SilverBlack Spotlight: Shamans

Modern SilverBlack is a fascinating format, and I have been very glad that The League has forced me to look into it. For Pauper players, there is a whole new world of interactions and power-levels. For Modern players, similarly there are so many unexplored options. I would never believe that Wizards would make the “Pauper mistake” again, meaning support a format that costs so little to get into and floods their servers. Still, I hope that player-run events grow to keep the format alive. Even in three weeks, deck-builders have come up with some amazing things.

When brewing for SilverBlack, it’s important to remember a couple of things:

1) It is not a glorified Pauper. Don’t simply take a Pauper list and throw some uncommons in, expecting the power level to match that of other SilverBlack brews. Uncommons are simply more powerful than commons, so decks built around them, or mostly containing them, are going to be better.

2) It is not a dumping ground for failed Modern brews. Taking a budget Modern deck that did not succeed in a daily will most likely fail in SilverBlack in the same manner. My attempt at this included many [c]Grinding Station[/c] brews, including an Esper one with [c]Disciple of Deceit[/c] and [c]Squadron Hawk[/c]. As much as I love the idea, it simply is too slow and inconsistent, regardless of format.

Sometimes, though, we can look at mildly successful Modern lists that do not hinge upon rare or mythic cards and strike gold. Some players have done so with Shamans.

Consider this Shamans list that has cashed in on Modern dailies (even after losing [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c]) from user Taxideos:

[d title=”Taxideos Shamans”]

Land

4 Cavern of Souls

4 Copperline Gorge

2 Forest

2 Horizon Canopy

1 Misty Rainforest

1 Mountain

2 Stomping Ground

1 Temple Garden

4 Verdant Catacombs

Creatures

3 Birds of Paradise

2 Essence Warden

3 Flamekin Harbinger

4 Bosk Banneret

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

4 Elvish Visionary

4 Fauna Shaman

2 Burning-Tree Shaman

1 Eternal Witness

4 Rage Forger

Other Spells

3 Commune With Nature

4 Lightning Bolt

1 Sword of Fire and Ice

[/d]

The principal card here is [c]Rage Forger[/c], and he is the reason to build a Shamans deck. The reach he provides makes him better than the average anthem effect. There is a little bit of rare-dependence with the [c]Fauna Shaman[/c] engine, but SilverBlack has access to plenty of card advantage engines on-color. In fact, let’s set aside the rare cards in the deck, excluding the lands:

-[c]Birds of Paradise[/c]: Here is an easy-to-replace mana dork.

-[c]Burning-Tree Shaman[/c]: Not only is this illegal in SilverBlack, but also it is most likely unnecessary. It probably hates out cards and interactions that are available to those playing rares and mythics (e.g. [c]Birthing Pod[/c] and [c]Splinter Twin[/c]).

-[c]Sword of Fire and Ice[/c]: Well, this is missed. We can brush it off since our flying evasive creatures (Birds of Paradise) are also missing, and hopefully we can tell ourselves that we wouldn’t see it often enough anyway, being a one-of.

As far as the lands go, well, that is a problem for everyone in Modern SilverBlack (except has anyone tried [c]Ancient Ziggurat[/c]??). Besides, we shouldn’t worry about the loss of [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] as currently the format seems to be counter-low, and the lands providing access to non-Gruul colors are purely for the sideboard.

So we need to replace ten cards in the end, preferably with at least four card advantage engines, and at least two of them replacing Burning Tree Shaman as meta-hate. Here is my first draft:

[d title=”SilverBlack Shamans”]

Land

10 Forest

8 Mountain

2 Kazandu Refuge

Creatures

4 Bosk Banneret

4 Burning-Tree Emissary

3 Elvish Mystic

4 Elvish Visionary

4 Essence Warden

3 Eternal Witness

4 Flamekin Harbinger

4 Rage Forger

4 Wolf-Skull Shaman

Other Spells

2 Lead the Stampede

4 Lightning Bolt[/d]

I took the liberty of removing the [c]Commune with Nature[/c] as well, for a few reasons: we now have two lands that come into play tapped, more one-drops adding pressure to the slot, and [c]Lead the Stampede[/c] serving that purpose and filling the void from [c]Fauna Shaman[/c]. The extra [c]Essence Warden[/c] serve as meta hate, as there seem to be enough concerns about RDW, and [c]Wolf-Skull Shaman[/c] is a card advantage engine as well.

There are a couple of interesting synergies that aren’t immediately apparent upon reading the list but come up in play nearly every game.

First, the interaction between [c]Wolf-Skull Shaman[/c] and repeated [c]Flamekin Harbinger[/c] tutors can be quite backbreaking to an opponent who wants to win on the ground.

Second, [c]Eternal Witness[/c] really punishes any attempts the opponent makes to remove a creature like [c]Essence Warden[/c] or [c]Rage Forger[/c].

Other than these, the deck is simple to play: lay creatures down, and turn them sideways, stacking some good triggers.

The deck is weak to situations such as flying tokens applying pressure alongside hate and removal and Tron. The sideboard can address these issues with [c]Windstorm[/c] or [c]Firespout[/c] in addition to an effect such as [c]Wrap in Vigor[/c].

Good luck in SilverBlack, everyone. Happy brewing!

-drinkard