Daily Digest: Esper Goryo’s Vengeance

Ross Merriam highlights the best from a strategy that could breakout at SCG Dallas! It’s only a matter of time before someone finds the right Modern deck for this spell!

Goryo’s Vengeance is known in Modern as an unair card. It’s a powerful
payoff for Faithless Looting decks, allowing you to combo off with
Griselbrand and Borborygmos Enraged as early as turn 2, making it one of
the fastest, most powerful combo decks in the format.

But I’ve always been much more interested in the use of Goryo’s Vengeance
in a fair context. For those who haven’t seen the interaction, if you
reanimate a creature that exiles itself to its own ability only to return
to the battlefield, you can sidestep the exile clause on Goryo’s Vengeance
and keep the end result around indefinitely. In Modern, the creatures that
interact most favorably in this way are Obzedat, Ghost Council and Jace,
Vryn’s Prodigy.

The former provides a robust threat that ends the game quickly while being
very difficult to race. A couple discard and/or removal spells or the
singleton Shizo, Death’s Storehouse are enough to race most draws. On the
other hand, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, if you can transform it immediately, sets
you up with an early planeswalker to play a longer game by flashing back
those same disruption spells and grinding the opponent out.

Both of these are perfect for a midrange shell because while they can be
reanimated, they are also both easily castable in a normal game so you will
rarely be left vulnerable to a discard spell taking one half of the engine
and leaving the other half rotting in your hand. Of course, to solidify
that resilience you must have graveyard enablers that don’t sacrifice card
advantage, and that is indeed the case with Thought Scour and the newly
printed Chart a Course.

Rounding out the package is Lingering Souls, which plays well with the blue
enablers, is excellent in attrition games, and can either pressure the
opponent while Obzedat stabilizes the ground or block long enough for
Obzedat to win the race. It’s the card that ties the room together since
it’s powerful by itself and plays well with the rest of the shell.

While I typically shy away from midrange decks, I’m attracted to any deck
with a strong identity and proactive plan it can work toward. I
particularly like the Delver of Secrets in the sideboard to shift toward a
more aggressive strategy in combo matchups or if the opponent sideboards
low on removal, which is reasonable against a creature-light deck with
Lingering Souls that also incentivizes the opponent to bring in graveyard

There’s a lot going on with this deck, and its uniqueness makes it tough to
play against even though all the pieces make sense when you look at the
whole. In that way, I compare it to Mardu Pyromancer before that deck made
it big. That’s good company to keep.