Modern Monstrosities

With Standard rotating shortly, AJ takes a break from it while we wait for Theros to discuss some sweet Modern decks. Share your own brews in the comments!

With Standard rotating shortly, I thought it would be nice to take a little break while we wait for Theros to be spoiled entirely. This week, I want to talk about some pretty sweet Modern decks that I found while scrolling through some online results. While I’m certainly not a master of the format, I know something cool when I see it. Some of these decks may be terrible, and some may secretly be insane. The fun part is figuring out which of them are which.

This deck has existed since the beginning of the format, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less cool. For those who don’t really understand what is going on here, don’t worry. This deck can be a bit complicated at times. The general idea is to resolve an Ad Nauseam in conjunction with Phyrexian Unlife or Angel’s Grace. This allows you to draw your entire deck. Once you’ve done that, you can use Simian Spirit Guide and Conflagrate to kill your opponent.

The major flaw this deck has is that while it’s a two-card combo, the pieces are pretty expensive. Luckily Lotus Bloom and Pentad Prism are there to get you to the high amounts of mana necessary. While you are waiting to develop your mana, you have a slew of card manipulation spells to find you the pieces you need.

I have a personal affinity for this deck, as Ad Nauseam is one of my favorite cards of all time. Perhaps the card is a bit more fun though when you can actually die to it. While the games of Legacy where I lose off of an Ad Nauseam from twenty life can be a bit demoralizing, they still create some good stories.

The deck has some other cool tricks that it can perform as well. One of my favorites is the soft Ad Nauseam. I’m not sure exactly how often this deck does it, but against control if you need some more cards, an Ad Nauseam to draw six-to-ten cards on your opponent’s end step can be very strong. Remember, Ad Nauseam is an instant after all. Angel’s Grace and Phyrexian Unlife can also give you an extra turn or two against a lot of aggro and combo decks.

Out of the sideboard, the deck tries to answer any problem cards that other decks can present. Leyline of Sanctity and Gaddock Teeg are a few examples, while Leyline is a clear nod to discard spells and combo decks that need to target you.

Overall, I like this deck a lot. It stayed in the shadow for a long time in Modern, but lately it seems to be making a mark on the format. I’ve seen a few lists for this deck in almost every Daily Event online.

Gerry Thompson is a proponent of Summer Bloom from time to time. Again, let me explain this deck in case you don’t know what’s going on. First, you want the ability to play extra lands per turn with something like Azusa, Lost But Seeking or Summer Bloom. You also need an Amulet of Vigor in play. Then, you use bounce lands to generate mana. You see, thanks to Amulet, they will come in untapped, so with the trigger on the stack you can float mana, bounce it to its own trigger, and then repeat.

Once you’ve generated a bunch of mana, Primeval Titan makes a great finisher, sometimes combo-killing people with Slayer’s Stronghold and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion. What makes these lists so interesting to me is the integration of Hive Mind into the deck. Maybe this is normal, but I have certainly never seen it before. I like it a lot, as it gives you more ways to “instantly” kill your opponent when Primeval Titan won’t do it or something happens to it.

Ethereal Usher is a great tutor that can find whatever finisher you want, and Summoner’s Pact pulls double duty by both finding Primeval Titan when you don’t have Hive Mind and killing them when you do. Both lists also have extra ramp spells like Pentad Prism and Garruk Wildspeaker to just hard cast six-drops and set up the combo a little better.

In my experience, decks like this have been a little inconsistent. You need a lot of things to go right, you don’t mulligan as well, and your combo doesn’t always win the game on the spot, though it usually does. Hive Mind does solve some of those problems in that it gives the deck a little more consistency and a more sure-fire kill. I’d recommend this deck if you are looking for something pretty crazy to try out.

There is a lot going on here, as this deck is not just a combo deck, so let’s break it down. The deck has a few main groupings of cards: creatures with abilities that trigger when they enter the battlefield, value/combo spells, control spells, and lands. There are some cards the overlap between these categories, but that is the deck in the broadest sense.

To go a little deeper, the deck uses cards like Mulldrifter, Wall of Omens, and Blade Splicer in conjunction with cards like Reveillark to get a lot of value over the course of the game. Against control, the goal is to bury them in card advantage while attacking for a lot of damage. Against aggro, you have creatures that block really well and some awesome control elements like cheap removal and counterspells.

To win the game, you can use the one-of Venser, the Sojourner in a couple ways, or you can just eek out damage. Mirror Entity also represents an insane clock. Left unchecked, this deck can easily one-shot people with Mirror Entity. In a pinch, you can even activate its ability for zero to get rid of your own Reveillark.

There are some things that I wish this deck had in it. Ghostly Flicker, Restoration Angel, and more Venser, the Sojourners would really be nice. Maybe I am just trying to get too cute, but it could be sweet. If we added Ghostly Flicker, we might also want Mnemonic Wall. Or maybe I just love soft-locking people with Stonehorn Dignitary.

Either way, this deck is really cool and has a lot of subtle synergies, most of which I probably haven’t even found yet. If you notice anything cool that I haven’t found, feel free to let me know.

Really quickly before I go, I just want to briefly show you another decklist I found. This deck is crazy and I can barely tell how it ever wins, but it sure is awesome. It probably wants green and a sideboard more adapted to aggro and combo. The counterspell package could be different, and some numbers may need tweaking. Anyway, enough rambling. Here you go:

I know, you’re amazed. That is all. Rites of Flourishing is everything that this deck probably wants. I imagine what this deck does is draw its library while taking extra turns to speed up the process. On the few turns that it does give its opponent, cards like Cryptic Command come to the rescue. Little known fact: you can target yourself with Jace Beleren’s ultimate. Once you’ve drawn your entire deck, Laboratory Maniac will finish up the job.

This deck seems super fragile and looks like it has no game against a fast aggro deck or a solid combo deck. The solution my friend and I came up with is to add green to the deck. While the damage from Breeding Pool and Misty Rainforest can be staggeringly relevant in a deck like this, it would just give you so many more options.

Like I said, Rites of Flourishing seems sick, and I imagine Azusa, Lost But Seeking might not be terrible. Adding green also gives you some better sideboard options like Nature’s Claim and the ability to board into a Turbo Fog-esque deck. Some numbers certainly need to be moved around in the blue spells, but I really like this deck overall. I will definitely be giving something like it a try sometime in the near future.

That brings today to an end. While I’m by no means a Modern expert, I can’t wait to give some of these decks a try. Casting Ad Nauseam or taking all the turns sounds pretty appealing. As of right now, I just picked up Scapeshift to practice with. While I love the deck, it is pretty repetitive every game. Even if I don’t end up PTQing with any of these decks, they could still give me a fun break from the competitive nature of the format. 

If you have any cool brews that you’ve been battling with, post them in the comments. I’d love to try out what you guys have been working on. I’m looking forward to Theros Standard, where I’ll probably still be trying to make the Bogbrew Witch deck work. Bye-bye Thragtusk! It’s Blood Baron of Vizkopa’s time to shine!

AJ Kerrigan
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