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Experimental Frenzy — Exclusive Guilds of Ravnica Preview

We're more than halfway through Guilds of Ravnica spoiler season, and so far the set is looking pretty insane. It's assured to shake up Standard thanks to rotation but with some spicy options for Modern and even Legacy as well. Well, today, thanks to Wizards being awesome and hooking us up with a free spoiler card, we've got some wackiness to add to the list. Take a look at Experimental Frenzy:

Experimental Frenzy

Experiment Frenzy, as its flavor text suggests, is certainly a weird card, and figuring out what to make of it is a challenge. In some ways, it's a cheaper red Future Sight but with a weird drawback that you can't cast cards from your hand. In some ways, it's a less restrictive version of Precognition Field that allows you to play anything and not just instants and sorceries. It can be a huge boost of card advantage, allowing you to pull ahead of the opponent in resources, or it can Brainstorm lock you out of the game if you have a bunch of lands on top of your deck, being so detrimental that you might take advantage of the enchantment's ability to destroy itself so you can start playing Magic again. 

As far as tournament-level Standard is concerned, I'm not especially excited for Experimental Frenzy. Unlike other similar enchantments, which are all upside, the fact that you can't play cards from your hand means that Experimental Frenzy isn't guaranteed to draw you a card on any specific turn. If you happen to have two lands in a row on top of your deck, you not only can't play a card from Experimental Frenzy but also can't play the card you drew for your turn either (or anything else in your hand).

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This being said, there are a couple of Guilds of Ravnica mechanics that do work really well with Experimental Frenzy. Surveil allows you some control over the top card of your deck, potentially reducing the problem of finding too many lands, and you can still cast jump-start cards from your graveyard, even with Experimental Frenzy. Cards that offer repeatable surveil like Doom Whisperer are especially strong, since you can change the top cards of your deck at will, milling extra lands and expensive cards while finding you more cheap cards to cast, to maximize Experimental Frenzy's power. Combine this with the potential for some sort of red-based aggro deck with a low land count to play the enchantment as a way to generate (risky) card advantage against a control deck, and there is some chance that Experimental Frenzy will find a home, but it's more of a could-happen than an automatic Standard staple. 

It's also worth noting that the ability to destroy Experimental Frenzy is powerful. In general, you'll want to play Experimental Frenzy after dumping your hand, keep it around for a few turns while you draw cards to refill your hand (while still being able to play some things thanks to Experimental Frenzy), and then destroy Experimental Frenzy to take advantage of the cards you have in hand. By this time, you've probably drawn another copy of Experimental Frenzy, so you can empty your hand again, play a new Experimental Frenzy, and start the process all over again.  

The good news is there are some really interesting ways to take advantage of the enchantment by minimizing the downside or maximizing it's potential. While most of these synergies aren't available in Standard, they are worth keeping in mind if you're looking to build a sweet Commander or casual Modern deck to take advantage of Experimental Frenzy. So, how can you break Experimental Frenzy? Let's count the ways!

#1: Change the Top of Your Deck

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Perhaps the easiest way to take advantage of Experimental Frenzy is to take advantage of fetch lands and things like Evolving Wilds and Field of Ruins to be able to shuffle your library (and change the top card of your deck) at will. In Modern, the Value Town deck generates a ton of value with the combination of Courser of Kruphix to look at the top card of the deck and fetch lands to shuffle away the top card when it is bad, in the hopes of finding something better. Plus, every land you fetch out of your deck decreases the number of lands in your deck slightly, improving your changes of stringing together spells with Experimental Frenzy. As such, if you decide to build a deck involving Experimental Frenzy, you should value lands that shuffle your deck a bit higher than you would in most decks, since along with fixing your mana, they will help to maximize the power of Experimental Frenzy.

#2: Extra Land Drops

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If you think about how Experimental Frenzy works, the main way that it fizzles is by having too many lands on top of your deck. If you reveal all spells to Experimental Frenzy, you can just keep casting them until you run out of mana, but since you can only play one land each turn, the chain of card advantage comes to an end once you hit your second land. While things like shuffling your library with fetch lands or other effects can help, one of the easiest ways to solve the extra-land problems is by playing cards that allow you to play more than one land each turn, like Courser of Kruphix, Oracle of Mul Daya, and even Mina and Denn, Wildborn. When it takes three or four lands on the top of your deck before the Experimental Frenzy ends, it's a lot easier to use the enchantment to gain huge amounts of card advantage every turn.

#3: Shared Fate

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Experimental Frenzy is pretty hilarious with Shared Fate. The main combo is that if you have a Shared Fate on the battlefield, Experimental Frenzy's drawback of not being able to cast cards from your hand stops being an issue, since instfcinead of playing cards you draw from your deck, you are playing cards you exile from your opponent's deck. This makes Experimental Frenzy all upside, since while both players get to play a card from their opponent's deck each turn, you'll also be able to play cards from your library. 

More importantly, Experimental Frenzy allows you to control the cards your opponent is drawing (or rather, exile) as well, since you can look at the top of your library. In theory, this means you can simply play cards from your deck until there's a land on top of your library, wait until your opponent "draws" that land from your deck on the next turn, and then play some more cards from your library until you can ensure that your opponent is drawing another land. So, you get to play with your opponent's cards and your cards, and your opponent gets to draw a useless land from the top of your deck each turn!

#4: Zur's Weirding

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Zur's Weirding, for having a lot of text, is actually pretty simple: each player has the option to pay two life to essentially fizzle the opponent's ability to draw a card. This often devolves into a battle where both players spend all of their life forcing their opponent to only draw lands (or other bad cards) and nothing much happens until someone runs low on life. Experimental Frenzy solves this problem. While you can spend your life to stop your opponent from drawing anything relevant, you can also still play cards from your deck with Experimental Frenzy, which means you'll quickly pull ahead and hopefully kill the opponent. Throw some lifegain spells (or lifelink creatures) in your deck to make sure you can keeping paying life to fizzle the opponent's draws to turn the combo into, more or less, a hard lock that will keep the opponent from ever drawing a card again!

#5: Uba Mask

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Uba Mask is basically a less powerful version of Shared Fate (since it don't let you make your opponent draw all lands) but is still an easy way to overcome the drawback of not being able to play cards from your hand. The other important aspect of Uba Mask is that it lets you play card-draw spells with an Experimental Frenzy on the battlefield. Normally, with an Experimental Frenzy out, anything that draws you a card is essentially dead, since you can't cast those cards from your hand (at least, until you destroy Frenzy), but with an Uba Mask on the battlefield, you simply exile cards rather than drawing and then have the ability to play the cards from exile. In general, I'd rather have Shared Fate, but Uba Mask is a fine option if you are looking for redundancy in a Commander deck (or aren't in blue). 

#6: Possessed Portal

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Another way of reading the "you can't play cards from your hand" part of Experimental Frenzy is "you can't draw cards." While this isn't technically true, since you can save up cards in your hand and eventually destroy Experimental Frenzy, as long as Frenzy remains on the battlefield, this is essentially what happens. If we can't draw cards anyway, why should we let our opponent draw cards? Enter: Possessed Portal. With Possessed Portal on the battlefield, neither player can draw cards, and Possessed Portal slowly eats away at players' resources, until there is nothing left in hand or on the battlefield. If we happen to have an Experimental Frenzy though, we can still play cards from our deck, which means we'll have more resources to sacrifice than our opponent, eventually leaving our opponent with no hand or board while we keep sacrificing a random land that we played from Experimental Frenzy to keep our battlefield more or less intact. The end result should be a flawless victory, assuming our opponent doesn't concede first.


Experimental Frenzy

So, where does all of this leave us with Experimental Frenzy? While it's not impossible that the card will show up in Standard, especially if it happens to get the right support cards, it seems like the best-case scenario for the enchantment is that it becomes a fringe player or sideboard card in the format. Most of the things that make Experimental Frenzy powerful—fetch lands, extra land spells, or other weird enchantments—are unlikely to show up in Standard, although it will be worth keeping an eye on future spoilers, just in case something like Shared Fate comes along.

On the other hand, Experimental Frenzy can be great in an Against the Odds-style deck in Modern or in a Commander deck. While most of the two-card combos with Experimental Frenzy fall a bit short of "you win the game," things like Shared Fate and Possessed Portal come pretty close. Are these synergies going to break into the top tiers of Modern? Almost assuredly not, but they offer a really fun and unique way of winning the game and making the opponent miserable. As a wise man once said, it turns out that coffee is the weird aunt of invention. 


Anyway, that's all for today. Huge thanks to Wizards for hooking us up with a sweet Guilds of Ravnica preview! So, what do you think? Can Experimental Frenzy find a home in Standard? What other synergies exist for the enchantment? Can you think of any other combos or uses? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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