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Rogue Report – Untapped Potential

 

This:

Amulet of Vigor

To paraphrase WotC’s Kelly Digges:

“We were worried about this card. Sure we tested it and it wasn’t broken, but we’re still worried.”

And why shouldn’t he be? This cheap artifact easily undercuts one of the most basic drawbacks in the game – coming into play tapped – and it does it so beautifully. You can’t get much cheaper or easier to cast, and there are absolutely no hoops to jump through. Normally I would expect some sort of “tap: untap all cards that came into play tapped this turn” or something like legendary status; anything to make this card awkward. Instead, it’s as straightforward as can be, and I like straightforward.

Speaking of legendary status, I was originally worried about playing this card because of how blank the second copy was. It’s a card you want four of so you can get it as often as possible since your deck is likely built around the card. I was still excited about this card anyway, until somebody pointed out that the second copy actually does do something. In fact, it does a lot of something. Amulet of Vigor is a triggered ability, it doesn’t just stop the permanent from coming into play tapped. That means with two Amulets of Vigor you could play a Savage Lands, for example, untap it with the first trigger, tap it for mana, untap it with the second trigger, then tap it for mana again. Each subsequent Amulet actually generates mana. That’s so incredible.

So is this card something to worry about? Let’s take a quick look at the banned cards in Extended:

 

That’s right – not only do they all cost one mana, like Amulet of Vigor, but three of them are one mana artifacts. That doesn’t mean all one mana artifacts are broken (like, oh I don’t know, Lantern of Insight) but that does mean that one mana artifacts are something to watch. The reason I’m watching Amulet of Vigor is because of how straightforward, no strings attached it is. This card does its job and does it well with no drawback.

Standard Application

A quick search of “battlefield tapped” will tell you every card in Standard that can be untapped with Amulet of Vigor. Almost all of the results have to do with lands that enter the battlefield tapped, or cards that search for lands and put them into play tapped, and I’m fine with that. Essentially you’ve got lands that make mana, lands that are mini-spells, and manlands.

One direction I’m not heading today but that looked awesome to me when I saw it was with Borderposts. It was a Time Sieve deck that would Open the Vaults to generate a ton of mana with multiple borderposts and Amulet of Vigors. The extra mana helped the deck keep going. Though I’m not sure the loss of one of the cantripping artifacts, Elsewhere Flask, can really be overcome, this deck is worth looking into.

The direction I did go was immediately to Kabira Crossroads. I love that land and Amulet of Vigor would give me an excuse to play it. I could picture myself playing essentially a Plains that also gained me two life (and sometimes made more than one mana) and I loved the idea. I looked for the other best lands and found two great ones in Worldwake: Halimar Depths and Khalni Garden.

Khalni Garden is often like a better Kabira Crossroads because it usually blocks three or more power. What I really like about the Garden how it interfaced with planeswalkers. Normally there’s a certain rhythm with planeswalkers where you can set them up in the first couple of turns and then play them. Sometimes your opponent will have the removal spell to push their guys through and kill the planeswalker, but with Khalni Garden it gives you a whole new blocker but keeps you on the same schedule. As long as you can manage the land coming into play tapped, that is.

Halimar Depths has been great with the saclands, not to mention Treasure Hunt. While other decks are hunting for small treasure just for some extra value we’re looting entire pyramids. Halimar Depths, Treasure Hunt, and Jace the Mindsculptor has been my most common way to start a deck these days.

Once in Bant colors, the best (in my opinion) manland becomes available: Celestial Colonnade. Stirring Wildwood also looks good so I’ve been trying both out, but Celestial Colonnade has been great so far. Here’s the Bantland deck I’ve been messing around with in Standard.

I was really impressed with this engine right off the bat. The combination of Lotus Cobra, Explore, Treasure Hunt, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Halimar Depths, and Seer’s Sundial has been performing great. Add in some saclands and Amulet of Vigor for lubrication and away you go.

Also, you know how I said that Standard pretty much just had lands to abuse with Amulet of Vigor? There is one spell you can really abuse, however, and that spell is Clarion Ultimatum. My goodness do crazy things happen with that spell. It’s not actually that hard to find the Clarion Ultimatum either, what with Halimar Depths, Jace, and sac lands. Amulet of Vigor, Seer’s Sundial, and Lotus Cobra all work wonders with this spell.

The one problem I’ve been having with the deck is that while the engine I just described has been pretty awesome, the deck has been having trouble closing. I’ve added Baneslayers to try to fight this, but it’s not like they aren’t going to be prepared to deal with that card, and I have no way of stopping them from dealing. I had more planeswalkers for a while with Garruk and Elspeth, each with their own synergies. While a deck full of planeswalkers crushes when they get going, often protecting each other, it’s really hard to come back from behind with a planeswalker. Elspeth comes down, makes a token, then dies to an attack. Baneslayer, on the other hand, can certainly win a game from behind.

Seer’s Sundial is another Worldwake artifact that excites me, and I hope somebody can make it work in Standard. I’ve been having fun with it in limited for sure.

Extended Application

This card could easily have an impact in Extended. It’s one of those cards that scales with the power of the format, so if it ends up not being good enough for Standard that doesn’t mean there isn’t Extended abuse to be had. Right off the bat you’ve got the Ravnica bounce lands which generate a lot of extra mana with the Amulet. It also gives “haste” to something like Boseiju, Who Shelters All. You’ve also got manlands, same as it ever was, and I wonder if a five-color Vivid Creek control deck could find its way out of old Standard and into Extended based off of the Amulet’s speed.

Extended has a really interesting nonland cards that interface well with Amulet of Vigor: Root Maze. Oh man, I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be for your opponent to be playing an entire turn behind, or two if they are playing fetch lands. Meanwhile Root Maze makes all your lands enter the battlefield tapped, which is actually a bonus. Now even basic Plains can generate extra mana from multiple Amulets. If you want to tap more than just lands there’s also Orb of Dreams. I haven’t completely wrapped my head around the Root Maze deck yet, but I’m sure thinking about it.

What I haven’t been able to resist trying is Cloudpost. Man oh man. Can you imagine playing your third Cloudpost with two Amulets in play? Urzatron has fallen out of favor in Extended after being hyped before the season kicked off, and part of that might have to do with Ghost Quarter. Cloudpost doesn’t care about specifics, just quantity, and that’s where Vesuva and Tolaria West come in. Maybe with the extra kick of the Amulet the big-colorless mana deck can come back. Here’s the list I’ve been trying:

I based the list off of last year’s UW and UB Tron lists. The win conditions are basically the same with Sundering Titan, Grim Poppet, and Mindslaver lock. I went with white over black originally because of how sick Decree of Justice is, until an opponent pointed out that the card isn’t actually legal anymore. Oops! Path to Exile is still probably better than the black options, but I wonder if Makeshift Mannequin wouldn’t make the Gifts better.

I’ve also added Trinket Mage because not only does it grab Cloudpost with Expedition Map, but it can tutor up the Amulet. Meanwhile you get to run great bullets like Pithing Needle, Aether Spellbomb, and Chalice of the Void, not to mention the fact that he can grab a land. I also added one Thopter Foundry and one Sword of the Meek because that’s all the rage these days. Actually the deck does well in the Thopter Sword war because of how much extra mana it generates.

The deck is ok when you have a Cloudpost in your opening hand, but Vesuva is a little weak when it’s your first land. The deck can be a bit of a rocky ride right now, but I really like what I see when it is working. Accelerating out a huge Sundering Titan is devastating to most decks. It feels good to cast a signet again I’ll tell you that.

Time is Running Out

Two weeks till Oakland and there are still things to be tested! It’s too bad Worldwake won’t be out on Magic Online until after the Grand Prix, but I guess that gives the deckbuilders out there a chance to brew something new before the Internet takes over. I’m excited to see what the weekend brings. Until then, happy untapping.

Thanks for reading,

Jonathon Loucks
Loucksj at gmail
JonLoucks on twitter
Zygonn on Magic Online

21 thoughts on “Rogue Report – Untapped Potential”

  1. usually i enjoy your articles, but this one i found myself skipping through because i felt like i had already read it. more than once.

    I completely agree though that this artifact is sick. but i highly doubt it will ever be banned or restricted.

    however it and terra eternal will be what makes a standard manland deck happen.

  2. I think the way it works is that it comes into play, untaps once, you skip your next turn, untaps again, remove the counter and take another turn. Except that when you go to take your other turn, you’ve still skipped your next turn, so that turn is skipped. Essentially nothing happens.

  3. You need a Rings of Brightheart to go Infinite with Magosi, The Waterveil & Amulet of Vigor. Skip a turn, Take 2 extra= Take infinite turns one at a time.

  4. Okay, now Clarion Ultimatum generates net mana with either Lotus Cobra OR Amulet of Vigor. It’s slowly getting there…wherever “there” is.

  5. Yeah, you have to remove a counter from magosi to take another turn, it just being untapped isn’t enough.

    That deck looks intriguing though.

    Let’s imagine some clarions:
    amulet + cobra + 3 tapped lands = 6 amulet mana + 6 from the cobra.

    What can you do with that?

  6. I played an interesting deck online with Amulet and the Karoo-lands. It ran this and attempted to combo out with mana. So if you can pair this, Summer Bloom, Heartbeat of Spring, and some Blue spells, you have the potential for a combo deck.

  7. “If you somehow activate Magosi’s third and fourth abilities during the same turn, the effects will cancel each other out. The turn you skip is the next one you would take, which is the turn created by Magosi’s fourth ability. It doesn’t matter in which order the abilities resolved.”

  8. As already mentioned, Rings of Brighthearth is necessary for Magosi & Amulet of Vigor to do anything productive (other than using up spare blue mana, of course).

    With 2x Amulet of Vigor & Rings of Brighthearth, Magosi reads : “3U, T: Take an extra turn after this one. Return Magosi, the Waterveil to its owner’s hand.”

    …So, good enough for Extended?

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  10. When I saw Amulet of Vigor for the first time, I had the same thought as you: “this thing can/will be abused.” The question is how, and when. I like your deck ideas and they’re heading the right direction. I also liked the Magosi idea.

    The 2x Amulet of Vigor, Rings of Brighthearth and Magosi combo works…the question is how efficiently could you get it out there?

    What about a bant deck that ran knight of the reliquary, tezzeret, and trinket mage, cards already considered useful? Thopter/sword combo would fit right into it also, and have synergy with the amulet (extra mana), and give you a nice win con with your infinite turns. I think lotus cobra fits in there somewhere…

  11. Concerning the standard application, have you considered using Sphinx of Jwar Isle as your finisher instead of baneslayer? Your opponent is liable to be saving all their removal for your first unshrouded creature, so baneslayer is very likely to get hit with something. You could hope that someone aims removal at the cobras, but the smart people won’t.

    I’m not so sure about your standard application of this card so far. The idea of using multiples to turn ETBT lands into fast mana is sick, but… I’m not sure if it is fair compensation for having to play a card that otherwise doesn’t do much.

    The core question is, these tricks are cool, but are they worth a card? I have a feeling, eventually, you’ll find your awesome broken trick and it will be, but right now, I don’t think we are there yet.

  12. So far in testing Amulet+Windbrisk Heights has been a huge success. Ruin Ghost works well with the Amulet as well.

  13. * If you control more than one Amulet of Vigor, each Amulet’s ability triggers when a permanent enters the battlefield tapped and under your control. The first ability that resolves will untap that permanent. If the permanent somehow becomes tapped again before the next ability resolves, the next ability will untap it as well (and so on). next ability will untap it as well (and so on).* For Amulet of Vigor’s ability to trigger, a permanent must enter the battlefield tapped due permanent must enter the battlefield tapped due an effect that says “put [the permanent] onto the battlefield tapped,” “[this permanent] enters the battlefield tapped,” or the like. If it enters the battlefield untapped, the ability won’t trigger, eve if you tap that permanent afterward.

  14. I agree with Neal. The ability is only when it enters the battlefield tapped. So if you tap a land for mana, you can’t untap it again because that tap wasn’t coming into the battlefield.

  15. Ever since I saw this card, I’ve been feverishly working to make an extended Bant deck utilizing Magosi, Rings of Brighthearth, and Amulet of Vigor with support from ‘Goyf, Trinket Mage, and Eternal Witness… It probably won’t work, but it looks like it has great potential =D

  16. That’s not what Neil said. 2x Amulet does allow you to make extra mana. For example, Savage Lands comes into play tapped so BOTH amulet abilities trigger. One resovles, tap for mana, the second resolves and untaps the land. The fact that you have tapped it for mana is of no consequence because the ability simply states “Untap this permanent.” Both abilities were triggered by the “comes into play tapped” language but when they resolve they untap the permanent regardless of other circumstances.

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