Guilds of Ravnica continues to make waves not just in Standard, but Modern as well. A couple weeks ago I highlighted the power of Runaway Steam-Kin in 8-Whack – an off-the-wall deck that nonetheless has some extremely powerful draws and makes great use of Steam-Kin – and it seems that Runaway Steam-Kin has more to offer in Modern.
And, it turns out, so does Arclight Phoenix. And Risk Factor. Basically, Guilds of Ravnica is great.
This deck has been making the rounds on Magic Online, and it's a blast to play. A "Burn" deck with late-game card advantage tools – honestly, it's a bit of a unique deck in Modern that comes with its own inherent advantages and disadvantages.
Let's start with the flaws: the deck is prone to awkward draws where you draw graveyard cards without enablers. Sure, Arclight Phoenix is technically a four-mana play you can make, but a Bloodbraid Elf that trades cascade for flying isn't exactly tearing up the scene in Modern. If you don't have ways to fill your graveyard early it's easy for your otherwise-aggressive deck to get saddled with expensive spells and Bedlam Revelers too early in the game. I'm sure there are improvements coming to the deck over the coming weeks that will smooth some of it out, but that's the biggest issue that needs addressing.
Fortunately, there's plenty of good to make up for it. Between Runaway Steam-Kin, Desperate Ritual and Manamorphose, the deck can churn through a lot of cards without giving up much mana on its big turns, and Faithless Looting and even Tormenting Voice are the perfect way to fill the graveyard early with Risk Factors and Arclight Phoenixes. From there, it's really not all that difficult to chain together three spells to get back a bird or two and start attacking while still burning your opponent out with all the Lava Spikes, Lightning Bolts and Fiery Tempers you can manage.
But the real power of the deck is that even though it typically wins with burn spells, this is no Burn deck. Traditional Burn decks get to turn five or six and have to top the top of their deck and pray for Bolts. If they miss for a turn or two or the opponent gets off a lifegain spell, the Burn deck is left out in the cold.
But even though this deck wins with many of the same cards a traditional Burn deck does, it has so much more going on in the lategame; Risk Factor, Faithless Looting and Arclight Phoenix mean the deck can really maximize its velocity – that is to say it will see more cards than the typical Burn deck and can convert those into more action thanks to its graveyard synergies – plus you can always just draw Bedlam Reveler and swing the game on the spot. That's a heck of a lot better than hoping for a lucky Boros Charm, even if the deck still has some way to go to improve its consistency.
I don't know where exactly this archetype goes from here, but I'm excited to see it get there!
Thanks for reading,