Last week for my mailbag article, I was asked what, if anything, should be banned or unbanned in Modern. This was part of my response:
“In the future, I also expect to see something like Street Wraith banned as Death’s Shadow is starting to breach the point of too broken. For now, I think Shadow is perfectly fine, but it wouldn’t be hard to see a new card printed that breaks the deck fully in half.”
Before I get into it, I am not sure if this is the card that does it, but I believe it might just have the power to do so.
Claim // Fame is an unholy union of Unearth and Reckless Charge. It provides a new wrinkle in the Death’s Shadow deck that invariably changes how you have to play against it. While Claim has no effect on Gurmag Angler or Tasigur, being able to rebuy Death’s Shadow or even Snapcaster Mage gives the deck even more game to grind enabling it to beat a ton of removal. Fame can allow for a Sneak Attack-esque finish to a game, and with it hanging out in the graveyard it changes what an opponent can attack with. It’s hard to leave yourself potentially dead on board to an opponent drawing a creature or hitting Claim // Fame with a Shadow in the yard.
Let’s look at a couple decklists to see how Claim to Fame could fit in.
While I’m not 100% on exact numbers, I’m interested in playing around with these list to see how many copies of Claim // Fame I can fit in. Although Grixis has all but usurped the Delirium version’s top spot, it’s possible Claim // Fame breathes new life into the tossed aside archetype. Despite Goyf eating most removal spells, being able to effectively run copies five and six allows for some more play throughout a game. In Grixis being able to resurrect a Snapcaster Mage can allow for easy grinding in the late game.
As an aside, you may have noticed I have a Tombstalker in my Grixis Shadow list over an Angler. This is a response to a format where players are building their decks to be able to gum up the ground or fly over ground creatures. While Tombstalker ends up costing an extra mana, the ability to fly over a gummed up ground or protect yourself in the air makes this a welcome cost.
So to get to the obvious question: What is Claim // Fame doing better than Kolaghan’s Command? The answer is not so simple.
Claim // Fame is incredibly mana efficient, which is often paramount. Being able to reanimate a Death’s Shadow and keep up Stubborn Denial or even Kolaghan’s Command offers a lot of flexibility in a wide range of situations. However, although efficient, Claim // Fame doesn’t offer the same flexibility that Kolaghan’s Command does, which is one of the reasons it’s become such a Modern staple in the first place.
There’s also a potential for a kind of combo finish with Claim // Fame. Giving a creature +2/+0 and Haste can lead to some fast kills out of nowhere. If your opponent makes an attack to put you dead on board, they could potentially wind up pretty dead themselves. Cards like Temur Battle Rage could also potentially work their way back into variants as a way to have a combo-centric game play. While the combo itself is a little weak, I still expect this Unearth variant to make waves in Modern. While I’m not rushing to replace my Kolaghan’s Commands with Claim // Fame entirely, I am looking to work in a few copies for some added punch and maybe a few surprise wins.
I can also see Claim // Fame making its way into several other decks across Modern. Let’s take a look at some of these decks and where the card might fit in.
Claim // Fame might seem out of place in Dredge, but I think it might have a lot of subtle uses here. One of the powerful strategies of the deck is using either Bloodghast or Narcomoeba to trigger Prized Amalgam and Claim // Fame gives the deck another option for putting a creature back into play from the ‘yard. In addition to buying back a blocker in the form of the Narcomoeba, you can also revive an Insolent Neonate to give yourself even more draws and dredges into the late game.
Aftermath cards are also fine to Dredge over since the other half can occasionally be useful. Turning Narcomoeba into a Lightning Bolt can finish off an opponent or give the added reach needed to kill with a Conflagrate. While the Fame half is a little lackluster overall, the Claim front half can provide some serious dependability to resurrecting Amalgams, which are important to have as many ways to trigger as possible.
It could be just as likely that it’s not needed in the deck, although I’d certainly like to test it.
The next deck I’m interested in Modern for trying out Claim // Fame is good old Jund. Featuring such hits as Dark Confidant (which always seems to die), Tarmogoyf, and Scavenging Ooze, Claim will always be a welcome addition. Taking three damage off this card for a Confidant trigger can be miserable, but is not the worst thing in the world.
Jund thrives on being able to grind out any opponent and Claim // Fame gives the deck an opportunity to be able to trade creatures more often or be able to eat a removal spell and keep pushing through. While Path to Exile remains a good, preemptive answer to cards like this, it is one of the removal spells that isn’t played as much in Modern as perhaps it should be.
No matter what archetype you decide to play, Claim // Fame seems like it could fit into a wide variety of strategies and feels like the powerful kind of card Modern craves.
But what about Standard?
What about Standard? This is a Modern article.
Nothing better than getting aggressive and this deck puts your opponent on the back foot. It has a great way to not only crash through the opponent quickly, it is also able to play a long game between Claim // Fame, Chandra, and the Eternalize creatures so you’re unlikely to run out of gas. With Marvel out of the picture it’s a whole new world, and just like Aladdin, I’m looking forward to this magic carpet ride.
While I am pretty unlikely to be at the Invitational I am looking forward to the next time I get to play some Standard and Modern. Perhaps I’ll be making my Claim // Fame…
Thanks for reading.