26, May, 23

MTG Combo Emulates Cards Banned Decades Ago!

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Article at a Glance

Modern has evolved to become a very high powered format. Bans have always hedged out decks that could win with any consistency on turn three. But what if you could play cards that are as powerful as Vintage cards and use strategies that can heavily decide the game, if not completely end it, that soon? This deck named Electrobalance seeks to do just those things and it is both abusive and powerful.

Completely Imbalanced

Restore Balance is incredibly powerful. It’s so powerful that, normally, it takes six entire turns before it goes off – plenty of time to play around the effect. However, what if it goes off at Instant speed? A single card that can potentially get rid of all Lands, Creatures and cards in hand is ultra powerful. Would Wizards ever print a card like that? Well, we need to talk about a powerful card from Magic’s past, in all likelihood the most powerful card white has ever seen.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

In the few formats where it could be legal Balance is banned and it’s so powerful that it’s restricted in Magic’s most powerful format, Vintage. Yes, that’s right, in the format that allows only one Black Lotus you are also allowed only one Balance. Furthermore the format also has a one of restriction on another card, Ancestral Recall. This Modern legal deck effectively runs four Balance and two Ancestral Recall with Ancestral Visions. For some funny reason, decks full of banned cards tend to be pretty strong!

Looking at the effect, it does not seem like this is an automatically busted card. All it does is “balance” the game, setting all players Lands, Creatures and players’ hand size to the same as whoever has the least of each. The problem is, when you build your deck strategy around the idea that you want to be hand-less, Creature-less and Landless, and your opponent does not, suddenly the power of this card is in the stratosphere.

On another note, it is my personal belief that Balance is a big part of the reason that white has long been considered a weak color in Magic. Because of how absurdly powerful this card was, the designers steered away from these types of effects leaving white with fewer game altering cards. In a time when two for ones showed off deck efficiency, Balance was the Three Musketeers of cards, an all for one. Clearly the idea behind Restore Balance was to make sure they didn’t simply reprint “Balance, but with more steps.” However, over ten years later, we may have reached the starting point with this next card.

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Insane Enabler

At first glance, As Foretold also does not seem that powerful. That’s at first glance, though. Your very powerful Suspend spells all cost zero mana so it can cast those right off the bat. Over time, even with zero Lands in play, As Foretold will continue to cast every spell in your deck. Additionally, it’s once each turn. That’s right, it can cast your Spell Pierce and Lightning Bolt on your opponents turn if it has one or more counters on it. Unlike some cards like this, if you have multiple As Foretold in play, you can play a spell off each one so it’s never a completely dead draw.

A Teferi, Time Raveler and As Foretold lets you play Sorcery spells even on your opponents turn and you can even shut down their draw step with Restore Balance as an Instant speed discard spell.

With no Lands in play but one As Foretold, you can continue to play Magic while your opponent can only hope to draw a Land every turn. The game is not necessarily over for your opponent but it’s going to be an uphill battle, especially if they are facing a Gargadon. How do you get no lands in play? What the heck is a Gargadon? That’s where the extra help comes into play.

Zero Mana, Zero Chance

Now, Balance did not rise to such powerful heights completely on its own. It had help from another old card. The crazy part? That old card is Modern legal. A zero mana artifact that lets you sacrifice a Land to gain two life, Zuran Orb does not sound ultra powerful but in 1995 when Ice Age came out players paired Balance and Zuran Orb to destroy all Lands. This was such a powerful interaction that both Balance and Orb both saw bans and restrictions. However, Zuran Orb is no longer banned and it enables Restore Balance to delete every Land on the table.

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Even More Help

Greater Gargadon is a massive 9/7 Creature for only one red mana. Of course, the drawback is that it takes a very long time, ten turns, for your Gargadon to enter play. However, you can sacrifice artifacts, Creatures or Lands to reduce the amount of time it will take for it to enter play. Gee, what card benefits from getting rid of all your stuff? Restore Balance. After a resolved Restore Balance, the entire board will be clear leaving the Gargadon to kill your opponent in just a couple of turns. Keep in mind that if you Suspend a Creature it gains Haste so your Gargadon can attack the moment it hits the battlefield!

Additional Tech

Both As Foretold and Electrodominance turn Ancestral Vision into a pay zero or two mana, draw three cards spells. While Vision has seen play over the years, it has mostly been in slower, controlling decks where suspending it and waiting four turns resulted in three cards. Or, alternatively, in decks with Shardless Agent you could potentially get that draw three card with Cascade and deck stacking effects. With Electrodominance, it can draw three at Instant speed.

Just like so many other Modern decks, many of the most powerful cards are here like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer to cast a turn two As Foretold, Urza’s Saga to tutor up a Zuran Orb, Mishra’s Research Desk or sideboard answers and of course Expressive Iteration to make tons of impactful decisions every turn. Crashing Footfalls is a complete deck in Modern but here it’s yet another high value Suspend spell that your enablers cast.

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Last but not Least

Look at a card like Jace’s Ingenuity, five mana to draw three cards at Instant speed. A decent and fair card but not tournament powerful. What about an Instant speed board wipe in Fated Retribution at a whopping seven mana? That’s not even worth it for casual games, let alone competitive decks. Electrodominance, however, turns your Suspend spells into incredible, Instant speed spells for a total cost of two mana. The fact that it can also sometimes snipe a Creature, Planeswalker or even finish off a player is the cherry on top. While you cannot use it every turn like As Foretold, it is another important component that makes the deck work and at Instant speed no less.

Improvements, the Future and Cost

A completely different concept in a similar shell of a deck builds around Gaea’s Will, which is effectively the ultra powerful, restricted Vintage card Yawgmoth’s Will. Creative players recognize that running game winning cards, even with a bit of a hoop to jump through, can be worth it if the card is strong while also being low mana.

Is Electrobalance the best, unbeatable, new deck in Modern? In a word, no. But the future of Modern as a format is bright so long as difficult to play cards with huge payoffs are actively being tested and played. This is not the first appearance of this deck, but, it’s the first time it has become a perfect hybrid of the best cards in Modern with Vintage level payoff cards. The result is a deck that is far more powerful than the sum of its parts.

Another really cool thing about this deck is that it is not overly expensive. Sure, it runs many Modern staples, cards you already need to own to participate in the format. Outside of that, the key cards are very inexpensive! So you can test out the Electrobalance side of the deck on the cheap and decide if you like the style of play or not. Maybe it’s great for your local meta, maybe it’s bad. In any case, you don’t have to fork out a pile of money to test the pieces.

If you’re interested in seeing how the deck plays here’s a video by Youtuber and streamer Electribob31.

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