Welcome to this installation of Treasure Crusin’. This time, Treasure Cruisin’ is not being written by CavalryWolfPack but rather by Ulka. Let’s delve right into it! This time we are setting our sights on a variant of my own brew of one of modern’s most notorious decks: Amulet Titan. Amulet Titan is a deck is named for and based around two cards: Primeval Titan and Amulet of Vigor. The idea of the deck is to make land drops with the Ravinia bounce lands with Amulet of Vigor in play to add the two mana the land creates before it bounces itself to your hand. Most often the deck uses these lands with Azusa, Lost but Seeking to make multiple land drops a turn, each one making multiple mana to then summon in a Primeval Titan, which then fetches lands which can give it haste and double strike so it can then attack for often sixteen points of damage. While this deck is a fast and dangerous combo deck, the deck isn’t the most consistent. It hinges on having an Amulet of Vigor in play to allow the deck to function. My variant turns away from the Ravnica bounce lands and killing directly with the Primeval Titan, and instead focuses on some other land technology Ravnica has provided: Gates.
The deck comes in at $226 US (Editor's Note: prices have change drastically in the time leading up to this article. Please see current pricing), and while that price up front can be daunting, it's very affordable for Modern, especially considering the deck can be upgraded into Amulet Titan over time. While this deck is fun and fairly competitive, it doesn’t put up the results that the true Amulet Titan deck does.
Play lands. Yep, it’s as simple as that. Our deck is built around playing lands, specifically Gates. Yes, the enters the battlefield tapped common bulk that everyone twenty copies of each. Gates, while much worse on the short game than the Ravnica bounce lands, offer us two very powerful things. First, they stick around afterwards, letting us ramp forward more consistently. Second, they have the Gate subtype. Many of our cards check for the Gate subtype such as Gates Ablaze. But before we discuss the spells, we need to focus on the the centerpiece of the deck: the land base.
A typical ramp deck does one of two things: make temporary mana for flashy plays (such as Storm), or it enables large amounts of mana over a slower period (such as Tron). Our deck focuses on the slower side of ramp. We play 28 lands overall, which is on the higher end. We play eleven different named Gates. While we focus on the blue-, red-, and green-producing Gates, we play multiples of each gates to fuel our primary wincon: Maze's End. Maze’s End specifically counts if there are ten Gates with different names on the battlefield after its fetching ability resolves. We play eleven different Gates so that we can ensure when we activate the Maze’s ability, we can afford to have a land destroyed.
In addition to our four Maze's End and twenty Gate cards, we play four basic lands: three Forests and one Island. We run a few basics because, as Cav has brought to many people’s attention in previous articles, Blood Moon is a card. These basics also allow our deck to play our key three-drop spells on Turn 3 if we make a basic our third land drop.
The only one-of gates in our deck are Orzhov Guildgate, Rakdos Guildgate, and Gateway Plaza. With the first two, we don’t actually need black or white mana. As for Gateway Plaza, while it is a Gate, it requires us to pay a mana for it when it enters the battlefield, which we sometimes can’t do.
Our creatures mirror the usual Amulet Titan deck’s. Sakura-Tribe Scout and Azusa, Lost but Seeking both come from Amulet Titan. They both allow us to put multiple Gates into play on a single turn, which our deck needs. We need to hit eleven lands in play to win the game, so getting there as fast as possible is key. Sakura-Tribe Scout gives us the early ramping potential. In the late game, it also allows us to bring our Maze’s End out at instant speed, dodging sorcery-speed removal. The Scout's converted mana cost of 1 is very important, as without an Amulet of Vigor in play most of green sources can’t play the Sakura-Tribe Scout the turn they come into play. Having a converted mana cost of one allows us to play the Scout on turn two and still be able to use it effectively.
We have a trio of creatures with a converted mana cost of three. Azusa, as I mentioned before, is one of our key creatures, as she allows us to reliably use Maze’s End to fetch out a Gate and immediately replay the Maze's End. Also costing three mana, Trinket Mage helps us find our Amulet of Vigors and, in a pinch, our Engineered Explosives. After sideboarding, it can also fetch our graveyard hate.
While our primary game plan is to use Maze’s End to win the game, that strategy can be rendered impossible by Pithing Needle or Surgical Extraction. Fortunately, we have a backup plan: Gatebreaker Ram. The Ram is often a 7/7 or larger, which means we most of the time will have the largest creature on the battlefield. The Ram's trample is nice but vigilance is where it really shines. We often are on the back foot in life total and need a way to stop attackers. Gatebreaker Ram does that while also being able to deal a bit of damage.
Our last creature is one of Amulet Titan’s namesake cards: Primeval Titan. Prime Time’s primary role is to fetch up two Gates or a copy of Maze’s End so we can finish out the game. The ability to search both when it enters the battlefield or attacks is huge. If we get to swing with Primeval Titan, we win the game right there. Prime Time’s secondary role is much like Gatebreaker Ram: to provide a back-up win condition through damage if we are unable to win with Maze’s End. A 6/6 body with trample is formidable and will close a game out quickly if left unanswered.
Ancient Stirrings is notorious in Modern for being above the power-level of the banned cantrip spells Ponder and Preordain. In our deck, it allows us to grab a specific gate or an Amulet to start ramping out, both of which are critical to our strategy.
The other namesake of Amulet Titan is the most important card in our deck: Amulet of Vigor. The Amulet untaps any permanent that enters the battlefield tapped. This means our Gates come into play untapped, allowing us to use our lands immediately. If we can get two Amulets out, the untap triggers stack, making it so that each Gate can tap for two mana the turn it enters the battlefield. This also allows us to tap Maze's End for mana followed immediately by searching for a Gate, which can then tap for two mana. Paired with Azusa, we can start chaining gates out of our deck.
Guild Summit is our deck's draw engine. When paired with Azusa or Sakura-Tribe Scout, it can allow us to chain Gates into more Gates, as the draw effect will often get another Gate, as a third of our deck is a Gate. Guild Summit’s other ability is our "Get Out of Jail Free" card. Often standard Amulet Titan decks can run out of gas; Guild Summit, when it enters the battlefield, allows us to tap our unused Gates to draw a card for each Gate tapped. This means late game, if we top deck a Guild Summit we can draw five or more cards, allowing us to get rolling again.
The next spell is Gates Ablaze, or as I affectionately call it, "Anger of the Gates". This is our primary source of removal in the deck, and with twenty Gates in our deck does significant damage. Often we are able to do five damage to all creatures for a mere three mana. This allows us to fend off attackers as long as possible.
We also play a single Engineered Explosives. Sometimes we need to answer a non-creature card such as a Blood Moon or Teferi. As we play all five colors we can easily set our Engineered Explosives up to answer whatever needs answering.
The final piece of the deck is Animist’s Awakening. Animist's Awakening allows us to pay X to look at the top X cards of our library, and put all the lands into play tapped. If, however, we have two instant or sorcery cards in our graveyard, we get to untap the lands. This card is alright by itself in a deck that is nearly half lands, but paired with Amulet of Vigor, we get to untap the lands with the Awakening first and then untap them again with the Amulet trigger. With a Guild Summit in play, Animist's Awakening becomes a giant draw spell to close the game out.
Our sideboard is built to answer decks that present a challenge for us by either slowing them down or preventing them from slowing us down. Sideboards should be adjusted for what you expect to see and will depend heavily on your local meta. The sideboard presented here is based on what decks I've faced playing online and in my local store.
The first part of the sideboard plan is to have extra copies of the more situation cards from our main deck. A fourth copy of Gates Ablaze is here for the matchups that we need to answer creatures fast and often. Decks like Hardened Scales Affinity, Humans, Spirits, and Dredge are when this card shines. We also have the third and fourth copies of Gatebreaker Ram for matchups where we need to both deter creatures and apply damage as there are issues using Maze's End to win.
We pack additional removal in the sideboard, including two copies of Beast Within, which serves as a catch-all removal. It can slow the clock down of a larger creature or remove a problem enchantment like a Blood Moon. This card is also brought in against decks like Amulet Titan that depend on a single copy of key cards. We finish out our removal suite with two copies of Ancient Grudge and two copies of Nature’s Claim. These cards are critical as artifact decks can often be an issue for us. Nature’s Claim also can remove our own Amulet or Guild Summit if lifegain is needed against Burn, which while is not ideal is sometimes necessary.
We play a single copy of Crucible of Worlds because land removal will always be an issue for us. Crucible allows us to win against decks that try to grind out and remove our lands. As long as Tron and Amulet Titan are in the meta, our opponents will be packing land destruction either main deck or sideboard.
We have two Damping Spheres because of Storm and Amulet Titan. We often are too slow to win against them if they get a fast opening hand, so we need these to slow them. It should also be noted that this helps in the Tron matchup as it allows us to out ramp them.
Finally, we have three copies of Relic of Progenitus because between Izzet Phoenix decks and Dredge, the graveyard is a scary place in Modern. I prefer Relics because of the draw effect but in a pinch they could be replaced with Nihil Spellbomb.
Adjustments and Upgrades
Normally we would devote a segment to adjustments and how to change the deck as your budget increases, but this is actually the decklist I play at full budget. This deck has been my pet deck for the past few months and I've been constantly adjusting from trying to play more Gates to more copies of Engineered Explosives. One of the big things with this deck as I mentioned in the introduction, is that it can be upgraded into a traditional Amulet Titan over time if that's the route you want to go.
This has been Treasure Crusin’. I hope you enjoy this sightseeing cruise on Amulet’s End. While the deck might not be tier one competitive for someone to bring to a MagicFest or SCG Open, it does play well for FNMs, and can be upgraded into Amulet Titan with only a few changes. Please let me know what you thought about this edition of TC. I’d love to hear any comments, questions, or if you’d like for me to highlight another deck while Cav is on sabbatical. I’m always available Salvation either in the comments or by PM, and I can be found on twitter @iandulka.
Until next time, keep Cruisin’!