At this point, it’s not surprising to continue seeing Wilds of Eldraine cards have a big impact on a variety of Constructed formats. In Pioneer, there are a ton of cards from the set that see lots of play in tier one archetypes. From Sleight of Hand in Izzet Phoenix to The Huntsman’s Redemption in Gruul midrange, many strategies received significant upgrades.
While there are less Wilds of Eldraine cards that see consistent Modern play, two extremely important ones come to mind. First, Agatha’s Soul Cauldron became a staple in Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo decks as well as Hardened Scales decks. Next, Up the Beanstalk provided multi-color Leyline Binding decks with an excellent source of card advantage.
Up the Beanstalk was such a powerful addition to the Modern format that many players have been using Shardless Agent to reliably Cascade into it instead of cards like Living End or Crashing Footfalls. Additionally, Up the Beanstalk has the potential to draw so many cards that some players even play more than 60 cards!
While multi-color Leyline Binding builds are definitely the most popular shells for Up the Beanstalk, some players continue to brew around the elite two-drop. In fact, just this week, someone went 5-0 in a Magic Online Modern League with an intriguing combo deck utilizing a playset of Up the Beanstalk. The deck has some typical inclusions to maximize Up the Beanstalk, such as Fury and Solitude, but the core of the deck is rather unique. The deck is extremely synergistic, so let’s take a look at exactly what this deck is trying to accomplish.
Birthing Pod Variant
This deck’s main gameplan is actually to win via an infinite combo. The infinite combo revolves around Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Felidar Guardian. With those two cards in play, you can tap Kiki-Jiki to make a copy of Feildar Guardian. When this copy enters the battlefield, you can blink Kiki-Jiki, and it will re-enter untapped. Because Kiki-Jiki and the copies of Felidar Guardian have Haste, you can make another copy of Felidar Guardian, and repeat this process until you have made enough copies of Felidar Guardian to simply attack the opponent and win.
This win condition is quite similar to the Splinter Twin and Pestermite combo of old. The difference here is that this deck only plays one copy of Kii-Jiki and two copies of Felidar Guardian. Rather than relying on casting a four-mana card, then a five-mana card which can be quite mana-intensive, this deck actually uses Planebound Accomplice and Vivien on the Hunt to get the combo assembled.
With Planebound Accomplice in play, you can put Viven into play for one mana. Much like Birthing Pod, a card banned in Modern, Vivien lets you sacrifice a Creature and put into play a Creature with mana value equal to the sacrificed Creature’s mana value plus one. Using this ability, you can execute the following steps to assemble the Kiki-Jiki and Felidar Guardian combo out of nowhere:
- Use Vivien’s +2 ability to sacrifice Planebound Accomplice, finding Felidar Guardian
- Use Felidar Guardian to blink Vivien, then sacrifice Felidar Guardian to Vivien’s ability and find Karmic Guide
- Use Karmic Guide to bring back Felidar Guardian from your graveyard to play, blink Vivien, and sacrifice Felidar Guardian again to Vivien’s ability, finding Kiki-Jiki
- Use Kiki-Jiki to make a copy of Karmic Guide, bringing back Felidar Guardian with its triggered ability
- Execute the combo as normal
In addition to being able to win with Vivien and Planebound Accomplice, this deck is also capable of doing a good “Scam” impression. Rather than Evoking Grief or Fury alongside Not Dead After All to get multiple triggers on turn one and keep the Creature around, this deck can Evoke Fury or Solitude, then use Ephemerate to blink the Creature and bypass the Evoke trigger that way.
What’s nice is that this deck plays a ton of Creatures with relevant enters-the-battlefield effects, making Ephemerate a very strong card. Against decks with lots of cheap Creatures, Evoking Fury or Solitude and using Ephemerate is a great strategy.
In more attrition-based matchups, it’s quite realistic to start casting your five drops and generating value. In this sense, Karmic Guide has use even outside of the combo as a way to bring back Solitude or Fury. This deck is somewhat reliant on finding Evoke Creatures and Planebound Accomplice, though, so to help with that, there are three copies of Eladamri’s Call in the mix.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The reality is, this deck is a bit clunky overall. Many of the requisite cards for the combo, while not poor on their own, cost a decent chunk of mana to cast normally. This deck can definitely have consistency issues as a result. For example, you may get stuck with Vivien in your hand without Planebound Accomplice, as getting to six mana isn’t always easy. Getting to Evoke Fury and Solitude can help buy you time, but that still requires you to pitch a card from your hand to do so.
Even if you cast Planebound Accomplice with Vivien in hand, as kami-inu pointed out above, there are a number of ways the combo can be disrupted. This is a major weakness for a deck focused on a six-mana card. After all, this combo has been around for over a year, but has yet to make much noise. What has changed that might make this archetype more resilient than before?
The big difference here is the inclusion of Up the Beanstalk alongside the Evoke Elementals. While adding Up the Beanstalk may not seem like that big of a deal, it really does solve a lot of the deck’s issues. First of all, you can Evoke Solitude or Fury without having to worry too much about card disadvantage in the process. Getting to draw cards also helps enable you to keep hitting your Land drops and potentially cast some of your top-end combo pieces.
Without a source of card advantage, this deck would be quite vulnerable to interaction from the opponent. Up the Beanstalk gives you a better chance at playing a longer game and fighting through removal and Counterspells. The Ephemerate Package gives you a decent shot against Creature-based decks like Hammer Time, while having access to the combo as well as Reprieve helps a lot against opposing combo and Cascade decks. It is quite unlikely that this deck will emerge as a highly competitive top-tier option in Modern. Still, it’s a fun combo deck that has more game now than it did over the last year, so if you’re looking for something unique, consider giving this deck a whirl.