14, Mar, 24

MTG Bans May Have Failed to Kill Problematic Archetype

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Article at a Glance

It’s only been a few days since Violent Outburst was banned in Modern, and players are already frantically searching for ways to replace the powerful Instant in Cascade shells. Unsurprisingly, Ardent Plea is the first card lots of players have turned to. In Crashing Footfalls decks, it’s a relatively easy card to slot in place of Violent Outburst, even without many other changes.

Having to Cascade at Sorcery speed is a big deal for a Force of Negation deck. However, it does pitch to Force and Subtlety, which is a nice bonus. Also, adjusting the manabase is relatively trivial given that many decklists were already playing white for Leyline Binding and Scion of Draco. Even Living End decks which were typically base-Temur have been able to incorporate Ardent Plea to some success.

Interestingly, though, not everyone is choosing to go that route. With Violent Outburst gone, there’s a bit more room for experimentation, and leave it to the masterful innovator Aspiringspike to take matters into his own hands! Rather than adding another three-mana Cascade effect to the basic Living End shell, he’s going deeper and building around a two-mana Cascade Creature. That’s right, Bloodbraid Marauder is in the house. It certainly has its deckbuilding restrictions to make work, but there are some rewards for accommodating the two-drop. Let’s start by taking a look at some nice synergies to help enable Delirium.

Enabling Bloodbraid Marauder

Incubation//Incongruity

When it comes to making sure you have Delerium when you cast Bloodbraid Marauder, the easiest card types to get into the graveyard with this shell are definitely Creature and Land. Fetchlands make it trivial to get a Land into your graveyard at minimal cost. Meanwhile, cards like Grief and Street Wraith provide cheap and easy ways to get a Creature into your graveyard.

On the flip side, getting an Instant and a Sorcery into your graveyard isn’t always the easiest. Luckily, one card in particular fixes this problem easily. Incubation//Incongruity is a split card with two different card types. This means that when you cast Incubation for one mana, not only are you digging for Bloodbraid Marauder, but you are also putting an Instant and a Sorcery in your graveyard on turn one.

Throw in Grief or Street Wraith and a Fetchland, and it’s possible to cast a Delirious Bloodbraid Marauder on turn two! Of course, in some spots it might be worth getting more Creatures into your graveyard before Cascading into Living End. Still, it’s a nice option to have at your disposal.

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Opening the Door for Two-Mana Plays

Counterspell

Besides being able to set up a turn-two Living End, by reducing the cost of your Cascade card to two-mana, you also get access to a slew of two-mana cards. First of all, the additions of Counterspell and Remand are huge. They effectively protect you against opposing combo decks while simultaneously helping you resolve your own combo piece. Now that Violent Outburst is out of the picture, Force of Negation isn’t quite as reliable at pushing your own Sorcery-speed combo through.

Beyond counter magic, this deck also gets access to Persist as a nice alternate avenue to victory. Cycling Troll of Kazhad-Dum on turn one and casting Persist on turn two can singlehandedly win games in certain matchups. Being able to bring back Grief to further disrupt the opponent can also be strong in the right circumstance.

Lastly, Wail of the Forgotten is a decent role-player in this deck. In the early game, you can use it to get closer to Delerium. Later in the game, though, it’s not out of the question to find a window to cast this for all three modes.

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Intriguing Additions in Legacy

Force of Will

Besides the Modern Living End core, some players are trying out Bloodbraid Marauder in Legacy Crashing Footfalls decks. Obviously, these Cascade strategies benefit a lot from the inclusion of Force of Will. However, what really sets the Bloodbraid Marauder variants apart is, once again, the extra two-drop options available to you.

Getting to run powerful threats like Tarmogoyf and Orcish Bowmasters makes you much less reliant on Crashing Footfalls to win. As such, you are much less vulnerable to problematic hate cards like Chalice of the Void.

Further, you get access to Once Upon a Time and Daze as Instants that you can often cast for free. Once Upon a Time adds a great deal of consistency, Daze is an excellent disruptive element, and both cards make it much easier to obtain Delerium.

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Tradeoffs

Shardless Agent

The Bloodbraid Marauder and Shardless Agent Cascade shells have a decent number of similarities, and each come with their positives and negatives. In the case of Bloodbraid Marauder, we already talked about the benefits of having access to potent two-drops. Having access to a two-mana Cascade card and the Persist+Troll package gives this version more explosive potential. Additionally, the presence of Counterspell (or Daze in Legacy) can make it easier to make sure your game-breaking spell resolves.

The biggest downside by far, though, is that the Bloodbraid Marauder decks are much worse against graveyard hate. Obviously, traditional Living End decks in Modern are naturally a bit soft to graveyard hate, such as Leyline of the Void. Cards like Force of Vigor and Foundation Breaker help at answering hate, but you still need to refuel your graveyard.

The difference is that traditional Living End decks only needed to cycle a few more Creatures after removing the opposing hate piece. The Bloodbraid Marauder variants need to fully assemble Delerium, which can take significantly more time once the hate piece is finally removed. Not to mention, Legacy Crashing Footfalls decks normally don’t care about graveyard hate. With Bloodbraid Marauder as the primary Cascade card, you open yourself up to more forms of hate.

With this in mind, Bloodbraid Marauder Cascade decks feel like a reasonable metagame call at best. If you care more about speed and don’t expect tons of graveyard hate, these shells can be decent to pivot to. Regardless, it’s cool to see players testing these innovative strategies, and it’s worth monitoring to see if they truly catch on.

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