Ah, it's good to be back! To say I was surprised by the amount of feedback I received due to missing a couple weeks of Modern Monday would be an understatement. You guys apparently really like this column! Unfortunately the week before last I was at PAX Prime and took some days off resulting in a missed article. And last week was Labor Day!
Alas, don't worry, Modern Monday is still a thing. There were just a couple of weeks that didn't seem to work out.
Now that we're back, what on Earth are we playing? Funny you should ask! I was actually stumped as to what I should play this week despite missing a couple of weeks. As is always the case, however, as soon as I went to do videos, three or four unique lists popped up to make my choice go from nonexistent to fairly difficult.
In the end I decided to go with the list that I had already begun writing about. For those who don't know, our own Michael J. Flores and Patrick Chapin have a podcast called Top Level Podcast. Recently the pair could be found extolling the virtues of one Abbot of Keral Keep, even comparing the card to the infamous Snapcaster Mage! But could such an outlandish comparison ever be accurate?
Well, Patrick Chapin seemed to think so, and his 8-1 record on Day 1 of Grand Prix Oklahoma City seemed to back the bold claim up. I believe this was the deck he was piloting.
This is definitely a unique one. While I am rarely a fan of tempo decks such as this one, I couldn't resist the allure of trying out the full playset of Abbot of Keral Keep along with unique cards like Rancor or Seal of Fire. Let's get a feel for the deck before we go into individual choices, along with what does and doesn't seem to work.
Wow this deck was sweet. Which is ironic for me to think so because it plays very similarly to a Delver list, and I typically hate Delver lists! I guess the opposite side of that coin is that I love Snapcaster Mage, and Abbot of Keral Keep is kind of like Snapcaster Mage four through seven. The card is definitely a powerful one, and one of my biggest issues in both Standard and now Modern is choosing when to play the two-drop. I never want to play the Abbot on turn two because we get zero value out of him. But I don't want to wait either because then we miss what could be a crucial attack. I still don't know the correct choice, but I know that Chapin's addition of four Mishra's Bauble and four Gitaxian Probe make it much easier to run out the Abbot on turn two and still hit a free card. This is huge and also what makes the card so good in the deck: turning Abbot into a 2/1 prowess cantrip.
One card that I was utterly blown away by was Rancor. Not only does it trigger prowess on its own, the trample is huge in this format with all the 1/1 tokens and chump blockers. You could even kill something like a Tasigur, the Golden Fang with the addition of any one mana spell in your deck. And the best part is that the Rancor is going to keep coming back!
Much of the deck is pretty self-explanatory, but I felt like everything had its uses at one point or another, from Remand to Izzet Charm to Vapor Snap. Obviously cards like Mishra's Bauble and Gitaxian Probe are necessary evils meant to make Abbot of Keral Keep as good as it can be, but they also keep the velocity in the deck extremely high and interact favorably with both Monastery Swiftspear and Tarmogoyf as well (providing a much needed artifact for our graveyard).
Even though Chapin seemed to drop to exactly 64th place on Day 2 (still a Top 64!) of the Grand Prix, I would not be surprised to see this deck become a legitimate strategy in Modern. I was already impressed with the comparison of Abbot of Keral Keep to Bloodbraid Elf, and I think we're just beginning to scratch the surface of the little red monk.
Despite filling my video slot with our Battle for Zendikar preview last week, I'll be back on Thursday with some sweet Standard action, so be sure and tune in then. In the meantime you can 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!
@FrankLepore // FrankLepore on Twitch
Freshly Brewed Podcast with Ali Aintrazi (available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio)