If someone told me I would be playing a deck with Rally the Ancestors in it two weeks in a row, I would have laughed in their face.
And yet here we are...I guess the joke is on me.
The deck I've picked for today was one shown to me by Melissa. I believe it was shown to her at work by fellow R&D member Sam Stoddard and she suggested I try it out for my videos today. Take a look.
At first I was super excited about a deck that included Assault Formation, but then I realized that it was actually another Rally the Ancestors deck! Man, that card must be some kind of slumbering giant for it to be popping up so often.
While the deck doesn't take advantage of the full suite of Assault Formation, it does include such hits as Wall of Mulch, Jeskai Barricade, and Wall of Essence. This provides a total of ten 0/4 creatures that can block-but-not-survive an encounter with a Siege Rhino. But perhaps there's more to them than that. Let's take a look...
Assault Formation vs. Red Deck Wins
Assault Formation vs. Abzan Rally
Assault Formation vs. Monored Tempo
Assault Formation vs. GW Devotion
What I ended up realizing after playing the deck for a few rounds is that it's fairly similar to the Abzan Rally deck I played last week. I also thought it was quite comical to see that deck show up against me in the third round; maybe we're onto something here. On the bright side we did win that match, so it kind of felt like we were fighting with the upgraded version.
The walls are all very complex. While I wish they were more like Wall of Omens or Wall of Blossoms, they all do something that progresses our game plan. Except Wall of Essence. That's probably the weakest of the bunch unless we're playing against a red deck. Basically, what we want to do is use Jeskai Barricade to bounce the creatures that are returned to play with Rally the Ancestors so they don't get exiled and can be reanimated again, or use Wall of Mulch to Sacrifice the other walls that are returned to play and draw bunch of cards. All of this can be done on the upkeep as well, keep in mind. After you put the exiling Rally triggers on the stack, you're free to sacrifice your walls, bounce your Siege Rhinos, or exile your Nyx Weavers to get a card like Rally back.
Ideally, every time you rally, you'll either have a Purphoros, God of the Forge in play or in the graveyard. If it's in the graveyard, it may get exiled upon the first casting of Rally the Ancestors, so be mindful of that. The deck utilizes Purphoros as the win condition though so be careful. The sooner you can get him in play or in the graveyard, the better. The damage really adds up here, especially in conjunction with Siege Rhino.
The sideboard was kind of peculiar to me and I didn't really know how to approach it. I assumed that the Altar of the Broods were meant for the control matchups where you could easily mill them out, but damage should work just as effectively there. Maybe they're useful against GW Devotion and I just didn't get it, but it feels like they can overwhelm us faster than we can mill them. If anyone has any insight, feel free to chime in in the comments.
We did lose to Mastery of the Unseen, and we also lost an unrecorded match to Jeskai Ascendancy; this leads me to believe that we either want more Dromoka's Commands (which might be lacking due to availability on Magic Online) or a couple of Reclamation Sages in the board (which go great with Rally the Ancestors). As it stands, it felt like we were lacking a few tools for certain matchups. I would also consider adding a few more sweepers or even alternate sweepers.
The deck is super fun, and when you go off, you really go off, but I think it still needs a few tweaks. Maybe another Purphoros or two and maybe even cutting the Assault Formation altogether; it was rare that I had the time or mana to both cast and utilize the card effectively, unfortunately.
Alas, that's about all I have for today. Thanks for reading and I'll catch you guys either on my stream, or on Monday for some more Modern action.
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Thursday afternoons