Video Daily Digest: Deck Out Of Balance

What happens when artifact mana and planeswalkers team up to break Restore Balance in half? Ross Merriam highlights one of the answers, a 5-0 Modern list from Magic Online!

It’s only been a couple of weeks, but folks are quickly learning just how broken the cascade mechanic was and is. Bloodbraid Elf has stolen the spotlight from the much more hyped Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and that’s because free spells are the absolute center of brokenness in Magic’s history.

Of course, those free spells don’t need to be generic midrange cards, falling neatly into the categories of disruption or threats. The most broken decks in the history of cascade have been those that eschew cheap spells entirely to guarantee the various cascade spells hit the desired spell.

We know most of these strategies quite well. Living End has been a semi-competitive deck in Modern (and before that Extended) for years, recently gaining a significant boost from the various cycling creatures in Amonkhet, enough to bring the deck back to relevance but not enough to ratchet up to the top tiers of the metagame, nearly always taking a backseat to Dredge in the hierarchy of graveyard decks.

Then there’s Hypergenesis, the card from that cycle of suspend cards that is banned because it’s too powerful. I guess putting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn; Progenitus, and Urabrask the Hidden onto the battlefield on Turn 2 is too powerful for Modern.

Then there’s the forgotten middle child of Modern suspend spells: Restore Balance. Balance itself is among the most powerful cards in Magic’s history. It can catch you up from any position, no matter how lopsided. But there are ways to take this seemingly symmetric effect and turn it to your advantage: artifact sources of mana and planeswalkers.

This deck contains significant numbers of both, playing as a typical control deck in most games, but with the omnipresent threat of a Restore Balance hanging over the opponent like the sword of Damocles.

More than a simple Wrath of God, Restore Balance completely obliterates any battlefield advantage while also forcing the opponent to sacrifice a land or two and discard some cards from their hand. The result is a complete reversal of any tempo gained early in the game, and for a low enough price that you can afford to cede the early turns to your opponent without worry.

The power and variety of threats have kept Modern control decks from ascending to the top tiers of the metagame, but Restore Balance is an effect just as powerful and varied as the threats it’s answering. Combine it with Greater Gargadon sacrificing lands to further set back your opponent, and you have a proactive plan to go along with the default planeswalker control. It may not be what immediately pops into your head when you think of control, but Modern is all about defying conventions.