Black Devotion, Ironworks, And Crackdown Combo

“The Innovator” has turned his eyes to Modern! Could Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Krark-Clan Ironworks, or Crackdown Construct be the key to winning SCG Worcester’s Modern Classic in a stunning combo finish? Let the brewing begin!

We’re at an interesting spot in Modern. The deck to beat isn’t necessarily broken. There would seem to be an extremely vast array of strategies cashing events, including quite a few rogue brews. It is definitely an exciting time to be a brewer in this Modern format.

A surprising starting point? Maybe. However, I’m not sure anyone’s actually figured out the full of ramifications of the recently printed and format-defining Fatal Push.

Fatal Push really opens up the range of dedicated black decks that are possible. Besides, the recent push towards Death’s Shadow makes the life-drain of Gray Merchant start to look a lot more attractive, particularly when you load up the deck with creatures that are resilient against removal.

Two big beneficiaries of the path Modern decks have been taking away from Path to Exile and the subsequent push they’re making towards Fatal Push are Bloodghast and Geralf’s Messenger. They’re not the greatest at blocking, but hopefully we can stack up enough copies of Gatekeeper of Malakir, Fatal Push, and Victim of Night to keep creature assaults at bay.

Gatekeeper of Malakir is a perennially underrated card in Modern that happens to be particularly well-suited to combating Tarmogoyfs and Death’s Shadows. It’s also just totally fine to run out as a 2/2 for two against a lot of opponents. You gotta beat down with something!

Victim of Night is an oft-overlooked alternative to Go for the Throat, Doom Blade, Smother, Dismember, and the like. Its main cost is the potential inconsistency that goes along with trying to use it in a deck with lands that can’t cast it. A Black Devotion deck, however, should have absolutely no problem playing it on turn 2. In terms of the creatures it can’t hit, outside of the numerous ones we’re running, they are few and far between. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet; Huntmaster of the Fells; Olivia Voldaren…there really aren’t all that many creatures that Victim of Night can’t hit, and Fatal Push is usually sufficient for taking down whatever creature may occasionally slip through the cracks.

Here’s a first draft:

One of the most exciting ways to power up our Gray Merchants is Phyrexian Obliterator. It brings a whopping four extra devotion to the table, not to mention just generally kind of being a badass.

It’s a little unfortunate that Fatal Push can be made to kill the Obliterator, but the combination of Inquisitions and Thoughtseizes can help increase the odds the Obliterator sticks around. Whenever it does, it has a tendency to completely take over the game.

There is a part of me that kind of fantasizes about finding a way to put Phyrexian Obliterator alongside Domri Rade, taking advantage of Domri Rade’s fighting ability. I don’t think this is the place for that kind of fanciness (and Gruul-ness), but it’s an interesting option to keep in mind. Adrian Sullivan would be proud.

Instead, you’re splashing two Shambling Vents?

Well, not really. I mean, the main thing is the ability to sideboard in Lingering Souls. Besides, Stony Silence is kind of nice, too.

Lingering Souls is just such an amazing card in its own right, and when games get grindier after sideboarding, it shines especially brightly. So many of the best cards against stuff like Phyrexian Obliterator and Dark Confidant are not what you want against Lingering Souls. That said, people might want graveyard hate against us anyway, since we have Bloodghast and Geralf’s Messenger, in which case we might be walking into some collateral damage.

Yeah, it’s not exactly the most ruthlessly efficient card legal in the Modern format. However, it is kind of a cool option to search up with our fetchlands. Typically, we’d be discouraged from trying such a move because of wanting our tapped lands to produce multiple colors, or having a lot of one-drops we want to play on turn 1, or lack of confidence that we’ll reliably have two black permanents to trigger it (and have it still matter). This list is functionally mono-black, has no actual one-drops, and has 23 black creatures to help trigger it.

It’s still a tapped Swamp until you start being able to use it, so it might not be worth it. However, I wonder if the opportunity cost is actually that high, since it effectively upgrades seven of our lands into potential threats. That little extra damage could make the difference, particularly when stacking with Gray Merchants.

I want to be careful about playing too many lands that might mess up my Geralf’s Messenger, Gatekeeper of Malakir, and Phyrexian Obliterator; however, Nykthos does open up some potentially exciting turn 4s and turn 5s. Whenever we untap with two or more creatures, we’re basically assured of coming out ahead, which is especially nice when trying to play five-drops, like Gray Merchant, in a deck with just 23 lands.

Whip of Erebos is a super-sweet piece of tech employed by MTGO Modern Championship League competitor VICTOR. It can be absolutely game-ending against Burn and some aggro decks, and its ability to help grind out midrange decks works perfectly with Gray Merchant. We do need to be careful not to accidentally get ourselves stuck on account of our Stony Silences, though. I love that it dodges Abrupt Decay and Inquisition of Kozilek

The printing of Scrap Trawler has led to quite a large number of Modern brews, ranging anywhere from Eggs to Ravager to Tezzeret. One other home for Scrap Trawler is in a Krark-Clan Ironworks deck, taking advantage of how easy KCI makes it to always get maximum value from each of our artifacts.

For instance, imagine the following sequence: