The Team Italia archetype was coined by none other than Italian Magic pro Gerard Fabiano himself. While at first the name might not make sense - as the deck is black, white, and red and the Italian flag is red, white, and green - the deck isn't named so much after the country's colors, but rather it was Gerard simply wanting to pay tribute to his Italian heritage. (Or at least I think that's how the story goes.)
MTGO user hamfactorial managed to go 3-1 with the following list that resembles a Modern version of Team Italia in a Magic Online Daily Event.
The main idea behind the deck is to utilize cheap, efficient creatures and removal before eventually winning the game two to three damage at a time. This deck really stood out for me, not only because I have always loved the black/white/red color combination, but also because I love aggressively costed creatures that have game altering effects (Dark Confidant, Spirit of the Labyrinth, Gaddock Teeg, etc.; "hate bears" if you will). I also love some of the latest Born of the Gods additions, such as Spirit of the Labyrinth and Brimaz, King of Oreskos.
Now that we're familiar with the deck's premise, let's take a look at how it performs in the hostile Modern format.
Team Italia vs. Monoblue Control
Team Italia vs. Soul Sisters
Team Italia vs. BWR Burn
Team Italia vs. Krark-Clan Combo
I don't even know what that first game was, but the Leylines of Anticipation seemed a little over the top. Either way, I hope you guys don't fault the deck for my having to mulligan! Despite going 2-2 with the deck, I feel like it definitely has potential. That last match I kept a hand that was neither aggressive enough, nor interactive enough - I probably could have mulled to five, but I didn't really feel comfortable doing so - and that first match I kind of got stuck on lands after mulliganing to oblivion and having my lands actually stolen.
One of the things I love about the deck is the fact that it plays Dark Confidant. Despite being one of the strongest cards in the format, there just aren't that many decks that the great one finds his way into. He only deals you one damage if you end up drawing something like Bonfire of the Damned, and we even have Kitchen Finks to get back whatever life we may lose due to his ability. One caveat that impresses me is how well he plays with Spirit of the Labyrinth. The Spirit says that you can't "draw" more than one card per turn, but Dark Confidant doesn't actually make us "draw" cards; they're simply revealed and put into our hand. A small-but-relevant difference!
One of the best things about the deck is that six of our creatures are self-contained armies: Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Hero of Bladehold. These are hard for a lot of decks to deal with since Modern has a lot of cards that deal three damage and not four. When you consider the fact that our opponent has probably also wasted a portion of their removal on cards like Figure of Destiny, Kitchen Finks, or Dark Confidant, the odds that these haymakers stick gets even higher.
We also have some of the most efficient removal in the format, most of which costs one mana, in the form of Dismember, Lightning Bolt, and Path to Exile. Ironically enough, for the sake of Dark Confidant, Bonfire of the Damned also costs one mana, but we will never actually cast it for that price. I guess that's not really ironic, but it is rather cute; of course if we hit a Bonfire off of a Dark Confidant we then have to pay the full price, so whatever benefit we get in life, we lost in mana cost. Awk...ward...
Figure of Destiny is a fantastic little mana sink and a card we don't actually see used very often anymore. We probably won't get the little Kithkin up to his 8/8 stats very often, but becoming a 4/4 is pretty standard. The other awesome inclusion into the deck is Kitchen Finks, which is another resilient creature that fills two roles. The first is gaining us some much needed life, and the second is being...well, being resilient. But come on, I don't need to tell you why Kitchen Finks are good.
One of the scariest parts about the deck is mana. Not because our colors are that hard to get, but this is the kind of deck where you worry about taking six damage very early in the game just from your lands alone. Speaking of mana, the most mana intensive card in the deck is definitely Bonfire of the Damned. Bonfire of the Damned is an interesting inclusion. I'm not sure how often we're going to be able to miracle this, or for how much, but if the games I ended up playing tell me anything, it's that even Bonfiring for one or two is usually pretty good in Modern.
While Spirit of the Labyrinth's ability might not be handy all that often, there are plenty of times that decks are going to be sorely lacking in their card drawing because of the 3/1's ability. But the other main reason we're playing the spirit is just that: because it's a 3/1 for two!
I couldn't wait to give Brimaz, King of Oreskos a try, especially in Modern, but I do wish we had some form of protection in the deck, like a Sword or two (Sword of Light and Shadow, Sword of Fire and Ice, Sword of War and Peace). These seem like they could go a long way in helping protect our fragile but efficient threats and also providing us with a little more card advantage since a good portion of the deck is one-for-ones. I would even consider something like a copy of Lightning Greaves or two, since it would also give our three and four-drops haste, which is kind of huge. Can you imagine swinging with a Hero of Bladehold the turn she came into play? Yeah, me too.
All in all the deck was super fun, and I loved all of the cards in it; I just worry it dies by its own hand more often than not (self-damage, mana issues, etc.). I would still recommend you give it a try though if you like the archetype. That's all I have for this week. I should be going over that RW Prison list with Melissa for next Monday, and Thursday I'll be back with another RW list...but in Standard! So be sure to check that out and I'll see ya then!
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