Today we have a sweet one for you guys. It was shown to me by reader Stavros Hölbling and boy am I glad it was. I'm also glad it exists, because it once again proves to me that Modern is a breeding ground for innovation.
The list was played at Grand Prix Milan by Gabriele Schito of Italy. While he didn't finish in the money with the list, he did manage an impressive 7-1-1 record with the deck on Day One! Check it out and tell me it doesn't excite you.
Yes, that's right: Slivers! A deck that has popped up from time to time in Legacy, but never in Modern to my knowledge. As soon as Stavros made me aware of the deck I knew I had to try it out. I was super excited about the possibility of a Sliver deck in Modern, especially one that had some success at the Grand Prix level.
Let's check out the deck in action!
Slivers vs. Pyromancer Ascension
Slivers vs. Merfolk
Slivers vs. Scapeshift
Slivers vs. Melira Pod
As you might have been able to ascertain, Slivers is basically a parallel to Merfolk in Modern. We have eight two mana "lords" (Sinew Sliver and Predatory Sliver compared to Master of the Pearl Trident and Lord of Atlantis). We have four three mana "lords" (Sedge Sliver compared to Merrow Reejerey). But one major difference is that a lot of our creatures do things other than simply "be merfolk." While Merfolk is content to just attack and block for the most part, Slivers have some pretty unique abilities, like destroying permanents, Regeneration, and flying. That last one is the most relevant in my opinion; while Merfolk needs a land to be an Island, often via Spreading Seas, we have our evasion built into a creature!
We also have access to Sliver Hive, which is pretty huge. In any game that goes long, it can Threaten to create an army of little Sliver babies. Even when we're not activating the creature creating ability, it's a land that can cast any creature in our deck. Along with four Cavern of Souls, that's eight lands that tap for any color Sliver mana!
I had one issue that kept cropping up with the deck and that was Harmonic Sliver. I love the versatility and usefulness of the card, but here's the thing: when we have our own Aether Vial in play, or any one of our sideboard enchantments like Leyline of Sanctity, if we have a Harmonic Sliver in play after we've destroyed all of our opponent's artifacts or enchantments, we have to begin targeting our own with any subsequent Sliver that enters the battlefield! Any Sliver! It is not a "may" ability. This would make me consider leaving the Harmonic Slivers in the sideboard and bringing them in against decks like Affinity, or maybe even Birthing Pod. I especially wouldn't have a second one in the maindeck, not when we have two Homing Slivers as well to search them out. We also have Necrotic Sliver if we really need to destroy something.
Seeing as I was looking for a replacement, I looked through all of the Slivers that were legal in Modern and found the following that could be relevant:
- Blur Sliver- Bonescythe Sliver- Opaline Sliver- Shadow Sliver- Sliver Hivelord- Sliver Legion- Syphon Sliver- Thorncaster Sliver
Okay, Sliver Hivelord and Sliver Legion might be too expensive, but I had to include them. They're so sweet! And Legion acts as a veritable Overrun effect the turn you play it (and every turn after if it survives). Along with Thorncaster Sliver, five mana might be too expensive for the deck, but these are all worth noting, especially considering we have Manaweft Sliver to ease the cost. Shadow Sliver is a great one-of to search up if you can win the game, but your opponent has a problematic flier or two (as was the case sometimes with Linvala, Keeper of Silence). Double strike from Bonescythe is double strike, and I referred to wanting our Slivers to have haste quite a few times when I had a Manaweft Sliver out, so that's where I see Blur Sliver fitting in.
One thing we want to be careful of, however, is that old Slivers pump all Slivers, not just our own. This is a good reason to use things like Manaweft Sliver over Gemhide Sliver and Syphon Sliver over Essence Sliver, so opposing Mutavaults don't suddenly become these huge, versatile creatures.
After playing with the deck, I wasn't a huge fan of Virulent Sliver either. I loved it when I thought it had infect, but then I remembered that poison was basically a pre-neutered version of infect. The ability is only good when connecting with the opponent directly and often, if you're able to connect with a Sliver or Slivers ten times, you're probably going to win anyway. If I were to play the deck again, I would consider the following changes:
-2 Harmonic Sliver-2 Virulent Sliver
+1 Sliver Legion+1 Syphon Sliver+1 Striking Sliver+1 Thorncaster Sliver
As for the sideboard I was a little leery. After all, how were we going to cast any of these cards? Our only dual lands are one Watery Grave, one Godless Shrine, one Overgrown Tomb, and one Blood Crypt! While the issue came up occasionally, a lot of times we're relying on Manaweft Slivers for our sideboard spells. This is another reason I was interested in Blur Sliver: if we have a Swan Song in our hand with no blue mana, even if we draw a Manaweft Sliver, we'd have to wait another turn to get blue if we had no other Slivers on board. Not a huge issue, but sometimes it a little limiting.
I was definitely thrilled with this deck. It was a blast to play, infinitely customizable thanks to a ton of Slivers, and it was an aggressive tribal deck that felt as powerful as Merfolk, but wasn't Merfolk! These were all pluses for me. As far as Modern goes, the deck isn't even that expensive, which is great! If you guys have a way to do so, definitely try this one out. You won't regret it! That's about it. I'll be back on Thursday with an article on Christmas, so have a happy holiday and I'll see you then.
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV