Strixhaven Spotlight: The New One Mana Tendrils of Agony

Strixhaven's magecraft ability continues to cause quite some excitement. And it may cause trouble in Modern yet. The latest entry in the magecraft line-up, a particularly clever Lumimancer, enables some honest-to-goodness turn two kills in Modern. Let's take a look at the card and at a deck!

clever lumimancer

We've seen a lot of one-drops that have shaped the landscape of formats. Goblin Guide, Monastery Swiftspear, and Soul-Scar Mage immediately pop into our minds. They've relegated the good old Steppe Lynx to obscurity and even the once banned (what?) Wild Nacatl. This time, I believe we're getting a one-drop that outshines them all. It's white, it's a Wizard, it's a magecrafting Tendrils of Agony. The card I am talking about is Clever Lumimancer. Let's break it down.

The Card

clever lumimancer
"You're too dim to realize it, but you've already lost."

The fact that it costs just a single white mana is huge. Obviously as far as Magic cards are concerned, the cheaper the better, and it doesn't really get cheaper than one mana. One could say half-jokingly that being white decreases its playability as you'd have to play it … in a white deck. And indeed, a deck where the Lumimancer shines won't have a lot of use for white mana otherwise. But that's not going to stop us because the Lumimancer is worth it.

Power 0 should not be a big problem either as the whole point of the card is to increase it. Its toughness, however, is certainly a drawback. Usually, toughness is useful as far as blocks and combat in general are concerned. Here it's all about opposing removal though. It dies to all removal, including all imaginable damage-based removal. While we're used to our creatures dying to Stomp and Lightning Bolt, this one survives neither Gut Shot, Lava Dart, nor Wrenn and Six, the last two mainstays in Modern.

Being a Human Wizard might be relevant. First of all, Human is one of the most popular and arguably the most powerful tribe in Magic. Though the typical Human deck consists mainly of creatures, which works against the Lumimancer. Being a Wizard, by contrast, could have actual utility. Joining Soul-Scar Mage, Ghitu Lavarunner, and Grim Lavamancer, it helps reduce the cost of Wizard's Lightning, adding even more Lightning Bolts to red aggro shells.

Finally, let's get to the triggered ability, which is what makes the card so exciting. One could call it mega prowess, although it does not trigger on any noncreature spell. It does trigger on copying spells though, which matters a lot in Eternal formats, where the most egregious design mistake exists: storm. As a reminder, it states …

  • Storm is a triggered ability that functions on the stack. "Storm" means "When you cast this spell, copy it for each other spell that was cast before it this turn. If the spell has any targets, you may choose new targets for any of the copies."

As an example, if I cast Goblin Electromancer, you counter it with Essence Scatter, and I cast Grapeshot, then there'd be the original Grapeshot on the stack plus two copies of it. Coming back to Lumimancer—not only does it count the spells you cast, like prowess does, but also the ones you copy. So it works exceptionally well with storm. In formats like Modern, you can chain some free spells into a storm spell and potentially kill very fast. How fast? Turn two fast.

The Context

ground rift

Cards such as Manamorphose, Gut Shot, Mutagenic Growth, and Lava Dart easily increase your spell count for a given turn. Then you can add Assault Strobe, Tainted Strike, Temur Battle Rage, or Ground Rift on top, and you've got yourself a very lethal Human Wizard, all by the second turn of the game. There are numerous permutations that represent a turn two kill. I'll show one as an example.

Of course we can't rely on having Lumimancer in all of our opening hands. We should add Nivmagus Elemental, which also really likes to much on spells and their copies. At this point, we've basically created a creature-based storm deck that can kill on turn two.

If you don't like spell-slinging (everybody does), may I interest you in an alternative kill that requires casting just a single spell on turn two? Yes, only one. Yes, it's Chain of Smog again (a card we've looked at before). Turn one Lumimancer into turn two Chain is lethal at the low low cost of discarding your hand. This combo is limited to Legacy due to Chain's legality, but there might be some nice white-black Unmask shell to secure these turn two wins. The downside is that, in Legacy, there is Force of Will.

Now, if you are a bit more conservative and you don't want to warp your entire deck around this one axis of attack, you might consider adding Clever Lumimancer to some classic red aggro/prowess shell. Regardless of whether you play Historic, Modern, or Pioneer, you can slot it nicely into your red-white or red-white-blue deck and go to town. This card will hugely benefit from casting a bunch of burn spells at your opponent's face. Oh, you didn't want to be more conservative? You wanted to go as crazy as it gets? Shall I show you a deck that's the definition of "let's see what happens" …?

Let's go all in. I've drafted up this deck, inspired by Twitter, which is basically the two one-drops, a bajillion free spells, and Serum Powder to mulligan into the best hand possible. You can get around blockers and some hate creatures not just via Ground Rift but also Slaughter Pact. The deck even gets to run some free protection spells in the form of Pact of Negation and Not of This World. (Though both only work on turn two, and sometimes you'll have to negate your own Slaughter. Mutagenic Growth probably offers more protection.)

Clearly, Clever Lumimancer has a ton of potential. You can play it at all the different points of the combo-aggro spectrum. We'll see where the card eventually lands and if it's an aggro card or a combo card in the end. I know that I will be the one dying to it on turn two rather than the one casting it, because that's just who I am in Magic. As always, hold my hand and let's pass the turn together. We might only have one turn to pass anyway. Cheers!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

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