Deathcap Cultivator

Posted in Card Preview on March 17, 2016

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Generally speaking, better Magic cards cost more mana to cast. Throughout the game's history, successful strategies have aimed to cheat the time constraints of expensive spells by "ramping" themselves with extra mana production. Creatures such as Llanowar Elves, Noble Hierarch, Sylvan Caryatid, and Rattleclaw Mystic have enabled decks to turbocharge themselves into impressive threats. Four-mana creatures in Constructed tend to be very powerful, but they become even more impressive when they're being played on the third turn! Today, we'll be taking a look at the newest way we'll be ramping our mana in Standard.

Mana-producing creatures have been staples of Constructed Magic for a long time. They let us play big spells fast. They let us empty our hand quickly. They let us benefit from cards that encourage us to have more creatures in play.

Historically, mana-producing creatures have also had some shortcomings in Constructed: They make our opponent's board-sweeping effects, like Languish, much more powerful. They make our deck inconsistent by being absolutely stellar in our opening hand and downright miserable when drawn in the later stages of the game. That's the biggest problem with mana-producing creatures—they lose value as the game progresses and can sometimes feel like dead draws once we're in the thick of a game.

Finding ways to make mana creatures relevant in the later stages of the game is very important to the consistency of decks that utilize this type of card. For example, Gavony Township has been indispensable in Modern decks that play Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch because it gives the deck a reasonable path to victory when only working with a few mana-producing creatures.

Today's preview card is a mana-producing creature that retains value in the later stages of the game all by itself. Let's take a look at Deathcap Cultivator!

Deathcap Cultivator allows us to ramp into powerful big-mana spells in Standard when drawn in the early game. As the game progresses, Deathcap Cultivator gains deathtouch and can suddenly trade with any non-evasive creature on the opposing side of the table. With a healthy 2 power, Deathcap Cultivator can start pressuring opponents that may not want to block with their bigger/more impressive threats.

Two-mana creatures that tap for mana have been seeing Standard play recently, and Deathcap Cultivator seems like it's well-positioned to carry the torch as we go forward in a world without Rattleclaw Mystic.

Deathcap Cultivator may see play in linear ramp strategies, but to truly take advantage of its power level we need to be playing a deck that can actually turn on the delirium deathtouch side of the card as we approach the midgame.

Let's take a look at some of the places where Deathcap Cultivator could find a home in the new Standard!

The Eldrazi have proven themselves to be the realest of deals. Deathcap Cultivator will enable us to cast Thought-Knot Seer on the third turn and Reality Smasher on the fourth. That's a lot of pressure coming at the opponent very quickly. We can achieve delirium more effectively while also making our draws more consistent with Oath of Nissa.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar applies additional pressure and makes for a great follow-up play after sacrificing one of our four copies of Foundry of the Consuls, while also making Deathcap Cultivator more relevant in the late game.

Ruinous Path has had some issues because of its mana cost. Two black mana is quite a lot, and in most Standard cases, it makes the card harder to cast than something like Crackling Doom. Fortunately, Deathcap Cultivator produces the extra black mana necessary to help us cast the new Standard's premier removal spell while also ramping us into the awaken cost.

The deck seems like it has the chance to be very powerful. We'd like to find another powerful four-drop, but we'll have to wait and see what else Shadows over Innistrad has to offer. For now, let's take a look at what a Black-Green Eldrazi deck could look like in Standard with Shadows over Innistrad!

JVL's Black-Green Eldrazi

This Eldrazi deck is pretty straightforward, but it's probably worth also trying Deathcap Cultivator in a midrange deck that plays Goblin Dark-Dwellers. The five-mana red rare from Oath of the Gatewatch is more powerful than ever in the new format, and it encourages us to fill our graveyard with different spell types while we're trying to achieve delirium.

Playing Goblin Dark-Dwellers means we'll be wanting to play a lot of removal, which works very nicely with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, probably the best four-drop in Standard to ramp into with Deathcap Cultivator.

This deck wants to grind opponents out of the game, and Deathcap Cultivator's late-game deathtouch essentially serves as removal or graveyard fodder against opponents with non-evasive creatures.

There are a lot of ways that we could go about building a Jund deck in the new Standard. This deck tends to be reactive and it's hard to find the right numbers when we're approaching an unknown format. This seems like a good starting point for the deck, but I'm sure it could continue to be improved with time and testing!

JVL's Jund

Deathcap Cultivator provides us with a way to ramp our mana in the early game that's also capable of making a difference when things go long. It's nice to know that we can be getting smashed by a giant monster and drawing off the top of our deck, and our mana-producing creature will still be a viable draw to keep us in the game.

In the coming months, Deathcap Cultivator will surely find a home in the new Standard. We've been desperately seeking good ways to accelerate our mana, and this card is tailor-made for the midrange decks of the day.

May your Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet always come down on turn three! And your Reality Smasher on turn four! Let's cultivate these dangerous mushrooms together!

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