There have been a number of wacky ways to cheat on mana costs in Magic’s history. For example, split cards like Fire // Ice have enabled players to do some pretty cool things over the years. Bloodbraid Elf cascading into Boom // Bust lets you cast either half, while flipping Wear // Tear off Counterbalance lets you counter either a 1- or 2-drop. The newest way to take advantage of these powerful spells is Brain in a Jar from Shadows over Innistrad. Let’s take a look:
U/B Brain in a Jar ? Modern | wylie1216
- Spells (33)
- 2 Cryptic Command
- 2 Far // Away
- 2 Mana Leak
- 3 Remand
- 2 Damnation
- 3 Inquisition of Kozilek
- 3 Thoughtseize
- 4 Beck // Call
- 4 Breaking // Entering
- 4 Serum Visions
- 4 Brain in a Jar
The core of this deck is very similar to any other U/B control deck: cantrips, discard, and removal spells comprise the bulk of the deck. However, your goal differs from the traditional control decks because you want to clear the way and resolve Brain in a Jar. Once you do, there are all kinds of sweet things you can do, like using Brain in a Jar to cast discard spells at instant speed during your opponent’s draw step or slowly Scry your way through your deck.
But while those interactions are cute, they aren’t why you’re playing Brain in a Jar. We play Brain in a Jar because of its interactions with Fuse cards. Because Brain in a Jar both casts the card from your hand and without paying its mana cost, you can use Brain in a Jar to cast the cheaper half, but pay the Fuse cost for free. That means activating Brain in a Jar for two lets you cast a fused Beck // Call, Breaking // Entering, or Far // Away. That’s where things get crazy.
Suddenly we’re talking about the ability to generate four power of fliers and draw four cards for two mana at instant speed. Seems fair, right? But that’s not all, you can also cast Breaking // Entering targeting yourself and flip a Griselbrand or Iona, Shield of Emeria into play, again for two mana and at instant speed. Sure, there are a ton of moving pieces in this deck, but the ability to just suddenly combo off and generate an overwhelming advantage is a pretty good reason to be playing Brain in a Jar.
What’s even more exciting to the deck-builder in me is this interaction can fit in any combination of colors, since you’re doing it all off activations of Brain in a Jar. That means I can play a Blue-based deck with See Beyond to get rid of pieces I don’t need, and Muddle the Mixture to find both Brain in a Jar or any of my combo pieces, and still be able to splash whatever colors I think I might need.
All told, this seems like an enormously fun and powerful deck that’s a little soft to the density of Artifact hate in Modern. You could certainly build the deck to be more resilient against cards like Ancient Grudge, Abrupt Decay, or Stony Silence, but the looming presence of those cards in the format is likely to prevent this style of deck from making it big in the Modern metagame.