I know what you're thinking: "Man, two Collected Company decks in the same week! That's just ridiculous." Or maybe it's more like, "Man, two Collected Company decks in the same week! That's just awesome!" No matter which way you lean, you have to accept that Collected Company is definitely having a sizable impact on several formats. Even the unbeatable Seth Manfield wrote about the card's impact in Modern earlier this week.
When Adam Yurchick submitted his Deck of the Week segment for this week's TCGplayer newsletter, he covered the 4C Collected Company list that came out of Grand Prix Paris, with the following note:
"This deck seems tailor-made for a Frank Lepore video :)"
Little did he know I was way ahead of him and I agreed completely. For the uninitiated, this is the deck in question:
As we mentioned, Yohan Dudognon managed to make Top 16 with this list at Grand Prix Paris this past weekend. There was another Collected Company list in the Top 8, but this one was far more exciting version, grabbing everyone's attention in the following days.
I knew the deck was powerful from the few games I played with on my stream earlier in the week, and with cards like Savage Knuckleblade, Mantis Rider, and Goblin Rabblemaster, I couldn't wait to try it out again.
4C Collected Company vs. Abzan Control
4C Collected Company vs. Dragonflayer
4C Collected Company vs. 4C Collected Company
4C Collected Company vs. GW Collected Company
The deck is definitely sweet and it actually reminded me a lot of the All Creatures deck I played in Modern a couple months back. With things like Savage Knuckleblade, Mantis Rider, and Fleecemane Lion, the color distribution seems to have a lot in common. Both decks are basically playing some of the best creatures at their specific casting costs, and I kind of wish we had an efficient way to play black cards, as this deck seems custom made for a set of Siege Rhinos.
One interesting tidbit: I was playing the deck over on my daily Twitch stream on Monday and I actually had someone in the chat that said he spoke to Yohan and that Yohan said he would make the following changes to the deck after having played the deck at the Grand Prix.
-1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion-4 Goblin Rabblemaster-1 Ojutai's Command
+3 Heir of the Wilds+1 Hidden Dragonslayer+1 Stoke the Flames+1 Stormbreath Dragon
Obviously I have no way to verify these changes without asking Yohan himself, nor do I have any reason to believe the viewer was lying, but I would love to get confirmation. Either way, the changes seemed to make sense. The reason I was told they were made was that we have few ways to deal with Stormbreath Dragon; I wasn't terribly sold on that reasoning though, as we're removing two ways to deal with the Dragons (Ojutai's Command and Elspeth, Sun's Champion) and only kind of adding two different answers in return (Stoke the Flames and Stormbreath Dragon). I won't argue that Stormbreath Dragon isn't a more aggressive threat for the deck, and that Heir of the Wilds isn't great against things like Sylvan Caryatid or opposing Savage Knuckleblades.
Honestly, I kind of like the changes, despite how powerful Goblin Rabblemaster is and how good he is in conjunction with Stoke the Flames, of which we're adding a fourth. I don't, however, like the possibility of hitting Hidden Dragonslayer off of a Collected Company since its trigger won't trigger and we'd be stuck with an unimpressive 2/1 lifelinker.
Elspeth is another card I was reluctant to cut. She's a one-of and she costs six mana, but she's pretty game-breaking when she comes down. She's great at breaking stalemates and the deck is often aggressive enough that when she comes down she locks things up pretty handily for us.
As much as I love Ojutai's Command in theory, in practice is was typically a little too slow for us to utilize effectively. I like having one for its versatility, but even so, I still think we might be able to find something a little better for that slot. This deck is tapping out to play one or two creatures nearly every turn, and you rarely want to take more than one turn off to keep up Ojutai's Command mana, making it somewhat awkward in certain situations.
One thing I will say about the deck is that it's quite possibly one of the most difficult I've played in quite some time. Control decks are typically easier to pilot as you have fewer options than you do here in terms of mana, creatures, and abilities. The fact that certain lands produce certain colors and so many of our spells cost only colored mana means that we often get to play one of two spells a turn, with or without abilities, and we have to map out our turns quite thoroughly.
Will I play a Mantis Rider and a Dromoka's Command? What are my modes? Will I play Savage Knuckleblade instead? What about Fleecemane Lion and a three-drop? Will I activate monstrous next turn? If so, will I be able to cast anything else? How much mana will I have if I unmorph Rattleclaw Mystic and how many spells can I play? How many things will have haste? What lands do I need to play in what order to cast the cards in my hand most efficiently?
These are just some of the questions that I had to ask myself, game after game, and it's the reason that a lot of my matches had moments where I simply had to go into the tank for a bit to find the best play. The deck is incredibly fun and powerful, but it's surprisingly dense strategically and I think this is the reason the deck is going to reward the better pilot.
Well, that's about it for today. As always thanks for reading and I'll catch you on Monday, this time with some actual Modern! And be sure to tune in to my stream on Twitch; it's always a good time!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Thursday afternoons