We are in a little bit of an odd period right now in Magic. Getting to the end of this week-and-a-half stretch, we’ve had the full spoiler but are still anticipating bans. Standard bans rarely ever happen making this a very strange time to brew, so as a result of this it’s been more or less pointless to build and think about Standard decks.
As for the bans, to be completely honest folks I think Felidar Guardian will be banned and that’s it. I don’t think that will the best option, but I believe WOTC is going to let Gideon, Ally of Zendikar fight it out for the rest of his days running Standard. That being said, Gideon or no, Mardu Vehicles is looking quite appealing for SCG Atlanta either way.
All right I know what you guys are here for. What’s this “best Modern combo deck” I speak of?
Y’all know about my fondness for Ad Nauseam which previously had this title in mind. After seeing multiple streamers like Michael Jacob and Conley Woods champion the deck below though, as well as it seeing praises from “the chosen one” Oliver Tiu, I have to believe this archetype is Modern’s new best combo deck. Alright I know what everyone’s here for, lets look at some deck lists.
This is the deck Pascal Maynard, the breakout pilot of this deck in tournament gameplay, has been championing. If you’re wondering how the deck operates, the short answer is that, via Krark-Clan Ironworks in conjunction with Scrap Trawler, you can make absurd amounts of mana very quickly. This mana lets you cast an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as early as turn 3, and you can find it though a variety of ways.
I’d suggest reading other articles if you want a more in-depth analysis of how the deck plays out. I’m going to write on here as though you’ve already got some idea of how it plays.
This main deck above is what I consider to be relatively stock. However some other very smart players have come to different conclusions, lets check out a Michael Jacobs’ list.
So as you can see this build is certainly similar to Pascal’s but has some notable exclusions. For starters, Jacob has moved away from the Sanctum of Ugin + Hangarback Walker package which is a nice way to tutor up Emrakul easily while also having a potential stand alone threat. Instead he has decided that Thoughtcast is 100% worth playing and wants to accommodate for the the extra color he’s added. Those are really the only significant differences between these main decks.
The side board for this deck however is quite a tough thing to figure out. Because Jacob has a lot more colored sources in his deck without the Santum of Ugins, he’s able to play some better sideboard card. Lets examine some of these gentlemen’s choices that are fighting for the same slots.
4 Abrupt Decay vs 3 Natures Claims
Both of the above options are really for Stony Silence and Rest in Peace, two heavily played cards than can effectively K.O. your Krark-Clan Ironworks deck at a moment’s notice. Decay has much more versatility and can deal with additional threats like Scavenging Ooze, Kataki, War’s Wage, or just some random creature. I think if you have the lands to support it, Decay certainly gets the nod.
2 Wurmcoil Engine and 1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas vs 2 Padeem, Consul of Innovation
Pascal has mentioned in his sideboarding guide for the deck that Padeem, Consul of Innovation was certainly the oddest card in his sideboard, but that it was for artifact hate cards like Kolaghan’s Command and Ancient Grudge. He said he isn’t sure how you get to six mana before dying, but I’ve seen the Wurmfather look quite strong for Michael Jacob. I have yet to see Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas shine but MJ continues to play it in all his lists. I do admit it seems incredible in theory and can also single handily beat Stony Silence. Based on my observations, I’d recommend playing both Tezz and Wurmcoil and leaving your Padeems at home.
1 Walking Ballista and 1 Culling Scales vs 2 Ghirapur Aether Grid
I feel as these are play similar roles in the sideboard, namely killing small creatures. Walking Ballista can get completely absurd in a deck like this which I like; however I think overall the Aether Grid will perform better. It seems more consistent and also trumps both Stony Silence and Rest in Peace.
The rest of the sideboard is kind of a mishmash of different stuff in each player’s boards. Three Defense Grid seems like a bit of overkill as blue decks really aren’t that popular in Modern although they might just be so tough that you need all the help. Jacob’s three Collective Brutality help as a Duress in those match ups while also helping out the Burn matchup significantly. Pascal also spoke highly of the one of Battle at the Bridge in his board which might be just great.
Alright, now that I’ve highlighted some major differences between the “stock” versions, let me go into the one that really excites me.
Here is Conley Woods’ build which is much more reminiscent of the of Eggs deck that was essentially banned when Second Sunrise was given the ax. Here we have a a mono blue build of the deck excluding Ancient Stirrings and featuring the new powerful “Chord for artifacts” Whir of Invention. It’s also running Tezzeret the Seeker which can be KCIs number 5-6.
Another highlight of this version is Aurelia’s Fury as the kill condition. It lets you kill at instant speed and gets you out of some situations Emrakul, the Aeons Torn can’t. Aurelia’s Fury can also be used in scenarios to take out pesky permanents or keep you alive. Remember, you can always Codex Shredder it back!
Lastly the inclusion of Faith’s Reward gives this deck a different recursion engine rather than the standard playset of Scrap Trawlers. Faith’s Reward is really nice since it doesn’t play into removal and you can go off at instant speed. When playing Faith’s Reward you basically sacrifice resiliency for speed and power. Scrap Trawler is an engine that gives you some play around cards like Relic of Progenitus but also just dies to things as simple as Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, and Fatal Push. You have to pick your poison there.
I have to say as much as I think this list has a lot going for it, I have to think I’d choose the one with Ancient Stirrings. Conley Woods is a very smart man though and there is a ton of good innovation going on here. Whir of Invention and Tezeret, the Seeker are both super powerful and consistent ways to make sure you always find KCI.
I’ve watched all these versions in action and can testify that this deck is certified insane. It consistently kills on turn 3 faster than Ad Nauseam or Storm. It is more vulnerable to hate as most artifact decks are, but can be properly planned for and played around. I expect it to be one of the best decks in Modern for a while, or at least however long WOTC wants to let Mox Opal do its thing I guess! Mishra’s Bauble seems like a very reasonable card to put in these decks and I’d suggest trying it out.
Next week hopefully I’ll have some exciting new thoughts to bring you on Standard before SCG Atlanta! One time Felidar/Gideon ban to give us a fresh start?
Until Next week,
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