Wilderness Reclamation and Tasigur in Modern
There is a short list of cards in each set that make waves in eternal formats. The draw of playing Modern or Legacy or Commander is frequently the ability to continue playing the same deck, essentially unaltered, for years and years. A huge portion of Modern’s playerbase performs minor updates at most each time a set is released or a new card is banned or unbanned.
For this reason, it is particularly exciting when new cards are added to these eternal formats. On a recent WotC stream, Matt Nass and Cassius Marsh were invited on to reveal the specifics of Modern Horizons, and that was exciting for several reasons. First of all, this direct-to-modern set can print powerful cards that are too good for Standard but likely appropriate for modern. However, what was particularly validating for me personally, was hearing Matt list the two cards he felt would have impacts in Modern from Ravnica Allegiance as Light Up the Stage (obviously), and Wilderness Reclamation.
Wilderness Reclamation is a card I have been brewing around in Modern since it was released. It did not initially catch my eye, but soon after seeing its insane power level, I was hooked and haven’t stopped iterating ever since. Once I realized that it was free the turn you played it (just like how Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a 3-mana play) and produced 5 mana the next turn, it was pretty obvious how powerful it was. I will be bringing this deck to SCG Regionals this weekend and just last weekend came in 17th with a 7-2 record in the Modern Classic at SCG Syracuse (I hope you’re crying with me that I got 17th with a terrific record). However, the real reason I’m writing this article is because everyone else is doing it wrong.
Best Case Scenario vs Worst Case Scenario
If you look at the 5-0 lists from MTGO leagues, you’ll see Reclamation decks and they’ll look something like this:
This list has a lot of things going for it that are good and make sense. First of all, it’s playing well into the restriction of Reclamation. The card produces a ton of mana, but only at instant speed. For example, you can cast a 10-drop instant the turn you untap with it, but only a 5-drop sorcery. This led many to look towards the powerful and underutilized Modern option of Mystical Teachings. Teachings is an extraordinarily powerful tutor, finding things like Fatal Push, Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique, and Cryptic Command, and because it has Flashback, it can be used for card advantage by searching up another Teachings.
While this toolbox control deck is the right way to go, in my opinion, a lot of the philosophy of this specific build is wrong. Teachings does allow us to use all our excess mana and encourages us to play a lot of versatile instants for each situation, but that doesn’t mean we have to play all instants. This sample list is playing entirely spells that can be cast at instant speed with the exception of Wilderness Reclamation. I feel this is playing too much for the theme and for the best case scenario (when we have Reclamation going) and not enough for just being a good deck without our combo.
I would rather find a build that works when Reclamation is going and is better at playing the game without Reclamation.
My preferred build
Without further ado, here is the list I would recommend for Sultai Reclamation:
The most important card in this deck is Tasigur, the Golden Fang. This bad boy allows you to win so many games you really have no right winning. He single-handedly out-grinds the Rock decks (an archetype that the general build has trouble with) and acts as a removal spell against many aggressive decks. It doesn’t matter much that you’re not powering him out, as he’s just fine on turn 3 (and synergizes extremely well with Growth Spiral). He’s not really a 1-drop like Gurmag Angler, but he is an insanely powerful 3-drop that goes into overdrive when you have all the mana off Wilderness Reclamation.
Another important note is playing full 4 Reclamation. While it may seem greedy to play 4 of this Sorcery-speed enchantment, it is wholly necessary. With the density of card draw this deck has access to, you can use all the mana basically all the time. The deck functions so much better when one of these is in play that I firmly believe those playing less than 4 copies are doing their win-rate a disservice.
This is the card I am the least comfortable with in the list. I feel the deck really needs a main-deck way to clear the board, but actual sweepers like Consume the Meek and Damnation are just so weak against so much of what Modern is doing. Having cards that are just dead against Phoenix, Control, Amulet, etc in your main deck is a huge cost. Rift is a decent middle-ground, being card disadvantage and clunky in some situations, but with the amount of mana you can generate and the amount of cards you draw, I feel it is the best option for its slot, if only barely.
Having access to main-deck lifegain is extremely important for control decks in modern. While this is a combo-control deck that can flip the switch and go infinite, it is primarily looking to slow the game down and survive. Pulse being able to bring back a land when you need it or a Snapcaster Mage for another removal spell or another 6 life is something I would not take out of the tutor package.
This card is mostly in here to shut the door. While it can be used as a decent exploration effect at some points in the game, it’s usually the first card you tutor off Teachings once you have a Reclamation in play. Giving yourself the breathing room of another turn and the extra mana provided by even more Reclamation triggers is extraordinarily powerful and shuts the door basically whenever you play it.
Another important piece of the combo. This allows you to beat infinite life from your opponent and helps you draw your entire deck so Nexus is the only card left and you take all the rest of the turns. Additionally, I have found that it is frequently just an acceptable card-draw spell even in Modern. While I have been down on Sphinx’s Revelation in the format, Revelation never got to be played alongside Growth Spiral. The addition of that powerful ramp spell to the deck allows these X-cost card draw spells to really sing.
I would love to fit a second copy of this powerhouse into the deck, but I couldn’t find room. This card is great for the generic control gameplan, being able to find desired answers and churn through unnecessary draws, but goes into overdrive with Reclamation. Similar to Tasigur, it is a card that is great both with and without Reclamation, and this one even has the upside of being able to find that key combo piece.
This card is a generic answer to any permanent. In game 1, I rarely find I need more than 2 copies of this effect, so the 1-of combines with my Snapcaster Mages to provide. This is also a chance to bring up a disagreement I have with other builds of this deck. In my sideboard, I have 2 more copies of Assassin’s Trophy, for match-ups where I feel more removal is necessary. This is counter to many other builds, where you see other removal spells like Abrupt Decay, Echoing Decay, Hero’s Downfall, Bile Blight, or Devour Flesh find homes in the Sideboard or main-deck. I have not been able to find a logical reason to not just replace all of these with additional copies of Trophy, as you get so far ahead on mana that overpowering the extra land you give your opponent is trivial.
A hard counter for when you need a hard counter. Other builds (along with my original configuration) have more copies of Remand, which is honestly not a card on the Modern power level. There are too many extremely efficient spells to justify 4 Remands in this day and age. However, when I tried cutting the card from the deck altogether, I missed it significantly, as this is honestly the best Remand deck I’ve played since Splinter Twin was banned. As a result, I have included 2 copies in my counterspell suite and it has felt good since.
This is another card that I feel should exist (at least as a 1-of) in every Teachings deck. Adding the option of instant-speed hand disruption to your Teachings suite is extraordinarily valuable.
This is another card I have attempted cutting at several points but regretted every time. The deck has a fetch/shock manabase, which comes with a significant taxation on your life total. Being able to fetch a basic Forest and a basic Swamp and still cast Cryptic Command on turn 4 if you have Flooded Grove has won me enough games where I am comfortable keeping this unusual land in my 60.
This is perhaps my favorite addition to the deck, perhaps behind Tasigur. This card combines ludicrously well with reclamation and has allowed me to win several mulligans to 4. The symmetry of this effect was previously broken by Taking Turns by simply never giving your opponent a chance to untap with the extra cards you’re giving them. This deck has a very similar feel. Because you have access to so much more mana than any given opponent, this card usually just gives them more cards to get stuck in their hand. Additionally, being able to play Cryptic Command and invalidate many of their attacks and spells is hugely beneficial with a symmetrical draw engine like Mikokoro.
I have so much more to say about this archetype, including detailing sideboard decisions and play patterns, but I will save that for another day. This should serve as an acceptable introduction to what I believe to be a potential new mainstay in the Modern format.
Until next time.
Buylist Hot Buys