GerryT’s 10 Things: Slivers Give Me Shivers

Gerry Thompson has gathered some strange brews that are winning matches of Magic…somehow. Join Gerry for some great commentary on the kinds of decks that make this game so great! Who still needs a deck for SCG Milwaukee?

There is precisely zero hope of topping last week’s
so I’m not even going to try. It’s only the fifth installment of my (now
weekly, hurray!) column, and I’ve already peaked.

Life comes at ya quick.

10: Walking Ballista for “Value”

“One” Tribal? Endless Fun? This deck has so many possible great deck names.

Given how many solid Modern decks have popped up with Hollow One,
Vengevine, or both, it’s only a matter of time before we find something
truly, disgustingly broken. In the meantime, I guess we’ll settle for
jumping through hoops to make a zero-casting cost Grizzly Bear.

This deck can obviously have busted starts. A Turn 2 kill isn’t out of the
question, and that alone should warrant consideration. However, I’m not
seeing many possible opening hands without a Faithless Looting or Insolent
Neonate that I’m keeping, and that seems like a rather large issue.
Potentially keeping fair hands that can attack for eight on Turn 3 might be
tempting, but then the rest of your deck is filled with ham sandwiches and
assorted blank cardboard.

It’s probably a matter of time before this sort of deck is busted and
utilizing Bridge from Below is an angle we haven’t seen much of. Still,
this probably isn’t it. It’s just a shame that casting Walking Ballista or
Endless One for zero doesn’t count for Hollow One. It should!

9: Playing Fair with Unfair Cards

Using Jace, the Mind Sculptor to brainstorm into Revenge of the Hunted is
like using Black Lotus to power out Scryb Sprites. Even if the card were
banned, your opponent would probably allow it.

That said, I’m a sucker for basically all the G/U value cards and have
played every single one of these cards in Constructed, save for Revenge of
the Hunted. If you want to draw cards, make land drops, and accrue value
that will ultimately amount to “not much,” then this is up your alley. The
ole “Jace, the Mind Sculptor into Revenge of the Hunted” trick will give
your deck full of air the appearance of having a clock and/or a way to
interact with your opponent.

Among all else, I enjoy how Atomic resisted the temptation to chock their
deck full of other nonsense, like some sort of way to blink Coiling Oracle
or Mystic Snake or splashing something like Spell Queller. The restraint to
stick with U/G is incredible and I applaud them. Playing Mystic Snake raw,
at face value and with no combos, takes some chutzpah, which I appreciate.

If I had Mystic Snakes and Revenge of the Hunted lying around, I would
happily play this at a local tournament. I’m definitely not buying them

8: Burn v2.0

Just want to light some people on fire, but life gain got you down? Well,
have I got the solution for you.

If I’m being real (and I am), I actually like this deck. Red aggressive
decks certainly have a home in Modern, but being as narrow as Burn is can
lead to some issues. Life gain spells or cards like Leyline of Sanctity
often trade with several of your premium spells, which means your creatures
have to stick if you’re still hoping to deal twenty damage.

If your creatures end up needing to do most of the heavy lifting, why
aren’t we just playing more creatures? Rampaging Ferocidon can’t be much
worse than Skullcrack against most life gain effects, plus it was only a
matter of time before Bomat Courier snuck its way into Modern anyway.

Regardless of how I feel about this deck overall, playing Grim Lavamancer
with no fetchlands is breaking some sort of MTG law, and I strongly feel we
should revoke this person’s DCI card.

7: The New Face of Control

Tapout planeswalker control decks with a land destruction element seem
great in Modern. You have the tools to fight Jund and Tron while your
disruption and creature removal can clean up the rest. U/W Control does
this pretty well already, but there is merit to having Lilianas and discard
spells instead of clunky cards like Cryptic Command.

Main deck Rest in Peace is maniacal. I mean, it could be good, and I’m sure
there are several corner case interactions I’m missing out on (like Searing
Blood and the like), but giving up Lingering Souls as a result isn’t
exactly where I’d want to be, especially with Liliana of the Veil and Jace,
the Mind Sculptor to protect.

The real takeaway is that Field of Ruin and Spreading Seas mess people up.

6: Literalnonsense.dec

Oh, come on.

5: Josh Cho’s Nemesis

There was a nice string of tournaments where Josh Cho would inevitably lose
to a topdecked Fling. He thought he was safe from Electrostatic Pummeler
when Attune with Aether got the axe, but it’s back baby!

After Attune with Aether was banned, it didn’t seem like Electrostatic
Pummeler would survive. Getting to play a low land count while also having
an energy source with a low opportunity cost seemed integral to the deck’s
success, but here we are. Aether Chaser isn’t a good replacement by any
means, but it’s not the worst card in the universe.

I’m always skeptical of a G/R Aggro deck whose sideboard is another pile of
monsters, but oh well. I find it hard to believe you would ever want
Lightning Strike over Abrade, although Thrashing Brontodon is likely
underplayed at the moment. Prowling Serpopard? Sure.

The lesson here is that if your opponents are all focusing on Vraska’s
Contempt, going under them with Electrostatic Pummeler is viable.

4: The Only Thing Green is Good For

Green is fairly useless in Standard, as energy represented the vast
majority of their power level. Here we have a deck effectively splashing
some additional explore creatures to fill their graveyard for Gate to the
Afterlife. VTCLA is in my Discord channel, so I can’t resist giving ’em a
shout out here, especially since their deck is so sweet.

Remember though — Sweet doesn’t always mean good.

One of the best parts of the God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks is the backup plan of
hardcasting Angel of Invention. This deck can technically do the
same, but not really.

One of the big takeaways here is Wildgrowth Walker and how effective it can
be at shutting down aggressive starts. The big body and life gain often
make life tough for Bomat Courier and friends. At the end of the day,
Wildgrowth Walker requires your deck to play basic Forest and that just
isn’t where you want to be.

3: Bird Up

Look, sometimes you just need a reason to assemble the bird squad. I can’t
blame ya.

This deck makes me wonder if it came as a result of having a bunch of
artifacts and deciding that Glint-Nest Crane was a good addition or if it
came as a desire to play Glint-Nest Crane and the pilot found enough
playable artifacts to make it not embarrassing.

Which came first: the bird or the ballista? The world may never know.
Similarly, they may never know what matchup you would ever want Torment of
Scarabs for. Mysteries.

Playing Glint-Nest Crane over The Scarab God is an “interesting” approach
to Standard. In their defense, both artifacts and flying are quite good, so
who knows.

2: My Legacy Deck for Grand Prix Seattle

I love decks like this. Lock pieces and big threats tends to be a winning
combination in Eternal formats.

Both Lodestone Golem and Thorn of Amethyst are great at the moment, thanks
to a field full of midrange blue decks. Vault Skirge and Steel Overseer
could be complete nonsense, but you need cheap artifacts for Mox Opal and
Steel Overseer plays well with Walking Ballista. I’m unconvinced that card
needs the help though. Smuggler’s Copter is something I would consider in
lieu of the traditional Affinity cards.

Not having Dismember maindeck (or in the 75 at all) is a tad concerning,
but I get it. Unlike Colorless Eldrazi, this deck is trying to invalidate
all of their opponent’s cards, so there’s not necessarily a need for spot
removal. Still, I wouldn’t be shocked if being able to kill a Turn 1
Deathrite Shaman is the decider in some games.

This is absolutely on my short list for decks to consider going into Grand
Prix Seattle.

1: Definitely Not my Legacy Deck for Grand Prix Seattle

I know this might sound like I’m making it up, but Counterslivers was
actually a deck in Extended at one point.[It won the first Extended PTQ I ever played in.– Ed.] The Legacy version (affectionately referred to as
“Meathooks”) has been around for a while, but hasn’t even been Tier 3 in
quite some time.

When Counterslivers was a real deck in Extended, it had Demonic
Consultation and a host of incredible bullets. You were also assuredly
better off using Demonic Consultation to find Necropotence, but that’s
neither here nor there. Crystalline Sliver was lights-out for a lot of
decks, and Hibernation Sliver could get nutty since combat damage used the

These days, the Slivers are stronger, but so are everyone else’s cards.
Force of Will and a pile of creatures does make life difficult for the
aforementioned blue midrange decks, but I can’t help but think we could be
doing better.

Friends don’t let friends play Meathooks.