Video Daily Digest: Soul Caliber

When all else fails, just add more keywords! A few strange rares over the years are coming together to make some absolute monsters in Modern! Ross Merriam wants a piece of the action!

Soulflayer first popped up at Grand Prix Lyon, but after a solid Day One the deck failed to put up a high enough finish to get the list published. The world mourned, but out of the darkness a hero emerged. A champion that took up the Soulflayer mantle and led it to the promised land of a Magic Online trophy so that the masses may gaze upon this glorious creation and bask in its unabashed beauty.

Zetalpa, Primal Dawn is an incredibly powerful creature. It has too many keyword abilities not to be. But eight mana is simply too much for Modern. It’s even too much for Standard. So to utilize the card, you need to cheat it onto the battlefield somehow. God-Pharaoh’s Gift seemed to be the way to do that, but it hasn’t worked out thus far. Soulflayer may not get Zetalpa on the battlefield, but it does so in spirit. It’s the keywords that make the card, and putting them on a 4/4 body is more than good enough in most cases.

With a cheap threat that is incredibly difficult to answer, the goal is to stop any potential to race. The lifelink from Drogskol Reaver or Chromanticore does exactly that. You can get haste from Bomat Courier or Flamewake Phoenix to further tilt the race in your favor, but the big card to play around at that point is Path to Exile. Indestructible doesn’t stop Path, so hexproof is what we’re after. That’s where Sylvan Caryatid comes in as a nice fixer and potential speed bump while you set up the last piece of the voltron puzzle.

Sylvan Caryatid also helps protect your unbeatable Soulflayer from Liliana of the Veil, with Flamewake Phoenix also filling that role. The entire goal here is to be a creature deck that blanks removal. The secondary threat in the deck, Lotleth Troll, is also good against most removal in Modern, so it’s quite difficult to interact profitably with this deck’s threats. Faithless Looting, Grisly Salvage, and Traverse the Ulvenwald give the deck the needed consistency, and the sideboard is filled with high-power interactive cards for the various decks in Modern.

There are going to be games with this deck where things don’t come together smoothly, and unfortunately this deck doesn’t have a great way to recover from that, so if you want to live the Soulflayer life you have to make peace with some additional variance. But when you’re casting a 4/4 with flying, double strike, indestructible, trample, vigilance, lifelinke, haste, hexproof, protection from Steve Argyle, Desertwalk, and bands with non-basic lands on turn 3, it’s all worthwhile.