Daily Digest: The Tribal Torch Returns

Just when you think Tribal Zoo’s torch is snuffed, it gains new tools and returns in the hands of some brave deckbuilder! Will this Modern list from Magic Online make you the Sole Survivor at #SCGINVI?

I understand. It’s Modern. You have fetchlands, the most broken mana-fixing lands ever printed, and the requisite shocklands to break them. On top of that, you have Noble Hierarch as a mana fixer. Mana really isn’t an issue. But when your decklist starts with a double-red card and a Bant card, you have to stop and ask yourself whether you’re pushing things a little too far.

In a surprise to exactly no one, the answer to that question is a resounding no. Fetchlands are grossly overpowered and you’re paying six to nine life a game, so the payoff had better be there. In this case, the payoff is being able to play the most powerful threats at every spot in the curve.

The most powerful four-drop used to be Siege Rhino. You know, the card that dominated Standard for two years and makes all the reach in this deck that much more impressive? Apparently having two planeswalkers that can clear away blockers or generate card advantage is even better, which makes some sense.

This deck has always been about the individual power level of its threats, and the fact that so few mana costs are too prohibitive for inclusion means that it’s likely to keep gaining as more cards are printed. It also means the deck is highly customizable to the metagame. Right now I see Grim Lavamancer making its way into the deck, and for good reason. Grim Lavamancer is great against Infect, the most popular deck in the format right now, and does good work against Affinity, Burn, Dredge, and even attrition-based decks like Jund and Grixis.

And sneaking in there as a new addition is Thalia, Heretic Cathar. It may be vulnerable to Lightning Bolt, but the rise of Dredge has shifted the format away from Bolt and towards Path to Exile. And remember how awesome fetchlands are? Against a Thalia, Heretic Cathar, they are downright embarrassing. In a fast format, a single land entering tapped could be enough to swing the race or give you an extra card to draw the lethal burn spell. Two lands entering tapped and the game is probably over on the spot.

The one thing to remember when playing this deck is to think about how you sequence your lands. Finding the right group of lands is critical to being able to curve out consistently, and with a manabase like this one, it’s not nearly as simple as usual.