About a year ago I played a Slivers deck in Modern that had put up some decent results. I hadn't seen nor heard anything about the archetype since then, which surprised me because the deck felt powerful when I played it, and it was nowhere near as boring as decks like R/G Tron, Scapeshift, or Amulet Bloom. Now don't get me wrong, none of these decks were boring when they first appeared; they simply ended up that way after months and months and months of playing against them. Keep in mind this is only my personal opinion, and the reason I attempt to bring new decks to your computer screens week after week. Because seriously, is anyone thrilled when they see their opponent lead with an Urza land? I didn't think so.
About three weeks ago Adam Bowman decided to wake the Sliver archetype from its year-long slumber with a Top 8 appearance at the Modern Open in Cincinnati. This was the list he used.
As you can see there were definitely some differences from his list and the one I played, most notable being Collected Company which hadn't yet been printed when I played the deck back in December. There were some other very distinct changes as well, but I'd like to cover those after we see how the deck performs, along with some of the details I noticed while playing the deck.
Let's take a look.
Slivers vs. Amulet Bloom
Slivers vs. White Enchantments
Slivers vs. R/G Tron
Slivers vs. Scapeshift
With the deck from a year ago I was pretty underwhelmed with cards like Striking Sliver, Homing Sliver, Virulent Sliver, and Harmonic Sliver in the maindeck. It's nice to see that these are all gone in favor of things like Diffusion Sliver, a single Syphon and Darkheart Sliver, and Blur Sliver, which was just awesome any time we had it in play. Especially in conjunction with Manaweft Sliver, Telekinetic Sliver, or any of our "lord" Slivers, since we could attack for big numbers. Sentinel Sliver was also an amazing addition for the same reason as Blur Sliver. It allowed us to attack with our team and still keep up Sliver mana from Manaweft Sliver, or tap things down with Telekinetic Sliver.
I also like that we shaved the Abrupt Decay down to two copies. The card is one of the best removal spells in the format, but we only have five lands that actually allow us to cast it...and we'd need two of them! Otherwise we're reliant on Manaweft Sliver.
While playing I felt like there was a point where I wanted a Stomping Ground in the deck so that I could cast things like Sedge Sliver or Blur Sliver if necessary, but I'm not so sure. Those are the only things the land could cast and considering we have four Cavern of Souls and four Sliver Hive, our manabase might be better suited finding lands that can tap for Abrupt Decay. I could, however, see finding room for one Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. I feel like I say this about every deck, but being able to add black mana with things like Mutavault or any of the aforementioned colorless lands seems great. It also turns on our Sedge Sliver by itself and let's every land in play regenerate a Sliver, which seems huge.
The deck is obvious weak to things like Pyroclasm and Firespout, so we kept fearing those even though they only hit us in the fourth match. It's actually possible for us to get out of range of them, making our guys 4/4s and 5/5s, but it's tricky because the deck suffers from the same problem that most aggro decks do: a shortage of mana. You don't want too many lands, because then you're drawing more lands than 2/2 creatures, but if you're only drawing 2/2 creatures, you can be limited to playing one per turn. It's a delicate balance, and we were occasionally stuck with three lands and nothing but two-mana creatures.
Despite all of its shortcomings, the deck was a blast to play and, like a combo deck, it can practically win out of nowhere. There would be situations where we had two 2/2s in play, then we would cast a haste sliver, a lord sliver, and cheat another lord in with Aether Vial to deal something ridiculous like 20 damage. (I think we'd have five 4/4s there!)
I definitely recommend the deck if you're looking for some new and fun to try out that also happens to be competitive and somewhat difficult to play against. Slivers fit the bill there. Outside of Cavern of Souls ($37) and Aether Vial ($31), the deck is actually extremely cheap for Modern. Unfortunately, however, those cards are pretty good in the deck.
As you may have noticed, this week begins Conley's Battle for Zendikar set review! I'll be back on Thursday with my Top 10 Sleepers in Battle for Zendikar to mull over; be sure not to miss it so you can tell me how wrong I am with my choices! Ha! (You rarely do miss it, though.) In the meantime be sure and check out my podcast, Freshly Brewed, with Ali Aintrazi. You can subscribe through iTunes or help us out over on our Patreon. Thanks for reading and I'll see ya soon!
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Freshly Brewed Podcast with Ali Aintrazi (available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio)