The mana in Modern is really good.
Everyone knows it’s really good.
Splashing a card or two with a fetch-shock manabase is quite common, although the format has adjusted somewhat to punishing excessively painful manabases, so we’ve seen an influx of fastlands and other alternatives that continue to raise the bar when it comes to consistency.
But every once in a while, someone pushes the envelope, perhaps a little too far. Humans is among the best decks in the format right now, so it’s not surprise to see a deck start with four copies each of Cavern of Souls and Unclaimed Territory, but the necessary supplement of those two, Ancient Ziggurat, relegates those decks to playing almost all creatures with a few spells that can be cast off of the colorless mana from the tribal lands.
I think everyone who plays Humans would love to have a better option than Ancient Ziggurat to improve the sideboard and end the bad feelings of Ziggurat / Aether Vial openers, but few have had the moxie to go out there and make it happen.
When doing so it makes sense to move toward mana creatures, which can provide needed fixing, and Collected Company, which needs no explanation. But as a result of that change, we see a move away from all Humans and towards more individually powerful aggressive creatures. Eldrazi Obligator has made a name for itself as a key component of R/G Eldrazi and plays nicely here with the colorless mana from the tribal lands, and Bloodbraid Elf completes a great suite of haste creatures.
Seriously, how often does this deck cast a Collected Company that puts six power of haste on the battlefield? Between Bloodbraid Elf, Eldrazi Obligator, and Mantis Rider as playsets, it’s not hard to do and that kind of pressure is scary, especially when backed up by Lightning Bolt. Bloodbraid Elf hitting any of those cards does the same thing, so you can play two or three Ball Lightnings in a row sometimes.
Simian Spirit Guide is another part of that aggression. Casting a pseudo-Ball Lightning on Turn 2 is not something most decks are expecting, or really prepared to answer, and the surprise mana can swing a race with Eldrazi Obligator’s triggered ability. This is not a deck where you can ever feel safe as the opponent.
Which means it’s ultimately quite different from Humans. A lot of the more disruptive elements of that deck are gone and in their place is a deck that is highly aggressive but has a bunch of ways to gain card advantage for longer games. If the mana is even remotely workable, that’s something to be excited about.
- 3 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Dark Confidant
- 3 Simian Spirit Guide
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
- 1 Geist of Saint Traft
- 4 Mantis Rider
- 2 Reflector Mage
- 4 Eldrazi Obligator