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Brewer's Minute: Hidden Treasures—Darksteel and Fifth Dawn


Hey, everyone! It's time for another Brewer's Minute. A few weeks ago, we had our first Hidden Treasures and discussed some powerful but under-the-radar cards from Mirrodin. This week, the sub-series returns, and we'll be delving into the rest of Mirrodin block, breaking down some sleepers from Fifth Dawn and Darksteel! Much like last time, I don't actually have deck lists for any of these cards, so this is where all of you come in. If you have some ideas for some decks, combos, or synergies that could make use of these hidden treasures, make sure to let me know in the comments. Maybe with our powers combined, we can end up with some fun and competitive lists! Anyway, enough rambling—let's get to the video!

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#5: Leonin Shikari

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The main reason to be excited about Leonin Shikari is that there's a long history of bears (2/2s for two mana) with interesting abilities being playable in competitive Magic, so we know that the mana cost is right. We also know that the ability is powerful: Affinity is one of the best decks in Modern, and one of its most powerful plays is moving Cranial Plating onto an unblocked creature at instant speed. The big question is whether we can find the right deck and mixture of equipment to make the ability worthwhile.

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Maybe the biggest problem with Leonin Shikari is that equipping is expensive, and it's hard to spend a lot of time moving around equipment in a format as powerful and fast as Modern. One possible solution would be to combine Leonin Shikari with Puresteel Paladin to be able to move around all of our equipment for free. Otherwise, we can try to minimize the downside by playing equipment that have cheap equip costs. 

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As far as the equipment themselves, there are endless possibilities. The Sword cycle is especially powerful, and being able to move them around at instant speed helps make sure we are connecting to get their triggers, and even just moving around Bonesplitter onto unblocked creatures can get in a lot of damage. The ability can even be used defensively to move Basilisk Collar around after blocks to give our creature deathtouch. All in all, it seems that all the pieces are there to make a powerful Leonin Shikari deck. It's just a matter of putting them all together. 

#4: Silent Arbiter

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Silent Arbiter is a unique and powerful effect, in some ways acting like a colorless version of Ghostly Prison but with the upside that, no matter how much mana the opponent can generate, they can always only attack with one creature. Then, since Silent Arbiter itself has five toughness, there's a pretty good chance that it can block whatever one creature the opponent chooses to attack with, and even if it can't, it would be pretty easy to play a Wall of Denial (or another creature that is hard to interact with but very good at blocking) to completely shut down the opponent's offense. The downside, of course, is that Silent Arbiter is both an artifact and a creature, which means a lot of removal can kill it, although it's worth noting that having five toughness means it dodges most red removal (like Lightning Bolt), and costing four mana means it dodges Abrupt Decay.

So, how could we use Silent Arbiter? I think there are a couple of ways. Probably the most competitive is to use it like a Ghostly Prison in non-white decks as a sideboard card to shut down go-wide creature decks like Goblins, Zoo, and Merfolk. The other is to build around the effect by having a plan to win the game without creature damage (perhaps with Planeswalkers—by being able to stall out, ultimating Nahiri, the Harbinger, and killing our opponent with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn). Basically, while somewhat fragile, Silent Arbiter has the potential to give non-white decks access to a Ghostly Prison-esque effect that can be very powerful in the right style of deck.

#3: Grafted Wargear

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On level one, Grafted Wargear is a super-aggressive equipment that essentially comes down with haste since it equips for free, which means we could use it with Invisible Stalker, Geist of Saint Traft, or even just evasive creatures like Lingering Souls tokens to close out the game quickly. However, there is a downside—if Grafted Wargear ever becomes unattached from a creature, we have to sacrifice the creature. This means that if we equip a Geist of Saint Traft, we could lose our hexproof threat if our opponent Abrupt Decays our equipment. While this is less of a downside if we use low-impact, replaceable creatures like Spirit tokens, there's an even more exciting possibility: turning the downside into an upside!

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While the beatdown plan is fine, the reason Grafted Wargear is on our hidden treasure list is because it's a free sacrifice outlet. It seems like it could be amazing in an Aristocrats shell, helping us get in early damage with our underpowered creatures; then, after we find a Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat, we can simply move it from creature to creature to sacrifice our entire board and drain our opponent out of the game!

#2: Summoner's Egg

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Summoner's Egg does one thing more efficiently than any other card in the Modern format: cheat an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn from our hand onto the battlefield early in the game. Through the Breach is close to a Modern staple for this very reason, and while it has the upside of giving the Emrakul, the Aeons Torn haste, it also costs an additional mana. Picture this: on Turn 1, we play a Birds of Paradise; on Turn 2, we play some random sacrifice outlet like Viscera Seer or Yahenni, Undying Partisan. This means that, on Turn 3, we can play Summoner's Egg and, at the end of our opponent's turn, sacrifice it to reveal a lethal Emrakul, the Aeons Torn! This scenario doesn't seem that far-fetched and has the additional upside of being colorless, which means we have limitless possibilities as far as what type of deck we can slot the combo into (although we do want to make sure we have a sacrifice outlet because Path to Exile on Summoner's Egg is a massive blowout). If there's one thing we've learned about Modern over the years, it's that a fast Emrakul is one of the most powerful things you can do in the format, so any way of achieving this goal is worth exploring, even Summoner's Egg

#1: Panoptic Mirror

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Coming in at the top of our list is Panoptic Mirror, which deserves the first slot because it feels so incredibly close to being competitive. With the help of an extra-turn spell, Panoptic Mirror is basically a two-card combo that lets us take an infinite number of turns! The downside is that it's expensive and does die to artifact hate, but even with this in mind, it's only eight total mana to get a Savor the Moment underneath a Panoptic Mirror, which essentially just wins us the game. 

The question here is how to achieve this goal. Since the combo is pretty mana intensive, should we play a ramp deck to try to get to the combo as quickly as possible? Or do we go the blue control route with counterspells and cantrips to try to win in the late game and defend the combo? What is the best color combination? Are there any other (non-extra turn) spells that could work with Panoptic Mirror, maybe to help us set up the combo? While there are a lot of questions to answer, any two-card "I win the game" combo has potential, so if you have some ideas about how we can build a competitive Panoptic Mirror deck, make sure to let me know!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! Make sure to let me know your ideas for using these cards or any other hidden treasures from Fifth Dawn and Darksteel that I might have missed! As always, you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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