Modern Brews: Vizier Of The Menagerie

Card-advantage-gaining green creature Vizier of the Menagerie has caught the eye of Todd Stevens! He suggests seven Modern decks as possible homes for the Amonkhet standout!

Amonkhet is almost here, and with it a breath of fresh air in the world of Magic: The Gathering. The recent Limited formats from Shadows over Innistrad block and Kaladesh block were incredible, and so far Amonkhet looks to be just as good with amazing flavor and the Embalm and Aftermath mechanics being perfect for Limited. We’re not all of the way through preview season yet, but so far Amonkhet doesn’t look to have the sheer power that Kaladesh block had for Constructed, and I think that’s fine because you can’t print more and more powerful sets each one into perpetuity.

That being said, Amonkhet still has some interesting cards to build around in multiple formats, including both Standard and Modern. Today I’m going to talk about my favorite card from the set so far and how it can impact Modern decks, specifically the types of decks that I like to play. Next week, we will know all of the cards in the set and I will brew some new Standard decks ready to go for the first weekend. Finally, the Wednesday before #SCGATL, and after some playtesting, I’ll have my Top 20 Standard cards from Amonkhet, a list I have written for each set since Eldritch Moon. There’s plenty of Amonkhet coming from me each Wednesday, starting with Vizier of the Menagerie!

Vizier of the Menagerie is easily my favorite card of the set so far and one that was seemingly printed for me. Green based creature decks are right up my alley, and Vizier of the Menagerie is a perfect payoff card for playing tons of creatures. Before getting in to some decks that could use Vizier, let’s take a closer look at what the card has to offer.

Converted Mana Cost: Four

Although it’s completely fair to print Vizier at four mana, it’s a big disappointment. I really wish Vizier cost three mana so I could put it onto the battlefield from a Collected Company (like, really really wish I could), but unfortunately Vizier costs four. The other problem with having converted mana cost four is that it’s extremely vulnerable to being killed with a revolted Fatal Push, costing you an ample amount of tempo against the commonly played one-mana removal spell.

Power and Toughness: 3/4

Even though the converted mana cost is a big hit to Vizier’s playability, the power and toughness are in a good spot. The fourth point of toughness is crucial in Modern because of the prevalence of Lightning Bolt, and Vizier would most likely not be playable without it. There are many creatures that are still larger than a 3/4, and I wouldn’t expect Vizier to dominate combat, but it’s large enough to be able to survive Lightning Bolt and defend against small aggressive decks such as Zoo, so we can work with it.

You may look at the top card of your library.

This is a different formatting template from what we have previously seen with cards that allow you to interact with the top of your library, namely Courser of Kruphix and Oracle of Mul Daya, and I think it’s a strict upgrade. Instead of having the top card of your library revealed at all times to your opponent, allowing them to make informed decisions during their turn, you are the only one who is able to know what the top card of your library is. Information is a huge part of Magic, and Vizier gives you more information than your opponent has, which is valuable on its own. Knowing the top card of your library is extremely valuable in a format with fetchlands and other cards that can manipulate the top of your deck.

You may cast the top card of your library if it’s a creature card.

The other big payoff to putting Vizier in your deck. You can use excess mana to cast creatures that you have on top of your library, and this ability could be beneficial for many different creature strategies that I’ll cover. To optimize this ability, you not only need plenty of creatures in your deck to maximize the chance you will have one on top of your library to cast, but you also want lots of mana to be able to cast said creatures.

You may spend mana as though it were mana of any type to cast creature spells.

A seemingly innocent last clause to the card, but also a valuable one. This clause allows all of your lands, even colorless lands such as Ghost Quarter or Gavony Township, to effectively be Ancient Ziggurats along with their other abilities. This clause isn’t only for creatures that you are casting from the top of your deck, it’s for any creature spell you cast with Vizier on the battlefield.

So that’s a lot of stats and abilities for our four-mana investment! Let’s take a look at some Modern decks that may want to include Vizier of the Menagerie.

Could Vizier of the Menagerie fit into G/W Company, my current favorite Modern deck? It’s definitely possible and worth trying. G/W Company also uses Courser of Kruphix to know the top card of its library and then abuses Knight of the Reliquary’s ability to frequently change that top card to try to find a free land drop each turn as well as find the spell that’s needed for the situation.

With Vizier of the Menagerie allowing you to cast the top card of your library as well if it’s a creature card, you would further be able to control the top of your library to maximize the card advantage you can accrue each turn. It’s common to have a Noble Hierarch or Tarmogoyf on top of your library after setting up the Courser of Kruphix and Knight of the Reliquary combo, and being able to cast them from the top of your library and get further into your library would be tremendously beneficial.

We’re going to need more mana to cast the extra creature spells, and Lotus Cobra may be the Snake for the job. Knight of the Reliquary can not only reset the top of our library, it also allows us to have multiple land drops each turn. It’s another reason why it’s so strong with Courser of Kruphix, because you can gain multiple life a turn to be able to swing races. Lotus Cobra also capitalizes on all of the land drops by allowing you to have extra mana to cast the creature spells on top of the library.

Coralhelm Combo is very similar to G/W Company and is the more popular version of the deck. It doesn’t attack manabases like G/W does, but instead uses Retreat to Coralhelm as a combo finisher with Knight of the Reliquary. I took Eli Kassis’s #GPSanAnt list and added in Vizier of the Menagerie which again works well with Knight of the Reliquary and also Retreat to Coralhelm. Also, congratulations to Eli on winning #SCGWOR this past weekend and taking over the top spot on the Season One SCG Tour Leaderboard!

Having blue in your deck also gives you access to Spell Queller which is a fantastic card to have against many of the unfair decks in Modern. In the sideboard Meddling Mage also can come in and fight similar strategies by keeping opponents from casting cards like Ad Nauseam or Primeval Titan. Spell Queller in particular could be really nice with Vizier of the Menagerie; since the top card of your library isn’t revealed and only you can see it, you may be able to get people with a surprise Spell Queller from the top of your library.

Kiki Chord is another potential home for Vizier of the Menagerie. Not only are there plenty of creatures to cast from the top of your library, but the mana-fixing ability of Vizier will absolutely come onto the battlefield here. With nine fetchlands and four Chord of Calling, knowing the top card of your library will also allow you to make knowledgeable decisions on when to shuffle your library and when not to.

Why attack only once when you can attack forever? Fellow Amonkhet mythic Combat Celebrant also combos arbitrarily largely with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and so if you have a Kiki-Jiki on the battlefield and Eldritch Evolution away a Birds of Paradise, you can win on the spot. How it works is you can have Kiki-Jiki make a copy of Combat Celebrant that exerts when it attacks, untapping all other creatures you control and allowing Kiki-Jiki to make another copy of the Combat Celebrant that can attack the next combat step, repeating the loop.

G/W Hatebears is a deck with a similar playstyle to G/W Company, but it uses the power of its disruptive manabase, Leonin Arbiter, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to keep the opponent off-balance enough to have the other creatures finish the game. Although this deck doesn’t have the ability to produce as much mana as the previous decks and sometimes relies on Aether Vial to put creatures onto the battlefield instead of casting them, I still think Vizier of the Menagerie could be a welcome addition to the deck.

Sure, you can’t use Aether Vial to put the creatures off the top of your deck onto the battlefield, but Vizier still works well with Aether Vial. You can still use your available mana to cast the creatures from the top of your library while Aether Vial puts in the creatures from your hand onto the battlefield. Horizon Canopy is another card that works well with Vizer by allowing you to draw the card on top of your library for another look at a creature, and G/W Hatebears plays a full set of Horizon Canopy. Even the color-fixing ability of Vizier can be useful with seven colorless lands in the deck.

Want a deck with a ridiculous amount of creatures and mana-producing abilities? Look no further than Elves! Vizier of the Menagerie could find a nice home in Elves with a similar ability to Lead the Stampede but a much higher ceiling. It also pairs very nicely with Lifecrafter’s Bestiary from the sideboard when you have tons of mana available from Elvish Archdruids.

Elves is one of the few decks in Modern that can legitimately say it has a strong Death’s Shadow matchup, making it a quality choice for upcoming Modern tournaments. Will Vizier of the Menagerie find a home in the deck? Tough to say, but it’s worth trying out.

I wrote about the growing presence of G/W Eldrazi on Magic Online a couple weeks ago, and Vizier of the Menagerie could be a nice tool for the deck for a couple of reasons. Even though this looks like a two-color deck from how it’s labeled, G/W Eldrazi is essentially a three-color deck because of the colorless mana requirements, and Vizier can help cast Thought-Knot Seer or Reality Smasher even without having access to colorless mana.

Eldritch Evolution also works well with Vizier; not only does it act as extra copies of the Naga Wizard, but you also know what the top card of your library is so you can cast Eldritch Evolution when you don’t have more action on top. I could also see these two cards making an impact in Standard, and I’ll brew up a deck with them in next Wednesday’s article.

Vizier of the Menagerie solves two of the biggest problems that Bant Eldrazi faces, the biggest being flooding out. With 24 lands, five mana creatures, and four Ancient Stirrings, over half of the deck can help produce mana. Vizier can help find more action from the top of the deck if you have flooded out, and the creatures you can find, such as Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope, are some of the most impactful in the entire format.

Blood Moon is the other big problem for Bant Eldrazi that Vizier of the Menagerie solves. Basic lands are a luxury in a functionally four-color deck, and Blood Moon can severely shut out Bant Eldrazi from playing its spells. When testing Bant Eldrazi, I’m not only going to try a Vizier in the maindeck but also another in the sideboard to come in against control decks or Blood Moon decks.

I’m excited to play with Vizier of the Menagerie in multiple archetypes in Modern, but it’s not the only card that will see Modern play from Amonkhet. As Foretold, Gideon of the Trials, and the newly previewed (as of this writing) Nissa, Steward of Elements are just a few of the exciting cards for the non-rotating format. Which card from Amonkhet are you excited about playing in Modern? What deck do you think Vizier of the Menagerie can fit in that I missed?

Next week we will know the contents of the entire set and I’ll be focusing on making Standard decks and getting ready for #SCGATL, where I’ll aim to reclaim the top spot on the seasonal SCG Tour Leaderboard!