Does Ugin’s Conjurant Break Modern?

Ugin’s Conjurant combines with Celestial Kirin to destroy all lands. But is this truly Armageddon? Gerry Thompson investigates the possibilities and provides several brews!

A huge mistake may have slipped through the cracks at Wizards of the Coast.

In combination with Celestial Kirin, Ugin’s Conjurant provides an incredibly efficient Engineered Explosives that leaves a body behind. However, the real mistake (and thing that might shock people) is that Celestial Kirin doesn’t specify “nonland permanents.” Armageddon doesn’t promote fun or healthy gameplay and is widely considered too powerful for Modern.

If you cast Celestial Kirin, you can immediately follow it up with Ugin’s Conjurant and a Celestial Kirin trigger, meaning your opponent never gets a chance to interact with the combo. It’ll be very frustrating to play against.

How Did This Happen?

When Celestial Kirin was printed, a zero-mana Spirit didn’t exist, nor did they necessarily plan for the existence of one. Printing “nonland permanent” on the card would have been confusing and an extraneous waste of text. When Celestial Kirin was printed in 2005, what format did they expect to potentially break if a zero-mana Spirit did slip through the cracks? Modern was several years from being conceived and formats like Extended, Legacy, Vintage, and even Block had bigger problems.

Of course, printing a zero-mana Spirit may have been something they should have avoided, but really, what are they supposed to do? Keep a whiteboard in the pit with things they shouldn’t print? It would be more work to curate that list than it would be worth.

At the end of the day, it’s understandable how this combo slipped through the cracks, so I wouldn’t hold that against anyone at WotC. But what do we do now?

The Case for a Ban or Errata

Despite the combo clearly being a mistake, it needs to be problematic in order for action to be taken. In the context of the Modern format, I truly believe decks trying to abuse the combo will show up and perform well.

Given that Celestial Kirin wasn’t intended to be able to blow up everyone’s lands, it’s a niche card, and we are catching this relatively early, I’m very much in the errata camp. Each card that gets added to the Banned List comes with a real cost. The barrier to entry into the format increases.

Issuing errata for Celestial Kirin comes with a similar cost, although one I think is much smaller because most people would intuitively assume the card would specify “nonland” anyway. That would free up Celestial Kirin to continue to be used as a fringe sideboard card for Spirits without having to add another card to the Banned List.

I view the situation similarly to Hostage Taker, which had to be given errata before its release. It was intended to be a player in Standard, but as printed, it would draw the game when cast on an empty battlefield, which isn’t acceptable. A quick errata later, and the card served its intended use without creating silly game states and was something that was widely accepted by the community and didn’t seem to cause much confusion.

Of course, all of this sounds silly in the face of the Allosaurus Rider / Neoform combo deck, but I fully expect action to be taken against that deck at some point. The Neoform thing is amusing because we’ve gotten a lot of Birthing Pod effects and they’ve basically all shown up in Modern at some point. You gotta hope that someone is thinking about them anytime one of them makes their way into a file. Then again, it’s only a matter of time before Simian Spirit Guide and/or Griselbrand get the axe, so it might not be a problem we have to worry about for very long.

Putting Armageddon into Practice

It’s been a long time since Armageddon was legal in any relevant format, so people have either forgotten how powerful it is or they’ve never seen it in action to begin with. If you are slightly ahead, an Armageddon will often turn the game dramatically in your favor. Plus, if you have something like Noble Hierarch or Aether Vial, Armageddon ends up feeling rather one-sided.

There are decks like Azorius Control and Tron that will very likely not be able to win once you destroy all their lands once because of all their expensive spells. On the other side are decks like Grixis Death’s Shadow that have such a low land count that they often top out at three mana. If you Armageddon them once, they might not be able to find any more lands!

Assembling a two-card Armageddon is powerful, it is game-winning, and it is absolutely something worth investigating.

There are three cores where I see the Celestial Kirin / Ugin’s Conjurant package fitting nicely.

Given that Celestial Kirin is a Spirit, let’s start there.

Spirits has taken a few different directions over its lifespan, but Azorius is currently the strongest of the bunch. It was even one of the decks I tested for MC London! The deck has a slower clock than Humans and is generally weaker against other creatures in general, but it does have some upsides, namely colored mana to enable cards like Path to Exile and various sideboard hosers.

Previous iterations of Spirits have used Celestial Kirin as a sideboard card against decks like Devoted Druid combo and Whir Prison, so it already kind of passes the bar for being a reasonable card to play in the deck. Ugin’s Conjurant is a little weaker, as it lacks the evasion the deck is known for, but it’s passable as a two-drop and a good mana sink when it’s the only gas you have left.

You could play weird stuff like Incubation, Serum Visions, or Tolaria West to help find the combo, but other than the cantrips, I’m not a big fan. Both Celestial Kirin and Ugin’s Conjurant are reasonable cards on their own, at least in this deck with Spirit synergies.

The more consistent the deck is at setting up the combo, the more interested I am in trying to incorporate Flagstones of Trokair into the manabase to break the synergy. Realistically, though, if you’re casting Armageddon, you’re supposed to be winning, regardless of any Flagstones triggers.

Decks based on the Devoted Druid / Vizier of Remedies combo have always wanted a backup plan. They sometimes incorporated a Knight of the Reliquary package to help them play fair games and sometimes they added Simian Spirit Guide; Thalia, Guardian of Thraben; and Chalice of the Void to function more like a Death and Taxes deck with a combo kill.

It’s interesting to mix these two combos because the cards you’d normally use, like Collected Company, are horrible with Celestial Kirin and Ugin’s Conjurant. Still, this deck has several ways to find Celestial Kirin and there are even some backdoor ways to pull Ugin’s Conjurant thanks to Ranger of Eos. Assuming the main combo isn’t something you want to go for, the Armageddon combo is easy enough to set up.

One of the cards that could be worth trying in this deck is Vivien, Champion of the Wilds.

This deck already wanted to have some disruptive elements, so although there aren’t any ways to find the combo, it likely slots in here as well. Both Simian Spirit Guide and Gemstone Caverns can help accelerate out your Celestial Kirins, allowing you to blow up your opponent’s lands before they pull too far ahead.

Flagstones of Trokair would be potentially awkward in multiples thanks to Leonin Arbiter, but you won’t run into any issues with just one copy unless you get Blood Mooned. Cascading Cataracts is an indestructible colorless source, similar to Darksteel Citadel, but is slightly better because it’s not an artifact. Also, how often do you get a chance to play with Cascading Cataracts in Constructed?

Bonus, Legitimately Good Decklist

This deck is good and it happens to make great use of Vivien, Champion of the Wilds. You get some card selection and card advantage, and giving your creatures flash can be useful. Flash will help you play around decks with counterspells, plus it disguises your Spell Quellers. Overall, I’m a big fan.

Midrange Bant decks have been solid throughout Modern’s history, occasionally showing up whenever the format is ripe. Turn 2 Knight of the Reliquary gives you game against Tron and Bant tends to go bigger than creature decks like Humans. Control is always an issue, but your sideboard should be able to cover that with planeswalkers.

Occasionally, Bant utilizes Coralhelm Retreat to combo kill with Knight of the Reliquary, which is another angle we could go toward with this. Instead, I’m leaning on Vivien, Champion of the Wilds, which will absolutely see Modern play.

Overall, this is a well-rounded deck and one that could be a player in Modern depending on where the metagame goes.


The key overlap between these fair creature decks is having some sort of mana acceleration. Noble Hierarch, Aether Vial, and Gemstone Caverns / Simian Spirit Guide enable you to get ahead on mana; otherwise you wouldn’t be able to compete with the stronger decks in Modern. With Celestial Kirin, you can now shut the door quickly on those decks, provided you can find a copy of Ugin’s Conjurant.

I doubt these decks are the only ways to utilize Celestial Kirin and Ugin’s Conjurant, but they form a good start. If you like blowing up lands, I highly suggest looking into this combo. It’s incredibly powerful and does something that nothing else in Modern can do.