Chances are, if you’re a close follower of Modern or a Primeval Titan devotee, you’ve noticed a lack of Amulet of Vigor or Scapeshift accompanying the angry green giant. Recently, Titan players have hung up the explosive combo draws and Summoner’s Pacts for Elvish Reclaimer, Eladamri’s Call, and Path to Exile. Today, we’re going to take a look at what these changes accomplish, and what prompted them.
“Eladamri’s Toolbox,” as the deck is known, has been putting up a slew of strong results lately, including a pile of Challenge Top 16’s, some Top 8’s, plenty of Prelim 5-0s, and in the case of SoulStrong a Showcase Top 8. Impressive work for a deck that effectively came out of nowhere, and had to be tuned from scratch to be where it is today!
I’ve seen plenty of skeptical eyes from the Amulet community about whether or not the Toolbox actually has the tools to get the job done, but at this point, I think that we can agree that it does. Toolbox decks are highly customizable by nature, so they’re often going to look slightly different from each other, but for today, I’m going to focus on the version SoulStrong played to their Showcase Top 8.
You may notice the main deck cards are grouped into ones, twos, and fours. This gives us a pretty clear sense that the cards with four copies are the most integral to the function of the deck.
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove quickly became Primeval Titan’s sidekick, and Eladamri’s Toolbox certainly doesn’t deviate from that. Showing up in the full four copies, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove does everything you could want. Acceleration is key, and Dryad provides it, while also serving as a solid blocker against early aggression. Dryad also enables a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle kill without requiring you to put Mountains in your deck, which takes a ton of pressure off your mana base. There are some nice value plays you can make with Selesnya Sanctuary in this deck — you can get two guaranteed Field of the Dead or Valakut triggers every turn in the mid-late game, just by playing and picking up Selesnya Sanctuary twice.
Elvish Reclaimer is a new addition to the Prime Time Crew. Once you stop trying to be as fast as possible, you can start using your early plays for utility rather than acceleration. The best starts involve sacrificing Flagstones of Trokair to Elvish Reclaimer to get the land from the Flagstones trigger and a land from the Elvish Reclaimer ability. This means you not only get the utility of searching for whatever you want, but you also get to ramp. Having access to the full suite of utility lands with a one-drop that scales into the late game is incredibly powerful.
Primeval Titan is the star of the show, and for good reason. Most games where Primeval Titan hits the board end on the spot or on the following turn; otherwise it isn’t unreasonable to start creating an unbeatable horde of zombies with Field of the Dead. Without Amulet of Vigor, there aren’t any one-turn kill combos outside of just blasting the opponent with Valakut triggers; occasionally, you’ll see a copy of Hanweir Battlements to speed up the giant to get some bonus burst damage. As long as Primeval Titan and Field of the Dead are both legal in Modern, it will be a powerful way to win games.
Eladamri’s Call, the namesake of the deck, flew under the radar for a while after its printing in Modern Horizons. Worry not, though — it’s here to fill in for Summoner’s Pact, a card you typically find in Primeval Titan decks. Eladamri’s Call has a higher upfront cost, but if you aren’t planning on winning the turn you tutor, the cost of casting Summoner’s Pact starts to look incredibly steep. Call will most often find Primeval Titan, but Dryad is also a frequent choice if you already have a Titan set up.
The tutor targets you’ll find in this version — such as Arboreal Grazer, Springbloom Druid, and Sakura Tribe-Elder — will all help you ramp, but they have another important quality in common: they block early. Skyclave Apparition is one of the best cards in Modern right now, so it only makes sense to squeeze a couple copies in for problematic permanents like Ashiok, Dream Render, or just to give you enough time to get to Primeval Titan by eating an opposing threat. If you need a little card advantage, Tireless Tracker is going to be the best option around when your goal is already to put as many lands into play as possible… oh, and the body is no joke, either, once you get to work on cracking some clues.
In my opinion, Path to Exile is one of the biggest draws to playing Eladamri’s Toolbox instead of Amulet Titan. Amulet Titan often struggles to stay alive long enough to reliably set up; Path to Exile fixes that problem by dispatching the likes of Monastery Swiftspear and Death’s Shadow — two traditionally less-than-stellar match-ups for Prime Time. Primeval Titan decks get to largely ignore the downside of Path to Exile, because they don’t much mind giving their opponent lands. Odds are, you’ll still be able to go over the top of most Modern decks as is, as long as you live long enough to get there.
Truthfully, there’s a lot that could be said about the lands that show up in Eladamri’s Toolbox. The list of potential includes is enormous, as it encompasses a majority of green, white, or colorless utility lands in Modern. With that being said, I’ll just focus on the ones that show up here.
Gone are the days of Arcum’s Astrolabe’s reign over Modern, but we still see Snow-Covered basic lands. The reason is because they’re lands that accomplish the same goal, but have different names for Field of the Dead. Basic lands are also important in Primeval Titan decks because Blood Moon is one of the most effective anti-Titan cards in the format, so you want to have as many basic lands as possible while leaving room for utility lands.
Engineered Explosives has long been a premium sideboard card in Modern, but once Wizards printed Blast Zone, Primeval Titan decks gladly found room for one in the starting 60. You’ll use Blast Zone to destroy all one-mana permanents more often than not to try and fend off aggressive creatures, and it’s mostly safe to do so because of the low density of one-drops in Eladamri’s Toolbox.
A land that makes six green mana happens to be exactly what Primeval Titan decks are looking for. The only catch is that Castle Garenbrig only makes mana for creatures, but that isn’t much of a downside for this deck. Adding at least one Castle to your deck is a no brainer for me.
Cavern of Souls waxes and wanes in popularity depending on how popular blue-based control decks are, but you will almost always see at least one in decks like this. While blue is a popular color at the moment, Eladamri’s Toolbox has more access to a single Cavern of Souls than other Titan decks, so they can usually get by with fewer copies. The worst thing that can happen when you invest six mana into your game-winning play is that it gets countered, but thankfully, there is a strange cave that says your Primeval Titan gets to resolve.
If you’re played Modern, you’ve seen these two lands behind Primeval Titan plenty of times. Simply put, they’re the real win conditions. Primeval Titan may be a 6/6 trampler, but you can’t quite stop it from being removed. However, in Modern, killing a land is a conscious decision, which makes the Zombie Factory and the rock that throws Lightning Bolts some of the most reliable ways to win.
Ghost Quarter’s primary function currently is to handle opposing copies of Field of the Dead and Valakut. If you happen to run into Tron, a Utopia Sprawl deck, or even just a deck with a greedy mana base like Four-Color Uro or Five-Color Niv, Ghost Quarter can put in some serious work. The single Ramunap Excavator gives Ghost Quarter a TON of value, as you can just set up a loop of blowing up two of your opponent’s lands every turn with Excavator and Dryad.
Radiant Fountain and Bojuka Bog are more Prime Time standbys. Both of them aren’t very good at casting your spells, but can win the game almost single-handedly against Burn and Dredge, respectively. Once you get either going with a Selesnya Sanctuary, it will likely be lights out against red and graveyard decks.
Scattered Groves may seem relatively underpowered, but a dual land that cycles has a pretty high floor when it’s fetchable. Furthermore, you can play it as a land if you need to early in the game, and then pick it up with Selesnya Sanctuary and cycle it later. You can even repeat that process if you have Ramunap Excavator in play!
Wrapping up our lands, we have Vesuva — or whatever you want it to be. Vesuva is a land that you will rarely play from your hand; you’ll usually search for it with either Primeval Titan or Elvish Reclaimer. Usually, you’re looking to copy Valakut or Field of the Dead to turn up the pressure. However, there are certainly situations where you’d want to copy something like Bojuka Bog, Radiant Fountain, or Flagstones of Trokair.
Some sideboards contain pieces that can handle problematic cards, and some even to pivot to a new plan entirely. Eladamri’s Toolbox instead looks to just move types of cards around. The sideboard we have here features more tutor targets and additional removal, plus one haymaker.
Aven Mindcensor is likely the best creature that in Selesnya colors for the mirror. Limiting opposing search effects to just the top four cards is a surefire way to make sure that your opponent can’t effectively develop in the mirror. Mindcensor is also quite powerful against Scapeshift and Devoted Druid.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT cast Boil if you have a Dryad of the Ilysian Grove in play. You will hate what happens, I guarantee it. Boil is a popular sideboard card against decks with Dryad because it often acts as a one-sided Armageddon. Here, it’s primarily for blue-heavy decks, but will still KO the mirror if you can maneuver around your own Dryad.
When Lurrus of the Dream-Den is as popular as it is, having extra copies of exiling removal in the board is smart. Celestial Purge can also tag Blood Moon if you happen to have a Plains in play, which is a nice upside. For most decks, Winds of Abandon is just a two-mana Path to Exile; Eladamri’s Toolbox has more mana than most decks, so you can actually overload it to Plague Wind your opponent fairly often.
Collector Ouphe, Eidolon of Rhetoric, and Gaddock Teeg are fairly common sideboard cards for Temple Garden decks; each of them does one thing and does it well. Collector Ouphe is a tutor-able Stony Silence, which is huge. Eidolon of Rhetoric will be the nail in the coffin against almost every combo deck, and certainly gets points for slowing Prowess down significantly. Gaddock Teeg is fantastic against most combo decks as well, shutting off Goblin Charbelcher, Scapeshift, and Ad Nauseam. Teeg cuts off many powerful plays out of the Cryptic Command decks as well.
Finally, we have Knight of Autumn, a multi-purpose creature that is relatively low on the curve. A 2/1 that gains four life is a rock solid card against any deck casting Lava Spike. However, it also cleans up enchantments if you happen to find yourself playing against Bogles or if you need an answer to Leyline of Sanctity.
Toolbox decks have a lot of different angles, possibilities, and synergies thanks to the density of one-ofs. If you’re traditionally a Primeval Titan player and have been struggling with aggressive match-ups lately, I’d suggest taking Eladamri’s Toolbox for a spin. Do you have a favorite one-of or tutor target that maybe didn’t make this list? Be sure to let me know on Twitter at @RappaciousOne. Until next week, be careful, and stay safe.
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.