Today's challenge on Master Deckbuilder is to build the best Collected Company deck in Modern. I will provide you with a bunch of ingredients in the form of ideas to choose from and it's up to you to come up with the strongest list and post it in the comments section below. I will then determine a winner based on the deck's likelihood to win a competitive Modern tournament, taking into account the edge that a rogue deck would have over a known entity and also the strength of the sideboard in the current Modern metagame. Winner gets featured in next week's article and crowned Week 1: Master Deckbuilder.
The most impactful card in Modern from Dragons of Tarkir has been Collected Company. Abzan, Naya, and Elves have all adopted the card to great effect. It has also popped up in Bant, Slivers, and a few other decks. I discussed five successful Collected Company decks last week. Since Collected Company is so powerful and yet also so challenging to build around, I decided today to do a mostly exhaustive analysis of every creature in Modern that costs three or less mana that could fit in a Collected Company deck and to leave it to you to use this information to break Collected Company. I omitted all the unplayable creatures and also some that may be fringe playable, though I included plenty to get your creative juices flowing. I discuss when and where each creature fits best and also try to provide direction for how to build whatever version of Collected Company you decide to build, including a few starting lists for the following:
Gruul HasteTemur TwinDoran Rats Bant Not Paying
These six example archetypes are by no means exhaustive. I mention various other directions to go with Collected Company such as: dedicated merfolk, combo merfolk (Wake Thrasher), affinity, infect, discard, land destruction, spirits (Tallowisp), zombies, Blasphemous Act (with Hornet Nest and Boros Reckoner), and Soul Sisters, among others.
Today's article is written for deckbuilders who seek a challenge. Which Collected Company deck will prove to be the best? More importantly, I challenge you today to build it!
Here are your ingredients to choose from. Feel free to include any Modern legal card not listed.
Three Mana Cost Creatures
Anafenza, the Foremost - Stonecloaker can also be a consideration if we have a lot of creatures with enters the battlefield abilities or if the flying body is relevant, but Anafenza will usually be better. Scavenging Ooze, however, is generally better than all of the other graveyard hate creatures because it can target spells for Snapcaster Mage too or Shrink an opposing Tarmogoyf to 0/1. The Ooze also can grow to a size bigger than Anafenza and also costs only two mana. In most decks I think Ooze is the best way to interact with the graveyard.
Aven Mindcensor - If Amulet of Vigor decks run rampant, this could be an inclusion. It's also strong against Scapeshift and has utility against any deck running Chord of Calling. I would not include it in the maindeck unless you need a lot of help in these matchups, but it's a reasonable sideboard card, especially as a one-of if you have Chord of Calling in your deck.
Ball Lightning - Can go in a haste themed deck alongside Groundbreaker to generate lots of damage.
Banisher Priest (or Fiend Hunter) - One of the only ways to Remove a creature immediately when hit off Collected Company. Orzhov Pontiff and Flickerwisp are also cards to consider for the removal role, as are Izzet Staticaster and Grim Lavamancer. Big Game Hunter and Merciless Executioner can also kill things if you have something specific in mind you want to kill.
Blade Splicer - Likely the best answer to Etched Champion that you can hit off Collected Company. Also works especially well with Restoration Angel, which works well with several other good Collected Company targets such as Flickerwisp, Vendilion Clique, Eternal Witness, Reclamation Sage, or some of the removal creatures just mentioned.
Bogart Ram-Gang - If the haste deck decides it wants more board presence instead of all the Ball Lightning effects, then this would be among the first cards to get added.
Boros Reckoner - A strong card against any deck looking to attack on the ground and rely on burn spells to clear out blockers. I think it's only good enough though if you have extra incentive, such as in a deck with Blasphemous Act. And once you have Blasphemous Act, Hornet Nest becomes an attractive option. This may just be too cute, but it's a thing to consider.
Bottle Gnomes / Brindle Boar / Spike Feeder / Centaur Healer - These all seem worse than Rhox War Monk, Kitchen Finks, and Kor Firewalker. Spike Feeder is reasonable if you have the Archangel of Thune combo, but otherwise I would not recommend running any of the first four options over any of the latter three.
Brimaz, King of Oreskos - A solid creature for its cost that attacks and blocks well, but it doesn't have any special interactive abilities that are so important in big formats like Modern. Likely just not good enough unless blocking on the ground while dodging Lightning Bolt becomes the hallmark of a good creature in the metagame.
Chittering Rats - Could serve a role in a discard-themed Collected Company deck alongside Tidehollow Sculler, Sin Collector, and Brain Maggot to try and lock the opponent out of draw steps. Could also work in conjunction with Fulminator Mage and/or Magus of the Moon to keep the opponent mana screwed.
Countryside Crusher - This is potentially one of the largest creatures you can hit off Collected Company if you have enough ways to make him grow. Maybe alongside Knight of the Reliquary you could have a pair of giant monsters. I'm not convinced it's better than Loxodon Smiter though since the Elephant dodges Lightning Bolt from the beginning and also makes Liliana of the Veil's +1 ability a dangerous proposition for the opponent.
Courser of Kruphix - Dark Confidant and Eternal Witness are the other two "card draw" creatures you can hit off Collected Company. If you want an all-out card advantage value BG/x deck, then these three creatures would be the main sources of said card advantage and you would likely win every long game against fair midrange decks.
Dauntless Escort - Could be well-positioned against wrath effects or at protecting a combo, though Collected Company is already good against wrath effects by being an instant. Eternal Witness is probably just better.
Deceiver Exarch / Pestermite - A Temur Collected Twin deck may be a thing. Collected Company would allow you to grind through removal spells or just play stronger along the non-combo axis by getting a Scavenging Ooze and a Tarmogoyf on the opponent's end step and then threatening to win the damage race without even having to combo. Of course the threat of the combo can also pick up some free wins.
Devout Lightcaster - A strong card against decks with black permanents, though likely too narrow except maybe as a one-of in the sideboard of a deck that also runs Chord of Calling.
Doran, the Siege Tower - Doran is naturally good against Cranial Plating, beats down hard, and turns Spellskite into a powerful attacker. Spellskite is also especially well-positioned right now. Eternal Witness and Lingering Souls serve similar functions, so that was the main swap. The other swap was exchanging Sorin, Solemn Visitor for Collected Company.
Eidolon of Rhetoric - This and Ethersworn Canonist are bullet sideboard cards against Living End, Pyromancer Ascension, and any deck that needs to play multiple spells per turn.
Emancipation Angel - Very unlikely to be worthwhile, but this and Kor Skyfisher are on my radar in a deck with a bunch of creatures that have "enters the battlefield" bonuses.
Esperzoa - A big flier with some potential for minor abuse, but unlikely to be better than competing options at the three-spot in affinity decks.
Etched Champion - Speaking of which, if Collected Company works in Affinity, this and Master of Etherium will be big reasons why. Hitting a pair of Ornithopters off Collected Company seems pretty miserable, but affinity runs a lot of creatures and they all cost three or less. Hitting Master of Etherium and Etched Champion sounds legit. Springleaf Drum would likely play an important role in getting to four mana (and also getting green mana).
Eternal Witness - The very best card advantage card to hit off Collected Company, followed by Dark Confidant and Courser of Kruphix. You can return the same Collected Company used to find the Eternal Witness and thus "go off" whenever you hit it. It's excellent in grinding "fair" matchups and can regrow important cheap disruptive spells like Path to Exile, Abrupt Decay, Thoughtseize, Lightning Bolt, or Deprive. Like Tarmogoyf, it's another blank against Scavenging Ooze though, so if you play both these cards, you really have to make sure you can get rid of a Scavenging Ooze quickly.
Flickerwisp - Very good at instant speed off Collected Company or Aether Vial and works well in conjunction with creatures that have triggered abilities such as Eternal Witness, Vendilion Clique, Siege Rhino, etc.
Fulminator Mage - This and Magus of the Moon are the best ways to disrupt opposing mana.
Geist of Saint Traft - The actual hardest hitting threat you can find off Collected Company. If you want a clock from a creature that dodges most removal spells, Traft is your man.
Geralf's Messenger - In a dedicated zombie tribal deck this is an auto-include.
Goblin Rabblemaster - Unlikely strong enough, but worth considering.
Great Sable Stag - If Faeries are popular, this comes in. Otherwise it's a relic of the past.
Groundbreaker / Hell's Thunder - See Ball Lightning
Izzet Staticaster - Good against Spirit Tokens, elves, or anything with multiple one-toughness creatures. Compare to Orzhov Pontiff.
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner - Good against heavy removal decks, though may be narrow enough that it's almost always worse than Eternal Witness.
Knight of the Reliquary - One of the largest creatures to hit off company and also has utility if you play cards like Tectonic Edge.
Leatherback Baloth / Woolly Thoctar / Loxodon Smiter - If all you want is size, these provide that. They are all likely worse than Knight of the Reliquary though since your deck should almost certainly have at least 12 fetches already.
Lifebane Zombie - A possible bullet sideboard card if you run Chord of Calling.
Lyev Skyknight - Temporary removal and evasion, similar to Flickerwisp but without the upside of being able to get value from your own triggered abilities. Still worth considering.
Magus of the Moon - This and Fulminator Mage are the best ways to disrupt mana with Collected Company.
Mangara of Corondor - Slow but versatile removal for any permanent. Can perform tricks with Restoration Angel or Fiend Hunter / Flickerwisp off Collected Company or Aether Vial. Also Familiar's Ruse.
Mantis Rider - Could maybe go in a haste deck. Good rate, but hard to find a home and dies to Lightning Bolt. Probably not quite good enough.
Maralen of the Mornsong - Works especially well with Aether Vial or Collected Company because if played at instant speed on the opponent's turn it gives us the first tutor. Could be a way to lock an opponent out of the game in conjunction with Aven Mindcensor or Leonin Arbiter.
Master of Etherium - See Etched Champion.
Mirran Crusader - High damage output for mana and protection from a lot of relevant creatures and removal spells, though Collected Company decks want to play a high density of creatures, none of which really pump the Crusader except maybe Sulfur Elemental or Mirror Entity. Could work in a deck with enough exalted creatures such as Noble Hierarch and Qasali Pridemage though.
Mirror Entity - Speaking of ways to pump creatures, this one is the best one. It's used as a Chord of Calling target in Elves alongside Ezuri, Renegade Leader.
Nightveil Specter - Unlikely but maybe if Thassa, God of the Sea proves worthwhile.
Nulltread Gargantuan - Very large, but not great on its own.
Phyrexian Crusader - Worth considering if Infect decides it wants to play the attrition game with Collected Company.
Prophetic Flamespeaker - Can provide card advantage, though is likely worse than Eternal Witness in most scenarios. The one exception is if you have exalted creatures to take advantage of the double strike and you're ok with it dying to a Lightning Bolt without providing any value.
Reclamation Sage / Trygon Predator / Harmonic Sliver - All likely worse than Qasali Pridemage because of the existence of Splinter Twin and also because you really want to leave your three-drop spots on the curve open for the more impactful creatures.
Relentless Rats - Something like this:
Rhox War Monk - The best life gain card to hit off Collected Company. Works especially well with Dromoka's Command.
Savage Knuckleblade - Maybe slightly better than Loxodon Smiter if colors aren't an issue, but sheer size is generally not as good as having useful disruptive abilities.
Scion of Oona / Spellstutter Sprite - Could be good if Collected Company Fae is a deck. Each works with Mutavault too.
Simian Spirit Guide - One of the underrated mana producers in Collected Company since hitting a 2/2 off Collected Company is often better than a Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch.
Sin Collector - Could work alongside Tidehollow Sculler, Brain Maggot, and possibly Chittering Rats.
Skaab Ruinator - Big and evasive but pretty big downside if you draw it naturally instead of cheating it into play.
Sulfur Elemental - Possible bullet sideboard card against spirits. Likely worse than Izzet Staticaster or Orzhov Pontiff.
Thassa, God of the Sea - In a merfolk deck splashing for Collected Company, this could be good.
Troll Ascetic - Maybe with Tallowisp and Collected Company?
Vampire Nighthawk - Likely better options for life gain and the body isn't especially good in a field of Lightning Bolts.
Varolz, the Scar-Striped - Combo piece with Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit / Melira, Sylvok Outcast + Kitchen Finks to gain infinite life, or you can use it with Death's Shadow to make a dude huge.
Vendilion Clique - Great value card with evasion and disruption. This is one of the cards I'm most excited to see off Collected Company in a lot of scenarios.
Wake Thrasher + Kiora's Follower - A combo that deals infinite damage from two cards, each of which can be hit off Collected Company. Could be great with Thassa's ability to grant unblockable, perhaps in a merfolk deck that can also just hit a pair of merfolk lords off the company. Not sure if too cute, but winning the game off a single Collected Company is powerful enough to keep in mind as an option.
Yasova Dragonclaw - Likely too slow and narrow, but situationally powerful.
Zo-Zu the Punisher - Can really punish land hungry decks and if Scapeshift resolves, their Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle triggers go on the stack first, so the damage from Zo-Zu will resolve first and kill the opponent while all their triggers are still on the stack, assuming Zo-Zu deals enough damage to finish them off.
Two Mana Cost Creatures
Ajani's Pridemate - If Collected Company ends up working in Soul Sisters.
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit - Combo with sac outlet + Kitchen Finks.
Avatar of the Resolute - Could fit in Monogreen Aggro.
Blighted Agent - Infect Collected Company.
Brain Maggot - With Tidehollow Sculler in a discard deck.
Cartel Aristocrat - Another sac outlet option competing with Viscera Seer and Varolz, the Scar-Striped.
Dark Confidant - Great card draw engine to find with Collected Company.
Eidolon of the Great Revel - produces a lot of damage and requires a Lightning Bolt from Pyromancer Ascension decks.
Ethersworn Canonist - Great against Storm and Living End along with Eidolon of Rhetoric.
Fauna Shaman - If Chord of Calling is not enough tutor effects for you.
Fleecemane Lion - Is unlikely powerful enough in Modern, which makes Watchwolf even less of an option.
Flinthoof Boar - Can work in the GR Haste deck mentioned in the Ball Lightning entry.
Gaddock Teeg - Nombo with Collected Company but still could be a worthwhile sideboard card against decks it shuts down.
Grand Abolisher - Worse than Voice of Resurgence.
Hellspark Elemental - See Ball Lightning.
Hunted Horror - Big but also with a big drawback.
Jotun Grunt - Big and slightly disruptive but very likely worse than Scavenging Ooze.
Kalastria Highborn - Tribal vampire Collected Company?
Kataki, War's Wage - Still not better than Creeping Corrosion / Stony Silence, even if you can hit if off Collected Company.
Keldon Marauders - Worth considering in an aggressive RG deck.
Kiora's Follower - See Wake Thrasher.
Knight of the White Orchid - Unlikely but gives you a free untapped land.
Kor Firewalker - Worse than Rhox War Monk but better against Burn than most other life gain options. Also only costs two mana, so fits better into your curve.
Kor Skyfisher - In a value 187 deck.
Leonin Arbiter - In a Hate bear deck.
Leonin Relic-Warder - Likely worse than Qasali Pridemage but possibly better than Reclamation Sage, Trigon Predator, or Harmonic Sliver.
Lone Missionary - Another card to consider for the life gain slot if Kor Firewalker is too tough on the mana.
Lotleth Troll - Good with Death's Shadow and Varolz, the Scar-Striped.
Meddling Mage - Reasonable sideboard card against certain combo decks or against a key card that is particularly devastating in a matchup. You have to hit it proactively off Collected Company though since it doesn't stop the spell once it's on the stack. Could be especially effective if you have Tidehollow Sculler or Vendilion Clique in your deck to see the opponent's hand first.
Melira, Sylvok Outcast - Kitchen Finks combo.
Mogg War Marshall - Unlikely but if making a couple fast tokens is a thing, here he is.
Myr Superion - Greyfess made an interesting deck that aims to cheat in all the under-costed monsters with Aether Vial and Collected Company. The best part of the deck is its name: NOT PAYING.
Pack Rat - See Relentless Rats.
Phantasmal Image - Doesn't work if no creatures are on the battlefield, but can be very good in some situations.
Phyrexian Revoker - A reasonable answer to any activated ability, especially for breaking up a combo. A nice option to have if you run Chord of Calling. Not strong enough to run more than one copy though.
Putrid Leech - Hits hard for two mana.
Qasali Pridemage - Better than any other Disenchant effect against Splinter Twin.
Ravenous Rats - Value!
Saffi Eriksdotter - Probably worse than Dauntless Escort, which is almost always worse than Eternal Witness. Still worth keeping in mind.
Samurai of the Pale Curtain - Worse than Anafenza, the Foremost, which is worse than Scavenging Ooze.
Scavenging Ooze - The best graveyard hate around!
Serra Avenger - Maybe if you run Aether Vial.
Snapcaster Mage - Difficult to get enough creatures for Collected Company and enough spells for Snapcaster, but the Temur Twin list may have struck the right balance. Could just be worse than Eternal Witness in