A Magic: the Gathering blog by and for the janky combo casual players alienated in a world of netdecking millionaires.

I value inexpensive (kinda) decks outside of the meta because I am cheap and easily bored.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Magic: The Mathering - Modern Meta Slayer

I've built a Barbershop Deck for my next competitive tournament, I've run it online for a while and it sits at about 60% wins pre board and 70% post board. Although that's online where it causes rage quits. It hasn't really even been on the fringes (that will be the last hairdressing pun) of the Modern scene but it has really been helped recently by the banning of Deathrite Shaman. Lucky!

Banned. For being filth, very few one drop creatures are so consistently good and relevant for the entire length of the game with such low investment of resources.

Barbershop tops out at 3 mana, it's basically 0-1 cost artifacts, cantrips and 16 lands.

The two card combo is Lantern of Insight, to keep the top card of each library revealed plus either Codex Shredder (target player) or Ghoulcaller's Bell (both players) to put the top card of the library into the graveyard. Basically you choose what cards your opponents draw and then give them cards they can't effectively use and if you have spare time, manipulate your own draws to keep the lock in. If they play three colours, deny them lands. If they play two or fewer, deny them their good spells and artifact destruction.

So you see how a Deathrite Shaman turn 1 will quite often win my opponents the game on turn 12 simply from having me lose two life from the instants and sorcery spells I'd be denying them from drawing.

So when I was told about the latest junk rare in Theros, I was led to a very interesting revelation. A friend gave me this card at a draft and saying it was the kind of card I would build a deck around.

I was told that this was "my kind of card" probably because it's fun, but ultimately shit. (Which ironically is just like my tournament play) I also had the same look on my face, except my hand was covering a massive shit eating grin.

Strictly better than ghoulcaller's? Well, maybe, I have some graveyard recycling so the exile isn't great for me either. But I can exile any cards of my opponent because there's no danger of me ever using Pyxis' second ability. Snapcaster Mages have always been popular and I expect a resurgence with them now that DRS is not taxing their instant and sorcery graveyard pool.  But even more than that there are cards that I simply do not want in my opponent's graveyard. The deck is technically a mill deck, and as graveyards can be recycled exile > graveyard.

See what you think.

4 Lantern of Insight
4 Pyxis of Pandemonium
4 Codex Shredder

This is the meat of the deck. Once this is locked in, especially with multiple codex shredders and Pyxises? Pyxii? (plural of pyxis anyone?) you look to simply hold them at bay, dictate their draws and slowly mill them down, it's not a fun deck by any means.

4 Mishra's Bauble. Zero casting artifact that I can sacrifice and look at the top card of my opponent's library and draw a card in the next upkeep.

4 Ancient Stirrings. This card lets me look at the top five cards of my library and find a colourless card and put it in my hand, it's almost as good as a tutor, can find land or combo pieces. Favourite target for noxious revival one of the most important cards in the deck, so innocuous too.
4 Gitaxian Probe. This is a key part of my control mechanism. Cast early this will basically give me complete control of the opponent's hand. Turn 1, Gitaxian Probe for two life. Mishra's bauble into play and sacrificed for zero mana. This tells me my opponent's hand, and the card they will draw next. With a land to play and an option of what to do I can dictate the type of play going forward. If they're fine to draw that card next I can play a needle or ancient stirrings  If not, I can drop a Pyxis or Shredder and take it away from them.
3 Edge of Autumn. Tutor for a third land if I can't pull it, or cycle it by sacrificing a land. Multiple uses. Plus I love the future sight card designs.
4 Dispatch. Single mana spell, if I have metalcraft (control 3 artifacts) exile target creature. Obviously this is for killings if I lack a bridge or if it's a threat to me via other means by tapping for damage etc.
3 Pithing Needle. This is an alternative turn one play if I use gitaxian probe and see my opponent is playing fetch lands. Runs disruption against a lot of targets. Fetch Lands, Planeswalkers, Birthing Pod, Mutavault, Celestial Colonade, etc.

3 Ensnaring Bridge. Squeaks into modern thanks to an appearance in eighth edition. My primary creature defense.
3 Noxious Revival. Anti-self mill tech, Very often I can cast this and return a card to the top of my library and activate a cantrip in the same turn.
2 Tormod's Crypt. All it takes is one card to reset the opponent's graveyard and that's game over for me, if I can't exile a Emrakul or other graveyard shenanigan with the Pyxis I'll sacrifice this and wipe out their graveyard while the trigger is on the stack. Also good vs snapcasters. 
1 Elixir of Immortality. The five life is almost more useful than the recycling of my graveyard. But this is usually a safety net.
1 Ghoulcaller's Bell. An extra mill card in case I don't want to exile my own top card

4 Ghost Quarter. Ghost quarter is an interesting one, it's normally there to get man-lands like celestial colonnade mutavault and inkmoth nexus. But in dire straights if the top card of my opponents' library is a good draw and I don't have any more mill, I can sacrifice the Ghost quarter and make them pay a land as an additional cost, or they have to risk keeping their land and shuffling away a good draw for something potentially worse. Bonus points if that mana was on colour and they needed it to cast the spell they will pick up, then I can switch the denying them the mana colour.

The rest of the lands are there to be white or green in some format, nothing special.

4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Brushland
2 Forest
1 Plains 
1 Glimmervoid

Online it's been really strong, loses most often to Red Deck Wins and Affinity a but a little post boarding means more often than not I come back to win 2-1.