Breaking Mox Amber

Throughout the Dominaria preview season and into week one, no one is still sure what to make of the newest Mox! GerryT has made it a personal quest to solve the puzzle before SCG Baltimore!

Is Mox Amber broken? Unplayable? Merely good?

I wanted to find out. My journey to find the truth went deep. You’ve been

Moxes tend to be their most powerful when you’re accelerating to bigger
spells sooner than your opponents. Ramping from two mana to four mana tends
to be more powerful than ramping from four to six. Getting an early mana
advantage tends to turn into a tempo advantage, which will snowball. A
small amount of acceleration later is typically less impactful.

My descent into madness started with a single card.

From there, I found Unclaimed Territory. A cursory glance revealed that
there are far more playable Humans than I initially thought.

The impetus for this deck was looking for the best things to accelerate
into, deciding it was Hazoret the Fervent, and then looking for ways to add
redundancy. Llanowar Elves fit the bill and is even the same color as
Oviya. From there, it was all about picking the best legendary Humans and
seeing that they all worked pretty well with Appeal, which gave redundancy
to Hazoret as a way to close the game.

Metallic Mimic helps the Human subtheme while also, alongside Bomat Courier
and Mox Amber, makes Spire of Industry reliable. Once I figured out the
various interactions I wanted to build around, the deck basically built

This deck isn’t perfect. However, I went 4-1 in both of my first two
leagues, so there’s clearly some promise. Unfortunately, others haven’t
been able to replicate my success. They share tales of drawing too many
copies of the same legendary cards or having games with Turn 3 Lyra
Dawnbringer and wildly unplayable hands in the next.

Decks like these tend to not be for the faint of heart. Some players, pros
even, can’t handle the swings. Regardless, this deck is capable of some of
the most broken openings in current Standard. Attacking with Hazoret on
Turn 3 is not out of the question, nor are Turn 4 kills.

Six untapped green sources for potential Turn 1 Llanowar Elves is low, but
you have a lot of different backdoor outs, including those involving Turn 1
Oviya and Mox Amber (which gives you four mana on Turn 2!) and even just
Mox Amber and Spire of Industry. Overall, it’s not that bad. There are a
non-zero amount of games where you must name Elf with Unclaimed Territory
though, and that doesn’t feel great.

There are consistency issues, but any time that’s the case, you should be
asking yourself if the juice is worth the squeeze, and in this case, it
most certainly is. Decks like Affinity and Tempered Steel typically
suffered from the same sort of wildly variant strength of opening hands,
but that hasn’t stopped them from performing well. The secret is that you
should be trying to use your broken draws to end the game as soon as
possible before you get punished by something like drawing too many copies
of redundant legends.

If the Pro Tour were tomorrow, I would register something similar, although
there are a few problems I’d like to fix. For starters, Metallic Mimic
isn’t great. Some have suggested Scrapheap Scrounger or trying to make
Heart of Kiran work, either of which I’m fine with.

Another thing I’d like to address are many boxes you need to check for the
deck to be functional, and it’s possible I should scale back on some of
them. After sideboarding, these issues are further amplified because the
sideboard cards don’t do a great job checking these boxes.

Things you must be cognizant of in deckbuilding and sideboarding:

I’d also need to find a cohesive sideboard strategy, although that could be
as simple as staying aggressive against everyone. Maybe Tetsuko Umezawa,
Fugitive is a great splash for that reason. After sideboard, Bomat Couriers
tend to get much worse, but Tetsuko can keep them attacking.

I’ve found that against control, when you want to stay aggressive while
also sideboarding in Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, you still have a deck that
functions. Getting to bring in an artifact and keep a low mana curve has
kept the deck feeling whole, which is probably a sign that I should rebuild
things (and look for sweet artifacts).

Still, my sideboard plan against midrange decks that involved bringing in
Shalai, Voice of Reason, Lyra Dawnbringer, and some extra lands was mostly
successful. That made me think there was hope in starting the sideboard
package in the main deck.

Naturally, my adventures didn’t stop there. Once I made note of the
different engines I could be utilizing, I took turns splicing different
portions of them together.

The various engines:

Needless to say, exploring this stuff kept me fairly busy last weekend
(despite also playing in Grand Prix Columbus).

While not a particularly fruitful venture, this list did give me a glimpse
of what was possible:

Past Unclaimed Territory, I didn’t feel a need to utilize more than one
additional package of mana fixing, whether it was Unbridled Growth, Spire
of Industry, or Aether Hub. Having one of either was sufficient. Despite
having access to the various ways to make all five colors of mana in
Standard, my original list was Naya, but that didn’t seem like I was taking
full advantage of what was possible.

Since I sided into the bigger plan each game, I wondered what the deck
might look like if I used Shalai as my payoff card instead of Hazoret.

This version had more to do in the midgame than just activate Oviya a
bunch, which was an upgrade. However, cards like Appeal and Bomat Courier
didn’t really have the same game plan as drawing out the game and winning
with Shalai. Something needed to change. For a while, I tried cutting the
Appeals for a couple copies of Song of Freyalise, which worked well with
Shalai and Walking Ballista, but something still felt missing.

Side note: Crushing Canopy is sweet against white decks with Lyra and
Cast Out.

Appeal doesn’t quite fit the game plan here. I eventually removed them for
main deck Lyras. With those gone, the early aggression from Kari Zev and
Pia Nalaar didn’t quite seem necessary. Since those weren’t in the deck
anymore, I didn’t need Spire of Industry to fix the mana any longer, so I
could basically become full midrange.

It didn’t take long before I realized my deck had become a weird version of
the various G/W Midrange decks that were out there, albeit with some Mox
Amber shenanigans. For each game where I had a Mox Amber that didn’t do
anything or a super weak Oviya that didn’t do much, I was wondering what I
was doing with my life.

Given all that, I slowly removed pieces of the Mox Amber shell. The longer
the game you want to play, the less business Mox Amber has being in your

Overall, this list is pretty boring, but honestly, it’s probably the way
midrange G/W decks are supposed to go about things.

Some of the lists have been cutting down on the Wildgrowth Walker package
altogether, which is understandable. Mono-Red Aggro is a lighter portion of
the metagame than it used to be. I’m interested in trying Shanna in the
two-drop slot instead, like TEAM5C’s deck that won the Magic Online
Standard PTQ last weekend. They also had three copies of Karn in their main
deck, which should help against control.

Blossoming Defense has been incredible in these green decks, which should
be no surprise. It’s particularly strong when protecting Shalai, but even
making sure your Angel of Sanctions or Lyra sticks will likely be game

Enough with the base green decks though.

Unfortunately, R/B doesn’t have access to anything like Oviya or even
another two-drop legend to complement Kari Zev, but that doesn’t mean we
can’t utilize Mox Amber. It just means they will be a little weaker and
therefore, we must play fewer of them. Being able to combo Inventor’s
Apprentice with Mox Amber is nice, especially if you have a good four-drop
to accelerate into.

This deck is mostly centered on the combo of Yahenni, Undying Partisan and
Jaya’s Immolating Inferno. Either portion could be removed from the deck
and still function, but the combo itself seems quite good. There are some
decks with more than a few legendary permanents and some that don’t play
many non-land permanents at all, so Urza’s Ruinous Blast and Jaya’s
Immolating Inferno shouldn’t necessarily be seeing main deck play right
now. Still, they are very powerful cards that will see play at some point.

We could also go deeper on Inventor’s Apprentice and play that over
Llanowar Elves in the original deck. That makes the mana cleaner because
you don’t have those awkward Unclaimed Territory / Llanowar Elves draws. It
also means you get to play a bunch of fast lands (which are way stronger
than the checklands in this style of deck), plus you get access to
Unlicensed Disintegration, which is one of the few cards that provides a
smooth answer to Lyra.

Something like this might legitimately be great. Maybe Llanowar Elves is a
trap because of how poorly it interacts with Unclaimed Territory.

Maybe playing without Walking Ballista is a mistake. There are already
enough artifacts for Spire of Industry and Inventor’s Apprentice, but
Walking Ballista might be too good not to play at the moment.

The sideboard is loose but features some stuff these other decks haven’t
showcased yet, like sideboarding Driven and Jaya’s Immolating Inferno, both
of which are completely reasonable options.

Want some more fun with Jaya’s Immolating Inferno?

I knew I would get around to trying Baral, Chief of Compliance eventually,
I just didn’t know what form it would take.

Baral wants counterspells that have generic mana in the casting cost, so
things like Essence Scatter and Lookout’s Dispersal got the nod. With how
much I was leaning on Jaya’s Immolating Inferno to close games, I probably
should have had Supreme Will instead. The quest of having a Pirate and a
Baral on the battlefield and having a one mana super Mana Leak was
appealing though.

The Delver-y nature of this deck appeals to me, even though I think it’s
weak in power level. Your clock is anemic, so you really need to pull ahead
in the midgame with Chart a Course or Jaya’s Immolating Inferno. Again,
Supreme Will could help with all that. There might be something here.

What could we do if we try to merge Oviya and Baral together?

Making a bunch of land drops and casting Karn’s Temporal Sundering sounds
appealing. This deck could use some way to draw cards and acquire more
resources, but maybe Tatyova, Benthic Druid, and Memorial to Unity will
have to do. Arch of Orazca might be too slow, but I’m digging deep here.

With the format largely revolving around Heart of Kiran and Lyra as premier
threats, U/G actually has sufficient removal, which is a rarity. Blink of
an Eye covers a lot of bases and is something I’d like to see in the main
deck as well. Adventurous Impulse is a card I could see here too.

It’s easy to “splash” Oviya and Mox Amber into many existing decks, but
whether it actually makes it a better deck depends on what was going on in
the first place.

During all of this, I took a quick detour while trying to see if I could
make Path of Mettle happen. Some of the legends, like Adeliz, the Cinder
Wind, work quite well with Path of Mettle, but I think the deck is a little
short. Knight of Malice is another good addition.

Another rabbit hole I went down was Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons. Plus
there’s always Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle. There’s plenty of work left to

My major takeaway from playing and building with Mox Amber is this: If
you’re going to do it, you have to be ready for the inconsistencies that
come along with it. Decks like Affinity and Tempered Steel always dealt
with the inconsistencies by ignoring them. When you are trying to
effectively end the game on Turn 4, it doesn’t matter if you mulliganed or
drew an extra copy of a legend.

Another takeaway is that the cheap Aftermath cards are incredible.
Driven//Despair, Claim//Fame, and Appeal//Authority have seen some play so
far, but with these crazy manabases, you can go kind of wild and utilize
whichever one you want.

I covered a ton of ground here, but I still have a feeling that there’s
more to uncover. At the very least, these lists could use some refining.
I’ll be doing my damnedest trying to get an early mana advantage at Grand
Prix Birmingham, but if I fail to come up with anything I particularly
like, there’s always W/B or R/B Vehicles to fall back on.

If you’re attacking with Heart of Kiran right now, you’re doing it right.