Some Modern Cards to Brew Around

Hi all,

This week I’ll be avoiding the bandwagon topics and pick up a few cards that need more decks built around them.

[c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c]

I love [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c], especially in the current online meta-game. It has seen play in decks such as [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] combo, [c]Enduring Ideal[/c] decks, and Travis Woo’s [c]Death’s Shadow[/c], [c]Spoils of the Vault[/c] deck. With no combo potential whatsoever, it even finds its way into the sideboards of B/W Tokens and Zoo decks. Why? Well, Burn of course!

Burn has minimal draw engine available to it, excepting the few players that are attempting [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] right now. If you can gain a certain amount of life, you buy yourself up to three new draw steps and turns. Burn mitigates this counter-strategy with one of its own: [c]Skullcrack[/c] and [c]Flames of the Bloodhand[/c]. [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] bypasses all that and gains you between ten and thirteen life, no exceptions. Since Burn is designed to have twenty damage within its top 10-11 cards, you now have more opportunity to get in the game, interact, and win.

The [c]Enduring Ideal[/c] decks aim to ramp to seven mana using [c]Pentad Prism[/c] and [c]Lotus Bloom[/c]. Over the course of the next turns, the opponent is increasingly constricted with [c]Greater Auramancy[/c], [c]Form of the Dragon[/c], [c]Dovescape[/c], and [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c], not necessarily in that order. Any time the opponent does successfully knock you below zero, even if it is a combat step of 78 damage, you still begin after that to accumulate poison counters. Then your life total resets to 5 thanks to [c]Form of the Dragon[/c], and you start all over.

So what I hope to answer with this brew is, what if we skip [c]Enduring Ideal[/c] and just try to run out [c]Form of the Dragon[/c] using the same ramping process? It’s very risky in a Burn-heavy metagame, so we’re going to have to give ourselves hexproof.

[d title=”The Great White Hate”]
4 Arid Mesa
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
8 Plains
4 Rugged Prairie
4 Sacred Foundry

2 Blood Moon
1 Enduring Ideal
3 Form of the Dragon
4 Ghostly Prison
4 Leyline of Sanctity
4 Lotus Bloom
2 Luminarch Ascension
4 Pentad Prism
4 Phyrexian Unlife
2 Poryphory Nodes
4 Runed Halo
2 Sphere of Safety

This is part mono-white Nykthos hate, part [c]Form of the Dragon[/c] and [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] combo. Tweaking the deck and practicing with it can be filed under my “things to do.” That being said, I’m tempted to jam [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] into the main of many online decks. As of this weekend, I’m 2/3 on cashing with Bogles that includes Leyline in the side and 0/2 on cashing without it.

You may have noticed that lately there has been a prevalence of [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] decks placing in Dailies. I suspect that this has a lot to do with the [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] and [c]Angel’s Grace[/c] package the deck has to fight the overwhelming amount of Burn.

[c]Fury of the Horde[/c]

This card creates a win in the [c]Goryo’s Vengeance[/c] deck that is regaining popularity now that everyone wants the turn two kill that [c]Jeskai Ascendancy[/c] apparently has. It is also used in Travis Woo’s new combo deck built around [c]Narset, Enlightened Master[/c]. I want to build a deck that uses [c]Fury of the Horde[/c] with another Khans card, [c]Howl of the Horde[/c], just in case we need to attack for 80 on turn 3.

[d title=”Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaid”]
20 Mountain

4 Immolating Souleater
4 Kiln Fiend
2 Nivmagus Elemental
4 Simian Spirit Guide

Other Spells
4 Assault Strobe
4 Brute Force
4 Double Cleave
4 Fury of the Horde
4 Ground Rift
4 Howl of the Horde
2 Psychotic Fury[/d]

The sheer amount of redundancy in a deck like this is surely getting close to the breaking point. There are so many different combinations of cards that easily produce a turn three kill. Would it be more resilient with a Rakdos mana-base and some discard disruption? Heck yes, especially in this Delver, Burn-infested metagame. But for the time being, I want to attack with a 1/2 [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] on turn 3, then have three copies of [c]Fury of the Horde[/c] and a 7/2 [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] to take advantage of them. In order to do this, I have to have plenty of red cards.

[c]Ensoul Artifact[/c]

I love Affinity. I love what [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c] has done for Affinity, and that I have a pretty sweet Affinity deck for 100 tix. I sort of cross my fingers in the hopes that [c]Mox Opal[/c] is spoiled for Modern Masters 2 so that this deck becomes more than 100 tix, but I am not a talented shot-caller or speculator.

I also love Infect. Mono Green Infect was a $40 Modern investment that repaid me well over 100 tix in 2-man queues, 8-man queues, and dailies. I bought 4 Noble Hierarchs with my winnings! Eventually, the metagame had too much incidental hate, including Pod’s maindeck [c]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/c].

When playing Infect, many decks use their life total as a resource in a more aggressive way than they would against any other, more traditional aggro or midrange deck. This is where [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] and a couple of [c]Rancor[/c] enchantments would shore up a lot of games. It would come up at least once in a daily or 8-man for me.

[c]Ensoul Artifact[/c] could serve the same purpose in an Infect deck as Hierarch and [c]Rancor[/c] did, as long as the deck was built a little differently. Here is my take on mono-blue Infect that is built to utilize [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c]. Bonus: We can use [c]Ghostfire Blade[/c] from Khans!

[d title=”Modern Blue Infect”]
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Inkmoth Nexus
2 Island
4 Polluted Delta
2 Watery Grave

4 Blighted Agent
4 Ichorclaw Myr
2 Spellskite
4 Vector Asp

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
4 Cranial Plating
4 Ensoul Artifact
2 Ghostfire Blade
4 Mox Opal
4 Serum Visions
4 Welding Jar[/d]

The real beauty here, besides the multiple angles of attack, is that blue offers us many more sideboard choices to counteract the hosers that exist. We can play [c]Dispel[/c] and [c]Spell Pierce[/c], [c]Unsummon[/c] or [c]Vapor Snag[/c] (the former actually has its merit in this list over the latter!), and [c]Echoing Truth[/c] or other counters.

This deck also has to resolve less spells at the right time to function. The mono green list has to hold up [c]Ranger’s Guile[/c] and [c]Vines of Vastwood[/c] to maintain lethal, and here we can use [c]Aether Vial[/c] at the end of turn to play our threat when the opponent is not prepared. Or we can Vial in a [c]Spellskite[/c] (credit to deluxeicoff here, you can see his U/G lists on stats pages).

I’m fairly devoted to a couple of different lists in Modern right now and have less time to test and practice brews, but if these spark something in you, good luck, have fun!

Closing question: Have you considered what can be done to fix the Modern MTGO metagame that is so littered with burn? Does anything need to be done besides deck adjustments?