Wirewood Symbiote | Scourge | Art by Thomas M. Baxa
24, May, 24

Crucial MH3 Reprint Could Resurrect Forgotten Typal Deck!

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It seems like every day of the Modern Horizons 3 preview season brings a new reason to stare at your screen in disbelief. Yesterday we saw a wild new take on Cranial Plating, one of the best Affinity cards of all time. Today, we’ve been shown a straight-up reprint of one of the best typal support cards ever printed. The rumors are true, folks: Wirewood Symbiote is coming to Modern.

This is huge news for fans of the long-neglected Elf creature type, naturally, but it’s also just an exciting spoiler in its own right. Wirewood Symbiote is a Legacy-playable card, and seeing what effect such power has on Modern will be interesting viewing indeed. In a set full of outrageous-looking new cards, Symbiote is one with the history to back up its claim to fame.

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Wirewood Symbiote In Modern?!

So what exactly has Wirewood Symbiote done to earn such a fearsome reputation? After all, it’s just a 1/1 Insect for one green mana. Well, this 1/1 Insect has an ability, and it’s one that really grows on you. At any time, you can return an Elf you control to your hand. In exchange, you can untap a creature of your choice.

Seems like a relatively tame ability to put a ‘once per turn’ clause on, but, in reality, it’s far from it. Elves, as you may already know, are well-known for their mana dorks; creatures that tap to give you additional mana. Symbiote’s ability doesn’t specify that the Elf you return needs to be untapped, so you can tap a dork for mana, bounce it to Symbiote, and untap another dork for even more.

That’s a nice little ramp trick, but it’s only a fraction of what Symbiote can do. Perhaps even more famously, it can recycle enters-the-battlefield triggers on your Elves. Cards like Elvish Visionary become card advantage machines when paired with Symbiote. This gives Elves decks, which typically play Aggro/Combo, some game in the long run.

Bouncing Elves also lets you play them again, which lets you nab extra triggers on cards like Leaf-Crowned Visionary and Nettle Sentinel. Basically, there are a tonne of uses for both halves of Symbiote’s ability, and it comes on a cheap enough body to make them all relevant.

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The Elvish Revolution

Can all of that power make Elves relevant in Modern again? It certainly has a shot. While the Modern version of the deck lacks the explosive potential of its Legacy counterpart, due to a lack of Glimpse of Nature, it still employs a similar playstyle. It aims to win by generating a huge amount of mana and funneling it into pump effects to push your 1/1 hordes over the edge.

Modern Elves decks tend to include Elvish Archdruid in their ranks, which is a mana dork that scales based on your Elves in play. Combined with Symbiote, this can skyrocket your mana very early on. The deck is also fond of Heritage Druid, which can tap down any non-mana generating Elves before you bounce them with Symbiote, for maximum value.

The card may also play well with Eladamri, Korvecdal, the powerful new Elf legend from MH3. His creature-cheating ability requires you to tap him, so Symbiote can get you an extra use of it each turn. The creature you cheat out can even serve as one of the two creatures you tap to activate it again. Alternatively, Symbiote can serve as simple protection for the new Eladamri, if it proves crucial to the deck’s plan. Bouncing your key card out of harms way at instant speed is nothing to sniff at.

Overall, Symbiote is an incredible multi-tool for Modern Elves decks, and there’s a near 100% chance that they all start jamming four copies as soon as MH3 hits. Just look at how often they play Quirion Ranger, an inferior version of the same effect if you need proof.

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Lands Beyond

Elves isn’t the only place Wirewood Symbiote could see play, however. There are plenty of other synergies for the card in Modern. Take Jegantha, the Wellspring, for example. This is a staple Companion in both Domain Zoo and Temur Prowess decks. The card’s power is largely tied up in its tap ability, which gives you one mana of each color in one big chunk. With Symbiote and another Elf out, you can make that 10 instead.

Of course, such synergies would require you to add more Elves to otherwise Elfless lists. It’s not too difficult to slot in a few Elvish Mystic or Elvish Visionary, mind you. Alternatively, you could lean more into the ‘ETB recycling’ side of the card and include Elves with powerful abilities in your deck just to bounce them.

Frilled Mystic is an ideal choice here, letting you keep your opponent’s spells locked down in a grindy game. You could also employ the talents of Unscrupulous Agent, to add a hand attack element to your Golgari Midrange pile. And these are just two examples: the Elf creature type has many a member in Modern.

However you slice it, Wirewood Symbiote is a very exciting reprint, for both old and new players. Whether it lives up to its reputation in Modern remains to be seen, but you better believe those Elves players are going to try it out. And probably a lot of other players, too.

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