23, Jan, 24

Karlov Manor Tutor Threatens to Break MTG Format in Half!

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Article at a Glance

A few cards spoiled in Murders at Karlov Manor look to be incredibly powerful. Anzrag, the Quake Mole, for example, is a Standard-legal behemoth that would be incomprehensible even five years ago. we get a four mana 8/4 with upside that is perfectly reasonable to cast. Gruul colors isn’t a very restrictive mana cost, either. What happens, then, with new cards that do have a restrictive mana cost?

One particularly shocking Murders at Karlov Manor instant with a rather restrictive mana cost is Archdruid’s Charm. This is an extension of an apparent cycle started by the Modern Horizons card Archmage’s Charm. Any cycle started in Modern Horizons has some absurd potential, and this one is no exception.

Archdruid’s Charm may seem rather mediocre at first glance, especially compared to its blue sibling, but this Charm has just the right combination of abilities to make Pioneer a nightmare format.

A Solution for a Deck that Didn’t Need it

Archdruid’s Charm offers an interesting combination of abilities that will definitely see play in Standard, Commander, Pioneer and maybe even Modern and formats beyond. For three green mana, you can do one of the following:

  • You may search your library for a land and play it.
  • You may search you library for a creature and put it into your hand.
  • You may exile an artifact or enchantment.
  • You may give your creature a +1/+1 counter and deal damage equal to its power to a creature you don’t control.

Of the four effects this card can provide, the first is the strongest, and it is not close. Being able to search your library for any land of your choosing and put it directly into play is absolutely incredible, but only in the right circumstances. Dark Depths combo decks could make use of this, but formats where that is a legal strategy may have cheaper alternatives for finding their land. In Pioneer, however, this effect looks absolutely absurd.

Pioneer also has a land combo deck. Hidden Strings combo wants to assemble two Lotus Fields into play and win the game through a long chain of effects. One of the biggest weaknesses of the Hidden Strings combo deck is you need to find and play Lotus Field for the deck to do anything. Sylvan Scrying has allowed the deck to become playable, even a top tier deck in the format, but more effects that can find Lotus Field, and even ramp you a turn ahead, will definitely make this archetype more consistent.

Read More: Murders At Karlov Manor: Release Date, Spoilers, More

Outing Hate

The other effects that Archdruid’s Charm can provide makes this the perfect card for Lotus Field Combo. Because the entire deck revolves around Lotus Field, cards that attack the land render the deck null. This means that Damping Sphere is a rather popular sideboard option in the format because it completely cripples the deck’s plan. The trade-off for running the Sphere is that the card doesn’t do much in other matchups.

Not only can Archdruid’s Charm find your Lotus Field or Thespian’s Stage and ramp you ahead, it can also get rid of Damping Sphere, outing the worst card in the format for your deck. This versatility is already a gamechanger for the deck, but it gets even better.

Read More: New Beginning of Game Effect Supercharges MTG Devotion Strategies!

Good in Every Scenario

See, there are generally two stages to playing Lotus Field or Hidden Strings Combo, similar to Urzatron in Modern. First, you need to get your Tron pieces online. For Tron, that means getting Urza’s Power Plant, Urza’s Tower and Urza’s Mine into play. For Hidden Strings, that generally (but not always) means you need to assemble two Lotus Fields, commonly by using Thespian’s Stage. There are some lines where you do not need to assemble two Lotus Fields to win, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

One weakness of the other land searching tool that Hidden Strings has access to, Sylvan Scrying, is that it is only useful as you’re assembling your Lotus Fields, or in weird situations where you need to find a tool to deal with hate, like Boseiju, Who Endures. This means that, once you’re in the combo phase of your gameplan, Sylvan Scrying is a dead draw.

That is not the case with Archdruid’s Charm. Archdruid’s Charm isn’t a great draw after you’ve assembled your Lotus Tron, but it is certainly a lot better than Sylvan Scrying. That’s because we can use the creature search mode to find Lier, Disciple of the Drowned as a potential threat. In postboard games where we add creatures like Dragonlord Dromoka, Sphinx of the Final Word and Zacama, Primal Calamity into your deck, you can tutor these cards with Archdruid’s Charm as well.

So, Archdruid’s Charm does everything that Hidden Strings needs. It finds Lotus Field and Thespian’s Stage, which is arguably the most important effect for the deck, it can destroy key hate pieces that stops you from winning, and it can find your win conditions in a mediocre way, giving it substance in both phases of the deck’s gameplan. Does that mean Archdruid’s Charm is simply going to supercharge Hidden Strings and Pioneer will be ruined? Maybe. The mana cost of Archdruid’s Charm is actually a big deal.

Read More: New Karlov Manor Board Wipe Has Unique Necromentia Effect!

Is it Castable?

Archdruid’s Charm’s mana value of three green mana actually makes it tough to cast. The general play pattern for Hidden Strings in the early turns is to play Lotus Field turns two or three depending on whether or not Arboreal Grazer was resolved. This makes Sylvan Scrying fit a lot more naturally into the deck’s curve.

Otherwise, getting three green mana consistently on turn three may be a bit more complicated than one may expect. Between Otawara, Soaring City and Thespian’s Stage, both of which are arguably necessary for the deck’s function, getting three untapped green mana on curve can be challenging.

Hidden Strings players have even been adding colors to try and contest bad matchups. Bant Hidden Strings has been rising in popularity thanks to the new Amalia Combo deck, which can be considered a bad matchup. It’s not difficult for Amalia Combo to assemble a turn three kill, which is commonly too fast for Lotus Field combo to deal with, especially when the Amalia player is on the play.

To combat this, Hidden Strings has been including Strict Proctor. Proctor has the effect to stop ETB effects unless the owner pays to mana to enable it, which means that the Amalia Combo is a lot harder to pull off on the early turns. This double-sided effect is beneficial for you, as you can bypass Lotus Field’s clause to sacrifice two lands on entry. This opens up some unique lines to speed up your combo, like simply playing two Lotus Fields from your hand. It also helps play around Damping Sphere because it doesn’t totally cripple you when resolved after you play your first Lotus Field.

Running both Archdruid’s Charm and Strict Proctor is likely to be impossible. Chances are if Archdruid’s Charm works in Hidden Strings, it will be in a more traditional Simic shell, like the one shown above from a recent Pioneer Challenge top eight. Additionally, the manabase will likely need a bit of a revamp. Some players have been moving down to three Thespian’s Stage to hit colors more consistently, for example. This is not an unrealistic change that may be made.

Regardless, Archdruid’s Charm will likely cause Hidden Strings players to update their mana base, and the power level of this card definitely makes it worthwhile. My prediction is that Archdruid’s Charm will elevate Hidden Strings in the coming Pioneer metagame, but that is not the only place where Archruid’s Charm may see play.

Read More: New Infinite MTG Land Combo Unexpectedly Appears in Top Cut!

The Return of Nykthos?

Archdruid’s Charm also happens to be a natural fit in the infamous Nykthos Green strategy in Pioneer. Even though this deck’s metagame share was not oppressive, Karn, the Great Creator would eventually be banned because of the deck’s oppressive play patterns that had a massive polarizing effect on what a viable deck looked like in the Pioneer format. This ban was absolutely devastating, making the green ramping giant unplayable in the format.

That said, another Murders at Karlov Manor spoiler has reignited interest into the Nykthos Ramp strategy: Leyline of the Guildpact. This card can enter the battlefield as a pre-game effect, immediately adding four Devotion for your strategy. This allows Nykthos to tap for five green mana on turn two with ease!

Archdruid’s Charm also seems like a natural inclusion in a potential Devotion strategy. The Charm can find and play Nykthos, destroy opposing artifacts and enchantments when needed, can search for threats if you have your mana assembled, and can even remove opposing threats! The mana cost of Archdruid’s Charm is also really easy to satisfy with this strategy.

If anything, the downside of this strategy instead revolves around Leyline of the Guildpact. While this enchantment could potentially provide busted starts for your Devotion tactics, the card itself is pretty bad. Leyline of the Guildpact, outside of some very specific situations, does not really do anything, making it a terrible draw outside of your opening hand at any point in the game. All this card really does for the Devotion strategy is provide Devotion for your Nykthos.

Regardless, Archdruid’s Charm does look absolutely incredible. This will likely see Commander and Standard play and, if the appropriate mana base can be built, the Charm should easily see Pioneer play as well. This will be a card to watch when Murders at Karlov Manor hits shelves worldwide.

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