Hypothetically Modern: Exploration

Wizards elected to have a targeted ban against Amulet Bloom recently. Would Exploration break it again?

Hypothetically Modern History
The Premise
Vindicate
Scourge of Nel Toth
Dark Depths

Hypothetically Modern returns to take a look at another card and what would happen if it were added to the modern format, despite currently not being legal. Exploration is a neat card that generally sees play in EDH or in Legacy Lands decks, but hasn’t been printed recently enough to be legal modern.

Why Exploration?

The banning of Summer Bloom was a big hit to the Amulet Bloom deck, and Exploration would go a long way into powering the deck back up but hopefully not making it oppressive. Double Amulet of Vigor draws become the only way to really murder your opponent super fast, compared to the old turn 2 Amulet -> bounceland -> Summer Bloom -> triple bounceland -> Primeval Titan. Plus, unlike some of the other cards I’ve looked at recently, this one very well may have applications in decks outside of Amulet Exploration (more on this below).

Testing Process

I wasn’t worried about the speed of the deck with goldfishing kills, despite the fact that Summer Bloom was one of the format’s worst offender’s as far as games being over before the other player can do anything. The change to Exploration as opposed to Summer Bloom is pretty massive in slowing the deck down by a full turn with normal draws (normal being having both Exploration and Amulet). Yes, the deck can certainly still kill as fast as turn 2. This, however, is only possible with multiple copies of Amulet.

Creatures (6)
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Primeval Titan

Spells (27)
Amulet of Vigor
Ancient Stirrings
Exploration
Hive Mind
Pact of Negation
Serum Visions
Slaughter Pact
Sleight of Hand
Summoner’s Pact
Lands (27)
Boros Garrison
Cavern of Souls
Forest
Gemstone Mine
Golgari Rot Far
Gruul Turf
Island
Khalni Garden
Mana Confluence
Radiant Fountain
Selesnya Sanctuary
Simic Growth Chamber
Slayers’ Stronghold
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Tendo Ice Bridge
Tolaria West
Vesuva

I started off running 10 games against Jund, where this version of the deck posted a 60% win rate on both the play and draw. Jund generally won by using Liliana of the Veil to keep Primetime off the board. Many of the cards in the deck were not impressive, however, as Amulet Exploration was just doing more broken things.

Then we ran 10 games against Naya Company. The same record showed up here (60% win rate on play and draw), despite Naya having access to maindeck Qasali Pridemage, Path to Exile, and Dromoka’s Command. The problem was when a Titan came down and Naya couldn’t just get rid of it, the game was basically over. The aggro plan was also disrupted too much by trying to take down Exploration and Amulet of Vigor.

Conclusions

While this deck boasted an impressive 60% win rate game 1 against both Naya Company and Jund, that doesn’t mean that it’s unsafe. Amulet Bloom often was favored game 1 but then lost due to cards like Blood Moon or land destruction. The downgrade to Exploration makes the deck a bit more “fair” in that it generally slows everything down by a full turn. For a pretty much glass cannon combo deck, I think that’s generally fine.

Other Decks

The big bonus if Exploration was added to the card pool is that it could potentially have many applications!

  • A new version of Scapeshift (bet you never saw that coming from me) could be built around it. The problem is that you’d run out of lands in hand far too quickly, but with some changes in the deck this could be mitigated. It would, however, be a ton of work developing an “ideal” list for this deck at this point. Maybe it would give me a reason to dust off those old copies of Courser of Kruphix I have lying around….
  • Life from the Loam would love to play multiple lands per turn, allowing it to Ghost Quarter away more lands or cycle Horizon Canopy to get more lands back for Seismic Assault. Really, the cycling lands help out more for this, but Exploration could be quite beneficial.

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.