I've said it before, but every week I worry about finding a sweet Modern brew, and every week one shows up. This week I'm taking a look at an aggro deck like none I've ever seen. The Modern format is chock to the brim with Burn decks, and today we're playing a deck that actually capitalizes on that fact. It's a little bit Infect, and a little bit Burn, and a little bit Zoo. I'm sure you're "immensely" curious as to what I mean by that, so take a look for yourself...
This deck is like nothing I've seen before in Modern. Magic Online user __matsugan took the list to a 4-0 finish in a Daily Event and I'm not really surprised. If you thought Become Immense was good in Infect, wait until you see it used with your double strike creature. I mean, technically it's probably just as good, considering infect is basically like double strike, but you get the point. Let's take a look at some games then we can go into what makes the deck tick.
Shadow Aggro vs. Soul Chamber
Shadow Aggro vs. Splinter Twin
Shadow Aggro vs. UB Control
Shadow Aggro vs. Abzan Midrange
The super interesting thing about the deck is that it actually rewards you for taking damage. The bigger our Death's Shadows are the better off we are. The deck is full of other one-drops that can also pull their weight, however. When Monastery Swiftspear is the weakest one-drop in your deck, that kind of says something. But make no mistake, in combat Monastery Swiftspear basically adds a point of damage onto every spell in the deck, from Lightning Bolt to Mutagenic Growth. It can also enable ferocious with a single Mutagenic Growth and that's all we're really looking for.
Last week Seth Manfield went over a few Standard decks that took advantage of Temur Battle Rage. Well this deck is looking to do the same thing in Modern, in conjunction with a huge Death's Shadow and something like Become Immense. At a certain point even Mutagenic Growth will get the job done, as you could see in the videos, but Temur Battle Rage and Become Immense are definitely the stars of the show.
Mishra's Bauble and Street Wraith are two of the weirdest cards in the deck, make no mistake. They're uses are quite linear. For the Bauble, its only purpose is to pump Monastery Swiftspear and add a card to the graveyard for delving Become Immense. For the Street Wraith the only purpose is to deal ourselves damage so that the Death's Shadow can come down and start...doing its shadowing. It also adds a card for delve. I have yet to play a game with the list where you are actually able to cast a Street Wraith. I'm not sure if there are better options than these; maybe a Gut Shot or Apostle's Blessing? But the card draw from both is helpful since they're essentially pseudo-blanks in the deck that do don't do anything but provide resources.
One change I could consider making is to swap the maindeck Gitaxian Probes for Thoughtseize. I'm not 100% on this, but this seemed like the most obvious swap when sideboarding. They both deal you two damage and give you a good look at the opponent's hand. Only Thoughtseize denies them a card while Gitaxian Probe nets you a card (and a mana, technically speaking). Some matches you simply don't need Thoughtseize, so I can see this change being unnecessary. While Gitaxian Probe might seem strictly better than Street Wraith since we're not casting the latter, being able to cycle at instant speed during combat or in response to a removal spell is actually very relevant. They are quite similar however, as they both put a card in the graveyard and draw us a card for two life.
Another thing I would probably add going forward is one more actual land over one of the fetch lands; specially a Godless Shrine and a Stomping Ground. There were times I wanted both of these lands based on the configuration of my hand, where I might have a Thoughtseize and a Steppe Lynx, or a Wild Nacatl and a Lightning Bolt. Additionally there was a game where I simply ran out of lands to find with my fetchlands. While this shouldn't happen too often, when Steppe Lynx is one of your primary threats, it might be a good idea to add a little more insurance against it.
This deck was sweet and I would argue that it rivals Infect for the speed of kills and the consistency. Only unlike Infect, the damage your opponent takes from their lands and things definitely matters. We also don't get blown out by -1/-1 effects the way Infect does. It's ironic that in a format full of Burn decks that we actually don't mind getting burned in the early turns. In fact, if we're able to get Death's Shadow to a 6/6 or greater, it becomes very hard for the Burn decks to kill it. And based on the power level of the deck and the cards at our disposal, it's often very easy to finish them off with several combinations of cards; just make sure you're keeping your life total in mind as you pay two for each Mutagenic Growth or what not.
That's about all I have for today. Be sure and join us in my daily stream today at 2 pm PST on Twitch.TV. Thanks for reading and I'll see you guys on Thursday with some sweet Standard action.
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Friday, starting at 2 pm PST