25, Apr, 24

Incredible Big Score MTG Card Leads to Turn Three Kills Out of Nowhere!

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Article at a Glance

While it has only been about a week since its release, it’s interesting to see The Big Score having a big effect on Constructed as a whole. With only 30 cards featured, it seemed unlikely that The Big Score would have much of an impact. Surprisingly, multiple different cards have made their presences felt.

Most notably, Simulacrum Synthesizer has proven to be an elite Affinity payoff in Legacy and Modern. Lost Jitte, while maybe not as powerful as some players were hoping it would be, has shown up in multiple different Urza’s Saga shells. It even helped a unique Tron variant focused on abusing Coretapper and Surge Node make its way into top eight of a Magic Online Modern Challenge.

Pest Control has also popped up in a variety of different archetypes. Interestingly, all of these cards received some hype during spoiler season and, for the most part, have not disappointed. One card, however, that did not garner much attention, is Collector’s Cage. Collector’s Cage certainly has potential to pop off, but looked like the setup cost might be too high for Constructed.

As it turns out, the card has shown up in Pioneer and Modern. Maximizing Hideaway is surprisingly easy in the right deck, and the upside of casting a game-breaking permanent is certainly high. Let’s start by taking a look at the most common archetype that Collector’s Cage has slotted into.

Basic Humans Shell

Thalia's Lieutenant

At its core, this deck is extremely similar to a traditional mono-white Humans deck in Pioneer. From Dauntless Bodyguard to Hopeful Initiate, this deck utilizes a bunch of efficiently costed Humans to start attacking with. By focusing on maintaining a large density of Humans specifically, this deck is able to leverage the power of Thalia’s Lieutenant and Coppercoat Vanguard exceptionally well.

Arguably the biggest payoff for playing a low to the ground Humans deck, though, is Adeline, Resplendent Cathar. This card is simply messed up. It has four toughness, making it tough to kill right away. It grows your army every turn that you attack. If that weren’t enough, it also has the potential to be a very large attacker.

With Adeline and the Human “Lords” in the mix, this deck is fully capable of running over the opponent even without drawing Collector’s Cage. When this deck does draw Collector’s Cage, though, it becomes a whole different beast.

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Adding the Collector’s Cage Package

Collector's Cage

Collector’s Cage has the potential to be a game-breaking Artifact for only two mana, but it does require some setup. First, you ideally need to hit some sort of haymaker in the top five cards of your library when Collector’s Cage enters the battlefield. This ensures that if you put in the work to be able to cast the card you exiled via Hideaway, the reward is worthwhile.

Second, you need to meet these requirements, which in this case, revolve around you controlling three Creatures each with different power. Initially, I thought this would be quite difficult to achieve, especially in a removal-heavy format like Pioneer. However, I clearly underestimated the general activated ability of Collector’s Cage.

If your opponent doesn’t have removal at the ready, you can resolve Collector’s Cage and get your payoff as early as turn three. To do this, you need to cast three one-drops during the first two turns. One of them must be Hopeful Initiate, and the other two can be any mix of two-power Creatures. Then on turn three, you can follow up with Cage, immediately put a +1/+1 counter on one of the two-power Creatures, and you’re golden.

Enabling Cage turn three certainly requires a bit of luck and lack of interaction from the opponent, but doing so turn four is easier than it may seem. On top of that, Cage’s ability to grow your Creatures at Instant speed turn after turn should not be underestimated. Even your puny one-drops become scary threats over time. This means that, even in the face of ample removal spells from the opponent, Cage still puts in work.

Of course, if the opponent doesn’t have removal, casting Moonshaker Cavalry from exile via Cage is typically game over. Moonshaker Cavalry lets the Humans deck go over the top of large blockers, which can be essential in a field dominated by Vein Ripper and Amalia Benavides Aguirre combo. This deck also utilizes a playset of Emeria’s Call, which doubles as both a Land-drop when necessary or an excellent card to Hideaway.

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Modern Additions

Collector’s Cage is such a scary card that players have even begun incorporating it into Modern Humans decks! Modern Humans managed to go undefeated in a recent Magic Online Modern Preliminary event, further showcasing the power of Collector’s Cage. Unlike Modern Humans decks of the past, this is not a multi-color Aether Vial shell. Instead, we have a mono-white build with a lot of similarities to Pioneer decklists.

Coppercoat Vanguard, Thalia’s Lieutenant, and Adeline all remain high-quality options. There are a few notable upgrades, however. Champion of the Parish is a much stronger one-drop than Dauntless Bodyguard, for instance. Getting to incorporate Solitude is also a huge deal. One of the major weaknesses of the Pioneer version is that any copies of Moonshaker Cavalry that you naturally draw during the game are generally useless. In Modern, simply pitch them to Solitude.

Most importantly, the Modern Humans variant gets some extra redundancy thanks to the inclusion of Windbrisk Heights. This deck has a more consistent chance of finding Moonshaker Cavalry and breaking the game wide open.

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Other Ideas

Llanowar Elves

Beyond the general Humans builds, many players are exploring the different possibilities that Collector’s Cage opens up. In Pioneer, some players have tried adding green. Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic are excellent mana accelerants that can help make turn three Cage combos more reliable. Meanwhile, Lovestruck Beast and Esika’s Chariot can each create multiple Creatures, making you less vulnerable to removal.

Other players have begun experimenting with Convoke-style Modern shells. Adding Ornithopter and Memnite takes the deck’s explosive nature to a new level. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn acts as the ultimate finisher here. Getting to take an extra turn and attack for a 15 damage in the air, all while forcing the opponent to sacrifice six permanents should be more than enough to win the game.

Collector’s Cage certainly has a lot of potential in Pioneer and Modern. The question is, what cards make up the strongest supporting cast? As players continue to work towards answering this question, make sure to keep Collector’s Cage on your radar. The powerful Artifact can take over the game with even the most unassuming of board states if you’re not prepared.

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