Dark Depths | Dominaria Remastered | Art by Mathias Kollros
31, May, 24

Modern Horizons 3 Commander Card Enables Scary Dark Depths Combo!

Article at a Glance

Those sly folks over at Wizards of the Coast really know how to sneak a powerful card past prying eyes. They manage it every set with the final Card Gallery dump, and they’ve managed it this week with the Modern Horizons 3 Commander deck reveals. Nestled among the usual multiplayer madness is Mutated Cultist, an MTG card that may well be destined for Legacy greatness.

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Mutated Cultist – A Scary New MTG Threat

Mutated Cultist | Modern Horizons 3 Commander

First, take a second to get over that disgusting artwork. Done? Good. You’ll need all your powers of concentration to take this one in. Mutated Cultist is a three mana 1/3 with Devoid and Deathtouch, and the Eldrazi Horror creature type. For all intents and purposes, those elements are completely irrelevant to the card. It’s that middle chunk of text we’re really interested in.

When you cast Mutated Cultist, you can remove all counters from any permanent or opponent in the game. If you do, you get a generic mana discount on your next spell for each counter removed. Immediately, this sets the mind racing with possibilities. You can kill Planeswalkers on the spot, strip away +1/+1 counters that have been stacked on a key threat, or even rid an opponent of their Energy stockpile. It’s a highly flexible effect, with no shortage of applications in Commander.

Once you’ve used it, the mana discount is not to be sniffed at, either. Even just removing a couple of counters can get you a free early mana rock. Any more than that, and you’re in ‘cheating out a midrange Eldrazi’ territory.

It’s also worth noting that, since this ability triggers on cast, it will still resolve even if your opponent counters the Cultist. This is somewhat relevant in Commander, where counterspells do see sparing play. It’s far more relevant in Legacy, however, which is where I think Mutated Cultist will really shine.

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The Dark Depths Combo Line

While it’s banned in Modern, the infamous legendary land Dark Depths is still legal in Legacy. What does this have to do with Mutated Cultist? Well, Dark Depths comes into play with 10 whole counters on it, and gives you Marit Lage, a 20/20 Indestructible flier, once all 10 are removed. With Cultist’s effect, you can not only remove all of them at once, grabbing Marit Lage right away, but you can also secure a 10-mana discount on your next play.

This is powerful without any additional support. Dark Depths decks have seen play in Legacy for years, after all, using Vampire Hexmage to achieve something similar. What Hexmage doesn’t do, though, is allow you to cast an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger for free alongside your Marit Lage.

With this line of play, you not only generate an additional Indestructible threat for your opponent to deal with, but you also get to exile two of their permanents, most likely lands. Even if your opponent did have exile-based removal at that point, it’s very unlikely they’d be able to cast it. Ulamog’s exile effect is a cast trigger, too, so it still works even if countered. Factor in the uncounterable nature of Dark Depths itself, and there are very few ways to interact with this line outside of using Stifle effects on the Dark Depths sacrifice trigger.

Obviously, this is a bit of a Magical Christmas Land combo scenario, but it’s worth noting that the discount can apply to more than just Ulamog. Any colorless card is fair game and, as we’ll see below, there’s a plethora of potential for decks running this combo in Legacy.

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Potential In Legacy

When evaluating Mutated Cultist for Legacy, the best place to start is with existing Dark Depths shells in the format. At the moment, the best version of the deck is Selesnya Depths, which eschews the Vampire Hexmage plan in favor of using Thespian’s Stage to cheat out a Marit Lage via Dark Depths. The deck uses plenty of land tutor effects, such as Elvish Reclaimer and Knight of the Reliquary, to ensure it can find its key pieces in a timely manner.

Adding Mutated Cultist to a green/white MTG deck may sound like madness, but it’s actually easier than it seems. Selesnya Depths already runs Mox Diamond for mana ramp and fixing, as well as Bojuka Bog for graveyard hate. It basically already has black sources. Ulamog is fully colorless, so no adjustments are necessary to accommodate his inclusion.

Is this new combo good enough to justify disrupting the balance of a tried-and-tested deck? I believe it is. Getting the combo off on turn three will, as we’ve discussed, all but end the game outright. Most Legacy decks rely on Force of Will to stop shenanigans like this, but the combo works purely on cast triggers, so that’s just not possible. In addition, Mutated Cultist has some extra utility in the deck that’s worth talking about.

Selesnya Depths runs four copies of Green Sun’s Zenith for consistency. This, it turns out, is a great outlet for Cultist’s huge mana discount. You can tutor up any creature in the deck with this, Ulamog included, though you will miss his cast trigger.

Overall, Mutated Cultist looks like a great addition to Dark Depths decks, and you should expect to see it on your Legacy tables soon. Be afraid; be very afraid.

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