The Royal Scions is a pretty cool card.
I love designs of planeswalkers that aren’t cookie cutter. Not every
planeswalker needs to kill a permanent, and not every planeswalker needs to
end the game when you hit the ultimate. And at a paltry three mana, The
Royal Scions starts off strong. And five loyalty while only ticking up?
It’s pretty absurd to expect your opponent to be able to attack and kill
immediately. I’m usually not a fan of planeswalkers with this high of
starting loyalty, but I can make an exception for those that don’t have
powerful minus abilities and can’t protect themselves.
So, at the very least, you should have a loot engine online quickly, and
running for a few turns before your opponent can actually do something
Making use of the loot ability shouldn’t be too difficult. Turning dead
spells into fresh resources is awesome for just about every strategy
imaginable. Turning excess lands into spells is awesome. As the game goes,
this ability does get worse, but it basically all relies upon whether you
have any good graveyard synergy or discard synergy. Loot engines are few
and far between in Magic, but that’s mostly because the graveyard is such a
good zone to exploit. All in all, the most used ability of The Royal Scions
will likely be the loot.
When you think about it, we really do need a replacement for Chart a
Course, and while The Royal Scions aren’t exactly a perfect fit for that
role, we’ll take any loot effect we can get when it comes to putting
Arclight Phoenix into the graveyard! I think we’ll just have to look at how
to build the rest of the deck in order to put The Royal Scions to their
maximum potential use. Either that or finding a few more cards from Thrones of Eldraine that like being discarded!
The big trick for The Royal Scions is making use of the other ability.
Pumping your creature and giving it first strike and trample seems solid,
but just how good can it actually be? My first instinct was to put this
into some sort of low to the ground Izzet Phoenix Aggro deck, utilizing the
loot effect with Arclight Phoenix and hopefully putting some extra pressure
on opponents with a powerful two-drop.
What creatures get better if you give them a boost? What creatures get
better when you pump them?
This one seems pretty sick, if only because it hasn’t really gotten a
chance to shine in Standard outside of Boros Feather. Dreadhorde Arcanist
doesn’t really need a good explanation on why it’s good, but I can only
imagine how sweet it will be to pump it, attack, and cast a two- or
three-mana spell. Extra removal like Lightning Strike to kill your blocker
seems cool, but what about re-casting a draw-two of some sort? If only
Chart a Course weren’t rotating!
Dreadhorde Arcanist pairs nicely with The Royal Scions because they can
also fuel the graveyard with their loot ability, giving you some added card
advantage. There’s definitely a lot of potential synergy here, as they work
well together on multiple fronts. I like making it more difficult for your
opponent to trade their creature with your Dreadhorde Arcanist, and I also
like casting bigger and more powerful spells. This one-two punch should end
up being pretty darn good.
This will require being much more red slanted, but that shouldn’t be too
big of an ask. Runaway Steam-Kin pairs nicely with all the cheap spells and
discard effects you’ll want to fuel Arclight Phoenix anyway, and it just so
happens that giving Runaway Steam-Kin first strike and trample is pretty
good against most strategies that are trying to block it so you don’t get
to both attack and utilize the extra mana it generates!
Izzet colors pair well with the incentives that Runaway Steam-Kin brings to
the table, and while playing Runaway Steam-Kin probably means you can’t
play stuff like Radical Idea, I’m sure there are a few other ways to put
Arclight Phoenix into the graveyard. Jump-start didn’t get the spotlight it
deserved, but that’s all going to change now that we’re more restricted on
the discard effects we have access to.
This one seems like it’s a nice one to pair with The Royal Scions, if only
because the ability to chump block seems to be the main thing holding
Burning Prophet back. The scry effect helps make sure you never flood out,
and the pump ability works nicely with everything you’re trying to do with
Arclight Phoenix. Is it better than Runaway Steam-Kin? If you want to be a
little more blue-oriented, it could certainly fill the role. This rotation
will likely shake the foundation of many archetypes, and I fully expect
forgotten cards to come back in a big way.
Burning Prophet can really get out of hand with Finale of Promise, casting
three spells and pumping it three times. It also has some added synergy
with Dreadhorde Arcanist, as the free spell you cast pumps it an additional
time. Long story short, I doubt this will be turning any heads, but it fits
a lot of the metrics we’re looking for. And did I also mention it says
“noncreature,” so it actually gets a solid boost from The Royal Scions just
for curving out?
The Royal Scions also work well with creatures who’ve already accrued their
value. Any body is a good body for their pump effect, so having any small
creature in the early turns that has generated a small advantage is
certainly decent. I’m not even sure if we should try turning on the
spectacle ability, as the front half of Rix Maadi Reveler fits our mold
nicely. Maybe a Watery Grave or two on the off chance we backdoor into
drawing three cards though?
It’s also important to remember that red is losing the majority of their
good one-drops, and unless we see anything different from Throne of Eldraine, it might be more desirable to be blue based.
Spectral Sailor has already shown how good it can be, acting as a cheap
evasive creature early that also draws some cards if we go long. Turning
Spectral Sailor into a real threat with the pump effect of The Royal Scions
is pretty sweet, but I’m not sure it if really fits the bill. We’re not
doing much with the first strike or trample, as the flying part already
gets around a lot of potential blockers.
Much like Rix Maadi Reveler, many creatures accrue their value and leave
around a body that doesn’t do that much, but The Royal Scions pumping stuff
like Augur of Bolas really stands out to me. I love the idea of getting a
spell with this thing and actually beating down your opponent or their
planeswalkers after finding the perfect removal or counterspell.
In the same vein as the others, Goblin Electromancer usually has trouble
attacking on a cluttered battlefield. While it doesn’t reduce the cost of
The Royal Scions, there’s a chance that this deck is chock full of instants
and sorceries, so making them cost less is a big deal. That is especially
true if we end up playing Arclight Phoenix, as these two go together almost
as well as Rowan and Will!
Finale of Promise works well with Arclight Phoenix, and has been a huge
payoff for all Izzet Phoenix decks in the last few months. There’s a chance
it gets completely bricked off by Teferi, Time Raveler, but we’re going to
be a lot more aggressive than before. And even if they bounce one of our
cheap creatures, we should have a bunch of stuff like Shock, and maybe some
creatures with haste, to close the deal.
Finale of Promise is also just a great finisher type spell that doesn’t
really require a lot of investment. As you casually cast spells, or discard
them via The Royal Scions, you should end up with a stocked graveyard, and
when the time comes, you should be able to cast two pretty solid spells to
make up for spinning your wheels.
The utility spells are generally what end up being some of the most
important aspects of this style of deck. And since The Royal Scions can’t
protect themselves with either ability, the removal to clear your
opponent’s creatures becomes one of the more important decisions in
deckbuilding. Who knows? Maybe Jaya’s Greeting ends up fitting in there
Waiting on Eldraine
Thrones of Eldraine
is probably going to bring us some really sweet spells to pair with The
Royal Scions and all the goodies from the previous Standard format. But
before we actually see the whole set, it’s difficult to actually build
decks around elements that could potentially exist. We’re
currently missing Opt, for example, because it was in two sets that are now
rotating out of the format. One-mana spells like Opt were integral for
making Finale of Promise great, but now things are a bit up in the air.
Because of that, I’m always trying to figure out how to use these new cards
in Modern, if only because most of the pieces to make these cards good
already exist in the previous fifteen years of Magic history! But what
Modern deck can actually take advantage of both activated abilities, while
also wanting a threat that attacks from a different angle?
The Royal Scions act a whole lot like Temur Battle Rage in Grixis Death’s
Shadow, except they can also pump Dreadhorde Arcanist or discard excess
lands as the game progresses. It doesn’t give double strike, but there’s
definitely something to be said about a planeswalker in Modern that has a
solid dual nature to it.
Both halves of The Royal Scions are doing some work here. I can’t tell you
how often I’ve had Temur Battle Rage rotting in hand in Grixis Death’s
Shadow. Either that or it just doesn’t do enough when your threat is Gurmag
Angler. I love the ability to just tap out and start looting away dead
discard or extra lands, all while threatening a huge attack with Death’s
Shadow as the game goes long.
I love the ability to pump Dreadhorde Arcanist and re-casting Kolaghan’s
Command, but truth be told I just wanted an excuse to test out Dreadhorde
Arcanist over Snapcaster Mage in this archetype. Since we’re playing
Dreadhorde Arcanist, I’ve also moved away from Stubborn Denial in favor of
more discard. I’ve also put an emphasis on instants and sorceries over
Mishra’s Bauble, but a hybrid might be more desirable.
As we get to see more of Thrones of Eldraine, building in Standard
around The Royal Scions will be much easier. I’m sure we’ll get a graveyard
payoff or two, which could ultimately shape the entire deck. As I said
before, the utility spells are the make or break when it comes to these
planeswalkers that can’t protect themselves. Looting is such a powerful
effect that evaluating it in a vacuum is virtually impossible. I mean, just
look at Radical Idea. Without Arclight Phoenix or Goblin Electromancer,
it’s really slow and pretty bad, but when you combine all three, you get an
engine that ends up being pretty darn good.
Thrones of Eldraine
looks to be an awesome set so far, and I can’t wait to continue delving
into the new cards as the next Standard format starts to take shape. The
flavor of the cards previewed thus far have been a home run, and
the trailer for the set
was an absolute BANGER! To say I’m excited about this new set and these new
cards is an understatement. At the very least, it means we’re getting to
rotate out Scapeshift, all of Dominaria, and the busted Kethis Combo! Thrones of Eldraine Standard can’t get here soon enough.
Until then, make sure to check out my stream at twitch.tv/strong_sad. Now
that I’ve moved to the West Coast, I’m streaming full time. For now, we’re
trying out a bunch of sweet new Modern decks post Faithless Looting and
Hogaak ban, but we’ll be jumping onto Magic Arena and Standard once Thrones of Eldraine arrives.
Come hang out!