While I watched the beginning of Guillaume Wafo-Tapa’s 10-0 run in a Modern Challenge last weekend, a common theme emerged. As the western part of the world woke up, new viewers would stumble into the chat, with a vast majority of them asking “Why Opt over Consider?”
In this instance, Occam’s Razor is far more likely to be something along the lines of “There are cards I don’t want to put in my graveyard” rather than “The Hall of Fame control expert forgot Consider existed.” If one were searching for the answer to the former, it wouldn’t take much more than a cursory glance over the decklist before you’d be able to guess the answer. You might not know for sure, but you could probably guess what Wafo-Tapa was thinking.
Now, I understand the nature of parasocial relationships and how many Twitch chatters are simply seeking some amount of human connection, especially when those things can be difficult to come by during a pandemic. Even though it can be frustrating for a streamer to have to answer the same question every five minutes (which is why he has a “!dismissal” command to explain why Summary Dismissal is useful), the chatter usually isn’t even looking for an answer to the question to begin with. If that’s the case, perhaps they should consider asking a personal question, give a compliment, or say hi to the streamer and chat.
Anyway, if one can reasonably discern the answer, why am I writing this article in the first place?
1) In the case of Twitch chatters, I said “many,” not “all.” There are some who genuinely want to understand the answer.
2) You can discern some of the reasons, but not necessarily all of them unless you are extremely plugged into Modern. Plus, there might be something you missed, like I did when I wrote this article two months ago.
3) Nearly everyone cited Snapcaster Mage as a reason to try Consider instead of Opt and that’s not a particularly compelling argument.
In Wafo-Tapa’s deck specifically, he has two fetchable lands that he might not need early, but could need later on. Both Breeding Pool and Raugrin Triome can help power up Prismatic Ending, although as Wafo-Tapa noted, Prismatic Ending where X=4 is rare. With March of Otherworldly Light giving the deck an additional removal spell that tackle some of the same permanents, it’s even less likely to come up. That said, it’s still non-zero.
Raugrin Triome is strictly for Prismatic Ending, but you need Breeding Pool to actually cast sideboard Veil of Summers. There’s value in concealing the fact that you have Breeding Pool in Game 1 to reduce the chances of your opponent playing around Veil. If you mill Breeding Pool, it’s less likely you get to maximize the blowout potential.
Grixis Death’s Shadow was the winningest deck in Modern, which is why the Veils made it into the sideboard in the first place. They also happen to play four copies of Drown in the Loch. If you’ve been on the GDS side of things, you know that Drown is incredible, but it’s hardly a Doom Blade / Counterspell split card in certain matchups. Decks that have cards like Primeval Titan, Solitude, or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria can be tough because those cards can’t always be hit with Drown. If you’re casting Consider, you’re usually doing their job for them.
Wafo-Tapa’s Azorius Control deck is light on win conditions. Putting a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria into the graveyard early probably won’t matter in most instances, but in attrition-based matchups, it can come back to bite you. There’s also something to be said for keeping your density of powerful spells heavy enough so that you can actually take control in the midgame, rather than playing draw-go for eternity and hoping you win the topdeck war. Time is also a factor, both in real life and on Magic Online, so you’ll want to draw a win condition at some point.
So far, we have a bunch of reasons not to play Consider. Other than limiting our opponent’s Drown in the Lochs, they’re not deal-breakers. I could see a rationale for playing Consider instead of Opt if we had a good reason to. Most people seemed to think that Snapcaster Mage was it, plus some folks mentioned the singleton Memory Deluge as another reason.
If Snapcaster Mage could inherently cast Counterspell or Prismatic Ending without needing a copy in the graveyard, it’s value would go up, but not by much. It’s not difficult for those cards to end up in your graveyard just by sheer virtue of playing the game. Naturally, there are fail-cases for Snapcaster Mage, but those are typically games where your deck has failed to do much of anything. It’s not Snapcaster’s fault and it’s unlikely Consider instead of Opt would have saved you. In those instances, you’d just Snapcaster the Opt and be reasonably happy.
There are some matchups where you cast your cantrip on Turn 1 and don’t necessarily want a Prismatic Ending or Counterspell immediately, but could see a scenario where you’d like to Snapcaster it later. However, most of the matchups where you want those cards in your graveyard for Snapcaster, you’d probably keep them off your cantrip to begin with. For the most part, I don’t see Consider adding much flexibility to Snapcaster, at least in Azorius Control.
In Grixis decks, having Consider mill a Snapcaster that you don’t want early-game and be a potential target for Kolaghan’s Command later. When you think about it in those terms, Consider is useful for milling cards that you don’t need in the early-game, but could utilize later. The cards that you typically use with Snapcaster Mage are cheap cards that you’d keep with your cantrips in relevant matchups, but the same isn’t true with a card like Kolaghan’s Command. Most builds of Grixis don’t have cards they’d rather not mill, so Consider is almost all upside aside from opposing Drown in the Lochs and Hedron Crabs.
Memory Deluge is a relevant argument, although not a great one. Yes, it’s nice to have it chilling in the graveyard, but the matchups where you wouldn’t keep it off your cantrip are the faster matchups where you probably don’t need Deluge to win anyway. It adds some amount of percentage points to have it in your graveyard, but not enough to outweigh the downsides in Wafo-Tapa’s deck.
I love Consider and mostly feel like it’s stronger than Opt. However, “strictly better” rarely exists and heuristics like “putting cards in my graveyard with Snapcaster Mage” are only useful to a certain point. At some point, critical thinking becomes far more useful than any other skill.
Throughout his tenure in Magic: The Gathering, Gerry has worn many hats. Tournament grinder, content producer, professional player, game designer, teacher, and broadcaster are part of the ways he’s made MTG part of his life. Rather than flying to a tournament each weekend, Gerry enjoys his time trying to help the next generation of Magic players hone their skills and be positive members of the community.