This week, I want to talk about Smuggler's Copter and show you some uses for it in Modern, focusing on a few specific card interactions that combo with it as well as giving you a list to try it out in. Then I'm going to try something new and look back at a month (or half month) of tweets to cover a variety of topics that are worth touching on, including: adjusting to metagame shifts, Magic flavor, the new Frontier format, what makes white weenie always so good, and most importantly – a holiday themed video and song about me attacking with white creatures. You won't want to miss it!
Among the many cards in Kaladesh that could potentially see play in Modern, Smuggler's Copter is the most exciting to me, and it combos with quite a few cards. While I haven't yet gotten around to trying out all of my ideas, I wanted to share them with you first.
This one is the first combo that stood out to me as promising. You play Smuggler's Copter on the second turn and the opponent holds up Lightning Bolt mana (or any other instant speed removal spell other than Abrupt Decay). You then play Voice of Resurgence. The opponent can't kill the Smuggler's Copter in response since it is not yet a creature. So once the Voice of Resurgence resolves, you can use it to crew the copter and then move into combat. If the opponent kills the copter before you attack, then you get a free Elemental token off Voice of Resurgence. If they do not kill it, then you get three damage and you get to loot with the copter and the opponent essentially wasted their turn since you never gave them an opportunity to use their Lightning Bolt on anything.
Consider the same scenario. You lead with Smuggler's Copter and the opponent is holding an instant speed removal spell. The most common removal spell in the format is Lightning Bolt, so let's assume that is the one they are holding, just waiting for you to play a creature and crew your Smuggler's Copter so they can kill it. Everything looks to be lining up perfectly for them until you play Spellskite. Now what do they do? As with the Voice of Resurgence scenario, the Smuggler's Copter is not yet a creature, so they can't kill it in response to the Spellskite. But then once the Spellskite resolves, you can Redirect the Lightning Bolt to Spellskite. The problem with this combo is that Spellskite has zero power, which means it can't crew the Smuggler's Copter by itself (unlike, say, Voice of Resurgence). This means you'll need another creature with at least one point of power or some way to pump the Spellskite such as Master of Etherium or Steel Overseer.
The biggest downside of Dryad Arbor is that it essentially enters the battlefield tapped, meaning you can't tap it for mana the turn you play it since it has summoning sickness (since it is a creature). The advantage is that it does not actually enter the battlefield tapped – it just feels like it does for mana production purposes. This means you can play it and immediately use it to crew the Smuggler's Copter. This is not a bad deal at all! The best part about this combo is that you can find Dryad Arbor any time off a fetch land. So basically, any time you need a creature to crew the Smuggler's Copter you can find one. Let's say you're flooding out a bit. No problem! Play out one of your fetch lands, sacrifice it to find Dryad Arbor, use the Dryad Arbor to fly the copter, and then when the copter attacks, discard one of the other lands in hand, turning it into a fresh new card. This essentially turned two excess lands into a 1/1 to crew the copter and a fresh new card. What a deal!
But wait, that's not all. If you buy now, I'll throw in an on-board trick at no additional cost! By the time people wise up to this trick, it won't often work anymore, but sometimes an old dog has trouble processing a new trick when it is slightly different from what they are used to. The trick is playing a Smuggler's Copter and passing the turn with a fetch land untapped. Opponents should know by now not to attack their Dark Confidant into an untapped Wooded Foothills or Windswept Heath, knowing that they can lose their one-toughness creature to a Dryad Arbor. But do they know not to attack their Goblin Guide into it? Or their Mutavault? Or their Grim Flayer? Or their Tarmogoyf? If they think about it, they have to put you on Dryad Arbor and also decide that it's better to give up a free two points of damage in case you have Dryad Arbor in your deck. If they don't think about it, you got them! And even if the threat of the Dryad Arbor kept them from attack, then we can safely fetch a tapped shock land on the opponent's end step instead of a Dryad Arbor since we didn't need to find a crewmember for the Smuggler's Copter yet. I expect this combination to be key to Smuggler's Copter's future success in Modern.
This one is kind of neat for a few reasons. The most straightforward play is to lead with Smuggler's Copter and then follow it up with Flickerwisp. If the opponent had tapped out for a blocker (don't ask me what blocks a Smuggler's Copter on the third turn), then Flickerwisp's ETB trigger will remove the blocker. Then the Flickerwisp can be used to crew the Smuggler's Copter to attack for three and loot. Then you have six power worth of fliers on the board ready to attack the following turn. The other neat thing you can do with Flickerwisp is exile the opponent's land. Let's say they have a Steam Vents untapped ready to cast Lightning Bolt on your Smuggler's Copter. Target it with Flickerwisp's ability, forcing them to tap it for red mana in response. Then move into your combat step without crewing the Smuggler's Copter. This will force the opponent to spend their mana or lose it. If they spend the mana to target the Flickerwisp with the Lightning Bolt, then use the Flickerwisp to crew the Smuggler's Copter in response so you can then attack with it. If they do not cast the Lightning Bolt and instead all you to proceed into your combat step, then inside combat before attackers are declared, tap the Flickerwisp to crew the Smuggler's Copter and attack with the Copter. Whichever path the opponent chooses will result in you getting a free hit in with the Smuggler's Copter. The slight drawback of targeting their land is that they get it back on the end step while the Smuggle'rs Copter is still a creature, so they can still Lightning Bolt the Smuggler's Copter on your end step. If it's a shock land, they'll have to pay two extra life for it though, and you still have a Flickerwisp – unless they had two Lightning Bolts, in which case things didn't work out great for you but at least got three damage and a free loot out of the deal.
Here's a rough list I would like to try out that incorporates some of these elements I just discussed:
I haven't tried out this list yet, but we're basically replacing Leonin Arbiter with Smuggler's Copter in Green-White Hatebears. The list makes sense at least and is going to be the place I start my testing with next week.
Lost playing for Top 8. Here's the list I ran. Deck was good. #GPDEN pic.twitter.com/Go1uUHQDH0— Craig Wescoe (@Brimaz4Life) December 5, 2016
It started off with a near miss where I lost playing for Top 8 of Grand Prix Denver with the Green-White Humans deck I wrote about the day before. Sam Black and I each played in the GP and both said we would run it back with the same deck if we could. After the tournament, Hall of Famer Ben Stark lamented that he wished he had pulled the trigger on playing the deck in the tournament:
@BenS8528 @Brimaz4Life I'd like to playtest it soon.— Marta Siedlecka (@nailianna_) December 8, 2016
An important part of staying on top of a competitive format like Standard where metagame shifts can happen pretty frequently and abruptly is to be willing to switch strategies week to week. While the (nearly) Mono-White Humans list was still a good choice for the weekend, the green-white list was slightly better. So even though I felt like I had a good deck ready to go, I found something better and went with it. As evidenced by the following tweet, the mono-white list was also still a good choice.
I really should follow decks by @Brimaz4Life. These are awesome. The new White Weenie? A friend ended up 12th in Madrid.— Marta Siedlecka (@nailianna_) December 8, 2016
Madrid and Denver happened the same weekend. Here is the deck Przemek Knocinski finished 12th place with at GP Madrid, which is exactly the list I wrote about in my article the week before, even down to the 1 Lupine Prototype in the sideboard:
I just read @Chosler88 's article on Frontier. That format looks soooooooo fun!!! Can we please make it a supported format on mtgo and irl?— Craig Wescoe (@Brimaz4Life) December 7, 2016
Corbin wrote a nice introductory article to the Frontier format. If you haven't yet heard about Frontier, it's basically a little bigger than Standard. Modern is beginning to outgrow itself and look more and more like Legacy as new sets continue to get piled into the format. Frontier is a fresh format that in my opinion hasn't quite aged to the perfect moment just yet, but by this time next year I will prefer it to any other Constructed format. The card pool will be in that sweet spot where the decks aren't broken and in need of bannings, yet the cards aren't all underpowered compared to a handful of format-dominating mythics like we see in Standard. In other words, it will be a deck-builder's paradise and matches will be full of interaction and creativity. I hope the format continues gaining support so that I can produce videos playing it on Magic Online and hopefully even play it in a live Grand Prix or other tournament.
@Brimaz4Life with the mad flavor wins at #GPMil pic.twitter.com/KrYG6ZL8Nn— Morgan Wrektworth (@MTGValkyrie) December 11, 2016
Anyone who says competitive Magic players don't care about Magic flavor hasn't met Craig Wescoe. When the white removal spell is a Skywhaler's Shot, what better creature to shoot down than a sky whale?
All those sweet things to do in Vintage Cube and I end up drafting WW... how does @Brimaz4Life do it all the time, voluntarily?— Paulo Vitor (@PVDDR) December 14, 2016
The Vintage Cube is back online. I know because everyone tags me every time they draft the white weenie deck. Paulo posed an interesting question though: Why do I voluntarily play white weenie all the time? A lot of people think of white weenie as being defined by Savannah Lions and Crusade, or by today's metric, Elite Vanguard and Honor of the Pure. While this is partly true, it has also always been about White Knight, Swords to Plowshares, Disenchant, and Armageddon. In other words, it isn't just about playing cheap vanilla creatures and generic anthem effects. Rather, it is about have versatile answers, resilient threats and strong finishers. For instance: Doomed Traveler, Path to Exile, Oblivion Ring, and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar are the cards I think of when I think of why White Weenie is so powerful. Sure, Elite Vanguard and Honor of the Pure sometimes have their place, but those are only two of several ingredients that go into the making of a successful white weenie deck. And any given match involves solving the puzzle, from deck building to sideboarding to in-game tactics.
Here's a @Brimaz4Life themed carol sung by @MtACast (video via @T1GlistenerElf) https://t.co/TyHdyUKYK8— Magic.TCGplayer.com (@MTGatTCGplayer) December 14, 2016
For the final tweet of 2016, let me leave you with this special video put together by @T1GlistenerElf using the song from last year's Christmas episode of @MtACast.