Video Daily Digest: Pox Rox Sox

This hateful little deck may be making a return to the forefront of competitive Modern! Is this the list that takes it to a breakout performance at SCG Philadelphia?

Smallpox is one of the most unique cards in Magic’s history, and decks
built around breaking its inherent symmetry have waded in and out of the
Modern metagame for years. The most recent lists have been heavy on removal
with a spate of planeswalkers as the primary source of card advantage.

These lists have been creature-light to ensure that Smallpox can always be
cast for at least even card advantage if the opponent has a creature of
their own, but that’s a significant sacrifice in deckbuilding, especially
as creatures have become more powerful over the last decade.

This list cuts down on planeswalkers for some creatures that fit the deck
quite well. Dark Confidant is the cheapest source of card advantage
available to the Orzhov guild in which the deck resides, while the other
creatures take the deck in a novel direction by adding more land

The land destruction aspect of Smallpox is the most overlooked part of the
card since it’s the hardest to support in the shells in which it goes, but
you have access to the straightforward Fulminator Mage as well as Aven
Mindcensor, whose primary purpose is to shut down fetchlands, though it has
other applications, for example against Gifts Ungiven and Sylvan Scrying.
There’s also four copies of Tectonic Edge and a Death Cloud to ensure you
continue destroying lands well into the later stages of the game.

With both Jeskai Control and Tron as major players in the metagame, playing
more land destruction and less creature removal makes a lot of sense, but
there’s still plenty of ways to answer Humans and Affinity, and some
planeswalkers to gain card advantage, so this list isn’t abandoning the
principles of previous successful Smallpox decks, just tweaking it a little
in order to be more well-rounded.

The emphasis on land destruction means you won’t find any copies of Path to
Exile here, but there’s enough generic removal to handle large creatures,
especially with the edict effects from Smallpox and Liliana of the Veil.
Those edict effects leave you vulnerable to opposing tokens, especially
Lingering Souls, so I wouldn’t mind seeing Liliana, the Last Hope
somewhere, but the sweepers in the sideboard help out against decks that go
wide very quickly.

Smallpox, more than any other card in Magic, leads to games where both
players are starved for resources on every level, so being able to punish
them on each level with more removal, discard, and land destruction is
important, as is having the cheapest sources of card advantage in Dark
Confidant, Lingering Souls, and Liliana of the Veil. You can certainly play
around with the numbers here, but the fundamentals are solid.