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Against the Odds: Clairvoyant Visionary (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode ninety-eight of Against the Odds. Last week, we had the ultimate Against the Odds poll, featuring the Ultimatum cycle from Shards of Alara (and also Mistform Ultimus). In the end, it was the Bant ultimatum—Clarion Ultimatum—that took home an easy victory. As such, this week, we are heading to Modern to see if we can use Clarion Ultimatum to tutor up enough copies of Biovisionary to win the game on our end step! Is Clarion Ultimatum the right way to break Biovisionary? Let's get to the videos and find out, and then we'll talk more about the deck! One last thing: I'll be on vacation next week, so we'll be missing our Against the Odds episode next week, since I'll be out of town. Don't worry; we'll return with a special episode the following week featuring something I've been wanting to do for a long time but couldn't until Hour of Devastation was released!

A quick reminder: if you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Clairvoyant Visionary (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Clairvoyant Visionary (Games)

The Deck

Building around Clarion Ultimatum was actually trickier than it looked at first glance. While it's obviously possible to use it like a value card by not really worrying so much about what we are getting from our library and trusting that getting any five things will be enough to win the game, as a value card, it seems much worse than something like Collected Company. As such, we need a way to turn Clarion Ultimatum into a game-ending combo piece for it to really be worth the mana cost. While I considered going big—for example, playing a deck full of Titans—the problem with that plan is that Clarion Ultimatum would be the epitome of a win-more card. If we already have a bunch of Titans on the battlefield, getting more Titans isn't especially helpful, since the opponent is likely already dead. It took a lot of digging, but eventually I stumbled across the perfect card for winning with Clarion Ultimatum.

The Combo

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There aren't really that many combos in Magic that involve getting additional copies of the same permanent on the battlefield, but there is one card: Biovisionary. The idea here is pretty simple: if we can get two copies of Biovisionary on the battlefield, we resolve Clarion Ultimatum and choose the Biovisionaries as two of the five permanents, search for two more copies of Biovisionary from our library, and win the game on the end step. Of course, having two copies of Biovisionary on the battlefield at the same time (and also getting seven mana for Clarion Ultimatum isn't necessarily easy, so we have some backup Biovisionaries as well.

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Woodland Bellower works like an additional Biovisionary, since when it enters the battlefield, we can tutor up a Biovisionary and put it directly on the battlefield. It also has the upside of tutoring other cards like Knight of the Reliquary for ramp or Kitchen Finks for life gain if we aren't ready to combo off. Mirage Mirror, on the other hand, can turn into a Biovisionary for just two mana, while also turning into an attacker or chump blocker when the situation calls for it. Since both are permanents, they work with Clarion Ultimatum, giving us more copies of Biovisionary we can tutor out of our library to win the game on the turn we cast Clarion Ultimatum

Support Cards

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Chord of Calling is our backup Clarion Ultimatum. While it isn't as powerful, it's also much cheaper and more flexible. In the early game, we can turn it into a mana creature to ramp into Clarion Ultimatum; in the late game, we can tutor up Woodland Bellower for value; and when we are ready to combo off, we can use it to find a copy of Biovisionary (which in turn allows us to search up another Biovisionary with Clarion Ultimatum).

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Eternal Witness is a good value card, getting back fetch lands for pseudo-ramp or creatures that happen to die. It generates free value with Chord of Calling, since we can tutor it up and immediately get back the Chord of Calling to tutor up something else. Most importantly, Eternal Witness works insanely well with both of our major combo pieces. If we aren't trying to win with the combo, we can Clarion Ultimatum for Eternal Witness (and a bunch of other stuff), use Eternal Witness to get back Clarion Ultimatum, and do it all over again. As for Biovisionary, it dies to just about anything, and Eternal Witness lets us get a copy back from the graveyard to make sure we have the four we need to win the game.

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Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, and Knight of the Reliquary help us ramp into our Clarion Ultimatum, which is important because Clarion Ultimatum is super expensive. Knight of the Reliquary also gives us a big body for blocking and can tutor up lands like Ghost Quarter to disrupt Tron, Gavony Township as a backup win condition, and Sejiri Steppe to protect our Biovisionary. Speaking of protecting our combo pieces...

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The nightmare scenario for our deck is that we invest a ton of time and effort into getting four copies of Biovisionary on the battlefield with the help of Clarion Ultimatum and our opponent ruins our plans by killing a Biovisionary with a Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, or Fatal Push. The combination of Sejiri Steppe (which we can tutor out at instant speed with Knight of the Reliquary), Selfless Spirit (which also saves our team from sweepers and is helpful for setting up our Clarion Ultimatums, since we need a bunch of strong permanents on the battlefield for our big sorcery to work), and Spell Queller (which stops any removal spell—even uncounterable ones like Abrupt Decay) helps make sure that if we manage to get four copies of Biovisionary on the battlefield, they stay on the battlefield long enough to win us the game.

The Matchups

This is one of those Against the Odds decks where I'm not really sure we have any good matchups. While we do have a combo that can steal games against just about any deck, our combo is both slow and fairly fragile. Against aggro, it's very possible we get run over before doing anything impactful, which is one of the big challenges of Clarion Ultimatum. Seven mana is a ton, but even with a bunch of ramp cards, Modern is fast, and it's easy to die before we even cast it. Meanwhile, against more controlling decks, our opponent can either pick apart our permanents with removal to minimize the effectiveness of Clarion Ultimatum or just counter the Clarion Ultimatum outright. Midrange and combo aren't much better, with midrange having lots of removal and combo taking advantage of the fact that our deck is overloaded with slow value cards and often killing us before we can cast our big finishers. 

The good news is we do have some powerful creatures that can gum up the ground, and Clarion Ultimatum usually wins the game if we do manage to ramp into it. Ideally, we win immediately because of the Biovisionary combo, but even when we don't, it usually puts 15 or 20 power worth of creatures on the battlefield, which allows us to win in the next turn or two by beating down. 

The Odds

All in all, we won one of five matches (good for a 20% match win percentage) and 5 of 14 games (good for a slightly better 35.7% game win percentage). This puts Clairvoyant Visionary near the bottom of the competitiveness rankings for Against the Odds decks. Thankfully, out of our 14 games, we did manage to win with Biovisionary once and came super close two other times (missing once thanks to a punt and another time thanks to being one mana short of Clarion Ultimatum). This means it is possible to pull off the Clarion Ultimatum / Biovisionary combo kill—it just won't happen all that often. 

As for Clarion Ultimatum, the sorcery can do some really powerful things, but we also had a lot of games where it rotted in our hand while we tried to find the mana to cast it, and also a few where we had the mana but didn't really have any good targets (casting a seven-mana card and getting a Birds of Paradise, a Noble Hierarch, and three lands for our trouble doesn't feel all that good). Basically, when it was good, it was really, really good, usually winning us the game immediately, but more often than not, it didn't do much of anything.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. I'll be on vacation next week, and then we'll return with a special episode featuring something I've been wanting to do for a long time but couldn't until Hour of Devastation was released!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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