Hide and Breach in Modern

Despite the success of Pod and Twin, tons of new tech is popping up in Modern. Glenn Jones, always one for creative new deckbuilding avenues, shows off the wild Modern brew he’s been piloting!

As usual, we’ve got a walk down memory lane to start this week’s journey.

Back In My Day, We Played Extended

At Pro Tour Amsterdam, Team Mythic played the deck below.

You can read more about this deck in Sam Black’s tournament report, as
well as this one from current Wizards R&D member Ben Hayes.

It wasn’t the first time Zvi Mowshowitz has had a hand in building a deck that ignores the opponent and just plays something big and powerful fast, but
this particular skeleton was unique in that it actually came from Standard. The original Standard Mythic deck was very successful in Standard, while the
Extended port was relatively average, as I recall.

The attraction in the strategy is obvious-everyone loves turn 4 Primeval Titan, and the deck could reliably assemble the mana dudes to allow for that while
also threatening to activate Windbrisk Heights as early as turn 3, provided the opponent didn’t do much to disrupt you. I remember the deck being
distinctly vulnerable to Living End, which was about as good a deck then as it is now-not popular enough to force out creature decks, but certainly popular
enough to punish them from time to time.

Of course, Extended gave way to Modern. While various Knight of the Reliquary strategies have always popped up in Modern, it took a while for this one to
experience a resurgence.

Modern Movement

A couple years ago, the same underlying structure made waves during the 2012 Modern PTQ season. Nicholas Montaquila took down a PTQ in Ohio, and Virginia’s
Kenny Mayer followed that with a PTQ finals appearance playing almost the exact same list.

Here, you see the deck make some substitutions small in number but huge in impact. Team Mythic was trying to cast Primeval Titan or activate Windbrisk
Heights by turn 4 in basically every game, untapping into a win a turn or two later; nothing especially fancy, just a cascading tempo advantage earned by
its mana.

Nicholas didn’t want to play that much fair Magic. They added a trick from the U/R Tron book and joined with the tentacled overlord, Emrakul. Through the
Breach isn’t as consistent a threat as Baneslayer Angel-with no other creature in your hand, it’s not a threat at all-but it can certainly make for more
explosive openings, offering wins as early as turn 3 with a few different combinations of cards. Through the Breach also compliments Summoning Trap as a
castable threat during the opponent’s end step, giving you some control over deciding the fundamental turn of the game. When you succeed, the opponent is
almost always dead on the spot, so forcing them to devote attention to stopping you while clocking you is tricky business.

Some Souls Searching

Recently, I spotted a new variant on this strategy on MTGO, piloted by Eldae to 6th place in a Premier event. Once more, the same setup has shifted into a
new color for some new tricks.

You can see that Eldae has kept most of the basics. Importantly, he abandoned Lotus Cobra and Through the Breach in favor of Lingering Souls and maindeck
Spellskites. I can understand the lost love for Lotus Cobra. Today’s Modern is much different from the environments that allowed Team Mythic and Nicholas
to succeed; there are many more Lightning Bolts, Snapcaster Mages, and Electrolyzes flying around to weaken the 2/1.

Spellskite is actively good against all of those cards and many popular Modern strategies, including Splinter Twin, Bogles, U/R Delver, and U/W/R decks. As
a durable 0/4 for two, it’s also a creature that you can consistently untap with to enable a Heights-backed assault. It’s an ideal sideboard card in this
particular deck, and its potential to protect an incoming Knight of the Reliquary or Primeval Titan is valuable as well. The free wins you get off Bogles
and Twin are the most attractive benefits, however.

I gave the Lingering Souls a try, but from the get-go I was pessimistic about them. Lingering Souls isn’t very well-positioned in Modern right now, and
even with Windbrisk Heights in the mix it’s a relatively expensive way to go about it. My primary concern was that Lingering Souls gave a lot of decks a
prime target for Remand and Mana Leak that they otherwise couldn’t often cast without risking Summoning Trap bringing the pain. All of the cards that are
good against this deck are also quite good against Lingering Souls, which means the spell is a post-board liability in many matchups as well. Everyone is
already reaching for Pyroclasm, Izzet Staticaster, Anger of the Gods, and so on.

As I played with the deck, the Spellskites were pretty good but the big problem stemmed from Summoning Trap and Emrakul.

In the case of the former, there isn’t an especially high density of counterspell-laden decks in the format, but more importantly many of them have access
to Gitaxian Probe to avoid the blowout.

Emrakul, meanwhile, is a mulligan every time you draw a copy in this version of the deck. I investigated some other ideas-I considered trying to do some
crazy stuff, but in the end I think you either need to play the Through the Breaches or not play the Emrakuls.

There are other options; Elesh Norn is actually castable and often converts into victory against decks like Pod, Twin, and Affinity. Craterhoof Behemoth
could work similarly, but I think that Elesh Norn is probably just better due to the auto-win potential it has in a few matchups despite offering a weaker
buff. Sovereigns of Lost Alara for Eldrazi Conscription has worked before, but those require some additional slots and are a little slow.

Baneslayer Angel remains a fine creature against midrange, Zoo, and especially Affinity, but you won’t be too pleased with her against combo and control
decks. Against control, Sigarda, Host of Herons is your best alternative threat, but I don’t actually think you need all that much help there as long as
you measure threats out correctly. Any deck in this shell is pretty threat-dense, thanks to the manlands, and pacing will often let you exhaust control
decks without a powerful refill like Sphinx’s Revelation. As that particular control variant is decreasing in popularity, now’s the time!

From Eldae’s list, a few elements really stand out for me. The singleton Raise the Alarm is actually a pretty sweet touch, as it can let you catch people
by surprise in the early game easily. Instant threats are fantastic in this deck after sideboarding, as most people are bringing in things like Pyroclasm,
Supreme Verdict, Anger of the Gods, and the like. With a Mutavault in play, you can easily beat those sorcery sweepers via Raise the Alarm.

I like Mark of Asylum over one of the Forge-Tenders, because it’s difficult for any of the Snapcaster + Bolt decks to justify bringing in something that
removes it and you don’t have to worry about Vapor Snag or Supreme Verdict restoring value to their red spells.

Eidolon of Rhetoric is better against Storm in this deck than Ethersworn Canonist, because most Storm decks rely on Lightning Bolt for Canonist against G/W
dude decks and your mana guys let you power out the 1/4 in a hurry. Eldae also played Nature’s Claims, which are “fine” against Storm, Splinter Twin, and
Affinity while offering a good out to Blood Moon, but going red for Through the Breach gives you a way to win through Moon and access Ancient Grudge, Ray
of Revelation, or Wear/Tear, if you’re so inclined. Moon is getting worse, so I’m not too thrilled about jamming in on answering it, and I would prefer to
stay proactive against fair decks and save the hate for combo or more general problems, like Anger of the Gods.

The Mindcensors are decent, but I’d rather attack Pod with another angle and just let Tron get me sometimes. While I am impressed by having some instant
threats in sideboarded games, they’re not worth too many sideboard slots because they’re low-impact and play into opposing sideboard strategies by offering
them more dudes to kill. The manlands are actually pretty decent against Tron by allowing you to pressure them through sweepers, Karn, and Oblivion Stone.
Obviously Tron has a lot of trouble answering Emrakul without keeping Oblivion Stone constantly available as well.

Through the Breach 2: Electric Boogaloo

Here’s the list I’ve been playing:

For now, I’m sticking with Emrakul. He provides a ton of free wins and is the least vulnerable “giant thing” to stick into play. Outside of Sigarda, which
is too narrow to maindeck and getting crowded out of the sideboard, Emrakul’s the only solid threat that can’t be sent on a Path to Exile.

Likewise, I came back to Lotus Cobra. I’m wary-all of the reasons that support Eldae removing them are fair-but frankly you need some explosive mana
development, and with Through the Breach in the mix you can turn 2 Cobra with nothing else and theoretically be threatening to untap and win. Against
removal-dense decks, the option can let you make plays like leading Heights into Cobra, only to flood the board with mana dorks following the removal spell
and try to make a turn 4 Titan. I’m interested in finding a credible spell that can take this slot-Qasali Pridemage and Scavenging Ooze crossed my mind, as
did any manner of additional mana-making creatures.

Elesh Norn is powerful enough to be a legitimate transformational strategy after sideboarding, and deserves more slots than the singleton. Against decks
without Path or Terminate like Affinity and Twin, she’s much more productive to land than Primeval Titan, and-as bizarre as it is-combining her with
Through the Breach can often win the game or function as a Plague Wind at the right time. Norn is a great sideboard card because she supports the deck’s
secondary plan of attack, which is great when opponents try to grind you out in a longer game by keeping you from a combo finish. Tons of tiny creatures
are happy to receive the anthem, and some decks simply can’t win if Norn is in play.

Strangely, Elesh Norn can also “answer” opposing Norns! It’s coming up more often than I imagined it would…

I’ve had a fair bit of fun playing this brew on MTGO. It’s tough to beat the U/R Delver decks that are so popular there, but those decks are also pretty
bad so I’m not really concerned.

Yes, shots fired.

Windbrisk Heights is the kind of card I go back to take a look at every few months, because you never know when some innocuous creature like Nest Invader
or some absurd fatty like Emrakul might come along and offer you an additional option to upgrade. Cards like Blade Splicer and Brimaz are close-so, so
close-to being an appropriate power level, and one day a Death and Taxes-style deck might be able to hybridize this kind of combo kill as well.

Or maybe Blast of Genius and Through the Breach will finally get to star in a buddy cop decklist! Technically U/R Tron can already pull this particular
shenanigan, but it’s not actually good enough to be doing because 15 isn’t game if the opponent is just careful. I actually tried brewing up a Heights deck
with the full complement of Mutavaults, Raise the Alarms, Midnight Hauntings, and Heights for Emrakul with Breach and Blast to threaten death from the
hand… but yeah, it was pretty bad.

One day, Ral. One day we’ll show them.

So, I guess the big question is… anyone got a Bant Heights deck lying around? C’mon, complete the circle!