WW Soul Tokens in the Pauper Gauntlet

This is Deluxeicoff’s list, but my favorite version of it and my submission to the Gauntlet. So here I go with the list and a sideboard plan!

[d title=”WW Soul Tokens by Deluxeicoff (Pauper)”]
Creatures
4 Doomed Traveler
3 Order of Leitbur
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Squadron Hawk
4 Suture Priest

Enchantments
4 Journey to Nowhere

Instants
4 Guardians’ Pledge
3 Raise the Alarm

Sorceries
4 Battle Screech
1 Cenn’s Enlistment

Land
18 Plains
3 Quicksand

Sideboard
2 Cho-Manno’s Blessing
1 Holy Light
4 Lumithread Field
3 Prismatic Strands
2 Rune of Protection: Red
3 Standard Bearer [/d]

Notes

Gaining life against aggro decks is solid. Burn is a joke. The deck *destroys* Delver. We should win against MBC, but my personal track record is iffy. Suture Priest is an all-star against Flicker decks and combos. Bring in Cho-Manno to protect him when you really need to stop the combo win. This is really not an aggro deck. It’s a mid-range list that takes grinds card advantages by getting multiple creatures per card and then wins with an alpha strike off of Guardian’s Pledge. We *can* win as early as t4-t5 and sometimes that is the goal, but a lot of games will go longer than that.

This deck’s primary win condition *can* be the clock, so play accordingly. Gain shitloads of life and Lumithread into unkillable blockers and then just play fast.

Sideboard Plan

Delver: Our card advantage and flyers eventually overwhelm them. Counter my birds? I’ll just flash them back. Don’t forget to use Quicksand on Ninjas.
+1 Holy Light, +4 Lumithread Field | -4 Journey to Nowhere, -1 Suture Priest

Esper Familiar: We have awesome Familiar tech if we can play it before they win. Basic plan is either win really early or get Suture Priest with Cho-Manno and/or Standard Bearer back-up. Keep up WW so if they capsize Cho-Manno you can recast it (remember it has flash!). They have to Snap and / or Capsize Suture Priests if they want to win.
+2 Cho-Manno’s Blessing, +1 Holy Light, +3 Standard Bearer | -4 Battle Screech, -1 Cenn’s Enlistment, -1 Journey to Nowhere

MBC: Deluxe thinks this is easy and I have a hard time. My SB plan has changed a lot over time and is quite simple now. You will get some hits early but be ready to slow down and grind out if necessary. Protect your Orders and don’t ever let your Lumithread Fields out as a morph creature if you tap out. Sitting on a lot of 1/5s can get you there, eventually.
+4 Lumithread Field | -4 Suture Priest

Delverfiend: Block, block, block, and then block some more. Lumithreads can still block after Apostle’s Blessing when they are a morph creature. Quicksand kills Kiln Fiend.
+4 Lumithread Field, +3 Prismatic Strands, +2 Rune of Protection: Red, +3 Standard Bearer | -3 Order of Leitbur, -4 Suture Priest, -4 Doomed Traveler, -1 Guardian’s Pledge

Boros/Jeskai-Kitty: Lumithread will save you g2-3 from Electrickery and give you giant blockers. Grind it out, gain life, block, and they just can’t win.
+4 Lumithread Field, +3 Prismatic Strands (Electrickery and Burn protection) | -3 Order of Leitbur, -4 Suture Priest

Stompy: Standard Bearer and Strands pretty much kill ’em. Plus you gain life all over the place. Win in the air.
+3 Standard Bearer, +3 Prismatic Strands | -4 Journey to Nowhere, -1 Doomed Traveler, -1 Guardian’s Pledge

Elves: Suture Priest and Standard Bearer = GG. Journey the Wellwishers. Watch out for arrows. Win in the air or on time.
+3 Standard Bearer, +3 Prismatic Strands, +4 Lumithread Field, +1 Holy Light | -3 Raise the Alarm, -4 Doomed Traveler, -3 Order of Leitbur, -1 Guardian’s Pledge

Goblins: Strands and Lumithread shine.
+1 Holy Light, +4 Lumithread Field, +3 Prismatic Strands, +2 Rune of Protection: Red | -4 Suture Priest, -4 Journey to Nowhere, -1 Guardian’s Pledge, -1 Order of Leitbur

RUG Tron: You can occasionally win fast but you can also win on the clock with giant blockers. Don’t be afraid to just wait them out and play defensively.
+4 Lumithread Field, +3 Prismatic Strands, +2 Rune of Protection: Red | -4 Suture Priest, -4 Order of Leitbur, -1 Guardian’s Pledge

Burn: Play so you can gain life off your sisters. No need to be aggressive. Watch out for Electrickery g2-3. One Lumithread as an enchant is fine and the rest can be morphs.
+4 Lumithread Field, +3 Prismatic Strands, +2 Rune of Protection: Red | -3 Order of Leitbur, -4 Journey to Nowhere, -1 Guardian’s Pledge, -1 Battle Screech

White Weenie: If they have sisters, expect to go to time. Manage your triggers as quickly as you can. Journey should hit their lifegain guys when possible.
+4 Lumithread Field, +3 Prismatic Strands | -4 Doomed Traveler, -3 Order of Leitbur

Affinity: Block low, swing high. Watch out for Fling.
+4 Lumithread Field, +3 Prismatic Strands, +2 Rune of Protection: Red | -3 Order of Leitbur, -4 Journey to Nowhere, -1 Guardian’s Pledge, -1 Suture Priest

UB Angler: We pretty much win. Journey + Order wrecks them; bait counters when necessary.
+4 Lumithread Field | -4 Suture Priest

Paupers and Kings, Ep. 5: Soul Sisters

soul sisters

Hi everyone, and welcome to the fifth episode of Paupers & Kings, my series on porting Pauper decks into the Modern format while staying on a budget.

How do you feel about gaining life in Magic? Sure, it’s handy against Burn, but most people who know about these things will tell you that gaining life doesn’t advance the game and it is, in general, a bad strategy. So how is it that we have these lists where lifegain is a major priority?

The trick, of course, is that lifegain can only be a part of the plan.

This week we are looking at Soul Sisters lists in Modern and Pauper.

The sisters in the spotlight are [c]Soul Warden[/c] and [c]Soul’s Attendant[/c]. Ignoring the fact that Attendant is a hopeless fraud of a healer (read her flavor text), these two lovely humans fit in nicely with a number of strategies that utilize lifegain to do broken things. Maybe not broken things, but pretty powerful things.

Let’s take a look, first, at our Modern list for the week.

Wary Soul Sisters

There are more “standard” mono-colored Soul Sisters lists in Modern, but meh. You’ve seen ’em, and I wanted to do something a little different and more fun. So instead of those we’re playing with a Boros build that abuses [c]Norin the Wary[/c] and [c]Champion of the Parish[/c], along with a bunch of lifegain, to make giant face-beaters and win the game. Here is the list we’re using, adapted from this list from Uota on Goldfish.

[d title=”Wary Soul Sisters by Uota (Modern)”]
Land
9 Plains
4 Mountain
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Clifftop Retreat

Creatures
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Champion of the Parish
2 Mentor of the Meek
3 Norin the Wary
2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
3 Ranger of Eos
4 Soul Warden
3 Soul’s Attendant
1 Legion Loyalist

Artifacts
4 Genesis Chamber

Spells
2 Return to the Ranks
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Path to Exile

Sideboard
1 Aven Mindcensor
2 Electrickery
2 Mark of Asylum
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
1 Suppression Field
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Sowing Salt
2 Wear/Tear [/d]

The interactions are pretty straight-forward and hinge around getting Norin onto the board. Once he hits, he is bouncing in and out on all of your turns and usually on your opponents’ turns as well. This lets you:

  • Gain life with the soul sisters.
  • Grow your Champions (and Pridemates if you’re gaining life).
  • Create Myr tokens, duplicating any other benefits you may be receiving (except Champions).
  • Kill your opponent with Purphoros triggers.

Mentor of the Meek helps make sure you don’t run out of gas, while Legion Loyalist is tutorable via Ranger of Eos and enables you to swing in effectively once your army has gotten big and tough enough. Return to the Ranks provides some resilience to sweepers, while Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile clear out annoying threats across the table.

Wary Soul Sisters on a Budget

I sprung for some more expensive cards than I might, normally, because they are land and sideboard staples. [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] is, namely, a great card for most tribal lists, so I picked up a playset. It has the major added benefit of working around Chalice, which is otherwise a very strong piece of SB hate against all our one-drops. Still, the best place to start budgetizing lists is usually in the mana base. It has an impact, for sure, but you can still get the right lands and play your game without a hitch plenty of the time.

Ranger of Eos and Purphoros are both strong components of the list, but it kind of works without them, so you could save some money there. You will be missing out on tutors and wincons, though, so consider alternatives. More Mentors could come in to replace Ranger, and you could consider [c]Harsh Sustenance[/c] as a cheap wincon if you found a way to splash black.

[c]Condemn[/c] is my favorite budget alternative to Path and will do in a pinch.

Even as it stands the list is less than 150 tix. For the price, you’re not getting something as powerful as the U Tron list we looked at last week, but it can still blow out games and does quite well in certain match-ups. It is also very fun to play.

Now let’s check out our Pauper list this week.

Midnight Presence

If you watch videos on our YouTube channel at all, you will recognize this list from the Pauper Gauntlet, submitted by mad brewer, Aught3. While it packs the Midnight Guard / Presence of Gond combo in the list, it is more of a midrange list that stalls your opponent with lifegain, grows an army of saprolings, and then swings in for a massive alpha strike. Here is the list.

[d title=”Midnight Presence by Aught3 (Pauper)”]
Land
4 Khalni Garden
3 Forest
4 Blossoming Sands
7 Plains
4 Selesnya Sanctuary

Creatures
4 Midnight Guard
4 Pallid Mycoderm
4 Selesnya Evangel
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Veteran Armorer

Spells
4 Presence of Gond
3 Scatter the Seeds
4 Sprout Swarm
3 Spidersilk Armor

Sideboard
3 Gleeful Sabotage
4 Scattershot Archer
4 Standard Bearer
3 Sunlance
1 Prismatic Strands [/d]

Along with stalling out via lifegain, the main Spidersilk Armors allow your creatures to get big and, along with the Veteran Armorers, give you good blocks to shut down your opponent’s offense. After that, it is just a matter of growing your army much, much, much larger than theirs, and then smashing in with a Pallid Mycoderm activation (or 2 or 3 or 4) to make your saproling tokens mean business.

You win with the combo from time to time as well, but Presence of Gond does good work on any creature you cast it on, while the Guard does a good job blocking things like Spire Golem that your 1/1s have an issue handling.

If you want to try something different in Pauper, I recommend taking this list for a spin. It is surprisingly strong against a lot of lists, but it does have some very bad matchups. MBC lists with edicts and discard aren’t too bad; MBC lists with direct removal and Pestilence / Crypt Rats are much harder. UR Control is a challenge. We probably just lose to Familiars. For competitive play, this deck does exactly what you don’t want to do in the current meta, it tries to be fair and play its own game. It gets punished for its efforts.

All the same, it’s a great deck for the practice room, and wins as much as it loses.

Here are the videos for this week’s lists.

 

I took Midnight Presence for a spin in a Pauper Daily Event. Those videos will be up on our YouTube channel soonish, so keep an eye out.

Next week on Paupers and Kings

I’m abusing combo elves for next week’s article, and it should be a ton of fun. As always, if you have recommendations for Modern / Pauper lists that crossover formats, let me know in the comments.

Until next time, may your Norins ever be wary.

/bava

Early Khans Brewing: Soul Soldiers

Hi all,

sagu maulerSince our last Early Khans Brewing article, the numbers of spoilers have doubled. I suspected that the power-level of Standard was going to continue sliding down from Return to Ravnica’s peak, as it did (quite significantly) during Theros block. That being said, I am not disappointed with the potential of these early spoilers. Today I want to look at how new cards fit into an old shell.

Before all that, though, an amendment. Last week, I told you how excited I was about morph, and the new spoilers have not disappointed: Cheat [c]Sagu Mauler[/c] into play using [c]Flickerwisp[/c], [c]Restoration Angel[/c], and [c]Cloudshift[/c], and enjoy the quick ride to the finish.

The excitement of the new spoilers is, for obvious reasons, the new fetchlands. Faeries, Hexproof, Burn, Esper control, Zoo, and many other decks are getting a big boost, and players who have been waiting to get into Modern because of the insanely expensive mana-bases will now have an opportunity. Excitement abounds, but this article isn’t about fetchlands.

Soul Soldiers

herald of anafenzaThis week, the main card that caught my eye most is [c]Herald of Anafenza[/c]. He’s a reliable token generator in white, the color best for its token pump: we have [c]Intangible Virtue[/c], [c]Honor of the Pure[/c], and more. Further, as he spits out guys, he gets out of burn reach and into finishing range. I will be buying him, though, to plug him into Soul Sisters.

Soul Sisters is an attractive deck for many players. First of all, it is a financially cheap aggro deck. The budget aspect of it is welcome in an Eternal format, and the aggro element creates some consistent wins when your opponents stumble on their draws or mana. Secondly, it gains life, which a lot of players like for this reason and that, but its lifegain is to a specific purpose: creating gigantic [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c] and [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] beaters. Here is a typical Soul Sisters list today.

[d title=”Pre-Khans Soul Sisters (Modern)”]
Land
18 Plains
4 Windbrisk Heights

Creatures
4 Soul Warden
2 Soul’s Attendant
4 Martyr of Sands
4 Ranger of Eos
4 Squadron Hawk
4 Serra Ascendant
4 Ajani’s Pridemate

Other Spells
2 Brave the Elements
4 Honor of the Pure
2 Path to Exile
4 Spectral Procession[/d]

The sideboard is full of cards that I suspect are responsible for more than 50% of the packs won in daily events: [c]Rest in Peace[/c], [c]Stony Silence[/c], [c]Suppression Field[/c], etc.

Soul Sisters aims to do one of three things:

  1. Play a turn one [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] followed by a turn 2 [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] plus activation, swinging for 6 and having a life total over 35.
  2. Play a [c]Soul Warden[/c] turn one followed by an [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c] turn two and possibly a couple or few creatures on turn three, swinging for five to six.
  3. Play an [c]Honor of the Pure[/c] turn two followed by a [c]Spectral Procession[/c] turn three, attacking with six flying damage.

Unfortunately, and here is my criticism of the deck, here are three things that happen often:

  1. Play a turn one [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] followed by a turn two [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c], gaining upwards of twelve life but only having a 3/3 in play on turn three.
  2. Draw the combo of [c]Soul Warden[/c] and [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] and wait for nine more creatures to come into play before you have a 6/6 flyer.
  3. Couple [c]Squadron Hawks[/c] and [c]Spectral Procession[/c] with [c]Soul’s Attendant[/c] where, sure, you have a lot of life, but you also are durdling with 1/1s.

These scenarios are just based on what you can draw in your opening hands! Forget the times that your opponent gets an [c]Electrolyze[/c] and basically makes it an [c]Ancestral Recall[/c]. Also don’t get me started on the top-deck [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] and how bad it is.

The problem with Soul Sisters is that it has an identity crisis. What it really wants to be is a trigger-based deck, and the [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] and [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] throws that off, relying on the sideboard for its consistency and 3-1 and 4-0 finishes.

Here, then, is what I propose for a post-Khans Soul Soldiers list:

[d title=”Soul Soldiers (Modern)”]
Land
18 Plains
4 Windbrisk Heights

Creatures
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Archangel of Thune
1 Herald of Anafenza
1 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
4 Ranger of Eos
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Soul Warden
4 Squadron Hawk

Other Spells
2 Brave the Elements
4 Honor of the Pure
2 Path to Exile
4 Spectral Procession[/d]

What does [c]Herald of Anafenza[/c] add to this list? Well, he is quite synergistic with the deck. His ability is a token-generator, which coupled with [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c] and [c]Soul Warden[/c] is going to create a beater. When coupled with [c]Archangel of Thune[/c] and [c]Soul Warden[/c], you create an army.

  • Step 1- Activate Outlast. Herald is +1/+1, and you create a token.
  • Step 2- The token triggers [c]Soul Warden[/c], and you gain 1 life.
  • Step 3- The life gain triggers [c]Archangel of Thune[/c], and Herald is +2/+2, Soul Warden is a 2/2, Archangel is a 4/5, and the token generated by Outlast is a 2/2.

It doesn’t take long for things to get absolutely ridiculous. This deck, then, is a swarm list and not one necessarily that tries to get to 30 life. You’re going to have a lot of creatures, and they’re going to get +1/+1 counters and get boosted by [c]Honor of the Pure[/c].

So why only one Herald, then, if it is so good? Well, our four [c]Ranger of Eos[/c] can bring him and [c]Mikaeus the Lunarch[/c] to hand, and when we can resolve the 4cc Ranger is when we want the Outlast effect, anyway.

Ainok-Bond-Kin-Khans-of-Tarkir-Spoiler-214x300[c]Archangel of Thune[/c] is a really strong Soul Sisters card that was overlooked for a long time due to its cost and the tendency of Soul Sisters players to be on a budget. Fortunately, the angel is now rotating out of Standard, so the time should be good to buy them soon. There are so many fewer scenarios of awkward nonbo draws with the Angel list than there was with Martyr + Ascendant. I get that you don’t get the powerful turn two 6/6 flying lifelink play, but hopefully you’ve seen how inconsistently that actually takes place.

At the moment, [c]Ainok Bond-Kin[/c] isn’t speaking to me; although plenty of your creatures would be granted first strike, that ability isn’t evasive enough to be convincing. Still, we’re keeping our eye out for other Outlast creatures that grant evasion or protection to your creatures with +1/+1 counters. They can surely be tucked into this list!

What Khans cards tickle your fancy? Write them in the comments below.

Threat Evaluation, Part Five: Plains, Go

Hi all,

This article is what would have been the last in the series if not for a few oversights. The point of the series has been to allow Modern players to identify their opponents’ decks based on the early plays they see. The articles have been divided out into basic land types, and they have been published in order of power level. Now that we’re down to the established lists that include Plains and no other basic lands, there are only precious few lists. Still, it is surprising that the historic worst color in Magic (note that [c]Mox Pearl[/c] is the cheapest to purchase) holds more lists than you would first guess.

Soul Sisters

The first and most common mono-white list is Soul Sisters, named after [c]Soul’s Attendant[/c] and [c]Soul Warden[/c]. The list has three lines of offense: the sisters themselves combined with [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c], [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] plus [/c]Martyr of Sands[/c], or [c]Honor of the Pure[/c] followed by [c]Spectral Procession[/c]. Unfortunately, some of the cards combine unfortunately into hands that put [c]Ajani’s Pridemate[/c] up with [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] and/or [c]Honor of the Pure[/c] without the other combinations, and things awkward.

Some variants have eliminated the variance (see what I did there?) by dropping the [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] and [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] package entirely. I suspect that the success of these lists is nearly a credit to the strength of white sideboarding cards and the prevalence of Burn, which should be a good matchup.

Tell-tale signs: All of the cards above are giveaways, but also if you see [c]Windbrisk Heights[/c] that is not followed by a source of black or green mana, it’s a good sign you’re up against Soul Sisters.

Death and Taxes

This is more of a Legacy thing, really, but since the cards are newly printed, there are those that play it in Modern. If you take a Green/White Hate-Bears list, remove the green and most of the one and two-casting cost creatures, you’ve got a start. Then you replace them with enter-the-battlefield effects like [c]Blade Splicer[/c], and you’ve got Death and Taxes.

Some players experimented a while with [c]Akroma, Angel of Fury[/c] and [c]Epochrasite[/c] for added blink benefits. Others have held on to the Legacy equipment package of Swords and [c]Mirran Crusader[/c] despite the loss of [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c]. Essentially the strategy is the same: buy  just enough time for the beats to get there.

Tell-tale signs: Turn one [c]Plains[/c] into [c]Aether Vial[/c] that isn’t followed by a green mana source is a hint. The cards played here and not in hate-bears include [c]Judge’s Familiar[/c], [c]Mirran Crusader[/c], [c]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/c], and [c]Serra Avenger[/c], each with its own occasional omissions.

Martyr-Proc

These lists look vaguely familiar, but the deck stands alone without the pair of [c]Soul Warden[/c] effects from its sister deck. Instead, the player buys enough time with [c]Ghostly Prison[/c], [c]Wrath of God[/c], and [c]Martyr of Sands[/c] to trigger [c]Emeria, The Sky Ruin[/c], search [c]Serra Ascendant[/c] up with [c]Ranger of Eos[/c], and recur all the threats with [c]Proclamation of Rebirth[/c].

Tell-tale signs: This is the only list running [c]Weathered Wayfarer[/c] in Modern right now, and [c]Mistveil Plains[/c] is a solid tell as well. When you see any creature plus [c]Ghostly Prison[/c], then you know.

Mono-White Devotion

Speaking of maindeck [c]Ghostly Prison[/c], why stop there? Let’s throw in all of the powerful white enchantments that belong in sideboards: [c]Nevermore[/c], [c]Runed Halo[/c], [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c], [c]Poryphory Nodes[/c], and even [c]Sphere of Safety[/c]. All of these cripple the opponent until [c]Luminarch Ascension[/c] or [c]Sigil of the Empty Throne[/c] topple over them. Or, with all of those white mana symbols, activate a [c]Nykthos, Shrine to Nix[/c] and hardcast [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c], you know, because you can.

A fascinating variant on this is a list that includes [c]Enduring Ideal[/c]. The epic spell puts [c]Form of the Dragon[/c], [c]Dovescape[/c], and [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] into the battlefield for a lock.

Tell-tale signs: They’ll let you know, early. If they don’t, you’re winning easily. Nevertheless, a pre-game [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] is a sure bet. [c]Greater Auramancy[/c], [c]Suppression Field[/c], and even [c]Peace of Mind[/c] are likely to hit the table in the early turns, if not the horde of hateful enchantments I listed above.

Humans

For whatever reason, Magic went on a long time without this being a tribe. Here in Modern, it isn’t very powerful, but mono-white, Norin-less lists have tried to take full advantage of [c]Champion of the Parish[/c] with mild success in the occasional daily.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Soldier of the Pantheon[/c], [c]Precinct Captain[/c], you know, Standard-legal beaters. To be fair, the lists also includes [c]Student of Warfare[/c] and [c]Ranger of Eos[/c], but so do more-established lists.

Knights

These are the winners of the “Coolest Lord Without Making a Successful Deck” award: [c]Knight Exemplar[/c] contains the words “other Knight creatures” and, more importantly, “indestructible.” This is obviously going to be attractive to a number of Modern players coming from more casual environments.

Tell-tale signs: The two-drops say it all: [c]Leonin Skyhunter[/c], [c]Knight of Meadowgrain[/c], and [c]Knight of the White Orchid[/c] have little use in a deck except for the tribe.

Tempered Steel

I’ve mentioned Affinity before because typically its basic land is either [c]Island[/c] or [c]Mountain[/c] for [c]Master of Etherium[/c] and [c]Thoughtcast[/c] or more [c]Galvanic Blast[/c], respectively. It is worth mentioning both that some Affinity players run a full complement of [c]Tempered Steel[/c] and some budget players throw a bunch of [c]Memnite[/c] and [c]Ornithopter[/c] cards together with the enchantment.

Whiteout

What a series this has been for me to write. I’m thankful to Dan and Bava for letting me be a part of this site during this time, and I hope I’ve contributed something for everyone. Again, stay tuned for the things I’ve realized that I’ve missed, and these lists will all be edited into the five main articles for easier reference later. If you have noticed any brews missing, please post them in the comments section.

In the meantime, of course, here is where I left off with a SilverBlack Death and Taxes list. I originally thought it had solved the format, since all I knew to be concerned about was Tron and Red Deck Wins, but as more lists have developed, so has the incorrectness of my assumption. Still, it’s a blast to play. Few things are more satisfying than casting a [c]Fiend Hunter[/c], activating [c]Aether Vial[/c] to play [c]Flickerwisp[/c], exiling another creature, then targeting [c]Fiend Hunter[/c] with [c]Cloudshift[/c], and so on, and so forth. Who says SilverBlack doesn’t have a Wrath effect?

[d title=”Modern SilverBlack Death and Taxes”]

Land

4 Ghost Quarter

16 Plains

3 Tectonic Edge

Creatures

4 Aven Mindcensor

2 Dryad Militant

4 Epochrasite

4 Fiend Hunter

4 Flickerwisp

2 Judge’s Familiar

4 Kitchen Finks

2 Stonecloaker

Other Spells

4 Aether Vial

3 Cloudshift

4 Path to Exile

Sideboard

2 Burenton Forge-Tender

2 Dryad Militant

1 Eidolon of Rhetoric

2 Kor Firewalker

2 Marrow Shards

2 Oblivion Ring

1 Samurai of the Pale Curtain

1 Sunlance

2 Tempest of Light

[/d]

-drinkard

You Too Can Play Modern: 10 Budget Modern Decks

The current economic crisis is being really hard on all our non-essentials, and Magic: the Gathering is an expensive game. Very expensive, in fact, when you decide to play a competitive format like Modern. Even if Wizard’s intention was creating a format that could be played by those who could not afford Legacy, the truth is tier 1 decks cost around 800 euros ($1,100) on average, and that’s a lot of money. Wizards is, I am sure, working on it and we’ll see reprints of the biggest offenders sooner or later. For the time being, though, it is difficult to start playing this wonderful format.

Or is it?

There are cheap decks that can be built for around 100€ ($135), and then there are versions of more expensive decks that can be built also for this approximate quantity. Which option is better depends on your priorities: I decided, when I built my first Modern deck, to start building a UR [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] deck, and to wait until I could afford [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c]. But I have friends who decided to start with Burn or Soul Sisters, and they had way better results at the beginning, which allowed them to get some store credit, which allowed them to build more expensive decks afterwards.

Anyhow, let’s have a look at some lists!

[d title=”Burn”]
LANDS
10 Mountain
4 Mana Confluence
4 City of Brass
2 Gemstone Mine

CREATURES
4 Goblin Guide
4 Vexing Devil

SPELLS
4 Bump in the Night
4 Boros Charm
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Magma Jet
4 Rift Bolt
4 Shard Volley
4 Skullcrack
[/d]

Stay with me for a while, and don’t dismiss Burn at first sight. It is a consistent deck, it doesn’t depend on any particular card, it works, it is fun to play, and it is cheap, especially if we don’t use the classic fetch/shock lands, which we don’t need to use. If the deck works, we can perfectly afford to lose some life using [c]City of Brass[/c] and [c]Mana Confluence[/c], as the opponent will be too busy losing to take advantage of the situation.

On the other hand, it is one of those decks where mulligans hurt bad, and every game is a bit of a lottery. You can trust your top-decks, and the deck does not tend to let you down, but there is little you can do if it does. Also, there is some very specific sideboard against burn, and we lose chances every turn. Despite all that, the deck wins, and punishes durdly and slow decks like no other.

[d title=”Living End”]
LANDS
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Copperline Gorge
2 Evolving Wilds
4 Forest
5 Mountain
5 Swamp

CREATURES
4 Deadshot Minotaur
2 Fulminator Mage
2 Jungle Weaver
1 Shriekmaw
4 Street Wraith
4 Pale Recluse
2 Beast Within
2 Avalanche Riders
4 Monstruous Carabid

SPELLS
4 Demonic Dread
3 Living End
4 Violent Outburst
[/d]

Living End is a pretty straightforward combo deck which had a recent spike in popularity thanks to the banning of [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c]. There is still a healthy amount of graveyard hate in Modern, but now graveyard-related strategies have a lot better pre-board situation, at least.

The combo goes as follows: we cycle big creatures, then we play a cascade spell (cascade spells allow you to reveal cards from the top of your deck until you find a spell that costs less than the one with cascade, then you play that spell), and that cascade spell can only hit [c]Living End[/c], which will be put in play without suspend, and bring back all the creatures we originally cycled, at the same time it puts all the creatures in the opponent’s side in their graveyard.

It is a fragile combo though. It is too easy for any deck with access to counterspells to counter Living End, and sometimes the deck just fails to work because we draw all our copies of [c]Living End[/c] before we can cascade into one (believe me, it happens!). But it is a really fun deck to play, and it has had some very solid results. Also, the deck can be built for extremely cheap if we substitute [c]Fulminator Mage[/c] for any other cheaper card.

[d title=”Soul Sisters”]
LANDS
21 Plains

CREATURES
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
3 Kitchen Finks
2 Martyr of Sands
2 Ranger of Eos
4 Serra Ascendant
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Squadron Hawk

SPELLS
4 Honor of the Pure
4 Path to Exile
4 Spectral Procession
[/d]

This deck comes from a Standard list that appeared for a brief period of time during which [c]Soul Warden[/c] and [c]Soul’s Attendant[/c] were both legal in the format. That didn’t last, but then Modern became a good soil for this idea to grow, bloom, and give fruit in the form of games won and burn decks humiliated.

It is a good deck, in my opinion, even though it is rather non-interactive (which is something that can apply to many of the decks here, to be honest). The life gain gives it an edge against aggro decks, and it tends to have good top-decks as everything synergizes with everything.

There is a rather interesting variant using [c]Norin the Wary[/c], which ensures constant Enter The Battlefield triggers. Also, having red allows for some other tools, like [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] and [c]Boros Charm[/c].

[d title=”Mono U Tron”]
LANDS
1 Academy Ruins
8 Island
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
1 Tectonic Edge
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower

CREATURES
1 Platinum Angel
3 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Sundering Titan
3 Treasure Mage
1 Wurmcoil Engine

SPELLS
4 Condescend
1 Cyclonic Rift
4 Expedition Map
2 Mindslaver
1 Oblivion Stone
4 Remand
3 Repeal
1 Spell Burst
3 Talisman of Dominance
4 Thirst for Knowledge
[/d]

I have not tried this one personally yet, but I have played against it and I can confirm it is very, very effective. It’s a mix of control and ramp, and a very good one at that: the opponent will find themselves facing huge creatures and difficult board states in no time.

There is a combo inside this deck too: [c]Mindslaver[/c] + [c]Academy Ruins[/c] means our opponent will never control his own turns again, which means we have won. It has the usual weaknesses of ramp decks: early game is not fantastic, and the engine has to be set up. Blue allows for some control and tempo which make it easier for the deck to get into the mid- and late-game though, as well as some card draw/selection, so we can trust the deck to deliver the cards we need.

[d title=”Stompy”]
LANDS
22 Forest

CREATURES
4 Experiment One
4 Dryad Militant
4 Scavenging Ooze
2 Kalonian Tusker
2 Skylasher
4 Strangleroot Geist
2 Leatherback Baloth
2 Thrun, the Last Troll

SPELLS
4 Rancor
4 Giant Growth
4 Vines of Vastwood
2 Beast Within
[/d]

This is right up my alley. Aggro, creatures, tricks. This deck has not yet proven itself to be a big contender in the Modern metagame, but I consider this to be a solid list. Graveyard hate is built-in thanks to [c]Dryad Militant[/c] and [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c], the creatures are abundant and big, and green is also a great color for sideboarding, having access to artifact and enchantment hate.

Stompy, however, is a new deck and as such it could very well fizzle and just not work well enough. I am stoked, but it could pay to be cautious.

[d title=”WB Tokens”]
LANDS
10 Plains
4 Swamp
4 Isolated chapel
4 Godless shrine

CREATURES
2 Doomed Traveller
3 Tidehollow Sculler

SPELLS
3 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Intangible Virtue
4 Zealous Persecution
4 Lingering Souls
2 Midnight Haunting
4 Path to Exile
4 Raise the Alarm
4 Spectral Procession
[/d]

First things first: this list was made before the Modern Event Deck was released. If you like this deck and can find the Modern Event Deck for a good price, by all means start there. It is a good value.

WB tokens is as full of tools as the night full of terrors. Black and white is a very good color combination and makes dealing with anything a breeze. Also, this deck plays so many creatures the opponent has to be prepared against this or just lose: spot removal just won’t work.

Keep in mind though, there is a good amount of sideboard available for the kind of board states WB tokens creates, and it is extremely devastating.

[d title=”GU Infect”]
LANDS
4 Breeding Pool
3 Gemstone Mine
4 Forest
3 Hinterland Harbor
4 Inkmoth Nexus
2 Pendelhaven

CREATURES
4 Blighted Agent
4 Glistener Elf
4 Ichorclaw Myr
2 Plague Myr

SPELLS
4 Apostle’s Blessing
4 Groundswell
4 Might of Old Krosa
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Rancor
2 Distortion Strike
4 Vines of Vastwood
[/d]

Infect takes a shortcut on the aggro approach, makes pump spells twice as effective, and makes the whole metagame understand how important it is to have early removal against this. It has never been a tier 1 deck, but still it has won tournaments and is a constant threat against any unprepared opponent. This is the sort of deck that keep players on their toes, and that’s a good thing.

It is a bit weak against removal, and edict effects tend to kill it dead (the deck usually runs fewer than 15 creatures), but it still is a very good option that will deliver swift kills.

[d title=”Melira Pod”]
LANDS
3 Evolving Wilds
6 Forest
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Plains
7 Swamp
2 Temple Garden

CREATURES
4 Birds of Paradise
1 Eternal Witness
1 Farhaven Elf
2 Fauna Shaman
1 Gravedigger
1 Harmonic Sliver
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
3 Murderous Redcap
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Safehold Elite
1 Shriekmaw
3 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Varolz, the Scar-Striped
3 Viscera Seer

SPELLS
4 Birthing Pod
[/d]

This is more of an experiment than an actual deck. You see, Melira Pod is arguably the best modern deck in existence, and there are people who fall in love with it the second they look at the Modern format, only to be let down by the price tag attached to it. It made sense to try and make a budget version, and the core of the deck is not especially expensive.

The good thing about Pod is its toolbox approach. This also makes getting the pieces for the deck easier, as they are a lot of times one-ofs. The bad part is it requires three colours, which, in Modern, means fetchlands. And you’re going to need play-sets of those. Also, [c]Chord of calling[/c] is really expensive, as is [c]Noble Hierarch[/c].

So, take this as a starting point. And pray [c]Birthing Pod[/c] doesn’t get banned.

[d title=”Hexproof Auras”]
LANDS
7 Forest
6 Plains
4 Razorverge Thicket
2 Sunpetal Grove
2 Temple Garden

CREATURES
4 Gladecover Scout
4 Slippery Bogle
4 Kor Spiritdancer

SPELLS
4 Ethereal Armor
4 Hyena Umbra
4 Keen Sense
3 Path to Exile
4 Rancor
4 Spirit Mantle
4 Unflinching Courage
[/d]

This is essentially the full deck minus [c]Daybreak Coronet[/c] and with a cheaper land base. It is a beautiful deck and the definition of both Voltron and Timmy. This is, of course, my opinion: some people use this deck to explain why the Modern format is essentially flawed.

Hexproof Auras puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. It builds a huge, untargettable beast, attaching auras to a hexproof creature. Spot removal is useless, dealing X damage tends to be insufficient, and blocking is futile – hence the success of the deck. Edicts and counter-magic can still hurt us, of course, but your opponent has to have it in his hand.

I needn’t convince you, though. There is a type of player for this type of deck. If you’re that type, you already know it.

[d title=”PyroDelver”]
LANDS
10 Island
2 Mountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls

CREATURES
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Young Pyromancer

SPELLS
2 Electrolyze
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Mana Leak
2 Pillar of Flame
4 Remand
4 Serum Visions
2 Spell Pierce
2 Vapor Snag
[/d]

UR Delver, or PyroDelver as I sometimes call it ([c]Young Pyromancer[/c] is just as central as [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] in this deck), is a great, great deck that has to be practiced and studied but which rewards the pilot with options against every deck in the meta. It does not deliver as many free kills as some other decks in this list (even though a couple of flipped delvers in the first couple of turns can mean a quick death for the opponent if they don’t have adequate removal), but it is consistent thanks to its card draw and selection, and is a very difficult deck to deal with while we are ahead in the game. It has some good recoveries too, thanks to [c]Young Pyromancer[/c].

The bad part is I had to cut some pretty important cards to make it a budget deck, and I’m not sure about this new list. [c]Spellstutter Sprite is great[/c], but its slot is normally occupied by [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c], which is really important to the deck; [c]Blood Moon[/c] is a central card here which improves the chances against some important decks; and fetchlands are pretty much a must too, as they improve the deck’s consistency.

Well, there you go. 10 Modern lists you can try out that won’t break the bank. Do you have a favorite? Do you play a different budget deck in Modern with any success? Let me know if the comments!

Soul Sisters in Pauper

For a short while, Deluxeicoff was tearing up the Pauper Dailys in 2012 with this very different White Weenie deck.

Then he got bored and moved on.

I can’t stop loving it though. It beats any aggro deck in the format, including Stompy and Delver. It dies horribly to combo and was a dog to Storm. Maybe now its time has come again.

Here is a current list:

[d title=”Soul Sisters by Deluxeicoff (Pauper)”]
Lands
22 Plains

Creatures
4 Benevolent Bodyguard
2 Cenn’s Enlistment
4 Doomed Traveller
4 Kor Skyfisher
4 Loyal Cathar
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Suture Priest
4 Veteran Armorer

Spells
4 Guardian’s Pledge

Sideboard
4 Crimson Acolyte
4 Icatian Javelineers
4 Patrician’s Scorn
3 Prismatic Strands [/d]

There will be more info on this deck posted in the near future.