Phyrexia: All Will Be One is one of the more powerful MTG core sets we’ve received in some time. If that wasn’t made clear by the absurd power level of cards on our top ten Commander list, other easy indications, like the emergence of a turn three combo in Standard, one of the formats with the smallest card pool in all of MTG, should mark this as a set to remember. One card, in particular, has powered up a popular Modern deck so much that players think it could temporarily become a tier-zero deck. This likely won’t be the case once players have had a chance to adjust, but Amulet Titan may be the best deck in the MTG Modern format until adjustments begin to come its way, and it’s all due to The Mycosynth Gardens.
The Mycosynth Gardens
The Mycosynth Gardens is a new land releasing as a part of Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s main set. This utility land allows mana filtering at a cost, but players are much more excited about its second ability. For a mana value equal to the ability’s target, The Mycosynth Gardens can copy a nontoken artifact you control. This means the artifact copy will be tapped initially, but the ability is permanent. That means, in Commander, you could copy an early Sol Ring or Mana Crypt and untap a ton of mana. Alternatively, you could copy a late-game threat, which is incredibly utility from a land in Commander.
While that may be the case in Commander, Mycosynth Gardens is a lot more deadly in the Modern constructed format, and it’s all due to an artifact named Amulet of Vigor. For one mana, this Amulet untaps lands that enter the battlefield under your control tapped. While one Amulet can be surprisingly powerful, two can create a dangerous amount of mana when paired with the proper interactions. That’s where The Mycosynth Gardens comes in. For a measly one mana, the Gardens can become another copy of Amulet of Vigor which, when paired with Bounce Lands, can create turn two kills. The real strength of this addition, however, is how much more consistent it makes the turn three kills in this deck.
Mycosynth Gardens in Amulet Titan
MTG players who have had a chance to play with the new synergies have been shocked at just how powerful the age-old Amulet Titan strategy has become. While it likely will not remain at a ‘tier zero’ status for long, a portion of the MTG community believes that the deck will be an absurdly powerful option until the metagame adjusts to it. A sample decklist from MTG streamer @Burnt_Taco77 above highlights an example of the stock decklist players currently use to utilize Mycosynth Gardens in the Amulet Titan shell. I am not personally an Amulet player, but I have tried past iterations of the deck, and there are some significant changes. I will try my best to explain why these deck choices have been made and walk through some basic combos that are causing MTG players to become this terrified.
How it Works
Bounce lands like this Simic Growth Chamber alongside the Amulet of Vigor is the interaction that makes this deck possible. Long story short, the Amulet of Vigor will untap the Simic Growth Chamber when it enters the battlefield, allowing its owner to add two mana immediately. Usually, when someone plays these lands, they want to bounce something like a Basic Land to untap the next turn with two mana and an extra land drop, but Amulet Titan players typically bounce their bounce lands (after tapping the land to add mana). This is because the deck uses many additional land drop effects like Explore and Azusa, Lost but Seeking to replay their bounce land and net more mana with the Amulet of Vigor Interaction.
What do we do with all this mana? Two big creatures are this deck’s primary win conditions, but Primeval Titan is the one the deck is known for. Primeval Titan’s ability to search the library for two tapped land cards upon entering the battlefield and attacking can be translated into an instant kill option when paired with two Amulet of Vigors.
This is done by searching for Boros Garrison and Slayers’ Stronghold when the Titan enters the battlefield. Amulet of Vigor can then untap these lands twice each, allowing you to activate the ability of Slayers’ Stronghold twice, targeting your Titan (as long as your triggers are adequately organized). This will give it four power and Haste and Vigilance, allowing it to attack on the same turn it went into play.
Upon attack, the Titan searches up a Vesuva and a Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion. The Vesuva enters as a copy of Boros Garrison (this could be a second Garrison, but lists don’t tend to play two because it doesn’t tap for green mana, making it challenging to cast Primeval Titan with), which can then untap twice due to the Amulets, making four mana in Boros colors. Sunhome, also untapped by the Amulets, can activate its ability to give Primeval Titan Double Strike, quickly placing twenty damage to your opponent’s life total, theoretically ending the game.
Cultivator Colossus can be an even more devastating option in certain situations. Primeval Titan’s instant kill combo can be stopped by something as simple as a well-timed Unholy Heat, so having another payoff is very valuable. This monster can draw a ridiculous number of cards while allowing for an incredible amount of land drops, which will all be untapped by your Amulet of Vigors. Considering that you should have some number of non-land cards in your hand, it’s generally very easy to close the game from here.
The Extra Land Drop Cards
Past iterations of the Amulet Titan deck have been played with a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove package, but this is being phased out for a plan that focuses more on the combos described above. Basically, the Dryad can grant all your lands the Mountain basic land type, which, in turn, allows Valakut to deal three damage every single time a land enters play (as long as you have six of them).
The downside is, in the situation where your deck is focused on accessing two Amulet of Vigors as quickly as possible, this Dryad only floats one mana, which is not ideal. This iteration seems to focus on land drop effects that can generate as much mana as possible since having two Amulet of Vigors becomes much easier with the Mycosynth Gardens. With the two Amulets in play, here’s what each of these cards turns into:
Explore is ok with one Amulet of Vigor on the board since it functions as a free cantrip spell, but it’s at its best with two. As long as you have a bounce land and two Amulet of Vigors, Explore turns into a cantrip that adds two mana. This is done by granting an extra bounce land drop. Alongside two Amulets, which would untap a bounce land twice, you can tap said land for four mana. Subtract the cost to cast Explore, and you get two mana.
Azusa, Lost but Seeking works similarly but grants a net gain of five mana with two Amulets in play when playing a bounce land. With one Amulet in play, Azusa can still add net one mana when subtracting its casting cost.
Arboreal Grazer is the other key card in this deck that helps unlock the turn-two combo kill lines. A double Amulet, or Amulet plus Mycosynth Gardens opening can consistently map to a turn three kill using the Primeval Titan combo (providing you have it or some way to find it, like a Summoner’s Pact), but the Grazer’s ability to speed up the Titan player’s land drops on turn one can create something ridiculous. To be clear, turn two kills already existed before The Mycosynth Gardens’ introduction, but they have become a bit more commonplace. This combo is a more complex extension of the previous bread-and-butter combos explained. Quoted from Reddit is a pretty good explanation:
“To elaborate a bit more: currently, the turn 2 titan/kill isn’t super common, and generally requires two Amulets and either Azusa, Grazer, or Explore. E.g. t1 land amulet > t2 second amulet, bounceland returning bounceland (4 Mana), Grazer/Azusa/Explore to 6+ Mana using bounceland.
The turn 2 kill with Gardens requires slightly more specific pieces: Gardens, Amulet, Grazer, and Azusa/Explore/Grazer2. For those who don’t want to watch the video, here is the line in text. T1 Gardens, Amulet > t2 bounceland, float GX and return bounceland, use X to have Gardens copy Amulet (G floating) > Grazer (0 floating) to put in bounceland and return it, float GGXX > Grazer/Explore/Azusa up to 6+ Mana.” – 1l1k3bac0n
Past this point, you would cast your win-condition creature and execute the previous combos if possible.
Turn Three No Amulet In-Hand Combo
While this isn’t necessarily an ‘extra land’ card, Urza’s Saga combined with Mycosynth Gardens opens up a turn-three combo line that Titan players can access without having an Amulet of Vigor. Simply play the Urza’s Saga on turn one and your Gardens on turn two. On turn three, when the Saga searches for Amulet of Vigor as a result of its third mode, tap it to add a colorless mana (in response to the search trigger). You can then use that mana to copy Amulet of Vigor with The Mycosynth Gardens and float four mana with a green bounce land. Past that point, use a land extender like Explore or Arboreal Grazer to get past six mana and cast your win condition with Amulets in play!
This gives a VERY brief outlook over the combos that The Mycosynth Gardens opens up for Amulet Titan. There is much more going on with this deck than what was written in this article, but I hope this highlight shows just how much consistency The Mycosynth Gardens can add to the deck. I am no expert with this deck, but in gathering research to cover this topic, @puntthenwhine and @Moniz are two Twitter handles that popped over repetitively as Amulet Titan experts. Feel free to check that out if you want to learn more about the deck.
Amulet Titan is not an easy deck to pick up and immediately start winning games with, especially when your opponents can blow up your combo pieces. If you’re interested in exploring the archetype for yourself, make sure you give yourself some time to practice with it before bringing it to a high-stakes game.
Whether this power boost to Amulet Titan actually takes the deck to temporary tier zero status is something that only tournament results will tell, but players seem incredibly excited for the archetype’s potential return to the forefront of Modern.