The Unburial Rites / Gifts Ungiven combo in Modern has been something that has blown my mind since the first time I stumbled upon it. The fact that you could only tutor for two cards with Gifts Ungiven was something of a revelation. Who would ever want to do that? In what situation would this ever come up? It reminds me of the quote I heard Antonino DeRosa say about Intuition once:
"So, can you cast Intuition and search for three different cards? Cause I've never seen anyone do that before..."
Well, Unburial Rites was the answer. The basis of the combo relies upon you selecting just two cards with Gifts Ungiven: the Unburial Rites itself and a big, cheaty creature like Iona, Shield of Emeria or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. The two cards in conjunction act like a reanimator strategy in Modern, though where you would usually need a reanimation spell and a way to get a creature into your graveyard (Entomb, etc.), Gifts Ungiven fulfills both needs in one card.
To say I was fond of the interaction would have been an understatement. And yet...I had never played the deck before. Strange, right? I imagine it stems from the fact that, despite the combo being quite powerful and extremely cool, the strategy was pretty common in reality, and my goal with Modern Monday is often to expose you guys to new and unique decks.
Well, when I saw four Jace, Vryn's Prodigy in the following list, in Modern no less, I felt it was finally time.
Yes, Magic Online user LoveConnection managed a 4-0 finish with this list, complete with four of the latest iteration of our favorite blue planeswalker. There were definitely some other interesting inclusions, like a maindeck Dispel, a single Goryo's Vengeance, and only two Gifts Ungiven, but who was I to question things like this before trying the deck out?
Let's see how it works.
Unburial Gifts vs. Elves
Unburial Gifts vs. White Enchantments
Unburial Gifts vs. R/G Tron
Unburial Gifts vs. Amulet Bloom
Yup, still not thrilled whenever I play against Tron or Amulet Bloom. They're just not very fun. Your window for dealing with their strategy is simply so small and if you miss even a single turn of applying pressure, you'll probably lose.
My biggest question in each of the games was why there weren't four copies of Gifts Ungiven. This was our main plan and, even though we have four Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to filter some, I would still prefer the remaining copies of Gifts in the deck. In fact I would not mind exchanging the random Dispel for one as it can actually be dead in certain matches. I also didn't think we needed four copies of Lingering Souls, but who knows?
One of the other issues I had was that typically your Gifts Ungiven decks have one Day of Judgment, one Wrath of God, and one Supreme Verdict, so you're guaranteed to get one against the decks you need them with Gifts Ungiven. With only Supreme Verdict and Wrath of God in the sideboard, this isn't possible. Unless we're grabbing a Snapcaster Mage as well, in which case it's going to cost us six mana.
I also wasn't terribly fond of the one-of Goryo's Vengeance either. I mean, reanimating Iona for a single turn doesn't do much aside from deal seven damage, and I would really prefer to permanently Reanimate Elesh Norn. I wasn't entirely sure about the inclusion of this card, especially since we only have two legendary creatures in the entire deck. The alternative is to Reanimate a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, loot, then flip him into a planeswalker, which makes him a "new card" and immune to the exiling effect of Goryo's Vengeance.
The biggest issue I had with the deck was that it had zero enchantment or artifact removal in the entire 75. Sure, we have Stony Silence against things like Affinity or Tron, but what if our opponent plays a Blood Moon? What if they have something like, I don't know, Sphere of Safety? I mean we did end up playing against that enchantment deck twice in the past two weeks. How about Amulet of Vigor or Rest in Peace?
While I certainly didn't hate the deck, I did think there were definitely some card and number changes I would make. The biggest draw for me was the fact that the deck had four Jace in it, which just goes to show that the two-drop is the real deal. He's seeing more and more play in formats like Modern and Legacy and I don't actually expect that to slow down anytime soon. The ability to loot has always been a good one and, in a format like Legacy, you can easily get Jace to flip on turn three which is an insane advantage.
This week I'll probably write about a Sultai deck I've been brewing up with Battle for Zendikar since I haven't really seen anything like it show up so far. Unfortunately Battle for Zendikar doesn't show up on Magic Online until this weekend, so no new cards until then. 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!
@FrankLepore // FrankLepore on Twitch // FrankLepore on YouTube
Freshly Brewed Podcast with Ali Aintrazi (available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio)