Etched in the Sun

Posted in Serious Fun on May 5, 2015

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

For me, Modern Masters is all about the awesome. I've been playing for a little while now, so the cards in the set are reminders of past awesomeness. Many remind me of decks or a type of deck that made you sit up and take notice.

When Blake sent me my preview cards, I definitely sat up and took notice.

Here Come the Suns…

… and I say it's more than all right! For those of you who haven't had the joy of playing All Suns' Dawn, it looks at your graveyard and lets you pick one card of each color out of there to put into your hand. This means that if you are playing a mono-green deck, you can pick any green card that's in your graveyard and put it in your hand. If you have Omnath, Locus of Mana and Akroma, Angel of Wrath in your graveyard, you can get both of them back in your hand. If you have two copies of Dragonlord Dromoka, you can get both of them back in your hand; one of them can be your green card, and the other is the white card. Ideally, you can get five cards from your graveyard to add to your hand. You just need to have five cards that each have at least one of the five colors in Magic in their costs!

The ability to recur cards should not be underestimated. Casual games tend to go long. You can't rely on winning if you plan to use each card only a single time. You want to maximize each card, and one way to do that is to get it out of the graveyard and use it again. All Suns' Dawn does that, and does it in spades.

So many cards can get a card out of a graveyard for you to use, but far fewer get multiple cards out of your graveyard for you all at once. All Suns' Dawn just asks that you embrace the rainbow and play cards of a wider variety of colors!

Obviously, there are downsides. Artifacts—most of them anyway—and Eldrazi are colorless; you can't get these back. You can't get multiple copies of the same card if is just one color, or even more than one card of the same color. All Suns' Dawn is exiled, so you can't get it back either. I know you want everything without restrictions, but this just forces you to think outside the box!

Walkin' on Suns-Shine

So what is the best way to use All Suns' Dawn? There is a part of me that wants to tell you to build a three-color deck and use it there. You can have a mana base that will stay under control and you'll even get three cards back with All Suns' Dawn. You can even cheat and run hybrid or split cards! You could play a mono-green deck, loaded with Armed // Dangerous, Manamorphose, Growing Ranks, Slippery Bogle, and Deathrite Shaman. You could get back five cards with nothing but Forests in your mana base!

I will leave that to you to figure out. I suspect that may prove to be a tricky build. I'll go a little more traditional and opt for a straight five-color build. The mana base will need plenty of help, but I think I've managed to make it all work. You'll be looking to include cards of every color that will end up in the graveyard. Just remember that All Suns' Dawn costs five mana, so you are probably not going to be casting the cards you get back from the graveyard on the same turn…well, not all of them.

The Suns Will Come Out Tomorrow

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The deck leans on Shaman of Forgotten Ways, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Kodama's Reach to find the lands we need. Dragonlord's Servant is there to make the dragons cheaper to cast, while Dragon Arch simply makes all our multicolored cards much easier to cast.

I intentionally chose a suite of dragons that extended over a variety of colors. Being able to find Dromoka as either the green or white card gives us flexibility to find other cards in our graveyard that we need. If we need to counter spells, we can get Mystic Snake, and still get Dragonlord Silumgar. Keeping our options open is critical if we want to maximize All Suns' Dawn.

While All Suns' Dawn is there to retrieve any Dragons that happen to suffer a fatality, I've included a package of cards that are likely to hit the graveyard early. Between the green ramp, the Hero's Downfall, Dragonlord's Servant, Qasali Pridemage, and Mystic Snake, there is something from every color that will likely be available in the graveyard when it comes time for All Suns' Dawn to do its thing.

Ain't No Sunshine when She's Gone

Not every five-color deck needs to include cards with all five colors. Sometimes it is best to just stick to artifacts!

Our Etched friends are back! Following the theme of five-color cards, Etched Oracle and Etched Monstrosity, much like All Suns' Dawn, can be played in a deck that has access to fewer than all five colors of mana, but you really aren't getting the full benefit of the cards if you do that. While each card can do something to let you (or someone else, if you so choose) draw three cards, the similarity ends there.

For those of you who don't remember the metallic plane of Mirrodin, Etched Oracle is the older of the two cards. For four mana, you get a creature that can be as big as 4/4 or die instantly, depending on what mana you used to cast it. The Oracle has sunburst, an ability that gives the card +1/+1 counters for every color of mana used to cast it. So if you tap your mana for white, blue, black, and red, you'll get a 4/4, but if you use white, white, blue, and black mana, you'll get a 3/3. If you use four colorless mana, you weren't paying attention or just really want the card in the graveyard.

Art by Matt Cavotta

The fun part of the Oracle is that you can spend one mana and remove four +1/+1 counters to draw three cards. Basically, if you used four different colors of mana to cast Etched Oracle, you get a bonus. There are plenty of ways to add +1/+1 counters to creatures, so it is certainly possible to start with fewer counters and work your way up to four. You could even get industrious and find ways to add plenty of counters in the hopes of drawing three cards multiple times. If only there was a creature that you could tap to double the number of counters on another creature…

Glasses for an Oracle

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The idea is pretty straightforward: use Vorel of the Hull Clade to double the number of +1/+1 counters on the Etched Oracle. Attack with an 8/8 Oracle, then look at removing counters to draw more cards. Forgotten Ancient always accumulates counters, and the Elemental is happy to share them. Increasing Savagery and Hunger of the Howlpack add to the +1/+1 counter fun. Gyre Sage also likes counters and can really help with the larger mana costs as it gets bigger. Cytospawn Shambler offers trample to all its friends and since the creatures should be getting pretty big, trample is probably a good plan. Chromatic Lantern and the Vivid lands can be used to make all colors of mana, so the Etched Oracle should always start with four counters, even though the deck is only two colors.

Etched Monstrosity works a little differently. For five mana, you get a 5/5 Golem. Technically, it is a 10/10 with five -1/-1 counters, but even if you forget about the rest, that's not too bad! Naturally you want to get rid of those -1/-1 counters, and the easiest way to do that is to use the Monstrosity's ability. Not only do you get a massive 10/10 creature, but you also get to draw three cards!

Serious Vitamin D Deficiency

Most decks I've seen with Etched Monstrosity ignore the draw three card bonus, and just get rid of the -1/-1 counters. Melira, Sylvok Outcast keeps -1/-1 counters off your creatures, so the Etched Monstrosity would come out as a 10/10 for five. While I can see the allure of that—especially when you give it infect so it kills in a single turn—I'm greedy and want it all!

Monsters by Lantern

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The Chromatic Lantern sets up the land to produce all five colors and remove the -1/-1 counters. Since the deck relies heavily on the Lantern and the Etched Monstrosity, you may want to use a Diabolic Tutor to get it or the Monstrosity. The Glistening Oil gives your Monstrosity infect, while Unnatural Predation is there to make sure it isn't stopped by a single 1/1. Wall of Blossoms digs a little deeper into the deck, while Pernicious Deed and Acidic Slime are there to handle the problems your opponents send your way. Hopefully you won't need it, but the Hornet Nest is a further deterrent to others in their attempts to send creatures your way.

Sunrise, Sunrise

I hope all of you enjoyed my preview cards for Modern Masters Week! I hope I've etched into your brain the value of All Suns' Dawn and the variety of it offers! While five color decks aren't always the easiest decks to run, the joy of getting to use the best spells more than makes up for the trials and tribulations of a difficult mana base. It is easy to think of these cards as limited to a small subset of decks, however, with a little ingenuity and creativity, All Sun's Dawn and the Etched Companions can bring plenty of value for a wide variety of decks!

Bruce Richard


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