Finding What We Need

Posted in Card Preview on June 30, 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

Magic is a game of economics. Many games are won by virtue of a player being able to trade their cards more effectively than their opponent. Playing to this game plan has been and will continue to be one of the most effective strategies for Constructed Magic. Today's preview card allows us to ensure we're finding the cards we need with a very low opportunity cost.

To win games like this, we're going to need, on more than one occasion per game, to trade one of our cards for more than one of the opponent's cards. This could be accomplished with a card like Languish or simply by drawing more than one card with a single Painful Truths. By doing this multiple times in a game, we'll eventually find ourselves in a position where we have a hand filled with action while the opponent has no hand and nothing of note on the battlefield. From there, winning is elementary.

Unfortunately, there's an element of randomness that means we can lose regardless of how well we engineer card-advantageous situations. If we draw too many lands, then it doesn't matter if we have five cards in our hand to our opponent's two. Those two cards probably can't be answered by our lands, and we'll end up losing despite having worked so hard to put ourselves in a good spot.

To offset these problems, we're given the option to play with lands that do more than simply produce mana. Creature lands like Mutavault or Shambling Vent have been incredibly important whenever they've been available in a Constructed format, and utility lands like Gavony Township or Kessig Wolf Run have proven themselves to be multi-format all-stars.

Today's preview card solves a lot of the problems we might have with drawing too many lands, and does so with very little opportunity cost for the deck builder. Check out Geier Reach Sanitarium!

Geier Reach Sanitarium
This card is insane!

Now here's a card! Geier Reach Sanitarium is absurdly powerful when combined with madness cards. Essentially making each of those cards have "draw a card" added as extra text on the bottom while sometimes even reducing their mana costs. The card produces colorless mana that is now valuable for casting Eldrazi and lets us pitch excess lands to find more action. This is certainly a card that we can expect to see a lot of in Standard.

We can use the card alongside things like Murderous Compulsion, Fiery Temper, and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to have a very real madness engine. We can also make Vampires a much more viable strategy by making cards like Falkenrath Gorger into legitimate late-game engines. The Sanitarium is even a great colorless land for our Standard Eldrazi decks.

Let's see what a Standard control deck that uses Geier Reach Sanitarium might look like!

JVL's Grixis Sanitarium

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This deck has everything it needs to battle Standard's most aggressive entities, and should be able to overcome control opponents with disruption and consistency.

In Modern, this card finds a beautiful home in the various white-based Eldrazi strategies. One of the first things that jumped to mind for me when I saw this card was its powerful interaction with Spirit of the Labyrinth. We can activate Geier Reach Sanitarium during the opponent's turn after or during their draw step and force our opponent to discard a card while we get to loot. Once the opponent runs out of cards, we can just activate Geier Reach Sanitarium during their draw step every turn to essentially lock them out of the game until they can find an instant-speed way to break up the combo.

Unfortunately, Geier Reach Sanitarium is legendary, so just jamming four copies into our deck may not seem like the wisest plan. However, it's worth noting that because the card comes with a looting engine, we can simply discard extra copies to the activated ability to find live cards.

I'm really interested in seeing how this card looks in a Modern Eldrazi shell. Let's put together a Modern White Eldrazi deck that uses Geier Reach Sanitarium to its fullest potential.

JVL's White Eldrazi

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I can't wait to play with this deck. Æther Vial is great when we can flash in cards like Leonin Arbiter or Spirit of the Labyrinth to punish opponents for trying to draw cards or search their library. Normally, drawing Æther Vial in multiples is a disaster, but this deck's access to Geier Reach Sanitarium means that we can just discard excess copies to find more action.

We've already discussed Geier Reach Sanitarium's incredible interaction with Spirit of the Labyrinth. I've also included a copy of Mikokoro, Center of the Sea for added one-sided card draw when we have Spirit of the Labyrinth on the battlefield.

From there, the deck is filled with efficient creatures that are good at disrupting the plans of most Modern opponents. Being proactive and disruptive at the same time is a time-tested recipe for success, and this deck should fare very well in the current Modern.

Geier Reach Sanitarium is exactly the kind of card we've been waiting for. This card should be a multi-format staple for years to come. Stay sane! Or don't!

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