The Modern banned list is going to be updated soon and one of the hottest topics is whether or not Amulet Bloom is too powerful of a deck for Modern. In my opinion there are very good cases for both sides of this debate. While just this past weekend Amulet Bloom did win the Open in Cincinnati, in general I wouldn't say that Amulet Bloom has been performing significantly better than other archetypes. How many copies have there been in recent Grand Prix Top 8s? The answer is not as many as you would think. Part of the reason for this though is that, in a given field, Amulet Bloom is not likely to be one of the most played decks. Amulet Bloom is incredibly difficult to pilot and many players won't pick it up for a tournament unless they feel comfortable with the deck.
The version of Amulet Bloom that I recommend is that of Mike Sigrist's, as he just got edged out on breakers to finish ninth at Grand Prix Pittsburgh. Here is the list:
Some top pros have found success with this deck, and one could argue that having a deck like Amulet Bloom in the format awards play skill, which should be a good thing. On the other side of the coin, not only can this deck come out of the gates absurdly quickly with turn two wins, it is also capable of grinding out midrange decks. As fellow writer Ali AIntrazi pointed out, it does seem a bit unfair for a deck like this to have draws that are virtually unbeatable, and also be able to win a late game. This deck has a lot of moving pieces to it and I really wanted to get a chance to run it on Magic Online, even though this could potentially be the last time the deck exists.
While Amulet Bloom is certainly a very good Modern deck it isn't quite strong enough for Legacy play, which means that if, say, Amulet of Vigor gets banned, the deck will almost cease to exist, which will be sad for the diehard Amulet Bloom fans.
The only difference between the list of Sigrist's and the one in the videos here is the swap of City of Brass and Mana Confluence (as they are almost the same card) and there is one Melira, Sylvok Outcast in place of a Pyroclasm in the sideboard. As far as the games themselves I will admit that I'm not confident I played the deck perfectly. While it is hard to point to a specific place and say that I misplayed, or at any rate that I made a play that cost me a game, there were definitely a fair amount of close decisions and spots. In the end winning two matches isn't particularly impressive, but there are some lessons to be learned about certain matchups.
First of all there are some new black-based Eldrazi decks running around on Magic Online at the moment, though when we faced off against the deck the matchup felt good. This may have been in part to our opponent not having the best draws or the right combination of discard and land destruction. Either way, this was the match where our draws seemed to line up the best. We did run into some decks that aren't mainstream archetypes but that is Modern for you. The Blue Taking Turns strategy was fun to play against. It felt like though that our good draw should always beat theirs because we can usually win before turn five, which is when they can start going infinite with extra turns. These matches felt good but the other ones not so much.
Death's Shadow decks seems to be getting more and more popular. While most of the versions I have seen have been super aggressive Four-Color Zoo variants, this one was quite different. Out opponent seemed to be straight Grixis with Death's Shadow and Gurmag Angler as the primary win conditions. Game one I will admit that our hand maybe should have been a mulligan, though the decision was close. Losing when your opponent mulligans to five doesn't feel good but the reality is that his particular five card hand was very good. Death's Shadow itself is very strong against Amulet Bloom because of how fast a clock it is, and the Amulet Bloom deck can neither kill the Death's Shadow nor deal direct damage to punish all of the life loss. In game two we were actually very close to getting enough pressure on the board via Thragtusk, but that really isn't what Amulet Bloom wants to be doing to try and win games.
The last matchup was versus Living End, and I actually feel like this is one of the worst matchups for Amulet Bloom. Yes, the deck does have bad matchups! Fulminator Mage and Beast Within can break up the lands, and an instant speed Living End can take out a Primeval Titan. Still in all of these matches we never had our unfair draw of a turn two Hive Mind or Primeval Titan. I'm not sure what the percentage of the time is that these draws should occur but it definitely isn't as high as many players are led to believe.
My personal opinion on Amulet Bloom is that the deck isn't overpowered, but it is very scary to play against. It is not fun to play against a deck that you know some percentage of the time you will just lose without being able to do anything whatsoever. This isn't how Magic is meant to be played. I expect things to be shaken up in Modern very soon, and whether that means Amulet Bloom gets banned remains to be seen.
Thanks for reading,