Card Highlight: Arcane Proxy on Pioneer and Modern

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Card Highlight: Arcane Proxy on Pioneer and Modern

03/11/22 Comment regular icon0 comments

Reminiscent of one of the most powerful cards of the last decade and interacting with zero mana spells, does Arcane Proxy have the potential to play in formats like Pioneer and Modern?

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By Romeu

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translated by Romeu

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revised by Tabata Marques

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Snapcaster Mage is now one of the most desired reprint cards by Pioneer, Explorer and Historic players, due to its versatility as a two drop that always comes with some effect from your graveyard. In Modern, the card was a staple of the format for almost a decade, and to this day, a play like the famous "Bolt-Snap-Bolt" is a viable option within certain archetypes. However, Wizards has not yet fulfilled the desire for one of the most important cards of the last decade to arrive in newer formats. Instead, the company seeks to give us other options with similar effects, and this is the case with a recent card from The Brothers' Warlink outside websiteArcane Proxy!

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Understanding Arcane Proxy

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Arcane Proxy is part of a cycle of rare and mythic creatures with the new keyword,

Prototype

— an alternative cost where you can cast the creature through it, and it will have the properties your ability gives it. In the case of this card, it will be a 2/1 blue wizard for Magic Symbol 1Magic Symbol UMagic Symbol U. But the fascinating part of the new artifact is its ETB trigger, where you can cast an Instant or Sorcery with cost less than or equal to the creature's power. That is, if you cast it on the Prototype, you'll have a 2/1 for three mana that you can cast a 0, 1, or 2 cost spell from your graveyard, comparing it to the famous Snapcaster Mage inevitable.
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The comparisons, however, end at this point. Snapcaster Mage has Flash, and that has always opened up countless possibilities for plays and responses to matches. Another classic combo with him was alongside Cryptic Command and Remand as a powerful Tempo play, while having three or more mana open on the opponent's turn opened up a range of options in their mind about which spell you could cast again with the mage. With Arcane Proxy, everything needs to be played at Sorcery-Speed. That is, counterspells are not an option and trying to play it in the End Step to increase the pressure on the board while casting any cantrip, or a removal to catch the opponent off guard, aren't options with it. Another relevant point is that the creature

exiles the spell to create a copy of which you can cast without paying its mana cost

, so, it doesn't interact well with some Control staples today, like Prismatic Ending or March of Otherworldly Light. But there are also some useful interactions with free spells like Crashing Footfalls, plus it reduces the cost of any Instant or Sorcery with mana value of 2 you could cast by Magic Symbol 1. At the end of the day, Arcane Proxy isn't a Snapcaster Mage and lacks important qualities of one of the best two-drops of all time. However, it is a step closer in the right direction when it comes to recursion, and it interacts with some elements, such as free spells, that make it an option worth considering.

Arcane Proxy on Pioneer

Honestly, Arcane Proxy doesn't seem to have a home in Pioneer, as there are better cards in every category and archetype where it could fit.
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In Azorius Control, it just doesn't have room since all the low-cost spells in the deck are either counterspells or March of Otherworldly Light, and none of those effects are good in sorcery-speed.
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Dimir Control has a few variants, with the most classic running various Instant-Speed ​​spells alongside finishers like Torrential Gearhulk and Hullbreaker Horror, as well as Shark Typhoon. There is a possibility that Arcane Proxy will find a place in this archetype, mainly due to the interactions with Fatal Push and the newly reprinted Go for the Throat, but as the strategy seeks to capitalize on that playing on your opponent's turn and still feeds Dig Through Time from your graveyard, it will likely be no more than a one or two-of.

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In Izzet Phoenix, Arcane Proxy costs too much mana and doesn't increase the count of Instants and Sorceries like Finale of Promise — a spell that barely sees play in Pioneer because Treasure Cruise also exists.
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It might appear on some Dimir or Grixis Midrange lists, as it interacts relatively well with some lower-cost proactive staples like Thoughtseize and Dreadbore, but the fact that its "flashback" doesn't fetch some other recursive effects like Kolaghan's Command is a significant downside.
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Some people comment on how the new card interacts with See the Truth to draw three cards for three mana with a 2/1 body, and while this combination deserves an honorable mention, the required slots with See the Truth, which is basically a worse Anticipate, doesn't justify its inclusion in a format where we have Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time.

Arcane Proxy in Modern

In Modern, Arcane Proxy interacts with 0-mana spells, more specifically with

Suspend

cards, famous in the format for their interaction with Cascade in numerous strategies.
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But where exactly could we fit it on a list?
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In Living End, it doesn't interact with the deck's main game plan and even seems counterintuitive with the strategy, since it doesn't pitch to any of the Elementals, nor Force of Negation and will die if it gives "Flashback" to Living End.
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Then we have Glimpse of Tomorrow, but this variant has been very focused on an Elementals core in recent events, seeking to abuse Risen Reef and Omnath, Locus of Creation. And when Glimpse Cascade isn't in that variant, it's looking to do something absurd, like putting a gigantic Eldrazi on the board. In these variants, it could even be interesting, but perhaps equally counterintuitive with the strategy established by the deck.
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So, the only viable option seems to be Crashing Footfalls, where its ETB will be as powerful as Shardless Agent's cascade and the archetype already establishes a more attrition-oriented plan on its own, making Arcane Proxy an option to get an extra breath in the combo. However, it only interacts with Crashing Footfalls and no other element on the list, in addition to being a sub-optimized play when compared to the other three-drops of the Four-Color variant, or even Temur, with creatures with Adventure, such as Bonecrusher Giant and Brazen Borrower.

Conclusion

Arcane Proxy looks like a good mythic-rare on its own, but lacks a higher power level or more flexibility to really impact Pioneer and Modern. It may have a place in Standard after The Brothers' War is released, but I don't see it as a viable option for other formats.
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Romeu

Journalism student, writer and translator for Cards Realm. Plays virtually every Magic: The Gathering competitive format and is a lifetime Final Fantasy fan.

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