Greetings, everyone! While we wait for the next set returning to Innistrad and some announcement regarding reorganized play in 2022, there is still some room for innovation and metagame developments. Today I want to report on one such case, taking my hat off to Dress Down.
In case you haven't seen it in action yet, it's a card from Modern Horizons 2 that first started as a bulk rare with dubious potential. However, during the past month it has slowly picked up both in price and popularity until now, while I am writing this, it stands as the number one bestseller here on Cardmarket.
The reasons are many. Let's look at the applications of this blue enchantment in the formats where it's legal (Modern, Legacy, and Vintage) alongside its main interaction with numerous creatures.
Starting with the basics, Dress Down stands as a two-mana cantrip enchantment with flash and the permanent effect of making creatures lose all abilities until end of turn, at which point it needs to be sacrificed. So at first glance someone might say the card doesn't seem too exciting, right?
Absolutely no. For starters, going to the graveyard at the end of the turn enables Lurrus of the Dream-Den recursion and also adds a card type for Dragon's Rage Channeler. Finally, flash plus the "at the beginning of the end step" clause allows you to play it during the end step of your opponents' turn therefore sticking around on the battlefield during yours. It will never be a dead card either, as it either interacts with your own creatures or opposing creatures or at the very least replaces itself against creatureless decks—which aren't common these days anyway.
Next, without mentioning every creature currently being played in Magic, here is a short list of interactions Dress Down offers:
Death's Shadow becomes a 13/13 until end of turn, forgetting about the life total, which forces opponents to play around a Dress Down during the combat phase similar to Temur Battle Rage. (And Dress Down plus Battle Rage results in a 13-powered, double-striking trampler!)
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger enters the battlefield without triggers, both without the discard one and the sacrificing clause as well. Hence a common play pattern is Dress Down before your turn, then play Kroxa, sticking in play for only two mana. Same thing applies to Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath in Legacy, although you would rather get its triggers for obvious reasons.
Thing in the Ice / Awoken Horror, the old favorite, has regained some playability thanks to the new card. The way both cards interact is, with Dress Down on the battlefield, the Horror defender will enter with no ice counters on it and once the enchantment leaves play, it will flip with the first sorcery or instant cast. Not a bad deal!
Phyrexian Dreadnought—talking about old cards, there are still some Legacy decks combining this massive creature with Stifle to put a 12/12 into play for only to mana. Now you can achieve it with Dress Down as well without losing a card in the process.
The list could go on and on, but the general idea is Dress Down disrupting creature ETBs leaves you in an advantaged position. This is especially true for cheap creatures where what matters more is the effect, like Stoneforge, Snapcaster, or Thassa's Oracle, while bigger ones like Primeval Titan, Omnath, or Archon of Cruelty still require an answer on the next turn.
Some additional uses Dress Down provides are blanking troublesome creatures for a turn, enough time to deal with them. For example, once it's in play, Unholy Heat can get rid of Santifier-en Vec, and you can even cast the card named for Meddling Mage, among many other interactions. (Note that Dress Down doesn't stop the type-changing effects of Magus of the Moon or Dryad of the Ilysian Grove because … that's how the layer system works.)
*/* and 0/0 token creatures: Our spotlight card indeed can outright kill creatures with toughness dependent on a clause, such as Scourge of the Skyclaves or Territorial Kavu. The same applies to the common Construct tokens. They will die immediately once the enchantment hits the table, as they then have no text, something to take advantage of when paired against Urza's Saga strategies.
Equipped creatures: Batterskull, Sword of Feast and Famine, Colossus Hammer, and recently Kaldra Compleat are the most played Equipment cards in Modern. Well, Dress Down also gets rid of the abilities granted to creatures by Equipment, for example protection or indestructible, lifelink or trample. This can make for one hell of a combat trick, but note: if your opponent moves the Eqipment around among their creatures, these will gain the associated abilities after all. Also, power/toughness bonuses remain intact regardless.
Starting with Modern, Shadow decks had been on the downswing for a long time, ever since Gurmag Angler ceased to be a playable card. However, Dress Down has pushed the strategy in the last few weeks, mainly popularized by famous Modern streamer Aspiringspike, who posted strong results with a similar list.
|Grixis Death's Shadow by Niko41, 8th at Modern Challenge #12328706|
As mentioned early, both Shadow and Kroxa benefit from Dress Down. In combination with Shadow, the enchantment basically becomes an improved version of Temur Battle Rage. Sure you cannot trample through blockers as you could with the red instant, but at the same time you don't get two-for-one'd by a spot removal on your creature. Moreover it also enables a turn three Kroxa when you resolve Dress Down at the end of your opponent's turn.
Be aware that Channeler and Ragavan lose all their abilities too, so don't attack with them unless the coast is clear. Finally, our beloved companion Lurrus can bring Dress Down back from the graveyard again and again. On top, Dress Down improves the matchups against Elementals, one of the most played decks at the moment, and against Urza's Saga decks.
Compared to other Rakdos-based shells, the blue splash grants access to the powerful Expressive Iteration as well as to main-deck countermagic in the shape of Drown in the Loch, which can also work as spot removal. It unlocks further cheap interaction such as Ceremonious Rejection or Flusterstorm for the sideboard to fight Crashing Footfalls/Living End and control as well.
Moving on to the next format, Legacy keeps feasting on Modern Horizons 2. In fact, Legacy players were the ones to welcome Dress Down into their ranks first. The most common deck with the card has no Kroxa or Shadow. Instead, it's a controlling strategy, most of whose creatures have positive ETB triggers.
|Snow Miracles by _INF_, 23rd at Legacy Challenge #12328708|
Slamming Uro on turn three with the same trick previously mentioned is nice. But most of the time Dress Down will work against opposing threats, like an Endurance exiling our graveyard, a flashy Hullbreacher that messes with our Brainstorm, or even blanking an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn for a turn, so we don't get annihilated. This seems to be the best version to fight every Urza's Saga shell while also taking advantage of numerous MH2 additions, especially Prismatic Ending and Abundant Harvest, which have already become Legacy staples at this point.
I'm not that familiar with Vintage myself. However, while looking for spicy Dress Down lists, I found this brew played by IamActuallyLvL1. (You can also watch him play a League with the deck.)
|Blue-Black Dress Down by IamActuallyLvL1, Vintage League Testing|
This is showing off the powerful interaction between Thing in the Ice and Dress Down. Bouncing all the creatures in play is especially useful against fast combo decks relying on Bazaar of Baghdad shenanigans or Oath of Druids. Adding Baleful Strix into the mix to stop early threats while also redrawing a card once it gets bounced by the Awoken Horror is another great synergy.
This same idea is also being supported in Modern, where popular streamers like Kanister or Aspiringspike again have recently created a Dimir shell featuring the interaction with Thing in the Ice. It won't take long until you start to see it at tabletop events.
|A Dimir Thing by aspiringspike, 5-0 at Modern League|
As usual, thank you so much for reading. Enjoy the summer while it lasts!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.