Welcome back. Today I’m going to share with you a dangerous new deck from Atsushi Ito, the creator of the Death’s Shadow archetype. Not content with his creation running rampant in Modern, he’s back with something even more degenerate featuring some rarely used cards. Before we get to that though, a quick recap of the new deck du jour, Counters Company.
The above stock list is an example of Vizier of Remedies’ impact on Modern. The unassuming 2/1 combos with Devoted Druid to make infinite green mana. This mana can then be channeled into infinite Duskwatch Recruiter activations to find a Walking Ballista that can conveniently go face for infinite damage. Most decks that look to abuse this combo of small creatures have focused on Collected Company and Chord of Calling and look like old Melira combo decks.
The problem is that these decks sometimes lack resiliency and are a little slow. Melira combo decks were filled with great creatures so even when you were safe from the combo you had the real threat of losing the fair game. The new Vizier decks have cut many of these value creatures and, in turn, has a lot of trouble winning a fair game. Once you know to kill Devoted Druid on site, the deck mostly falls apart.
So, if we can’t stick it out in the long game, why don’t we just focus on winning faster?
How about turn 1 Hall of the Bandit Lord, turn 2 hasted Devoted Druid making 2 mana, Manamorphose into Vizier of Remedies and Summoner’s Pact for Duskwatcher Recruiter for a nice turn 2 kill? It’s more likely than you think. I’m going to spend this article breaking down some of the unconventional choices in this list.
Chances are you haven’t seen Hall of the Bandit Lord outside of the EDH tables in a long time. [It’s in my Ruhan deck! -Ed.] Having to pay 3 life to produce mana is a real cost, especially if you don’t need a creature to have haste. When you’re looking to win fast though – like, turn 2 fast – it’s perfect.
The key cards from the Death’s Shadow deck make a return here. Having 8 zero-mana cantrips allows us to play with a virtual 52 card deck, increasing the chances of drawing the key combo pieces. Just like in the Death’s Shadow decks, Street Wraith and Mishra’s Bauble do double duty by building towards delirium for Traverse the Ulvenwald. Traverse can find any of the combo pieces or even the Hall of the Bandit Lord. The deck also features 3 Unbridled Growth for adding to delirium and cantripping to the combo.
Apart from Traverse we have Summoner’s Pact to find Devoted Druid, Duskwatch Recruiter or Wild Cantor. Commune with Nature is another Kamigawa block card that sees no play but is perfect here, acting as an Ancient Stirrings for the deck. Oath of Nissa doesn’t dig quite as deep but can sometimes add an enchantment to the graveyard for Traverse and provides the option of finding Hall of the Bandit Lord.
We round our the deck with a few unique choices to help speed the deck along and to provide some defense from our opponent’s meddling. Manamorphose cantrips to the combo while also filtering green mana into white for playing a Vizier from a Devoted Druid. Wild Cantor is another way to filter colors and can be searched out with Summoners Pact or Traverse.
Pact of Negation provides protection for the combo as early as turn 2 and lets us beat a counter or kill spell while going off. Conjurer’s Bauble cantrips and adds an artifact to the ‘yard, not to mention rebuying one of the kill pieces in the event it gets discarded, killed, or milled.
The kill condition of the deck remains the same. Playing creatures as the win condition allows the cards that search for the combo to also search for the kill, the same concept as in the Collected Company decks. Unlike the Company decks though, we’ll basically never be casting a ‘fair’ Ballista or Recruiter in an attempt to win the fair game.
Here’s the updated, hyper-focused Devoted Druid / Vizier combo list.
Vizier Combo by Atsushi Ito
Fourteen lands – is this Legacy? Well, we only need 2 mana to operate and with so many cantrips in the deck, such a low land count shouldn’t be an issue. I like the extra value of being able to play Horizon Canopy getting even more cantrips into the deck.
The sideboard is certainly interesting, opting for a resilient “man plan” that dodges a lot of the removal that most decks will be packing.
This is easily the most dangerous Modern deck I have seen in a long time. Whenever you have 8 Pacts, 4 Street Wraiths, 4 Baubles and any number of Wild Cantors in a deck you know it isn’t trying to play fair. The raw speed of the deck is the primary draw here. In most games, you should only face a single piece of disruption because that’s all the opponent will have access to in such an early stage of the game. While the opponent is busy Serum Visioning or suspending Ancestral Visions you have a litany of zero-mana actions to take.
The Collected Company / Vizier decks were mainly a false alarm. Early on it looked like they could be strong but the combination of being slow and full of ‘bad’ creatures was too much. One piece of removal stops the combo; after that you had a deck full of creatures that could never win a fair game. This deck isn’t going to be winning any fair games either, but by focusing on being fast and having Pacts for protection we can ignore the mid and late game altogether. Even when the opponent holds up removal the Vizier player can just cast more cantrips and play out redundant combo pieces, eventually setting up for a kill turn with Pact backup. It seems like a nightmare to play against.
A deck like this can’t be good news for Modern. Most creature combo kills have been left untouched by the banlist because they can be interacted with. Melira combo, for example, could be disrupted in multiple ways and you had plenty of time to advance you own game plan while disrupting theirs. This deck feels more like Blazing Shoal Infect. The threat of turn 2 kills, 14 lands and an abundance of unfair cards is a good recipe for eventually demanding a ban.
This deck is ridiculous. Still, as with any new deck we will need some time and experience to see if it’s truly broken, but from what I’ve seen so far this is not a deck we can safely have in Modern. I won’t be surprised when Vizier of Remedies gets banned but time will tell.
Thanks for reading, and see you next week!