I've never played Death Cloud before this week, but I was always intrigued by the card back when I started playing Magic a decade ago. Back then, it was a viable Extended deck, and it was fun to watch people stirp away all permanents from an unlucky opponent. At least, I enjoyed it when I wasn't that opponent, because that's the kind of Magic I like to play.
If that's also something you enjoy, you're going to love this week's deck, brought to us courtesy of Bryan, a friend of mine locally who has been brewing the deck for a long time and has taken it to the Top 8 of PPTQs.
Think of this deck like a black-green version of Ponza. Instead of Molten Rain, we get Rain of Tears. Instead of Lightning Bolt, we get Fatal Push and Abrupt Decay. Instead of Bloodbraid Elf, we get a ton of planeswalkers. Instead of Anger of the Gods, we get Damnation. Instead of Blood Moon, we get Death Cloud.
And make no mistake, Death Cloud is insane. It's equal parts discard, land destruction and board wipe. Even firing off one for two or three is often enough to win a game, stripping your opponent of their last few cards and removing their only creatures. Meanwhile, we're up on mana thanks to the Ponza-esque engine of Utopia Sprawl and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, and don't mind sacrificing Kitchen Finks or Thragtusk.
This deck is capable of truly busted starts. One of my favorites is the patented Arbor Elf into Utopia Sprawl plan, which in this deck can mean Garruk Wildspeaker, which can untap two lands to get you back up to three mana for something like Rain of Tears to absolutely destroy opponents, or just to hold up removal to protect Garruk. Of course, you can also live the dream of turn-two Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, setting up your big planeswalkers next turn while messing up your opponent.
One of the best parts about this deck is the flexibility. Sometimes Death Cloud just functions as a burn spell to finish off the game, but even in games where both players are low on resources and neither had a great start, nothing is better at turning nothing into something quite like planeswalkers, of which our deck has plenty. Liliana is a known quantity, and even just spitting out Beast Tokens with Garruk is surprisingly scary in this deck. Ob Nixilis Reignited and Vraska the Unseen give you a ton of flexible removal alongside your Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse, and killing someone with Assassin Tokens from Vraska happens far more often than you might think.
I like to be realistic about the ceiling of the decks I play here, and while our current Modern format is a little on the broken side with Krark-Clan Ironworks and Bridgevine decks, I think Death Cloud performs reasonably well against the rest of the field. It's possible a shakeup is coming to the metagame in the form of bans (I'd love to see at least a piece of KCI go), if your local meta isn't too degenerate than Death Cloud is a perfectly reasonable option, and can actually be decently adjusted to compete in most metas.
Thanks for reading,