Friday, October 30, 2015

The Path to Enlightenment is long and full of Belches

Take the words "Goblin Charbelcher" and tell me what you think of. Hastily put together by a team of half-wit Goblins, prone to misfires and maybe even backfires. Imagine laying siege on your enemies via belch. I'm going to welcome you into a strange and beautiful new world today. The world of Modern 8-Land Belcher.

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8-Land Belcher

Win Conditions (9)

4 Goblin Charbelcher
4 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Wurmcoil Engine

Land (8)

2 Breeding Pool
1 Stomping Ground
5 Forest

Land Search (10)

4 Safewright Quest
4 Caravan Vigil
2 Lay of the Land

Accelerants (6)

4 Chancellor of the Tangle
2 Simian Spirit Guide

Ramp (24)

2 Nissa's Pilgrimage
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Recross the Paths
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Arbor Elf
4 Wall of Roots
2 Birds of Paradise

Cantrips (3)

3 Gitaxian Probe

Sideboard (15)

4 Nature's Claim
4 Choke
4 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
3 Leyline of Sanctity

So what's going on here? We'll go section by section.

Needless to say our preferred method of winning the game is by activating Goblin Charbelcher targeting our opponent. Tezzeret, conveniently, becomes a Goblin Charbelcher the turn we play him. If we have any ramp spell on turn one or two we can play Belcher on turn three and activate it on turn four. Hey, Modern's a Turn Four Format, right? Well, the tricky part is if you want to do that you have to play lands.

This isn't Legacy. We do not have access to Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, Land Grant, Elvish Spirit Guide, or Land Grant. So the concession is we need to have enough lands to have at least one in most opening hands. I've found that number to be eight. You might want to try to get away with seven. After that, we use our land search cards like Safewright Quest to quickly pull the lands out of our deck both to make land drops and to power up Goblin Charbelcher.

Without a land in your opening hand, Chancellor of the Tangle can often make an unkeepable hand perfectly serviceable. It's not uncommon to spend your first turn casting (for instance) Caravan Vigil off of Chancellor to play your very first land. From there hopefully you have more ramp to start Belching away.

Now, some general notes about playing the deck:

Don't be afraid to activate Charbelcher with a couple lands still in your deck.

Especially if you haven't seen your Stomping Ground yet (which you should always search out absolutely last), activating Belcher with three lands in your deck will very often do the trick. Not always, but if you're put in a position where you have to roll the dice, just go for it.

But don't be stupid about it!

If you're under little to no pressure and your choice is to either cast Nissa's Pilgrimage or activate Charbelcher while you still have five lands in your deck, cast Pilgrimage! 75% of the cards you're drawing at this point are ramp, so if you take a turn off to go from four mana to five, that will usually allow you to start casting ramp spells AND activating Belcher. Remember that you're very unlikely to draw a land, so you have to spend mana to make mana.

Recross the Paths is a very complicated card.

Read it closely. You can hit any land, basic or non. It comes into play untapped (you have to pay two if it's a shockland). When you clash (which you will usually win, because you have no lands in your deck), both you and your opponent essentially scry 1. But most importantly, you put the revealed cards back in any order regardless of whether you found a land. In other words, if you have no lands in your deck (perhaps because you've cast the same Recross the Paths three times in a row), you simply get to rearrange your entire deck. Goblin Recruiter style.

In other words, Recross the Paths is how we get away with playing nine win conditions. You might find yourself casting it three times in a turn, and the third time you'll flip over your deck and start collecting all your Goblin Charbelchers, Chancellor of the Tangle, and Wurmcoil Engine to put on top.

Don't search for Stomping Grounds

Unfortunately, you'll draw it or get it with Recross the Paths sometimes. But keeping it in your deck when you can gives you some serious percentage points to kill with Belcher because it doubles the damage.

Sometimes, you have to embrace your inner green mage.

Chancellor of the Tangle is more than a bad Elvish Spirit Guide. If you're out of gas, play Chancellor! It attacks, it blocks everything, and it may buy you just enough time to rip a Goblin Charbelcher or Tezzeret.

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