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.
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.
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,
Loucksj at gmail
JonLoucks on twitter
Zygonn on Magic Online