Aether Revolt spoilers are in full swing and there are a lot of new exciting cards that will be dictating the shape of Standard for their existence in the format. It’s rare that a card is spoiled and is immediately pegged for eternal formats over Standard. However, we have found one of those in Fatal Push. Every part of the design of this card lends itself to Modern and Legacy. (I can’t speak well to how much play this card will have in Vintage, but I’d love to hear from you all if you have an opinion on it.) Let’s break down the card to see how powerful the card is.
Mana Cost – B
What makes Lightning Bolt such a good card? Fundamentally, Bolt is strong because it deals an impressive amount of damage for the amount of mana that is being used to cast it. More than not, Lightning Bolt will trade up in mana when it kills a creature. Dark Confidant, Blighted Agent, and Eidolon of the Great Revel all bite the dust to Bolt. When Lightning Bolt‘s not trading up in mana, it’s trading evenly with mana dorks, Glistener Elf, or Wild Nacatl.
Fatal Push operates in a very similar way to Lightning Bolt. In all of the examples above, Fatal Push does just as good of a job. However, it can also deal with Tarmogoyf and Death’s Shadow, and higher cost cards such as Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Thought-Knot Seer (given that you have a fetchland in play). The mana cost of Fatal Push is a huge draw to the card and its tendency to trade up in mana immediately makes it a contender for best removal spell in Modern, even before it is released into the format.
As a quick side note, when I first read Fatal Push I was sure that it was a sorcery. Wizards of the Coast has been very cautious about the removal spells they print since Lightning Bolt, Doom Blade, and Go for the Throat all left Standard. There wouldn’t be a discussion of its Modern playability if it was a sorcery. It would likely be a decent sideboard card and nothing more. I was extremely happy when I reread the card and realized it was an instant.
Destroy target creature if it has converted mana cost 2 or less. Revolt– Destroy that creature if it has converted mana cost 4 or less instead if a permanent you control left the battlefield this turn.
As I briefly mentioned above, Fatal Push has a lot of play in Modern even without the Revolt clause on it being in play. Assuming we’re never able to activate the Revolt clause on it, how good is Fatal Push in Modern? Let’s run through the top 10 decks of the Modern format, as laid out by Brian DeMars (I have some major issues with his rankings, but they are a good place to start when looking at the format).
- Infect: Fantastic. It kills all of Infect’s threats without playing into a pump spell that would regularly nullify Lightning Bolt. It does not hit Viridian Corruptor out of the sideboard, but that is usually the least of our concerns.
- Affinity: Also fantastic. Fatal Push destroys all of Affinity’s creatures, no matter how large they get through Arcbound Ravager or Steel Overseer. Even though 1 for 1 trading isn’t a good strategy in this matchup, it’s important to lower your curve and keep in your removal spells.
- Burn: Another matchup where Fatal Push is excellent. For many midrange decks, the strategy in the Burn matchup is to limit or negate entirely the damage taken from sources they can interact with, a.k.a. the creatures. Fatal Push answers Goblin Guide, Monastery Swiftspear, Eidolon of the Great Revel, and Grim Lavamancer. It also only costs 1 mana which lets you lower your curve, which is a good strategy in the matchup.
- Abzan: Fatal Push answers all of Abzan’s creatures outside of optional cards such as Anafenza, the Foremost and Siege Rhino. However, efficient answers to Abzan’s premier creatures are a good answer to the deck’s overall strategy.
- Dredge: Fatal Push is rather poor in this matchup. However, removal spells as a whole are generally not how any player wants to combat this matchup.
- Bant Eldrazi: Fatal Push deals with mana dorks and Spellskite, but not much else without the Revolt clause activated.
- Jund: Similarly to Abzan, Fatal Push answers all of Jund’s best creatures, but has trouble answering top-end threats such as Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet or Huntmaster of the Fells.
- G/R Valakut: Fatal Push is admittedly extremely poor in this matchup, but removal spells usually are.
- Tron: This is another matchup where Fatal Push is very poor, but removal spells are on the whole.
- Abzan Company: Fatal Push is excellent here. It hits early mana dorks and can also disrupt the Abzan Company player when they try to combo. It can’t hit the deck’s main value creatures, but it disrupts the deck plenty.
Overall, Fatal Push without the Revolt clause active seems to be a solid, Modern-playable card that hits much of the format, but is certainly not overpowered.
Now, let’s look at Fatal Push‘s efficacy against the same 10 decks when we assume that Revolt is active every time. It’s rather easy to have Revolt active in Modern, as fetchlands are already widely played and can comfortably be reserved to activate Revolt without much stress on the manabase.
- Infect: Now Fatal Push hits literally every single threat that Infect could present, including Viridian Corruptor from the sideboard. Fatal Push now acts as a one mana kill anything at instant speed card, which is certainly a premier card in the format.
- Affinity: We’re in the same situation as above, where Fatal Push is a necessary card in the matchup, but won’t win the matchup for you. Similarly to the Infect matchup, Fatal Push acts as a 1 mana Murder.
- Burn: Same as above. 1 mana Murder is very excellent.
- Abzan: Now that we have Revolt active, we can answer every threat that Abzan presents, including Anafenza, the Foremost and Siege Rhino. Just as the 3 matchups above, Fatal Push now acts as a 1 mana Murder in this matchup.
- Dredge: We can now kill Prized Amalgam and Haunted Dead… I guess? Fatal Push now kills most of Dredge’s creatures for 1 mana. However, just as before, this isn’t how we want to combat this matchup.
- Bant Eldrazi: Fatal Push can now answer Eldrazi Displacer, Thought-Knot Seer, and Eldrazi Skyspawner. Once Revolt is active, Fatal Push can now only not hit Drowner of Hope and Reality Smasher. Fatal Push has now moved from a terrible card in the matchup to a card that we keep in our deck after sideboarding despite it not hitting all that we want it to in this matchup.
- Jund: As I mentioned above, the curve toppers in Jund were out of range before, but now are hit comfortably by Fatal Push once we have Revolt active.
- G/R Valakut: Removal spells as a whole are still terrible in this matchup, and Revolt doesn’t change that.
- Tron: Same as above.
- Abzan Company: Fatal Push is only marginally better in this matchup now that Revolt is active, but the small difference it makes could be important.
With Revolt active, Fatal Push is looking more and more like a 1 mana Murder in Modern. Not only is that theoretical card playable, it’s a format staple that shapes the format, similarly to how Lightning Bolt has (poor Mantis Rider will never see play). In the matchups where Fatal Push is embarrassing, such as G/R Valakut and Tron, removal spells are usually very poor, so the ground that Fatal Push loses over 1 mana Murder is negligible. The only tangible difference between Fatal Push and 1 mana Murder is seen in the Bant Eldrazi matchup, where removal spells are strong but hard to land. While this seems like a big problem for Fatal Push‘s viability in the format, it’s important to remember that it still has more play than Lightning Bolt in this matchup.
Fatal Push is ready to be a premier removal spell in Modern (and Legacy!). The format is perfectly designed for this card. Low-costed creatures run rampant, fetchlands are already included en mass in decks that want Fatal Push, and trading up on mana is critical in Modern. Aether Revolt releases January 20. I am sure that Modern will be forever changed once Fatal Push is released, and the situations outlined above back that claim up. If I were a fan of pimping out my eternal decks, I’d be grabbing some Japanese foils immediately.
Until next time.
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