Card Spotlight: Growth Spiral in Modern

Most of this week has focused on the high-profile finishes of the previous weekend. To close out the week I want to focus on the under-appreciated cards and lists. Growth Spiral is a card that I think has just begun to make its splash in Modern. Tanner may have not included it in his recent set review but I think it has potential. The obvious card to compare Growth Spiral to is Modern mainstay, Explore. The two cards seem to have incredibly similar effects on paper but Growth Spiral is superior for decks that can consistently cast it. It is of course more difficult to cast. The most obvious reason for this is Growth Spiral being upgraded from Sorcery to Instant speed. No longer will ramp players need to decide between casting a ramp spell and holding up interaction. The printing of Growth Spiral has given us a new archetype and breathed some life into an old one.

Sultai Teachings
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Magic Online player Ftzz has managed to 5-0 with this list every week since the printing of Ravnica Allegiance. While 5-0s are not the best indicator of the power level of a deck, I firmly believe this deck is the real deal. Growth Spiral and Remand play incredibly well together. If the opponent plays a key spell, Remand will set them back for at least a turn and draw you a card. If they do not deploy anything important, nothing was lost because Growth Spiral can be cast on the end of their turn. While Remand is the ideal partner, all of the cheap instant speed interaction in the deck plays well with Growth Spiral. Wilderness Reclamation is also an overlooked card for Modern that is very powerful in here. This allows you to cast Mystical Teachings on your turn, untap at end step, and then play the instant you tutored on the opponent’s turn. This and Nexus of Fate are the only spells in the deck that you cannot play on your opponent’s turn and that is because they allow you to untap so that you can hold up interaction anyways.

This deck does have some weaknesses though. Like most control decks, it is reliant on hitting at least the first four or five land drops on schedule; ideally ramped into. Any sort of stumbles on lands prevents this deck from being able to cast its powerful yet expensive top end spells. In a similar vein, explosive starts can also give Sultai Teachings trouble. The deck is designed to quell the early storm before taking over in the late game.  Once you have effectively locked your opponent out of the game you will typically win via a six to seven turn beatdown with Creeping Tar Pit. While control decks like UWx have sweepers to deal to help catch back up, Sultai Teachings can get into trouble when behind on board early. I think that moving the single copy of Consume the Meek to the main could do them some favors here. Despite these flaws, I still feel that Sultai Teachings is a very viable option going forward.

Temur Scapeshift
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Scapeshift decks have always had a simple premise, get to seven lands then cast Scapeshift and win the game. We have a detailed article that contains the math for these wins here. However, that article focuses on the Primeval Titan version, which has overshadowed controlling Bring to Light builds for some time now. The biggest problem for these types of decks tends to be actually surviving long enough to cast Scapeshift. They are not built to win as quickly and unfortunately when they tapped down for a ramp spell they would often die on the spot. That is just the Modern format. Growth Spiral is the perfect card to help alleviate this problem. As noted above, Growth Spiral does not require you to commit to ramping on your turn. This flexibility is something that these decks have never had access to before.

Although results with this deck have been spotty, I think Temur Scapeshift has a lot of room to be explored. These decks naturally run enough lands for Explore effects to be consistent but they could not afford to tap down mana on their turn for it. Even without Scapeshift, Growth Spiral can flash in a Mountain as a Bolt when you have an active Valakut in play. The list above was chosen as a starting point but there are so many options to be explored for Scapeshift connoisseurs. Bring to Light variants, Temur lists with Primeval Titan, and many other options have newfound potential thanks to Growth Spiral. If you have been interested in Scapeshift but have been off put by the linearity of Titanshift, now is a great time to start casting the four mana sorcery.

Wrap Up
Overall, I think we are just seeing the beginning of the impact Growth Spiral will have in Modern. It is not going to completely replace Explore. The casting cost will likely keep it out of  on-Blue decks like Titanshift and sorcery speed decks like Amulet Titan do not benefit much from the versatility. However, Growth Spiral has already enabled a new archetype and gave a shot in the arm to an old one. It is definitely a card to keep an eye on going forward. I hope that you have a great weekend and we will see you on Monday to review GP Memphis. Until then my friends.

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