This week I’ll be avoiding the bandwagon topics and pick up a few cards that need more decks built around them.
I love Phyrexian Unlife, especially in the current online meta-game. It has seen play in decks such as Ad Nauseam combo, Enduring Ideal decks, and Travis Woo’s Death’s Shadow, Spoils of the Vault 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 Treasure Cruise 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: Skullcrack and Flames of the Bloodhand. Phyrexian Unlife 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 Enduring Ideal decks aim to ramp to seven mana using Pentad Prism and Lotus Bloom. Over the course of the next turns, the opponent is increasingly constricted with Greater Auramancy, Form of the Dragon, Dovescape, and Phyrexian Unlife, 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 Form of the Dragon, and you start all over.
So what I hope to answer with this brew is, what if we skip Enduring Ideal and just try to run out Form of the Dragon using the same ramping process? It’s very risky in a Burn-heavy metagame, so we’re going to have to give ourselves hexproof.
The Great White Hate
This is part mono-white Nykthos hate, part Form of the Dragon and Phyrexian Unlife combo. Tweaking the deck and practicing with it can be filed under my “things to do.” That being said, I’m tempted to jam Leyline of Sanctity 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 Ad Nauseam decks placing in Dailies. I suspect that this has a lot to do with the Phyrexian Unlife and Angel’s Grace package the deck has to fight the overwhelming amount of Burn.
This card creates a win in the Goryo’s Vengeance deck that is regaining popularity now that everyone wants the turn two kill that Jeskai Ascendancy apparently has. It is also used in Travis Woo’s new combo deck built around Narset, Enlightened Master. I want to build a deck that uses Fury of the Horde with another Khans card, Howl of the Horde, just in case we need to attack for 80 on turn 3.
4 Immolating Souleater
4 Kiln Fiend
2 Nivmagus Elemental
4 Simian Spirit Guide
Other Spells (26)
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
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 Kiln Fiend on turn 3, then have three copies of Fury of the Horde and a 7/2 Kiln Fiend to take advantage of them. In order to do this, I have to have plenty of red cards.
I love Affinity. I love what Ensoul Artifact 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 Mox Opal 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 Melira, Sylvok Outcast.
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 Noble Hierarch and a couple of Rancor enchantments would shore up a lot of games. It would come up at least once in a daily or 8-man for me.
Ensoul Artifact could serve the same purpose in an Infect deck as Hierarch and Rancor did, as long as the deck was built a little differently. Here is my take on mono-blue Infect that is built to utilize Ensoul Artifact. Bonus: We can use Ghostfire Blade from Khans!
Modern Blue Infect
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Polluted Delta
2 Watery Grave
4 Blighted Agent
4 Ichorclaw Myr
4 Vector Asp
Other Spells (26)
4 Aether Vial
4 Cranial Plating
4 Ensoul Artifact
2 Ghostfire Blade
4 Mox Opal
4 Serum Visions
4 Welding Jar
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 Dispel and Spell Pierce, Unsummon or Vapor Snag (the former actually has its merit in this list over the latter!), and Echoing Truth 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 Ranger’s Guile and Vines of Vastwood to maintain lethal, and here we can use Aether Vial at the end of turn to play our threat when the opponent is not prepared. Or we can Vial in a Spellskite (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?