Diving Deeper Into Modern Than Anyone Has Before

We knew this format was dangerous when we started. We knew it might go on forever. Nevertheless, intrepid hero Shaun McLaren insists that he can find the end. He’s putting on his scuba gear, saying his final goodbyes, and swimming through amazing rogue decklists forevermore. Godspeed, Shaun!

Hello, Dear Reader.

What you see in front of you now are the chronicles of my experiences as I dive deep into the depths of depraved decklists that Modern has to offer.

I am willing to explore the fringiest of fringe decks. Analyze the roguest of rogue builds. Witness the jankiest of jank. I do it all with the goal of unburying something truly fantastic.

With Amonkhet just around the corner, I will take this chance to stare deeply into the soul of my beloved Modern format.

This will be dangerous! Those faint of heart should approach with caution and read slowly and carefully, perhaps while peeking between your fingers.

I can only wish that I will have succeeded without going insane. I am optimistic that, because this even made it to you at all, that’s an indication I did. If I fail, I will continue as far as I can bear, and this will hopefully serve as a warning and a roadmap for future explorers.

Let’s begin.

We start off with a deck of my own making, including both the Saheeli Rai / Felidar Guardian combo and the Nahiri, the Harbinger / Emrakul, the Aeons Torn combo. Jeskai Naheeli, if you will.

Nahiri, the Harbinger helps fix your draws and digs towards what you need and happens to be a pretty fine blink target for Felidar Guardian as well.

The deck isn’t blisteringly fast, but you will sometimes just combo off on turn 4. Otherwise you’re capable of being a normal-ish Jeskai Control deck with a more proactive top-end and you will often just win a grindy game thanks to the help of your planeswalkers.

Let’s continue to ease into things with a deck that isn’t so strange and takes a new twist on old favorite.

Leonin Arbiter is amazing in the early-game for denying fetchlands and pairing with Path to Exile, but it becomes fantastic in conjunction with Aether Vial and Ghost Quarter, which all go together to create an amazing land destruction package.

Speaking of lands and destruction, there’s also Tectonic Edge, as well as Stirring Wildwood and Horizon Canopy, to make sure that you won’t have a shortage of things to do with your mana.

Both Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben work nicely alongside the mana denial plan by either making things harder to cast or making lands enter the battlefield tapped.

Renegade Rallier returns the vast majority of the deck from the graveyard to the battlefield and works especially well with Ghost Quarter. It isn’t hard to just run some opponents out of basic lands, at which point Ghost Quarter permanently becomes Strip Mine.

Flickerwisp seems a little out of place here, only really having great synergy with Renegade Rallier, but even without synergies Flickerwisp is a decent card.

Collected Company and Aether Vial tie the deck together and both reward you for playing plenty of cheap creatures, but don’t interact that well together.

This Hatebears deck (Life and Taxes?) is certainly promising, but let’s keep searching.

Ain’t this a beaut!

A deck with this many singletons is always a treat. We may have just stumbled upon a masterpiece.

Esper Control got a breath of fresh life thanks to Fatal Push, but it still hasn’t had that much time to put up many strong finishes.

As one of the Modern format’s few true control decks, the basic gameplan is to rarely tap out on your opponent’s turn, counter and remove the opponent’s important cards, and then draw cards.

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver makes my dreams come true. I like the smattering of singleton planeswalkers, since it’s nice to have a way to pull ahead after you’ve dealt with all your opponent’s threats or be able to sneak out a planeswalker when you have a chance.

Ghost Quarter alongside Esper Charm and Cryptic Command in the same list isn’t the greatest combo, but I suppose it works if you treat Ghost Quarter as half-land, half-removal spell, and just accept occasionally you’ll stumble a little because of it. Esper Control is prone to flooding out so it’s nice to have lands that matter.

While Esper Control is fringe and exciting for Modern, we still need to go deeper!

Don’t mind if I Mardu! Now we are getting somewhere as we continue deeper through the depths of what Modern has to offer.

It’s another Fatal Push benefactor: even though Mardu is the color combination that already had access to pretty much every good removal spell you want, there are still a full four Fatal Push maindeck. Without having to play Path to Exile, you can focus more on black and red, with white being a splash color.

Liliana, the Last Hope seems at least a little out of place, considering Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is your only maindeck creature and you don’t want/can’t get it back with Liliana’s -2. Fulminator Mage is at least good in that regard with Liliana, the Last Hope post-sideboard, though.

We may be going too far, but I feel like we are getting close to something amazing. I can barely remember what the top decks in Modern are.

Is this the real life? Is this just Faeries I see?

The theme of decks getting better thanks to Fatal Push continues.

Faeries actually has a lot of interesting cards you don’t see elsewhere that work really well together.

Bitterblossom, Creeping Tar Pit, and Cryptic Command seem like nice payoff cards for being a Faerie. Fatal Push fills some areas the deck was previously lacking, and even makes Snapcaster Mage quite a bit better in the deck.

Spellstutter Sprite nabbing a Death’s Shadow seems downright degenerate.

I sense we are near the core of Modern and approaching what we seek. There is a throbbing in my temples and my nose is tingling slightly…I must press forward. Oh hey, there’s Ross Merriam with a Video Daily Digest!

Tooth and Nail is your basic “pay nine mana, win the game” card. Cast Tooth and Nail with entwine searching for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Xenagos, God of Revels; put them both onto the battlefield; and then attack for 30 hasted damage while annihilating for six.

The big advantage Tooth and Nail has over just playing Scapeshift is that you don’t need seven lands on the battlefield to win the game. You can ramp with a variety of different cards, including Nissa, Worldwaker; Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx; Overgrowth; Fertile Ground; and Garruk Wildspeaker.

Tooth and Nail also has quite a bit of versatility casting it on seven mana. It can do a pretty decent Through the Breach imitation, putting an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn permanently onto the battlefield, albeit without haste. Of course, you also get to put another creature onto the battlefield, so if you naturally drew Xenagos, God of Revels, all the better. You can also help facilitate that play by searching up Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with Primal Command (or another Tooth and Nail) on an earlier turn.

Tooth and Nail can also just search up Eternal Witness, Hornet Queen, Primeval Titan, or whatever else you need for value if you haven’t quite hit nine mana yet.

Ross Merriam sure knows how to pick them, huh?

I’m no longer able to remember any of the Modern netdecks. Bund, maybe? It sounds familiar, but my memory can find nothing to grab onto. There is only jank. Jank. That sounds like a top deck as well…

We are nearing the end. If I pass out, take the wheel.

Peace of Mind with Ensnaring Bridge? Three Porphyry Nodes? Random Gideon, Ally of Zendikar for no apparent reason? Sign me up!

It’s hard to imagine losing after you’ve cast Enduring Ideal; of course, if casting Enduring Ideal were that simple and easy, everyone would do it, since casting Enduring Ideal is pretty much the best thing you can do in Magic.

I’ve gone too far; now there’s no turning back.

This is it. It has to be.

Akoum Hada Harabaz Kabira Kazandu. Sounds like a prayer to the gods themselves.

All things are connected. Allied. I am one with the Modern format.

I am both nothing and everything. I am in first place and 0-3 dropped. I am a winning decklist and pure jank.

Is this deck the truth I’ve been searching for? Is it Allies or was it all lies?