By now, most Modern players have seen the Chinese Dominaria spoiler leak going around. If not, head on over to the Mothership, where Wizards themselves confirmed the leak and graciously posted translations of the cards. While unsolicited spoilers can ruin the season for some, for players experiencing a brewing lull, they can serve as a much-needed shot of adrenaline. For once, I'm one such player; I've been slinging enough colorless creatures to benefit greatly from a reason to crack a fetchland. Precognition Field is that reason.
Today, we'll take a look at a few of my brews with Dominaria cards. All of them feature the new enchantment.
Level 1: UR Wizards
Wizards is a tribe I have tried to make work in Modern before. After all, there are just so many great ones! Even Dark Confidant is a Wizard. But Bob rarely found himself in my final builds, which often ended up revolving around the only close-to-passable payoff card in the format: Azami, Lady of Scrolls.
Azami certainly has her problems, chief among them costing five mana. Each time I tried a Wizards shell, I found it much better to include a powerful, on-theme non-Wizard or two over the clunky 0/2. So I benched the project indefinitely.
Dominaria introduces payoff cards for going into Wizard synergies that I think might just be worth it, especially in a shell that needs few compromises to meet their requirements: Wizard's Lightning, a 2R Lightning Bolt that costs the same as its forefather if we control a Wizard, and Wizard's Retort, a 1UU Counterspell with the same clause. Seeing these cards spoiled inspired me to again dredge up my Spellstutter Sprites.
That's right, Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration is a Wizard! And what better card to protect with Wizard's Retort? Well, Insectile Aberration // Insectile Aberration, which unfortunately loses the valuable creature type. But the creature still has too good a rate not to include in this shell, which I quickly found needed pressure fast to back up its meek Spellstutter Sprites. More Vendilion Cliques could also fill this role, but I don't like how clunky the card proves in multiples or how vulnerable it is to Lightning Bolt. While we can feasibly tap two for Young Pyromancer and still represent countermagic on curve, doing so with a three drop is much harder.
Bedlam Reveler joins Snapcaster Mage as a way to recoup card advantage against attrition decks (especially Jund). It attacks from an angle that requires opponents to bring in graveyard hate, which incidentally does little against our post-board plan of Precognition Field. If we see Rest in Peace and the like coming after a Bedlam-fueled victory, we can easily sidestep the hate with our board plan, gaining virtual card advantage and tempo in the process. It turns out Snapcaster Mage is totally reasonable as a 2/1 Wizard with flash in this deck, ability or no; it lets us generate pressure or present a hard counterspell out of nowhere.
Young Pyromancer and Vendilion Clique round out the threat lineup. Just the threat of Pyromancer incentivizes opponents to bring in token sweepers like Ratchet Bomb and Anger of the Gods, which are otherwise pretty meh against a deck that can ride individual threats like Clique, Delver, or Reveler to victory. But the creature unfortunately isn't a Wizard.
Naturally, we max out on Dominaria's new Wizard spells, which inspired this deck in the first place. I was worried the full set of Retort would prove too much, but it turns out Counterspell is pretty darn good. With even a minor clock established, it's easy to buy time with Retort and Snapcaster Mage for a couple turns until we can cleanly burn opponents out.
Lightning is clearly the better of the two spells for this reason. Bolt-Snap-Bolt is already one of the grosser things to do in Modern, and Wizard's Lightning improves our odds of pulling it off. We can even flash in Snapcaster Mage and cast Lightning from the graveyard for R on a previously empty board, making the new card dangerously close to the original. Our heaps of reach make it easier to rely on cheap beaters like Spellstutter Sprite to sneak in early damage.
Finally, Opt is a card I'd play four of if space permitted. But I'd rather have all the other cards in the deck than more Opts. The card is great with most of our creatures, though, and superb alongside Precognition Field, so I think making room for at least a couple is a must.
The sideboard is full of standard stuff, but one card I want to draw special attention to is Precognition Field. This card is at the center of all my brews today, and for good reason: it's sweet!
Field is a "fixed" Future Sight in that it only lets pilots cast instants and sorceries from the tops of their libraries. But in a deck full of instants and sorceries, the restriction is trivial. Manamorphose and Opt let us filter through our decks blazing-fast, but the strongest enabler is Serum Visions. Seeing three cards is great with Field, as it puts useless lands and creatures to the bottom while usually "drawing" us a card or two in the process. Of course, Lightning Bolt and Wizard's Lightning are the actual best cards to pair with Precognition Field, as they single-handedly turn the enchantment into a win condition. Whenever we see either of these cards on the deck, we can simply point them at opponents and continue digging.
I think Precognition Field fills a unique role for spell-based, Turbo Xerox-style Modern decks: it lets them snowball card advantage in a way that's difficult to attack. Bedlam Reveler forces blue decks heavily into red and bites it to graveyard hate; Jace, the Mind Sculptor requires a very specific window to come down and survive the turn, and even then can be easily removed by anyone with haste attackers or Lightning Bolts (read: most of the format). Enchantments are by their nature tougher to do away with. As long as we're not just dead the following turn, which speedbumps like Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration and cheap disruption like Bolt and Sprite see to, it's much easier to resolve Field than it is a Jace. We just tap out into Field, let opponents have a turn, and then basically "go off," casting two or three spells per turn while filling up our hand with extra resources.
As far as boarding strategy with this deck, I have found it ideal to keep cheap threats in against linear decks like Burn, removing card advantage engines like Bedlam Reveler for more interaction. Fair decks tend to bring in lots of removal against us, so siding out Delver for Fields is a winning strategy there. The only way for decks like Jund to beat Field is to Maelstrom Pulse it or just go under us.
I also tried a spin on this deck without the one- and two-of creatures, instead running a full set of Baral, Chief of Compliance. I have long wanted to utilize Baral in a fair deck, and the new Wizard spells seemed perfect for this purpose. The build maxed out on Remand and Chart a Course, ran an Apostle's Blessing alongside Dismember for the random free-spell blowout, and packed Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror in the side as extra pressure. The idea with this build was to maximize our tempo role in Game 1 and rely on Precognition Field after siding to get us through the midrange matchups.
The Baral build excelled when it drew Delver or Baral, but floundered the rest of the time. It simply had trouble closing against the faster linear decks, a problem Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror didn't really solve. That said, its post-board Precognition plan was awesome, leading me to experiment more directly with the enchantment.
Level 2: Temur Field
My first instinct was to shove Precognition Field into the Field of Ruin-featuring UR Pyromancer deck, but I decided after just a few matches that the deck already had what it needed. Otherwise, wouldn't it play Jace, the Mind Sculptor? So, I gave the card a whirl in my most beloved color combination: Temur.
Temur Field packs Precognition Field in the mainboard, but still brings the beats to beat up on uninteractive opponents.
Birds of Paradise is the freakiest card in the list by a fair margin. Here's a one-mana spell that's weak in the late-game Precognition Field aspires to and is stranded on top of the deck when we have the enchantment in play. So what gives?
Birds ramps us into Field itself, which I found was important for a pre-board plan revolving around the card. Otherwise, we need a ton of interaction to not just get rolled by aggro decks. It's also a high-priority removal target on turn one, drawing Fatal Pushes away from Tarmogoyf and Bolts away from Young Pyromancer. Goyf easily grows to 5/6 in this deck since we can Loot away extra fields, and Pyromancer spirals out of control fast both with Field and with good ol' Manamorphose.
Dead Birds also feed Traverse the Ulvenwald, a boon since it's hard to include Mishra's Bauble alongside Field. And when Birds survives, the upside is real: we can play Pyromancer and immediately get a token, and follow that up with Field or Bloodbraid Elf. Having extra mana lying around also doesn't hurt when we're pseudo-storming off the top of our deck.
Bedlam, Snap, and Bloodbraid are all Traverse the Ulvenwald targets. It's usually preferable to just dig up Bedlam Reveler and slam it that turn or the next, but when we lack instants and sorceries in the graveyard, Elf is a better pick. Snapcaster usually doubles as a searchable removal spell, or adds a body by recasting Traverse. Additionally, having all those one-ofs in the deck keeps opponents guessing when we draw them naturally.
I really wanted to build a Precognition Field deck with Traverse the Ulvenwald. Without delirium, the card casts off the top for a basic, letting us immediately cast whatever instant remains or get a shuffle. And with, it gives us a way to functionally cast creatures off the Field.
The problem was supplementing Traverse. I started with a Temur shell because I'm comfortable in the colors and didn't want to abandon Serum Visions. Red was a natural include for Tarfire and Lightning Bolt, the latter of which is a crucial include alongside Field.
Faithless Looting is another key piece of the puzzle. It sifts through extra Fields and helps us find one when we don't have the enchantment handy, and even turns on delirium in this deck. Going minus early isn't such a problem when we can snowball card advantage with a Field later. It's also a fantastic Reveler enabler, joining Manamorphose and our other cantrips in powering out the Devil reliably.
More Pyromancers give us a plan against graveyard hate, and the counterspells let us beat spell-based combo and Tron. Field isn't necessarily dead in these matchups since we can push it out a turn early; having one in play lets us set up permission off the top of the deck with Serum Visions, for example, or otherwise just draw into what we need.
I went through a ton of variations with this list, at different times running a full set of Bloodbraids, a full set of Pyromancers, or a full set of Birds. Most of my builds differed primarily in their creature lineups. I tried Noble Hierarch, too, but tapping for red was too important with Blood Moon and Bedlam Reveler in the mix.
Level 3: Grixis Field
The next step was to move away from midrange and push deeper into control territory. Fatal Push and Collective Brutality were cards I felt would compliment Field well, as they significantly impact the board on the cheap, getting us closer to stabilizing with the enchantment.
Young Pyromancer is our main win condition other than Bolt-Snap-Bolt, and does so much work in this deck it forces opponents to respect the token plan post-board despite the Shaman's slim numbers. In this way, Pyro's a great distraction en route to setting up a Field. Tasigur, the Golden Fang can also close games, but it's mostly here as a Goyf for aggressive decks like Burn.
While Fatal Push is dead on some boards, Collective Brutality and Faithless Looting ensure we can use the cards in our hand for something. Similarly, we have no trouble maxing out on Precognition Field.
Manamorphose does notably less for this deck than for the others: we don't have Bedlam Reveler or Traverse the Ulvenwald, and only run 2 Young Pyromancer. I still think it's a fine include, fueling delve in the absence of Thought Scour and complimenting Field nicely. But I'd look to axe this card first if I needed room for something else.
The sideboard for this deck went hard on the Tron hate, since we're far less proactive than the other Field builds proposed in this article. Field has to stay in for that matchup, as it's a big part of our win condition; that's why we like Molten Rain over something like Spreading Seas.
This deck could use a little oomph when it comes to closing, but that's a problem shared among reactive control decks generally. Other than that, I think Grixis Control is a decent shell for Precognition Field. The card certainly impressed me more than Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the deck as a snowballing card advantage engine. It just requires the deck to be built a certain way that takes full advantage of having a Field on board. The upside of this drawback is that "bad" enablers like Faithless Looting are actually quite good in a vacuum, and Field lets us run them despite their own shortcomings.
Level 4: Traverse Shadow
The last home I tried for Precognition Field was good ol' Traverse Shadow. This deck already naturally does a lot of what I wanted my Field decks to do, although I had to make a few adjustments to ensure the enchantment retained maximum potency once it became our gameplan.
After testing without, I ended up keeping Mishra's Bauble in the deck—the artifact is simply too important for delirium to cut, even for Faithless Looting. Rather, the big change here is fitting Lightning Bolt. Manamorphose also earns an include here, which lets us top out with Bedlam Reveler over more common techs like Snapcaster Mage or Grim Flayer. Also on-theme is Serum Visions, a necessity for Precognition Field that cuts into our discard numbers.
Traverse Shadow is a highly proactive, highly interactive, and highly consistent deck, haunted mostly by its fragility: Snapcaster Mage decks are a nightmare for the strategy, as are Lingering Souls decks, and that's without mentioning hosers like Rest in Peace that can throw Traverse Shadow for a loop single-handedly.
The deck's plan against hate has historically been to splash white for Lingering Souls and Ranger of Eos in the sideboard, but the splash isn't without its costs—our mana's already complicated as things are. Precognition Field gives the deck a potential solution to the problem without forcing a fifth color, as it overwhelms interactive opponents and doubles as a win condition with Lightning Bolt.
I haven't done much testing with this build yet, but my initial findings have been mixed. Lingering Souls is a heck of a card, after all. I do think Precognition Field will see occasional play in the sideboards of such spell-heavy fair decks, though, just as we're likely to see Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Bedlam Reveler pop up to fulfill an anti-attrition role—especially as Jund continues to find its footing in the metagame.
More to Come...
Just three cards—Wizard's Lightning, Wizard's Retort, and Precognition Field—combined to provide me with a loaded week of testing already. Dominaria spoilers have only just begun, and I can't wait to see what else Wizards has in store for us. Which cards have you excited? Let me know in the comments.