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Searching for Azcanta in Modern

Like your average Magic player, I knew this card was good but didn’t buy any because it wasn’t that good.

Search for Azcanta
Azcanta, The Sunken Ruin


We’ve since learned of this card's power leading to the return of ub Control in Standard and adding some depth to the Esper Tokens build. This seems like the start. The powerful 2-mana enchantment costs the right amount to be relevant and exists in formats with some of the most powerful non creature spells. Formats like Modern, for instance.

So where can we fit Search for Azcanta? Does it even have a reasonable home?

While plenty of decks could play it, I’m not sure where exactly it could even fit. In most cases, it seems like it would slot into combo/control decks which have typically had trouble existing in Modern.

Let’s start with some of the less obvious culprits before we get into the clear cut adds.

Prismatic Omen
In theory, Search for Azcanta could easily find a home here in a deck filled spells that needs a higher density of rituals and a payoff card to win. However the deck is super consistent as it is. Clocking in a full twelve cantrips (not even including Manamorphose) the deck promotes consistency across the board. While the deck will be able to flip Search for Azcanta rather quickly, it isn’t something the deck is looking for. It’s too slow, and even in grindy matchups Empty the Warrens seems like a much better plan.

Death's Shadow variants seem primed to take advantage of the kind of advantage Search for Azcanta provides. With plenty of incredible spells and Delve creatures, Search seems like it could fuel the deck. The deck stretches its mana base fairly thin and an extra land that helps card advantage could be a powerful and welcome addition. Considering how the Death's Shadow decks are built, I can’t imagine a worse feeling than activating and placing one of your few win conditions on the bottom. Since Death's Shadow plays so few creatures as it is, I can’t imagine Search would be good here. Perhaps you could fit it in the Jund variant since finding Traverse the Ulvenwald is comparable to finding a creature. However, the activation cost seems too expensive for such a brutally efficient deck as it is.

I’ve seen some players remark about Scapeshift being a good home for this card. Looking at the Temur versions of the deck, it seems like it would work nicely when it’s super important to find Scapeshift. Since binning Mountains is a poor place to be for a Scapeshift deck, this leads us to building the deck with Prismatic Omen; and, while I’m a fan of that card for Scapeshift decks in general, it makes deck-building more awkward than efficient. This leads me to believe that the rg version is strictly better. Being fast and efficient is important for Modern when players are trying to do more of the same, and playing an awkward control game isn’t great.

Then there’s Ad Nauseam, one of the more powerful yet often overlooked decks. Being creatureless means the search ability on the back half is going to always hit. One of the keys to this deck is finding your combo pieces, and between the ability to ‘Scry’ and then search for Ad Nauseam four cards deep, Search could give this deck exactly what it wants. I’m not sure what the deck could trim to fit in Search for Azcanta, but I imagine it would be worthwhile to test at a minimum.

The biggest problem with control in Modern is the inability to create a deck that has solid answers to everything in the format. It is too often the case that you draw a bunch of removal against creatureless decks or only counterspells against the cheap and efficient aggro decks. Search for Azcanta allows control decks to be able to fix draws early as well as mid to late game when things are starting to move in favor of the control deck. Being able to keep pace with the efficiency of the other decks in the format and have a repeatable source of card advantage might help make the control decks better. I’m not holding out that much hope, but here’s what I’m working with.

I prefer Jeskai over straight uw as I think Lightning Bolt is well positioned against most decks in the format. A lot of time, it’s a fine strategy to just go upstairs with burn spells. Having a way to find the rest means this game plan can be a little easier to manage.

Like Control, Thopter Foundry hasn’t made as big of an impact on Modern as I think it could. Frankly, it’s too slow and there are too many easy ways to disrupt it. Search for Azcanta can help breathe new life into the deck, but I’m not super excited about the prospects for such a slow Control deck that has trouble turning the corner.

The next deck was sent to me by a friend of mine, Marcus Ewaldh. If you can’t quite put your finger on the name, it’s because Miracles hasn’t been relevant in quite some time. Marcus truly helped innovate Miracles on MTGO and helped lead to the bannings that neutered it. More recently, he’s spent a ton of time brewing with As Foretold in both Modern in Legacy. One of his favorite decks in Modern is Taking Turns, and his new brew has been having success.

What I appreciate the most about the deck is how simplistic the choices are. They’re smart choices, but everything just makes sense and slots in perfectly.

“Lol you ‘pro’ there’s a Living End in your deck that you can’t cast without As Foretold. Terrible deck-building”

— You, in the comment section later

Well random internet user, despite you not actually reading what I’m going to write here, Living End actually seems genius. Trying to play a wrath and limiting yourself to Blue and Red might leave you wanting more. Having Anger of the Gods is great, but wholly inefficient against a multitude of decks and downright embarrassing against Eldrazi Tron. Living End on the other hand is a tutorable wrath that’s fantastic against not Arcbound Ravager or Dredge. That being said, I too have been a little skeptical; but, it seems to be a great answer for the problems the deck faces.

Will Search for Azcanta break Modern? I doubt it. But I am excited about the possibilities it provides.

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