Saturday, January 26, 2013

Brewing in Modern: Nega-Storm, Lost Omniscience, and Freakin' Mill!

*Big Inhale*

You guys know I love weird decks. I'd really like to be a competitive player, I really would. I'm always striving to improve my play, and I'm really hard on myself when I lose. My friends know not to ask me how I did in a match; if I won, they would know it, if I lost I don't even want to talk to people. The thing is, I act that way despite never playing optimal decks. A lot of it is budget, but sometimes it's purely for being weird.

Now, that's probably for the best, because nobody would read this thing if I tried to tell you how to play Jund. I'm not all that good at this game, why should I tell you how to play? Instead, I try to propose deck ideas that are interesting without being too horrible.

Okay, Standard Storm was horrible, but it was way too fun. And I'll remind you once again that it was a matter of days before the 4-Color one showed up on MODO Dailies. Just saying.

The problem is, now I like Modern. The only reason I've been playing Magic nonstop for as long as I have is because I float around between formats to stay interested. Right now, I can't get enough of Modern. But the thing is, you can't durdle in Modern. You actually have to win fast or try really hard to stop them from winning fast. Which is not easy. So for now, let's call these "sketches". They're not tuned (some more than others), but they all have central ideas to work upon.

When I brew something new, I start with a card or idea I really like. I have entire page in my binder of Sphinx of the Chimes because I just think it's sweet. Unique ability, cool art, one of my favorite creature types. Storm decks are awesome, so I wanted to see if I could make a good deck that did that in Standard.

Well, in EDH, being the sociopath I am, my favorite thing is taking extra turns.

If Time Walk were legal in EDH, that would probably be enough incentive for me to just stop eating for a month and save up for one. I almost want to do that anyway. If I ever buy any Power 9 card, that'll be it.

I just love extra turns. It bends the rules of Magic—and of all turn-based games, for that matter—
in a way that just feels awesome. Passing the turn to yourself is one of those simple pleasures in life. So in a format with Time Warp, that's the first thing I looked to.

One extra turn is never enough, of course. Infinite is preferable. As many as we have cards in our deck will do. But the more pressing issue is how we're gonna cast the damn thing in the first place. Time Warp is a 5-mana sorcery. Walk the Æons is even worse. Your first thought is probably green. Play some elves, cast it early, blah blah blah. But my first thought is "Boy oh boy do I hate green". Which is format, because what came of it helped me actually create a playable combo.

The first part is simple. Play one of these and last long enough to cast Time Warp. Okay... then what? Achievement Unlocked, you've taken an extra turn. Where does that get us?

Pretty much nowhere. Not yet. But the thing is, we didn't ramp into Time Warp. We didn't use rituals or Simian Spirit Guides or do anything else temporary. We made our spells cheaper. So what we do is we keep going, using two of my pet cards from Standard:

These two, along with card selection and Compulsive Research (which is insane with Semblance Anvil), keep the Time Walks coming. I thought about using the full Arcane Melee combo by putting in Runic Repetition, but it's very dead most of the time and not necessary in this context. Instead, we draw a whole bunch of cards over the course of a whole bunch of turns, then just kill them with Psychic Spiral. All in all a pretty simple plan.

So without further ado, my very first modern deck:


Creatures (4):
4 Goblin Electromancer

Artifacts (3):
3 Semblance Anvil

Instants (7):
2 Izzet Charm
1 Psychic Spiral
4 Remand

Sorceries (23):
4 Compulsive Research
3 Mystic Retrieval
3 Reforge the Soul
4 Serum Visions
2 Sleight of Hand
4 Time Warp
3 Walk the Æons

Land (23):
7 Island
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Steam Vents
3 Sulfur Falls

Why Nega-Storm? Well, like Storm, we take a long turn casting a whole lot of instants and sorceries. But instead of doing it all in one turn, it's over the course of twenty. Nega-Storm!!!

Anyway, the first thing you probably notice is the incredibly high sorcery count. Semblance Anvil is not an easy card to use. It's powerful here, but it isn't fun two-for-one'ing yourself. We need to make sure we always have a spare sorcery for it.

The manabase is weird. I'm not used to building them in Modern, and there isn't really a precedent that I can find for a straight two-color deck that can't run Shivan Reef. Luckily, it doesn't really matter a whole lot. You could probably pull of 4 Steam Vents 4 Sulfur Falls and just basics if you wanted to for a budget version. Maybe that's even fine here.

This deck is slow, and honestly not terribly good. The high sorcery requirement makes it hard to make it all that interactive. I'd like to have Lightning Bolt in here, but I just can't justify it over Izzet Charm, which is more versatile for our needs. But that said, it's a lot of fun. Like all the decks I make, it's very possible that with a few changes it could actually be good. That's what you guys are for!

Next up, we have a deck based on a combo that's been floating around in people's heads since Omniscience was spoiled.

Hex Parasite is an alternative for Vampire Hexmage, but I wanted to stress that this is a two-card combo. Remove the counters from Lost Auramancers, tutor out Omniscience.

Of course, we immediately fold to Extirpate or Slaughter Games, but that's just a conceit of the deck.

Now, making all your spells free doesn't win you the game. This continues the trend towards making this combo pretty bad. The nice thing is, you don't have to run four Emrakul. That'd be pretty rough. Our alternative is to use Diabolic Tutor our singleton Emrakul, then cast him. If you don't have the tutor, all of your dig spells our free, so you have a small amount of breathing room there.

Here's my list:

Lost Omniscience

Creatures (13):
1 Emrakul, the Æons Torn
4 Hex Parasite
4 Lost Auramancers
4 Vampire Hexmage

Enchantments (2):
2 Omniscience

Instants (10):
4 Path to Exile
4 Remand
2 Spell Pierce

Sorcery (11):
4 Diabolic Tutor
4 Serum Visions
3 Sleight of Hand

Lands (24):
4 Godless Shrine
3 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
4 Marsh Flats
1 Mystic Gate
1 Plains
4 Scalding Tar
2 Sunken Ruins
1 Swamp
3 Watery Grave

I did the best I could. This is probably not where you want to be with a combo deck. Lost Auramancers + Vampire Hexmage is great, but the work you put in to make that actually do anything is pretty awful. Now, if you've got the lands floating around and you want to try this out at FNM, you could probably have a lot of fun and it's possible to do pretty well in a 3-4 round setting. But I don't expect to see it in a Pro Tour any time soon.

The last deck I have for you guys is... kinda wacky. Even more so than the last two. I'll just leave this here:

Freakin' MILL!

Artifacts (4):
3 Æther Vial
1 Mindcrank

Creatures (12):
2 Duskmantle Mage
3 Eternal Witness
4 Hedron Crab
3 Snapcaster Mage

Instants (17):
1 Archive Trap
4 Cryptic Command
1 Mana Leak
2 Muddle the Mixture
4 Remand
2 Spell Snare

Sorceries (3):
3 Glimpse the Unthinkable

Lands (24):
2 Breeding Pool
2 Flooded Grove
1 Forest
3 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Sunkin Ruins
2 Swamp
3 Watery Grave

Of course, this deck is egregiously unfocused. Let me go over the early principles that were the genesis of this deck:
  • Mill is cool, why doesn't anyone play mill in Modern?
  • Duskmage Mantle is new and interesting, and has a combo with Mindcrank
  • Most importantly, I'm a unique and rebellious hipster who hates winning
The first card to go into the deck was Glimpse the Unthinkable. But that's just one spell, there really aren't any other instants or sorceries that mill efficiently (besides the very conditional Archive Trap). Let's just recur that one, and recur control cards to keep me alive to find it! So I jammed in Shouta Yasooka's Æther Vial shell from Pro Tour Return to Ravnica.

I didn't want to rely on mill, mostly because of Emrakul decks, so I put in Duskmantle Mage to be able to finish off opponents after some hardcore Snapcaster Mage/Eternal Witness/Vendillion Clique beatdown. Once Duskmantle was in, I threw in some support for the Mindcrank combo to add to a third (!) method of winning the game (Muddle the Mixture can grab either). Hell, let's throw in Battle of Wits and make it four.

Just kidding.

God dammit, now I need to build a modern Battle of Wits deck...

Oh, I know!

Battle of Wits

Creatures (146):
146 Relentless Rats

Enchantments (4):
Battle of Wits

Lands (100):
50 Swamp
50 Island

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