Welcome back to another edition of The Rogue Report everybody, I’m Cody, and this week we have a pleasant surprise. I decided in celebration of the current Pro Tour in Bilbao, Spain that I would like to explore a more competitive off-beat strategy. Luckily enough, I have contact with a Canadian player, Edgar Magalhaes who plays Amulet Titan religiously and as I write these very words he is tearing it up on the big stage!
Let’s take a look at Edgar’s list which he was more than comfortable sharing with me, even during his current run at the PT;
1x Bojuka Bog
1x Boros Garrison
2x Cavern of Souls
4x Gemstone Mine
2x Grove of the Burnwillows
3x Gruul Turf
1x Khalni Garden
1x Radiant Fountain
1x Selesnya Sanctuary
4x Simic Growth Chamber
1x Slayers’ Stronghold
1x Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
3x Tolaria West
1x Hive Mind
Edgar was able to take time out of his busy trip to answer a few questions about the deck and it’s development.
This is Edgar’s 4th Pro Tour appearance. He has 3 GP Top 8’s under his belt and also won an MTGO PTQ. Currently at bronze level Pro status, Edgar has also achieved a handful of GP cash finishes.
Q1 – Why Amulet on the big stage? What draws you to this deck?
A – At this point, I’m kind of just in love with the deck. It’s by far the most fun deck I’ve ever played and challenges me to this day even though I have played it so much. Many games are unique and there are many intricate sequences .
Q2. This deck hasn’t been particularly popular these days since the banning of Summer Bloom. What do you think keeps others from playing it now?
A – I think a lot of it comes from the stigma of the banning, combined with the difficulty of the deck. Back when Summer Bloom was legal there was a good reason for the pros to play it, it was completely broken. Now, people tend to be dismissive of it because they just assume it is unplayable and aren’t willing to put the time in to learn how to play it well. Look at how many decks survived a banning in modern and are still playable like Storm, Jund, etc. No one bats an eye at those.
Q3 – In terms of skill level, how taxing is amulet on the pilot? It seems a lot of players get the impression it is a very difficult deck to play, let alone play well.
A- It’s by far the most difficult deck I have ever played. There are so many different lines you can take, tutor decisions, selections off of Ancient Stirrings, etc. Often within the first few turns you can make a dozen decisions that could all possibly punish you. Sometimes you play a Gemstone Mine instead of a different land and you run out of counters 5 turns later. Sometimes you play a bounce land and then draw an Amulet of Vigor and can’t generate the necessary mana. Every game is a puzzle, and often you can play in such a way to not give your opponent an opportunity to stop what you are doing, but you have to balance all you mana, tutors and land drops, as well as what they could possibly do to interact. It’s just about finding the solution.
Q4 – You’re very open and willing to share your list (pre-PT) with me. Is there zero merit in masking your selection until the tournament happens?
A – The deck doesn’t change that much week to week. The cards I’m most likely to change are the green creature Summoner’s Pact targets and the location and number of certain lands in the 75, both depending on the decks I expect to play against. Obviously I lose some edge if people know I’m on the deck, but in the Toronto area basically everyone knows at this point and it doesn’t really stop me. Besides some dedicated hate cards it’s more about how they play the games themselves.
Q5 – What is your personal favorite feature of the deck? Are there any lesser-known interactions that come up?
A – My favorite feature is by far the squadron-titan mode of the deck. People underestimate the fact that this deck has one of the best late games in the format. Since Primeval Titan can tutor up Tolaria West and Simic Growth Chamber to tutor up a Summoner’s Pact, every Primeval Titan basically tutors up another, leaving removal basically useless.Q6 – How long have you been playing this deck? How has it changed over time?
A – I’ve been playing the deck since the banning of Birthing Pod, so about 3 years now. There was a period of time, about a year or so, after Summer Bloom got banned where I didn’t play the deck at all. Like everyone else, I thought the deck had died for good. It wasn’t until I saw a list with Sakura-Tribe Scout where I decided to revisit it and I’ve basically been working on the deck since. The original new list had some stinkers like Lotus Cobra and Batterskull, but it got refined to just playing Explores to bridge the gap to Primeval Titan.
Q7 – What decks do you expect to see in the Modern portion of the tournament? What do you think will be most prevalent? Any sleeper decks on the horizon?
A – I wish i knew [lol]. I think the pros will want to play the top decks and shy away from trying to snipe the meta with an off-the-wall deck. So, I think it will be a regular diverse meta but just less likely to play against a rogue deck and more likely to play against Death’s Shadow/Storm/etc. If I had to pick a sleeper I would say the Hollow One deck. It has a pretty good match-up vs. some top decks and it could break out.
Q8 – Any tips for others playing the deck? Usual tech vs. specific match ups?
A – Count your mana, try to figure out what the most amount you can produce in a turn is and then what you can do with that. Against decks with heavy removal, it is almost always better to tutor up another Primeval Titan than to risk attacking and losing your only threat. Remember that you can activate Sakura-Tribe Scout at instant speed. This lets you do some shenanigans with instant speed Bojuka Bog, Khalni Garden, or even a bounce-land to protect your lands from land destruction. There are so many small interactions with the deck that you kinda just need to play it and get punished a few times so you can learn how to best do it next time .
Bonus question – who has the best facial hair on the pro tour?
Pascal Maynard has a pretty sick beard. Maybe David Ochoa when he waxes his ‘stache.
From here we’ll use the 6 mana to cast Primeval Titan. Primeval Titan will trigger and the lands to search for are Boros Garrison and Slayers’ Stronghold. This allows you to tap Boros Garrison twice, and activate Slayers’ Stronghold twice, making Primeval Titan a 10/6 vigilance, haste until the end of turn. When Primeval Titan attacks, trigger again, go and grab Vesuva (copying Boros Garrison) and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion, which allows us to tap the Vesuva twice and activate Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion. This will result in a double-striking 10/6 Primeval Titan that your opponent is SURE to appreciate being smacked by on turn 2.
As you can see, the deck is definitely not an easy one to understand. There are many intricate interactions as Edgar stated and it takes a lot of work to get proficient at.
As I wrote this article Edgar started an impressive streak in Bilbao, currently reaching a 5-1 record. He was able to 3-0 draft with a very cool Polyraptor deck, and is now 2-1 with Amulet in Modern. Holding down 14th place right now.
All the best luck to Edgar, and thanks for the interview!
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