While the M15 Prerelease on Magic Online (and the release of new cards) isn't for another week and a half, Modern still continues to be Modern, which is to say an incredibly diverse format where new things are still possible.
Case in point? A reader named Jimi Brady contacted me this week and had the following to say:
"Hey man, I was just destroyed on turn three by this deck in a Modern queue. I don't have the cards on MTGO to build and use it, but I figured you might be interested in seeing it.
Duskmantle Guildmage's first ability + Mindcrank + any card that puts an opponent's card in the graveyard triggers an endless loop between the Guildmage and Mindcrank."
This was the deck he then sent me:
He then mentioned to me that the user's name who beat him was Sssight, so I definitely wanted to make sure he got his due credit. As you can see, this list is super unique, and I couldn't wait to test it out, especially considering it had 20 lands, 40 spells, and no spell that cost more than two mana.
Let's see what this crazy contraption was all about!
Mindcrank vs. Eternal Command
Mindcrank vs. RW Land Destruction
Mindcrank vs. American Control
Mindcrank vs. Monoblack Discard
Our record of 2-2 was not ideal, but I felt super comfortable about losing against the two fringe decks (discard and land destruction) and winning against the two more established decks (UWR and RUG). The deck was definitely a force to be reckoned with when it worked, which could even be as early as turn three, but there were definitely some things I would fix, as well as some things you should know before charging into battle with it.
- Both a card hitting the graveyard from anywhere or damage being dealt is a way to trigger your combo. At first I thought it was just a card hitting the graveyard, but because the combo is sort of "I help you, you help me," it doesn't matter which happens first since it's back and forth. This means that so long as you have a Gut Shot or a Vapor Snag or a Ghost Quarter you can go off.
- Once you activate the ability of Duskmantle Guildmage, if you have a Mindcrank in play the game is pretty much over. As you can tell from the videos, at first I was afraid that they would kill the Guildmage in response to us activating the ability...but he doesn't need to be alive! You can tell a few of our opponents might have thought that as well, as they tried to kill the Guildmage after we activated him; or maybe they just wanted their removal spell to hit the bin before the ability resolved. Either way, once his ability resolves, their fate is pretty much sealed.
Every card in the deck is either a combo piece, a way to get a combo piece, a way to protect the combo, or a way to enable the combo. Gut Shot, Vapor Snag, Ghost Quarter, Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Dimir Charm can enable the combo. Shred Memory, Muddle the Mixture, Duskmantle Guildmage, and Mindcrank are the combo or go get the combo. Aether Vial, Muddle the Mixture, Dimir Charm, Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Spellskite are all ways to protect the combo. The deck has an incredible amount of redundancy, but that's just great. Most good combo decks do.
After playing a few matches with the deck, I would definitely Remove the two Vapor Snag for two more land. Typically one of the main things Vapor Snag is going to do for us is buy time (unless we're using it as a win condition), and the only reason you need to buy time with the deck is because you need more lands. I get that the Vapor Snag also deals a damage to the opponent to start the combo, but we have a ton of cards that already do this, and if we have trouble hitting our third land drop, I don't see us hitting our fourth in order to both activate Duskmantle Guildmage and cast a Vapor Snag. There were too many times, I felt, where we just needed that one more land and we were way too excited to have drawn it.
The sideboard is a little interesting. You see, this is a kind of deck where so many parts matter. We also have a ton of maindeck ways to stop most disruption (discard, Spellskite, Muddle the Mixture) so there often didn't seem to be anything that was better for us to bring in than what we already had. I never had anything I wanted to take out for something like Echoing Truth or Grafdigger's Cage, but I can see the uses for each of the cards like that. Well, except Phyrexian Revoker. I assume he's good against Birthing Pod. One thing that would be nice is another answer to something like Pithing Needle, or an opposing Phyrexian Revoker. It's very hard to win through that.
This is one of the more interesting decks I've seen in Modern, and it's a huge testament to the kind of things you can do within the format. While this deck might not be tier one (or it might be; who knows?), the fact that it exists and can win as early as turn three is fantastic. I don't mean fantastic because it shuts people out of the game so early, but rather fantastic because there was a turn three combo in the format that no one even really noticed. That's so crazy! That's how large Modern is and I think this says a ton about the format. Ultimately I'm really glad Jimi Brady showed it to me, and I'm thankful to Sssight for creating it.
That's about it. Thanks for reading, and I'll be back this Thursday with my Top 10 Sleepers from Magic 2015, so be sure and check that out.
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV