I've always been a fan of utility creatures in aggro strategies. Cards like Gaddock Teeg, Leonin Arbiter, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben...all of these have really impressed me upon first seeing them. They're mere two drops that make the game increasingly complicated for our opponent, while at the same time being very cost effective as creatures.

My biggest problem with decks that usually play these creatures is running out of gas. In other words, dumping out our hand, then having very little late game if someone comes along and plays a sweeper, or an efficient blocker, or manages to gain some life.

Well, the deck I found for you today, I'm hoping, is able to eschew all of these problems. Take a look.

DECKID=1202094

This isn't the first deck of Magic Online user Pr0xies that I've played. You might also remember the BUG Control list of his I piloted with Reap Intellect, which I was a huge fan of and tweaked for several weeks following. Needless to say, it seems like Pr0xies and I are both fans of trying to utilize the underappreciated cards and strategies in a format.

That being said, yes, there are four Disciple of Deceit in this Modern deck, and it's super exciting. But I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Let's take a look at how they perform in the deck, and then we'll explain why they seem to be in here.

Esper Aggro vs. Splinter Twin

Esper Aggro vs. UR Pyromancer

Esper Aggro vs. Monogreen Infect

Esper Aggro vs. Esper Mill

As I was alluding to earlier, the deck is basically an Esper version of GW Hatebears, but it feels a lot like Caw-Blade. Lingering Souls are basically just Squadron Hawks (a similarity some people pointed out a week or so ago when I actually played Caw-Blade). Disciple of Deceit is basically just Stoneforge Mystics. Well...kind of. Sure, this is a huge stretch, but let's take a look at why we can even joke about this.

While Disciple of Deceit never triggered in any of our games, it always had a target on its head. While this isn't a good thing, it is a good sign. It means that we're putting the fear into our opponent. Let's take a look at some of the cards (some silver bullets) that Disciple can tutor up.

1 mana = Gravecrawler, Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize, Vapor Snag.
2 mana = Snapcaster Mage, Bloodghast, Tidehollow Sculler, Victim of Night, Smallpox.
3 mana = Dismember, Lingering Souls, Sword of Feast and Famine, Sword of Fire and Ice, Xathrid Necromancer.

I didn't mention Disciple of Deceit in the two mana spot because typically if we're tutoring a card up, we already have one in play. Typically. The three most ideal choices to discard to Disciple are Gravecrawler, Bloodghast, and Lingering Souls. These are all cards that gain a tremendous amount of value from being in the graveyard, and don't even feel like discards most of the time. They allow is to search out one of two Swords, a discard spell, a bounce spell, a removal spell; pretty much any card in the deck except for lands. (That is how the tutoring words after all.)

The reason the deck is reminiscent of GW Hatebears is that it plays a ton of disruption to deal with not only the multiple combo decks in the format but also the slower midrange decks. You can basically kill, discard, or bounce anything that tends to get in your way, while swinging for increments of two. Also, if you're able to search up a Sword, you're often able to find protection from any color the opponent is likely to be playing (aside from white of course, but boy are Sword of Light and Shadow and Sword of War and Peace tempting).

As I was saying with Disciple of Deceit, we have a ton of redundancy in creatures, and we have plenty of things to discard. The four Gravecrawler/four Bloodghast/four Lingering Souls are not only super good to discard or sacrifice to Smallpox, they're also really great at attacking and winning games for us. In addition to the four Tidehollow Sculler, Mutavault is also a great way to get back our Gravecrawlers. In our match against Jacob Van Lunen piloting Monogreen Infect, he commented, "the only reason this deck is able to win is because no one is playing Lingering Souls!" The card is really good and not very common right now. Does everyone remember when Jund was splashing white just to play it, then people had to start playing Thundermaw Hellkite to deal with the tokens? These are all super resilient creatures, and I couldn't help but laugh in our game against the mill deck where three Bloodghasts got milled, then one more Bloodghast and two Gravecrawlers. Twelve power, coming your way!

The sideboard is also pretty sweet as it has ten one-ofs that are meant to be found with Disciple of Deceit. I felt like there were enough cards that overlapped in usage that they didn't really feel like one-ofs. For example, Extirpate, Withered Wretch, and Nihil Spellbomb taking out graveyards. The sideboard was filled with multiple ways to accomplish the goals you wanted to accomplish, and while it didn't have more than one of most of the cards, it did have more than one way to perform the same actions, if you get my drift.

The upcoming PTQ season is Modern and I'm scouring the format for a deck to play during it. I'm not sure if this is it, but it felt right playing it, and I think it has enough pressure and disruption to compete with some of the big boys, perhaps with a little tweaking. If you get the chance, give it a try and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading and I'll see you on Thursday!

Frank Lepore
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