Modern's Newest Combo Piece: Agatha's Soul Cauldron
Agatha’s Soul Cauldron is by far the most modern playable card from Magic’s newest set Wilds of Eldraine. The two-mana artifact is a combo machine, in every deck it’s played in it is either a crazy powerful synergy engine, combo piece, or both. Not only that but it is also main deck graveyard hate.
In this article, I am going to go through the card line by line and overview the decks it is currently showing up in.
Agatha's Soul Cauldron
As stated previously Agatha’s Soul Cauldron is a two-mana legendary artifact. Being Legendary is relevant as it means it is made uncounterable by Delighted Halfling, another fairly new card that has become very popular in Modern. Additionally, for a card as powerful as Cauldron, two-mana is incredibly cheap, plus being an artifact means it is unlikely to be interacted with in game one.
Next up it states “You may spend mana as though it were mana of any color to activate abilities of creatures you control.” This line is easy to miss but is very very relevant. Its most common use case is with Yawgmoth’s proliferate ability being activated with Green or Colorless mana. Previously in the deck, the black mana was a major restriction and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth was played to provide more black sources. Haywire Mite is another relevant card, being able to be activated with non-Green mana. Mite sees play play in most Cauldron decks due to being very efficient hate on its own, and with an active Cauldron turning all your creatures into artifact and enchantment hate. In Hardened Scales, Cauldron also makes the activated abilities of Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp very relevant. Scales ran only 1 Spring-Leaf Drum and some number of gemstone Caverns that produced white, meaning prior to Cauldron Zabaz’s flying was largely irrelevant.
The first line is good but the card gets crazy in it’s next two lines. “Creatures you control with +1/+1 counters on them have all activated abilities of all creature cards exiled with Agatha's Soul Cauldron.” This makes all your creatures into amazing combo pieces. In Hardened Scales, every single creature card in your deck has +1/+1 counters with the only exception being creature tokens from Urza’s Saga or an activated Blinkmoth Nexus. In Yawgmoth it turns your Undying creatures into Grists, and Yawgmoths. Because of this, Yawgmoth now runs 1 Walking Ballista as a crazy combo piece with the Cauldron as it allows undying creatures to remove their +1/+1 counters to ping themselves, ping your opponent, or in some cases ping your opponent’s creatures. I will go deeper into the vast array of combos this ability creates later on.
The final line is the enabler for the previous ability: “TAP: Exile target card from a graveyard. When a creature card is exiled this way, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control.” This obviously enables the previous ability but also in situations where you aren’t looking to combo or don’t have good targets in the graveyard, it is still both an on-board repetitive combat trick and graveyard hate allowing you to take out creatures against Living End, Delirium against Murktide, Scam effects in Scam and plenty of other decks with graveyard synergies.
What Decks is it Seeing Play in?
The two main decks Cauldron is in are Hardened Scales and Yawgmoth. There are no infinite combos in Hardened Scale but there are plenty in Yawgmoth created by this card. I could explain them all here, however Control4Daze has a great video on it you should check out if you're interested.
He notably did miss the fact that with a Grist, the Hungertide under a Cauldron, 1 Undying Creature, and a Yawgmoth, you can combo as each time your undying creature comes back it can activate its abilities from Grist again and create an insect to reset the counter. This combo is not lethal if your opponent's life total is greater than 2/3rds the cards in your library.
There are plenty of awesome brews with this card too. Aspiringspike, a Twitch streamer for competitive and off-the-beaten-path modern decks, has created this Mono-Blue Artifact Combo list. This build is super cool and utelizes an incredibly convoluted combo.
In case you can’t figure it out, Rona, Herald of Invasion in combination with two Mox Ambers and an Agatha’s Soul Cauldron with an Emry underneath means you can cast alternating Mox Ambers to generate infinite blue mana which kills your opponent with either a Walking Ballista or Urza that casts your entire deck and then kills with said Walking Ballista.
This Mono-White list is Heliod Combo, but also can use Idyllic Grange to turn every fetchland into a combat trick.
The combo here is relatively common: Walking Ballista and a Heliod that has given Walking Ballista, or any creature if you have a Ballista under Cauldron lifelink, allows you to deal infinite damage and gain infinite life.
Lastly, the coolest ability to give to a creature is obviously Griselbrand’s.
This list from a Preliminary is a Mono-Black reanimator list that also runs Cauldron as a pseudo-reanimation spell turning any of your creatures into a Griselbrand.
Outside of that, the list is looking to use Goryo’s Vengeance to reanimate either Griselbrand or Emrakrul. This typically wins the game on its own but to stay alive while setting up the combo or win with a more midrange-y gameplan the deck runs the Asmo package, Thoughtsieze, and Orcish Bowmasters.
Agatha’s Soul Cauldron has plenty of combos with it and as they print new cards it will only get better.