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A Peek at "Duelist of the Mind" and "Emrakul, the World Anew"

Looking at the Pro Tour Spoilers

While the Pro Tour was fun to watch, we also got a peek at some upcoming cards.

First, we saw Nathan Steuer's world championship card, which you can see in his X post here:

Nathan Steuer - "So excited to finally reveal my Worlds card." - Duelist of the Mind

Duelist of the Mind is a sweet, fun design that seems like it could see a lot of play. We see a new game mechanic called crime, which means casting a spell or activating an ability that targets an opponent or their stuff.

Duelist of the Mind seems nice as a powerful threat in eternal formats, especially Legacy combined with Brainstorm, though it will suffer from the existence of Lightning Bolt.

There's been speculation about adding this to Phoenix in Pioneer. While that seems on the surface like a good home, committing a crime isn't always going to be easy to use as a functional discard outlet for Arclight Phoenix. Ledger Shredder will lead to smoother games since it functions with Phoenix better.

Duelist of the Mind will hit harder on Phoenix turns when you string it together with cards like Consider and Treasure Cruise. Overall, that damage is more negligible.

A big strike against Duelist of the Mind out of Phoenix concerns the post-board games where the opponent brings in cards like Leyline of the Void and Rest In Peace. Duelist will be less explosive without access to Treasure Cruise.

Duelist also suffers from not having growing toughness, so it can never get out of range of a card like Lightning Helix or Fiery Impulse.

We could add more threats to Phoenix, but we still need to be careful about our spell rations for bringing back Phoenix. Phoenix got better when Sleight of Hand was added to the Pioneer format, which made the deck more consistent. Picklock Prankster didn't hurt either.

Regardless, Duelist of the Mind is a fantastic addition to Standard and will play nicely with Raffine. The synergy is amazing, and Duelist of the Mind is similar to what I want from a solid two-drop in Standard. It's not too snowbally, is resilient to two-damage removal like Shock or Play with Fire, and has a powerful enough ability to close games. It won't close the game if unchecked in two turns and won't spiral into an out-of-control advantage for the player, but if left alone it creates a threat that must be dealt with.

I love the design and can't wait to give it a try.

While there were a bunch of Modern Horizons 3 reveals, I'm going to focus on the most flashyEmrakul, the World Anew.

Emrakul, the World Anew

Emrakul is a madness Eldrazi that requires colorless pips to cast off of madness, but it can be cast for 12 mana of any variety if cast fairly. Of course, no one wants to do anything with this but cast it for its madness cost.

This is one of the most unique cards I've seen in a long time, and it has a lot of new concepts. For instance, "protection from spells and from permanents that were cast this turn" means you can't get rid of it by using spell-based removal or cards like Brutal Cathar. However, you could use a card like Seal of Doom to kill it, as you can cast it past the turn and kill it on the opponent's turn. This is an interesting line of text. If Emrakul does see play, maybe we'll see some clever ways to work around this ability.

Cheating it into play is the ultimate goal. We will see cards like Eldrazi Temple come back from old Eldrazi decks to work around that steep six colorless mana cost.

You don't want too much of any one-color card because it's difficult to play Eldrazi Temple in a typical two-color deck. Instead, you need light splashes and cards that aren't too color-intensive. Regardless, pain lands are your best friend in building these mana bases, which means you want light splashes that aren't super color-intensive. If you want red as a base color, Battlefield Forge and Ramunap Ruins are your new Mountain.

When looking at what shell to start with, Underworld Cookbook is the most obvious card that can easily madness out Emrakul, and it saw a lot of play at one point in Modern.

Underworld Cookbook and Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar have seen play in and out of Modern since the release of MH2, mostly in tier-two decks. We may be in a decent spot to put these cards and supporting ones in a deck with Emrakul.

If a deck like this were to exist, we would see a lot of creature decks cease to exist. Emrakul punishes creature decks far more than any kind of combo or control deck, so it puts the tension on creature decks to close quickly. If not, Emrakul will make short work of them. Asmo and Cookbook make that difficult since this combo attacks creature decks cleanly and efficiently and suffers in other matchups.

While almost every Modern deck is winning with creatures, they're not really winning by attacking consistently over several turns. It’s usually one or two attack phases. Violent Outburst was probably the most broken card remaining in the format before its ban. Without a fundamental change to how cascade works, a deck like this will always exist unless you ban all of the no-cost suspend cards that can create giant boards. I doubt that's happening, so this is where the format is currently.

I'm not sure Emrakul can fight its way through the Footfalls, Living End, Amulet Titan metagame. I suspect people will test it for a bit, and it will end up in Commander decks.

Emrakul looks powerful, but Modern seems to be too streamlined and fast, as a deck would need to consistently put together great starts that can compete with the top tiers. Ultimately, Emrakul likely can't be your main game plan and is more likely a supplemental plan in a deck that doesn't exist yet.

Maybe we can go back to playing Thought-Knot Seers or maybe there is more unseen support for the archetype in Modern Horizons 3. I have seen a lot of hype around Emrakul, and while it looks powerful and cool, I'm skeptical because it requires too many hoops and will be too slow in many games. Six mana is a lot in Modern unless you're winning the game on the spot with a lot of redundancy like Amulet Titan can accomplish. Emrakul can come into play, but you still lose on the opponent's combo against some decks, and other decks will be too fast.

You can play Emrakul at instant speed with madness. That means once you get to the six mana threshold, you have counterplay to a deck like Living End or in some spots against Titan, but that's a lot to ask to set up that board state while having access to your discard outlet, your mana, and your Emrakul.

There are a few more exciting cards from MH3. While I don't know how much of them we'll be seeing soon since the set doesn't release until June, I'll likely take a better look at those in the future.

Until then, I'm looking forward to trying out both of these cards previewed at the Pro Tour.

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