One of my favorite things about Modern is how two cards can come together from a decade or more apart and form something new. We've seen combo decks pop up like this all the time – Vizier of Remedies and Devoted Druid come to mind – but sometimes these synergies are less explosive but still quite potent (and fun).
That brings us to Oketra's Monument.
A Limited all-star and once-Standard playable, the Monument fell out of favor with the rise of Goblin Chainwhirler. Well, there aren't many Chainwhirlers in Modern, and nothing synergies better with Monument than Whitemane Lion and Squadron Hawk.
With a Monument out, every white mana you have turns into a token with the Lion – which can just bounce itself over and over – at instant speed. Not only can this create an army out of nowhere to kill opponents, it also makes combat a nightmare for opposing creature decks. Squadron Hawk doesn't quite go as wild as the Lion, but it amounts to card advantage in this deck.
There's a lot going on here, but it's important to remember the deck is primarily based around Monument. Most of the early creatures work very well with it, either buying you time or cards ( Thraben Inspector), and keeping you alive until Monument lands. Obviously nothing does that better than Martyr of Sands, and a nice side benefit of playing the Martyr is that you can get what amounts to essentially free wins against aggressive decks or Burn decks that can't handle the lifegain.
That's the front end of the Monument. The back end – the cost reduction on creatures – means we get to have some fun with the rest of the build. I found this list in an old 5-0 queue on Magic Online, and it offers you the chance to meld cards with Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade. Making big cards is something I've almost never gotten to do, and it's as fun as it seems. Archangel Avacyn and Shalai, Voice of Plenty round out the Angel suite, which give you a number of flying attackers to end the game while your tokens gum up the ground.
The deck can grind with more than just Monument and Angels. This is the perfect home for Emeria, the Sky Ruin, and with just a light splash of green for Shalai and Karametra, God of Harvests – which will pull all the Plains out of your deck for Emeria – we get a full playset of Field of Ruin alongside enough Plains to consistently trigger Emeria in the lategame.
In Standard, this deck often ran Dusk // Dawn, but this build opted for Cataclysmic Gearhulk instead, which approximates a Wrath while giving you a creature you can play a turn ahead of curve with Monument, and a creature that can be brought back in the late game with Emeria.
It may not seem like much, but this deck has a fair amount of inevitably in attrition-based creature battles. Emeria will get your Angels back consistently, and either you'll grow a huge team with Shalai or you'll end up pulling of Brisela. We're even playing a Thalia's Lancers to go find the legendary creature we need whenever we need it, and between the token production, the life gain and the recursion, this deck is built to win the long game.
Where it struggles is the early game against combo, and there's only so much that can be done about that. It's possible the sideboard wants some number of Gaddock Teeg to help with this, but Damping Sphere, Surgical Extraction and Stony Silence certainly help. There's even Settle the Wreckage to blow out opposing creature decks in a way that is almost always going to be a surprise.
All in all, this deck is a ton of fun, and if your local meta isn't too heavy on combo or Tron, I highly recommend giving this a shot.
Thanks for reading,