Abrupt Decay

Posted in Card Preview on March 1, 2017

By Gaby Spartz

By night, Gaby streams Magic on Twitch. By day, she's co-founder and VP of Content at Dose, the Chicago-based media company behind Dose.com and OMGFacts.com.

It's time for Modern Masters 2017 Edition previews! Today I have the pleasure of presenting to you . . .

(Drumroll, please.)

Abrupt Decay was printed as part of a cycle of rare "can't be countered" spells in Return to Ravnica. Since then, it's made a huge impact on every format it's been legal in as one of the best removal spells in the history of Magic.

A format staple for any deck that has access to green and black mana, Abrupt Decay stands out for its flexibility. Some play it in the main deck if they want it to play a lot of removal but want to be prepared for whatever their opponents bring to the table. Others play it in the sideboard as a form of insurance against pesky permanents they might need a removal spell for.

Abrupt decay is great at destroying creatures as long as they cost three mana or less. Fortunately in Modern, so many of the best ones do! For instance, Infect decks rely on Blighted Agent and Glistener Elf to deal their opponents ten poison counters. Without a timely Abrupt Decay, they can end the game out of nowhere with a flurry of pump spells.

Splinter Twin is now banned in Modern, but back when it was still legal, Abrupt Decay was crucial to stopping the infinite combo with Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite. Splinter Twin decks were loaded up with cheap counterspells, so the fact that Abrupt Decay is uncounterable made it the best possible card to break up the combo.

These days, Abrupt Decay is a great way to destroy so many of the most popular creatures in Modern, such as Death's Shadow, Arcbound Ravager, Steel Overseer, Wild Nacatl, and Tarmogoyf.

Killing creatures is pretty great, but what sets Abrupt Decay apart is how it can deal with all sorts of problems. When battling against Affinity, destroying a Cranial Plating is a big deal. Cranial Plating is a great answer to spot removal, as it can make even puny creatures like Ornithopter into big threats. Instead of having to use a Lightning Bolt or Terminate on every single creature, Abrupt Decay lets the Jund player blow up the Cranial Plating and save their good removal for more relevant threats. Abrupt Decay also destroys other problematic artifacts, such as Ensnaring Bridge, a hate card that is used to lock an opponent out of ever attacking in the game.

In the enchantment department, notable examples we can remove are Stony Silence, Rest in Peace, Counterbalance, Daybreak Coronet, and Pyromancer Ascension. Abrupt Decay can even handle some planeswalkers, such as Liliana of the Veil, Dack Fayden, and Domri Rade.

Abrupt Decay laughs in the face of countermagic. There's just something dark and fun about crushing an opponent's sweet card while they stare at a useless Negate or Cursecatcher. Unfortunately, there are a few instances where Abrupt Decay can ultimately be countered. When the spell tries to resolve, if its target has become illegal (because it became hexproof or gained protection from green or black), Abrupt Decay will be countered by the game rules. So watch out for cards like Apostle's Blessing or Blossoming Defense, as they are some of the few ways to escape the destructive power of Abrupt Decay.

One of my favorite things about this card is how well it was designed to be a very Golgari card. Typically, the color black in Magic gets the ability to kill creatures. Think of cards such as Doom Blade or Murder. Abrupt Decay has inherited that from its black casting cost. But what about the green side? Typically, green as a staple is good at destroying noncreature permanents. Think of cards such as Naturalize and Bramblecrush. Additionally, green also gets ways to fight against countermagic, which is where Abrupt Decay's "can't be countered" text kicks in. Mix it all together into a nice Golgari stew and you get this A-plus removal spell.

I have loved every Modern Masters set so far, and I wait with bated breath to draft Modern Masters 2017 Edition when it comes out. Are you excited about Abrupt Decay being reprinted? You can let me know on Twitter @gabyspartz, or on my stream at twitch.tv/gabyspartz.

—Gaby

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