There's never a dull week in Magic, and this one was a whopper!
The Secret Uro Ban
It's pretty funny that the only way they could make banning Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath in multiple formats a surprise was by doing so not in an actual banned and restricted announcement but in a Secret Lair announcement. While odd, it's actually a very thoughtful and consumer-friendly move by Wizards of the Coast. The Secret Lair containing Uro had surely been in development for a long time, so while they couldn't unprint Uro from it, letting potential buyers know ahead of time that a card in the Secret Lair was going to banned lets people make more informed buying choices. It's weird, but the intentions were very good here.
But if the delivery was a bit unexpected, the banning itself is anything but. Anyone who has been playing Magic in the Eternal formats in the last year has felt the sting of Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. Already axed from Standard, Uro is the most played creature in almost every other major format. Only Pauper and Vintage are spared from the Nature's Wrath (for obvious reasons).
It's fairly rare for a single card to be the number one most played creature in four major formats at once (Modern, Pioneer, Historic, and Legacy), but that has been reality for a while now. Uro just covers every single angle at once, proving almost impossible to attack aside from just ignoring it with some sort of big combo. The problem of course is that Uro likes to hang out with Thoughtseize, Force of Negation, and other combo killers.
You can be a powerful, game-swinging threat, but you have to be vulnerable to removal.
You can be a card advantage engine, but you must sacrifice power and efficiency for that cost.
You can be a recursive threat, but you shouldn't be able to defend well or draw cards.
Uro just does all of these almost effortlessly. You can't race it, you can't out grind it, and you can't kill it. Uro decks never run out of things to do, and even if you try to attack the graveyard to get rid of it you lose to all the other fair cards in their deck because the opportunity cost of playing Uro is so low.
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath... good riddance!
The Cascade Crazies
What a difference a week can make!
It was about one week ago when I recorded this week's video article, playing Jund Valki-Cascade. At the time it was a brand-new deck from d00mwake, capitalizing on the bizarre interaction between cascade and modal double-faced spells. There is of course a lead time in content creation, especially for videos, which saw the video go up on Tuesday of this week.
Magic always moves fast in the digital age, but wow! It's amazing that a deck can evolve so fast and become almost obsolete in only a weekend!
Five-Color Valki Cascade | Modern | maikage, MTGO 5-0 League
- Planeswalkers (3)
- 3 Teferi, Time Raveler
- Sorceries (4)
- 4 Supreme Verdict
- Enchantments (4)
- 4 Ardent Plea
- Lands (24)
- 1 Forest
- 1 Island
- 1 Plains
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 Ketria Triome
- 1 Mana Confluence
- 1 Raugrin Triome
- 1 Savai Triome
- 1 Steam Vents
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Watery Grave
- 2 Gemstone Caverns
- 2 Misty Rainforest
- 4 Flooded Strand
- 4 Wooded Foothills
There have been a number of these four and five color Cascade lists floating around, playing everything from Teferi, Time Raveler to Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath to Omnath, Locus of Creation, but there's on thing they all can agree on:
Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter shouldn't cost 3 mana!
Given how they changed the rules on both split cards like Fire // Ice (now they combine mana costs) as well as the original flip cards like Delver of Secrets (the back used to be CMC zero, now it's the same as the front), a rule change here for how cascade interacts with Valki, God of Lies has to be in the pipeline.
It's a counterintuitive rule anyway, and as Modern and even Legacy have turned into all Cascade-Into-Valki all-the-time format's it's a change that needs to happen.
Limited MTG Arena Open
Limited has perhaps been the format hit hardest by COVID-19.
No more local drafts at the store. No more paper prereleases. No more sealed deck qualifiers. No more Limited Grand Prix. Online Magic is often so focused on Constructed and new Constructed formats that Limited has fallen by the wayside to an extent. Limited tournament coverage never does as well as Constructed coverage, which means there have been almost no major Limited events in the last year.
Well now that changes!
Signed, Sealed, and Delivered!— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) February 10, 2021
Rejoice fans of Limited! It's finally official! ?
Best-of-Three Kaldheim"Phantom Sealed will be the format for our March Strixhaven Qualifier Weekend. https://t.co/6mIOkMouTC
Major Limited tournaments finally come to MTG Arena!
There will be an upcoming sealed MTG Arena Open for up to $2,000 cash prizes coming up, as well as a sealed qualifier weekend. The MTG Arena Open events are honestly some of the best events Magic has to offer, with a simple structure and on-demand gameplay you can play from home for big stakes. Winning $1,000 or $2,000 cash is awesome!
Although I'm mostly known as a Constructed player now, I started my Magic career as a Limited-only player and have my best Pro Tour finish in Limited as well. I've been playing some Limited on stream in my Bronze to Mythic series and it's been very fun getting back to it. Limited has waned over the years, but it really is not only a very fun format but a great entry point for newer players as well. And it doesn't hurt that while Wizards of the Coast has faltered numerous times with Constructed card design lately, there have been a number of phenomenal Limited formats lately!
This is a very welcome change.
The Emergence of Emergent Ultimatum
When Ikoria's completion of the Ultimatum cycle, previously most famous for Cruel Ultimatum, was previewed there was much debate over which one was best. And to think I had high hopes for Inspired Ultimatum! We've seen Genesis Ultimatum as a mainstay in Standard, with both Ruinous Ultimatum and Eerie Ultimatum seeing some fringe play, but Emergent Ultimatum just seemed too... weird.
Well, it turns out when you keep printing cards and making a format bigger, combo tutors get better as well. And, of course, we've got more Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter action! Emergent Ultimatum has been the backbone of a new emerging archetype in Standard, which took down the SCG Tour Open last weekend in the hands of Kensuke Kato:
Sultai Ultimatum | KHM Standard | Kensuke Kato, 1st Place SCG Tour Open
- Companion (1)
- 1 Yorion, Sky Nomad
- Sorceries (18)
- 1 Bala Ged Recovery
- 2 Alrund's Epiphany
- 2 Extinction Event
- 2 Sea Gate Restoration
- 3 Shadows' Verdict
- 4 Cultivate
- 4 Emergent Ultimatum
- Enchantments (14)
- 1 Kiora Bests the Sea God
- 2 Shark Typhoon
- 3 Elspeth's Nightmare
- 4 Binding the Old Gods
- 4 Omen of the Sea
- Lands (30)
- 2 Island
- 4 Forest
- 4 Swamp
- 1 Ketria Triome
- 3 Fabled Passage
- 4 Barkchannel Pathway
- 4 Clearwater Pathway
- 4 Darkbore Pathway
- 4 Zagoth Triome
You can choose to cast Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter rather than Valki, God of Lies, which means you either get an instant ultimate with Vorinclex, a super Time Walk and a planeswalker, or a super Time Walk and Vorinclex, which are all amazing deals. You can mix this up if you'd like, with Kiora Bests the Sea God or Shadow's Verdict also being good stand ins.
Aside from Emergent Ultimatum itself, you've also got a very solid shell of good Sultai Control cards to fall back on. This is one to watch as the format evolves!
That's A Wrap
Well, that's a wrap for this week, as we've now got entirely new formats to look forward too as well as Limited and potential rules changes! Pretty much every format has been shaken up, and that's to say nothing of a Standard format we're just getting started in.
Oh, and Uro? Don't let the door hit your chains on the way out!