If you’ve been watching Modern recently, I’m sure you’ve seen at least a few games involving the Amulet Titan combo deck that has been posting great results in recent tournaments. Despite making the finals in Omaha and at the PT in D.C., it was still only a tiny percentage of the field at GP Vancouver. Even though it was underrepresented in the Swiss, the deck put two copies in the Top 8 and is clearly a powerhouse in the format.

As a starting point, let’s look at the list that Alexander Hayne took to a Top 4 finish in Vancouver:

Deck List

Videos

If you are unfamiliar with the deck, check out my videos from a Daily Event where I took the deck for a spin:

Game Plan

So how does the deck win? The primary game plan is to get an Amulet of Vigor in play and then abuse either Azusa or Summer Bloom to play multiple Ravnica block bouncelands in a single turn. Each of these lands will untap due to Amulet, letting you tap it for 2 mana before returning it to your hand. You only need a single bounceland, as it can bounce itself.

Once you have six mana, your main win condition is Primeval Titan. Titan searches out a Boros Garrison and a Slayers’ Stronghold, which also untap.

Titan gains haste and attacks, getting you two more lands—Tolaria West and a bounceland. You bounce the Tolaria West, leaving you free to transmute it for Summoner’s Pact and another Titan next turn. Not many decks can stand up to the continual barrage of hasted Primeval Titans.

Plan B is to simply play a Hive Mind with your 6 mana and then cast some Pacts.

If your opponent doesn’t have the right lands in play immediately, you will win the game in their next upkeep.

Both plan A and plan B offer explosive kills as early as turn 1, but they also require you to assemble a multi-card combo in a format full of Thoughtseizes. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the deck is only capable of bursting down the opponent. It can also out-grind almost anyone.

Sam Black described the deck as “a better Tron deck” when we were talking about it at the PT, and I think that is a great comparison. Against decks like Abzan that can disrupt your ability to kill them on turn 2, your plan C of just ramping into haymakers is surprisingly hard to beat. If they take your Amulet, you can use Summer Bloom to just put lots of lands into play, allowing you to hardcast one of your big threats on turn 3 or turn 4. The deck is also very redundant, with 4 Tolaria West, 4 Summoner’s Pact, and 4 Primeval Titan giving you access to a lot of big scary monsters. After sideboard, you add even more resilient threats that make it impossible for them to out-grind you.

Deck Difficulty: High

Amulet is not a deck you can just pick up and play in your next Modern tournament without practice, which probably has a lot to do with why it is still underrepresented in the metagame. There are lots of weird lines that you need to spot to maximize your equity with the deck, and the only way to learn them is to play the deck a lot and get into tough spots. My Daily video really highlights the importance of practice with the deck, as I often noticed winning lines moments too late.

While the deck is hard to play, you also benefit from it being hard to play against. Many of your opponents won’t really know what the deck is capable of and will underestimate what you can do on your turn. The more you understand the nuances and side lines that are available to you, the more you’ll pick up free wins.

Weaknesses

Like with most of the “glass cannon”-ish explosive combo decks in Modern, Amulet will have a very hard time beating an opponent who is ready for you. You basically cannot beat a resolved Blood Moon (you have 1 Forest and a few Nature’s Claims) out of any deck and you will have a very hard time in the Splinter Twin matchup in general. They are just as fast as you are and their interaction naturally lines up well against you. They can tap down your lands in your upkeep or Remand a key spell, buying them the one turn they need to combo you.

Land destruction can also be annoying, but is quite beatable. When you don’t have an explosive kill available, you have to play for a longer game. This will usually require you to just play out a few bounce lands, opening yourself up to a pseudo 2-for-1 when the land gets destroyed. You don’t actually lose out a card, but you do lose 2 turns of tempo. This can be backbreaking in a format like Modern.

Rumors that Amulet folds to discard are definitely overstated. The matchup against Abzan is actually great (which surprised me initially) as long as they don’t put you under a fast clock. Any deck that needs the game to go longer to win will have a hard time keeping up with all of your threats.

What Is A Favorable Metagame For This Deck?

As long as you avoid Blood Moon, Splinter Twin, and the rarely seen white hate decks (think cards like Flickerwisp, Leonin Arbiter, etc.), you should be pretty happy with most other matchups. Decks with a lot of cheap interaction and a good clock are also not great (Faeries comes to mind).

Deck Core Cards

Lands

I wouldn’t want to sleeve up the deck without at least the above lands in there. You can tweak which 5-color lands you want, but these are the minimum numbers on bouncelands and utility lands I would want present. The deck typically also plays 2 Cavern of Souls and a Mana Confluence, but I don’t think you need 2 Caverns in the current metagame. So few decks are playing with counterspells now and I like the idea of a 2nd Vesuva. It opens up a lot more options with your Titans and also adds some training wheels to the deck, making it more forgiving of suboptimal fetching/tapping situations.

The core spell engine. Most lists are also playing 4 Ancient Stirrings these days. These aren’t strictly necessary but they seem great to me.

I wouldn’t go lower than 2 Azusa, and cutting a Primeval Titan is crazy. Lists typically also play some number of Simian Spirit Guides to add some additional explosiveness—these aren’t strictly necessary either, but do add some power. You could certainly cut the Spirit Guide if you so desire.

Sideboard

I wouldn’t want to cut these 8 from the sideboard. They are the core package against Abzan, which remains the most popular deck. From here, you have a lot of flexibility. You probably want some number of Pyroclasm/Firespout sweepers, though which and how many is really a metagame call. You can also play additional silver bullet lands like another Cavern here.

Depending on who you want to beat, you can pick some number of answers as well. Cards like Nature’s Claim (Splinter Twin, Blood Moon), Creeping Corrosion (Affinity), Sigarda (Abzan), Dismember (Infect, Splinter Twin), and Chalice (Storm, Infect, Burn) are all reasonable choices. I haven’t found a sideboard plan that lets you have even a mediocre win rate against Splinter Twin yet. If you manage to come up with something, please let me know.

The Best Cards Against You

As I mentioned above, Blood Moon is the real killer for this deck. Other cards that are particularly relevant are:

Path to Exile – One of the only ways to remove Titan from play.

Abrupt Decay – Kills Amulet and Azusa (though she may have already done her work)

Fulminator Mage/Avalanche Riders/Ghost Quarter – Land destruction is great against bouncelands.

Thoughtseize / Inquisition – Disrupting the explosive start is the first step to beating the deck.

Chalice of the Void – Chalice on 0 stops you from Pacting, which really hurts the inevitability engine for the deck.

One card that I’ve found to be pretty disappointing against Amulet is Liliana. Khalni Garden and Sigarda make the edict plan unreliable and the deck often has a few extra lands sitting in its hand from the bouncelands, making the discard ability less potent.

Tips and Tricks

I’m not exaggerating when I say the deck is one of the trickiest to play with. There are so many weird lines that let you wiggle out of tough spots. A few things to remember:

  • When you don’t have Amulet in play, you can cast a Primeval Titan for a Slayers’ Stronghold and a bounceland and then pick up the Stronghold. You can then play the Stronghold as your land for the turn and activate it. The same trick works with Sunhome.
  • You can time your Summoner’s Pacts for either your turn or their turn, depending on when you expect to have 4 extra mana to pay for it.
  • RW mana can be a limiting factor if you are trying to activate both Fortress and Stronghold on the same turn, so make sure you have enough of your 5-color lands in play to give you the extra mana.
  • With multiple Amulets in play, you can search for Stronghold with Titan and then activate it multiple times (once for each Amulet trigger).

These are just a few of the lines that may come up. Get your reps in with the deck before taking it to a serious tournament.

Sideboarding

The critical decision when sideboarding with the deck is whether you want to leave in the Hive Mind plan. Typically, the faster you need to be to keep up with your opponent, the more likely you are to want Hive Mind as an additional “I Win” button. The more likely they are to have double green to pay for Summoner’s Pact, the less likely you want it.

You will also often want to cut 1-2 lands from the deck. Against decks without counterspells, go ahead and cut the Caverns for more action. Against something like Storm, go ahead and take out the Khalni Garden or the Radiant Fountain. You don’t need 27 lands to function so don’t worry about going down to 24-25 if the utility lands don’t offer anything for the matchup.

That’s all I’ve got for now on Amulet Bloom—hope you have fun with the deck and feel free to ask more questions in the comments below!