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Much Abrew: Mardu Octomancer (Modern, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're continuing our quest to play as many sweet new Modern Horizons cards as possible, with Mardu Octomancer. During spoiler season, many picked Seasoned Pyromancer to be one of the strongest mythics from the set, but it hasn't made a huge impact on Modern so far. Today's deck looks to pair Seasoned Pyromancer with its Young Pyromancer self in a Mardu shell. Along with Seasoned Pyromancer, we also have Yawgmoth, Thran Physician to turn all of our random Elemental tokens into cards and Unearth, which can grind out some insane value by returning Seasoned Pyromancer from our graveyard to the battlefield. Are eight Pyromancers enough for a fair deck to compete in our currently very unfair Modern format?  Let's get to the video and find out; then, we can talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Mardu Octomancer



  • Record-wise, we started off strong with Mardu Octomancer, taking our first two matches against Izzet Phoenix and UW Control in dominating fashion, before stumbling down the stretch against Tron, Vizier Druid Combo, and Eldrazi & Taxes, leaving us with a somewhat disappointing 2-3 in our league. That said, our loss to Eldrazi & Taxes was perhaps a bit unlucky (our opponent managed to play an Orzhov Pontiff just before it looked like our huge board of Pyromancers and Elemental tokens would take home the win), so we were pretty close to finishing with a winning record.
  • Mardu Octomancer is basically a new and improved version of the old Mardu Pyromancer deck, with Seasoned Pyromancer being—by far—the biggest addition. The good news is that the deck actually felt quite strong. Seasoned Pyromancer is amazing in the deck, and Unearth adds a whole new layer of grindiness. We had some very explosive games where we would discard Seasoned Pyromancer to something like Faithless Looting on Turn 1, reanimate it on Turn 2 to discard another Seasoned Pyromancer, and then reanimate that one as well to end up with a massive board quite early.
  • Maybe the biggest drawback of Mardu Octomancer is that, at its heart, it's a very fair deck. We have good removal, card advantage, discard, and grindy creatures, but we're not going to randomly win the game by Turn 3 or 4. Two of our losses came to fast combo decks in Tron and Vizier Druid. While we have answers to compete with both of these decks (especially Vizier Druid, thanks to our removal), if we don't hit them fast enough, the game will end so quickly that all of our grindy card advantage won't really do anything. It might be that Mardu Octomancer is a very good deck but isn't in the right spot in the meta to be ultra-competitive. 
  • The other issue with Mardu Octomancer is that it does pick up on the graveyard hate that is floating around to beat Hogaak decks. While we can win without our graveyard thanks to Young Pyromancer and our one-of Monastery Mentor, many of the cards in our deck function at half power (Lingering Souls, Faithless Looting, Unearth, Seasoned Pyromancer) if our graveyard gets locked down, which does make winning more difficult.
  • Apart from Unearthing Seasoned Pyromancer, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician was very impressive in games where we drew it. While it might also be a bit too fair for our current format, there's no doubt that Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is an extremely powerful card. And when things slow down a bit in Modern (either thanks to bannings or a shift in the meta), I wouldn't be at all surprised to see someone figure out a way to build a very competitive deck around Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. Turning tokens into cards is strong in and of itself, and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician does much more by making combat absolutely miserable for our opponent if we have some creatures on the battlefield (see: the end of our UW Control match).
  • All in all, Mardu Octomancer left me with the feeling that the deck—thanks in large part to new Modern Horizons cards—has the potential to be very strong in Modern but just isn't quite in the right place to show its true power in the current meta. While you can certainly pick up wins with the deck right now, I'll be keeping an eye on it as the post–Modern Horizons metagame develops (and the banned and restricted announcement happens in a couple of weeks). If things go right, the power of Seasoned Pyromancer and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician could vault Mardu Octomancer up into the top tier of the Modern format, but for right now, it's a very fair deck living in a very unfair world.


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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