Inexplicably, a Splinter Twin deck will win something large, like, oh say, a Grand Prix or Modern SCG Premier IQ, and pundits will continue to tout that
it’s “not that dominant.” Sure. Whatever you have to tell yourself to sleep at night. Just don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
This weekend, there were only three copies of Splinter Twin decks in the Top 8 of #GPPitt. That’s not even really that many when you think about it; more
than a third, yeah, but why would we let something like numbers get in the way of a deck that’s not even really that dominant? Whoops. There’s that word
again. Dominant. Which it isn’t.
Since the inception of Modern, it has been a format touted as the strongest contender to Legacy and Standard, one where your cards won’t rotate, but you
won’t be suckered into spending a thousand plus dollars for a playset of dual lands! It’s a miracle, right?
One of the best selling points to Modern, to me and many other players, is that they are extremely astute when it comes to the banned list. If they even
get a whiff of something that offends their delicate nostrils, WotC punches it in the stomach and sends it tumbling down the mountain.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor? In your freaking dreams.
Bloodbraid Elf? You are stupid for asking.
Ancestral…Visions? How dare you?
Card that ends the game on turn 4? Well, you see, Modern is a very diverse format.
- 1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- 1 Pestermite
- 1 Vendilion Clique
- 1 Wall of Omens
- 4 Deceiver Exarch
- 4 Snapcaster Mage
- 2 Restoration Angel
This deck has 32 flavors. There’s U/R Twin, Jeskai Twin, Grixis Twin, Temur Twin, that movie Twins, the Thompson Twins…I’m probably forgetting a few.
The core of Splinter Twin strategies is to sculpt a game where you’re able to play either a Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite, and with your wealth of
counterspells, play and protect a Splinter Twin. This creates infinite creatures which lets you kill your opponent with billions of damage.
Now, I subscribe to the philosophy that every single deck on the planet takes skill to play, and while there are “nut” draws where you will just cast an
enabler on turn 3 and follow it up with a Splinter Twin on turn 4, those games are far less prevalent than the ones where it requires a ton of setting up.
Who am I kidding? You’ll do it all the time! Turn 1 you’ll cast a Serum Visions, turn 2 you’ll either Remand or Lightning Bolt something, turn 3 you’ll tap
down a land with an Exarch, and then they’re dead on turn 4.
There are some matches that are basically byes for Splinter Twin decks because other decks either can’t afford to pack answers due to it hampering their
strategies, or Twin just has more redundancy than they have ways to interrupt the combo. Your deck is basically the four C’s.
1- Card draw
4- Complete bull****
I’ve never seen a card or deck more complained about. My Facebook feed was nothing but “I really hate Splinter Twin” posts.
The problem, as players see it, is the staleness that it presents. If Modern is a format that is meant to remain fresh and interesting, than why is there a
deck that has proven time and time again that it and the iterations of it are all very viable contenders? If Birthing Pod was banned because the format was
warped around it as well as it proving too common of a top contender, why hasn’t Splinter Twin been looked at in the same light?
Patrick Chapin provided a delightful article with lots of tables
, citing that Twin was 12% of the Day 2 #GPPitt metagame with almost 24% of the Top 32 slots. Not to mention three of eight Top 8 spots.
Totally cool, right? Completely acceptable and doesn’t require any action. Pay no attention to that Cleric behind the curtain.
Is this because I won a RPTQ with a Naya Zoo deck? Did I do this? Is this all my fault? Splinter Twin is giving me a guilt complex, so now I have this one and the one my mother give me on a daily basis. This is a cry for help, people.
Your Best Cards:
Ayyyyy LMAO, as the kids say nowadays.
In your corner is one of the most ridiculous two-drop creatures ever printed along with all of the best cantrips, direct damage, and counterspells to go
along with him. This gives you incredible control over a game by ensuring your tempo is uninhibited and your hand is always full. Wrapping up the package
is a completely non-interactive combo that ends the game on the spot.
Yes. Modern is a format full of Abrupt Decay, Path to Exile, and Spellskite, but not every deck is playing multiple ways to seek those cards out and has to
rely on naturally having them, while Twin decks revolve around comboing out as quickly and efficiently as possible. Even your creatures protect your combo,
like a Vendilion Clique stripping one of your opponent’s precious answers.
But if you think your ability to play a game of Magic is being infringed upon, have you even looked at the sideboard?
Nice Mountains, idiot. Hope you weren’t planning on casting any spells this game.
What’s New That Sucks:
Alex Bianchi decided to bring back Jeskai Twin from the depths of obscurity and won a Grand Prix with it. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker has always been
floating around this archetype, so it’s not surprising to see his return. To be honest it’s great to see a little something different from Splinter Twin
even though it’s exactly the same as a deck that was popular about a year ago. So it’s not really new. I guess that sucks?
What Has Always Sucked:
I feel like this deck brings out the worst in players. The people who play and defend it act like they are solving a 42-sided Rubik’s Cube when they
battle, and the people who hate Splinter Twin seem to think its pilots are slamming rocks off of their own heads while drooling all over themselves. That’s
what has always sucked. Freaking attitudes about Splinter Twin. As you read an article about why it sucks. Sue me.
Without a plethora of ways to tutor up answers with, say a Birthing Pod, players are usually at the mercy of a combo they don’t have a ton of control over.
In the finals of #GPPitt, Aaron Webter now famously asked “do you have it?” in a game that he looked quite favored to win until Alex showed him that he
was, in fact, dead. Combo decks like Storm or Grishoalbrand, while giving off the aura of being unfair (which of course they are), don’t have the sheer
consistency or numbers that Splinter Twin does in terms of tournament success. At the moment, decks like Amulet Bloom and Splinter Twin make players feel
helpless. That sucks.
What Might Not Suck:
Well bannings are on the horizon, so if the archetype continues to see success, I wouldn’t be shocked if Splinter Twin is banned just to shake up Modern
and bring a few decks out of the shadows.
Look, Modern is a really diverse format. There are a ton of awesome decks, strategies, and cards that you get to play with. That part doesn’t suck. But
there is no strategy in Modern that hasn’t received some level of nerfs because it was too powerful. Twin has taken the least amount of flack when it comes
to being too good while steadily being a pillar that has always, on some level, existed in Modern from dominant to “always plan for it.” It changes colors
to be more effective, as can be seen with its Grixis, Temur, or Jeskai versions that all center on the same thing: Splinter Twin.
Enjoy your ivory tower of killing people on turn 4 while you can. I have a feeling I won’t be worrying about Splinter Twin at the Pro Tour in February.
Or it’ll kill me on turn 4 for writing this. I would deserve that.