I had been all excited to record Modern videos this week, and I was looking forward to trying out a new combo deck. I hit the eight-player queues with the Ad Nauseam Unlife and I fell flat on my face. I kept trying, but I simply couldn't get anything going, not even reach a finals. I felt like I had no decisions to make, and I was very robotically setting up and executing my combo, which was not the fun I was hoping for. While decks like Splinter Twin and Birthing Pod offer multiple lines of play, the Ad Nauseam deck is completely linear. This also makes the deck quite easy to play against, as it has very little counterplay and made my hands essentially-face up to any prepared opponent.
My opponents had plenty of ways to interact with me, like discard, Counterspells, and Abrupt Decay, and when they did have it, it was hard to beat. Even worse was after sideboard, when people brought in all sort of incidental hate cards, things like Rule of Law and Meddling Mage, or they ruined my mana with Ancient Grudge or Stony Silence and brought my combo to a grinding halt. I even lost a game to Bogles because if an opponent gains enough life then Ad Nauseam can't win without turning to something clunky like Laboratory Maniac. Without acceleration, the minimum five mana needed for the Ad Nauseam combo means it is too slow to beat the average opponent. Worst of all was the plethora of narrow and often useless cards I would draw: real gems, cards like Conjurer's Bauble, Simian Spirit Guide, Gemstone Mine, and even Gemstone Caverns. I knew I had to move on.
I was planning on talking about why you should consider the Ad Nauseam deck, but based on my bit of research, I'd say avoid it. Modern has shifted towards a top-tier metagame comprised of multi-faceted combo decks fighting against other combo decks and hyper-efficient fish-like decks, and unfortunately the Ad Nauseam deck falls prey to opposing interaction but offers up very little relevant interaction of its own, nor does it have a plan B of any sort or a shell capable of meaningful transformation after sideboard. This deck was fringe when it existed in the past metagames, and fringe it will remain.
I went back to the drawing boards, but I knew that I would be unsatisfied if I went towards another linear combo deck, because all the other known options, things like the Amulet of Vigor deck or some sort of Goryo's Vengeance deck, were going to have the same problems as the Ad Nauseam deck. Before sleep my mind drifted towards Monoblue Urzatron, since Tron is one of my all-time favorite decks, and my videos with UW Tron went over well when I did them last month.
The next day I went searching for a new deck, and to my luck the decklists from last weekend's Magic Online Modern Premier events had been posted. Finishing second in the first Premier Event posted was a very interesting graveyard-abusing Dredgevine deck, complete with the actual Dredge mechanic:
Frank Lepore did videos on Modern Dredgevine just before the banning of Deathrite Shaman, and he said, "luckily for us, let me just say that I personally don't think Dredgevine losing Deathrite Shaman is going to cripple the deck too heavily."
It looks like Frank was spot on with his assessment, because Dredgevine is putting up real results months after the banning. In fact, I'd argue that Dredgevine is better now than before the banning, because Deathrite Shaman was such a strong incidental hate card against Dredgevine that its removal from the format provides greater benefit to the deck than the cost of not being able to play the card in its own strategy.
With Deathrite Shaman gone, the deck has adopted the Dredge creatures Golgari Thug and Stinkweed Imp, which vastly increases the potential power level of the deck. I'm not going to tackle Dredgevine today, though perhaps Frank will take another look at it in the future. The deck certainly seems viable.
The next Premier Event results showed Monoblue Tron reaching the finals, so I knew that's what I had to record myself playing this week. The decklist is courtesy of shoktroopa, an old friend that has been playing Monoblue Tron in Modern since the beginning of the format, and he's been winning consistently the entire time. I looked deeper and found that in this particular event shoktroopa did not lose a single game all tournament until the semifinals.
Here's video of me piloting this masterpiece through the first Modern 8-player queue I entered:
Round 1 vs. Merfolk
Round 2 vs. Bogles
Round 3 vs. American Control
Round three was quite involved, and the game I lost seemed like it was quite winnable had I used my mana a bit more efficiently and played more carefully around his potential actions. Game three, of course, was in the bag!
Monoblue Tron performed just as I'd hoped, and I can't wait to play it again. Blue Tron decks are not well-popularized in Modern, but they have a lot of potential. Monoblue Tron is also one of the most budget competitive options in the entire format, costing just a fraction of the decks filled with trademark staple rares of the format.
Anyone have experiences with the deck they would like to share? Any questions? Leave a comment!