Bedlam Ascension

Welcome back. Today I want to share with you a new Modern brew I have been working on. It’s built around some of my favorite things to do in Magic: drawing cards and killing all your opponent’s creatures. Lets get into it.

When Eldritch Moon was spoiled, most people were hyped about Emrakul, the Promised End. That’s understandable, but personally I was way more excited for this card.

When everyone else was busy playing Collected Company in Standard, I was at work building around Bedlam Reveler. Most of my decks featured Thermo-Alchemist, Madness spells and tended to be be paired with either Blue or Black. The Black-Red variants were particularly successful and demonstrated how powerful Bedlam Reveler can be when paired with undercosted spells like Collective Brutality.

There must just be something about drawing 3 cards that I love because I’m eager to try out this bad boy in Modern.

Now Bedlam Reveler isn’t just going to give you those 3 cards for free. If we are going to make a Reveler-fueled archetype work in Modern we are going to need a lot of cheap spells. Lightning Bolt is an obvious choice. Like my Standard experimentation, the next salient question became, “What color do I pair Red with?”

Blue might seem like the natural first step. Cards like Thought Scour, Serum Visions and other traditional, cheap, card-filtering spells let us fill up the graveyard while keeping our hand full. Ultimately though, in a world where Death’s Shadow runs rampant, there are some big reasons to be Black instead. For example, cheap countermagic such as Remand is badly positioned at the moment. It lines up poorly against both discard spells and 1-mana 13/13s, which is not an ideal spot to be. Black disruption and removal on the other hand seems much more appealing and should allow us to play a lower curve.

Okay. So our deck is going to have a lot of spells and a huge top end threat. What else to add? Young Pyromancer plays well with both, generating advantage early on, taxing the opponent on removal and adding another angle of attack to the deck. Bedlam Reveler is resilient against sweepers while Young Pyromancer is strong against spot removal.

Now we have our two threats that attack from different angles and a whole bunch of cheap, interactive spells to enable them. The problem with so many cheap spells is sometimes they don’t scale so well with the game. Enter Pyromancer Ascension.

Running this enchantment in a non-combo focused deck is a little experimental but in theory works great. Pyromancer Ascension is a non-creature payoff for our spells that can be a real win condition in the late game. Nevertheless, it has no immediate impact on the board and isn’t a spell itself so playing the full playset seems like a stretch. Three seems like a good place to be.

This is what I arrived at so far.

Bedlam Ascension by Justin Robb

Let’s round out the deck with some strong cards.

Lingering Souls is a light splash that works well with everything we are doing. Creating an army or a string of chump blockers while having synergy with the rest of the deck is sweet. Lingering Souls is well positioned in the meta too, evidenced by even some Death’s Shadows deck splash it as a 4th color! Any fair matchup is going to be considerably easier with one of these in the draw.

Faithless Looting provides synergy with Lingering Souls, fills up the graveyard for Bedlam Reveler and Pyromancer Ascension, is a cheap spell itself and helps avoid flooding out in the late game. Keep in mind that if you flashback a Looting or Lingering Souls it won’t count itself for Pyromancer Ascension if there aren’t any others in the ‘yard. Once the Ascension is active the flashback on these spells starts looking pretty cool though.

As I alluded to earlier, Black disruption is an important part of this deck. This deck is quite heavy on removal so being able to interact with non-creatures, even if just while in the hand, is at a premium. All three of these cards can do that, with each having their particular pluses. Collective Brutality can ditch multiple spells to the graveyard for only 2 mana as well as being basically unbeatable when playing Burn. I also like how it can convert extra lands or late drawn discard spells into real action. Kolaghan’s Command rounds out the top end of the deck. Rebuying a Bedlam Reveler from the graveyard while forcing the opponent to discard their topdeck is huge late game that might otherwise be lacking. Its possible 3 is too many but I wanted to give the deck a little more game in the slower matchups.

I mentioned earlier how the deck is built around a critical mass of cheap and efficient spells. To help facilitate this, we’re only running 20 lands. This number might be too many but I’m more worried about the low number of white sources. With 4 Lingering Souls as our only maindeck white cards and only the front half needing white it shouldn’t be that much of an issue though.

In the sideboard we have a Platinum Emperion / Madcap Experiment package. Most opponents will not be expecting this sideboard tech and it’s easy enough to steal a game with only a single Madcap Experiment. Against most combo decks it’s a fast clock that you can proactively tap out for and a must-answer for the opponent. Normally I like Platinum Angel over Emperion, but only in decks that can also play Pact of Negation or lean on the mill-out plan the Angel enables. For this deck, I think the Emperion is right. I can’t wait to get one in play against Burn. Just make sure to crack your fetch lands before putting it in play!

Black gives access to any number of graveyard hate spells, a necessary evil in today’s Modern. I have gone with Ravenous Trap as a strong answer to the dedicated combo decks that also counts as a spell for our spells-matter cards. I avoided Nihil Spellbomb, Grafdigger’s Cage and Relic of Progenitus because of the nonbo with much of our deck, not to mention Madcap Experiment. We are weaker to Living End than I would like but it’s hard to have everything.

Against the big mana decks Blood Moon is still one of the best things you can be doing. In a deck with so many discard effects it’s easy to clear a path for the powerful enchantment and take over the game on turn 3. Be aware that there are no basic Plains in the deck so casting Lingering Souls becomes impossible. It shouldn’t be much of an issue as Lingering Souls matchups tend not to be Blood Moon matchups anyway.

There is another Collective Brutality in the sideboard primarily for Burn but it has applications against other decks such as Collected Company. Finally, we have 2 Painful Truths as grind pieces for control decks.

There is still a lot of testing to be done with this deck but I am liking the concept. I’ve yet to determined if Pyromancer Ascension is worth it but I think there is potential. And at the end of the day what can be more fun in modern than killing everything then drawing 3 cards?

Thanks for reading! Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!

Justin Robb
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Justin Robb

Justin Robb hails from Queensland, Australia, so you might see him travelling around the Asian GPs or RPTQs (especially in Japan) as he chases more Pro Tour qualifications. He won GP Brisbane in 2013 with Affinity in Modern, was on the Australian team for World Magic Cup in 2014 and has several other top finishes in constructed formats. Apart from Magic he has a keen interest in technology and how it can change our lives, especially in education.
Justin Robb
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Published:June 13, 2017

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