(Modern) Tech Feature – Fear the Horror

by Francesco Neo Amati


 

I had an epiphany and I’m not turning back…

Wall of Omens vs Spellskite in (Modern) UW Control

Wall of Omens has been a usual suspect for UW since its debut, primarily because of its utility, defense, and value with Restoration Angel, but there’s another 0/4 that may soon be sharing its spotlight, or possibly replacing it altogether.

Spellskite.

wall of omens

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The little horror has been popular lately.  It is now the 2nd most played creature and the 5th most played card in Modern (MTG Goldfish proves it) and it may have found a new best friend (though Omens may be a little jealous):

Restoration Angel.

resto

This relationship is about to get really spicy. Let’s find out why…

First and foremost, Spellskite is a legitimate problem vs several tier 1 archetypes. Whether it’s vs Burn, Infect, Bogles, Twin, Bloom, and even Tron, Spellskite is more disruptive and valuable than Wall of Omens. Aside from being able to redirect removal spells, it has the unique ability to block an Etched Champion (which is quite relevant). Spellskite is extremely useful in any match up that packs heavy removal (especially Junk, Jund, and Grixis), which improves the effectiveness/quality of your other permanents; i.e. Detention Sphere, Swords/Batterskull, Splinter Twin, Vendilion Clique, Restoration Angel, etc.

For reference, let me begin by presenting my most recent version of UW featuring three maindeck Spellskites:

Francesco Neo Amati’s UW Value Control

Creature (16)
3 Kitchen Finks
3 Restoration Angel
3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Sun Titan
2 Aven Mindcensor
1 Vendilion Clique
3 Spellskite

Spells (20)
4 Serum Visions
2 Cryptic Command
2 Detention Sphere
2 Mana Leak
2 Remand
4 Path to Exile
2 Spell Snare
2 Supreme Verdict

Land (24)
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Flooded Strand
4 Ghost Quarter
1 Cavern of Souls
2 Hallowed Fountain
2 Seachrome Coast
4 Island
3 Plains

Sideboard (15)
2 Celestial Purge
2 Negate
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Dispel
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Rest in Peace
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Gideon Jura
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Wrath of God
2 Stony Silence

Restoration Angel + Spellskite = A Disruptive Dynamic

This brings us to Restoration Angel’s interaction. These two have even more game-state viability than Restoration Angel + Wall of Omens. If you manage to blink it, you can potentially ride a Restoration Angel to the red zone, elevating it from a threat to a finisher. Because of the amount of removal present in the format, the value you gain as a counter-strategy via Skite/Resto is game-changing and back-breaking for opposing decks.

When paired, they can nullify a lot of removals and abilities, ultimately providing more stability and value that can outclass Restoration Angel + Wall of Omens in most scenarios. This nifty interaction can disrupt multi-faceted removals like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Electrolyze, or Kolaghan’s Command. The inclusion of Spellskite, especially alongside Restoration Angel, changes the dynamic of the deck and most match ups.

electro kolaghan's ula

Restoration Angel + Spellskite vs Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Speaking of Ulamog, I recently shared how Spellskite + Restoration can help you protect 2 permanents from being exiled.

I don’t know how often this is going to happen, but it’s worth understanding how this complex interaction works and how the stack works and how triggers are being utilized in this scenario.

The sequence is as follows:

  1. Opponent casts Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and declares which 2 permanents to exile.
  2. In response, you redirect the first exile target to Spellskite.
  3. Priority passes, then comes back to you.
  4. Restoration Angel blinks Spellskite.
  5. Restoration Angel’s trigger resolves and Spellskite re-enters the battlefield.
  6. Redirect second exile to Spellskite as it is now a ‘new’ target.
  7. Assuming there are no other actions, the first exile fizzles as it fails to find a target.
  8. The second target is legal and exiles the ‘new’ Spellskite.

This works because it essentially gives you 2 unique Spellskite that Ulamog’s ability, and the game state, sees as 2 separate targets.

All of this can be done with a minimum of 4 mana for Restoration Angel and 4 Life (2 for each Spellskite trigger). Of course you can do the same with Cloudshift…but it’s no Restoration Angel.

Restoration Angel + Spellskite may not be best answer, but it’s a feasible, and clever, option to protect 2 permanents from being exiled. This also works with Electrolyze, Forked Bolt, and any other ability that has multiple targets.

Note: UW can ‘deal’ with Ulamog via Cryptic Command, Bribery, Trickbind, Path to Exile, Meddling Mage, and Nevermore. Unfortunately, these options don’t really solve the problem, but they can help minimize its impact.

Damn you, Ulamog.

Fear the Horror

Other compelling synergies for Spellskite in UW include wielding Swords (Fire and Ice, Feast and Famine), “jumping” with Elspeth, Knight-Errant, or reanimating with Ojutai’s Command, Reveillark, and Sun Titan.

A split between Spellskite and Wall of Omens would be fine as well, but I’m convinced Spellskite needs to be in the main of UW to give us a better game 1 vs a majority of the field and to protect our threats from a wide array of removals and abilities in the format.

To make up for the lack of Omens, I feel that Serum Visions is better for the deck. It costs 1 less mana, it filters your draws, and can be reused with Snapcaster Mage. Ultimately, I believe Wall of Omens, though solid, has been a trap for UW, leaving its better option in the shadows.

serum

Overall, I feel more confident resolving it in Modern than Wall of Omens, or most 2 drops for that matter. It’s undeniably one of the best and most versatile cards in the game.

Spellskite may very well change the face and tier status of UW, and other archetypes, in the format.

For more on competitive UWx Control and my UW deck, follow my UWx Control community on Facebook here.

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