I’ve been working on a spicy one—Modern Gruul Amulet. (Video set coming out Friday!)
This is where things bifurcate. The conventional Amulet deck is likely to grab a Tolaria West and a bounce land to hopefully transmute for a Pact of Negation to defend their position. Instead, this deck grabs a pair of Spinerock Knolls, digging 8 cards for an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
This Gruul Hideaway version with Emrakul is much more likely to win on the spot which is an impressive differentiation from an already impressive and proven deck.
The idea to use Spinerock Knoll and Emrakul in this deck has been floating around for a while. I’ve been aware of it as early as 2013 while preparing for Pro Tour Born of the Gods with my brother in Spain. However, I never had the cards and kept it on the backburner of my mind for years, waiting for the right time.
Now, I’ve happened to acquire the cards and have been excitedly working on the deck. The results have been stellar so far, and I think it’s a good alternative competitive option for Modern—something delightful that could take down a big tournament in the right hands.
Modern Gruul Amulet
Modern Gruul Amluet Sideboard
Comparing with “Conventional” Amulet
This deck is amazing, but we will have to compare it with conventional Amulet decks, because our brains are wired to think in terms of analogy. We want to know how or why this is better or worse. Let’s get into the disadvantages and advantages.
Disadvantages of Gruul Amulet
First of all, this version is missing out on the consistency afforded by Tolaria West. Tolaria West is maybe the most attractive piece that is missing. This land can be used to transmute for a bounce land, Summoner’s Pact to find Primeval Titan, or Pact of Negation to defend a winning position.
A Primeval Titan can grab a bounce land and a Tolaria West to pick up, so the conventional version is good at chaining Titans to grind through an attrition deck like Jund.
The conventional version plays Serum Visions, which we could play as well, but I feel is an unnecessary stretch on the mana. Serum Visions gives the scry 2 ability to a deck that badly needs it. While it takes a mana, the benefit of Serum Visions is clear.
Finally, the conventional version plays Hive Mind and Summoner’s Pact as an alternate kill, which is well supported by Tolaria West. If the opponent can’t pay for either the blue or green Pact, they lose.
I may be missing some, but those are plenty of advantages for the conventional version.
Advantages of Gruul Amulet
The first and most important advantage of the Gruul version is access to Through the Breach and Emrakul. The power of these cards is hard to do justice with words, and when drawn together it’s a cheat code. 5 mana, 15 damage (which is often a kill in Modern), and 6 permanents sacrificed. That’s an easy-win button.
However, each of these cards is great apart from the other. Through the Breach Primeval Titan cuts 1 mana off Titan and the haste ability frees you up to grab an extra hideaway land to look at 12-16 cards for an Emrakul instead of having to get a Slayers’ Stronghold.
Emrakul, of course great with hideaway, is actually castable with this version. 15 is a lot, but it’s possible and it comes up. Two Amulets and a Summer Bloom net 10 mana right there, and there are other ways to get the other 5.
Finally, the presence of these cards gives you an attractive alternative plan to fight through Blood Moon. While the conventional version may scoop to this nemesis card, you can plow right through it with Through the Breach. That’s a serious advantage.
Also, Emrakul gives you a random immunity to mill decks. These aren’t so common, but it’s random upside.
Being Gruul with just a touch of Naya gives you a better mana situation as well. You don’t have to rely on 5-color lands and you can make good use of Lotus Cobra and Simian Spirit Guide for additional speed.
While missing out on Tolaria West sucks, not playing it (and your improved mana) lets you include some extra utility lands which can let you grind against the attrition decks almost as well.
Finally, you have the advantage of the hideaway lands for an increased chance of instant kills.
Overall, there’s a lot of advantages to be pleased about.
Modern Gruul Amulet
There are enough trade-offs to make it uncertain which version is better, so the tiebreaker is preference. This may mean preference of personality, or preference of collection—you may already have the cards for this version, and if you do, I highly recommend it.
If you want to know more, check back Friday to catch the video series on it. The deck impresses.