I haven’t loved modern lately. Most recently, I’d been playing dredge, and although it was powerful, the post-board game of trying to fight through absurd hate cards was just a little too taxing.
With more than a month to go until I have to play modern next, I thought I might do some brewing. I started thinking about how linear all the decks were, and about how focused the most popular sideboard slots were, and how, if I could dodge all those cards, I might be able to build something powerful that no one was prepared for.
My mind drifted back to PT Origins, the only Pro Tour I’ve had the opportunity to play. During our testing, there was a very powerful constellation deck that crushed the aggro decks and had the grinding power to beat the control and midrange piles. Problem was, Back to Nature (1G, Instant, Destroy all Enchantments) was in the format, and if everyone came to the same conclusions that we did about the power of the deck, there was a good chance our opponents would have a bunch of two-mana, one-sided Obliterates in their sideboards.
I started flipping through the top decks on MTGGodfish, looking at how easy it was for people to kill any enchantments I would play against them:
Dredge: 2-4 Nature’s Claim / Abrupt Decay, 1-2 Ratchet Bomb/ EE
Infect: 2-4 Nature’s Claim
Bant Eldrazi: 2 EE, 1 Worldbreaker
Jund: 1-3 Abrupt Decay, 1-2 Pulse, 1-2 EE
Burn: 2-4 Destructive Revelry
This was looking great. Most decks only have a handful of spot removal options, and with enough powerful enchantments, we could really overload them. Here are my first build, and final build:
In the maindeck, the biggest retooling was the manabase. I originally played very few actual forests so that I could cast Runed Halo more easily, but Eddie Song convinced me that Utopia Sprawl was worth the change.
A solid argument.
Alright, down to card choices:
I decided to stick with Birds of Paradise over Arbor Elf. Arbor Elf is only better when we already have good mana, and Birds gives us the ability to chump block flyers for a while, including Inkmoth Nexus and most affinity creatures. It also lets us keep hands with lots of basic forests.
The land base has been fine so far, but I’m not sure about Wooded Foothills. In the first few turns, you almost always fetch Forest or Temple Garden, and after that, you almost always want to get a Plains. It’s possible I should be playing a GW check-land.
Birds and Utopia Sprawl are pretty obvious. You almost always name white with Sprawl.
The engine cards:
- Herald of the Pantheon is your slowest accelerator, but he does the most work once you get rolling. It’s not uncommon to cast 4-5 enchantments in a late-game turn, and this guy makes that possible. The lifegain is not irrelevant.
- Courser of Kruphix is hard to kill, a great blocker, and helps you churn through your deck. With fetches, you can often fix your draws in the late game, especially once you’re going off with Eidolon.
- Eidolon of Blossoms is your endgame. If you untap with this in play, you’ll basically never run out of things to do again (at least until you’ve got the board locked up, and spend every turn digging for your win-con). Multiples are absurd, though it’s not a “may” trigger, so you occasionally risk decking yourself. I’ve definitely exiled my own Eidolons so that I could keep casting spells.
The prison cards:
- Journey to Nowhere / Oblivion Ring. I had four Journey and three Rings in my earlier builds, but I found that the mana cost rarely mattered, and the versatility often did.
- Ghostly Prison is insane right now. Dredge likes to end the game with like, 4 lands in play, and this card makes it basically impossible for them to get through. Infect wants to cast multiple spells in addition to attacking, and this makes that very difficult.
- Runed Halo is the card that makes the deck possible. Its best use is as a spot removal spell that gives them a bunch of dead draws. Most of the big decks only play a handful of different creatures, and decks like dredge excel at making a lot of copies of them. Against dredge, your main plan is to get Halos on Narcomoeba, Prized Amalgam, and Conflagrate, while sitting behind a set of Ghostly Prisons.
The win con:
- You need SOMETHING here, but I’m not sure if Sigil is the best option. It’s very good at giving you serious inevitability after tapping out one time in the midgame. That said, it’s expensive, doesn’t kill through Ensnaring Bridge, and often takes a few turns to kill if you’re in topdeck mode.
- Other options include Helix Pinnacle and Luminarch Ascension. Both of these are cheaper, which means that you can do something else on the turn you play them very often. Pinnacle is much slower, but it beats basically everything, and Luminarch Ascension ends up being more mana in the long run, but you get to break down the mana investment rather than paying all at once.
- I think Starfield of Nyx is bad. The board gets so locked up in the endgame that I don’t think you can count on a bunch of 3/3s and 4/4s without evasion to end the game, especially when you open them up to removal spells.
- 4 Nyx Fleece Ram – the card I’m most uncertain about. We already have a bunch of residual life gain. I don’t really want this anywhere except burn, and that deck is way down in popularity. It’s possible this is just supposed to be Leyline of Sanctity, and that we’re just supposed to bank on that, Runed Halo, and spot removal to shut burn down.
- 3 Rest in Peace – for dredge, of course. Even though I think our matchup is good, they’re better prepared to fight through hate in the board games, and we need another way to keep them down. I also bring in some vs lantern, and the various graveyard combo decks.
- 2 Stony Silence – lantern, affinity, tron. Pretty sure tron is unwinnable, but I think the games we do win start with Stony Silence.
- 2 Path to Exile – For decks where we just can’t spend 3 mana on our spot removal, or where instant speed really matters.
- 2 Seal of Primordium – Lantern, Affinity, kind of a catchall.
- 2 Kruphix’s Insight – This has really impressed me. It was basically for matchups where I have a lot of cards to cut, or where I expect them to go very long, and it has helped a lot. Regularly draws you 3 cards.
Potential sideboard options:
- Nevermore – Basically more runed halos, but also useful for decks like Ad Nauseum, where they don’t have to target you to win the game.
- Dovescape – Seems too expensive, and I’m not doing anything broken with it.
- Suppression Field – Turns off a lot of things like Ratchet Bomb, EE, and some creature-based combo decks.
- Sphere of Safety – Likely impossible to get through.
- COP: Red – Maybe better than ram?
- Leyline of Sanctity
- Elspeth (the big one)
When I put this together, I wasn’t expecting much.
I 2-0’d my first opponent, but they were playing martyr.
Then I 2-0’d dredge.
Then I beat dredge again.
Then I beat dredge again.
And then in game 3, playing for the 5-0, I fetched a temple garden on turn one, played two forests, and then died to a blood moon with a hand full of white cards. A kiln fiend ate me alive. What could have been had I only fetched a plains?!
I decided to run it back, and this time only managed a 2-3 finish.
I lost to a Blue Moon deck after using an oblivion ring to remove a creature instead of blanking it with Runed Halo, and then getting crushed by a Docent of Perfection that I couldn’t get off the board.
Then I lost a close one to affinity after deciding that I could afford to play Eidolon instead of Ghostly Prison. He topdecked a Cranial Plating to kill me.
I lost to Ad Nauseum because of another sequencing error, choosing to put more pressure on the board rather than play a Runed Halo, and his last card in hand was an Ad Nauseum.
The wins weren’t anything special, from what I remember.
It was still early, so I ran it back again, this time going 4-1 again.
My only loss in this league was to a Protean Hulk deck. In game one he put two Hulks in his yard early on. What do you name with Runed Halo there? I asked a few people, and we settled on Mogg Fanatic, so I named that. Then I played another Halo the next turn, naming Griselbrand, just in case he had that as a backup Through The Breach card. He untapped and killed me with Hulk combo, using Death Cultist as the kill.
In game two, I mulligained into a Rest in Peace hand, and he killed me with Mindcrank / Duskmantle Guildmage (after bouncing my rest in peace). I wasn’t even mad.
The rest of the league was mostly crushing UR decks, Dredge, and Affinity.
Overall, I played 5 matches against dredge and only dropped two games. Both of them pre-board, on the draw, with hands I would have mulligained had I known the matchup. If you just want to beat that deck, this is a great option.
Not sure if this deck is real, but it’s consistent, powerful, fun, and you get to beat up on modern’s current boogeyman.