With Throne of Eldraine’s introduction to Modern, a new archetype materialized. Team Lotus Box combined Oko, Thief of Crowns with Urza, Lord High Artificer to create a midrange deck that stepped immediately into the top tier. If you’ve been playing competitive Modern recently, you’re well familiar with the various Urza Midrange builds. Though initially they blew away the competition, we’ve adjusted and a few other decks have proven to be worthy adversaries for Urza Mid.

In recent weeks, I’ve been experimenting with Archmage’s Charm, a card widely underrated in Modern until now. As you may have read two weeks ago, it was fitting well into the Urza Mid deck. Sam Black incorporated Ice-Fang Coatl, which really is Modern’s Baleful Strix.

The Deck

This Urza Charm deck advances previous builds. Autumn Burchett tested and tuned Urza Charm, then made the top 8 of a large local tournament, and Sam Black made the finals of the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship with Urza Charm as his Modern deck. I strongly recommend that, while Oko is still legal in Modern, you play this deck if you’re looking for a competitive edge.

Urza Charm

Creatures (12)
Gilded Goose
Urza, Lord High Artificer
Ice-Fang Coatl

Planeswalkers (4)
Oko, Thief of Crowns

Spells (24)
Cryptic Command
Archmage’s Charm
Metallic Rebuke
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Mishra’s Bauble
Mox Opal
Engineered Explosives
Lands (19)
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Breeding Pool
Mystic Sanctuary
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Forest

Sideboard (15)
Damping Sphere
Drown in the Loch
Fatal Push
Dead of Winter
Veil of Summer
Mystical Dispute
Pithing Needle
Ashiok, Dream Render

The Changes

For the sake of this guide, I’m going to assume some familiarity with Team Lotus Box’s prior iterations of this deck so we can focus on the changes.

Archmage’s Charm is strong and flexible; it shines in this deck. Charm is a hard counter that doesn’t waste your mana if your opponent plays around counterspells. It can help keep you ahead by cancelling opposing threats, pull you ahead by generating card advantage, and sometimes flip games by stealing a cleverly-chosen permanent—Death’s Shadow, Amulet of Vigor, or a Construct token, to name a few.

Ice-Fang Coatl feels like the Modern incarnation of Baleful Strix, but with flash. It’s instant-speed cantripping removal for two mana, and approaches Snapcaster Mage in efficiency and value. Already powerful on those grounds alone, Coatl is well-suited to this deck, which has felt stronger and stronger the more we’ve pushed the deck towards instant-speed play.

Charm and Coatl take the place of Emry, Lurker of the Loch and any combo finish package (such as Thopter-Sword or Karn, the Great Creator). Those of you who have played Urza Mid are aware that the combo finishers account for a minority of wins. Beating down with Urza’s Constructs and Oko’s Elks does the job just fine, so that’s the goal with Urza Charm.

Though she is a powerful value engine, Emry is overrated in Modern. Her ceiling is high, but so is her investment cost. Urza Mid has few enough artifacts that her ETB trigger can brick too frequently, as well as risking the loss of powerful cards that you have no way to recur (Oko, Urza, Mystic Sanctuary). There are better shells for Emry, and better includes for Urza Charm, so she’s been left out.

Play Patterns

This Urza Charm deck plays differently from previous iterations of Urza Mid. You are, in no uncertain terms, a control deck. You’re bringing four or five counterspells to the table, as well as four quasi-removal spells from Ice-Fang Coatl. Between Charm and Coatl, more of your cards are reactive. You’re looking for a safe chance to get ahead on board, even by a little, then defend yourself until you can close. You are lighter on must-answer threats, so playing a demanding game is less appropriate here than in the Charmless versions of the deck.

Your wealth of instant-speed play provide mana efficiency. Take advantage of that. Unless you see risk in it, go ahead and draw cards with your Charms. That play pattern is a parity breaker against an opponent who is trying to stall you out and stock enough threats to overwhelm you.

Though I’ve most often used Charm as Cancel, followed closely by Divination, the third mode can be the most back-breaking. In general, use your Charms. They do a lot of work, and you can recur them with Mystic Sanctuary.

Ice-Fang Coatl is another great use of held mana. Don’t be afraid to flash it in for the card, or play it on your turn if you need to hit a land drop. Because this deck’s manabase supports three colors and Mystic Sanctuary, don’t expect your Coatl to have deathtouch early in the game. Just run it out if the ambush play isn’t necessary in the matchup.

The list shows nine counterspells, but you have access to many more with Mystic Sanctuary. Keep an eye out for lines using that use Sanctuary with your card draw spells—Astrolabe, Bauble, Coatl, and Charm—to pick up your binned countermagic early. Coatl and Charm specifically help you get around Field of Ruin and other forced shuffle effects. They can also let you counter a threat with a spell in your graveyard by fetching a Sanctuary and immediately drawing what you put on top of your library. These instant-speed Sanctuary plays are new to this version of the deck.

You cannot set up an endless Cryptic Command lock the way the builds with Emry could because you can’t recur Mishra’s Bauble. However, you can still chain a lot of Cryptics with the additional card draw that you have available.

There is a balance with this deck between resolving a source of pressure and keeping your shields up. Know your matchups so you know when it’s safe to tap down. This tension is why your most powerful turns involve slamming an Urza and passing with countermagic available. This can happen frighteningly early in the game. However, be mindful of potential interaction, as you do not want to be left vulnerable if Urza gets removed.

Playing this deck is really enjoyable if you’re a reactive player and love a challenge. The Urza Mid decks were already hard to pilot, and this more controlling version incorporates another modal spell. Enjoy the puzzle.

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