2, Mar, 24

Multitude of MTG Karlov Manor Cards Transform Modern Valakut Strategy!

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Article at a Glance

With the month of February having come and gone, Murders at Karlov Manor has been out for quite some time now. Players have had a good chance to see how the metagames of various formats have developed. Within the first week, we started to see a multitude of Karlov Manor cards make a big impact, especially in Modern. Cards like Leyline of the Guildpact and the Surveil Lands stood out right off the bat as format staples.

Leyline in particular has been exceptional. Soon after the card’s release on Magic Online, we started to see the card popping up in Domain Zoo decks to synergize with Scion of Draco and Leyline Binding. Quickly, players started to see the card’s potential in other shells. At the Regional Championships in Canada and the U.S. Domain Rhinos was the talk of the town. This archetype boasted an absurd win rate, successfully meshing the traditional Crashing Footfalls deck and the new developments of Modern Zoo together.

What’s interesting, though, is that players are still finding new innovative ways to add Scion and Leyline to their decks. This week, a unique Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle deck making use of Leyline and Scion went undefeated in a Magic Online Modern Preliminary event that we felt deserved recognition. Could this be the next breakout archetype of the future?

Leyline and Dryad Unite

Leyline of the Guildpact

Up to this point, Leyline has primarily been used in Modern to accomplish two main goals. The first goal is to help maximize Scion of Draco as a threat. By making Scion all colors, you end up with a potent 4/4 threat with Flying, Lifelink, Vigilance, Trample, First Strike and most notably, Hexproof. The second goal is to reliably reduce the cost of your Domain spells. This includes Scion, while enabling you to cast Leyline Binding turn one. With Leyline, you have more freedom with your Fetchlands and aren’t forced to grab tapped Triomes and Shocklands in the early turns.

The combination of Leyline, Scion, and Binding is a proven all-star package. That being said, this deck goes one step further. Rather than just using the final clause on Leyline to reduce Domain-related costs, this deck takes advantage of the fact that all your Lands are Mountains with Leyline in play. We’ve seen Scapeshift and Primeval Titan decks in the past use Dryad of the Ilysian Grove for a similar purpose.

With Dryad in play, Valakut becomes a potent win condition. Once you reach six Lands with a Valakut and Dryad out, you get to start bolting your opponent’s Creatures or your opponent at will. Well, Leyline helps you accomplish the same goal. The presence of both Dryad and Leyline helps make Valakut a much more consistent card, even in a five-color shell.

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Playing the Long Game

The One Ring

Unlike most Valakut decks, this deck is more focused on interacting and generating value. You obviously still have access to fast Scion of Draco starts, but this archetype is fully capable of letting you play the long game. Beyond Leyline Binding, this deck makes good use of Prismatic Ending and Teferi, Time Raveler as pieces of disruption.

To help make sure you continue to hit your Land drops to enable Valakut, this deck utilizes a playset of Wrenn and Six. Meanwhile, Archdruid’s Charm allows you to search for Valakut to get your engine rolling or tutor up Dryad or Scion when necessary. You even have the option of grabbing Hall of Heliod’s Generosity, which lets you continuously reset Dryad or Leyline of the Guildpact if your opponent plays a lot of Enchantment removal.

The card that really helps this deck fight into the late game though is none other than The One Ring. The One Ring is excellent alongside Dryad and Valakut, providing a consistent flow of Lands and card advantage. It also synergizes quite well with Teferi. Not only does Teferi help you land The One Ring in the first place, but then you can use Teferi to bounce The One Ring and replay it. From there, you get to reuse the Protection clause and stop taking a ton of damage.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Blood Moon

Overall, this deck has decent game against a lot of the top strategies. Against slower decks like the multi-color Omnath, Locus of Creation shells, Valakut and The One Ring provide a lot of inevitability. Ending and Binding help a lot at keeping Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo at bay, while Scion of Draco can easily win the game in conjunction with Leyline against Izzet Murktide Regent.

The main area of weakness this deck has is with consistency. It’s nice that Leyline gives you a better shot against Blood Moon decks than traditional Valakut shells, but you are a bit vulnerable if your Leyline gets removed. Similarly, as strong as Valakut is as a win condition, it does very little without access to Dryad or Leyline. As such, putting four copies of a tapped Land into your deck that doesn’t help enable Scion or Binding in any capacity can be a risky proposition.

Still, this deck plays a high volume of Fetchlands to help you fix your colors when applicable and maximize Wrenn and Six. Even if you don’t have Leyline or Dryad in your opening hand, The One Ring does a great job of helping you dig for them. It also helps circumvent the card disadvantage associated with Leyline.

Even if this deck doesn’t end up breaking out, if anything, it showcases just how powerful and underexplored the Leyline package is. Players are still finding new ways to innovate with Karlov Manor cards, so if you’re looking for something unique to play, keep your eyes peeled. There’s likely more to come.

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