Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
19, Feb, 24

Powerful MTG Karlov Manor Enchantment Has Plenty of Uncracked Potential!

Article at a Glance

Over the past two weeks, we’ve gotten to see Murders at Karlov Manor cards in action. Unsurprisingly, the talk of the town has been the emergence of Leyline of the Guildpact in Modern. The combination of Leyline and Scion of Draco has revolutionized both the Domain Zoo and Crashing Footfalls archetypes, with both decks boasting extremely high win rates at the Regional Championship tournaments last weekend.

However, while all eyes are on the flashy rare, another powerful Enchantment that has been making a surge across multiple formats has largely flown under the radar. Whether it is being used as a combo card or a value engine, the Enchantment has immense upside. The card in question is none other than Insidious Roots. As we take a closer look at the different ways to maximize Insidious Roots, there’s no better place to start than one of the most powerful combo decks in Modern.

A New Avenue for Yawgmoth Combo

Insidious Roots

Kicking things off, we have a deck that has been among Modern’s best options for quite some time. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo was strong even before the printing of Orcish Bowmasters and Agatha’s Soul Cauldron but has gotten significantly stronger since. Insidious Roots is yet another strong tool that players can add to their arsenal.

Insidious Roots is a solid card in conjunction with Agatha’s Soul Cauldron. Each turn, you can exile a Creature from your graveyard, netting you a plant token in the process. It also allows other tokens you create, such as those from Grist, the Hunger Tide to tap for mana. Of course, where Insidious Roots really shines, though, is when combined with Young Wolf and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.

Typically, the easiest way to execute a combo with Yawgmoth involves having access to two copies of Young Wolf and Blood Artist. From there, you can execute the following steps:

  • First, sacrifice a Young Wolf with Yawgmoth’s activated ability. Do not target any of your creatures with the -1/-1 counter. The Young Wolf will come back with a +1/+1 counter thanks to Undying. This will trigger Blood Artist, draining your opponent for one.
  • Second, sacrifice your Young Wolf that does not have a counter, targeting the Young Wolf that does have a counter. Your counters will cancel out. Your other Young Wolf will come back with a +1/+1 counter thanks to Undying. This, once again, will trigger Blood Artist.
  • You can repeat step two over and over, sacrificing the Young Wolf without a counter, targeting the one that does have a counter, thanks to -1/-1 counters and +1/+1 counters canceling one another out.
  • There are other combo lines available in the deck, but, for the sake of briefness, we will not cover those here.

With access to Insidious Roots, though, you only need one copy of Young Wolf to go through a similar process:

  • Sacrifice Young Wolf with Yawgmoth’s activated ability, once again targeting none of your Creatures with the -1/-1 counter. Your opponent will be drained for one from Blood Artist and the Young Wolf will return via Undying like normal. When Young Wolf returns to play, Insidious Roots will trigger, netting you an 0/1 Plant token with a +1/+1 counter.
  • Sacrifice the Plant token to Yawgmoth, putting the -1/-1 counter on Young Wolf and draining your opponent for one again. The +1/+1 and -1/-1 counter on Young Wolf will cancel out.
  • Repeat both steps over and over

The fact that Insidious Roots fills roles as both a combo enabler and a token generator makes it perfect for this archetype that’s reliant on going wide for Yawgmoth and Chord of Calling.

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Asmo Food Value Engine

Ovalchase Daredevil

Moving on to another Modern deck that can make good use of Insidious Roots, we have Asmo Food. While this deck isn’t trying to go infinite with Insidious Roots, the value that can be created is nothing to scoff at. The easiest way to reliably create plants every turn is to have a copy of The Underworld Cookbook in play and Ovalchase Daredevil in your hand.

Each time you tap Cookbook, you can discard Daredevil to make a Food token. When the Food token enters the battlefield, Daredevil’s ability will trigger, allowing you to return it from your graveyard to your hand. In the process, you will trigger Insidious Roots. Even with a single copy of Cookbook and Insidious Roots, your Plant army can start to get out of control. Assemble multiple copies of either, though, and things can really pop off.

This deck has some other nice synergies that are worth mentioning, too. Much like how Agatha’s Soul Cauldron can remove Creatures from graveyard to trigger Insidious Roots, Relic of Progenitus can do the same thing. While there’s only one copy in the deck, you can always fetch it off of Urza’s Saga when appropriate. Bloodghast offers some solid value as well as a simple recursive threat.

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Beyond Modern

Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler

While Insidious Roots is making a name for itself in Modern, the card has some serious strength in other formats as well. In Standard, many players have been experimenting with it alongside Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler. In a deck filled with small Creatures, Tyvar does a great job at returning them to play and triggering Insidious Roots along the way. Additionally, the tokens you create with Insidious Roots will be able to tap for mana right away with Tyvar in play.

This mana can be used right away to cast Urborg Reposession or exile Rubblebelt Maverick from the graveyard with its ability, letting you net more tokens from Insidious Roots and thus, more mana. Cards like Undead Butler and Rona, Herald of Invasion help keep your graveyard full of Creatures, making Urborg Repossession even stronger.

Some players even experimented with Colossal Skyturtle, which can allow you to generate infinite tokens if you’re lucky. With three copies of Insidious Roots and Tyvar in play as well as two copies of Skyturtle in hand, you start by Channeling one Skyturtle to return the other from your graveyard to your hand. This will net you three Plant tokens, which you can tap for mana immediately thanks to Tyvar. Now, with that mana, you can create a loop by Channeling one Skyturtle to return the other over and over, flooding the board with Plants!

The fact that Insidious Roots works well in multiples is certainly part of its appeal, but the card is still making a splash in Singleton formats like cEDH. The +1/+1 counters that Insidious Roots provides to your Plants work especially well with Tayam, Luminous Enigma as the Commander of choice, helping enable its activation cost. Then, when you activate Tayam’s ability, if you return a Creature to play, you get a Plant with a +1/+1 counter on it for your troubles.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to utilize this powerful Karlov Manor Enchantment. It’s rather trivial to create a big board with Insidious Roots in play, especially in multiples. There are a lot of ways to build around the card, which makes it quite appealing. As players continue to innovate, it’ll be cool to see if it breaks out in any other meaningful ways.

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