I have to admit, the deck we're playing today is about four months old. It ended up winning a Grand Prix Trial at Grand Prix Kobe and my good friend Joakim ended up showing me the list after he found it. Kojima Tosihiro earned himself three byes (or was it two at that point?) by playing the deck in a Grand Prix Trial and I was immediately intrigued with any deck running Pride of the Clouds in Modern. Take a look at the deck and tell me you're not similarly curious.
Super interesting, right? While this deck was played back in August after M15 was released but before Khans came out, and truth be told I'm not even sure what Khans of Tarkir cards we could even add actually. Every time I see a deck like this I wonder what other obscure Modern-legal cards could have potential that no one ever tries. Well, I give Kojima huge props for actually playing Pride of the Clouds here, let alone winning his Grand Prix Trial.
Let's see how the deck performs and what makes it tick.
Pride of the Clouds vs. Sultai Midrange
Pride of the Clouds vs. Abzan Pod
Pride of the Clouds vs. BG Midrange
Pride of the Clouds vs. Return to the Ranks
So that's a thing! The deck is basically a white aggro deck with a ton of fliers and the ability to get a really big Pride of the Clouds, but despite the success we just had with the deck, I think we can tweak a good number of things.
For one, the mana base was actually a little rough as you could probably tell. We have four lands that don't actually tap for white or blue mana, and the Mystic Gate can't even be used by those lands, so we have a potential six lands we can draw in our opening hands that can't even produce white mana. This is huge considering that we have cards like Spectral Procession, Angel of Jubilation, and even Judge's Familiar that wants to come down on turn one. Mystic Gate is great for casting things like Cryptic Command and Gideon Jura in the same deck, but if we don't have any cards that cost double blue, Glacial Fortress is going to do the same thing: add two white mana in conjunction with another land that already produces white mana. Pendelhaven also seems pretty narrow considering we have seven pump spells that turn it off entirely.
-1 Island-2 Mystic Gate-1 Pendelhaven-1 Plains-1 Tectonic Edge
+4 Flooded Strand+2 Glacial Fortress
Some of the other card choices seemed a little off as well. I never wanted to spend a turn casting Gleam of Resistance (or even cycling it), and the average casting cost of our cards is super low, so Shining Shoal is never huge. Restoration Angel also seems weird. It can't actually blink any of the others Angels, so we can basically blink Pride of the Clouds and Squadron Hawks, which doesn't even do anything. While not an odd choice Judge's Familiar never really did anything extraordinary and was often one of the first cards to come out. Even the one-of Geist of Saint Traft seems pretty weird, but that's the deck I guess. If I had to make some changes based on our games, they would look something like this.
-1 Gideon Jura-1 Gleam of Resistance-4 Judge's Familiar-3 Restoration Angel-1 Shining Shoal
As for what I would add, Baneslayer Angel and Wingmate Roc were two fliers that I thought could prove useful, more so than Gideon Jura perhaps. Linvala, Keeper of Silence also seemed like a much better option than Restoration Angel. It shuts off so many relevant cards and strategies in the format. Treasure Cruise is also a card that seems like it could fit right in. We have a ton of tiny creatures that are dying, along with some token makers and the four Flooded Strands we just added. We could also use a way to refill our hand.
Unfortunately there aren't actually very many good one-drop fliers outside of Judge's Familiar. Most are just worse or have a drawback. This makes me think that maybe we should just be a deck that starts on turn two. Two two-drops that do intrigue me are Spellstutter Sprite and Serra Avenger, but I'm not sure if they fit. Gods Willing, however, is a great option that also lets us scry and aids in delving.
+1 Angel of Jubilation+2 Baneslayer Angel (or Wingmate Roc, if you want to try them out. Not as strong as Baneslayer in a vacuum, but should be easy to enable raid, and two bodies.)+1 Geist of Saint Traft+2 Gods Willing+2 Linvala, Keeper of Silence+2 Treasure Cruise
As for the sideboard, Mirran Crusader was an all-star and came in most games. Pollen Lullaby was an underperformer and was a card we never even considered. Everything else had some purpose, and Damping Matrix becomes a little redundant with our maindeck Linvala, so I would probably adjust to something like this:
-1 Damping Matrix-2 Engineered Explosives-3 Pollen Lullaby
+2 Stony Silence+1 Relic of Progenitus+3 Kor Firewalker
I'm not sure if that's perfect, but I think the changes would definitely help after the games we played. I can see uses for all of the cards we added, and the cards we removed just weren't as impressive. I could even see finding room for one Mistveil Plains in order to recur Squadron Hawks, but I would worry about having too many lands that enter the battlefield tapped. We could probably take out a Temple of Enlightenment for one. After all, we've actually upped our blue count with Flooded Strand and it would still leave us with 14 sources where we originally had 12.
Well, either way, that's about all I have for today. This deck was sweet and attacking with 7/7 Pride of the Clouds was no joke! The Modern format continues to impress me with decks like this, which, while they may not win Grand Prix or Pro Tours, always end up being reasonably competitive and a blast to play.
Thanks for reading and I'll catch you on Thursday!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV