Breaking Day

Posted in From the Lab on May 4, 2015

By Mike Cannon

Mike Cannon started writing From the Lab at the end of 2012 after two years with GatheringMagic. He is an ardent casual player and loves finding uses for bad cards.

Welcome, labbies! This week on DailyMTG we're showing off a few of the cards that will be in Modern Masters 2015 Edition, and I've got a spicy one to share with you all. This card has popped up in tournaments now and then ever since the format was created, and the deck it enables can absolutely steamroll you if you're not prepared for it. Sometimes it can steamroll even when you are prepared for it. It puts you on an incredibly fast clock, it's difficult to disrupt through normal means, and—thanks to this card in particular—it's almost impossible to race. Without further ado, I present to you the return of the mighty Daybreak Coronet.

Daybreak Coronet is a pretty straightforward card. You put it on a creature that's already wearing an Aura. That creature gets really big. Your opponent dies. The end. While the Aura-based drawback limits it to a particular kind of deck, the card's power level means it's already a compelling reason to build that deck.

Daybreak Coronet | Art by Johannes Voss

Faster Disaster

Decks using Daybreak Coronet with cards like Slippery Bogle are already a known quantity, so I wanted to see if I could take the all-out Aura deck in a slightly different direction. I gave up the protection of hexproof in exchange for something else: Speed. Instead of using green and blue for hexproof creatures, I turned to red for an array of power-pumping Auras unlike anything the other colors can muster.

The first Aura on the list is Taste for Mayhem. Getting 2 power for just one mana is already a great deal, but if you happen to dump your entire hand onto the battlefield, you get to double up on that power boost. That much power for a single mana is unheard of, and it allows the deck to get some insanely fast starts.

Coming in just behind Taste for Mayhem is Furor of the Bitten. It can't give you 4 power, but it does give you an extra 2 toughness, which might be important if your opponent has some creatures of his own. The drawback, if you can even call it that, is that the creature has to attack every turn. Seems to me that something has already gone horribly wrong if you actually don't want to attack in this deck.

Rounding out the one-mana slot is Mob Mentality. It gives your creature trample, which can be extremely important in this sort of deck. It also bring along a bit of extra power, although the ability is a bit esoteric. Since this deck will only have one creature on the battlefield most of the time, you can generally count on it just giving +1/+0 whenever you attack.

Madcap Skills gives you a lot of power for your mana, but the evasion ability is even more important. Aura decks are often stumped by a steady stream of blockers, but with Madcap Skills you'll eat through them twice as fast. It's usually a two-mana Lava Axe at the very least, and in this deck it has the potential to be much more.

Now you'll need some creatures to enchant, preferably ones that are particularly good at taking advantage of awesome Auras. The first card I turned to was Kor Spiritdancer. A staple of Aura decks since it was printed, the Spiritdancer is simultaneously a big body and a massive card advantage machine. With so many cheap Auras in the deck, you can really churn through your library with one of these on the battlefield.

Next, I looked at some more recent Aura-holding specialists. The heroic mechanic from Theros has certainly made waves in Standard, and it certainly plays nice with Auras. Since I wanted this deck to be as fast as possible, I chose Satyr Hoplite and Favored Hoplite to lead the charge.

Since the creatures in this deck lack the protection of hexproof, I wanted a way to deal with any removal spells that might come your way. At first I thought about using something like Gods Willing, but there's a problem with that plan. If your creature is targeted by a red or white removal spell, saving it with Gods Willing will also remove all Auras of that color from the creature. Therefore, I started looking at other options.

Rebuff the Wicked seemed perfect. It can counter an opponent's removal spell without screwing with your Auras. I knew I wanted more than four protective spells in the deck, but Rebuff the Wicked didn't seem to have any analogs that didn't require blue mana. That's when I stumbled upon a card I had all but forgotten: Not of This World. While this deck certainly isn't going to be reaching seven mana in most games, it can absolutely reach 7 power. That makes Not of This World essentially a completely free version of Rebuff the Wicked. Sounds pretty good to me.

All-In Auras

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Linking Life

I wanted to find a way to use Daybreak Coronet that was a bit off-the-wall. This proved to be significantly more difficult than I had imagined. It doesn't actually do anything without other Auras, and the abilities it provides are only relevant in combat…Or are they?

While first strike and vigilance are certainly restricted to attacking and blocking, lifelink is not. Any damage dealt by the creature will give you that much life, regardless of how the creature deals that damage. So, I started building from there. First off, I need a reason to have another Aura on the creature. If I'm messing with lifelink, another Aura that gives lifelink would make sense. Unfortunately, multiple instances of lifelink don't actually do anything. However, that gave me an idea.

While multiple instances of lifelink don't work together, there was a time when lifelink didn't exist. The basic ability existed, but it wasn't a keyword. And more importantly, it was a triggered ability. Older cards like Spirit Link create a trigger whenever the creature deals damage that will cause you to gain that much life when it resolves. Although lifelink (as a keyword) doesn't stack, these abilities do. If you put two copies of Spirit Link on a creature, you'll gain twice as much life when it deal damage. Add a Daybreak Coronet, and you'll get three times the life boost.

Fortunately, there are a few similar Auras the deck can use. Spirit Loop only costs one more mana than Spirit Link, and in exchange it will return to your hand whenever it's put into the graveyard, minimizing the card disadvantage usually associated with Auras. I also added in a few copies of Lifelink. Although it won't work on the same creature as Daybreak Coronet, it will work with either of the other Auras.

So, the deck can now make a creature gain 2 or 3 life for every damage it deals. How do we use that? Well, I wanted to avoid winning through attacking as much as possible, so I turned to activated abilities. Specifically, I turned to Orcish Artillery. Now, Orcish Artillery is not a very good card. It can certainly be useful for clearing out smaller creatures in Limited games, but taking 3 damage for every 2 you dish out is less than ideal.

Fortunately, lifelink changes all that. Attach a couple of these Auras, and suddenly you're gaining 7 life every time you dish out your 2 damage. That's not an insignificant amount, especially if all it requires is tapping a creature. You can even hit your opponent for 2 at the same time.

Redundancy is everything in a deck like this, so I added a few more damage-dealing creatures. Orcish Cannoneers is just a clone of Orcish Artillery, and that's exactly what this deck wants. I also added in Fireslinger and its tribal cousin, Sparksmith. Although they don't dish out nearly as much damage, 3 or 5 life per turn isn't bad either. In addition, all of these damage-dealing creatures can combine to take out anything your opponent might attack with, gaining you life in the process.

Although dealing damage 1 or 2 at a time is one way to win the game, I wanted something a bit faster. Since the deck is built around gaining a bunch of life, Chalice of Life seemed like a perfect fit. It doesn't take much to transform it, and as soon as you do your opponent will only have four turns to live. I also added in a few copies of Test of Endurance. While much harder to activate than the Chalice, it causes you to win the game outright at the beginning of your upkeep, giving your opponent only one turn to find an answer.

Spiritual Artillery

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Day Turns to Night

That's all I've got today, but make sure to look for Modern Masters 2015 Edition to hit store shelves on May 22. If you want to make sure you get your hands on some packs, I'd suggest talking to your store early about reserving product. In the meantime, I'll be back next week with some rather interesting new decks to show off. Daybreak Coronet is a powerful card, so in my next article, I'll be going down to the other end of the spectrum, taking a look at some cards that have never seen tournament play, and likely never will. See ya!

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