Fatal Push in Modern

Posted January 3, 2017 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Nerdy Bits

Had cards like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher not been printed in Oath of the Gatewatch, I would be calling Fatal Push the most impactful Modern card since the Onslaught fetches were reprinted in Khans of Tarkir. In fact, its impact is very similar to that of those fetches. Existing tier one and tier two decks will gain a few percentage points, as their card quality slightly improves. But decks just below the surface of playability are likely to become real players in the format.

It’s funny, then, that the key component of Fatal Push is its interaction with fetch lands. Revolt, a mechanic that will be introduced with Aether Revolt, triggers off of permanents leaving the battlefield. So fetching will allow this card to hit pretty much any relevant threat in Modern. The only creatures that come to mind off the top of my head it doesn’t get are Tasigur, Reality Smasher, and Primeval Titan (which really only sees play in one deck). I’m not really factoring in cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn because other removal spells weren’t hitting those anyways.

The thing is, even if you haven’t triggered Revolt, Fatal Push hits a lot of relevant creatures – creatures Lightning Bolt sometimes can’t get. Tarmogoyf, Death’s Shadow, Wild Nacatl, Blighted Agent, Glistener Elf, Blinkmoth Nexus, nearly every threat out of Affinity – the list goes on. Now, I’m not saying it’s better than Lightning Bolt. But is it better than, say, Terminate? I certainly think so.

Which leads me to Jund and Grixis. Now, I would never advocate for these decks to cut all of their Terminates. That card is far too consistent to every be removed entirely. Trimming a few copies, however?. That feels very reasonable. This is especially relevant in Grixis builds,specifically Delver, which thrives on cheap spells. Even in the control lists, it’s much easier to flashback off of Snapcaster Mage.

On the topic of Jund and Grixis, this is also the card that may allow those decks to remove Red entirely. Obviously, the upsides of Red are pretty high. However, GB midrange is a real deck already and UB control has been on the fringes of playability since it got Polluted Delta. Both decks were missing the same thing – a one mana removal spell.

Now, both Disfigure and Darkblast did exist. And those are solid cards – but they aren’t catch all removal spells like Fatal Push is. Against Infect and Death’s Shadow, they rarely did the job they needed to. And they just can’t keep up with Goyf or Ooze, meaning they get relegated to picking off semi-irrelevant threats. This card replaces those entirely, making the early game far more consistent for GB and UB strategies.

Far more exciting, however, are the three color decks that it enables, specifically BUG and Esper. Again, these are decks that have had some success already, but haven’t been real players in the metagame. In the case of BUG, the lack of an efficient one mana removal spell was what held it back. For Esper, it was the lack of an efficient removal spell in addition to Path.

As someone that’s tried – extensively – to brew both decks, Fatal Push is huge. I experimented with tons of options, but this blows them all out of the water and really goes a long way towards solving the issues those decks had.

Obviously, it remains to be seen if they’ll become tier one and tier two players. But my money’s on them gaining a lot of traction thanks to Fatal Push.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.