If you’re as old as I am, reader, then you remember the Nintendo 64 game Goldeneye well. Countless Summer and Friday nights were spent playing the game, trying to unlock the Invincibility cheat on your own or jamming in round after round of multiplayer, where winner stays and chooses the level and weapons. For me, it was always proximity mines and the complex. The goal was to lay the mines at all the spawning points and watch as your opponents floundered. Sadly, the decks I enjoy playing in Magic are much the same way.
My least favorite way of playing was The Man With The Golden Gun. The golden gun killed in one shot, whether it was in the head, the foot, or even the enemy’s gun. The player who spawned nearest the golden gun was incredibly difficult to defeat.
Golden cards in Magic: The Gathering are very strong as well. Jeskai Ascendancy has been cried about well enough (while I wouldn’t quite agree that the combo deck is a “real Modern deck” just yet), and Glittering Wish is a gold card that provides the player with another powerful piece. Well before talks of banning Jeskai Ascendancy came to be, there was some discussion about banning Manamorphose due to the prevalence of Storm. Living End and Restore Balance decks are other combo decks fueled by the Cascade trigger of gold cards, and gold cards round out control decks as well with Lightning Helix and Electrolyze. Even Aggro decks enjoy Qasali Pridemage, Dryad Militant, Loxodon Smiter, and Figure of Destiny. All archetypes find support in their maindecks or sideboards with gold cards.
There are a few considerations to make to try and use Pillar of the Paruns functional in Modern:
1) The first is the elephant in the room: the deck has to be effective against U/R Delver and Burn. Modern is lousy with these decks and variants of each right now. Stats pages list R Burn, RB Burn, RBG Burn, RG Burn, RUG Burn, RBW Burn, RW Burn as different archetypes represented in dailies, but the fact is, you’re going to be bolted a lot. Similarly, Delver of Secrets has several archetypes of his own in just two colors: U/R. Our creatures have to survive to Lightning Bolt, and I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to some life-gain. This also means that Firespout, perhaps moreso than Pillar of the Paruns, will be integral to the viability of this deck.
2) Aggro, while so tempting, turns out not to be an option. I wanted it to be so badly. After all, The Man With The Golden Gun kills in one shot. Spike Jester and Jund Hackblade play well together, and Burning-Tree Emissary is great in conjunction with the other two for the quick golden gun kill. The aforementioned Qasali Pridemage is exciting because he has been proven to have application in Aggro by way of Zoo. The trouble is the one-drop slot. Dryad Militant is the only creature to play on turn one without feeling awkward. Tattermunge Maniac and Nivmagus Elemental are significantly below her. She is good to keep in mind, though, because she offers disruption against Modern’s two best spells
from Khans: Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise. So we’re going to bookmark her for now.
3) Pillar of the Paruns is great at casting multi-colored spells, but not so great with some core deck functionality after that. For example, Figure of Destiny is a great turn one play, but if you can’t use your land in subsequent turns to activate his abilities, then he’s not so impressive. Similarly, Pillar of the Paruns is perfect for running both Ardent Plea AND Violent Outburst in the same deck until you realize that Pillar will neither cycle Monstrous Carabid nor suspend Greater Gargadon.
In the end, I think we’re going to be looking at a hateful midrange deck. While we’re still flooded at the 2-drop point of the curve, all the pieces are good for us to ignore. We want four toughness creatures, life-gain, powerful effects, and a rainbow mana-base. Here is draft one of The Man With The [Slower] Golden Gun:
I know what you’re thinking: this looks like a best of list from the past two Standard formats: Siege Rhino, Abrupt Decay, and Butcher of the Horde among others are really new cards. So what this deck does is to put them together with the rainbow mana-base, and I really feel like it has the pieces to beat U/R Delver and Burn. Now, whether you get those pieces in the order you need is up to some testing and tweaking; remember, this is draft 1 of the list.
Here are more specific reasons for card choices:
Fetchlands support Treasure Cruise and give you a relatively painless option for mana consistency as opposed to the City of Brass and Mana Confluence option the Modern cardpool offers. Reflecting Pool and Pillar of the Paruns ensure that we have the different colors we need for our diverse spell. Our basics are available for Ghost Quarter, Path to Exile, and Blood Moon that we will likely encounter.
Boy, is there plenty that needs justification here!
Brion Stoutarm: The giant is a really strong creature I’m excited to use in Modern when Burn is so prevalent. He adds to your life total resource at four mana, so Eidolon of the Great Revel will not trigger when you cast him. Further, he is very effective at closing out games.
Kitchen Finks: These are symptoms of the Modern era we are playing in right now. They work well with sweepers and hold the fort down against Aggro and Burn, which is becoming more and more combat-dependent with Monastery Swiftspear.
Loxodon Smiter: This card gives us game against decks that this list isn’t specifically geared to beat: Jund, Junk, discard, etc. We forgive the mana cost in an Eidolon-heavy environment because of the discard clause and the inability to be countered. He’s crucial in a lot of the match-ups we face today.
Qasali Pridemage: The deck needs an answer to Blood Moon, Daybreak Coronet, Eidolon of the Great Revel, Jeskai Ascendancy, and most creatures Affinity plays. Pridemage is that answer, and he allows you to put pressure on the opponent while holding back defense.
Siege Rhino: I only question playing him here over other Kitchen Finks because the opponent can easily hold up Skullcrack and Flames of the Blood Hand at this stage of the game, but the fact is that he is quite a bomb in the Burn and Aggro-Control match-ups.
Abrupt Decay: This card will save you equally in fair and unfair match-ups. It’s one of the pillars holding up Jund and Junk, and it helps this deck defeat combo, aggro, and control. In today’s meta, the primary targets will be Delver, Pyromancer, Swiftspear, Eidolon, and whatever is receiving +1/+1 counters from Arcbound Ravager.
Ajani Vengeant and Sorin, Solemn Visitor: There are a few other multi-colored planeswalkers that we can choose from to occupy these slots, but I thought that these had a good incremental advantage over the course of the game and immediate board impact against Delver and Burn.
Electrolyze: I’m not sure this card warrants an explanation. It’s essentially an Ancestral Recall in so many match-ups, particularly when everyone is playing Young Pyromancer, Delver of Secrets, various Soul Sisters to defeat Burn, Affinity creatures, etc.
Firespout: This card really shines, and I do believe that it is worth building a deck that can produce green and red, support x/4 creatures, and cast this card in today’s meta. Why not play a one-sided Wrath of God?
Lightning Helix: Who could have ever said that Healing Salve would be such a powerful effect to tack onto Lightning Bolt ten years ago? Then this was printed, and it’s been a staple in the Extended of its day and now Modern. Control the board, gain a card against Burn, and gain a turn against Aggro.
Steam Augury: Fact or Fiction is back in Modern, but it is golden. That suits this deck perfectly. After nickel and diming your opponent into the fifth and sixth turns of the game, you have this to refuel your hand. As a bonus, it feeds the graveyard for Treasure Cruise.
Treasure Cruise: The only non-golden card in the deck is still well worth the two slots as a late-game draw engine. Perhaps more are necessary.
There is really so much room to work on the sideboard in the golden Modern cardpool. We have a big number of Charms, hand disruption in Tidehollow Sculler and Sin Collector, counterspells such as Counterflux, big finishers for grinding matches like Sphinx’s Revelation, etc. If I were just looking at a snapshot of today’s Modern metagame, though, I believe I would run these 15 cards in the sideboard, with this plan for the two most common matches in MTGO Dailies:
Against U/R Delver: The cards we want in here are Golgari Charm, Orzhov Pontiff, and possibly graveyard disruption as well. If we are sure there are no Blood Moon cards coming on the other side of the table, we can eliminate Qasali Pridemage, but that is risky. Firespout is less impact here than in a matchup like Zoo or Affinity, so we can drop these 3. Finally, some number of Kitchen Finks can be removed.
Against Burn: We want Qasali Pridemage and Golgari Charm, so we remove the Firespout cards for them. This may be a little low impact, but if you can gain any life and destroy their creature sources of recurring damage, you should be very well suited to beat them.
Thanks for reading. Good luck, have fun.