Collecting More Company!

Think Brian Kibler is done with new Collected Company ideas in Modern? Think again! Today he presents two new decks for #SCGWOR’s $5,000 Premier IQ, complete with creatures you may have forgotten!

Last week
, I talked about a pair of exciting new takes on Collected Company in Standard. At the end of my article, I alluded to my excitement over exploring the
power of the card in Modern, where the power level of the creatures available for three or less mana is far higher. Lo and behold, at this weekend’s 2014
Magic Online Championship, both of the finalists were playing with Collected Company – in Modern!

Eventual champion Magnus Lantto brought an updated version of a deck that hasn’t really seen play in years – Elves!

Finalist Jasper De Jong also revitalized a creature-based combo deck that was once thought to be extinct, this one a much more recent memory. While
Birthing Pod may have been hit with the banhammer, Melira and friends are still around and are more than capable of pulling off their infinite combo
shenanigans if you can find another way to get them all into play.

Both of these decks are perfect homes for Collected Company. While it doesn’t offer the infinite card draw potential of Glimpse of Nature, nor the repeat
tutoring ability of Birthing Pod, it allows these decks to dig deep into their libraries for key creatures.

Perhaps just as important is the fact that Collected Company allows these decks to bolster their board position simply in terms of numbers. While Elves and
Melira were generally understood as combo decks, one of their major strengths was in their ability to win fair games of Magic as well. While their
opponents were siding in cards like Rule of Law and Grafdigger’s Cage to stop their combos, Elves and Melira could just win by attacking with Nettle
Sentinels and Kitchen Finks. Now, with Collected Company, they’re all the better equipped to build up stronger boards to take advantage of Elvish Archdruid
and Gavony Township.

Speaking of Gavony Township, one of the strongest elements of Collected Company is the fact that it is an instant, and it lets you leave your mana, and
thus, your options open. Most creature-based strategies are forced to make most of their plays on their own turn, which can leave them vulnerable. This is
particularly important in a format like Modern with so many powerful combinations – like those in these two decks – that can win the game in a single turn.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I had to make a judgment call against a deck like Splinter Twin – should I play another creature to increase my
clock, or hold up mana in case they have the combo? If you tap out, you could die right away, but if you don’t, you risk giving them even more time to find
it and deal with your threats. I even went as far as playing Restoration Angel in a number of decks largely because I wanted the ability to play my own
instant speed threats so I wasn’t at the mercy of my main phase.

And it’s not just against combo kills where Collected Company’s instant speed matters. If your opponent is holding up mana for countermagic or a removal
spell and you pass the turn back to them with Collected Company mana available, you put them in an awkward spot.

Modern is a fast format. If you can disrupt your opponent’s mana efficiency by deploying your threats at instant speed, sometimes that alone can be enough
to win games.

Think about this scenario. You’re playing against Abzan. They pass the turn with three mana open and nothing in play. Given the contents of the typical
Abzan deck, they almost certainly have some combination of removal spells like Abrupt Decay, Dismember, or Path to Exile in their hand. If you were to tap
out and play a creature, they’d effectively be able to counter your turn with theirs by using one of their removal spells at the end of your turn. But if
you play your fourth mana source and pass back to them, they’ve effectively wasted their entire turn’s worth of mana.

Collected Company is also excellent against Liliana of the Veil – another Abzan staple. Normally, Liliana is very powerful against creature strategies
because they’re forced to play largely at sorcery speed. You play a creature, they kill it with Liliana, and then you don’t have a creature in play to
attack and kill her. If you play another creature on your turn, they can often just use an actual removal spell to kill it, and then tick up Liliana to
handle the next one. With Collected Company, though, rather than playing a single creature into the Liliana and exposing it to either removal or her
ability, you can dig for two creatures during your opponent’s end step, requiring a pair of removal spells from them if they’re going to hope to keep
Liliana alive.

For all these upsides, though, Collected Company clearly isn’t a card that can simply go into any deck. It actually reminds me a lot of Domri Rade in terms
of the implications it has for deck construction, which should probably be have been a sign from the beginning that it was going to be a card that I loved.
Each of the decks from the MOCS used just four non-creature non-land cards in their maindecks other than Collected Company, ensuring that the spell was
extremely likely to hit multiple creatures every time it was cast.

That heavy preference for creatures extended to the decks’ sideboards as well. In fact, Jasper De Jong’s sideboard was a full fifteen creatures! Lantto had
a more conservative ten creatures, alongside five spells.

Collected Company gives a player access to significantly more of their deck than usual over the course of a game, assuming the cards they’re digging for
are creatures. That makes playing a card like Kitchen Finks, Eidolon of Rhetoric, or Kataki, War’s Wage more attractive than Feed the Clan, Rule of Law, or
Stony Silence. There are some cases where the comparable creature might not have as powerful an effect or be more fragile than a non-creature spell, like
Blood Moon versus Fulminator Mage or Magus of the Moon, but most of the time the additional access you’ll gain in more games is likely to be worth it.

While the Collected Company decks that performed so well at the MOCS were both combo-oriented, as the champion of honest creatures, I’m hopeful that I can
find a way to use the card that’s more my speed. Here’s a couple of ideas I’ve had:

Ahhhh Naya. Old faithful. Collected Company fits squarely into the Naya Zoo shell that I’ve played in some form or another in so many different Modern
events. I’ve tried any number of cards to offer additional lategame power or serve as finishers, from Ajani Vengeant and Chandra, Pyromaster to Stormbreath
Dragon and Thundermaw Hellkite. Collected Company helps on both the card advantage and finisher fronts by generating a lot of power for a low mana cost.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the most common struggles I’ve faced in Modern is being forced to choose between developing my board or holding up mana for
my opponent’s turn, which makes high cost sorcery speed threats a dangerous proposition. With Collected Company, though, I can keep all of my land open to
defend myself from a potential Splinter Twin combo kill while still threatening to deploy a pair of Knights of the Reliquary on my opponent’s end step.

The sideboard is more of a collection of ideas than anything else, but I like the idea of maximizing on high impact creatures. I’ve generally found that
Wild Nacaltl decks struggle with Burn, which is why I included both Kor Firewalker and Kitchen Finks along with the Finks in the maindeck already. The most
interesting inclusion here is probably Grim Lavamancer, which is an insurance policy against decks like those we looked at earlier – Elves and Melira – as
well as a strong tool against decks like Affinity, Infect, and Delver. I could definitely see even playing more of them since you have the tools to feed
them with twelve fetchlands, although they certainly conflict with the power level of your Knights.

Speaking of fetchlands and Knight, it’s worth noting that both of them help marginally improve the effectiveness of your Collected Company resolutions by
thinning out your deck. I used to love playing fetchlands and Domri together, both for the thinning effect and to help reset the top of my deck if I missed
on the +1. The deck thinning impact isn’t an enormous one, but the variance in power level between hitting one or two creatures on a Collected Company cast
is so big that anything that can swing the odds in your favor helps.

Here’s another Collected Company deck that might be a bit more ambitious:

This deck is a little more focused on trying to maximize the power of Collected Company. Rhox War Monk and Savage Knuckleblade may ultimately not be worth
the pain of adding another color, especially in a format where Burn is popular, but they’re certainly serious creatures for their cost. Blue also adds
another dimension to your instant speed threat plan with Vendilion Clique, which is not only a great disruptive creature to cast on your opponent’s end
step by itself, but it also happens to fit squarely into the casting cost restriction of Collected Company.

There are all sorts of awesome things you can do with Collected Company in Modern. I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface because I’m just getting
started. What do you think? What sweet creatures am I missing out on for these decks? What other ways are there to abuse the CoCo in Modern?