Modern Jank – Troll Worship (Also totally NOT a rant about the bans)

Hello! Some of you may remember me from about three years now of making the occasional video and writing an article here and there. If you like rogue, semi-stupid decks and sarcastic commentary, then you might like what I write. If you don’t, there is always the back button. Or, you could pull an Internet and pointlessly bash me in the comments. To each their own.

Anyway, I was going to write an article about the new banned list. But let’s be honest – that topic has been beaten to death. Literally every major Magic YouTube channel and / or website has done a piece about the fact that the Amulet Bloom deck is dead (like we didn’t see that one coming), and that the [c]Splinter Twin[/c] banning was uncalled for. I will not subject you to an article’s worth of words about the bans; you can look at Binkabi’s video here if you want more detailed content on that.

I will, however, subject you to this minor rant. Whatever the “Evil Gestapo” at Wizards of the Coast do with the Modern banned list does not matter. While I can agree that their motives for banning [c]Splinter Twin[/c] seem ulterior, why waste time trying to figure them out? It could be monetary, it could be for a little spice in the format, or it could be for publicity. Who cares? Unless you invested a lot in Twin, and are very sad that you have lost your money slash favorite deck, there is ONLY one reason to be mad. That reason is that Red Green Tron is about to be a major nuisance. It yanks my chain that one of the very few decks capable of keeping Tron in check is gone. POOF!

Boromir Beat RG Tron

Tron destroys midrange and has a good matchup against control and weenie decks. Combo archetypes, Twin in particular, are Tron’s nightmare matchups, as it has little to no meaningful interaction in the first game and even post-board. Sure, Wizards, just take away our best respite from the wrecking ball of Modern decks. We all love getting [c]Karn Liberated[/c] to death and having our heads relieved of their eyeballs and ears via [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c]. Hell, it’s like Wizards knew that Tron would dominate after the Twin banning. So much so that they printed that [c]Crumble to Dust[/c] card.

The following is a real and unscripted conversation that took place in Wizards of the Coast’s R&D Department sometime before the 18th of January.

Dude 1: “Hey man, we want to ban Splinter Twin in Modern.”
Dude 2: “Oh yeah that’s a nice mix up. All those Twin players are gonna be super butthurt!”
Dude 1: “I know right? Hey at least I play R/G Tron. I hate the Twin Matchup, but I fear that now that it’s out of the way EVERYONE will want to play Tron!”
Dude 2: “Yo we could totally research and develop a card to make the Tron mirror interesting…”
Dude 1: “So you mean… A functional reprint of [c]Sowing Salt[/c] that can be found with [c]Ancient Stirrings[/c] and that is easier on the Tron manabase?”
Dude 2: “Umm I was thinking something like an Eldrazi that could [c]Crucible of Worlds[/c] so that there would be like some forced [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] interaction or something… But that card would be too busted and I’m lazy so that works too!”

In that matchup, it will be whichever player resolves that [c]Crumble to Dust[/c] first that will probably win. Imagine the days in Legacy when [c]Mental Misstep[/c] was legal… Aka my worst nightmares. Half of your meta will be the Urza Abomination, and since your Twin deck is no longer useful, you’ll probably just end up playing Tron with the rest of them. Assuming you were a Twin player, that is.

(Insert great segue here)

And this is why I choose to play brews and decks that are fun yet still maintain a decent win ratio. There’s a good chance that your deck will be completely shafted by some mildly senseless ban. Plus you will be that “one guy” playing your jank brew. You will be adored or hated based on that brew. In this read, I will share with you my take on a deck that is so Troll it’s not even funny. The deck is called Troll Worship for two reasons. One – it literally worships trolling your opponent by stopping them from winning. Two – it plays the cards [c]Troll Ascetic[/c] and [c]Worship[/c].

Is it cheap? By Modern standards, it’s not too hard on the pocket. Does it win? The deck has a The Rock-y feel, meaning it has few “bad” matchups and mostly okay to good ones. Is it stupid, janky, and sure to make some opponents pull their hair out as you remain at one life until they die? Oh, absolutely. Let me hit you up with my list before delving into the intricacies of Troll Worship.

[d title=”Troll Worship 2K16 (Modern)”]
Creatures
3 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Qasali Pridemage
4 Troll Ascetic
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Knight of the Reliquary
Instants
4 Path to Exile
2 Spell Pierce
1 Spell Snare
Other Spells
3 Worship
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Spectral Flight
Lands
4 Windswept Heath
2 Flooded Strand
1 Wooded Foothills
2 Forest
1 Plains
1 Island
1 Gavony Township
2 Breeding Pool
2 Temple Garden
3 Ghost Quarter
1 Hallowed Fountain
3 Razorverge Thicket
Sideboard
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
2 Dispel
3 Surgical Extraction
3 Kor Firewalker
2 Pithing Needle
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/d]

The Big Picture

At base, this is a fairly aggressive Bant Midrange deck that tries to resolve the card [c]Worship[/c] with a creature in play in order to soft lock the game against most decks. Being one of the most resilient creature types in Magic, with both Hexproof and Regeneration, trolls play very well with Worship as they can be near-impossible to get off the board. Other hexproof creatures, most notably [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c], are included to ensure a high density of threats that also make great targets for equipment or enchantments. Some spot removal and utility spells will round out the typical Troll Worship deck.

The Mana

With a top-end of four on the mana curve, this deck likes mana dork acceleration in concert with plenty of lands to be able to cast spells on time or a turn early. Such cards are easy in Bant colors, with the three dorks of choice being [c]Noble Hierarch[/c], [c]Birds of Paradise[/c], and [c]Sylvan Caryatid[/c]. Optimally, the deck plays eight because it almost always wants one in the opening hand. I’ve seen some people play nine to ensure a turn one or two mana creature, but this is up to personal preference. Hierarch is obviously the best of the three. Exalted in an aggressive deck cannot be undervalued. The only reason it is not in this particular list is that budget is a concern. If you have Hierarchs, play them over Caryatid. The dryad is nice in that it has Hexproof, which has better synergy with Worship, but the extra mana can slow the curve and detract from the speed of the deck. In this list I have opted for a 2/2 split between the plant and [c]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/c]. Pilgrim is the best 1-mana replacement for Hierarch, and contributes to better turn 2 plays than Caryatid, even though it is more likely to bite the dust.

Other than the accelerants, the land base shown is not bad on the wallet and will consistently provide all colors of mana. The new Khans reprint fetches go for surprisingly little, and as a primarily two color deck, only five shock lands are needed. The four basics are a great hedge against [c]Blood Moon[/c], work well against opposing [c]Path to Exile[/c]s, and most importantly do not affect consistency like they might in more color-intensive decks. [c]Razorverge Thicket[/c] is an all-star which allows the deck to save a fetch and not take any damage to cast a turn 1 mana dork. [c]Gavony Township[/c] is a bullet land that helps mitigate stall-outs and add relevance to our smaller creatures. Most importantly, [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] is one of the few main deck ways this deck has to interact with Tron. Do not fear Quartering early; if anything, it will help you race and try to win before an O-Stone can come down. This will be discussed further in the sideboard and matchup analysis.

The Creatures

As discussed, the deck runs a nice helping of mana acceleration creatures to make things faster and smoother. But what to do with it? Well, in a deck that plays with [c]Worship[/c], we want to play a number of creatures that are both threatening and resilient, the first of which is [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c]. Good ol’ GST is insanely good right now. With fewer [c]Remand[/c]s being played, and most conventional removal being worthless, Geist is a card that can and will end games on its own. Even with hexproof, the 2/2 will be swinging into the red zone pretty often, and with only 2 toughness, he is not liable to survive all of the action. For this, we need those trolls that I mentioned earlier. You know, the ones that leave unintelligible garbage comments all over the internet insulting people. Those trolls.

troll ascetic art

[c]Troll Ascetic[/c] is our main man for this sort of activity. The “moderators” [c]Path to Exile[/c] and [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] cannot target our mischievous friend, and he shrugs off the beatings he would receive in combat with a simple “u mad?” for {1}{G}. Costing only 3, Ascetic is the best troll for the deck. “But what about [c]Witchstalker[/c]?” This is honestly a metagame call. If you expect a lot of Grixis control-style decks, against which Witchstalker is an inescapable threat, then it can certainly replace Ascetic. When faced with *cough* [c]Oblivion Stone[/c] and the like, the regeneration ability is significantly more valuable. In general, four trolls will not cut it. We want at least one more, just for good measure… And that’s when big poppa Thrun comes in.

[c]Thrun, the Last Troll[/c] will be the dude to survive everything. It is hard to say that he is strictly better than Ascetic, despite being uncounterable, because he can be cast at turn three at the earliest. When it comes down to it, speed trumps all. Remember that even though the deck is slightly higher curved than most aggro decks, it still wants to be attacking with its creatures on time and trying to get ahead just enough so that Worship seals up the game. Thrun is great in combo matchups, and it’s a good idea to play another in the sideboard. In the matchups where he is good, he is really good. Otherwise, he can be a hard to kill 4/4 for 4 at worst. Not too bad, right?

For value dudes, {G}/{w}/{u} has a lot of good options. For this list, I have opted to play 4 [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c] in the maindeck. It’s decent against Tron and Affinity, can remove a troublesome [c]Blood Moon[/c] or [c]AEther Vial[/c], and in a similar manner to Thrun, there are not really any downsides to playing it. In most matchups it is just a reasonably-costed beater that works well with other creatures. If you do not like QPM, there are many other options. [c]Voice of Resurgence[/c], [c]Kitchen Finks[/c], and [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c] come immediately to mind. This is also a relatively budget deck, and Pridemage is the cheapest of the bunch. I have also opted for a 1-of [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c], which is not a necessary inclusion. Some people like to use a playset, which allows for the use of more “value” lands, but just the one is fine. In particular, it finds [c]Gavony Township[/c] and Ghost Quarter, and some sideboard lands such as [c]Bojuka Bog[/c]. Knight can also be a huge threat in the mid to late game, especially with fetch lands in the deck. Again, this is a flex slot so take your pick. You’re playing the creature colors, so it’s tough to go wrong.

The Support

Let’s think about this for a second. We have a lot of hexproof creatures. We have good mana. Let’s throw some pants on those dudes and go to town! [c]Spectral Flight[/c] is a severely underrated card in Modern. It is a cheap and very effective way to make a creature powerful and evasive. The operative word in that statement is “cheap.” Both in price and mana cost, Flight blows the Swords of X and Y out of the water. For only two mana, the creature that it enchants gets the same boost to power and toughness, and a form of evasion. Swords do the same thing for five mana, except their evasion is color-specific, and they have an upside when combat damage is dealt, and they stick around when the equipped creature dies. This is a bit of a toss-up. For budget reasons, this list runs Flight, but in some matchups, the Swords are just better. In fast matchups, Spectral Flight is better. It’s honestly up to the pilot.

Elspeth art

In addition to the pants for our hexproof guys, this deck does well with the tailor herself – [c]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/c]. Every single one of her abilities is relevant. She can stitch up some nice Khakis to get GST into the red zone without dying, make a dude to turn on Worship, or make us [c]Wrath of God[/c] – proof. Most lists that run her run three copies, but I have opted for two here. This is to make a little bit of room for some extra interaction. Four [c]Path to Exile[/c] are very important removal spells that deal with threats before we can land a Worship. I have also opted for three 1-mana counterspells. The two [c]Spell Pierce[/c] and one [c]Spell Snare[/c] serve as a way to interact with the opponent in the early turns and disrupt their game plan without having to hold up more than a little bit of mana for something like [c]Remand[/c]. Pierce counters early Lilianas or Karns that we might have trouble dealing with otherwise, and Snare handles [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], [c]Bitterblossom[/c], [c]Spellskite[/c], [c]Atarka’s Command[/c]… Basically all relevant two-drops. It’s a pretty darn good card.

Also a quick note about the card [c]Worship[/c] itself – it states that DAMAGE cannot reduce your life total to lower than one. Loss of life effects can still kill you. Keep this in mind! While not common, occasionally you may run into something like a [c]Bloodchief Ascension[/c] deck that can drain you even with Worship on the table.

Sideboarding and Matchups

This section will be pretty short and will cover basically two decks – Infect and Tron. Our game against most other decks is pretty strong. Game 1 against Burn is just fine once we land a Worship, but in game two, [c]Destructive Revelry[/c] means that a [c]Kor Firewalker[/c] or two is nice to shore things up. Jund and Junk present little to effectively disrupt the deck and their creatures aren’t a big deal. Infect is a serious problem deck. Worship does nothing to stop poison counters, so short of playing a few copies of [c]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/c] in the sideboard, the best thing to do is play a few more Spell Pierce. Tron is potentially even worse. Game one, Ghost Quarter is our only way to interact profitably. Quarter early and often, and try to cast Knight of the Reliquary quickly to tutor up more Quarters. Post-board, [c]Pithing Needle[/c] shuts down planeswalkers, and [c]Stony Silence[/c] makes [c]Oblivion Stone[/c], [c]Expedition Map[/c], and [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c] worthless. Most importantly, [c]Surgical Extraction[/c] in concert with [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] stops tron outright. They might still be able to cast something like [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c] in later turns, but without the fast mana, R/G Tron gets considerably worse. They will likely never resolve [c]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/c] if you’ve taken them off of their lands.

The board that I have laid out is pretty bad. Any and every sideboard should be metagame dependent, and tweaked to what you need it to do. If no one plays Tron at your LGS, or you do not expect to see a lot of Burn in the two-mans for whatever reason, change up the game plan.

Adding Money and What You Can Do

The great part about Troll Worship is that it is a highly customizable deck based on what you want to play and how much money you have. If you want to play with more copies of [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c] and [c]Voice of Resurgence[/c], go for it. Have a playset of Noble Hierarch already? Cut those Pilgrims. If you want to play [c]Misty Rainforest[/c] in lieu of the Foothills and Strands, that is just fine. Besides adding money, you can also change the deck’s game plan entirely. While an aggro deck at heart, [c]Worship[/c] is a great defensive card. It is feasible to play more a controlling Troll Worship deck that runs not only more copies of Worship, but also cards like [c]Oblivion Ring[/c] and [c]Bant Charm[/c]. [c]Sylvan Caryatid[/c] is much better in this type of strategy. If you want to be even more aggressive, cut another Worship and some counterspells to play more creatures.

It’s up to you what you do with the archetype. Whether you play a budget version, or a tricked out, KOTR-package infused monstrosity, you are sure to enjoy trolling your opponents with this deck. I hope you have enjoyed reading about it, and maybe you’ll consider picking up a list that works for you. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email at [email protected]icgatheringstrat.com. I will get back to you ASAP.

Thanks for reading, and see you in future articles and videos!

Peyton Tracey

MagicGatheringStrat2 on MTGO
MagicGatheringStrat. on Cockatrice
@MGSPeyton

Commander Corner: Roon of the Hidden Realm

Welcome back,

For this week’s article I decided to feature my friend Dylan’s commander, [c]Roon of the Hidden Realm[/c]. This is not his list card-for-card, but it does draw a lot of inspiration from playing against his deck for over a year at this point. I feel that this type of strategy (which we will be delving into shortly) is one of the best things to be doing in Commander.

The power level of [c]Roon[/c] is insane as he can attack and block efficiently while stopping your opponents’ creatures from doing the same. He can also protect and generate value from your own creatures. He does everything a good commander should. It’s all value all the time here with this rhino. Since there is very little lore for us to take a look at, lets just dive straight into this bouncy house of a deck.

ur271_roon

When one Craterhoof trigger isn’t enough…

[d title=”Roon’s Bouncy Castle (EDH)”]

Commander

1 Roon of the Hidden Realm

Lands

1 Bant Panorama

1 Breeding Pool

1 Evolving Wilds

1 Flooded Strand

7 Forest

1 Glacial Fortress

1 Halimar Depths

1 Hallowed Fountain

1 Island

1 Krosan Verge

1 Maze of Ith

1 Misty Rainforest

1 Myriad Landscape

5 Plains

1 Reliquary Tower

1 Seaside Citadel

1 Sunpetal Grove

1 Temple Garden

1 Terramorphic Expanse

1 Windswept Heath[/d]

[d]

Creatures

1 Angel of Serenity

1 Armada Wurm

1 Banisher Priest

1 Birds of Paradise

1 Bloom Tender

1 Clever Impersonator

1 Coiling Oracle

1 Craterhoof Behemoth

1 Deadeye Navigator

1 Duplicant

1 Ephara, God of the Polis

1 Eternal Witness

1 Fauna Shaman

1 Fiend Hunter

1 Hornet Queen

1 Karmic Guide

1 Kitchen Finks

1 Mulldrifter

1 Mystic Snake

1 Prime Speaker Zegana

1 Progenitor Mimic

1 Prophet of Kruphix

1 Restoration Angel

1 Reveillark

1 Snapcaster Mage

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Soul of the Harvest

1 Sun Titan

1 Sylvan Caryatid

1 Thragtusk

1 Venser, Shaper Savant

1 Wood Elves

1 Woodfall Primus[/d]

[d]

Instants

1 Beast Within

1 Brainstorm

1 Condemn

1 Counterspell

1 Cyclonic Rift

1 Hinder

1 Path to Exile

1 Pongify

1 Return to Dust

1 Spell Crumple

1 Sphinx’s Revelation

1 Swords to Plowshares

1 Think Twice

1 Worldly Tutor[/d]

[d]

Sorceries

1 Austere Command

1 Kodama’s Reach

1 Ponder

1 Search for Tomorrow

1 Supreme Verdict

1 Tooth and Nail

1 Treasure Cruise

Artifacts

1 Azorius Signet

1 Commander’s Sphere

1 Gilded Lotus

1 Obelisk of Bant

1 Sensei’s Divining Top

1 Simic Signet

1 Sol Ring

Planeswalkers

1 Venser, the Sojourner

[/d]

The value is strong with this one.

The deck plays out similarly to a Bant tempo/control deck. It puts your opponent in a soft lock while generating card advantage via [c]Roon[/c]’s ability. Gaining the edge by reusing the same cards over and over by bouncing [c]Eternal Witness[/c] or drawing and ramping out your deck with [c]Solemn Simulacrum[/c] is this deck’s bread and butter. If you ever need to win on the spot, how does double [c]Craterhoof[/c] triggers sound? I have yet to see a match where that hasn’t gotten the job done. If you are a fan of value (and who isn’t) then you should give [c]Roon[/c] a shot.

The primary modes of winning are with multiple [c]Craterhoof[/c] triggers, or just by beating your opponents with sheer card advantage. [c]Craterhoof[/c] is the preferred mode of winning though, as it is easier to pull off with the huge mass of creatures and the fact that you’re almost always going to draw it. Though the card advantage route isn’t too hard either, as getting back [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] or [c]Sphinx’s Revelation[/c] every turn by bouncing your [c]Eternal Witness[/c] is an easy way to pull that off.

This deck does have a few issues.

It can be a bit color sensitive, as a lot of these cards require very specific mana to cast them. Fetchlands definitely go a long way to mitigate this, but sometimes I still run into some mana issues. With the amount of ramp spells this deck has, most games should be fine.

The list also tends to rely heavily on [c]Roon[/c] staying alive. Thank goodness he isn’t a tiny guy, or else we would have a huge problem. You do need to have “protect Roon” on the top of your list, or else you’re going to be running sub-optimally. Which is not to say that this deck can’t win without him, it just becomes that much harder.

For me, the two cards that have proven every game that they are power houses in any deck, especially this one, are [c]Prophet of Kruphix[/c], and [c]Deadeye Navigator[/c]. [c]Prophet of Kruphix[/c] is exactly what you need with [c]Roon[/c]. With her out, you go into maximum overdrive. You’re able to crank out so much value every turn that it becomes impossible for your opponents to win until they deal with Prophet.

[c]Deadeye Navigator[/c] is no slouch either. He protects everything you have and also can conveniently win you the game. His ability to pair himself with anything you control for two mana is insane. He can become oppressive at times, as it’s next to impossible to get him off the table once he sticks. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets banned at some point. As long as he is legal though, there is no reason not to play him.

I had tons of fun testing out this deck and I have no doubt that anyone who picks it up will enjoy it just as much.

When I made the first draft of this deck, it was running a copy of [c]Thousand-Year Elixir[/c] but I found that it really didn’t impact the game in any meaningful way. Being able to use [c]Roon[/c] multiple times in a turn was nice, but it made the deck slightly too reliant on him being in play. I replaced it with a [c]Sensei’s Divining Top[/c] – it’s hard to go wrong with that card alongside a ton of fetchlands. The amount of card advantage you bring to the table can put the most powerful control decks to shame, and you’re able to hit harder then any [c]Mayael[/c] deck could ever dream of. When this value train gets going, its next to impossible to stop it outside of a suplex.

Thanks for checking out this weeks Commander Corner. I would like to give a shout out to my friend Dylan for giving me the inspiration for this deck. I couldn’t have done it without you, buddy. If you have any recommendations for a commander you want me to talk about in a future article, please let me know in the comments below. Next week, we take a look at the up and coming EDH variant Tiny Leaders, or Minimander as I prefer to call it, and one of my favorite cards coming out of Fate Reforged. See you next week, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

Standard Tune Ups: Bant Chord of Calling

I perform a nightly ritual of checking through Magic: the Gathering websites for the updates of pros and semi-pros; what they are playing and why. Sometimes I find decks I end up playing for a whole season like B/U Kamikaze back in Scars-AVR Standard (Jessie Smith at SCG); or decks that I play for one daily and never touch again like UWR [c]Lightning Mauler[/c]/[c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c] (Craig Wescoe at TCGPlayer).

However if this process has taught me one thing it is never doubt the power of a deck that takes a different approach to the meta if the reasons behind the deck make sense. Further, it helped me realize my niche in Magic is tuning decks to their most optimal state. I am not a brewer at heart like Travis Woo and his ilk. I tune the base ideas of other peoples’ brews if I see promise in them. Sometimes I tune a tier one deck and try to gain the edges against the meta needed to win.

Today though, I am tuning a brew posted by none other than Reid, the Duke, Duke. Reid posted this list awhile back that featured some exciting new cards from M15, namely [c]Yisan, the Wandering Bard[/c] and [c]Chord of Calling[/c].

Duke's Version

[d title=”Reid’s Starting Point (Standard)”]
Lands
2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Temple of Enlightenment
4 Temple of Mystery
4 Temple Garden
4 Breeding Pool
1 Yavimaya Coast
2 Island
4 Forest

Creatures
3 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Kiora’s Follower
1 Scavenging Ooze
2 Courser of Kruphix
2 Yisan, the Wanderer Bard
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Ephara, God of the Polis
2 Fathom Mage
2 Horizon Chimera
3 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Prophet of Kruphix
2 Archangel of Thune
1 Prime Speaker Zegana
1 AEtherling

Spells
3 Chord of Calling
1 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
[/d]

Now Reid made a compelling reason why this sort of deck could be a powerful choice which boiled down essentially to “tutors are powerful.” When you look at the banned and restricted list of eternal formats you see tutor after tutor on the list and they are on there for a reason. The ability to turn a card in your hand into many different choices from your deck is powerful, especially in a format with [c]Goblin Rabblemaster[/c] Red and UW Elixir Control. In other words, polar opposite decks. [c]Banisher Priest[/c] is a three mana bear vs UW, but it may be the single best card in your deck against Rabble Red.

However, this is where we see another clause to the power of the deck and tutors in general: mana cost matters. There is a reason that [c]Demonic Tutor[/c] is banned in Legacy and [c]Diabolic Tutor[/c] never sees any play in Standard, let alone Legacy. There is a huge difference between paying two mana to make a card in your hand any card in your deck and spending four mana to do the same thing. The question then is this: are Yisan and Chord of Calling correctly costed or under-costed so as to make them viable? My answer? Maybe.

Not as powerful a recommendation as I would have hoped, but first let me take you through how I got from Reid’s 60 to my current 75. Here is my current 75:

My Bant

[d title=”Ztrman’s Bant Chord (Standard)”]
Lands
4 Temple of Enlightenment
4 Temple of Mystery
4 Temple Garden
4 Breeding Pool
4 Yavimaya Coast
4 Mana Confluence
1 Forest

Creatures
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Kiora’s Follower
1 Scavenging Ooze
2 Courser of Kruphix
3 Yisan, the Wanderer Bard
1 Phrexian Revoker
1 Fathom Mage
1 Polukranos, World Eater
3 Prophet of Kruphix
2 Archangel of Thune
1 Prime Speaker Zegana
1 Progenitor Mimic
1 Banisher Priest
1 Clone
1 Angel of Serenity
1 Horizon Chimera

Spells
4 Chord of Calling

Sideboard
1 Banisher Priest
1 Angel of Serenity
1 Garruk Caller of Beasts
1 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Courser of Kruphix
3 Centaur Healer
2 Nyx-Fleece Ram
3 Notion Thief
1 Lavinia of the Tenth
[/d]

The Main Deck Differences

Additions
+4 [c]Mana Confluence[/c]
+3 [c]Yavimaya Coast[/c]
+1 [c]Elvish Mystic[/c]
+1 [c]Phyrexian Revoker[/c]
+1 [c]Yisan, the Wandering Bard[/c]
+1 [c]Chord of Calling[/c]
+1 [c]Clone[/c]
+1 [c]Progenitor Mimic[/c]
+1 [c]Angel of Serenity[/c]

Subtractions
-3 [c]Forest[/c]
-2 [c]Island[/c]
-2 [c]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/c]
-1 [c]Ephara, God of the Polis[/c]
-2 [c]Polukronos, World Eater[/c]
-1 [c]Fathom Mage[/c]
-1 [c]Horizon Chimera[/c]
-1 [c]Aetherling[/c]
-1 [c]Ajani Mentor of Heroes[/c]

Mana changes:

The two islands and Nykthos were actively bad in the deck. The islands cause awkward draws leaving us unable to cast our mana dorks and the Nykthoses rarely netted mana and when they did it was unnecessary because the only spell that needs a lot of mana is [c]Chord of Calling[/c] which if we have devotion we can Convoke for anyways.

My addition of the [c]Mana Confluence[/c]s was to attempt to splash [c]Notion Thief[/c] out of the board to fix a poor UW match-up.

The addition of the 12th mana dork was just to increase the density of acceleration and maximize the ability to play turn two Yisan, almost as good as turn 2 Birthing Pod.

Additions

[c]Phyrexian Revoker[/c] – Hits [c]Pack Rat[/c] and Planeswalkers, easy to cast and easy to chord for versatile answer.

Additional [c]Yisan[/c] – The card overperformed every time I cast it. The ability to create a constant flow of chump blockers or chump sacs versus aggro and desecration demon respectively is very powerful. It is a must kill threat vs mono black variants because of the threatened card advantage and with [c]Prophet of Kruphix[/c] and [c]Kiora’s Follower[/c] it becomes live very quickly.

Additional [c]Chord of Calling[/c] – After playing with four in the deck I rarely became flooded with chords and chording for an ooze or a follower was a fine although mediocre play in games where I did.

[c]Clone[/c] – [c]Stormbreath Dragon[/c] is a beast. Clone is our easiest answer to the pro-white menace while also being able to get value off of cards like [c]Archangel of Thune[/c] or [c]Banisher Priest[/c] in our own deck. A common Yisan curve vs aggro decks is Banisher Priest into Clone into Archangel.

[c]Progenitor Mimic[/c] – The question was whether or not Progenitor Mimic was better or worse than [c]Aetherling[/c] in the black match-ups because Progenitor is obviously better when grinding out aggro decks and Aetherling is better vs UW. I found that Progenitor allowed us to win games where Aetherling would have been an overcosted dud. Copying [c]Desecration Demon[/c]s or [c]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/c]s, particularly at instant speed, gets out of hand very quickly.

[c]Angel of Serenity[/c] – Best finisher vs Aggro, best top-end vs Black decks. All around powerful value card, that with the extra in the board can set up very grindy loops of Angel of Serenity return two creatures and another Angel of Serenity.

Cuts

[c]Ephara, God of the Polis[/c] – No kind way of saying it was simply miserable. It drew cards slower than [c]Fathom Mage[/c], it never turned on. Overall four mana cycling is not impressive

[c]Polukranos[/c] – One remained as a powerful chord target, but generally we had little interest in monstrousing it in most match-ups because we had other things to do with our mana, making it just a four mana 5/5. There are times you wanted it and there are times you don’t, hence one copy remaining.

[c]Fathom Mage[/c] / [c]Horizon Chimera[/c] – The combo was not robust. It was expensive and fragile though there were times where it won games no other combination of cards could; infinite combos will do that, I suppose. (For those unaware of the combo, Fathom Mage + Horizon Chimera + [c]Archangel of Thune[/c]. If you draw a card or gain a life you begin the chain, Fathom gains a counter from Archangel and draws a card which causes Chimera to gain a life which causes Archangel to distribute counters, repeat for as many cards in your deck as you would like to draw.) While both remained decent creatures in certain match-ups, neither were absurd, hence relegated to tutor targets.

[c]Aetherling[/c] – See Progenitor Mimic notes above

[c]Ajani, Mentor of Heroes[/c] – An unmistakably powerful card, but simply did not play well into the deck’s plan most of the time on game one, hence why they are in the board.

Sideboard Rundown

2 [c]Nyx-Fleece Ram[/c]s and 3 [c]Centaur Healer[/c]s – Anti-burn and anti-aggro, not much to say. The split is because Centaur Healer attacks and trades whereas Fleece only blocks.

1 [c]Banisher Priest[/c] – Comes in versus aggro and mono black variants. Mono black variants as an answer to [c]Desecration Demon[/c] and [c]Pack Rat[/c].

1 [c]Reclamation Sage[/c] – UWx Detention Sphere lists, Burn, and Constellation Decks. There are two questions that arise here, why burn and why not mono black? Burn generally brings in 4x [c]Satyr Firedancer[/c]s and has some number of [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c]s and [c]Chained to the Rocks[/c] / [c]Banishing Light[/c], all of which are absolute beatings versus us and all of which are enchantments. They do not come in versus Mono Black Variants because [c]Underworld Connections[/c] is simply to slow versus most of our draws for us to care about it.

1 [c]Courser of Kruphix[/c] – Burn, aggro, and mono black. A wall that reduces flood is good in many match-ups but is not that inherently powerful in the deck.

4 [c]Notion Thief[/c] – Flash 3/1 with upside versus UW. One of our best possible tools in the match up. With [c]Chord of Calling[/c] we basically always threaten it and make it very hard for them to [c]Divination[/c] let alone get value out of [c]Sphinx’s Revelation[/c].

1 [c]Lavinia of the Tenth[/c] – Aggro, Mono Black, and Elspeth. Aggro is the obvious one, but against Mono Black and decks that have [c]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/c] it provides the powerful ability to fetch, basically acting as a [c]Sleep[/c] and allowing for a one time swing for the win.

1 [c]Ajani, Mentor of Heroes[/c] / 1 [c]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/c] / 1 [c]Angel of Serenity[/c] – Mono black and UW match-ups as powerful grindy threats. Ajani can also replace a Chord or a Yisan vs decks like GW aggro where they are not the most aggressive decks but demand that we lower our curve.

So that is the list and why the numbers became as they are. A couple of notes before I give my closing thoughts:

  • Yisan’s ability is worded such that putting a counter on it is a cost, in other words if you untap it with the trigger on the stack and activate it again you will fetch two creatures at the higher cost.
  • Yisan demands the exact same mana cost. After seven it does nothing.
  • The combo is not technically infinite; it can only add counters to your team equal to the number of cards in your deck. While this will often be enough, it is not infinite, so it may not be an auto-win in a grindy match-up or versus that local guy that only runs mill decks.
  • I 3-1ed the 7/31 Standard Daily Event with the deck and here was the list at the time. http://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/241686#online

Closing thoughts

The deck is certainly fun, but I would not advise it for high level competitive play in the current environment. It preys on mono black variants while maintaining decent matchups versus aggro decks. However, its UW match up is horrendous, and with UW winning the Pro Tour I would be hesitant to play the deck in a major event.

The deck though is unique in a field that before the Pro Tour was lacking new and interesting decks. It rewards skill and demands it for cards like Yisan and Chord. Further skill is demanded because the deck often is starved for mana in the early turns so each play matters even more. By the same token the deck brutally punishes mistakes. I’ve lost games because I Chorded a turn too early and didn’t wait for the better creature, or because I miscounted my damage on a critical swing, or tapped the wrong mana and couldn’t activate [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c] enough to trigger [c]Archangel of Thune[/c] enough times.

When the deck rewards you, though, it feels amazing. My favorite moment so far and my ending thought is the power of [c]Angel of Serenity[/c].

I am playing Game 1 versus a BG Devotion Deck with some number of main deck [c]Nissa, Worldwaker[/c]. I am down to 5 life and my opponent is attacking me with four [c]Nissa, Worldwaker[/c] animated lands (4/4 tramplers). I allow him to declare his attackers then before blocks I [c]Chord of Calling[/c] with x=7. I search out an Angel of Serenity which exiles three of his attackers (his lands!) and then block the fourth. [c]Angel of Serenity[/c] in effect [c]Plague Wind[/c]ed him and was a one-sided [c]Armageddon[/c].

If you have a deck you would like me to look at feel, please free to comment a list in the comments below and I will do my best to tune it over the coming weeks!

Check out the videos below of my recent run with this deck in a Daily Event, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Nah, too cheesy, Believe in the Heart of the Cards!

Nope, Play Magic and have fun.

There we go.

Play Magic and Have Fun.

-Zach Raph aka ZTRMAN