Kaldheim brought with it an old friend in a new guise. Two cards in the set feature Avacyn Restored also-ran Tibalt—but instead of a fifteenth-pick, he’s a trickster god. Suitably, Tibalt’s Trickery is getting the most attention right now—slamming an Ugin into play on turn two will do that—but it’s his Planeswalker card that has me excited to brew with the set.

Per Matt Tabak, either side of the double-faced cards can be cast when you cascade—in other words, cascading into Valki, God of Lies allows you to cast Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor even if his mana cost is far more than the Cascade enabler. I was surprised by this—Sylvan Scrying can’t find Ondu Inversion, after all, but it did motivate me to see if we can’t make Wizards regret that ruling. Both Modern and Legacy offer opportunities to Cascase for fun and profit.


Turn three Karn Liberated has been a staple of Modern for almost a decade—so how quickly can we cast Tibalt in Modern? Taking a cue from the old Living End combo deck, with Simian Spirit Guide we can cast Demonic Dread on turn two and find Tibalt, assuming Valki is our only two-drop in the deck.

If we want to take this as far as it goes, we could also run Gemstone Caverns to go for it on turn one, and Serum Powder to ensure we have our combo immediately; but I’m not willing to go that hard in the paint. I’ll leave that to the Tibalt’s Trickery deck, which is a glass cannon—any interaction from Spell Pierce to Jwari Disruption to Duress leaves the deck helpless. Of course, as Tibalt can tell you, glass cannons still do a lot of damage when they blow up.

Not going fully in on a combo build leaves us with a deck that can play a quick combo or play a quasi-control role—there’s nothing wrong with casting Valki, God of Lies when it can snag a copy of Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath or Tarmogoyf.

Modern Rakdos Tibalt Cascade

Creatures (12)
Simian Spirit Guide
Valki, God of Lies
Street Wraith

Planeswalkers (2)
Liliana of the Veil

Spells (24)
Demonic Dread
Rift Bolt
Blood Moon
Throes of Chaos
Force of Despair
Memory Leak
Grim Tutor
Lands (22)
Bloodstained Mire
Polluted Delta
Blood Crypt
Blightstep Pathway
Blackcleave Cliffs
Snow-Covered Swamp

Sideboard (15)
Leyline of the Void
Kolaghan's Command
Liliana of the Veil
Ravenous Trap

As always in Modern, you can steal some wins with a turn two Blood Moon off Simian Spirit Guide. Dismember, Rift Bolt, and Force of Despair allow us to interact with our opponent without accidentally cascading into a non-Valki spell and to help close out the game once we have a Tibalt in play. Notably, running this deck means you can’t run Thoughtseize, Engineered Explosives, or Lightning Bolt, which is playing Modern without a seatbelt—but Tibalt wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve been testing and enjoying a singleton Throes of Chaos, but its converted mana cost means we can still hit our interaction rather than our combo. Still, you won’t be upset cascading into Rift Bolt instead of Demonic Dread, particularly when you can try again next turn.

What makes this better than Living End? For one thing, it doesn’t fold to graveyard hate—Leyline of the Void, Grafdigger’s Cage, and Ravenous Trap are all blanks against us—and it can go off on turn two or three, compared to Living End having to build up a vulnerable graveyard. While a well-timed counter spell can still cut the legs out from under us, we can still pivot to running a more interactive deck and eventually hope to cast Tibalt for full retail.


What may even be more exciting than Tibalt in Modern is Tibalt in Legacy, which allows us to go Sultai instead of Rakdos with Shardless Agent as our Cascade target in place of Demonic Dread.

Legacy Shardless Tibalt

Creatures (15)
Shardless Agent
Valki, God of Lies
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
Plague Engineer
Leovold, Emissary of Trest

Planeswalkers (5)
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Spells (19)
Force of Will
Force of Negation
Snuff Out
Back to Basics
Tangle Wire
Lands (21)
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Verdant Catacombs
Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Snow-Covered Island

While we’re making up for not being able to play two-drops by playing the suite of alternate cost counterspells, we hamstring ourselves a bit by not being able to run a traditional sideboard loaded with Explosives, Extractions, and effective discard. Oko is also a bit less potent without Astrolabes to turn into Elk and Uro slower to Escape without a density of cheap spells. Still, I see this deck operating by slamming an early Tibalt and then protecting him as you accrue advantage—hence the preponderance of alternate cost spells and various prison components. Leovold, Emissary of Trest turns on all of our alternate cost spells, so multiples aren’t as troublesome as they would be in more traditional BUG builds. Our density of Planeswalkers also allows us to run one of my favorite cards of all time in Tangle Wire, which happily turns into an Elk once it’s outlived its usefulness.

I’ve been making fun of Tibalt ever since I traded for one at $15 to run in Standard back in 2012, as have many players who’ve wound up Specter’s Wail-ing themselves at an inopportune time thanks to the little sadist. Wizards has called our bluff in Kaldheim, giving us not just a buzzy, chaotic counterspell that’s turning Stonecoil Serpent into Ugin, the Spirit Dragon on turn two, but a powerful Brain Maggot variant who can drop the facade to become a disruptive Planeswalker. Joke’s on me, I suppose—I didn’t expect to ever say “can’t wait to cast Tibalt on turn two” with earnestness, but once tabletop Magic returns, I’ll be flipping Valki to do just that. I doubt I’ll be alone.

A lifelong resident of the Carolinas and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Rob has played Magic since he picked a Darkling Stalker up off the soccer field at summer camp. He works for nonprofits as an educational strategies developer and, in his off-hours, enjoys writing fiction, playing games, and exploring new beers.

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