If you haven't experienced a Cryptic Command-Eternal Witness loop, you haven't lived.
That's where this week's deck starts thematically, and you can thank Shota Yasooka for first bringing it to our attention back in the early days of Modern. Even with fully-powered Jund in the format (Bloodbraid Elf waves sadly), Yasooka instead chose to brew for the 2012 Player's Championship. With most of the room on Zoo or Jund, he instead showed up with something on nobody's radar.
The deck took the tournament by storm, and the master took the deck all the way to the finals, impressing the world and showing that innovation in a Jund-Zoo format was alive and well.
Except the deck never really reappeared after that. Whether it was metagame shifts or just no one being quite as good as Yasooka at piloting the deck, it fell out of favor in Modern.
That is, until I caught a glimpse of it placing well in a regional tournament a few weeks back. It immediately caught my eye since I remembered that Player's Championship, and I since it had put up a solid finish I knew I needed to see for myself if the time was right for the deck to make a comeback.
The basic idea of the deck is simple – play AEther Vial and creatures that benefit from being "flashed" in, either literally or with AEther Vial. Between Snapcaster Mage and Vendilion Clique, the deck can play at instant speed quite a bit of the time, and all the permission spells plus removal means the deck can trade resources all day while pulling ahead with Aether Vial-fueled starts.
Eternal Witness may be one of the most underrated cards in Modern. It quietly does its job in every deck it's in, negating discard spells and removal alike, all the while trading in combat. The late game of any deck is automatically improved by the little card advantage engine that could, and playing it is a blast.
Aside from those features, this deck has a terrifying late game "combo" in Cryptic Command and Eternal Witness. It works like this:
It's a truly powerful soft lock in the late game, and in a deck like this you get a lot of opportunities to carve out that situation. And unlike other AEther Vial decks, this one has Thirst for Knowledge to provide an outlet for topdecked AEther Vials later in the game.
I based my list off the one that did well recently, and here's what we battled with.
The deck seems pretty solid but runs out of gas quite a bit. It's also tricky to play optimally, and I'm sure there were mistakes I made that could be improved on with practice. But it is powerful and has game against any deck in the format.
The only thing I missed was having a Steam Vents in the maindeck, and there was a time or two not having it messed up my ability to cast Cryptic Command on time. I would definitely advocate replacing one of the Islands with it if you want to give this deck a go. That also takes the red source count up one for the double red cards in the sideboard.
Until next week, as always thanks for reading and let me know what you think could be improved about the deck!
- Corbin Hosler
@Chosler88 on Twitter/Twitch