In a bit of a surprising move, the Modern metagame has seen some noticeable shifts since Wizards of the Coast made their decision to not ban or unban anything. The most important change in the metagame is the rise in Up the Beanstalk decks. Rather than Cascading into Crashing Footfalls or Living End, many players are using Shardless Agent to Cascade into Up the Beanstalk. In conjunction with the free Evoke Elementals from Modern Horizons Two, such as Solitude, it’s easy to draw a ton of extra cards.
This ability to reliably gain card advantage for cheap has even allowed these multi-color Leyline Binding decks to pivot away from The One Ring. If that doesn’t showcase the power of Up the Beanstalk, I don’t know what does.
Interestingly, though, not every deck utilizing Up the Beanstalk is going as far as utilizing Cascade spells. In fact, there are a multitude of different strategies designed to abuse this card. One of these archetypes is fairly new, and it looks like a mashup of a bunch of different archetypes in one. This deck has elements of multi-color Up the Beanstalk decks, five-color zoo decks, and most notably, Calibrated Blast combo decks. Not only does this deck look super cool, but it even made top eight of a massive event with 15 rounds of Swiss! The deck is quite intriguing and is capable of winning in multiple ways. Does it have what it takes to continue to compete at the highest level?
Five-Color Value Package
At first glance, this might look like a typical five-color deck. After all, some of the best cards and biggest reasons to play the full five colors are seen here. Leyline Binding is certainly the most notable. Despite costing six mana, the card can be reliably cast for only one mana, even as early as turn two. This is thanks to the range of “Triomes” available in Magic. With an abundance of Fetchlands, it’s easy to search for the requisite Land that both produces three colors and has three basic Land types. From there, another Triome or Shockland should enable Leyline Binding to be cast in short order.
Leyline Binding, much like the Evoke Elementals, triggers Up the Beanstalk, regardless of how much mana was spent to cast it. What’s interesting, though, is that this deck runs very few of the Evoke Elementals. There are three copies of Fury[/toolips] in the decklist, but Solitude is simply not a reliable card to Evoke in this deck. Unlike traditional five-color strategies, this deck is missing [tooltips]Omnath, Locus of Creation as well. This is where the deck starts to deviate. Sure, there are copies of Wrenn and Six to keep the Lands flowing, but it’s clear by the lack of Omnath that the end game of this deck is very different than you might expect.
The Zoo Package
Much like the five-color Zoo decks that can have quite aggressive starts, this deck plays both Scion of Draco and Territorial Kavu as heavy hitters. This allows the deck to play a grindy game with Up the Beanstalk while still having enough pressure to potentially close the game quickly against opposing combo decks. Scion specifically triggers Up the Beanstalk as well, helping to fill both roles nicely.
This deck also makes use of Lightning Bolt as one of its efficient removal spells of choice. The ability to deal three damage to the opponent with Lightning Bolt is actually very relevant in a lot of games. This is especially true when factoring in the combo aspect of this deck.
Calibrated Blast Package
That’s right, this deck is also capable of acting like a combo deck, utilizing Calibrated Blast as a finisher. It may seem strange to play Calibrated Blast in this style of deck. After all, couldn’t you just reveal something like Lightning Bolt off the top of your deck and deal a very minimal amount of damage? That’s where things get interesting. Because of the sheer number of Fetchlands this deck can play, it’s quite easy to search for primarily black Triomes and Shocklands.
This allows the deck to enable Witch’s Cottage, letting you put Creatures from your graveyard on top of your library. By using Territorial Kavu and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker as discard outlets for massive threats like Scion of Draco and Shadow of Mortality, you can actually set up your own Calibrated Blasts. Simply put one of these cards on top of your library, and Calibrated Blast will deal a ton of damage to the opponent guaranteed.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The idea behind this deck’s design is to mitigate some of the weaknesses of typical Calibrated Blast decks. Calibrated Blast decks normally rely on a huge density of super high mana value, largely uncastable cards to enable Calibrated Blast. In this sense, the deck was much more of an all-in combo deck that would be very weak to specific hate cards, such as Leyline of Sanctity. This deck is still capable of dealing 15 damage simply by casting Calibrated Blast, but has a much more robust plan B.
Territorial Kavu, Scion of Draco, and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker can end the game on their own. Even if you can’t set it up with Cottage, it can still be reasonable to cast Calibrated Blast with the opponent at a low life total, since even revealing Fury or Leyline Binding can be good enough. Additionally, Calibrated Blast has Flashback, providing extra opportunities to deal extra damage.
Of course, what this deck gains in versatility it lacks in consistency. The gameplan of this deck is much less streamlined. In some cases, you’d prefer to be playing more efficient threats and Tribal Flames rather than Up the Beanstalk when you need to be aggressive. Without Fable or Kavu, setting up Blast can be difficult. It’s possible to cast Shadow of Mortality in some matchups where your life total gets diminished in chunks, such as against burn decks, but other times the card will just be stuck in your hand.
Regardless, having the ability to deal 15 damage to your opponent out of nowhere with Calibrated Blast can help a lot with closing out games, especially against decks Cascading into Up the Beanstalk. The duality of this deck gives it a solid chance in a wide variety of matchups, and you may be able to surprise a lot of unsuspecting people with a well-timed Blast to the face.