Daily Digest: The Doctor Is In

Ross Merriam wants to give you a hard truth about the nature of Magic, so gather around. This card. Is never. Ever. Going to go away. #SCGINVI will have this card, and you just need to accept that.

By now we have all seen the Eldritch Evolution deck that Jeff Hoogland has piloted in recent Modern events. It’s clearly based on his Kiki Chord list with a similar core of Naya creatures. But in order to take the deck to the next level, we’re going to need an expert. We need a specialist who has PhDs in value and giving people the business.

That would be Dr. R. Siegeman. The R stands for Rhinoceros.

One of the key conclusions Jeff made about the deck is that even though you have plenty of mana creatures, it’s best to not rely on them, so you should be building your deck to primarily cast Eldritch Evolution, sacrificing a two-drop and finding a four-drop. In Jeff’s list the four-drop of choice is Pia and Kiran Nalaar, but here we find one of the best four-mana creatures ever printed.

Siege Rhino eventually made its way into Birthing Pod decks shortly before that card mysteriously left the format, never to be seen again. Triggering Rhino two, three, even four times in a game is incredibly powerful, especially in Modern where manabases often deal three to five damage a game to each player.

In order to achieve our goal of creating a Siege Rhino stampede, we need solid two-drops. Voice of Resurgence is the obvious inclusion, but this list has a forgotten gem of Standards past: Strangleroot Geist. The Geist-Evolution curve leaves you with seven power on the battlefield on turn 3 and your opponent at twelve life, a great rate for two cards. Like Kitchen Finks, Strangleroot Geist can play offense or defense effectively, leaving the deck’s trademark versatility intact.

The major loss in moving to Abzan is losing out on the Restoration Angel – Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo, but Archangel of Thune and Spike Feeder give the deck a reasonable facsimile. These creature-combo decks have never been all-in on their combos, instead relying on the threat of a fast win to gain false tempo on their opponent, so trading a weaker combo plan for a stronger aggro plan is a net positive.

The toolbox is completely customizable, and those familiar with the old Melira Pod decks and Abzan Company will recognize cards like Reveillark and Orzhov Pontiff. Nekrataal is a nice addition to give you some more interaction, and being a four-drop makes it preferable to Shriekmaw.

The one strange inclusion is Lingering Souls. Normally a sideboard card in these kinds of decks, it doesn’t really add much here, and I’m surprised to not see any copies of Chord of Calling, even if it is worse here than in the Naya list. But with the added emphasis on attacking with Rhinos, I can certainly see the logic behind cutting Chord. There’s no need to get fancy so long as you get them dead.