As my regular readers should know, I'm a pretty big fan of cheating creatures like Borborygmos Enraged, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and Griselbrand into play with things like Goryo's Vengeance, Fist of the Suns, Through the Breach, etc. So as you can imagine I was beside myself with glee when I saw Zach Jesse piloting a list looking to do these very things into the Top 8 of Grand Prix Charlotte.
After seeing the deck in action I immediately went out and rebought the Goryo's Vengeance I had sold to fund our move to Seattle, along with a playset of Nourishing Shoal of which I have never owed...for obvious reasons.
As I mentioned, I have played decks with Through the Breach and Goryo's Vengeance before, even in videos here on several occasions, but this one was different. As unassuming as it was, Nourishing Shoal added a completely new dimension to the deck. It allowed the deck to go in multiple different directions with a single card that it couldn't even naturally cast with its mana base.
Before we go too far into it, take a look at the list that I'm referring to.
You may notice that this isn't Zach Jesse's list from Grand Prix Charlotte. Funny story: when I began watching the coverage of Grand Prix Copenhagen on Sunday morning, the first match I saw had the Breach Reanimator deck in it.
The second match I saw did as well.
It was at that time I knew the deck was making an impact. Once the event ended I checked the Top 16 and sure enough, Jacob Wilson had made the cut at 11th with the deck. His maindeck changes are minor (removing two Tormenting Voice for two more Manamorphose, and adding a Verdant Catacombs for a Swamp), but the sideboards are fairly different.
Either way, wanting to play the most updated list, I got started with his list to see what it had to offer.
Man, Modern is a heckuva format. I made a statement after the Modern Pro Tour about how I felt that the format was way too combo heavy and that you needed very specific answers to combat some of the strongest and most prominent decks in the format and there was no way to properly prepare for all the different decks. If you prepare for Tron, you could end up losing to Splinter Twin. If you prepared for Affinity, you could end up losing to Living End. The answers for each specific (and powerful) deck were so linear, that Modern seemed like a guessing game, where the player who guessed the most correctly was rewarded.
Fast forward to now and I feel like this is less the case for some reason. The more I see decks like this in the Top 8 and the Top 16 of two consecutive Grand Prix, the more hope I have for the format. Combine that with the fact that Merfolk ended up winning the event, and it really does make you feel like you can play anything.
Nourishing Shoal is one of the best additions this deck could have possibly had and I tip my hat to whoever thought to include it. As I mentioned, it gives the deck so many new layers to work from, such as including Worldspine Wurm; using Worldspine Wurm with Through the Breach; gaining life from exiling Worldspine Wurm; gaining life from Borborygmos Enraged; casting it for free then splicing something like a Desperate Ritual, Through the Breach, or Goryo's Vengeance onto it; or gaining life simply to stay alive. The fact that I was able to cast Shoal for free, exiling a Manamorphose, then splicing a Desperate Ritual onto it, netting me three mana for two, then casting the Desperate Ritual, netting me another mana and allowing me to cast Through the Breach should single handedly demonstrate the power of the green, naturally uncastable instant.
While gaining life to draw more cards with Griselbrand is our number one priority with Nourishing Shoal, it is far from the card's only use. The more I played the deck, the more impressed I was with how intricate the card actually was.
The other huge upgrade for the deck was the mana base. Previous versions tried to do too much and get too cute with their card choices. This version is incredibly straight forward and, not only that, our mana base is also full of basic Swamps which is huge against all the Blood Moons and Fulminator Mages hanging around. With Modern not too huge on graveyard hate at the moment, I actually feel like this deck is a pretty solid choice, since focusing on those two factors (mana base and graveyard) allow it to dodge a good amount of The General hate in the format.
Having picked up most of the pieces for the deck, I'm definitely a fan of it, but it definitely takes some practice to master. I know I definitely made some misplays in my games, but it also definitely feels like something that goes away with a greater familiarity with the deck. If you're looking for something new in Modern, this is a great option, and the odds of winning when you get a Griselbrand into play are much, much higher with this version than they were in previous Modern decks attempting to exploit Griselbrand and Goryo's Vengeance simply because you can continuously gain 11 life (an older version of the deck even had Soul Spike, allowing you to gain four life at a time, but at the cost of three cards instead of the current 11 life for two cards).
As usual, I'll be back on Thursday with some Standard. Magic Origins spoilers start this week, so make sure to follow the TCGplayer Facebook page for all the latest updates. And be sure to catch my podcast with Ali Aintrazi, Freshly Brewed (which you can find on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or the link below). Thanks for reading and I'll see ya soon!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV , streaming Monday - Thursday afternoonsFreshly Brewed Podcast with Ali Aintrazi (also available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio)