The Splinter Twin combo etched itself into the history of Modern, and Magic: The Gathering overall, by winning the format's 2011 inaugural event, Pro Tour Philadelphia. From day one onward, Splinter Twin helped shape the metagame, blending blue control with a killer combo finish. It had counterspells to stop other combo decks, Lightning Bolt to kill creatures, and card selection to find whatever it needed. It could control the game as well as the best control decks, yet kill as fast as the fastest combo decks. This strategic flexibility made it a nightmare to play against. Opponents were forced to always respect a combo that might not be coming, as the deck was capable of playing a completely fair game and winning without it.

The deck was ultimately deemed too strong for the format, and it died with the ban of Splinter Twin in the first weeks of 2016. (I was a bit startled to realize that it has actually been banned longer than it was ever legal.) Yet this entire time, a very functional replacement for Splinter Twin has been readily available. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker was lying in wait, but never helped the deck make a real comeback. Until now.

A player piloting the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker version of this well-known strategy is having some incredible success on Magic Online, and I'm not the only person that has taken notice. Other players are starting to pick up the deck, and it's on the cusp of breaking out as the solution to this metagame.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Twinless Twin by Tiemuuu

'Twinless Twin' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Tiemuuu

Event:

Rank:

Modern

Market Price: $503.37

Cards

Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.72

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230465_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/island

Remand

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $4.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98768_200w.jpg

Counter target spell. If that spell is countered this way, put it into its owner's hand instead of into that player's graveyard.
Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-masters-2015/remand

Riverglide Pathway

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $2.86

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221822_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {U}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/zendikar-rising/riverglide-pathway

Minamo, School at Water's Edge

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $15.78

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/12093_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {U}.
{U}, {T}: Untap target legendary permanent.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/champions-of-kamigawa/minamo-school-at-waters-edge

Cryptic Command

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $18.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145338_200w.jpg

Choose two —
• Counter target spell.
• Return target permanent to its owner's hand.
• Tap all creatures your opponents control.
• Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/iconic-masters/cryptic-command

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $13.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145482_200w.jpg

Haste
{T}: Create a token that's a copy of target nonlegendary creature you control, except it has haste. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/iconic-masters/kiki-jiki-mirror-breaker

Ceremonious Rejection

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/122644_200w.jpg

Counter target colorless spell.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaladesh/ceremonious-rejection

Snapcaster Mage

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $37.95

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/179455_200w.jpg

Flash
When Snapcaster Mage enters the battlefield, target instant or sorcery card in your graveyard gains flashback until end of turn. The flashback cost is equal to its mana cost. (You may cast that card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ultimate-masters/snapcaster-mage

Reflecting Pool

Market Price: $20.68

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/83296_200w.jpg

{T}: Add one mana of any type that a land you control could produce.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/conspiracy/reflecting-pool

Flusterstorm

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $6.95

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145340_200w.jpg

Counter target instant or sorcery spell unless its controller pays {1}.
Storm (When you cast this spell, copy it for each spell cast before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/iconic-masters/flusterstorm

Aether Gust

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.47

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192535_200w.jpg

Choose target spell or permanent that's red or green. Its owner puts it on the top or bottom of their library.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/core-set-2020/aether-gust

Spell Snare

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.65

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/167820_200w.jpg

Counter target spell with converted mana cost 2.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/battlebond/spell-snare

Engineered Explosives

Market Price: $2.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218293_200w.jpg

Sunburst (This enters the battlefield with a charge counter on it for each color of mana spent to cast it.)
{2}, Sacrifice Engineered Explosives: Destroy each nonland permanent with converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on Engineered Explosives.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/double-masters/engineered-explosives

Cascade Bluffs

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $5.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219102_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{U/R}, {T}: Add {U}{U}, {U}{R}, or {R}{R}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/double-masters/cascade-bluffs

Opt

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215840_200w.jpg

Scry 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.)
Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/core-set-2021/opt

Archmage's Charm

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $3.53

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191041_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Counter target spell.
• Target player draws two cards.
• Gain control of target nonland permanent with converted mana cost 1 or less.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-horizons/archmages-charm

Magmatic Sinkhole

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191571_200w.jpg

Delve (Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting this spell pays for {1}.)
Magmatic Sinkhole deals 5 damage to target creature or planeswalker.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-horizons/magmatic-sinkhole

Crackling Drake

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212305_200w.jpg

Flying
Crackling Drake's power is equal to the total number of instant and sorcery cards you own in exile and in your graveyard.
When Crackling Drake enters the battlefield, draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2020/crackling-drake

Abrade

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227309_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Abrade deals 3 damage to target creature.
• Destroy target artifact.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-legends/abrade

Mystical Dispute

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.55

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198683_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a blue spell.
Counter target spell unless its controller pays {3}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/mystical-dispute

Lightning Bolt

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $1.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216484_200w.jpg

Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/lightning-bolt

Serum Visions

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $1.70

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128659_200w.jpg

Draw a card. Scry 2.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-masters-2017/serum-visions

Deceiver Exarch

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.33

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/132012_200w.jpg

Flash (You may cast this spell any time you could cast an instant.)
When Deceiver Exarch enters the battlefield, choose one —
• Untap target permanent you control.
• Tap target permanent an opponent controls.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-anthology/deceiver-exarch

Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.99

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230467_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/mountain

Valakut Awakening

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $2.82

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221774_200w.jpg

Put any number of cards from your hand on the bottom of your library, then draw that many cards plus one.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/zendikar-rising/valakut-awakening

Anger of the Gods

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $1.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145342_200w.jpg

Anger of the Gods deals 3 damage to each creature. If a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/iconic-masters/anger-of-the-gods

Flame Slash

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.34

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/121822_200w.jpg

Flame Slash deals 4 damage to target creature.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/conspiracy-take-the-crown/flame-slash

Oboro, Palace in the Clouds

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $59.74

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/12500_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {U}.
{1}: Return Oboro, Palace in the Clouds to its owner's hand.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/saviors-of-kamigawa/oboro-palace-in-the-clouds

Spirebluff Canal

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $6.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/122672_200w.jpg

Spirebluff Canal enters the battlefield tapped unless you control two or fewer other lands.
{T}: Add {U} or {R}.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaladesh/spirebluff-canal

Cleansing Wildfire

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/221913_200w.jpg

Destroy target land. Its controller may search their library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle their library.
Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/zendikar-rising/cleansing-wildfire

Relic of Progenitus

Market Price: $2.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118645_200w.jpg

{T}: Target player exiles a card from their graveyard.
{1}, Exile Relic of Progenitus: Exile all cards from all graveyards. Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/eternal-masters/relic-of-progenitus

Boil

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $3.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/11140_200w.jpg

Destroy all Islands.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/8th-edition/boil

Why Now?

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker has always been around to combo with Splinter Twin, but at the cost of an extra red mana. This translates to speed and consistency, and that's a big cost in Modern. Add the vulnerability to Lightning Bolt, which doesn't disrupt Deceiver Exarch going off with Splinter Twin, and you can maybe see why the downgrade wasn't good enough to compete.

But with the adoption of a handful of new cards over the past couple years, the shell around this combo has improved considerably. They've helped the deck evolve to exploit a metagame particularly vulnerable to the strategy, and look to have finally brought it to the next level.

After a near-miss 9th place finish in the Modern Players Tour Qualifier two weeks ago, streamer "tiemuuu" has gone on a complete tear with the deck. A successful 4-1 Preliminary run led to reaching the finals of a Modern Challenge, which is when I first took notice. But they've followed up with a top 4 Challenge run last Sunday, which was joined by a top 16 the day prior. And that's just the beginning—because now other players are being published playing the same list.

Breaking Down the Decklist

And what a list it is. The deck includes plenty of innovations that have helped it reach the top. From various new cards to some extreme sideboard tech, the deck has it all.

I'll start with the big one — yes, this is a blue deck that plays Boil. Currently, Boil is one of the strongest cards in all of Modern. It's effective against the various blue "Uro Pile" Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath control decks, but it's also a devastating hoser against land decks. These all include Dryad of the Ilsyian Grove, which makes their lands Islands and turns Boil into a one-sided Armageddon. It's simply a brutal card right now, and especially so out of a blue deck where it's supported by card selection and counterspells, and where opponents are least likely to expect it.

The deck is able to easily support Boil by keeping a minimum of Islands, giving up Scalding Tarn and Steam Vents, and loading up on alternative lands. This is made especially easy by the new inclusion of Riverglide Pathway, which is one reason we're seeing the deck and its Boil tech emerge now after Zendikar Rising. This wealth of alternative dual lands also helps make casting Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker easier than before, because its triple-red cost goes directly against its desire to cast Cryptic Command.

This flexibility in mana is even more important now that the deck has gone deeper into blue with Archmage's Charm. It's likely the most important pickup for the deck since it was first banned, because its flexibility is a perfect addition to a strategy built on the ability to shift its game plan at will. It can be a counterspell or even creature removal to disrupt the opponent when necessary, or pull ahead with card advantage when there's time. It really bolsters the deck throughout all stages of the game, especially with Snapcaster Mage providing a way to flash it back and stretch its impact.

Modern Horizons also brought a couple more nice pieces of disruption as minor quality of life updates. Magmatic Sinkhole adds a bigger creature removal spell, and more importantly a way to kill planeswalkers. Flusterstorm is particularly nice in a deck like this as a cheap and reliable way to protect the combo, so another joins in the sideboard.

It hasn't received as much attention as some of the flashier modal double-faced cards in Zendikar Rising, but Valakut Awakening is starting to make a name for itself in Modern, with this deck leading the way. It's a red card much like Thrill of Possibility, but it really feels like a blue card in disguise, especially with its instant-speed being such a good fit alongside them. The ability to turn extra lands, combo pieces, or disruption into something new is valuable, whether it's a whole hand or just a couple cards. This is all from a card that takes the place of a land, and that will find itself being played as such often.

The most innovative inclusion in the decklist, and one I love to see, is Crackling Drake. It proved good enough to be a Modern staple in the Izzet Arclight Phoenix deck that once dominated the format. While this deck doesn't take the same full advantage of it as a deck with Faithless Looting could, it has plenty of spells to boost its power and make it a real threat.

Crackling Drake belies the fact that this isn't a pure combo deck. It often wants to just grind down its opponent with card advantage and win with damage from things like Snapcaster Mage and Lightning Bolt. It plays that part perfectly, acting much like a Snapcaster Mage with its built-in card advantage. This is especially important when considering its synergy with Kiki-Jiki, which will generate an extra card when making a copy. Of course, this will often make enough power to just kill the opponent, so in some ways it can fill in as another combo piece.

On its own, Crackling Drake feels somewhat like Tarmogoyf, which was historically often splashed in Splinter Twin combo decks to make them even more midrange focused. There's real value in being able to just slap down a big threat to end the game quickly after disrupting the opponent.

In fact, it's important to understand that this particular strain of the Kiki-Jiki combo deck actually began as a pure control deck. Before they started crushing Modern with the combo deck, tiemuuu could be seen grinding it out with the "Blue Moon" Blood Moon control deck that has long been a minor part of the metagame. Thing in the Ice is the typical finisher for the deck, but it's just not reliable or powerful enough. It's not until they transitioned to the combo kill that they started really winning.

While it now has the combo, the deck is still built on this control foundation. There may be matchups and particular games where the combo comes to the forefront, but they tend to be an exception to the typical, more traditional game. Still, there's a real value in always threatening the opponent with it and keeping them honest. This is something the Blue Moon deck doesn't do, and that makes things much easier on the opponent.

The Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Beyond any new cards or innovations, the success of this deck can also be attributed to the Modern metagame, which is shaping up quite favorably.

The best matchups for Splinter Twin tended to be decks low on interaction, especially other combo decks, which were also very vulnerable to its counterspells. In current Modern that means the ""Oops! All Spells" that has emerged after Zendikar Rising. There's also been a big rise in the Selesnya Company deck with its Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Walking Ballista combo, which adds a vulnerability to Lightning Bolt and red removal. Lands decks like Amulet Titan and the rare Tron, its classic prey, also apply.

The weakest matchups tend to have the most disruption and aggression. Jund Midrange has never been a great matchup, but it has also really never been less popular. Izzet does have to contend with the current Jund and more commonly Rakdos Death's Shadow decks that have risen with Skyclave Scourge. They have less disruption and many more creatures vulnerable to Lightning Bolt and other removal, so these matchups are more favorable than the classic midrange ever was.

Things get really interesting against Modern's control decks—specifically, the Uro Piles. These matchups present fun and interactive battles. They ultimately have a better long-term control plan, but are also slower and able to be outmaneuvered by the combo deck. Backed by the threat of Boil, I'd be happy to be on the Izzet side.

Uro Piles

-4 Lightning Bolt
-1 Flame Slash
-1 Abrade
-1 Deceiver Exarch
-1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
+2 Boil
+2 Relic of Progenitus
+2 Aether Gust
+1 Flusterstorm
+1 Mystical Dispute

Rakdos Shadow

-2 Remand
-1 Deceiver Exarch
-1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
-1 Abrade
+2 Relic of Progenitus
+2 Engineered Explosives
+1 Anger of the Gods

Jund Shadow

-4 Remand
-1 Abrade
-1 Deceiver Exarch
-1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
+3 Aether Gust
+2 Engineered Explosives
+2 Relic of Progenitus

Heliod Company

-1 Crackling Drake
-1 Flusterstorm
-1 Abrade
+2 Engineered Explosives
+1 Anger of the Gods

Oops! All Spells

-4 Lightning Bolt
-1 Magmatic Sinkhole
-1 Flame Slash
+2 Relic of Progenitus
+2 Cleansing Wildfire
+1 Ceremonious Rejection
+1 Flusterstorm Amulet Titan

Amulet Titan

-2 Crackling Drake
-2 Spell Snare 
-2 Lightning Bolt 
-1 Flusterstorm 
+3 Aether Gust 
+2 Boil 
+2 Cleansing Wildfire 

Selesnya Lands

-2 Crackling Drake 
-2 Spell Snare 
-1 Flusterstorm 
+3 Aether Gust 
+2 Boil Izzet Blitz 
-4 Remand 
-1 Deceiver Exarch 
-1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker 
+3 Aether Gust 
+2 Engineered Explosives 
+1 Anger of the Gods 

Death and Taxes

-2 Remand 
-1 Flusterstorm 
+2 Engineered Explosives 
+1 Anger of the Gods 

Eldrazi Tron

-4 Lightning Bolt 
-1 Flusterstorm 
+2 Cleansing Wildfire 
+2 Engineered Explosives
+1 Ceremonious Rejection