A lot of the excitement surrounding Aether Revolt in Modern is focused on the combo-tastic possibilities of the expertise spells and the raw efficiency of Fatal Push. However, there are other exciting interactions besides comboing off with Sram and Beck or killing Tarmogoyfs with Fatal Push. Yahenni's Expertise and Sram's Expertise in particular have the potential to substantially improve some of the control decks we’ve seen in the last couple of months. Last week, Sam Pardee took a closer look at how control might adapt:
U/B Control ? Modern | Sam Pardee
- Planeswalkers (4)
- 4 Liliana of the Veil
- Lands (23)
- 2 Island
- 3 Swamp
- 2 Creeping Tar Pit
- 2 Ghost Quarter
- 2 Watery Grave
- 4 Darkslick Shores
- 4 Polluted Delta
- 4 Verdant Catacombs
Yahenni's Expertise does a lot of subtle things for this deck in the current Modern format. However, the biggest thing Expertise cards do in control decks is allow you to cast Ancestral Visions out of your hand might otherwise be effectively dead. Frequently, Ancestral Visions suspended on or after turn four or five just aren’t going to be particularly relevant. Yahenni's Expertise not only makes those copies of Ancestral Vision live, but pays you back immediately.
In addition to turning on extra copies of Ancestral Vision, Yahenni's Expertise also gives you ways to fight against cards like Arcbound Ravager and other pump spells. Other toughness-based sweepers like Anger of the Gods can leave your opponent an opening to go all in on one threat and kill you on the following turn. Yahenni's Expertise can force your opponent to pull the trigger on some of their tricks while letting you kill whatever threat they move in on with a follow-up Fatal Push or Victim of Night.
Yet another powerful use for Yahenni's Expertise to to sweep the board and follow-up with a Planeswalker like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy or Liliana of the Veil. Being able to clear the board and resolve a Planeswalker on the same turn is a huge swing in tempo, and gives control decks a way to keep pace with aggressive decks besides Snapcaster Mage and one-mana instants.
The moral of the story is Expertise cards open up a lot of interesting space for experimentation, and not just in combo decks featuring powerful fuse spells. The ability to just cast a Planeswalker for free, or cast a surprise copy of Restore Balance or Ancestral Vision from your hand shouldn’t be overlooked. There are lots of new and exciting options for control decks that want to utilize Expertise spells, and I’m sure we’ll only see more interesting things as time goes on.