Wilderness Reclamation in Modern? It isn’t as strange as it sounds!
After the reign Wilderness Reclamation had in Standard, Modern decks are starting to utilize it as a way to go even bigger than opposing midrange decks. Unlike its Standard counterpart, Sultai Reclamation isn’t committed to maxing out on Wilderness Reclamation to enable a large combo turn; instead, this midrange deck uses the extra mana from Reclamation to play more spells per turn than opponents.
2 Breeding Pool
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Mystic Sanctuary
4 Polluted Delta
2 Snow-Covered Forest
7 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Watery Grave
1 Zagoth Triome
3 Fatal Push
4 Arcum’s Astrolabe*
1 Abrupt Decay
4 Ice-Fang Coatl
3 Force of Negation
3 Archmage’s Charm
1 Dead of Winter
3 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
2 Fact or Fiction
3 Cryptic Command
2 Wilderness Reclamation
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Nexus of Fate
You’ll notice that this deck looks incredibly similar to Sultai Snow Control decks that have been floating around Modern as of late. The shell of Arcum’s Astrolabe, Uro, Tiran of Nature’s Wrath, Mystic Sanctuary, and Cryptic Command is a great place to be in Modern right now. But instead of winning the game with a pile of Planeswalkers, Sultai Reclamation uses Wilderness Reclamation and Nexus of Fate to take as many turns as possible and win the game. Truth be told, once you have an Uro in play, you don’t need to take very many extra turns to end the game.
One of the biggest issues that Cryptic Command decks have faced in Modern is the lack of a strong mid-game; most decks just plan on holding up Cryptic due to its prohibitive mana cost. Thankfully, both Uro and Wilderness Reclamation do a great job accelerating you through that stage of the game. Casting turn four Wilderness Reclamation and untapping on your end step with Cryptic Command up will put you in a powerful position, but it only gets better the following turn. Untapping with a Reclamation in play lets you advance your game plan while having counter magic on your opponent’s turn, which provides an enormous boost in efficiency.
Previously, if you wanted to play something like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, your options were:
- Jam Jace on turn 4 and hope it survives the turn so you can untap and protect it, or
- Wait until you have enough mana to play Jace and protect it in the same turn.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor isn’t very common in this style of deck, but I believe two things:
- Jace is of high enough power level that omitting him from blue midrange decks is likely a mistake.
- With the engines provided by Nexus of Fate and Cryptic Command + Mystic Sanctuary, having access to at least one Jace is an additional way to end the game via his ultimate, or just find the cards that you need to piece together one of the engines.
Fact or Fiction entered Modern via Modern Horizons and hasn’t made a ton of noise. But in Sultai Reclamation, the ability to hold up both Cryptic Command or Fact or Fiction really puts your opponent in a rough place. Do they play their spell into your Cryptic? Great — you get to counter it with some extra value! If they don’t cast a spell worth countering because they think you might have the Cryptic, you instead get to cast Fact or Fiction to pull ahead on resources. Buying back a Fact or Fiction with Mystic Sanctuary may seem like a play you only make late in the game once your hand has run dry — but with a Wilderness Reclamation in play, you can easily cast it during your main phase, deploy any other cards you’d like, and still have all your mana and a stack of cards for your opponent’s turn.
The black splash is pretty light in this version of the deck — just to support some key removal spells. Fatal Push, Abrupt Decay, and Dead of Winter allow you to be more selective with your counterspells, especially in midrange mirrors.
Sultai Reclamation’s sideboard is about as clean as decisive as they come:
Aether Gust is an all-star against Gruul Midrange, and it does solid work against Burn, Prowess, and Primeval Titan decks. It’s important to note that Aether Gust is so effective against Amulet Titan because it interacts favorably against Cavern of Souls while many of your other cards don’t.
Collective Brutality is another great option for handling the Burn and Prowess matches, but is also quite good against Collected Company decks such as Devoted Druid. You could also bring in Collective Brutality against other small creature decks like Humans as some extra removal with the ability to turn dead cards into a little bit of life.
Dead of Winter is often a one-sided Wrath in creature match-ups. While it excels at handling small creatures, it also has merit against mid-sized creatures out of Eldrazi Tron.
Ashiok, Dream Render is the closest Sultai Reclamation has to graveyard hate for the Dredge and Vengevine match-ups. Shutting off searching is also quite relevant against Amulet Titan and Scapeshift decks.
Veil of Summer excels in interactive match-ups. Whether you’re trying to win counter wars in the mirror, discard spells from Jund, or do both against Grixis Death’s Shadow, Veil of Summer is the best card to do it.
Weather the Storm is simply the best life-gain spell against Burn and Prowess. You can get some value in surprising a Storm player with Weather the Storm as well.
When Should You Play Sultai Reclamation?
Sultai Reclamation tends to excel in slower formats where you have time to develop your mana and dictate the pace of play with your counterspells. When Modern is populated by Urza decks, Bant/Sultai Snow, Jund, Gruul Midrange, Eldrazi Tron, and other slow decks, Reclamation will be an excellent choice.
Urza decks without Moxen can have some clunky draws, and Sultai Reclamation can get under them with cheap interaction such as Remand and Fatal Push. Once you’re in a stable position, you can control the game with Archmage’s Charm and Cryptic Command and ultimately close it out with Uro (especially given a couple extra turns).
You’ll also be relying on Uro against Jund, so be careful not to let Scavenging Ooze snag it before you can escape it. Jund is going to try and run you out of resources, which seems like a particularly poor strategy in the face of buying back Fact or Fiction with Mystic Sanctuary.
Gruul Midrange is full of creatures that will end the game quickly if left unchecked. The good news for Sultai Reclamation is that it has plenty of ways to check Gruul’s creatures. Magus of the Moon and Pillage also won’t be very effective against a deck with ten basic lands and the full set of Arcum’s Astrolabe. Klothys seems like the biggest threat here, so try not to let it resolve.
Eldrazi Tron has an incredibly difficult time beating Wilderness Reclamation + Nexus of Fate, so setting up that engine seems like the best plan. Sultai Reclamation doesn’t have an answer for Cavern of Souls, so I would suggest using your counters early and often. Thankfully, both Cryptic Command and Archmage’s Charm have alternate modes that can be effective against Eldrazi Tron.
When Should You Avoid Sultai Reclamation?
As a Sultai Reclamation player, the metagame that would worry me most is one with a large number of aggressive decks, graveyard decks, and Cavern of Souls. Humans, Burn, Prowess, Dredge, and Amulet Titan are among your worst match-ups, and they all have one thing in common: they don’t care about countermagic. When you’re sideboarding in these match-ups, cut the stack-based interaction for as much sideboard hate as you can.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you to pick up Sultai Reclamation, whether you’re a seasoned Modern player or a Standard player looking for another excuse to cast Nexus of Fate. This deck used to be an unconventional choice in Modern, but it’s proven that it has the strength to be a real player in the right metagame. Reclamation has evolved in the hands of many talented players, and I’m excited to see it continue to adapt. If you have any cool ideas for Sultai Reclamation, or just want to see me talk about your favorite deck in the future, make sure to drop me a message on Twitter at @RappaciousOne!