Proliferating with War of the Spark
Planeswalkers are not the only big mechanic in War of the Spark. Proliferate is also making a huge comeback with multiple great enablers. Jamin takes a look at a potential Modern deck that can utilize these new tools.
Most people are excited about new Planeswalkers in War of the Spark and they have every right to be. So many of the new Planeswalkers have unique abilities and act like enchantments that you can attack to get rid of, creating a new dynamic for the often-problematic card type.
But today I don't want to talk about them. Today I want to talk about two rather innocent looking cards - a common and an uncommon respectively. If you read today's title, you might know which cards I'm talking about – Contentious Plan and Flux Channeler.
While Proliferate was originally printed with +1/+1 counters, loyalty counters and (back in the day) poison counters in mind, another type of counter had been around for quite a while: charge counters. These helpful counters are used on cards like Astral Cornucopia or Everflowing Chalice to generate mana and on Chalice of the Void to lock your opponent out of casting spells.
Ever since Astral Cornucopia was printed, I had been dreaming up a Modern deck using it and the proliferate mechanic to generate massive amounts of mana quickly, either leading into a combo finish or just ramping out some massive threats ahead of time.
Both of these cards can start charging up your Cornucopia early and Coretapper isn't even weak to removal since its sacrificing ability can be done right when it comes down.
Playing a turn two Cornucopia for X=0, following it up with a Coretapper, sacrificing it to generate two charge counters, and tapping the Cornucopia to play another Coretapper gives you access to seven mana on turn three is a thing that's usually exclusive to Tron decks.
Now to support a strategy like this we need cards that let us look for our engine. We need consistency and since we're dealing with Modern, we also need speed. Luckily as an artifact deck we have access to two of the most powerful cards in the current iteration of Modern: Mox Opal and Ancient Stirrings. Both have been subject to lots of discussions lately and both have proven to be very powerful time and time again.
Mox Opal in this deck gives us the ability to charge an artifact on turn one, for example by playing Cornucopia, Surge Node, Mox Opal and Ancient Stirrings digs us incredibly deep into our library so we can find the pieces we need.
These are the cards that you absolutely need to play when building a deck like this. From here on out, it gets blurry. As I mentioned earlier, one option is to build a combo centric version that builds around Filigree Sages or Paradox Engine, untapping your mana rocks to generate a lot of mana and then casting something like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Blue Sun's Zenith to finish your opponent.
Below I have sketched out a version looking to combo more than anything else.
Proliferate Combo Sketch by Jamin
|1Academy Ruins||4Coretapper||4Ancient Stirrings|
|4Breeding Pool||1Emrakul, the Aeons Torn||3Contentious Plan|
|1Forest||3Flux Channeler||3Whir of Invention|
|2Island||1Walking Ballista||4Astral Cornucopia|
|4Misty Rainforest||4Everflowing Chalice|
|2Polluted Delta||4Mox Opal|
|2Scalding Tarn||3Paradox Engine|
|2Wooded Foothills||2Pentad Prism|
Making use of Walking Ballista or Emrakul as win conditions is nice since both can be grabbed by Ancient Stirrings and the Ballista can even win games on its own when timed correctly. This specific list can sometimes struggle with drawing too many of the combo pieces like Paradox Engine and Flux Channeler, only generating card advantage with Temple Bell.
Keep in mind that this list is only an idea to show what's possible and even within the combo version there are multiple different builds possible. You could include Planar Bridge to seal the deal, or Aetherflux Reservoir as a finisher that also has upside against burn.
I will certainly keep playing around with this deck since you have so many possible options for building it. Getting to play with Flux Channeler will reveal whether these new additions really make the deck better and whether this card should actually have four representatives in the deck.
The "Fair" Version
Given that generating tons of mana quickly is never really fair, calling this the fair version might be a stretch but this decklist that 5-0'd a Modern League on Magic Online is a lot more interactive than our previous version. Let's take a look:
Artifact Charge Ramp by Stories
|2Buried Ruin||4Coretapper||4Ancient Stirrings|
|4Darksteel Citadel||4Lodestone Golem||4Astral Cornucopia|
|8Forest||4Kuldotha Forgemaster||4Chalice of the Void|
|2Ghost Quarter||2Wurmcoil Engine||4Everflowing Chalice|
|2Inventors' Fair||1Platinum Angel||4Mox Opal|
|1Blightsteel Colossus||4Surge Node|
|1Walking Ballista||2Welding Jar||1Grafdigger's Cage|
|3Nature's Claim||3Damping Sphere||1Spellskite|
|1Torpor Orb||2Dismember||1Ensnaring Bridge|
The main interaction here comes in the form of taxation. Lodestone Golem and Chalice of the Void are strong restrictive effects, Chalice making it into multiple top tier Modern Sideboard. You'll also quickly notice that this deck doesn't aim to generate 15+ mana but stays rather reasonable and aims to cast cards like Wurmcoil Engine, Platinum Angel, and Kuldotha Forgemaster. Lightning Greaves leads to kills out of nowhere when you can equip them to a newly cast Forgemaster that then tutors up Blightsteel Colossus that can attack immediately with the boots equipped.
Going Mox Opal into Surge Node, Chalice for Zero and move a counter from the Node onto the Chalice sounds like an opening that single handedly wins games against Izzet Phoenix and other decks as well.
As with the other list, there are multiple different routes to go here: why are we spending our time casting creatures? We could also include things like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Karn Liberated or other threats that we know from Tron. We could also move down the creature lane even further by including additional Lightning Greaves or go all the way with Aether Vial. I'd also be interested in a way to remove charge counters from Chalice of the Void if needed, so maybe a single Power Conduit would be appropriate. Also, since this deck has a much fairer gameplan, I could also imagine some Walking Ballistas sneaking in.
Now let me add a disclaimer. As excited as I am for charge counters, there's a looming threat to this deck that will be tough to beat – artifact hate.
With Affinity, Hardened Scales, Lantern Control and Whir Prison all in the meta, everyone will come to modern tournaments prepared for artifacts. And unfortunately, all of this artifact hate is very effective against us as well.
Shatterstorm completely destroys any progress we made so far. Stony Silence prevents us from ever generating our much needed mana. Even single target artifact removal like Ancient Grudge, Nature's Claim or Disenchant is backbreaking when we invested multiple cards into charging up a Cornucopia.
With that being said, most of the hate only comes in after boarding and with that, we can prepare. Blue grants us access to counter magic out of the sideboard to prevent Shatterstorm from resolving and green lets us destroy Stony Silence using Nature's Claim. This will probably work better for the "fair" version of the deck, since it's relying less on piecing together multiple combo pieces and thus can play some interactive cards to counter the opponent's hate.
The Final Judgment
I can't promise that this deck will win your next GP but what I can promise is a fun deck that can legitimately compete in the Modern metagame with lots of potential adjustments to make, depending on your local meta.
With the sheer endless possibilities of building this deck, you could spend weeks if not months jamming games with different versions to test which one works best. If you happen to have months of free time (or even just an afternoon on Magic Online), please do so and inform me of any results you find! I'd be psyched if someone was to have success with a new iteration of the Charged Cornucopia. I'm open to any feedback you might have and will gladly answer either in the comments or on my personal Twitter account.
Until then, I'll keep charging up my Everflowing Chalices of the Void!
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