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Brewer's Minute: Madcap Experiment

Hey, everyone! It's time for this week's Brewer's Minute. This week, we're talking about one of my favorite Kaladesh cards—Madcap Experiment—but there's a bigger lesson to be found. When it comes to brewing, it's important to leave no stone unturned when it comes to evaluating a card. Sometimes, what looks like a downside is actually the best part of the card!

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Hello, everyone, it's Seth—probably better known as Saffron Olive—and it's time for another Brewer's Minute. I'm super excited for this week's episode of Brewer's Minute for two reasons. First, the card we are talking about is one of my favorites from Kaladesh: Madcap Experiment. Second, I really like the lesson that Madcap Experiment can give us: sometimes, there's more than meets the eye when it comes to building around a card, and sometimes, drawbacks are not drawbacks but actually benefits or even the entire reason to play a card.

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Madcap Experiment is really unique, as a four-mana sorcery that lets us reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal an artifact; then, you put the artifact on the battlefield and put the rest of the cards on the bottom of your library in a random order. Then, Madcap Experiment deals damage to you equal to the number of cards revealed this way. 

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When I first read Madcap Experiment, the first card that popped into my head was Blightsteel Colossus. So, we have a 60-card deck with four Madcap Experiments and four Blightsteel Colossus.  We cast a Madcap Experiment, and we know 100% that we are going to end up with a Blightsteel Colossus. The problem is that we are going to lose, on average, somewhere around 15 life, which is fine if we can just immediately kill our opponent but a little risky. This is the downside of playing Madcap Experiment with just a playset of a single artifact, and if we play more than one artifact, then we are not guaranteed to hit the one we want. So, in some ways, Madcap Experiment is more random than it looks, unless we're willing to risk our life and potentially die from the damage it deals to make sure we get a Blightsteel Colossus

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One way people went about fixing this problem is Platinum Emperion, which makes it so our life total can't change. If Platinum Emperion is in the Blightsteel Colossus slot (as the only artifact in the deck), we know that we'll be getting a Platinum Emperion whenever we cast Madcap Experiment, and since Platinum Emperion will be on the battlefield when we take the damage, our life total won't change at all. The question is whether of not Platinum Emperion is good enough for Modern, and I'm not completely sure, although the possibility of a four-mana Platinum Emperion does seem sweet. However, we shave the problem of not being able to play other artifacts, which takes some potential homes off the table. 

Regardless, the main ideas we've heard for Madcap Experiment thus far involve either working through the life loss or trying to prevent the life loss to minimize its impact, but as I mentioned in the intro, sometimes what is intended to be a drawback can actually be a benefit in the right build. I also wanted to take a second and thank Scott Murry on Twitter for sending me a list that contained some of these ideas. On the first read, it's pretty clear that Madcap Experiment is a card that can get a big, powerful artifact but comes with the risk of some significant life loss. But, what happens when we read the card backwards and consider playing Madcap Experiment as a four-mana sorcery that say "you lose 40+ life," which is what Madcap Experiment would be in a deck without artifacts? I hear you wondering, "Why would you want to deal 40 damage to yourself?" Well, there are a couple of cards that can flip this damage around into life gain for a very low cost.  

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With cards like Intervention Pact and Hallow, Madcap Experiment goes from making us lose 45 life to making us gain 45 life, all for just zero or one mana, turning it into a really powerful two-card combo. Suddenly, we go from having 15 or 20 life all the way up to 60 life, which allows us to finish off the game with cards like Aetherflux Reservoir, Felidar Sovereign, or Test of Endurance, depending on the format.

As such, there is a lot more than meets the eye with Madcap Experiment. While it can be a way to cheat a Blightsteel Colossus into play, it can also be a surprisingly effective combo piece, gaining us a ton of life and potentially even winning us the game on the spot, in the right deck. So, this week's brewing lesson is: when building decks and evaluating cards, leave no stone unturned. It's easy to write off an apparent downside as something to avoid and not give it a second thought, but sometimes the downside itself is the reason to play the card, thanks to a potentially powerful synergy or combo.


Anyway, that's all for today. Leave your thoughts, idea, opinions, and suggestions in the comments and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at 

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