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Spoiler Highlight: Smuggler's Surprise on Standard, Pioneer & Modern

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Smuggler's Surprise brings flexibility cheating creatures into play, making it useful at any stage of the game. In this article, we evaluate its potential for Standard, Pioneer and Modern!

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Outlaws of Thunder Junctionlink outside website preview seasons continue in full swing, and while discussions surrounding its lore or the fact that every character wearing a cowboy hat became a recurring feature on social media, a new green spell raised the hype for players in competitive formats - Smuggler's Surprise.

With effects similar to those already seen on cards like Tooth and Nail and Dramatic Entrance, this card becomes a potential option for archetypes in Standard, Pioneer and Modern, alongside bombs like Atraxa, Grand Unifier and Primeval Titan.


In this article, we dissect its possibilities for competitive Magic and how they fit into the current Metagame!

Smuggler’s Surprise - The Review

Smuggler’s Surprise is another in a long cycle of cards aimed at cheating on mana costs and placing permanents directly onto the battlefield, being a mix between Tooth and Nail and Dramatic Entrance.

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Unlike the other versions, the new spell is modal and can be used in different ways in different situations: for Magic Symbol 2Magic Symbol G, it turns into a kind of card selection and draw effect at instant speed while also feeding the graveyard for other interactions. For Magic Symbol 1Magic Symbol G, it is a Heroic Intervention for creatures with power 4 or greater, and for Magic Symbol 4Magic Symbol GMagic Symbol G, it transforms into one of the Tooth and Nail modules at instant-speed.

This flexibility and the benefit of using all of these effects simultaneously puts Smuggler's Surprise a step ahead of the other effects it is compared to, meaning it will never be a dead card or make its controller regret having more than one copy in their hand, in addition to playing around some effects while always threatening to place a bomb on the battlefield at the end of the opponent's turn.

Smuggler’s Surprise on Standard

The best home for Smuggler's Surprise is the archetype that was once considered the best deck in the format and from which it forced the concessions that most interactive archetypes use today to keep it in check, the Domain Ramp.

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Obviously, the “payoff” for Domain Ramp is to put Atraxa, Grand Unifier into play one turn earlier and at instant speed, waiting for the ideal timing to put it on the battlefield, and even use it to block against more aggressive decks whose interaction in Game 1 does not usually deal with the Phyrexian angel.

Smuggler’s Surprise also protects Atraxa when it comes into play for an extra mana while it can find lands and creatures with its ability in the early game, making it extremely versatile in adding value to this archetype.

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The recently revealed Terror of the Peaks reprint could bring other good interactions with the new spell as well, especially with Titan of Industry, where putting both creatures into play will deal seven damage to the opponent, with potential for four more with the Rhino token Titan can create, and given that both cards are decent on their own, it's possible we'll see new Ramp variants emerge next season!

Smuggler’s Surprise on Pioneer

Smuggler’s Surprise 's potential on Pioneer has yet to be measured. After all, Ramp decks are declining in the format and the card is no better than Storm the Festival for strategies like Mono Green Devotion, but that doesn't mean there's no room for potential and innovation with it.

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For three mana, we can use the spell as aSatyr Wayfinder that also finds creatures, with the versatility of protecting Greasefang, Okiba Boss from removals when we try to close the combo with Parhelion II.

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Its modules also interact with Atraxa Neoform, despite the notorious difficulty it would have in casting the side that cheats in mana instead of using it to mill cards and find an enabler for Neoform. On the other hand, it cannot be recast with Founding the Third Path nor does it fetch Neoform with its first ability, in addition to costing one more than Grisly Salvage.

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A Dragonlord Atarka at instant-speed could do some damage if the Metagame was more aggressive and full of small creatures. However, in the current scenario, Smuggler’s Surprise is too steep when Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord, Greasefang, Okiba Boss and Neoform can create similar results for half the mana.

Smuggler’s Surprise on Modern

Modern is a format full of ways to put huge creatures into play, and except for Goryo's Vengeance, none of them have true competitive potential in the format - and for six mana, Smuggler's Surprise doesn't do much compared to the other options, being even worse than Through the Breach if we want to cheat on costs with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

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However, it can find a home in the Amulet Titan lists, where all of its modules can, in some way, be useful.

Milling cards is not usually in the plans of Primeval Titan decks, but gaining another way to filter the top and find threats and necessary lands for Magic Symbol 2Magic Symbol G is relevant enough.

The ability to put creatures into play can bring Primeval Titan to the battlefield on the opponent's turn, or even cast it on your turn to make your win condition bypass Subtlety and/or gaining Hexproof and Indestructible in the process for an extra mana, allowing for safer combo-kill openings.

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The problem is where this card can fit into newer versions, of which have, on average, two to three flex slots, filled by a combination of Explore, Azusa, Lost But Seeking and Expedition Map, once recognized as pillars of the archetype and replaced as their interaction and strategy was enhanced by power creep.

I could see situations where it replaces Azusa, Lost But Seeking or even Explore in the list, possibly a one-of or two-of, but both cards have more straightforward functions on the list without making any concessions, while the new spell can be a bit more conditional, depending on the Metagame where it is inserted.


Smuggler’s Surprise certainly has room to impact the competitive Metagame, even if only in Standard where it provides more security for Ramp decks to execute their strategies.


Its use in other formats largely depends on how they will adapt to the new additions of Outlaws of Thunder Junction and even with Modern Horizons 3, where it can make a difference as the format becomes more interactive.

Thanks for reading!