One Card Enables It All!
Happy New Year to everyone and happy spoiler season to you too!
For Aether Revolt, we have only 1 week of preview period which is shorter than what we used to have (2 weeks). However, that means we will have lots of cards previewed during each of those days, making it a very exciting time. At the time of writing, there is one particular card which caught my eye.
Chord of Calling has a long history being a powerhouse since it was printed. Tutoring effects with a mana reduction ability an is extremely powerful tool to enable different types of decks. From the looks of it, Whir of Invention might be quite impactful.
Improvise looks like a fixed version of Affinity to me.
In the olden days, we can summon multiple Frogmites and Myr Enforcers as quickly as turn 2 and benefit from "gaining" over ten mana thanks to the cost reduction. Even if we assume that each card are over-costed by 2 mana, you are still netting at least 6 mana by turn 2. This is why Affinity is one of the most broken mechanics in Magic History.
For Improvise cards, each artifact can only help paying the cost once per turn. If it is an creature, tapping it down cost at least a combat phrase. The mana reducing is not as free as how affinity does.
On the other hand, it also seems like a fixed version of Convoke. It is mainly because the colored mana cost cannot be reduced. There is no way for the card being reduced to zero mana like Chord of Calling with the exception of Improvise artifacts.
Whir of Invention’s triple blue cost suffers from this constraint. If you would like to cast Whir of Invention consistently, you almost need to be in mono Blue, arguably the weakest color in Modern. Yet, I still think there is enough way to abuse the card.
In my opinion, there are 2 types of artifacts worth tutoring for and those are game-winning artifacts or solutions. Luckily, Modern is a format full of such cards. Shall we explore some of them together?
Although Lotus Bloom has no mana cost on it, its converted mana cost is actually zero. We can search out Lotus Bloom by turn 3 without the help of other artifacts. The first application that comes to me is Ad Nauseam.
Ad Nauseam has a reasonable mana base to support triple blue by turn 3 thanks to the blue scry lands and fast lands. The main problem of Ad Nauseam is not being able finding both combo pieces. While Whir of Invention can only help you out with fast mana, there is a chance to play a couple of copies as extra Lotus Blooms.
Speaking of searching out Lotus Bloom, how can we forget one of the most miserable deck to play against?
Eggs (Sample Deck) (Modern - Others)
Modern by Lee Shi Tian
Pairing Whir of Invention with Reshape gives us 8 ways to cheat Lotus Bloom into play by turn 3. Although Second Sunrise is banned in Modern, we can still have Open the Vaults to take its place if we can assemble double Lotus Bloom. You can always get Lotus Bloom by the end of turn 3 and Reshape into another Lotus Bloom to combo off by turn 4.
Although R&D may not want Eggs to be a top tier deck (trust me, you do not want to play the mirror match), I think there is a high chance Whir of Invention can turn Eggs into a serious contender in Modern.
You could cantrip all the Chromatic Spheres and Chromatic Stars endlessly to try and dig for it but by the time you find Krark-Clan Ironworks, you've already used up your artifact resources on board and may be unable able to go off at that point.
Reshape cannot be used as a tutor as there is no way to cheat on mana and we have to actually pay 6 mana for it. Now with Improvise on Whir of Invention, it will become very castable. By the time Krark-Clan Ironworks comes into play, we can still sacrifice the tapped artifacts to generate extra mana and continue combo-ing off!
The Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek combo has been quiet since the unbanning of Sword of the Meek. The main reason is the combo does not really stack up well with the speed of the format. While control is deemed to be bad in the format, the main reason is due to the fact that there are no fast win conditions.
Although the combo does not look like a solution, it does stop fair decks such as Burn or Jund. This is why I classify the combo as a solution instead of game-winning artifacts as the combo does not contribute instant win.
I think Whir of Invention could help the combo in a Tezzerator-styled control deck. Whir of Invention is multi-functional in such a shell, where it can tutor for both solutions to stabilise the board, as well as win conditions when required.
You can find Mox Opal to gain mana. You can get Ensnaring Bridge to stop aggression. You can get the missing piece of the Thopter/Sword combo as a win condition. The fact that Whir of Invention is an instant makes it even more versatile.
Here is a list of solutions I considered worth tutoring in the format:
And do you know what deck plays a lot of these cards?
Lantern Control (Modern - Others)
Modern by Simon Nielsen
1 Aether Hub
4 Blooming Marsh
2 Botanical Sanctum
1 Darkslick Shores
1 Ghost Quarter
2 Inventors' Fair
3 Glint-Nest Crane
Oh, but the mana base cannot support triple blue? How about if we play the "new Glimmervoid"?
I hope these ideas can provide some direction in aiding us to break Whir of Invention. Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of decklists at the moment as I will be focusing on brewing with Standard as Pro Tour Aether Revolt is soon arriving. Yet, Modern is always my favorite format and I would love to work on breaking it again when I have some time to spare.