Rattleclaw Mystic was one of the earlier cards spoiled from Khans of Tarkir, and he has slow-rolled into my attention. I am quickly becoming more excited about him than any other cards I have discussed during this season because of the list that I am about to show you all. First, let’s look at the text:
Rattleclaw Mystic 1G
When ~ is turned face up, add URG to your mana pool.
T: Add U, R, or G to your mana pool.
This is a subtle effect, but we know by now never to underestimate it. Noble Hierarch is flirting with costing 40 tickets online even while being an underwhelming card. He is a support card at one mana that also provides a significant clock in addition to ramping (particularly in Infect builds). But what if the creature costs 2? Well, Sylvan Caryatid did not look like much, but he quickly became a Standard staple and found his way into Modern four-color Gifts Ungiven decks, allowing the namesake four drop to be cast reliably on turn three and gaining control of the game on turn four. So what if we have to pay three mana and two on the next turn in order to generate four?
Well, let’s say we ramp into the morphed mystic. On turn one, we play Noble Hierarch or Birds of Paradise. Turn two, we make our land drop and play Mystic face-down. On turn three, we make our third land drop, morph mystic, tap mystic, and tap our three lands. We now have six mana representing U, R, and G. This is new territory for Modern outside of ritual effects and Urza’s lands. We have easily generated five mana on turn three in the past, and it has allowed us to play Through The Breach and Dramatic Entrance, but what doors are open with six?
Godo, Bandit Warlord
If you aren’t a hipster Modern player, I may need to give you a second to look at this card. Godo, Bandit Warlord. Don’t click the back button just yet. I know he’s a 3/3, and Samurai, along with their block in general, are largely underwhelming, but when you use his enter the battlefield ability to play a Batterskull, though, suddenly you’re looking at a 22-point life swing on turn four, with enough life gain essentially to equal a Mind Twist on your Burn opponent for that turn and each one after it (which, online, is so relevant right now it’s ridiculous). Remember that the creature equipped with Batterskull has vigilance, so it doesn’t matter that it will not be untapped. Godo, the germ, and the mystic together will deal 16 damage, and you will gain 8 life, provided all have survived and are good for an attack.
Godo, Bandit Warlord has been abused already in U/W/R and U/B/G/W Unburial Rites decks already, but with a casting cost of only six, should we really open ourselves to grave-hate instead of just ramping into him? I think not!
A classic six drop, Wurmcoil Engine has distorted many a mana-base already in order to cast him early; every iteration of tron decks plays between one and four of the aggro burn killer. He’s going to be our plan b behind the Samurai leader.
What ramp deck would be complete without prime time? Primeval Titan gives us access to Kessig Wolf Run, which combined with Batterskull and Godo, Bandit Warlord is already insane on turn four, but will handily finish the game even if the trampling giant is our only creature that isn’t a mana dork.
Cue the Admiral Ackbar references, please, Summoning Trap not only costs six mana and is perfect for our plan A, but also is a brilliant card to show a blue opponent after they have “disrupted” our plans. Waiting on deck will be Samurai, Wurms, and Titans, oh my?
So if all these should fail, and for whatever reason we didn’t draw one of these cards when we can play up to sixteen of them, what then? Well, of course we can hardcast Batterskull also. The beauty of these cards is that unlike cheating Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play by whatever means, we can either cheat these onto the battlefield or cast any of them.
Let’s see the first draft of the deck without any new spoilers added besides Mystic and fetches:
Samurai Germs (Modern)
1 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Stomping Ground
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Arbor Elf
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Godo, Bandit Warlord
2 Primeval Titan
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
4 Wurmcoil Engine
Other spells (17)
3 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Summoning Trap
4 Talisman of Impulse
4 Utopia Sprawl
So what are we up to, here? Well, once again, objective one is to create six mana by turn three. In order to do this, we have the aforementioned Rattleclaw Mystic, eight other one mana accelerants, and the Arbor Elf, Utopia Sprawl combo. Talisman of Impulse isn’t quite as fast, but it handily dodges cards like Pillar of Flame and Electrolyze while developing our board.
Once we generate the six mana, we have sixteen options: Godo, Bandit Warlord, Primeval Titan, Wurmcoil Engine, Batterskull, or rolling the die with Summoning Trap. The latter is also used if any piece is countered, allowing us a chance to get back into the game after our big investment didn’t pay off. You may say, “well, sixteen sounds like a lot,” but remember that having two in hand is good backup, especially when the second is Summoning Trap.
Primeval Titan also gives us Mutavault (a Samurai, by the way) and Kessig Wolf Run, an obvious requirement of the ramp deck. Imagine targeting the former with the latter and getting two attack phases with it, thanks to Godo. If not that, then we can always just pump up Godo, Bandit Warlord, or, even better, Batterskull.
Garruk Wildspeaker ramps our mana the turn after he’s played, provides chump blocking fodder should the game go long, and finishes the game handily with his ultimate.
So he may not look like it, but Rattleclaw Mystic is probably the best creature spoiled in Khans so far. One must at least be cautious to deny such a statement after seeing analog effects of the past and how important those cards have been to various formats.