How To Survive In Post-Cruise Modern

Hi all,

Since the banning of [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], everyone has dropped Delver. Unfortunately, no other deck must have been able to grind out the first few turns of the game and replenish its gas in a similar way.

Affinity, Infect, Amulet, Storm, and Burn are tearing up the format.

become immense

Affinity has the most consistent turn 4 wins of any aggressive deck out there. Its creatures are difficult to block. Removal spells are often pointless; the 1/1 creature you targeted simply becomes a +1/+1 counter on another creature.

Infect just picked up [c]Become Immense[/c]. With [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] and [c]Spellskite[/c], the deck can prevent all successful interaction and easily earn a win by turn 3. Any attempts to nickel and dime the Infect player only fuel the immensity that it can become.

Amulet has always been a problem. It seems that online players have known this better than paper players because until Justin Cohen tore through Fate Reforged, not many people were talking about it. On the first turn, [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c] can win or set up the turn 2 win. You attempt to board in [c]Primeval Titan[/c] hate, and then you become assimilated into the Borg and unwisely cast [c]Summoner’s Pact[/c] in spite of not being able to pay for it thanks to [c]Hive Mind[/c].

Similarly, Storm wins on turn 3. You bring in graveyard hate and enchantment hate in game 2 only to lose to a [c]Goblin Electromancer[/c]-fueled chain of spells. Do you have 1-for-1 creature removal to handle Electromancer? The storm player will simply play a couple [c]Pyretic Ritual[/c] into [c]Empty the Warrens[/c] and easily crush you with six 1/1s.

Burn. You may not realize that you’re losing on turn 2 because you have 15 life, and your opponent only has [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] and [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c], but when you have to cast two spells to have a chance, and your opponent is holding 9 points of burn in their hand, they know well that they have won. Thanks to [c]Skullcrack[/c], even [c]Kor Firewalker[/c] can’t keep a [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] at bay. He just becomes a “gain 1 life, prevent combat damage from one creature for one turn” spell that costs you a ton of life to cast thanks to fetchlands and shocklands.

What can men do against such reckless hate?

skullcrack

Each of these decks succeed in the face of “the turn 4 rule” that has led to the banning of [c]Seething Song[/c], [c]Rite of Flame[/c], [c]Hypergenesis[/c], [c]Dark Depths[/c], [c]Blazing Shoal[/c], Artifact Lands, [c]Glimpse of Nature[/c], and maybe [c]Second Sunrise[/c] and [c]Dread Return[/c].

I suspect the last two are arguable.

Still, a good 14 cards on the Modern banned list for this reason, composing almost half the list.

So what do we do in light of this infraction of a fundamental rule of Modern?

amulet-of-vigor

Well, on his Twitter, Tom Martell suggests a sweeping ban of the worst offenders: [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c], [c]Manamorphose[/c], [c]Glistener Elf[/c], [c]Griselbrand[/c], and [c]Tarmogoyf[/c]. That’s a solid list, although I think [c]Summer Bloom[/c] is both more difficult to interact with and more powerful than [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c] in the same deck.

tom-martell-bannings-modern

On the other hand, players who have long since given up on Modern argue that the fundamental rule is in itself the problem.

Mattias Kres argues that only [c]Sensei’s Divining Top[/c], [c]Mental Misstep[/c], [c]Hypergenesis[/c], and [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c] should be banned, leaving everything off the list. The power-level would be similar to Legacy and the last days of Extended, when Zoo ruled the roost.

That’s right, Zoo, an aggro deck, in a field of insanely fast combos.

I don’t know which of these is the better option. I don’t really look forward to both, and also I don’t really mind Modern at the moment.

All I’m concerned about is how to succeed with the hand we’re dealt.

To do this, we have two options.

Option One: Join ‘Em

Aim to win by turn 3. Here’s my most recent attempt to do so on a regular basis.

tumblr_njhrx5Pc0K1tctdpao1_1280

[d title=”Drinkard Infectless Infect (Modern)”]
Land
4 Arid Mesa
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Forest
1 Mountain

Creatures
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Goblin Guide
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Steppe Lynx

Other Spells
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Temur Battle Rage
4 Become Immense
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth

Sideboard
4 Hooting Mandrills
3 Destructive Revelry
4 Sudden Shock
1 Stony Silence
3 Phyrexian Arena[/d]

This deck is hell-bent on assembling three mana, an attacking creature, four cards in the graveyard, and [c]Become Immense[/c] and [c]Temur Battle Rage[/c] in hand on turn 3.

You have 12 fetches and 8 free cantrips to fill the graveyard and draw more lands and the combo.

The advantages the deck has over Infect include haste creatures and creatures with higher toughness. The benefit of this deck over Super Crazy Zoo is that you can manage your life total more conservatively against Burn.

I have only played in one Daily Event with the deck, and I went 2-2 after losing the die roll and thus two games on turn 3 against Infect. I am interested in developing the deck further, and I am super excited about how effective Delve and Ferocious are in an Eternal format like Modern.

If we don’t want to join the players who are breaking the fundamental turn 4 rule, then we have to beat them. And to beat them, we have to apply the breaks very quickly.

Option Two: Beat ‘Em

I hate these decks.

I would hate myself for entering them into a Daily Event, and my opponents would probably hate Magic after losing to them.

But that’s where we are at.

SF20150106_uheygsfvsf2_icon

[d title=”Humble Red (Modern)”]
Land
22 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Scrying Sheets

Creatures
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Demigod of Revenge
4 Humble Defector

Other Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Skred
4 Pyroclasm
4 Koth of the Hammer
2 Anger of the Gods
4 Blood Moon
2 Volcanic Fallout [/d]

When I saw [c]Humble Defector[/c], I thought that [c]Skred[/c] Red would be a natural home for him. He provides draw to a deck that sorely needs it, and his drawback is mitigated thanks to the mass-removal spells. He simply draws two and then goes away with the rest of your opponent’s board.

This deck has an answer to everything, and the decks like Affinity, Infect, and Combo Zoo will certainly fold to the amount of removal, but sometimes the wrong answers come up facing the wrong decks.

Time will tell whether additional draw will help here.

Verduran-Enchantress

[d title=”Enchantress (Modern)”]
Land
4 Temple Garden
4 Nykthos, Shrine To Nyx
8 Forest

Creatures
4 Arbor Elf
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Mesa Enchantress
4 Verduran Enchantress
4 Eidolon of Blossoms

Other Spells
4 Ghostly Prison
4 Sphere of Safety
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Fertile Ground
4 Overgrowth
4 Garruk Wildspeaker [/d]

This is another take on a different Enchantress list played by MTGO user Brainless96, and his win condition was [c]Banefire[/c].

I’m happy to lock the opponent out of the game, allow my mana-ramp to assemble the pillow fort, and win with [c]Overrun[/c]. Well, sort of happy.

Finally, a brew that wins against Burn and Creature-based aggro decks, but is absolute garbage against everything else.

gatekeeper-of-malakir

[d title=”Mono Black Control (Modern)”]
Land
24 Swamp

Creatures
4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
4 Divinity of Pride

Other Spells
2 Sorin’s Thirst
2 Pharika’s Cure
1 Sorin’s Vengeance
4 Geth’s Verdict
3 Devour Flesh
1 Darkblast
2 Slaughter Pact
3 Phyrexian Arena
2 Go for the Throat
2 Tendrils of Corruption
4 Inquisition of Kozilek [/d]

Like I said, it’s good against Burn and creatures.

It’s a mono-removal deck with a load of 1-for-1s that will get its gas back with [c]Phyrexian Arena[/c]. You’re steadily gaining life, playing lands, and killing threats until you’re ready to win. Destroy creatures, lose to Tron and other control decks. Never a close match.

Enough Diversity?

I don’t know if we’re at an optimal Modern right now. Maybe there is enough diversity, and we are.

There are some decks who are trying to win before turn 4 at all costs. Others are trying to stop them at all costs. Some ride through the middle. That sounds healthy to me, but then when I play in Events, it doesn’t feel as good as it did a few months ago.

Hope this gave you some direction.

-drinkard

Unified Strike 3: Mono-Black Storm

Hi all,

Vintage Masters has changed everything. Prices of many cards in other sets have plummeted, and others have skyrocketed due to their necessity for Vintage and Legacy decks. While many are scrambling for power and [c]Wasteland[/c] cards, some of the rest of us are too intimidated to break in. There are many options that are still open, though, and I want to present to you some ideas with [c]Tendrils of Agony[/c].

I am taking a shift away from the normal Modern format articles strictly for this card, but why? Well, the price of rituals Cabal and Dark are easy to please due to their reprints. [c]Yawgmoth’s Will[/c] is still an easy acquisition, and for some reason [c]Ill-Gotten Gains[/c] never caught on despite it being used heavily in Legacy. I imagined when Legacy picked up online, so would it, but players are simply opting for other archetypes.

First, let’s look at the Legacy deck. This is most similar to Spanish Inquisition because of the seven different draw four effects and zero-casting cost creatures. It aims to combo before turn four and does so quite consistently.

[d title=”Legacy Bargain Tendrils”]
Lands
1 Phyrexian Tower
11 Swamp

Creatures
2 Ornithopter
4 Phyrexian Walker
4 Shield Sphere

Other Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Cruel Bargain
4 Culling the Weak
4 Dark Ritual
3 Diabolic Intent
2 Gitaxian Probe
3 Ill-Gotten Gains
3 Infernal Contract
4 Lotus Petal
3 Tendrils of Agony[/d]

So here, for well under 100 tix, we are able to assemble a consistent storm deck that ports well to Vintage. So how does it play? Here is an explanation of the card choices:

[c]Cruel Bargain[/c] and [c]Infernal Contract[/c] – Here we have a seldom-heard of Portal rare and an equally minimally used Seventh Edition rare. Neither are very valuable in tickets, but both are invaluable to the strategy. The deck has a dependence on these draw fours, though, which is both irritating and exhilarating at times. It is irritating in the way that playing Eggs or Modern Storm can be: you draw into a bunch of cards that do nothing. It is exhilarating, though, to grab the horns, ride the buffalo, and draw a zero-cost creature (hereafter “cheerios”), a [c]Culling the Weak[/c], and another draw four.

[c]Tendrils of Agony[/c] – The best, most effective way to win with Storm in Vintage and Legacy.

[c]Ill-Gotten Gains[/c] – This is the final piece of the combo’s win condition. It isn’t necessary to win, but it builds storm count like no other, and it really does work with [c]Diabolic Intent[/c].

[c]Ornithopter[/c], [c]Phyrexian Walker[/c], and [c]Shield Sphere[/c] – Play them for free, and use them to tutor up spells and generate insane amounts of mana. These could be Kobolds, and maybe they should be in a deck that splurges for [c]Chrome Mox[/c]. Here, though, they can buy you time against [c]Goblin Guide[/c] or another attacking dork. Your life total does matter quite a bit, so while [c]Memnite[/c] can get in some damage and reduce your storm necessity to win, I don’t think it belongs here.

[c]Diabolic Intent[/c] – You have to watch this deck in action or try it out to see this do some magic. It’s amazing to tutor up [c]Ill-Gotten Gains[/c], cast it, get Intent, a cheerio, and an accelerant out, and then tutor [c]Tendrils of Agony[/c].

[c]Culling the Weak[/c] – Is this card worth distorting our deck so much with all the cheerios? Absolutely. Four black mana is the magic number. It produces the amount needed to draw four cards and cast another ritual.

[c]Phyrexian Tower[/c] – Here in place of 1 [c]Swamp[/c] we have additional synergy with the ten cheerios to ramp our mana.

Other accelerants: [c]Lotus Petal[/c], [c]Cabal Ritual[/c] and [c]Dark Ritual[/c] – Not too many lists sporting [c]Tendrils of Agony[/c] can go without them. The artifact can be played with an empty mana pool after a draw four, which helps you continue to go off. [c]Cabal Ritual[/c] has lots of synergy with [c]Culling the Weak[/c]. [c]Dark Ritual[/c] cause duh.

[c]Cabal Therapy[/c] and [c]Gitaxian Probe[/c] – These two have obvious synergy. Therapy can be intimidating in a new format, so you have a crutch for the time being. Therapy works even better with the cheerios, though, allowing you to [c]Mind Twist[/c] your opponent for one mana, clearing the way of their victory path and counter capacity.

Advice for playing your deck: never play a draw four without B open unless you absolutely have to, trust your deck, and win. It’s really exciting to play.

The port to Vintage actually makes us lose some cards: [c]Lotus Petal[/c] is restricted still while [c]Mox Opal[/c] is superior and runs free. Meanwhile, we gain massive tutoring power, more draw, and [c]Yawgmoth’s Will[/c]. Here is the result:

[d title=”Vintage Bargain Storm”]
Land
1 Phyrexian Tower
11 Swamp

Creatures
2 Ornithopter
4 Phyrexian Walker
4 Shield Sphere

Other Spells
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Cruel Bargain
4 Culling the Weak
4 Dark Ritual
3 Diabolic Intent
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Duress
3 Infernal Contract
1 Lotus Petal
2 Mental Misstep
1 Necropotence
3 Tendrils of Agony
1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain
1 Yawgmoth’s Will[/d]

Here we lose [c]Ill-Gotten Gains[/c] because THE go-to card for tutoring is [c]Yawgmoth’s Will[/c]. Believe it or not, this strategy is what started Spanish Inquisition, as around 2006 players were using it to top 8 in real Vintage events in The Netherlands. Now, you might say, a lot has changed since then, but this is Vintage. You do see more durdly Fish decks, but the same Stax, Bazaar, and Combo strategies are ever-present.

Do you benefit from playing power and more expensive cards in these lists? Of course, but with them you still will get the experience of rifling through your deck, utilizing tutoring, the graveyard, and amazing mana acceleration that you don’t get to experience in other formats. Give them a try!

-drinkard

Legacy en los Martes, No. 3: Cheap Laughs, ANT Style!

Hello and welcome back to Legacy on Tuesdays!

Almost anyone who has ever played the Legacy format is familiar with the ANT, or [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] [c]Tendrils[/c] deck. It builds up a large storm count using lots of rituals, [c]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/c], and [c]Infernal Tutor[/c] to find the [c]Tendrils of Agony[/c] to deal exactly (or very close to) 20 damage to the opponent. It is quite a potent deck, with a long history of tournament success to the point where many would call it the quintessential storm deck.

This week, I’d like to show you a super cheap, janky, budget deck that also hopes to win using the aforementioned cards. This does its thing in a totally different way though – Check it out!

[d title=”Dirt-Cheap ANT”]
Bidness
3 Tendrils of Agony
4 Ad Nauseam
4 Dark Ritual

Storm Builders
4 Claws of Gix
4 Ornithopter
4 Everflowing Chalice
4 Shield Sphere
3 Spellbook
4 Memnite

Lands
26 Swamp
[/d]

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?

Yes, that’s right – the deck casts [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] to draw a massive amount of free artifacts, then casts them all to fire off a large [c]Tendrils of Agony[/c]. Super simple in both theory and practice, the deck is a blast! Ad Nauseam Tendrils for a very meager amount, just not the way one would expect! No [c]Cabal Ritual[/c] here, no siree. And who needs to drop 60 tickets for a playset of [c]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/c]? I certainly don’t if using this deck.

Ad Nauseam Tendrils

Heart

CoG Everf Chalice

Rundown

The deck is very easy to pilot. There are absolutely NO fancy interactions or other crazy thingamajigs, just a linear strategy. Here is how to play the deck, in just a few easy steps:

  1. Keep a hand with lots of lands and [c]Ad Nauseam[/c]. Hands with [c]Tendrils of Agony[/c] are also okay to keep, but the deck can get a little rocky without its main draw engine.
  2. Play [c]Swamp[/c]s. Lots of ’em. Also play any free artifact chump blockers you may have.
  3. Use [c]Dark Ritual[/c] if you have one to cast [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] A few turns early.
  4. If possible, leave a land open to chain Rituals after casting Ad Nauseam to play a Tendrils the same turn as you draw a ton of cards. Otherwise, [c]Spellbook[/c] can get you through to the next turn.
  5. Cast at least nine free artifacts, then kill the opponent with a big [c]Tendrils of Agony[/c].

Congratulations! You just spent less than 10 tickets to win a game with a totally janky storm deck! Can you expect to win a premier tournament with the deck? No. Is it possible to go 3-1 in a daily with the deck? Yes, albeit not extremely likely.

This deck is best used by someone who wants a neat little deck for a pittance that is fun to use in the “Just for Fun” room. It’s also a nice one for testing the waters of the format, since it uses some one of the more powerful win conditions available in a budget shell. For a competitive storm deck, look to ANT or High Tide and a much larger budget.

Improvements

Like any budget deck, there are usually ways to improve the deck’s quality and consistency by adding money. This deck is no different, except that there aren’t nearly as many ways to change this deck as there could be with others. The strategy is a little bit too narrow to fit in lots of tech.

The number one way to improve the playability of the deck would be to add a playset of [c]Lotus Petal[/c]. Sadly, Petals are still a solid 4-5 tix a piece, which is wicked expensive. They fit the bill perfectly, though, as both a free spell and an extra mana for [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] a turn early. If these are an available resource, they should probably replace the [c]Claws of Gix[/c]. Claws can net a little life in a pinch, but everything else either chump blocks, provides mana, or has some other utility.

Other than that, the main deck is about as solid as it is going to be for this way of creating storms. A sideboard would be helpful, but storm decks cannot afford to dilute the main deck too much. There are only 2 possibilities I can think of for sideboard slots. This would be [c]Duress[/c] and [c]Sign in Blood[/c]. [c]Duress[/c] is pretty standard combo protection to stop that [c]Force of Will[/c] from taking out [c]Ad Nauseam[/c]. [c]Sign in Blood[/c] provides some extra cards at the cost of 2 life, which can be mitigated slightly by using [c]Claws of Gix[/c].

Otherwise, what can be done? Not much. Filler slots! Be a boss and make the other 7 slots all [c]Swamp[/c]s… White bordered ones. Okay, well I guess [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c] isn’t bad either. But polluting the components of the main deck too much is historically the biggest problem of storm based decks. If you do not absolutely need something from the board, don’t bring it in.

That’s all for this week! Hope to catch you next time, and hope y’all are enjoying the community league! If you aren’t a part of this epic event, head over to the events page or contact Sam – it’s lots of fun!

Cheers!

/Peyton