Up the Beanstalk immediately started garnering attention from the MTG community. As soon as the card was spoiled, MTG players immediately started speculating if and where the card would see play. It seemed pretty obvious that a ramp-based Commander deck would enjoy a card like Up the Beanstalk, but with all the free five mana spells in Modern and Legacy like Force of Will and Solitude, could Up the Beanstalk do even more?
The answer is definitely yes. Up the Beanstalk has broken out as a massive upgrade to the popular Four Color Control archetype in Modern, has been innovating the Domain Zoo archetype, and is seeing experimentation in Legacy.
That said, one new breakout strategy is pushing Up the Beanstalk to its limit. No longer are MTG players exclusively using Cascade effects to cheat out spells like Living End and Crashing Footfalls. Players are now using Cascade to find more copies of Up the Beanstalk. It’s that good.
The Unfairest Cascade is Actually Completely Fair
Cascade effects like Shardless Agent and Violent Outburst have been a massive part of Modern for quite some time. Obtaining sixteen stats for three mana by cheating out Crashing Footfalls, or reanimating a lethal board of Cycling threats with Living End are incredibly powerful strategies. Heck, Cascade even had to see an errata thanks to the Modern format. As such, Cascade has been around for a very long time in Modern.
That said, following some innovations coming to a head at the Modern Showcase Challenge, one of the best things for players to Cascade for now is Up the Beanstalk, a powerful Limited uncommon from Wilds of Eldraine. Cascade is now being used as intended, and it is incredible.
Instead of Up the Beanstalk being inherently unfair, however, the rest of the deck is constructed with unfair cards that abuse Up the Beanstalk to its maximum.
MTG Modern content creator AspiringSpike put the idea of Up the Beanstalk Cascade on the map initially. Still, this list from professional MTG player Tristan Wylde-LaRue was what eventually achieved a top-eight finish in the Modern Showcase Challenge. This prestigious event, with more than 400 players in attendance, offered a slot for the top eight finishers to the upcoming MOCS Modern Qualifier.
As mentioned before, Up the Beanstalk itself is not an inherently unfair card. Instead, utilizing free spells such as Solitude and reduced mana value effects like Leyline Binding makes Up the Beanstalk a nightmare to play against.
The downside of utilizing the Evoke Elemental’s Evoke effects (like Solitude) was that, in exchange for a free spell, you lose two cards for one effect. This means that, unless you’re removing two of your opponent’s cards in exchange, you are experiencing card disadvantage in exchange for efficiency.
Up the Beanstalk changes that relationship. Unless your Evoke effect fails to accomplish anything, if it triggers Up the Beanstalk, the relationship becomes neutral. Since Up the Beanstalk also cantrips upon entry, the relationship truly remains neutral. If you manage to get two Up the Beanstalk in play, suddenly your free spells are also card advantage. Three Beanstalk effects and you’ll never run out of gas.
This is the logic behind the new Cascade Up the Beanstalk lists. Get out the namesake card as consistently as possible and out-grind anything your opponents throw at you. You’ll always see a couple Up the Beanstalk. Just keep your opponent entertained until they run out of things to do, or Time Warp your way into either a lethal line or way too many cards in hand.
A Shift in Power
Up the Beanstalk working as an all-in strategy is largely due to the more unfair MTG cards that triggers its ability, but this canvas has set the stage for some powerful five mana cards to make a reappearance. Time Warp has been beginning to appear in Up the Beanstalk decks. Extra turn spells that draw additional cards is definitely worth a five mana investment. Resolving Time Warp even before Up the Beanstalk was a fine exchange. Making Time Warp card advantage is absolutely ludicrous.Bring to Light is an interesting option that can find whatever card you need in a pinch. I would assume this is just going to be Time Warp most of the time if you have the essential setup, but Omnath, Locus of Creation, or emergency removal/hate pieces are additional powerful options. Murderous Cut is an incredibly interesting tech here that essentially becomes removal on the cheap that potentially draws a bunch of cards. Dismember remains as an option to take care of problematic Rakdos Scam starts while not messing up the Cascade flow.
All of this accumulates to a majority of your cards being card advantage. Cascaders like Shardless Agent and Ardent Plea set up your value engine, and a majority of your spells become cantrips and, in doing so, card advantage.
The Usual Fixes are Still Here
Even though this new archetype is all-in on Up the Beanstalk, not every spell in the deck is going to trigger it. We’re building with the slight deck restriction that Cascade enforces, so the deck does not use any cards under mana value three outside of the intended Cascade targets. Otherwise, however, there are still a few cards that do not trigger Up the Beanstalk to consider.
Force of Negation is too powerful to ignore. While attrition definitely seems to have become the name of the game with this Beanstalk deck becoming a thing, decks like Living End that resolve one spell to win the game are always going to exist in the Modern format. As such, you need cheap answers like Force of Negation to keep those cards in check. Free counterspells are always going to be incredibly threatening.Teferi, Time Raveler is becoming even more relevant thanks to a new Cascade deck appearing. Counterspells also look really rough for this deck to deal with, and having a cheaper Planeswalker that turns them off is incredibly valuable. Unlike other Cascade strategies, Teferi does not shut this one down. Instead, Teferi just makes a few cards in the deck dead.
Otherwise, graveyard synergies definitely still have the potential to close the door far too quickly for the Cascading Beans deck. Endurance is here to give you a fighting chance.
While this Cascading Beans deck is equipped to delay and answer Modern’s most common threats, combo decks that close the door quickly while attacking on an unexpected angle can be problematic for the Cascading Beans deck to deal with. Unless you get to the stage where you can build up a critical mass of Time Warp effects, decks like the up-and-coming Twiddlestorm archetype could give Beans a hard time. Whether this deck actually ends up becoming a real consideration, however, is a completely different question.
If I were to target this strategy with something slightly more common than Twiddlestorm, I may consider Dimir Mill. Outside of Endurance to shuffle your deck a few times, the Cascading Beans deck, at least in its 70-card variant, isn’t exactly closing the door very quickly. This gives mill lots of time to mill out the deck while attacking on a slightly unintuitive angle. Up the Beanstalk ironically helps with your gameplan since they will be thinning their own deck.
Four Color decks are also always going to need to keep Blood Moon in consideration. There are lots of answers available in the 85 (this deck plays 70 cards in the maindeck!?) for the Moon, and there needs to be considering that Rakdos Scam likes to play multiples of them.
Will This Rewrite the 60-Card Relationship?
Now that this Cascade Beans shell is out for Modern players to try, there are a ton of different angles that the deck could take. Aspiringspike, for example, is trying Cascading Burnt Beans as a potential way for the deck to go. We have no idea whether this is good or not, but the Cascading Beans shell is seriously strong.
Past that point, seeing 70-card maindecks succeed without a payoff similar to Yorion, Sky Nomad could rewrite one of the core beliefs of competitive MTG: 60-card decks are always best. This is, honestly, the biggest change brought forth by this decklist. The new Cascading Beans shell does look incredibly powerful, but the consideration that 60-card decks aren’t always king is a much more profound note that could shake the foundation of competitive Magic.