Modern Blooms

Posted in Event Coverage on November 22, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

While Amulet of Vigor and Summer Bloom had it's advocates beforehand, the run of 2014-2015 Rookie of Year Justin Cohen at Pro Tour Fate Reforged put one of Modern's newest dominant decks onto the map.

From that spotlight moment followed a cascade of top players picking it up for a go. Among them included both Tom Martell, United States World Magic Cup team member and multiple Grand Prix winner (included the previous weekend in Atlanta) and tenth-ranked World Magic Cup team captain for Canada Alexander Hayne.

Tom Martell was coming off another Grand Prix victory with one last weekend of high level play before the World Magic Cup.

Alexander Hayne, en route to becoming team captain for Canada at the World Magic Cup, has taken Amulet Bloom to great Grand Prix success.

"When you watch the deck play out it feels very complicated. It's relatively simple but it's all about the interaction between Summer Bloom and a bounce land to get its mana over and over with Amulet of Vigor," Hayne said.

"It's the best deck. It wins on turn two like 30% of the time," Martell added.

"This is my fourth Grand Prix now with the deck," Hayne said. "Since Pro Tour Fate Reforged I played it at every Grand Prix. I considered it for the Pro Tour even but I couldn't convince anyone on my team and I couldn't put the deck together."

"I've kept playing it because it's really fun to play. I have like an 80% win rate with it across three Grand Prix and I'm still undefeated here." Hayne said. "I think it's the best deck on Modern."

"The new mulligan rule with scry makes it even better: You mulligan a lot with the deck trying to find optimal hands, with Amulet of Vigor or Summer Bloom. You're always trying to assemble a few pieces together," Hayne said. "When you mulligan to six and keep a hand with two pieces you get to scry and plan out your next turns."

So what goes into trying to learn the deck? "It's a lot of trial and error; a lot of lines to figure out," Martell said. "You have to figure out what you need to do."

While Martell had tested the deck extensively with Magic Online, Hayne picked things up with paper. "My first physical playing with the deck was testing the Top 8 of that Pro Tour," Hayne said, referring to playing as Eric Froehlich's "opponent" over Saturday night. "I think it's overrated how hard it is to play. There's like 10% of games that are hard, but like 90% of the games aren't if you know which hands to keep and how to sequence your lands."

Hayne, having looked at the before it's breakthrough event, was an acolyte of sharing it with teammates. "I've recommended it to a lot of teammates and a lot have asked me about it," Hayne admitted. "I've been the one with the most success. Pretty much everyone I've recommended it to has picked it up and done well. Some are still undefeated here today – Mike Sigrist for example." Seventh-ranked Sigrist would go on to take a loss on Day 1, but he did lock into Day 2 by the end of round 7.

While the main interactions that make the deck powerful are known, learning the deck is much more than that. Both Martell and Hayne had some insight into the corners of what the deck could offer.

"If you haven't played your land for the turn, you can cast a Primeval Titan to get a bounceland to 'untap' a land like Ghost Quarter so you don't lose to Inkmoth Nexus," Martell said. "Getting a bounce land and replaying the land you bounce isn't always intuitive."

"One thing to know is that with multiple Amulets in play let you bypass playing Summer Bloom," Hayne said. "It enables really powerful things like turn one Amulet of Vigor, turn two Amulet and a bounce land puts you up to six mana, then you can cast Primeval Titan then untap and give double strike with Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and Slayers' Stronghold. You can deal like 40 damage right there."


What's another important trick that players may not realize upfront? "Every Primeval Titan finds another with Tolaria West and a bounceland – you find a Summoner's Pact by transmuting, and it chains from there," Hayne added.

Of course, playing the deck well also means knowing what can fight it. Hayne and Martell know what they were looking out for.

"You counter the Primeval Titans," Martell shared. "There's aren't a lot of subtle lines of play to take. You can't interact with their game plan when their transmuting Tolaria West. When they're going off if you can use Ghost Quarter it's really relevant, like in response to an Amulet of Vigor trigger for a bounce land to stop them from getting mana or a Slayers' Stronghold to prevent them from getting haste."

"With Thoughtsiezes and other discard they take the wrong card. Summer Bloom is the most important card in the deck," Hayne said. "Bloom by itself with a bunch of bounce lands still lets you play a second or third turn Primeval Titan. People are fighting over the Amulet of Vigors when they should be fighting over the Summer Blooms."

"Also, people overvalue destroying one of your lands," Hayne continued. "With Fulminator Mage people often blow up a land right away. You should keep it in play and hold it to destroy a bounce land or something else right before it untaps with Amulet of Vigor."

There was one last tidbit offered too. "I think it's a very powerful deck. It's fun to play but maybe not so much for opponents," Hayne said with a laugh. "But you need to learn to shuffle quickly: You search your library a lot, and you may even want extra sets of sleeves since you wear them out fast."

With plenty of players positioned well for a Top 8 run with Amulet Bloom it was clear even if it wasn't the case it wouldn't be the last time you could expect to see the powerful deck.

Tom Martell — Amulet Bloom

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Alexander Hayne — Amulet Bloom

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