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This week on Adam Plays Magic, we've got a new brew showcasing the new reanimator staple, Atraxa, Grand Unifier. Atraxa is a house and arguably a better card to "cheat out" than even Griselbrand. For seven mana across four colors, Atraxa offers a 7/7 flying, lifelink, deathtouch, and vigilance threat that typically draws between three and six cards.
When behind, she's an incredibly powerful tool to help stabilize. Even if she's dealt with, the opponent will need to contend with the full hand she helped to reload. This means she can often just bring herself (or another copy) right back onto the field. Between Transmogrify and Liliana, Death's Majesty, it's not unreasonable to stick Atraxa as early as turn three or four. Pioneer and Explorer absolutely need to respect this threat going forward.
What I Like
Indomitable Creativity is a powerful card. It's the centerpiece of a tier-one Modern deck, and Reid Duke won the Pro Tour this weekend with the Pioneer variant which attempts to cheat Xenegos, God of Revels and Worldspine Wurm into play for a one-shot kill. Creativity has a much steeper deckbuilding restriction though. To ensure it performs the combo sequence as expected, the deck cannot have any creatures or artifacts other than the intended tutor targets.
This deckbuilding restriction means losing access to important sideboard cards like Unlicensed Hearse and Damping Sphere. It also makes the deck very all-in on the combo, since the only plan B is Shark Typhoon.
Swapping Creativity out for Transmogrify regains access to not only strong sideboard artifacts but mainboard ones as well. In particular, Esika's Chariot is a midrange threat that can win on its own all while providing ample token creatures to enable the combo. Similarly, Reckoner Bankbuster is an excellent grindy threat in a format rife with Thoughtseize and it can threaten resolved planeswalkers like Liliana of the Veil.
Access to black mana for Thoughtseize and Duress allows the deck to take a more proactive element while protecting the combo. These discard spells ensure the coast is clear and provide critical information at a more efficient rate than a protective counterspell like Make Disappear. Even though Atraxa doesn't one-hit kill the turn the combo resolves, it's much more resilient against interaction like Leyline Binding.
What I Dislike
Honestly, there isn't much to gripe about. The midrange plan for the deck runs smoothly thanks to the card selection and mana fixing from Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. Ob Nixilis, the Adversary helps to pad the player's life total against aggressive strategies. The main downside to the deck is that Atraxa is nearly uncastable when copies are drawn. It takes a minimum of two treasures to get the prerequisite colors, saying nothing of the full seven mana to cast it. However, Fable and Thoughtseize are able to discard Atraxa so that Liliana, Death's Majesty can reanimate her, so even then it's not a totally dead draw.
It should be noted that Creativity is able to target artifact tokens like Clues and Treasures, while Transmogrify can only target creatures. Creativity can also select multiple targets while Transmogrify cannot. This makes Transmogrify less reliable in the face of small creature removal like Fatal Push. Ultimately, it's a trade-off. One has a flimsier combo with a better fair game plan and the other has a better combo with a middling plan B.
Explorer Jund Transmogrify Atraxa
I really cannot recommend this deck enough. It does powerful things; it does cool things; and it does cool, powerful things. Expect this and variations of the archetype to see more play in the coming weeks, and be sure to pack some sideboard hate for it. If you want to stay up to date with me and what I'm playing, be sure to follow me on Twitch and Twitter. Don't forget to leave a comment here and on the video. Engagement helps us keep doing what we're doing.
Catch you all next time!