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Much Abrew: Clever Combo (Modern)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading to Modern to play one of the most exciting cards from Strixhaven: Clever Lumimancer. Getting +2/+2 whenever we cast or copy a spell makes Clever Lumimancer an extremely scary card in general, but it's especially scary in Modern, where there are a bunch of free spells and cheap storm cards that potentially can let us win the game on Turn 2! How good is Clever Lumimancer if you're willing to go all-in on building around it? How many Turn 2 or 3 kills can we get? Let's jump into a league and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Clever Combo

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  • Record-wise, Clever Combo killed it! We ended up going 4-1 in our league, with our only loss coming to Eldrazi Tron, where our opponent had Chalice of the Void (which is probably the single best card in all of Magic against our deck) two games in a row. Otherwise, we punished traditional Tron twice, best up on Esper Stoneblade, and even overcame Dredge!
  • By far the biggest upside of Clever Combo is the speed of the deck. We won a total of eight games across our five matches, and by my count, we won on Turn 2 once, Turn 3 five times, and Turn 4 once. The deck is super fast!
  • So, what makes the deck so fast and scary? There are a few answers, but the biggest is the combination of Clever Lumimancer and Nivmagus Elemental. Clever Lumimancer pumps +2/+2 whenever we cast or copy a spell, and Nivmagus Elemental can eat spells off the stack to get two +1/+1 counters, which can get out of control super quickly, especially when backed by our finishing spells.
  • While free spells like Gut Shot, Mutagenic Growth, Manamorphose, and Lava Dart are super important to powering up our other cards, our two big finishers are Assault Strobe and Ground Rift. The double strike from Assault Strobe makes it super easy to kill opponents on Turn 2 with Clever Lumimancer. Something as simple as two Mutagenic Growths into Assault Strobe adds up to 20 damage on Turn 2! Meanwhile, Ground Rift takes advantage of the fact that both Clever Lumimancer and Nivmagus Elemental benefit from spells being both copied and cast. We can cast a few free spells, Ground Rift to pump our Clever Lumimancer a bunch of times, and then eat all of the copies of Ground Rift with Nivmagus Elemental to make it huge as well. If our opponent has blockers, we can either let a couple of the Ground Rift copies resolve to get them out of the way or just trample over them with Crash Through
  • Monastery Swiftspear is oddly underpowered in our deck. Getting +1/+1 when we cast an instant or sorcery just isn't that exciting when the rest of our one-drops can get +2/+2, but we needed another creature to fill out our deck, and Monastery Swiftspear felt like the best of the remaining options. Meanwhile, Kiln Fiend is even more explosive than Clever Lumimancer, getting +3/+0 whenever we cast an instant or sorcery, but is somewhat slow because it costs two mana, which is why it is only a two-of. 
  • And that's basically the deck: cast a one-drop or two, cast a bunch of cheap spells, and then kill the opponent on Turn 2 or 3! If you decide to give it a try, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, don't keep hands without a creature. It's just too risky, and many of our other cards need at least one creature on the battlefield to do anything. Second, even though we all know that math is for blockers, if you are playing Clever Combo, math is also for attackers. The deck can deal an absurd amount of damage, and it's really easy to miss lethal because it feels like you shouldn't be able to deal 20 damage when you actually can.
  • So, should you play Clever Combo in Modern? I think the answer is yes! The deck felt more than good enough to 5-0 a league (assuming you can dodge Chalice of the Void). It's super explosive and surprisingly consistent. If you like slinging spells and killing opponents on Turn 3, give it a shot!


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

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