Video Daily Digest: Swords, Vials, Trophy Mages…

Death and Taxes is getting an upgrade in Modern! What happens when blue cards mix with Etched Champion and Aether Vials? You and Ross Merriam are about to find out!

Most of you probably weren’t around for the days of Caw-Blade, although seeing Stoneforge Mystic in Legacy over the years also gives you an idea of how awesome the combination of it and great Equipment is.

There’ve been some rumblings about the potential to unban Stoneforge Mystic in Modern due to the increased presence of viable interaction against it, whether cheap removal or easy answers to artifacts like Kolaghan’s Command and Abrupt Decay. Count me in the camp that says the card is still too powerful to let loose, but that’s a conversation for another day. Today we’re looking at an approximation of Stoneforge Mystic that may have been overlooked until now: Treasure Mage!

Okay, so Treasure Mage costs one more mana, doesn’t find Batterskull, and doesn’t put the Equipment onto the battlefield, but it has one more power! Not an exciting trade, but the various Swords are still quite powerful and castable, especially when you have Aether Vial to help free up your lands.

This deck goes to great lengths to use the Equipment well, with many fliers, Spellskite to protect your investment from a removal spell, and even a Mirran Crusader to potentially double your fun. The biggest card here, though, is Etched Champion. It’s normally not seen outside of Affinity, but there are enough incidental artifacts here to turn it on and make it a Sword-wielding menace.

Thraben Inspector and Moorland Haunt are great cards here because they provide incidental bodies for your Equipment while already fitting well into the deck, and the end result is an aggressive shell that cuts a lot of the disruption from Death and Taxes-style archetypes in order to gain more power. The Ghost Quarters are still there against Tron, but you’re not going to Strip Mine anyone out of the game.

In exchange, you get a more objectively powerful deck that doesn’t need a lot of synergies to come together in order to operate effectively. You can compete more easily against the fair decks of the format with just enough disruption to compete against the unfair contingent. That makes it a great deck to pair with Death and Taxes in our Modern arsenal so you can capitalize on any metagame without investing into two separate decks. And take it from someone who knows firsthand: connecting with Swords is sweet.