The Pauper Brewer’s Cup, Week Six: A Tron of One’s Own


Welcome back to another thrilling week of the Pauper Brewer’s Cup. We had some good Extended Pauper submissions last week, and hopefully some of you decided to sign up for the league as well. League registration runs through this Thursday. As always, if you have theme suggestions, don’t hesitate to suggest them!

By now you know the score. If you’re new here, don’t worry, I’ll go over it each week. This week’s article has two sections. First you get to vote on your favorite list from our top contenders last week. Second, you get to submit new lists around a new theme, which will be voted on next week. Here is a reminder of how this whole thing works.

The Pauper Brewer’s Cup

Here are some rules and stuff.

  1. Every week, I will offer some kind of constraint or challenge to our readers.
  2. Submit a fun, innovative, or powerful brew built around those constraints.
  3. Your submission must be legal for Pauper in Magic Online. Guidelines are here.
  4. I will select three lists out of your submissions, and you will get to vote for that week’s winner.
  5. After 8 weeks we will have 8 innovative brews, and they will enter the gauntlet portion of the Brewer’s Cup.
  6. Whoever owns (submitted) the deck that wins this gauntlet will be endowed with fabulous riches (to be determined) and great esteem.

If any of that doesn’t make sense, ask for clarifications in the comments. The idea is that we should have fun sharing ideas and brewing, maybe discover some new, powerful decks, and in general support and promote the format we love the most, Pauper.

If at any point you have a suggestion for a theme or challenge, send those along too. I will do my best, but I am relying upon the ingenuity of you guys to make this thing really successful. I know you won’t let me down!

So, rules and stuff aside, let’s get down to business.

Week Four Winner

We had a respectable 59 votes cast this week, and a clear winner.

GreaterGerardon secures the win with his Distant Spirits list, bringing in 30 votes. Distant Spirits is now the fourth list that will play in the brewer’s gauntlet.

Heltoupee almost got his back to back wins, but only brought in 21 votes for his UB Zombies list, while RRemedio brought up the rear with his wizards at 9 votes.

Voting for Week Five

Our constraint in week five was to brew an Extended Pauper list, using cards in Standard-rotation sets from Innistrad through Origins. This was a crossover with our league event that starts this Friday, so hopefully some of you were inspired to join. There were some excellent submissions, and here are my three picks for you to vote on.

[d title=”A Cruel, Beautiful World by midnight_memory”]
4 Doomed Traveler
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Seller of Songbirds
2 Kingpin’s Pet
1 Tragic Slip
4 Gather the Townsfolk
4 Raise the Alarm
4 Kytheon’s Tactics
2 Read the Bones
4 Harsh Sustenance
1 Inspired Charge
3 Triplicate Spirits
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Orzhov Guildgate
4 Scoured Barrens
5 Plains
5 Swamp
4 Revoke Existence
4 Beckon Apparition
4 Duress
2 Tragic Slip
1 Rootborn Defenses [/d]

From my play-testing, going wide could certainly work in this format, just so long as you don’t get hit by a Shrivel or Electrickery. I like this BW tokens list with the requisite [c]Harsh Sustenance[/c] (also a card I would like to see played more). I like the name, too.

[d title=”All Deaths Welcome by ModernFever”]
4 Falkenrath Torturer
4 Doomed Traveler
3 Bloodflow Connoisseur
3 Unruly Mob
3 Qarsi Sadist
3 Cathedral Sanctifier
3 Vulturous Aven
2 Loyal Cathar
4 Tragic Slip
4 Gather the Townsfolk
3 Gods Willing
2 Reave Soul
2 Bone Splinters
3 Scoured Barrens
8 Swamp
9 Plains
3 Spare from Evil
3 Crypt Incursion
3 Revoke Existence
2 Reave Soul
2 Pharika’s Cure
2 Devour Flesh [/d]

I keep trying to make Exploit work in Classic Pauper, so far with no luck. I definitely think it has a home in this format, though (my one personal favorite list right now is Mono Black Exploit), and I chose this list by ModernFever to represent. Despite the stunning originality of the 13-card sideboard presented, I went ahead and added 2x [c]Devour Flesh[/c] to “flesh” things out a bit.

[d title=”Grixis-Go by obZen”]

4 Dismal Backwater
4 Evolving Wilds
6 Island
4 Mountain
4 Swamp
4 Swiftwater Cliffs
4 Cancel
4 Contradict
4 Devour Flesh
4 Font of Fortunes
2 Murder
4 Think Twice
4 Twin Bolt
2 Archaeomancer
4 Omenspeaker
2 Prescient Chimera
1 Benthic Giant
1 Murder
2 Negate
1 Essence Scatter
1 Crypt Incursion
2 Magma Spray
2 Hooded Assassin
3 Stormbound Geist
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Harvest Pyre [/d]

obZen hates you and doesn’t want you to enjoy Magic. We’ve had our fair share of “durdly” lists so far in this thing, but this is more just “straight-up control” than durdly. I do have concerns about “getting there” with only 8 creatures, only 2 of which have evasion. [c]Curse of the Bloody Tome[/c] might be a good sideboard add for the control mirror. [c]Whirlwind Adept[/c] could also find a home in here, somewhere.

A hat tip, here, to Roberto and Han and bigdumbgreen. I liked all three lists, but there are only so many spots to fill. Keep on submitting, though!

Vote Here!

Alright, which of these three lists do you like the most? Submit your votes by the end of the week. One vote per reader, please.

Week Six: A Tron of One’s Own

Since [c]Cloudpost[/c] was banned, Pauper has had only one set of ramp lands, the classic tron pieces. Tron is big in Modern right now, but how is it fairing in Pauper? RUG Tron, the most popular Pauper list, has been in decline. UW Tron only ever had the briefest moment in the spotlight. I have seen Simic Tron as well, and I wonder what other variations of Tron there may be yet undiscovered. Here are your constraints this week:

  1. Brew up your best “Ramp” list in Classic Pauper.
  2. Tron lists are encouraged, but I will consider non-Tron ramp as well.

I don’t want to be too strict, so while I am advocating for Tron lists, specifically, I will consider interesting and creative ramp lists as well.

Submissions will be judged on power, innovation, and how well you work within the constraints.

This is a brewing contest, so creativity is paramount.

Submit your brews and ideas

That’s it! Submit your lists in the comments below. Yes, that means other people can see your stuff and copy it or adapt it, but I do really want this to be an opportunity for us to discuss and brew together for Pauper.

Lists need to be submitted before next Tuesday, July 28, to be considered.

I will pick three submissions to highlight in next week’s article, and you guys will get to vote to decide the winner.

Our Forum Guidelines and Style Guide are available here, so you can make your decklist look like a list. Please use it.

Other thoughts, comments, or concerns? Suggestions for a weekly challenge? Leave those in the comments too!

Last but not least, if you like this challenge or any of our other content, please consider supporting us via our Patreon.

Happy brewing!



The Pauper Brewer’s Cup, Week Four: The Wrong Tribe


Welcome back to another thrilling week of the Pauper Brewer’s Cup. Some super-interesting submissions last week, and another deck secures its spot in the gauntlet. As always, if you have theme suggestions, don’t hesitate to suggest them!

By now you know the score. If you’re new here, don’t worry, I’ll go over it each week. This week’s article has two sections. First you get to vote on your favorite list from our top contenders last week. Second, you get to submit new lists around a new theme, which will be voted on next week. Here is a reminder of how this whole thing works.

The Pauper Brewer’s Cup

Here are some rules and stuff.

  1. Every week, I will offer some kind of constraint or challenge to our readers.
  2. Submit a fun, innovative, or powerful brew built around those constraints.
  3. Your submission must be legal for Pauper in Magic Online. Guidelines are here.
  4. I will select three lists out of your submissions, and you will get to vote for that week’s winner.
  5. After 8 weeks we will have 8 innovative brews, and they will enter the gauntlet portion of the Brewer’s Cup.
  6. Whoever owns (submitted) the deck that wins this gauntlet will be endowed with fabulous riches (to be determined) and great esteem.

If any of that doesn’t make sense, ask for clarifications in the comments. The idea is that we should have fun sharing ideas and brewing, maybe discover some new, powerful decks, and in general support and promote the format we love the most, Pauper.

If at any point you have a suggestion for a theme or challenge, send those along too. I will do my best, but I am relying upon the ingenuity of you guys to make this thing really successful. I know you won’t let me down!

So, rules and stuff aside, let’s get down to business.

Week Two Winner

Wow! We tallied 70 votes over the week for your favorite Blades of Alara lists.

This was a close one! Brick’s Esper Blink-ifacts list edged out Heltoupee’s Bant Sword and Shield list to take the win, securing 29 votes to Bant’s 26. Zturchan’s Jund list brought up the rear with 16 votes.

Congratulations to Brick and his Esper Blink-ifacts list! Esper Blink-ifacts is now officially the second list that will go into the gauntlet portion of the Brewer’s Cup where it will have the opportunity to fight for glory and riches.

Voting for Week Three

Our constraint in week three was that almost everything had to be castable with one mana. On the surface this seemed quite straight-forward, but with Delve, Suspend, and other tricks, you guys found ways to introduce variety into the submissions. Nicely done! There were some excellent submissions, and here are my three picks for you to vote on.

[d title=”Little Heroic Boros by Heltoupee”]

3 Brute Force
4 Defiant Strike
2 Gods Willing
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Titan’s Strength
2 Assault Strobe
2 Firebolt
3 Reckless Charge
2 Dragon Mantle
3 Akroan Crusader
2 Deftblade Elite
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Lagonna-Band Trailblazer
4 Satyr Hoplite
4 Boros Garrison
9 Mountain
4 Plains
2 Doomed Traveler
2 Electrickery
2 Erase
2 Gods Willing
4 Pyroblast
1 Relic of Progenitus
2 Smelt [/d]

Representing the aggro portion of the one-cost lists, Heltoupee has another chance to make it into the gauntlet with this Boros Heroic list. I’ve played similar lists in Standard Pauper and loved them, but we don’t have a list like this working in Pauper. Perhaps now is the time? I disagree with [c]Boros Garrison[/c] since the list only runs 17 lands and any hand with just Garrison is a mulligan, while any other land would let you keep. It’s the eternal problem of multi-color aggro decks in Pauper, though. Nothing new.

I considered Boros Metalcraft and Red Heroic for this spot, but both are very similar to lists we’ve seen place in Daily events.

[d title=”BR Lowrider by BrocoLee”]

8 Mountain
7 Swamp
4 Evolving Wilds
2 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Gurmag Angler
4 Sultai Scavenger
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Duress
2 Ostracize
1 Ghastly Demise
2 Faithless Looting
2 Raven’s Crime
2 Disfigure
1 Gut Shot
4 Crack the Earth
3 Raze
2 Duress
2 Ostracize
3 Ghastly Demise
3 Electrickery
1 Gut Shot
2 Lightning Axe
2 Smelt [/d]

BrocoLee presented this midrange list with plenty of disruption and gas, and a number of threats that need to be answered or will take over the game. There were a couple good Angler lists presented, but I like this one for how it lets us trade resources we don’t care about (lands) and use them later to fuel big Delve dudes.

[d title=”Jund Suspenders by Honkbonkington”]

4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Evolving Wilds
2 Swamp
3 Forest
3 Mountain
2 Bloodfell Caves
2 Rugged Highlands
4 Rift Elemental
2 Jhoira’s Timebug
2 Keldon Halberdier
4 Durkwood Baloth
3 Gurmag Angler
4 Raze
4 Rift Bolt
2 Search for Tomorrow
3 Innocent Blood
3 Crack the Earth
3 Duress
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Terminate
3 Mindstab
4 Pyroblast
2 Nature’s Claim
3 Electrickery
3 Ostracize [/d]

I had a rough time picking a third list. In the end, while I feel like Suspend lists just plain “don’t work” I still liked the creativity displayed here. Red Heroic nearly nabbed this spot again (sorry Scion!) but since it is a brewing contest, I want to reward creativity as much as playability. In any case, the disruption here could work to hold the game off until some of the suspended fatties can come in and impact the game.

Vote Here!

Alright, which of these three lists do you like the most? Submit your votes by the end of the week. One vote per reader, please.

Week Four: The Wrong Tribe

Not everyone gets to be an elf or a goblin. Some creatures are relegated to obscure tribes like Kithkin, Giants, Oozes, and others. This week’s challenge inspired by a suggestion from Tom Scud.

Here are your constraints this week:

  1. You have to run 3-4x [c]Distant Melody[/c].
  2. At least 16x creatures of the same creature type. No elves.

Submissions will be judged on power, innovation, and how well you work within the constraints.

This is a brewing contest, so creativity is paramount.

Submit your brews and ideas

That’s it! Submit your lists in the comments below. Yes, that means other people can see your stuff and copy it or adapt it, but I do really want this to be an opportunity for us to discuss and brew together for Pauper.

Lists need to be submitted before next Tuesday, July 14, to be considered.

I will pick three submissions to highlight in next week’s article, and you guys will get to vote to decide the winner.

Our Forum Guidelines and Style Guide are available here, so you can make your decklist look like a list. Please use it.

Other thoughts, comments, or concerns? Suggestions for a weekly challenge? Leave those in the comments too!

Last but not least, if you like this challenge or any of our other content, please consider supporting us via our Patreon.

Happy brewing!



Tribal Fun in Modern #7: Silvery Slivers

sliver hivelord art

On with another week of Tribal Fun in Modern! This is going to be another fairly laid back week. This week I’ll try to make the best of the great casual tribe of slivers. Here is the deck:

[d title=”Slivers (Modern)”]

4 Mutavault
4 Sliver Hive
4 Cavern of Souls
3 Verdant Catacombs
1 Windswept Heath
1 Godless Shrine
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Watery Grave
1 Blood Crypt
1 Swamp
1 Forest

3 Homing Sliver
3 Manaweft Sliver
4 Necrotic Sliver
2 Harmonic Sliver
4 Galerider Sliver
4 Sedge Sliver
4 Predatory Sliver
4 Sinew Sliver
2 Sliver Legion

4 Aether Vial

Instants and Sorceries
4 Abrupt Decay

1 Harmonic Sliver
3 Thoughtseize
2 Relic of Progenitus
3 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Combust
4 Mana Leak [/d]

A deck somewhat similar to this did well in Grand Prix Milan towards the end of last year. As always, I am going to give you the run-down on card choices, strategy, play style, match-up and sideboarding guide, and some different versions of the deck.

[c]Homing Sliver[/c] and [c]Manaweft Sliver[/c] are the straight up utility cards. [c]Homing Sliver[/c] allows for you to fetch any sliver you need. [c]Manaweft Sliver[/c] allows for ramp, fixing, and blocking all day when combined with [c]Sedge Sliver[/c].

[c]Necrotic Sliver[/c] and [c]Harmonic Sliver[/c] destroys things. [c]Necrotic Sliver[/c] can do some work and allow all of your slivers (+3 mana) to trade with anything on the board. He is a real powerhouse. [c]Harmonic Sliver[/c] can do some work against Affinity and can be fetched if need be. He is not nearly as good as [c]Necrotic Sliver[/c] but still warrants an inclusion in the deck.

[c]Galerider Sliver[/c], [c]Sedge Sliver[/c], [c]Predatory Sliver[/c], [c]Sinew Sliver[/c], and [c]Sliver Legion[/c] are the slivers that win you the game. [c]Galerider Sliver[/c] allows for great early evasion. [c]Sedge Sliver[/c] likely provides a nice +1/+1 boost and allows for regeneration, which is very nice. [c]Predatory Sliver[/c] and [c]Sinew Sliver[/c] both allow for very nice aggression and are cheap anthem effects. [c]Sliver Legion[/c] probably just means that any sliver will get through for lethal. It is a [c]Coat of Arms[/c] effect.

[c]Abrupt Decay[/c] is the only spell-based removal in the deck and can get rid of problems. [c]Aether Vial[/c] allows for great aggression and acts as somewhat of a mana fixer.

The land base is pretty complex. [c]Mutavault[/c] is the only colorless land and acts as a big sliver. [c]Sliver Hive[/c] is a five color land and pumps out 1/1 slivers late game. [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] is as good as ever.

The strategy is a bit in-depth. I don’t know a ton about the deck, as I haven’t tested it a ton, but still, it plays all five colors, so make sure that you play your lands in an effective manner. As well, the deck is fairly aggressive. In general I like to keep [c]Aether Vial[/c]s at 2 counters, ticking up to 3 as I need it. The deck is fairly aggressive so try to dump out your hand and use your on a stick removal only when you really need it or to push in for some extra damage. As well, the deck has a decent late game.

Mulligans are tricky with this deck, especially game 1. Generally, if you feel a hand is too narrow I would generally probably still keep it, as that means that there are a lot of outs you can draw into to make the hand increasingly better.

The deck plays like a casual slivers deck. There is a lot of pumping of the whole team and games feel hectic but fast paced. I don’t really know any other way to describe it.

As I said I haven’t tested this deck a ton and it seems like it is fairly high variance so it is fairly 50%/50% in most matchups. It generally does a little better against Tron and Twin. The extra [c]Harmonic Sliver[/c] is for Affinity. The [c]Thoughtseize[/c]s are if you need early disruption, such as a Twin, control, or combo matchup. The [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c] are for anything graveyard and anything that runs [c]Tarmogoyf[/c]. The [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] is for the burn matchup, the [c]Combust[/c] against Twin, abzan, and anything white or blue, and the [c]Mana Leak[/c] is if you can slow down and want to take more of a control/tempo route.

There are so many slivers out there to change up the deck but those I recommend are [c]Bonescythe Sliver[/c], [c]Darkheart Sliver[/c], [c]Diffusion Sliver[/c], [c]Fury Sliver[/c], [c]Hibernation Sliver[/c], [c]Leeching Sliver[/c], [c]Megantic Sliver[/c] and [c]Sliver Hivelord[/c]. These all could potentially find a home in the deck. As well, of course you can play with the numbers and reduce to possibly 3 colors (jund, abzan, mardu, naya).

Thank you for the continued support of the series and I hope you have some fun times playing with this sliver deck! I can talk to you about any choices in the comments! Feel free to ask.



Tribal Fun in Modern #6: Elves

elvish visionary art wide

Today we will be looking at the infamous tribe of elves. This deck has a minor combo in it, but here is the list:

[d title=”Elves (Modern)”]

4 Arbor Elf
4 Devoted Druid
3 Elvish Mystic
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Heritage Druid
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Elvish Archdruid
2 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
1 Imperious Perfect
1 Elvish Champion
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Regal Force
1 Reclamation Sage

Instants and Sorceries
3 Chord of Calling

12 Forest
3 Cavern of Souls
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

3 Choke
2 Creeping Corrosion
3 Dismember
1 Plow Under
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Tajaru Preserver
2 Spellskite [/d]

A deck rather similar to this top 16ed at a Grand Prix fairly recently, so I like to think that this is quite a good deck (and it is fairly budget). As always, I am going to give you the run-down on card choices, strategy, play style, matchup and sideboarding guide, and some different versions of the deck.

Of course the deck is very creature-heavy, running 38 creatures. [c]Arbor Elf[/c], [c]Devoted Druid[/c], [c]Elvish Mystic[/c], [c]Llanowar Elves[/c], and [c]Heritage Druid[/c] all are the mana dorks of the deck. [c]Devoted Druid[/c] is part of a combo I will get to later. These all help accelerate into the bombs.

The [c]Nettle Sentinel[/c]s are great aggressive cards that basically always have vigilance and can help accelerate a lot with [c]Heritage Druid[/c].

The 1-of [c]Reclamation Sage[/c] helps toolbox against annoying artifacts and enchantments and can help game 1 against affinity.

The lords of the deck include [c]Elvish Archdruid[/c], who not only pumps you elves but also generates a lot of mana, [c]Ezuri, Renegade Leader[/c], who provides protection and an overrun effect to all of your elves and is the second piece to the combo, [c]Imperious Perfect[/c], who not only pumps all of your elves, but also churns out elves him/her/itself, and a 1-of [c]Elvish Champion[/c] to fetch against anything that runs forests. So the combo, 2 [c]Devoted Druid[/c]s and [c]Ezuri, Renegade Leader[/c] and 1 untapped land means that you can not only get infinite overruns, but also infinite mana.

Use that infinite mana to cast some of your big finishers. [c]Craterhoof Behemoth[/c] and [c]Regal Force[/c], who both provide tremendous advantage and [c]Craterhoof Behemoth[/c] could win you the game on the spot.

The list only has 3 [c]Chord of Calling[/c] because I couldn’t really tell the difference and I really wanted the 19th land.

Speaking of lands, they are pretty basic. The [c]Nyxthos, Shrine to Nyx[/c] can generate a lot of mana most the time and the only reason I run 3 [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] rather than 4 is because [c]Chord of Calling[/c] requires triple green.

The strategy is fairly simple. It is a bit like an aggro deck. Play your mana dorks then very quickly you will be able to dump you whole hand and either beat down with the elves you already have or fetch a finisher via [c]Chord of Calling[/c] well before they’re ready to deal with it.

The deck feels very aggressive. Unlike the aggro decks of today, it feels very old-school. As well, it has a combo feel. It also is a big beatdown deck. To compare it to another deck, it feels like Storm or Affinity. There is one turn where you “go off.”

The matchups for the deck are decent. Generally it can beat Abzan and most control decks (UWx Midrange, Tron, etc.).

It has more 50%/50% match-ups against traditional aggro decks, RDW, Boros Burn, Infect, Scapeshift, and Affinity and probably has about a 40%/60% matchup against Twin, despite little interaction.

The [c]Choke[/c]s are for anything that is blue (Twin, control, etc.), the [c]Creeping Corrosion[/c] is for Affinity, the [c]Dismember[/c]s are for Abzan, Twin, and other creature-heavy decks, the [c]Plow Under[/c] is for Tron and Scapeshift, the [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c] is for Abzan and any graveyard-based strategy (Dredgevine, reanimator, etc.), the [c]Tajaru Preserver[/c] comes in against Abzan, Death and Taxes, and basically anything that runs [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c].

Finally, the [c]Spellskite[/c] is for Twin, Burn, and anything else relevant.

Some other spins on the deck include removing the [c]Chord of Calling[/c]s and going for an all creature deck. Some creatures to add include [c]Wilt-Leaf Liege[/c] and [c]Joraga Warcaller[/c] as another lord. As well, [c]Ezuri, Renegade Leader[/c] can be cut to 1 to make room for 4 [c]Chord of Calling[/c]s.

Also, you can change the numbers, finisher package, and play around with some spell-based interaction.

That’s it for this week. Again, feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments and I can talk with you about them.

Thanks! -Dylan

Commander Corner: Anowon the Ruin Sage

Welcome back,

For most of his life, [c]Anowon, the Ruin Sage[/c] has been searching for one thing, the [c]Eye of Ugin[/c]. He used his reputation of being a master of the ancient languages, ruins, and runes to his advantage. He created a following, as adventurers would seek him out for his wisdom. In order to gain this reputation, he had to hide his vampiric heritage. Anowon is known to stoop to violence to get what he wants. Many vampires on Malakir know that he is a ruthless murderer and is hungry for power. He wasn’t always this way though.

In his early life, [c]Anowon[/c] belonged to the House of Ghet. His parents are unknown, but he took to the bloodchief, Tenihas, and saw him as a father figure. Tenihas also was fond of the young boy. During his childhood, [c]Anowon[/c] spent most of his time in Tenihas’s library. He was fascinated with the ancient world. This world was described as “a world in which vampires were enslaved by famished gods.” Tenihas didn’t want him to unearth anything that had to do with the old world, but Anowon disagreed. This created tension between the two.

One night Tenihas was found murdered in his chambers, and all of his treasures were missing. A witness stated that it was [c]Anowon[/c] himself that killed the bloodchief. In a fit of rage, he left the House of Ghet.

For many years he wandered and went on many expeditions. Eventually. he went to the Lighthouse at Sea Gate, disguised as a man named Kejahar. He dazzled the scholars with his knowledge of the ancient world, as well as with the many relics he possessed. He successfully integrated himself among the scholars, and decided to spend his time there for a while. During his stay, he went on many expeditions with the local merfolk. He also spent a great deal of time in the Lighthouse’s library, as it was the largest collection of works in all of Zendikar. It was there that he discovered a connection between the [c]Eye of Ugin[/c] and the vampires of the old world.

After this discovery, a Kor woman was found in an alleyway, brutally murdered. [c]Anowon[/c] was blamed for her death, as she was friends with him at the time. During the interrogations about this murder, it was revealed that [c]Anowon[/c] was a vampire. They immediatly kicked him out of the Lighthouse and savagely beat him within an inch of his life. They then threw him hundreds of feet off a cliff, into the Halimar.

He managed to survive, and went on a quest for the [c]Eye of Ugin[/c]. Using his reputation, he created a following. Many adventurers would seek him out, and he would use their relics to help him find the Eye. It was during this time that [c]Chandra Nalaar[/c] appeared. She seeked him out for his knowledge of the ancient world, as she was also searching for the Eye. She claimed that she memorized a map that would take them to the Eye. [c]Anowon[/c] agreed to venture with her, and set off. [c]Anowon[/c] later discovered that she had a physical map, and tried to kill her. Out of nowhere, [c]Sarkhan Vol[/c] showed up and knocked him out.

When he awoke, he found a man by the name of [c]Jace Beleren[/c]. He attacked Jace, but Jace disabled him. Jace read his mind, and convinced [c]Anowon[/c] to lead him to the Eye.

When the Eldrazi were released, they found [c]Anowon[/c] and enslaved him like all of the other vampires. He followed their code for many months, until he was freed by [c]Sorin Markov[/c] and [c]Nissa Revane[/c]. They went back to the Eye, and [c]Anowon[/c] divulged all he knew about the ancient world to them.

Nissa then freed the Eldrazi Titans. She, along with [c]Anowon[/c], fled to Afta. [c]Anowon[/c] was last seen stalking her.

[c]Anowon, the Ruin Sage[/c] is a complex character. He is a vital piece to the story of Zendikar. The type of decks he lends himself too, however, is much more straight-forward. His ability is powerful, and can easily swing the game to your favor, as he helps clear the board, and allows for your swath of vampires to go in for the kill. Let’s take a look at what the Ruin Sage can do for us today.


A vampire obsessed with the ancient world. In the end, I guess he did get what he wanted
[d title = “Anowon, the Ruin Sage (EDH)”]
1 Anowon, the Ruin Sage
1 Barren Moor
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Cabal Coffers
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Crypt of Agadeem
1 Deserted Temple
1 Everglades
1 Lake of the Dead
1 Leechridden Swamp
1 Mutavault
1 Myriad Landscape
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Polluted Mire
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
23 Swamp [/d]

1 Adaptive Automaton
1 Ascendant Evincar
1 Blood Artist
1 Bloodghast
1 Bloodhusk Ritualist
1 Bloodline Keeper
1 Bloodlord of Vassgoth
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Captivating Vampire
1 Dark Impostor
1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
1 Falkenrath Noble
1 Gatekeeper of Malakir
1 Guul Draz Assassin
1 Kalastria Highborn
1 Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet
1 Malakir Bloodwitch
1 Mirri the Cursed
1 Necropolis Regent
1 Nirkana Revenant
1 Sangromancer
1 Vampire Hexmage
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Vampire Nocturnus [/d]

1 Dismember
1 Doom Blade
1 Hero’s Downfall
1 Sudden Death
1 Tragic Slip
1 Beseech the Queen
1 Blood Tribute
1 Chainer’s Edict
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Exsanuinate
1 Mutilate
1 Night’s Whisper
1 Overwhelming Forces
1 Patriarch’s Bidding
1 Profane Command
1 Sign in Blood
1 Yagmoth’s Will [/d]

1 Black Market
1 Dictate of Erebos
1 Grave Pact
1 Greed
1 No Mercy
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Blade of the Bloodchief
1 Caged Sun
1 Charcoal Diamond
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Door of Destinies
1 Expedition Map
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mimic Vat
1 Mind Stone
1 Sol Ring
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Liliana Vess
1 Sorin Markov [/d]

Price: MTGO = 87.10 TIX | Paper = $493.14

Price will vary greatly if you get the Overwhelming Forces Promo instead of the Portal 3K one. This is the price with the Promo.

This deck is rather straightforward, but powerful. Its primary focus is to just keep the board clear of creatures so yours can freely attack through. Easy as that. It works more like a monoblack control deck, slowly grinding your opponents down until you’re the only one left with things to do. It’s simple, yet effective.

The main way to win, like almost all tribes, is to just beat down. Just about all of your creatures are capable of applying a solid amount of pressure. Creatures like [c]Captivating Vampire[/c], [c]Adaptive Automaton[/c], and [c]Vampire Nocturnus[/c] will buff your entire team and just make things easier for you. Your finishers usually involve [c]Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief[/c] or [c]Butcher of Malakir[/c], and a handful of others, as they will end the game almost immediatly. Especially [c]Drana[/c]. I have yet to loose when she stuck around for a few turns.

The only real function [c]Anowon[/c] serves in here is to keep the board clear. He does this extremely well though. In order for them to have anything on the board, they have to at least have two creatures to be able to block anything. If it’s late in the game, Anowon will pretty much just lock an opponent out of creatures. He will grind your opponent down, generating you value every turn until your opponent has nothing left.

If your opponent is playing a token strategy, things get a bit harder for you. [c]Anowon[/c] becomes much less effective if they can sacrifice one of their more useless tokens. We do have ways to mitigate this though. The handful of board sweeps will be able to keep the tokens at bay. [c]Overwhelming Forces[/c] is hands down the best out of the bunch, as it will pull us ahead so far that it will be difficult for them to come back. As long as you can get to its astronomical mana cost, that is. Besides that, we have [c]No Mercy[/c] which isn’t at its best here, but gets the job done nonetheless.

Overall, this deck is a good amount of fun, though it’s super grind-heavy. If you really like a tribal theme in black, I can easily recommend giving this a shot. It’s rather straight forward and to the point. This deck wants nothing more than your opponent to be dead, one way or another.

Thank you for checking out this week’s Commander Corner. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby


Tribal Fun in Modern #5: Fiery Elementals

incandescent soulstoke

This week we I have yet another fun tribe for you. Although this deck may not be quite as competitive as the last, it is an extremely fun aggro deck. So, here is the list.

[d title=”Elementals in Modern”]
3 Cavern of Souls
18 Mountain

4 Ball Lightning
3 Coal Stoker
4 Nova Chaser
4 Spark Elemental
4 Flamekin Harbinger
4 Incandescent Soulstoke
3 Fulminator Mage

Instants and Sorceries
2 Fling
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lava Spike
3 Rift Bolt

2 Ingot Chewer
2 Smash to Smithereens
2 Molten Rain
4 Rending Volley
3 Blood Moon
1 Dragon’s Claw [/d]

So, the deck looks a bit like some very strange Red Deck Wins. Following tradition, I am going to give you the run-down on card choices, strategy, play style, matchup and sideboarding guide, and some different versions of the deck.

Card Choices

The lands are pretty self-explanatory. The deck is aggressive so the list only runs 21 lands and wants to play all of its burn so it doesn’t run the full playset of [c]Cavern of Souls[/c].

Going down the list, a large portion of the creatures are simply meant to be aggressive creatures that are also elementals. These include [c]Ball Lightning[/c] and [c]Coal Stoker[/c] who can allow very explosive turns. We also have [c]Spark Elemental[/c], and then [c]Nova Chaser[/c], who can champion[c]Flamekin Harbinger[/c] for an extra tutor.

After those there is [c]Flamekin Harbinger[/c] who obviously tutors for an elemental, [c]Incandescent Soulstoke[/c], who is the one lord in the deck and also allows for you to play some of your other creatures that already are going to die at a slightly cheaper cost, and [c]Fulminator Mage[/c] who does an amazing job at destroying man-lands, punishing greedy mana bases, and just general land destruction.

The instants and sorceries are a fairly straightforward burn package. The [c]Fling[/c]s synergizes well with the high power / low toughness creatures ([c]Fling[/c] plus [c]Nova Chaser[/c] could be game).

Flamekin Harbinger


The strategy is much like any other aggro deck. Play all of your creatures, attack with them, burn the face or a threat. The only thing to note really is that [c]Nova Chaser[/c] can champion [c]Flamekin Harbinger[/c] for an extra tutor.

As well, the play style is much like a RDW. There is significantly less burn and of course it doesn’t splash white, but the feel is generally the same. As well, although the deck is quite aggressive, it isn’t that aggressive as the average RDW or Boros Aggro deck.

As I mentioned earlier, the deck isn’t horribly competitive. Its very fun to play with, don’t get me wrong, but the results from testing don’t exactly show me that this is going to win the next Pro Tour. In general it beats most control decks. It can have some trouble against Tron. The deck has survivable matchups against Abzan, Affinity, and Merfolk and generally loses against most forms of aggro and fast combos (RDW, Boros Burn, Infect, Twin, etc.) and basically everything else.

This is finally a sideboard that I am fairly happy about. The [c]Ingot Chewer[/c]s and the [c]Smash to Smithereens[/c] are both for Affinity, the [c]Molten Rain[/c] is for Tron and other greedy mana bases, even Abzan (it can replace [c]Fulminator Mage[/c] if he isn’t working), [c]Rending Volley[/c] is for Abzan, Twin, and anything else in the colors, [c]Blood Moon[/c] can be a good sideboard backup plan for Abzan, Tron, the mirror, and many other decks, and [c]Dragon’s Claw[/c] is good for the mirror and against other aggro decks.

The variants are when things get even more fun with the deck. As I said earlier, for the $150+ spent on [c]Fulminator Mage[/c]s and [c]Cavern of Souls[/c], the deck isn’t up to par on competitiveness. For that reason, here is a simple budget fix (including the sideboard).


[d title=”Budget Elementals in Modern”]

4 Ball Lightning
3 Coal Stoker
4 Nova Chaser
4 Spark Elemental
4 Flamekin Harbinger
4 Incandescent Soulstoke
3 Spark Elemental

Instants and Sorceries
2 Fling
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lava Spike
3 Rift Bolt

21 Mountain

2 Ingot Chewer
2 Smash to Smithereens
2 Molten Rain
4 Rending Volley
1 Dragon’s Claw
3 Searing Blood [/d]

And there is the deck for less than $100, and still basically just as good (especially if you are playing this at your kitchen table). A [c]Malignus[/c] or two could be added to the deck to spice things up a bit too.

As well, the other major change that could be made is to make it a 5 color [c]Horde of Notions[/c] deck. This would be a major revamp of the deck, so I am not going to talk about it in detail (if you would like I can discuss more in the comments) but here are two good decklists and deck techs for 5 color [c]Horde of Notions[/c] decks:

5-Color Elemental Blitz

Elemental Awareness

That’s it for this week. Again, feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments and I can talk with you about them.

Thanks! -Dylan

The Many Flavors of Goblins in Modern

krenkos command art

Hi all,

Everyone goes gaga over tribes, and Goblins are no exception. They’re cheap to buy and cheap to cast, and droves of them often swing for lethal by the critical turn four. Still, they aren’t producing results. Perhaps it is because we are giving them the wrong role. Consider where they are most powerful in Legacy: a slew of them mix with [c]Rishadan Port[/c] and [c]Wasteland[/c] for a control deck. Again, in Vintage, where many decks win with a few cards, the go-to game plan is [c]Goblin Lackey[/c] on turn one into [c]Goblin Warchief[/c] and [c]Earwig Squad[/c] on turn two. This is a very controlling strategy.

In Modern, we have been focused on one thing: attacking quickly, and reaching with [c]Goblin Guide[/c]. The most recent exciting thing for many Goblins enthusiasts has been [c]Howl of the Horde[/c]. A turn four triple [c]Goblin Grenade[/c] still doesn’t launch our green friends to success, though.

Instead of the aggressive strategy, then, let’s try and take Goblins through the other two modes of play: Control and Combo.

Control Goblins

What exactly are we trying to control with a red-based deck, and how do Goblins contribute to it?

Looking at Modern as a whole, we want to have favorable percentages, or at least plans, against Twin, Abzan, Affinity, Infect, Burn, and Amulet Bloom.

vs. Twin – First of all, we can assert the aggressor role and race. Traditional Goblins decks have been blown out by [c]Electrolyze[/c] in the match-up, but we can do better than a horde of x/1 creatures. Sideboard [c]Combust[/c] and [c]Rending Volley[/c] keep them off their combo plan, and other pieces of burn removal ensure that we can get there.

vs. Abzan – This is a nightmare matchup for Goblins. If they develop their mana, we will throw fodder into massive rhinos and lhurgoyfs until finally succumbing to the stampede. Goblins do not have to allow them to develop their mana, though. We have two of the most powerful effects against Abzan available: [c]Magus of the Moon[/c] and [c]Blood Moon[/c]. We can bolt their birds or target them with [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c].

vs. Affinity – It is strictly a race, but we can play cards that give us the edge in the race: [c]Tin Street Hooligan[/c] seems limited in scope, but a beater for two that grows is efficient enough. [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] keeps [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c] shenanigans at bay, and our sideboard has the most powerful effects available to beat Affinity.

vs. Infect – Infect folds to sufficient removal. [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] and [c]Lightning Bolt[/c], coupled with a nice clock should eliminate their [c]Blighted Agent[/c] and [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] so that we can keep blocking and establishing a clock.

vs. Burn – Like Affinity, we are out to race Burn, but [c]Aether Vial[/c] keeps us from just losing whenever they have an [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] and are ahead, and [c]Dragon’s Claw[/c] post side will give us a lot of life since we are casting red spells as well.

vs. Amulet Bloom – We have the only relevant cards against the [c]Primeval Titan[/c] plan and the [c]Hive Mind[/c] plan: [c]Magus of the Moon[/c] and [c]Blood Moon[/c].

So why choose Goblins for a control deck, anyway? Well, [c]Goblin Rabblemaster[/c] has shown himself to be a capable card even in Jund Midrange, so if those same wheels get turning in Goblins, the train will be hard to stop.

Now that we know what we need to have a plan against archetypes, let’s see if we can build a deck with consistency and pressure.

[d title=”Control Goblins (Modern)”]
4 Copperline Gorge
8 Mountain
4 Stomping Ground
4 Wooded Foothills

4 Ember Hauler
1 Goblin King
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Magus of the Moon
1 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Simian Spirit Guide
3 Tin Street Hooligan
4 Warren Instigator

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
3 Blood Moon
4 Lightning Bolt

1 Blood Moon
4 Dragon’s Claw
4 Rending Volley
4 Searing Blaze
1 Shattering Spree
1 Tin Street Hooligan [/d]

If we’re being honest, this is really a deck that is looking for free wins with turn 2, [c]Simian Spirit Guide[/c] and [c]Blood Moon[/c] or [c]Magus of the Moon[/c]. Of course, while this works against a massive portion of the format, we have to place it in a shell that can still win otherwise.

Looking back at the list, I like our chances here against the format. The only deck that gives me a lot of pause is Zoo, and that is why the 4 [c]Searing Blaze[/c] are in the sideboard.

Combo Goblins

Modern does not have anything remotely close to [c]Food Chain[/c] in terms of power level, but when we fail to port a list from Legacy or Vintage into Modern, we know our next step: old Extended.

There is a long-forgotten piece of equipment that combined nicely with Goblins and Shamans there: [c]Thornbite Staff[/c]. Together with [c]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/c], a number of infinite combinations are present. The easiest two are [c]Mogg Fanatic[/c] and [c]Lightning Crafter[/c], winning on the spot. [c]Ember Hauler[/c] may or may not win immediately, but he will certainly get you close. Aside from those, we can likely easily clear the board with [c]Siege-Gang Commander[/c] or [c]Lightning Crafter[/c].

[d title=”Combo Goblins (Modern)”]
20 Mountain

4 Ember Hauler
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Krenko, Mob Boss
4 Lightning Crafter
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Mogg War Marshall
1 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Warren Instigator

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
4 Thornbite Staff

4 Blood Moon
4 Dragon’s Claw
4 Rending Volley
3 Shattering Spree[/d]

Finally, since so many want to do stuff like this …

[d title=”Aggro Goblins (Modern)”]
20 Mountain

4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Goblin Buswhacker
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Legion Loyalist
4 Mogg War Marshall

Other Spells
4 Dragon Fodder
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Krenko’s Command
4 Obelisk of Urd
4 Shared Animosity[/d]

If it isn’t [c]Foundry Street Denizen[/c] into [c]Krenko’s Command[/c] (attack for 3) into [c]Hordeling Outburst[/c] AND [c]Obelisk of Urd[/c], then my friend, it isn’t curving out.

So will any green men rise to the top besides Elves, aided now by [c]Collected Company[/c]? I think if we shift gears away from Aggro, Goblins can do it!


Tribal Fun in Modern #4: Merfolk Under the Sea

master of the pearl trident art

Welcome back to Tribal Fun in Modern! This week we have even more of an aggro deck than last week. We are going to be looking at the increasingly popular mono-blue merfolk. Lets look at the list:

[d title=”Merfolk (Modern)”]

2 Cavern of Souls
4 Mutavault
1 Tectonic Edge
14 Island

4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
2 Merrow Reejerey
4 Cursecatcher
4 Silvergill Adept
2 Master of Waves
2 Phantasmal Image
1 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
2 Spellskite

Instants and Sorceries
4 Spreading Seas
2 Dismember
3 Vapor Snag
1 Spell Pierce

4 Æther Vial

3 Tidebinder Mage
1 Swan Song
1 Spell pierce
3 Hurkyl’s Recall
2 Mana Leek
2 Stubborn Denial
2 Echoing Truth
1 Relic of Progenitus [/d]

Following tradition, I will go over the card choices, strategy, play style, matchup and sideboarding guide, and some different versions of the deck.


The lands are fairly basic. Since we are mono colored there isn’t much to talk about. As I have said earlier, [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] is great in tribal and really there is no need to be cut. In some very rare situations you may get a hand of [c]Mutavault[/c], [c]Cavern of Souls[/c], and [c]Spreading Seas[/c] but I never got that so it isn’t much of a hindrance.

The [c]Mutavault[/c]s are great because not only do they generate mana, but they become 2/2 merfolk.

The one [c]Tectonic Edge[/c] is for the Tron matchup.

silvergill adept art


The [c]Lord of Atlantis[/c] and [c]Master of the Pearl Trident[/c]s are a must have 4-of a piece. Not only do they pump your merfolk but also make them unblockable in tons of games, either because your opponent is playing blue already or because you cast [c]Spreading Seas[/c]. The [c]Merrow Reejerey[/c] on the other hand is not quite as impressive. He is definitely good, but not nearly as good as the other two lords. Sticking with the negatives, he costs three mana, which is high on the curve, and only provides one devotion. One the other hand, he synergizes well with [c]Aether Vial[/c]s and the tap/untap ability is useful, but he is not quite as good as the other lords. Despite this, his effects still warrants his inclusion.

Although some are opposed to him, I find [c]Cursecatcher[/c] is a great card. Not only is he a body, but if he is on the table it basically [c]Time Walk[/c]s your opponent (or at least stops them from playing anything that important for another turn). Even better he can be [c]Aether Vial[/c]ed in and act as a [c]Counterspell[/c] in that situation.

[c]Silvergill Adept[/c] is an automatic four-of. Not only is the extra cost clause easy to fulfill with so many merfolk in the deck, but also it acts as the [c]Mulldrifter[/c] of the deck. Although he may not seem great, pure value makes it so that he definitely needs to be a 4-of.

[c]Master of Waves[/c] is a fairly new inclusion to the deck but he is probably the biggest bomb in the whole deck. Considering that even by just turn 4 you can rack up a lot of devotion, not only will he create a ton of 2/1s, but also he can be a body himself with all of the buffs from lords.

[c]Phantasmal Image[/c] is an amazing and cheap [c]Clone[/c]. He is pretty self-explanatory. Copy an opponent’s best creature, copy your own creature, or [c]Aether Vial[/c] him in to respond to something, he is a cheap [c]Clone[/c].

[c]Kira, Great Glass-Spinner[/c] is a good way to protect your threats. She obviously makes it very hard to remove or even target any of your cards, which is an amazing ability, especially considering that she can be [c]Aether Vial[/c]ed in to respond to something. It is worth noting, of course, that she is not a merfolk.

To finish out our creatures we have 2 [c]Spellskite[/c]s. Of course they are an answer to Twin, but also they help against burn and are great blockers. I think their inclusion is fairly self-explanatory, considering that they are live basically every single matchup, even though they are also not merfolk.


[c]Spreading Seas[/c] is a staple in this deck. Not only does it help a lot in the Tron matchups and against other greedy decks that need a lot of mana requirements, but it also turns on islandwalk, which many times means that all of our creatures are unblockable (and this likely means you win the game very quickly). On top of all of that, it draws you a card when you play it.

[c]Dismember[/c] is the only removal in the deck. Since the deck is so aggressive, the removal is very light, but this can get the job done.

[c]Vapor Snag[/c] and [c]Spell Pierce[/c] are the control package. [c]Vapor Snag[/c] is a great tempo play and can answer a threat (temporarily). [c]Spell Pierce[/c] is the only counter in this whole mono blue deck, but again it can usually be used as a hard counter or at least a tempo play.

Finally, there is [c]Aether Vial[/c]. It is pretty obvious why this card is so good (and who at R&D put this at uncommon in Darksteel). Not only does this act like lands 22-25, but it allows basically all of the creatures to be flashed in. This is not only a way to be efficient with your mana, but also adds some control elements to the deck as well. Finally, it synergizes very well with [c]Merrow Reejerey[/c], being able to dump out your whole hand very quickly.

So, after praising [c]Cryptic Command[/c] last week, you may wonder why it isn’t included, not even 1, this week. This is not a mistake. No merfolk decks run [c]Cryptic Command[/c] because it is to slow for the deck and the deck doesn’t need/want its abilities. Some other cards I choose not to include were [c]Cosi’s Trickster[/c] as it only really triggers on fetches, [c]Coralhelm Commander[/c] as I felt it was to slow, and [c]Thassa, God of the Sea[/c] because I couldn’t find room for her (even though her power level is definitely on par) and I didn’t want another non-merfolk creature.

gtyb art


The strategy, as I earlier mention, is very aggressive. You want to try to get as much damage in as quickly as possible. Since there is so little of a control element to the deck, it is very easy to play. Generally you are removing, bouncing, or countering the first opposition to try to push as much damage through as possible. Generally I keep my [c]Aether Vial[/c]s at two counters because most of my creatures are at two. I’ll let it go up to three when I really need to.

The deck plays a lot like a red or Boros aggro minus the burn. In general, the burn is replaced with effective burn that allows you to push through extra damage ([c]Spreading Seas[/c], bouncing, countermagic, and removal). If you like a deck like UR Aggro or even just RDW or Boros Aggro, then you will likely like merfolk just as much.

The deck’s matchups are somewhat similar to that of an aggro deck. It does pretty well against most traditional control decks, such as Tron and UW Midrange, has more of a 50%/50% matchup against Abzan (it can really depend on the build), RDW and Boros Aggro, and Infect and generally has poor matchups against Twin, [c]Scapeshift[/c], and other quick combos (it is hard for us to interact with these).


The [c]Tidebinder Mage[/c]s obviously come in against anything red or green (Abzan, RDW, etc.).

The [c]Swan Song[/c] comes in against Twin, Aggro (haven’t quite decided if this is the right choice yet), Control, and anything else relevant.

The extra [c]Spell Pierce[/c] comes in against Aggro, Tron, Scapeshift, Infect, and other non-aggro matchups where you can afford to slow down.

The [c]Hurkyl’s Recall[/c]s come in against Affinity, obviously.

Again the [c]Mana Leak[/c]s come in against decks where you can usually afford to slow down a bit (Abzan, Control, etc.) and Twin usually.

[c]Stubborn Denial[/c]s come in against aggro, twin, and other racing matchups.

[c]Echoing Truth[/c] is usually a catchall, for Twin, Abzan, Aggro, basically anything to fill up the space of a dead card.

Finally there is [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c] for graveyard decks and for [c]Tarmogoyf[/c].

In hindsight I put a lot of spaces for Aggro when I could have filled them up with something more relevant for the even worse matchups, but I can fine-tune the sideboard as I continue to test.

More thoughts

So the big thing I choose not to do with this deck is splash white. A few fetches, shocks, and a playset of [c]Wanderwine Hub[/c] opens up [c]Path to Exile[/c], [c]Harm’s Way[/c], and many sideboard options.

Of course the numbers can be changed too. Even splashing black could be viable. Some specific cards that I decided not to include that could definitely still be good in the deck and in your meta are [c]Thassa, God of the Sea[/c], [c]Coralhelm Commander[/c], and [c]Cosi’s Trickster[/c] (likely in the sideboard). The control and removal packages have some slight wiggle room. I wouldn’t go with more than 11 cards for both removal and control and the deck isn’t a control deck, it is an aggro deck.

There are many sideboard options. As my main resource for sideboards (since I am not very good at it myself) I usually use the compare feature of (it is a great website for netdecking and seeing the metagame, most the time at least). That shows you many more options for sideaboards, basically all of which I think are viable, depending on your meta.

There it is, my take on the ever-popular Modern Merfolk deck. If you have any suggestions at all feel free to talk about them in the comments (I do usually respond). Thanks for sticking with me, as today’s article was a little long again, but hopefully interesting.


– Dylan

Tribal Fun in Modern #3: UB Faeries

spellstutter sprite art

Hello, and welcome to another week of Tribal Fun in Modern. This time I am going to be looking at a tribal deck that most of you probably know: Modern Faeries! Although it is a lot less prominent than its blue tribal friend Merfolk, Faeries is an aggressive yet controlling deck that can win games fast. So, here is the list.

[d title=”Modern Faeries”]

3 Creeping Tar Pit
3 Darkslick Shores
4 Mutavault
4 Polluted Delta
4 Island
2 River of Tears
3 Watery Grave
1 Tectonic Edge

3 Mistbind Clique
4 Spellstutter Sprite
3 Vendilion Clique
3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Instants and Sorceries
4 Cryptic Command
4 Mana Leak
2 Spell Snare
2 Dismember
1 Go for the Throat
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Thoughtseize

4 Bitterblossom

1 Liliana of the Veil

1 Batterskull
2 Damnation
2 Disfigure
3 Spellskite
2 Sower of Temptation
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Scion of Oona
1 Relic of Progenitus [/d]

So the deck looks like a fairly typical Modern Faeries list. Keeping with my style, I am going to give you the run-down on card choices (including what I didn’t run and why), strategy, play style, matchup and sideboarding guide, and some different versions of the deck.

Card Choices

The card choices are fairly typical. The manlands are great at any point in the game. They help the aggression of the deck and generate mana. The color requirements aren’t that intense, so the hindrance isn’t that big. The fetches, shocks, and islands are for the fixing package and [c]River of Tears[/c] and [c]Darkslick Shores[/c] are in the same boat. They are very good in the early game (mostly when we need them) and still fine in the late game.

[c]Bitterblossom[/c] should need no explanation, but if you need it then here you go. It is just SO good. Alone it will win you the game by turn 8. Once it is down, you can play a very controlling matchup since it generates attackers and blockers, with flying. The life loss will almost never be a problem (maybe in the mirror) since you will be finishing off the game relatively quickly.

3 of [c]Mistbind Clique[/c] may be a bit of a strange inclusion, but not only is it a sizable body for a very decent amount of mana, but the champion ability isn’t really even a drawback. Worst case scenario you champion a [c]Bitterblossom[/c] token, best case you can champion a [c]Spellstutter Sprite[/c] and get another counter. To seal the deal, it has flash and can allow you to [c]Time Walk[/c] your opponent and mess up their combat all in one turn. It is a bit high on the curve, and they are tricky to play with, but I only included 3 because you don’t necessarily want to see it in your opening hand due to its high cost.

And now onto one of the other very important cards of the deck, [c]Spellstutter Sprite[/c]. Again, it is great in just about every situation. Worst case scenario it acts as a chump blocker, many times it is a [c]Spell Snare[/c] and a lot of the time it is a [c]Counterspell[/c] plus a 1/1 flyer.

The [c]Vendillion Clique[/c]s are a staple in Modern. Minimum, you get a 3/1 flash flyer. And it only gets better. You can target yourself and loot a card or you can [c]Thoughtseize[/c] your opponent.

I should need no justification for [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c]. He is just so good. Snap back anything from a counterspell to hand disruption to removal all on a 2/1 flash body. It is an auto-include and the only reason that there aren’t 4-of is because of space and instant/sorcery count.

[c]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/c] might seem like a strange inclusion, but I am trying him out in the deck (as are a lot of people). He has become an instant staple and he can really close out games fast, gaining you quick control of the game. He is like the 4th [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c] and I feel that his inclusion inclusion is fully justified by his power level, even though he isn’t a faerie.

Again I shouldn’t need justify the inclusion of [c]Cryptic Command[/c]. The most common mode is counter draw, but the other two modes are always relevant. Even though it is four mana (and {1UUU}, which shouldn’t be a problem) it still provides control and tempo, all in one card (not to mention 6 mana and a [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c]).

The [c]Mana Leak[/c]s and [c]Spell Snare[/c]s are the rest of the control/counterspell package. The [c]Dismember[/c]s and the [c]Go for the Throat[/c] are the removal in the deck. The [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c]s and [c]Thoughtseize[/c]s are the disruption package. It is very helpful to not only see an opponent’s hand, but also taking away their best card in hand. For the time being, I have a 2/2 split for the two.

And finally, we have [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]. This Modern staple may be the strangest of all, but with the removal package fairly light, the sac ability can help a lot and well, the first ability never hurts. She is just another annoyance and target that the opponent has to deal with and you can always play her when you have nothing else to do. I didn’t run [c]Sower of Temptation[/c] because for 4 mana, although it is another flash faerie body, its effect usually isn’t that potent. Maybe you will snag a [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] and sometimes it helps against Twin (that is the dream at least) but it just doesn’t pay out in the end.

You would think with removal constantly in Modern and burn more prevalent than ever, at least 1 [c]Scion of Oona[/c] would be present mainboard, but I found that it was fine sitting in the sideboard. Unlike most control decks, aggro isn’t as much of a problem for us and generally the aggro deck doesn’t point burn at our creatures. As well, it is a small 1/1 body and the +1/+1 isn’t usually that relevant (maybe it boosts the [c]Bitterblossom[/c] tokens). There are countless other cards that I am not running. The particular choices for my control and removal packages are both metagame calls and I can discuss further my choices in the comments.


The strategy is a bit like any control deck. Of course skills like what and what not to counter have to be learned through experience and really can’t be explained in one paragraph. I would almost always play a [c]Bitterblossom[/c] over any counterspell. Once you have a [c]Bitterblossom[/c] out you can really just sit back and keep mana open for all of the instants and flash creatures in your deck.

As well, what to take with an Inquisition or [c]Thoughtseize[/c] is an acquired skill and heavily depends on the hand, deck, and board state but I will never hesitate to play them if I have nothing else to do that turn. Of course there are the obvious things such as activating manlands and [c]Tectonic Edge[/c] and the synergy between [c]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/c] and delve, using Liliana efficiently (you only have 1 so use her well), and using removal effectively.

The hardest strategy unique to the deck is that of [c]Mistbind Clique[/c]. Many times it will be as simple as upkeep, champion a [c]Bitterblossom[/c] token, time walk you, then that’s the whole deal, or even just the same thing only during combat, or maybe just end of the opponent’s turn for the extra 4/4 flying body. In other scenarios, it is not that simple. Many times you have to pick between creatures on the battlefield, which enter the battlefield trigger is the best in the situation (even if that effect may not come at instant speed). Although the 4 mana is a bit steep, two of these guys in your hand can really help. This opens up for championing a [c]Spellstutter Sprite[/c] then playing your second [c]Mistbind Clique[/c] and getting another counter or the same with a [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c].

The play style is a bit like a UWX control deck, but all of your spells are on a stick. Although this might mean that you give up a bit of control over the game for a bit of board power, this makes a very potent combination of speed and control, and as I said earlier, once you get that [c]Bitterblossom[/c] out you can really just sit back on those tokens and play reactively, while still getting power on the board. I would say that anyone would like this deck (control or aggro players) but aggro player definitely won’t get the expected speed and turn three kills (and the strategy is way over their heads).

Match-Ups and Sideboarding

The matchups are similar to that of a UWX midrange deck, with a better matchup against aggro. I’ll quickly go through each of the archtypes and talk about the matchups.

Faeries have a decent matchup against Abzan. It is close to 50%/50%. You generally have answers for most of their big threats and creatures for things that leak through, so, this can leave you in a very attrition-based matchups, and since neither of the decks have a particularly good latter game (except for Abzan decks that run [c]Gavony Township[/c]). This can leave both decks on the topdeck.

Again the deck can float against a Boros Burn or RDW, but it still struggles to stabilize. In this matchup the 1 damage from [c]Bitterblossom[/c] can really hurt here. Affinity is like aggro, it can be difficult, but it is possibly with a decent hand. The hand disruption can really help with this matchup.

Tron is an interesting matchup. It’s probably 40% wins / 60% loses. The deck runs 1 [c]Tectonic Edge[/c], so if you draw that then it can really help. As well, countering their relevant fetch spells or their relevant threats, depending on their hand (again the disruption really helps here).

Twin is another fairly 50%/50% matchup. Of course there is luck on their part, will they get the combo. But also, your counterspells can really help to keep them off their combo for enough time to let you swing in for the win. Their burn is fairly irrelevant against our creatures once we get them down.

So now to the sideboard. The general space fillers to get rid of dead cards are [c]Scion of Oona[/c], [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c], and [c]Engineered Explosives[/c]. Of course some of these are bad in some matchups but all three of these cards are potent against nearly all decks.

The [c]Batterskull[/c] comes in a decent amount too, in mirrors and other control matchups and usually against most aggro decks. As well it can come in against Zoo.

[c]Damnation[/c]s are for matchups like Abzan that are very creature heavy. I’ve even tried boarding it in against aggro decks. As well it can come in against Zoo.

[c]Disfigure[/c]s come in against Twin for [c]Pestermites[/c] and against Aggro and Zoo and basically any deck that cares about 2/2s or even 3/3s.

[c]Spellskite[/c]s come in against Twin and Aggro (for the blocking) and anything else where you need to be on more of the defensive.

[c]Sower of Temptation[/c] comes in against a lot of decks that rely on creatures (Abzan, Tron, Affinity, even Zoo) and really helps against Twin.

[c]Tectonic Edge[/c] comes in against color-greedy decks and Tron.

The [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c] is for the graveyard hate. As always I had some trouble with the sideboard (I don’t get enough post-board competitive games in a week).

Your spin on the deck

This article is getting exceedingly long, so I will quickly run over the variations of the deck. You can change both the removal, disruption, and control package for whatever you feel is the best of these cards. Cuts include [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c], [c]Mistbind Clique[/c] (probably only 1), [c]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/c], [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c] (if he really isn’t working out for you) and [c]Bitterblossom[/c] (only cut 1 at most).

You can put an extra land, mainboard [c]Scion of Oona[/c]s (as I discussed earlier, depends on your meta), mainboard [c]Sower of Temptation[/c]s, and swords (I would try [c]Sword of Feast and Famine[/c] first).

So, sorry that this week is so long. Hopefully you made it through.

Again, leave any thoughts/suggestions in the comments.

Have a great day!


Tribal Fun in Modern #2: Zombie Apocalypse

zombie apocolypse art

Hello again! Time for another installment of tribal fun in Modern! This week we are going to look at Zombies in Modern. So, without further ado, here is this list:

[d title=”Zombie Apocalypse (Modern)”]

4 Cemetery Reaper
3 Death Baron
3 Grave Titan
4 Lord of the Undead
2 Vengeful Pharaoh
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Gravecrawler

Instants and Sorceries
4 Dismember
4 Thoughtseize

2 Zombie Infestation
2 Endless Ranks of the Dead

4 Cavern of Souls
3 Tectonic Edge
15 Swamp
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

3 Liliana of the Veil
3 Hero’s Downfall
2 Infest
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Black Sun’s Zenith
1 Spellskite
1 Massacre Wurm [/d]

The deck runs quite well and I have found that the sideboard seems to work better than I ever thought it would have. Again, I am going to run down the card choices, strategy, play style, matchup and sideboarding guide, and some different versions of the deck.

The cards intend to provide a quick early game, crunching in a few points, then rounding out the midgame and pumping all of your zombies and playing a [c]Grave Titan[/c] then winning. The lords are [c]Cemetery Reaper[/c], the [c]Imperious Prefect[/c] of the deck, [c]Death Baron[/c], an amazing way to let you take the upper hand, and [c]Lord of the Undead[/c], a great source of card advantage.

The early game mostly consists of [c]Gravecrawler[/c]s, [c]Thoughtseize[/c]s to keep your opponents off of whatever is good in their hand, [c]Zombie Infestation[/c]s, [c]Cemetery Reaper[/c]s, and [c]Death Baron[/c]s. All of these are early threats that can be quickly deployed and by turn three you can get a lord down and start to crunch in for significant amounts of damage.

The finishers in the deck include [c]Grave Titan[/c], [c]Vengeful Pharaoh[/c], and [c]Endless Ranks of the Death[/c]. [c]Grave Titan[/c] and [c]Endless Ranks of the Dead[/c] will easily take the game over if left unchecked (and [c]Endless Ranks of the Dead[/c] is rather hard to deal with). [c]Vengeful Pharaoh[/c] is just a huge body that is even more of a pain to deal with once he is in the graveyard.

The playset of [c]Dismember[/c] is the removal for the deck.

The land base is simply some Swamps, two [c]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/c] for the [c]Tectonic Edge[/c]s and the [c]Cavern of Souls[/c], a playset of [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] because they NEVER hurt in tribal against control, and three [c]Tectonic Edge[/c]s just for the land destruction.

zombie horde art

The strategy is somewhat like any other Junk or Midrange decks. Depending on your hand and whether you are on the draw or the play, the deck will generally lead with either a [c]Thoughtseize[/c] or [c]Gravecrawler[/c] into a [c]Zombie Infestation[/c] then into one of the many three drop cards in the deck. After some beatdown in the midgame, you can play one of the finishers to take over the game.

The [c]Dismember[/c]s can deal with threats but the [c]Death Baron[/c]s can really help with keeping creature threats off, especially considering all of the recursion. The [c]Endless Ranks of the Dead[/c] can just sit there and let you win. [c]Zombie Infestation[/c], although it may not seem that potent in this deck, can just allow you to pitch irrelevant cards to it to churn out zombies every turn. The deck is quite easy to pilot. Probably the hardest thing is to pick which card to take from [c]Thoughtseize[/c].

The playstyle is a bit like a slow-paced Dredgevine. The deck uses the graveyard, but it does not heavily rely on it. Graveyard hate won’t really hurt you that much. As well, the deck is fairly midrangy, with some early game aggro. The deck also has an 8-Rack feel, considering that it is mono black. As well, the deck obviously has a lot of synergy, considering that it is tribal and all. The playstyle is quite unique.

zombie infestation art

With some tweaking I feel that this deck can really be competitive. At its current state it is not quite fully polished and finished off. There are still some minor changes that could be made (I need a few more games for testing). The deck squeaked out a few wins against Abzan, generally could hold up against aggressive decks like Boros Burn, RDW and Infect, but generally has poor matchups against some combo decks (Scapeshift especially, but Twin is quite the match too) and can sometimes just run out of steam against some control/UWX midrange builds (I feel like this could be one of the tweaks by adding something like [c]Damnable Pact[/c] for the card draw) and Tron, who usually beats us to the win.

Again I’m not great with sideboards, especially in mono black. I considered splashing, but I felt in the end the life loss in lands and some other factors didn’t make it strong enough. The Lilianas are for general use. They come in against most decks.

[c]Hero’s Downfall[/c] helps to support our removal package (this is a flex spot). I usually bring these in against Abzan and Infect and anything with annoying creatures.

[c]Infest[/c] tries to stop affinity and most aggro decks. I’ll bring these in against Boros Burn, RDW, Infect, Zoo, and UR Aggro.

[c]Grafdigger’s Cage[/c] is for anything that uses the graveyard (Dredgevine, Reanimator, Living End). [c]Spellskite[/c] is for the Twin matchup and the Infect matchup.

[c]Black Sun’s Zenith[/c] is for this too, and other uses, like aggro and affinity decks. Generally I’ll bring it in against anything but control.

Finally [c]Massacre Wurm[/c] helps in a lot of slower matchups (mostly control).

endless ranks of the dead art

Starting with the sideboard, basically anything can be changed. It is a fairly mediocre sideboard and really just a starting point. Mainboard, almost all creatures can be cut to 3 of (I try to keep the early aggression at 4 of) and the finishers can be cut to 2 if the deck becomes more controlly.

[c]Thoughtseize[/c] can be lowered if you don’t need the disruption.

[c]Zombie Infestation[/c] and [c]Tectonic Edge[/c] can be cut if you don’t want to discard and/or you don’t want/need the land destruction.

If he isn’t working out for you, [c]Vengeful Pharaoh[/c] can be cut.

Some good additions include [c]Army of the Damned[/c], [c]Damnable Pact[/c] for the control-heavy metas, and splashing either blue for cantrips and [c]Grimgin, Corpse-Born[/c] and some control or green for [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], [c]Lotleth Troll[/c], and [c]Abrupt Decay[/c]. More removal could also be added to the deck.

There are lots of other edits in terms of number changes that can be made to the deck, most of which can be found through a simple gatherer search, but those are my starting suggestions.

Leave some comments and let me know what you think!

Have a nice day,

Tribal Fun in Modern, Ep. 1: A Deadly Touch

lorescale coatl

Hello everyone, this is my first time writing for MagicGatheringStrat so to you I present my new series, Tribal Fun in Modern!

My name is Dylan Siegler and I have been playing since right around Kamigawa block and started to play competitively around Scars of Mirrodin. So, now that you know a bit about me, let’s jump right in.

The first tribe we are going to talk about today are the long forgotten snakes. Even though snakes have only truly been supported once in the Kamigawa block, this snake deck still has quite a deadly touch.

[d title=”Tribal Snakes (Modern)”]

4 Breeding Pool
4 Cavern of Souls
3 Forest
4 Hinterland Harbor
2 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood

3 Coiling Oracle
3 Hooded Hydra
4 Lorescale Coatl
2 Lotus Cobra
3 Mystic Snake
2 Ohran Viper
1 Orochi Eggwatcher
2 Patagia Viper
2 Wasteland Viper
2 Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
3 Sosuke, Son of Seshiro
1 Kashi-Tribe Elite

Instant and Sorceries
2 Snakeform
3 Voidslime
2 Sosuke’s Summons

2 Coat of Arms

2 Mold Adder
2 Cobra Trap
1 Winds of Qal Sisma
1 Hooded Hydra
2 Coat of Arms
4 Naturalize
2 Chalice of the Void
1 Adaptive Automaton [/d]

So, now that you’ve seen the list, let’s look at the card choices, strategy, play style, matchup and sideboarding guide, and some different versions of the deck.

I am just going to go down the list, looking at each of the different types of cards and talking about their importance. Keep in mind also that all of the creatures are snakes, so I won’t even mention that.

[c]Coiling Oracle[/c] is in a world of its own, provide card advantage, ramp, and a 1/1 body.

As well, [c]Lotus Cobra[/c] fits in as a ramper, providing up to two triggers when fetches are played and cracked.

The control package includes [c]Voidslime[/c] and [c]Mystic Snake[/c], which can both serve as counterspells when really needed and the Mystic Snake is a flash 2/2 body too.

The one true finisher of the deck is [c]Hooded Hydra[/c]. Cast it as a morph turn three then flip him face up or just hardcast him, he is a big body and with any lord on the battlefield he has sudo indestructible.

As well, [c]Lorescale Coatl[/c] can get huge if you cast him early, so in most cases he can act as a finisher too.

[c]Ohran Viper[/c], [c]Wasteland Viper[/c], and [c]Snakeform[/c] are the removal in the deck. The deck lacks much non-creature removal, but the deathtouch on those snakes can get rid of most creatures (and [c]Ohran Viper[/c] can give card advantage when needed).

[c]Orochi Eggwatcher[/c], [c]Patagia Viper[/c], and [c]Sosuke’s Summons[/c] all generate 1/1 snake tokens. While the Eggwatcher is a big slower, it does the job. As well, [c]Patagia Viper[/c] acts a flying body. I have found in my testing that [c]Sosuke’s Summons[/c] provides so many snake tokens throughout the game that it could practically finish off the game on its own (granted they don’t have a [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c]). It comes back to hand so many times that it just provides so much value.

sosuke art

Finally, there are the lords. [c]Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro[/c], [c]Sosuke, Son of Seshiro[/c], [c]Kashi-Tribe Elite[/c] and [c]Coat of Arms[/c] are the lords of the deck. Sachi and Sosuke both provide that little boost in power or toughness and each have abilities of their own that can be helpful, whether it is ramp or deathtouch. [c]Kashi-Tribe Elite[/c] does do a good job at protecting the lords mostly and the tap down ability is useful, I have found that he is much weaker than I wanted him to be.

Then finally, there is [c]Coat of Arms[/c]. If you drop this thing, you will win. With all of the tokens and just the sheer amount of snakes, this can easily give all of your dudes +5/+5 or even +10/+10 and you will win if you resolve this at with any board state at all.

Lastly, there are the lands. All of the fetches, checks, and shocks are standard and [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] makes all of our creatures uncounterable and [c]Oran-Rief, the Vastwood[/c] can just help getting Hooded Hydras bigger or tokens and it is little of a hinderance that it enters the battlefield tapped.

I’ve found that [c]Sosuke’s Summons[/c] and [c]Coat of Arms[/c] are really just the all-stars off the deck when played turns 3 and 5, respectively. The [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] really hoses control and regardless fixes mana.

This deck runs a lot like a creature-heavy W/U Midrange deck and even a bit more like a control light faeries. Drop down all of your creatures as fast as possible, flood the board, make sure to keep mana open for a counterspell, and that is about it. Generally the deck can explode around turns three to four and continue to have gas from there on out.

Of course make sure to remember those Sosuke’s Summons triggers and don’t wait to play something just to get the Oran-Rief bonus. The deck can’t wait that long with little one and two-drops. One last thing to remember is that the deck runs 6 couterspells so, although it has a control package, the deck does not run like a control deck, so don’t go around countering everything.

The play style is a bit like faeries, so if you like faeries but want more of the green side of things, then that is what this deck is all about. Although it doesn’t have nearly as much control as faeries and not as much power in the air, the tribal synergies run deep and the creatures get big fast. So, if you like faeries (or even legacy elves) then the play style of this deck is quite similar and may appeal to you.

sachi art

The matchups and side boarding are as follows

In my testing I have found this deck has a good matchup with Abzan, Affinity, Mono-U Tron, and Twin (although this was probably luck) and has fairly 50%/50% matchups against RG Tron, Merfolk, Zoo, and Boros Burn and generally will lose against Storm and infect.

The sideboard consists of cards for most matchups ([c]Mold Adder[/c], [c]Hooded Hydra[/c]) some for attrition-based matchups ([c]Coat of Arms[/c], [c]Adaptive Automation[/c]), some against aggro and storm ([c]Chalice of the Void[/c], [c]Adaptive Automation[/c], [c]Winds of Qal Sisma[/c]) and a play set of [c]Naturalize[/c] for the affinity matchup.

The [c]Winds of Qal Sisma[/c], the [c]Adaptive Automation[/c], and the [c]Cobra Trap[/c] can all potentially be flex spots if you need to change the sideboard depending on your meta.

Your own spin on the deck

There are many directions that you can take with this deck from taking it in a much stronger control deck to a stronger tribal theme with more lords. You could cut blue entirely from the deck.

I haven’t really found a way to make the deck much more aggressive than it already is. I even found that a splash of black for [c]Dismember[/c], [c]Thoughtseize[/c], and some black snakes can help the deck in some way. The weakest cards I have found are [c]Snakeform[/c] (but this spot would have to be filled in with another removal spell) and [c]Patagia Viper[/c] (this should probably either be replaced with another flyer or removal).

There are lots of snakes I didn’t include in the deck, but these can easily be slotted in. You can change up the mix of Sosuke, Kashi, and [c]Kashi-Tribe Elite[/c] in the deck, depending on your preference (and other numbers). Finally, in control-heavy metas [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] works really well. This part is all up to you. There are a lot of directions to take this deck in.

So, if you have any suggestions for the deck or anything else feel free to leave a comment below.

Paupers and Kings, Ep. 6: Combo Elves

nettle sentinel Though Shadowmoor’s monster-haunted wilds beckon, she never leaves her post.

Hi everyone, and welcome to the sixth episode of Paupers & Kings, my series on porting Pauper decks into the Modern format while staying on a budget. Today we’re not only talking about Elves, a tribal theme that works in every format (except Standard, I suppose), we’re going to talk specifically about Combo Elves.

I’m excited because it’s one of my favorite archetypes and, were it more powerful, I’d play Elves in every format I could. From the first printing of [c]Llanowar Elves[/c] in Alpha, there have been more and cooler elves added to the toolbox in nearly every expansion.

I’ll be clear from the get-go, though. While Elves can win games, and even matches, and maybe even an event or two, they are not powerful or consistent enough to be “tier 1” in either Pauper or Modern.

They’re pretty darn fun, though, so if you like to swarm the board and hit giant combos, tutor out Emrakul, gain tons of life, and make things miserable for your opponent, then by all means, read on.

Let’s take a look at Pauper first this week.

Elves in Pauper

There are more straightforward lists in Pauper. Their goal is to swarm the board with elves and win with [c]Timberwatch Elf[/c] activations. They may or may not be better than this list, but the combo player in me loves the idea of “going off”, so here you go.

We hit our combo in this list by getting a [c]Lys Alana Huntmaster[/c] (or two or three) and maybe some [c]Nettle Sentinel[/c]s (or two or three) and at least one [c]Birchlore Ranger[/c] (one is enough) and then chaining a bunch of elves into a [c]Distant Melody[/c] into a bunch MORE elves into, finally, a singleton [c]Mob Justice[/c].

Yes, a lot of cards are involved. But since everything we are doing along the way serves our purpose anyway (nothing is there solely for the combo, save the 1x Mob Justice) we can still never hit the combo and play a great Elf game. Here is the full list, courtesy of Deluxeicoff.

[d title=”Combo Elves by Deluxeicoff (Pauper)”]
Mana Stuff
8 Forest
4 Land Grant
4 Springleaf Drum
2 Abundant Growth

4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Quirion Ranger
4 Scattershot Archer
4 Priest of Titania
4 Wellwisher
4 Timberwatch Elf
4 Lys Alana Huntmaster
4 Birchlore Rangers

Elf Magicks
1 Viridian Longbow
1 Mob Justice
4 Distant Melody
4 Gitaxian Probe

4 Thermokarst
4 Hydroblast
3 Flame Slash
1 Disturbed Burial
3 Spidersilk Armor [/d]

Running a list with only 8 lands is fun and helps not stall out in the mid-game via flood. Wellwisher and Timberwatch provide a lot of resilience and threat, respectively, and Quirion Ranger, the deck’s allstar, backs up anything that taps to do something cool (Wellwisher, Timberwatch, Scattershot, Priest, or anything holding a Longbow).

Oh yeah, and that Longbow is a valid win condition, too. If you’re playing Bant Fog, or the board is stalled and you can’t get through, a combination of Longbow and Quirion Ranger and a boatload of both creatures and mana can equal quite a few activations per turn. You can use that to hit your opponent in the face (ideal) or clear the board to get through with combat damage (also acceptable but less cool).

Good match-ups include Mono Blue Delver, any creature list, and anything else that isn’t concentrated on blowing your elves up all the time. UR Control can be tough, as can MBC and any other “true” control list, while Burn and Goblins both run more or less even.

There’s nothing too spendy here, in Pauper terms, but with [c]Gitaxian Probe[/c] seeing play in a number of formats, it has risen in price to $2-3 each, so you could consider [c]Manamorphose[/c] as a cantripping alternative, though it doesn’t have the benefit of allowing you a glimpse into your opponent’s game plan. It can help you hit {U} for Melody and {R} for Justice, though, so it’s not without benefits.

Nettle Sentinel is slightly spendy but indespensible, so don’t skimp there. She also does double-duty in our Modern list, so if you’re building both, you definitely can’t skip picking up a playset.

Speaking of Modern, let’s check out that list.

Combo Elves in Modern

I looked at a lot of lists to try and put something together that was competitive but didn’t use any of the spendier cards. [c]Craterhoof Behemoth[/c] is the main finisher in most Elf lists, and for good reason. I had the idea, though, that if you’re really “going off”, then he’s an excessive use of $20. I put in [c]Purphoros, God of the Forge[/c] instead, who I had from last week’s Boros Soul Sisters list, and who finished the opponent off quickly if you get the [c]Cloudstone Curio[/c] engine going.

Here is the list I came up with. Adding more $ could definitely make it better, but it still works pretty well as it stands AND is super-budget in this form.

[d title=”Cloudstone Elves (Modern)”]
4 Cavern of Souls
8 Forest
4 Rootbound Crag

4 Elvish Mystic
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Elvish Archdruid
4 Heritage Druid
1 Vigor
2 Joraga Warcaller
2 Joraga Treespeaker
1 Eternal Witness
3 Wren’s Run Packmaster
1 Purphoros, God of the Forge
1 Wild Cantor

Spells and Artifacts
3 Cloudstone Curio
3 Lead the Stampede
3 Chord of Calling

3 Viridian Shaman
2 Beast Within
3 Essence Warden
2 Choke
2 Dismember
3 Back to Nature [/d]

The classic combo with Cloudstone Curio is Nettle Sentinel and Heritage Druid. Add any other one mana elf and you are bouncing guys and netting 2 mana every bounce. Add in Elvish Visionary and you are (eventually) drawing through your entire deck.

And if you’re playing online it is truly the clunkiest, least short-cuttable combo in the history of history. You’re gonna get carpal tunnel doing this thing, all to gain one mana and one card per rotation, until (eventually) you hit something interesting.

Interesting cards include a [c]Chord of Calling[/c] (to hit [c]Purphoros, God of the Forge[/c]), or the super-awesome (and cheap) [c]Wren’s Run Packmaster[/c], who can put Splinter Twin to shame by creating endless 2/2 wolf tokens with Deathtouch, but only if you’re willing to click until your hand falls off. Some lists run [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c] which is another legit way to end a game off an endless mana combo into a big Chord. Emrakul is only $10 and fits in a number of interesting lists, so if you have a little scratch, it’s a worthy investment.

I had a hard time figuring out the right number of Chord and Lead the Stampede. Most games I preferred coming up with Lead, mainly because I wasn’t running the big guys I needed to Chord into a big win, but I just wanted to draw a bunch more Elves and keep my board (and combo) moving along progressively. Running 6x of the two may be too much, though, so cutting some for other choices could work.

I picked up Cavern of Souls because it fits into so many tribal strategies (the natural budget strategies for most formats), but they could easily be forests here. If you get a couple, you can name “God” with one to make sure Purphoros doesn’t get disrupted; otherwise they’re not doing a whole lot except helping you work around countermagic and (I only learned this from comments on my soul sisters videos) [c]Chalice of the Void[/c] if your opponent brings it in to mess with you.

The key pieces here are the combo slots: Nettle Sentinel, Heritage Druid, and Cloudstone Curio. None of them are really “cheap”, but after you spend that $20 or so, you can really build any kind of elf list you want. Find a mana sink or a good target for Chord and the rest of the list kind of puts itself together. There are plenty of good ideas in this thread at Salvation, and various others on Reddit.

If you come up with any cool strategies on the cheap, be sure to let me know in the comments. I like the list I made, but keep feeling like I’m missing something that would make it better.

But hey, we’ve talked the talk, now let’s walk the walk. Here are the gameplay videos for Elves this week.

On the Play with Combo Elves

We had some good match-ups in Pauper, which may make it seem like we’re unstoppable. Hey, sometimes that’s true. Modern is a bit less forgiving, but we do get to combo off and show the unstoppable power of a good Elf engine once it gets going.

Do you have your own favorite elves lists, in any format? Let me know. As I mentioned, I love Elves and would play them all the time if I could get away with it.

Next Week on Paupers & Kings

Next week we’ll be blitzing our opponents with aggressive Izzet lists. As always, if you have recommendations for Modern / Pauper lists that crossover formats, let me know in the comments.

Until next time, may your Melodies ever be Distant.