III. Main Deck Card Choices
IV. General Strategy
V. Sideboard Card Choices
In the recent months since the release of Eldritch Moon, Modern has taken a shift heavily towards aggro. Jund has become two drop dot deck and moved away from its former midrange roots. Suicide Zoo has gained a very strong footing in the meta. Elves has been resurrected and Dredge has finally broke through as a real deck. We still have our usual classics; Burn, Naya Zoo, Fish and Infect. These decks have a few exploitable similarities. They all can’t handle mass removal and Chalice of the Void. But we can’t just play board wipe effects and Chalice of the Void; you do need an end game.
Ever since I started playing this game, many moons ago, my favourite thing to do has always been casting large expensive creatures. What follows up a board wipe extremely well? A large creature.
The whole purpose of this deck is to ramp up mana quickly with Search for Tomorrow, Farseek, and Sakura-Tribe Elder. On turn 3 cast a board wipe, then cast a large creature. The deck runs a high quantity of spot removal to keep the way clear for your big creatures to keep getting through to your opponent’s face.
Why should you play this? The deck starts off similar to Scapeshift and Valakut decks. With no combo win condition the deck is less fragile to hand disruption and extraction effects. Running between 4 and 9 board wipe effects and 3-4 Chalice of the Void make the deck a nightmare for aggro match ups. Every creature in the deck has either some form of enter the battlefield effect or static ability that gives you value right away helping you in your midrange matches. Control decks are on the downswing right now but since most of these decks run a large quantity of 1 and 2 drops your 3 Chalice of the Void will make their game plan difficult. From testing I’ve found there is no real “bad” matchup. Just like Jund and Abzan you have a lot of matchups that are pretty 50/50. The deck is lots of fun, very consistent and is very customizable.
This started out as a heavily controlling super friends deck built around ramping up mana in a similar fashion to Scapeshift then casting a Death Cloud. In a different meta this plan may work well. Unfortunately with the current meta being so aggro heavy they recover faster than you do after a Death Cloud. One land is often enough to get a threat down and start beating you down. So I had to scrap the Death Clouds. Since then the deck has made a lot of changes. There are no longer any Ensnaring Bridges, no Death Clouds, no Planeswalkers. The list now plays out like Red Green Titanshift, Valakut, and Amulet Bloom.
You spend turns 1 and 2 ramping up your lands. Turn 3 you cast a wrath effect. Turn 4 we cast something big. The Death Clouds and Ensnaring Bridge got replaced with Primeval Titans and Grave Titans. The board wipe suite became 2 -3 Damnation, 1-2 Languish, 1-2 Massacre Wurm, and 1-3 Gaze of Granite. Sometimes I also run a Reiver Demon.
III. Main Deck Card Choices
Avenger of Zendikar: The deck runs a suite of 21 lands. The absolute minimum amount of lands you will have in play when you cast an Avenger of Zendikar is 5 (2 Golgari Rot Farm 3 other). Avenger of Zendikar gains so much value immediately when it enters the battlefield. You get five or more blockers and if there is any way to drop a land those blockers get bigger. If you untapped with a Primeval Titan in play those tokens go up by a minimum of +2/+2. One swing with Avenger of Zendikar and a pile of tokens can easily be lethal. 1 copy in the deck.
Elderscale Wurm: In matches like Zooicide your life total becomes very small very quickly and no amount of life gain is truly relevant at that point in the game. The amount of resources they would need to expend to kill off Elderscale Wurm slows them down dramatically and likely will take a few turns to get into their hand. 1 copy in the deck.
Grave Titan: Grave Titan is fantastic. It’s a walking piece of removal. It generates blockers. On a clear board Grave Titan kills in 2 swings. 1-3 copies in the deck.
Massacre Wurm: I’ve been told multiple times to cut this card. This card has proved its worth time and time again. It kills off nearly every creature in Affinity, Hate Bears, and Burn. Every creature it kills pings your opponent for 2. I usually include it as board wipe 5-6. 1-3 copies in the deck.
Primeval Titan: Primeval Titan enables so many things. It finds Hissing Quagmire. It finds Radiant Fountain. It finds Golgari Rot Farm. Most importantly it ramps your lands and thins your deck. 2-4 copies in the deck.
Sakura-Tribe Elder: Standard Creature for any ramp based deck. Blocks creatures without trample and finds you land. 4 copies in the deck.
Thragtusk: I remember hating this creature back when it was in Standard. You would get your opponent just low enough to kill them on the next turn then they would play a Thragtusk and that was just enough to keep them alive. It has a pretty similar affect in Modern. Burn is getting ready for the fatal swing on turn 4 but instead you have 5 more life a decent blocker and if they kill it they still have a 3/3 to deal with. 2-4 copies in the deck.
Abrupt Decay: Destroys most problem cards. Liliana of the Veil, Ensnaring Bridge, Ghostly Prison, Tarmogoyf, and Death’s Shadow. 3-4 copies in the deck.
Chalice of the Void: Stops Thoughtseize, Path to Exile, everything in Burn, Terminate. 3-4 copies in the deck.
Damnation: For when you want it dead. What is it? Everything. Everything will be dead. 2-3 copies in the list.
Farseek: Finds you Overgrown Tombs and Swamps. 2-4 copies in the deck depending on how many targets you have.
Go for the Throat: This slot is for either Go for the Throat or Doom Blade. With the amount of Death’s Shadows and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghets floating around and the lack of Affinity right now Doom Blade seems bad. 1-3 copies in the deck.
Languish: This is your Damnation lite. It kills a lot of things without taking out your own threats. 1-2 copies in the deck.
Maelstrom Pulse: This is a sort of catch all. Sometimes you get value by taking out two copies most times you’re taking out 1 copy of something your other removal spells can’t hit. 1-2 copies in the deck.
Murderous Cut: There isn’t a whole lot this doesn’t kill. It also has the potential to shrink your opponent’s Tarmogoyfs. Occasionally it becomes slightly awkward to cast but that is pretty rare. 1 copy in the deck.
Putrefy: This kills nearly any creature you want and occasionally problem artifacts.
Search for Tomorrow: You want this either on turn 1 or turn 3 in your hand. It’s your Standard mana ramp. 4 copies in the deck.
Ghost Quarter: This kills off your opponent’s man-lands, takes them off double colours, can help you thin out your deck, slows down Tron and occasionally activates Avenger of Zendikar tokens. 1-3 copies in the deck.
Golgari Rot Farm: This lets you have extra mana without adding extra lands. This also can sometimes be a utility land. With Fish running 4 Spreading Seas and up to 4 Sea’s Claim These can often take their enchantments off your lands. Run 2-4 copies in the deck.
Hissing Quagmire: We have man-lands in every colour combination now so we may as well use them when we can. These can be used as removal for problem creatures or to try and take your opponent’s life total to 0. Run 1-3 copies in the deck.
Radiant Fountain: These often blank your opponents turn 1 Goblin Guide swing. They also can be bounced back to hand with Golgari Rot Farm for a little more life. Run 1-2.
IV. General Strategy
This deck plays out very similar to Scapeshift and Valakut/Breach lists in the early turns. If you realize early on that you aren’t winning game one you can just leave your opponent thinking you are on some weird Scapeshift variant and have them mis-sideboard. Since most decks weaken their strategy game two and three this may get you a free win on game two.
Generally turns one and two are spent ramping. Turn one is either nothing or suspend a Search for Tomorrow. Turn two is either Sakura-Tribe Elder or Farseek. If my opponent has a creature on the board the better choice is always Sakura-Tribe Elder so you can block and sacrifice it, not take damage and find a land.
Turn 3 depending on what has happened should either be a board wipe or a Thragtusk. Against Burn it will almost always be a Thragtusk. Against most creature based decks you’re going to want to drop a board wipe. This is where you want to start stabilizing.
Turn 4 we want to drop a Primeval Titan. If you have lost a pile of life we get a Rot Farm and Radiant Fountain. If your opponent has man-lands still available you are going to want to find some number of Ghost Quarters. If the board is entirely clear we go straight for the kill and we get our Hissing Quagmires. In the next two turns your opponent should be dead and gone.
The deck is packed with spot and mass removal which you shouldn’t have even touched up to now. All this spot removal will let you steamroll right through and finish your opponent off. If all else fails drop a wrath effect followed by another large creature.
V. Sideboard Choices
Cranial Extraction: This is the answer to combo decks. Since most combo decks in Modern can’t kill before turn four, (*thanks WOTC for that policy*), and you can cast this on turn 3, you get to remove the big key piece in their deck.
Radiant Fountain: This is supposed to save you from your Burn and Zoo opponents. It’s only two more life, but that two life can get you out of Lightning Bolt range.
Feed the Clan: Pretty much the same reason that Radiant Fountain. This gets you really far out of the hole in those matchups. And since nearly every creature in the deck is over 4 power so it is often 10 life instead of 5.
Leyline of Life Force: Jeskai Nahiri isn’t a fun match. This combined with your Chalice of the Void gets you through all their counterspells.
Phyrexian Revoker: This turns off Nahiri the Harbinger, Liliana of the Veil, Liliana the Last Hope, Arcbound Ravager etc.
Gaze of Granite: This is another board wipe. This one however doesn’t take out your creatures and it kills your opponent’s planeswalkers.
Terastodon: Destroys literally anything including your opponent’s life total.
Woodfall Primus: This takes out any problem permanent that is not a creature and it’s not easy for most decks to remove. If they don’t get rid of it for good the first time then it’s going to take something else out in the process.
Burn: This match can be agitating but between the Thragtusks, Chalice of the Void, and the Radiant Fountains you should be fine. Eidolon of the Great Revels can be a nightmare for you so try to kill them on sight. Feed the Clans and the extra Radiant Fountain help out. You won’t need your Damnations or your Ghost Quarters so that’s where you fit your sideboard cards in.
Death’s Shadow: This match can be straight up miserable. An early Chalice of the void stops a lot of their deck’s functionality. This match you are better with a hand of 4 removal spells 2 lands and a Chalice of the Void than ramp spells. You need to keep creatures off the board since they will kill you far too quickly for a Damnation to be effective. In games 2 and 3 you want to cut the Languishes since they are next to useless in this match. You want to bring in Gaze of Granite, Radiant Fountain, and Feed the Clan in games 2 and 3.
Naya Zoo: If they are on the classic version this match is a piece of cake. If they’re on the version that drops Burning-Tree Shaman and Reckless Bushwhackers this gets a bit harder. Chalice is gold in this match either way but early on you want removal. Keeping as many creatures off the board as possible on turn 2 and 3 is huge. You should be able to survive until turn 4 where you can Damnation or Languish them then start recovering. In games 2 and 3 I would bring in Radiant Fountain and Feed the Clans. Cut down on some of the non-green fatties to bring those in. Maybe bring in a Gaze of Granite.
Merfolk: You laugh, they cry. Abuse the Rot Farms to get rid of Spreading Seas so you can keep your removal for their lords. The deck typically can’t handle more than one or two board wipes. Chalice isn’t as good here since they have Cavern of Souls. It will shut off their Vapor Snags and their Sea’s Claim if they run it. Radiant Fountain and Feed the Clans are good in the match. I would say cut the Chalices in this game.
Jund/Abzan: This match can be a little swingy. A resolved Liliana can be a problem if you don’t have the Abrupt Decay ready to go. Abzan is a little more annoying since you absolutely have to get a Chalice down to stop Path. Most lists are down to only 2 Thoughtseizes so that shouldn’t be a huge concern. Bring in Gaze of Granite, Terastodon and Woodfall Primus. Cut Massacre Wurm and Languish since it is highly unlikely you will kill anything other than Dark Confidant.
Bant Eldrazi: This match is a grind. As long as you don’t make any big play errors your match should be fine. Your creatures are most often bigger than their creatures are and will win that trade. Bring in Terastodon and Woodfall Primus. Maybe bring in Cranial Extraction to take out Reality Smashers or Thought-Knot Seers. Languish and Massacre Wurm are outright bad in this match.
Infect: If you lose this you probably messed up bad. Unless they have the turn 3 kill and are on the play you win this. They can’t handle the amount of removal you have. Bring in Gaze of Granite, Terastodon, and maybe the Traps. Cut Elderscale Wurm and some random 1-ofs out of your cards you have full playsets of.