MH1 is exactly what I expected flavor and power-level wise. There are a lot of good and interesting cards, but nothing too in-your-face overpowered. The mythic rares seem like some of the strongest designs so far, but it’s not clear if cards like Hexdrinker or Wrenn and Six will be able to find a proper home in Modern.
As far as blue cards go, it seems like control players have been spoiled. I didn’t think they would reprint Counterspell and I’m actually glad they didn’t. I think the card would have been a bit too strong and made for less interesting deck building choices.
We blue mages did get some other goodies though and hopefully it’s not over yet. Fact or Fiction, Prohibit, Exclude, and Flusterstorm will all be Modern legal now. Out of these reprints, as someone who has registered Glimmer of Genius in a non-Standard Pro Tour, I expect Fact or Fiction to be the most likely to see play. The card is very powerful, combines nicely with Snapcaster Mage, lets you punish your opponent hard when they try to play around Cryptic Command, and plays around Narset’s passive. The card is becoming increasingly popular. You can argue that it has tough competition as a 4-mana card, but I’ve found having access to that type of effect to be sometimes better than having more Cryptics and Jaces.
Force of Negation was the first of its cycle to be spoiled and it seemed so strong to me in combination with cards like Narset and Jace, the Mind Sculptor that I half-jokingly questioned whether Wizards had actually tested the card or not. It lets you tap out for a planeswalker against a deck like Tron and can completely disrupt Dredge’s game by countering their turn-1 Faithless Looting (it even exiles the spell). Sure, the card isn’t great against something like Humans, but it is still much better than Negate or Dovin’s Veto as it gives you the option of countering a turn-1 Aether Vial.
While I don’t think it is as good as I initially thought, I do think it will be a role-player even though the “ Negate” slot in control decks is getting crowded these days.
When people asked me what card I wanted to see in MH1, I let myself dream of the following: 1UW, instant: draw two cards and gain 2 life. This design might seem innocuous but it would be an all-star addition to U/W Control and probably way too strong of a card especially in combination with Snapcaster Mage.
Instead, we’re getting Archmage’s Charm, an instant with three good and relevant abilities but at a close to prohibitive mana cost. Why am I calling it a prohibitive mana cost when Cryptic Command sees a ton of play?
Well I haven’t had a chance to play with any of the new cards yet as the set won’t be out for another two weeks on Magic Online, but my initial reaction is that this card will only be good enough to include in blue decks if you can reliably cast it on turn 3. If this condition isn’t met, I feel like you’re mostly getting a second-rate Cryptic Command and a card not worth including in control decks.
Hopefully, we get some more playable cards for blue control decks, but given what has been spoiled so far, here is where I plan on starting my Mythic Championship Barcelona playtesting:
2 Plains 4 Opt 6 Island 4 Field of Ruin 4 Flooded Strand 3 Glacial Fortress 1 Prismatic Vista 2 Hallowed Fountain 2 Celestial Colonnade 1 Fblthp, the Lost 1 Vendilion Clique 4 Snapcaster Mage 1 Wall of Omens 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 1 Surgical Extraction 2 Cryptic Command 1 Detention Sphere 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2 Logic Knot 4 Path to Exile 2 Force of Negation 1 Oust 2 Supreme Verdict 1 Wrath of God 2 Fact or Fiction 3 Narset, Parter of Veils 1 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Serum Visions Sideboard 2 Celestial Purge 1 Disdainful Stroke 2 Rest in Peace 1 Lyra Dawnbringer 1 Vendilion Clique 2 Restoration Angel 1 Stony Silence 2 Timely Reinforcements 1 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Surgical Extraction 1 Dovin's Veto
Most U/W versions have been playing two Negate-type counterspells in the main deck and I plan on giving Force of Negation a solid try. I think it will be strong, but it’s possible I’m wrong again and the card ends up being worse than Dovin’s Veto.You may want to make the Wrath of God a third Supreme Verdict to have an extra blue card to pitch to the new Force.
While Fact or Fiction seems much more powerful than Glimmer of Genius, it doesn’t have the flexibility of Hieroglyphic Illumination and it’s basically taking slots usually allocated to Cryptic Command or Jace, the Mind Sculptor, so it will have to perform to earn its keep.
One notable change to the list: I’ve been cutting down on Celestial Colonnade. I was already only playing three in MC London before WAR was legal and I think the addition of a bunch of 3-mana cards makes having lands that come into play tapped even more costly. You won’t be able to use your third turn to play Colonnade as often, especially with four copies of Snapcaster Mage, who ends being a 3-mana spell a lot of the time. I actually just played a League with no Colonnades whatsoever and didn’t miss them at all, but I’ll need to play more without them to see if I get punished in matchups like Grixis Death’s Shadow, Jund, or Humans. This can also be a nice option for people building on a budget as you get to skimp partially or even totally on Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria if you want to with the printings of Narset and T3f3ri. I wouldn’t recommend cutting Snapcaster, though. The card is absurd, especially right now with so many planeswalkers. You need to attack and you need some kind of win condition.
I’ve been liking Wall of Omens in the main and will be trying Fblthp as well. It’s an extra blue card I can pitch to Force and an extra body that lets me pressure some of the new planewalkers like Karn, the Great Creator, Narset, and Teferi, Time Raveler. These creatures also make my sideboard Restoration Angel, a card that has been absurd for me and that I bring in most matchups, more effective.
I decided not to include Archmage’s Charm as I will pretty much have to give up Field of Ruin to do so and I don’t think it’s a trade-off I’m willing to make, but it’s possible you can come up with a mana base that includes Mystic Gate to run it if you really want to.
3 Field of Ruin 19 Snow-Covered Island 4 Thing in the Ice/Awoken Horror 4 Snapcaster Mage 3 Cryptic Command 1 String of Disappearances 4 Thought Scour 4 Opt 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 1 Logic Knot 1 Spell Snare 2 Surgical Extraction 1 Spell Pierce 4 Serum Visions 3 Narset, Parter of Veils 3 Archmage's Charm 2 Force of Negation Sideboard 1 Ceremonious Rejection 1 Dispel 1 Disdainful Stroke 1 Surgical Extraction 2 Ratchet Bomb 1 Hurkyl's Recall 2 Tormod's Crypt 1 Vendilion Clique 1 Pithing Needle 1 Wurmcoil Engine 1 Narset, Parter of Veils 1 Archmage's Charm 1 Force of Negation
Here is an updated version of a pet deck of mine that I recently played in one of my videos for CFB.
I haven’t played a ton with it but my win-rate has been decent and between WAR and MH1, it gets a ton of new tools. If you’re a nostalgic for Draw-Go and an all-basic-Islands mana base, this might be right up your alley.
While I don’t think Archmage’s Charm will find a home in U/W Control, this might be the deck for it, but even with 19 Islands and 12 one-mana cantrips, I’m a bit worried about being able to cast it consistently on curve. Another hidden drawback of running Charm is that I don’t get to include Blast Zone as the mana base just doesn’t allow it.
You might have noticed the high Narset count in U/W and in this deck. While I’m not sure you want this many, the card is definitely the real deal and it’s possible you want the full playset between the main and sideboard. (Edit: I just jammed a U/W League with four Narset main and it felt good.)
I used to play an Unsummon (over Vapor Snag in case I wanted to bounce my own creatures). String of Disappearances might be an upgrade as you can potentially bounce your own Snapcaster as well as one of their creatures for UUU.
Hurkyl’s Recall is usually an anti-Affinity card but it’s now also a cute tech card that lets you completely blow out decks that run the Karn, the Great Creator + Mycosynth Lattice combo as it acts as a one-sided, 2-mana instant Upheaval.
4 Misty Rainforest 4 Scalding Tarn 4 Prismatic Vista 5 Snow-Covered Island 1 Snow-Covered Mountain 1 Snow-Covered Forest 1 Steam Vents 1 Breeding Pool 1 Field of Ruin 1 Blast Zone 4 Snapcaster Mage 2 Thragtusk 4 Ice-Fang Coatl 1 Fact or Fiction 1 Wrenn and Six 2 Arcum’s Astrolabe 2 Narset, Parter of Veils 2 Surgical Extraction 2 Force of Negation 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2 Lightning Bolt 2 Skred 2 Electrolyze 1 Blood Moon 1 Spell Pierce 4 Opt 1 Spell Snare 1 Cryptic Command 1 Remand 1 Mana Leak Sideboard 2 Engineered Explosives 3 Tormod's Crypt 1 Anger of the Gods 1 Wrenn and Six 1 Abrade 1 Magma Spray 1 Crumble to Dust 1 Shatterstorm 1 Spell Snare 1 Negate 2 Verdant Windstorm
The mana base of this deck is probably sketchy but I really want to build around Ice-Fang Coatl as the card is completely busted if you can get full value consistently. It’s possible a better build doesn’t include red and looks like something between this list and the Big Blue one. Arcum’s Astrolabe is an interesting card and it will take some play to see if it’s worth including as fixing and as a buff for Skred and Coatl.
I decided to forego Stomping Ground to make room for more Snow-Covered lands and the two Thragtusks were added partly as a way to mitigate all the damage this deck deals to itself with the 12 fetchlands.
Wrenn and Six is definitely one of the most exciting and intriguing cards in the new set, as we’ve never had access to a playable 2-mana planeswalker before. Its +1 ability can provide a constant flow of card advantage and make sure you never miss a land drop the entire game. Its -1 ability has some juicy targets like Noble Hierarch or Sakura-Tribe Scout. It can also help a Lightning Bolt finish off 4-toughness creatures like Thing in the Ice and your opponent probably has to deal with it at some point before it ultimates. I’m playing a Blast Zone and a Field of Ruin to try to get a bit more value out of the planeswalker, but that might be greedy. It’s possible Wrenn and Six is good enough with fetchlands only. It will be interesting to see if Wrenn and Six is the real deal and if it can be the centerpiece of a new archetype or if it gets played for value in decks that can already cast it, like Jund or maybe Dredge.
Verdant Windstorm might be a bit narrow, but can probably easily gain you 9 life against Burn—maybe 12 sometimes—and as an instant is a bit harder to prevent with Skullcrack. It obviously combos nicely with Snapcaster and might be good enough to bring in against other decks with reach like Dredge or Mono-Red Phoenix. The bullets now make even more sense with Narset to dig to them.
2 Misty Rainforest 4 Prismatic Vista 2 Polluted Delta 2 Snow-Covered Forest 2 Snow-Covered Swamp 6 Snow-Covered Island 4 Field of Ruin 4 Ice-Fang Coatl 1 Thragtusk 4 Snapcaster Mage 4 Arcum's Astrolabe 2 Unearth 2 Dead of Winter 2 Mana Leak 2 Fact or Fiction 2 Inquisition of Kozilek 1 Spell Snare 1 Spell Pierce 2 Force of Negation 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2 Narset, Parter of Veils 2 Fatal Push 2 Surgical Extraction 4 Opt Sideboard 2 Verdant Windstorm 3 Nihil Spellbomb 1 Narset, Parter of Veils 2 Thoughtseize 1 Thragtusk 2 Fatal Push 1 Dead of Winter 1 Engineered Explosives 1 Creeping Corrosion 1 Fulminator Mage
When I finished writing this article the first time, they hadn’t spoiled Astrolabe or Dead of Winter yet and I had written a whole paragraph about how they wouldn’t give us more cheap snow permanents to make Coatl good. Not only did they do that but they even printed some pretty good removal spells. I’m not entirely sure you can afford to play multiple copies of a card like Astrolabe in what is somewhat of a tempo deck despite also being kind of a control deck. Spending the mana on turn 1 instead of casting something like an Opt, a Vendilion Clique or an Inquisition might be too much of a cost.
I also took a different approach with the mana base in this list with no dual lands whatsoever. If these snow strategies are viable, it might take a little tinkering before we get the mana right.
On the same day they spoiled Dead of Winter and Astrolabe, they also revealed Unearth, which seems sweet in small numbers with Snapcaster and Coatl, even though ideally you’d probably want to maximize and bring back a 3-drop.
These two Coatl lists are just a first sketch but the card has a nice Legacy feel to it and I hope I can figure the snow puzzle out in time for MC Barcelona.
In the meantime…
If any of you have a Modern tournament before MH1 comes out and are looking for an updated U/W Control list, here is where I’m currently at after 40 or so matches since the WAR release.
6 Island 2 Plains 2 Hallowed Fountain 2 Celestial Colonnade 1 Polluted Delta 4 Flooded Strand 4 Field of Ruin 3 Glacial Fortress 4 Snapcaster Mage 1 Fblthp, the Lost 1 Wall of Omens 1 Vendilion Clique 2 Surgical Extraction 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 2 Cryptic Command 1 Detention Sphere 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2 Logic Knot 4 Path to Exile 2 Dovin's Veto 1 Oust 2 Supreme Verdict 1 Wrath of God 3 Narset, Parter of Veils 1 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Serum Visions 4 Opt Sideboard 1 Celestial Purge 1 Disdainful Stroke 3 Rest in Peace 1 Lyra Dawnbringer 1 Vendilion Clique 2 Restoration Angel 1 Stony Silence 2 Timely Reinforcements 1 Shalai, Voice of Plenty 1 Hurkyl's Recall 1 Teferi, Time Raveler
I think the main deck is very solid. I would like a second Vendilion Clique and a second baby Teferi but that would probably be too many 3-drops. Dredge is very popular on MTGO and Burn is more popular than it should be so my sideboard reflects that. The Hurkyl’s Recall is mostly in as a meme so I can live the one-sided Upheaval dream. One of my viewers suggested Shalai as a narrow card to combat Burn but I haven’t drawn it yet and it might be best as a third Timely Reinforcements.
What About Non-Blue Cards?
While I’ll probably be trying out and tuning a lot of control decks, there are a few other cards I’m excited to brew with.
Slivers, Eladamri’s Call, or Yawgmoth, Thran Physician all seem like they could be built around and cards like Kess, Dissident Mage or Kaya’s Guile might give Grixis and Esper the little boost they need.
I have never been so excited for a new set and as far as I’m concerned, the people at Wizards are a hundred percent delivering.
What are the cards you’re going to be brewing with?