Ever felt like winning the game on the second turn in Modern?
Look no further.
Aether Revolt has been good to Modern, and to Mining Modern in particular. There are a ton of new cards that impact the format in ways large and small, and I asked on my Twitter account for the ones you most wanted to see.
While I wasn't able to knock out the Expertise deck quite yet (though Caleb Durward has been working on a version that looks pretty entertaining – check it out), I was more than ready to bust out the Cheerios this week.
Before we go any further, I understand that Cheerios is a stupid name. It's a throwback to the days when players named their own decks, and somehow every Legacy combo deck came to be named after a breakfast cereal. It's a dumb practice because nowadays no one knows what they even mean anymore (even though I'm sure someone can enlighten us in the comments). Regardless, these names sometimes stick, and "Cheerios" came to be known as the Kobold deck, which plays Glimpse of Nature plus a million zero-mana creatures like Crimson Kobolds, Crookshank Kobolds, Kobolds of Kher Keep… you get the idea. Regardless, any deck that uses zero-mana spells to cycle through its cards has come to be known as Cheerios, so here we are.
This particular list comes courtesy of Zac Elsik, friend of the column and Lantern of Insight connoisseur. Elsik was the first to break out Lantern Control at a big event, and he won Grand Prix Oklahoma City with it a few months later. He's one of the best fringe combo deck players around, and it was no surprise that he ran off a perfect record at an IQ with Cheerios just after the release of Aether Revolt.
The basis premise is this: play Sram, Senior Edificer or Puresteel Paladin, cast a bunch of zero-mana artifacts and draw a bunch of cards, play Mox Opal and Retract to return them to your hand and cast them all again, and end the game in a massive Grapeshot, all as early as the second turn of the game. It's simple, it's straightforward, and it's fun as hell.
Of course, things don't always go so well when your opponent is determined to interact, so as powerful as the deck is, consistency can be an issue. That said, you get a ton of free wins with this deck.
Elsik was also generous enough to provide a few notes for playing the deck, so take it from the master himself!
Typically wait until the opponent taps out for something game one before playing your first Paladin or Sram. Most opponents have their own gameplan they are attempting to achieve and will eventually tap most of their mana. At the very least, playing your creature on turn three means you can draw into a land to play a second creature or Retract.
Using this card to rebuy Retract before playing an Equipment is common. Using it as a second land after keeping a one-lander with a fetch land comes up often. This card also offers defense against discard, Surgical Extraction and even Snapcaster Mage. In some cases, you can rebuy Grapeshot early for a quick kill.
Sram is the go-to first creature to play, as its getting countered or removed is no big deal since he's legendary. Paladin is the best one to start with if you expect bolt (but opponent tapped out) and have the ability to equip shields right away.
Often you'll draw a fetch land mid-combo and have the ability to fetch. This is important to play it right away and fetch to thin your deck. Every card matters when you are stringing together equipment.
Thanks for the tips, Zac!
After a week of playing with Cheerios myself, I'm pretty sure you could take this list to a mid-size event and doing very well. I'm not sure how well it would hold up over a 15-round Grand Prix, but it's absolutely ready for your local FNM. One of the notes I have is that Noxious Revival is very good, and I would look to add a few more to the 75. The Paradoxical Outcomes are probably better off as Leyline of Sanctity, and I would consider turning the Swan Song in the main deck to a fourth Serum Visions or a second Noxious Revival.
Storm away, friends!
Thanks for reading,