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By: olaw, Oliver Law
May 22 2015 11:00am
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Hello!

Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man!  I continue my look at Dragons of Tarkir cards in Modern with a look at Avatar of the Resolute.  So let's take a look at the card shall we:

Avatar of the Resolute

The Avatar is a powerful two drop.  A 3/2 for two-mana is pretty good and it has the added benefit of reach (for defence), trample (for aggression) and an ability that can make it considerably larger.  Does it have a place in Modern?  Well cheap, powerful and aggressive creatures certainly always have a chance in Modern.  The question is what deck are we going to put it in.  My immediate thought was that it would fit well in a Mono-Green Aggro shell, which is a fringe deck that would accommodate the Avatar nicely.  In my Modern review of cards in Dragons of Tarkir, I discussed combining Avatar with cards like Experiment One, Scavenging Ooze, Strangleroot Geist and various other creatures that have +1/+1 counters.

I was going to try and brew something up to accommodate Avatar but someone beat me to it.  HugeElfBoy managed to go 4-0 with a Mono-Green Aggro deck using Avatar of the Resolute in a recent Modern Daily:

Avatar Aggro
HugeElfBoy (4-0) Modern Daily #8188923 on 04/28/2015
Creatures
4 Avatar of the Resolute
4 Dryad Militant
4 Experiment One
3 Kalonian Tusker
4 Leatherback Baloth
2 Spellskite
4 Strangleroot Geist
25 cards

Other Spells
4 Aspect of Hydra
2 Dismember
4 Vines of Vastwood
4 Rancor
14 cards
Lands
1 Treetop Village
20 Forest
21 cards

Kalonian Tusker

 
HugeElfBoy's list is very interesting.  The deck takes advantage of the multiple powerful two-drops available at two green mana, namely Strangleroot Geist, Kalonian Tusker and Avatar of the Resolute, as well as Leatherback Baloth in the three-drop slot to create a minor Devotion to Green theme with Aspect of Hydra.  The rest of the list is a combination of fast aggressive green creatures and pump spells/auras for the most part.  The deck accommodates Avatar reasonably well, with Experiment One, Strangleroot Geist and Scavenging Ooze being capable of gaining +1/+1 counters, without overly pandering to it.

DECK TECH

Creatures

Experiment One
Experiment One
Experiment One is an aggressive one-drop that works pretty nicely with Avatar of the Resolute, though not perfectly.  The Evolve mechanic means Experiment One gains +1/+1 counters as larger creatures enter the battlefield.  Unfortunately, as Evolve triggers after a creature enters the battlefield if Experiment One doesn't already have a +1/+1 counter on it then Avatar of the Resolute will not benefit from the fact that it evolved it and will simply enter as a 3/2.

Dryad Militant
Dryad Militant
Our other one-drop is Dryad Militant.  As a 2/1 it is capable of evolving our Experiment One is useful and its ability it useful against Dredge spells, Flashback spells and Snapcaster Mage, which is nothing to sniff at.

Strangleroot Geist
Strangleroot Geist
Geist is an impressive two drop.  Haste doesn't appear too often on Green creatures and as such Geist is a valuable speedy creature and can deal a lot of damage if opponents don't factor in the fact that we have access to a hasty creature.  Geist is also resilient to removal, which is very useful as our creatures are otherwise a little vulnerable to sweepers etc.

Avatar of the Resolute
Avatar of the Resolute
This is the card that made me want to test this deck out.  So how is it in Modern?  I have had some mixed results with it but I have been reasonably impressed.  In this deck it is a creature I want to draw often as it provides me with a cheap threat with trample, which is what we are looking to throw our pump spells on.  It's always a little frustrating to not be able to get an extra +1/+1 counter on it but sometimes that is a bullet you have to bite with this deck.  You could run Servant of the Scale over Dryad Militant to help out in that situation but the lack of extra power would weaken the deck and reduce opportunities to evolve Experiment One.

If you can get a +1/+1 counter on Avatar it's nice that further copies of Avatar will benefit and you can get a very sizeable trampling creature.  There are quite a few nice synergies in the deck but unfortunately your opponent's removal can prevent you from maximising all of these.

Kalonian Tusker
Kalonian Tusker
Tusker is a vanilla 3/3 but for just two-mana that is pretty sizeable.  Unfortunately it will still eat it to a Lightning Bolt but being bigger than a large number of your peers is a distinct advantage.

Spellskite
Spellskite
As I've mentioned previously, I sold my Spellskites before their inevitable price drop with the reprint in Modern Masters 2015.  As such I haven't played with Spellskite and instead substituted them with a further copy of Kalonian Tusker and moved a Scavenging Ooze to the main deck in my testing.
Running Spellskite main certainly seems like a metagame call rather than a particularly fundamental tactic of the deck.  It's a good way of protecting your creatures from removal and the 4-toughness means it will probably evolve your Experiment One.  However, with no Green in its cost and not much prospect of attacking threat I would consider keeping it in the board unless you are expecting a lot of decks that are vulnerable to it, such as Infect and Splinter Twin.

Leatherback Baloth
Leatherback Baloth
Our top end is another vanilla creature but again a very powerful one.  A 4/5 for 3 mana is very powerful and very effective against the generally considerably lower power and toughness observed in this format.  The triple green-mana in the cost also guarantees that Aspect of Hydra is at least a Giant Growth and usually much better.

Spells

Aspect of Hydra
Aspect of Hydra
Aspect of Hydra is one of the most interesting pieces of tech in the deck.  In the right situations it can be a huge pump spell for just one mana, providing a 6+ power and toughness boost.  We have a lot of trample enablers in our deck so this can amount to a sizeable burn spell.

Vines of Vastwood
Vines of Vastwood
Vines is our other pump spell that is also a great way to protect our creatures from removal.  The dual role of Vines means it is a very big card for us.  There are also some other interesting fringe interactions - such as targeting your opponent's creature to prevent the opponent targeting their own creature.  Using Vines in this way can be a very effective way to counter a Splinter Twin combo attempt.

Rancor
Rancor
I love Rancor!  It's possible one of my favourite green spells as a versatile and powerful aura that does a lot to make green aggro decks viable in Modern.  Trample is a big deal in this deck as it makes our pump spells far more lethal and impressive.

Dismember
Dismember
As much as we would like to Trample over our opponent's creature and leave dust in our wake, sometimes you actually need to deal with opposing creatures.  Creatures like Young Pyromancer, Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyf and various other creatures just need to be dealt with if you want to win.

Lands
The lands to this deck are pretty basic (literally).  With the Devotion theme in the deck it's a shame that we aren't running Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx but we can't really afford to given the heavy green-mana requirements of our creatures.  You could build this deck in a more over-the-top style I guess but I think you would lose some consistency by slowing the deck down. 

Treetop Village
Treetop Village
Treetop Village fits in nicely with the style and theme of the deck, as well as giving us a difficult to remove threat.  A 3/3 Trampler fits in nicely with the deck and likes a good pump spell too.  Unfortunately there is only room for a singleton as we cannot afford too many of our lands coming into play tapped without sacrificing something to speed.

Sideboard

ChokeCreeping CorrosionDeglamerUnravel the AEtherFeed the ClanGut ShotScavenging OozeRelic of ProgenitusPithing NeedleThrun, the Last Troll

  • Choke is a powerful anti-blue card.  Locking down your opponents Islands can be devastating for an opponent and can just win games.  Highly recommended in a green sideboard.
  • Creeping Corrosion is brutal against Affinity or any other artifact heavy deck.
  • Deglamer and Unravel the AEther are tucks for artifacts and enchantments.  These seems a bit odd when there are so many ways to destroy artifacts enchantments in green, however, it is a never powerful tool against Wurmcoil Engine getting rid of it without giving your opponent the tokens.
  • Feed the Clan is an acknowledgment that Burn has the ability to outrace us.  If you can gain 10 life that has basically nullified 3 or 4 of their cards which is a huge setback.  Kitchen Finks is another anti-burn option that also works with the Devotion theme, which might be worth a try.
  • Gut Shot seems a little odd.  There are a number of 1 toughness guys that are well worth killing but I'm not sure exactly where I would be boarding this in.  I think I'd rather have more copies of Dismember.
  • Scavenging Ooze is a card I've moved main deck for Spellskite.  I've been really happy with it main, as it recovers well after a board wipe or you've traded off a number of creatures as well as having great utility against graveyard shenanigans.
  • Relic of Progenitus is another anti-graveyard card.  Helping deal with Flashback, Dredge, Snapcaster Mage, Gifts Ungiven and many other strategies.
  • Pithing Needle is an answer to a number of potential problems and is versatile but of a narrow effect.
  • Thrun, the Last Troll is a nice anti-Control creature and with Hexproof and regeneration it is very difficult to remove from the board.

GAMEPLAY


Our first matchup is against RG Tron.  This matchup should be fairly good as they are slow and we are fast.  However, Wurmcoil Engine is a real problem for this deck as the life they can gain from it is very difficult to overcome.  I'm not sure I was running Unravel the AEther and Deglamer in the board at the time I played this match but this is clearly the reason they are needed.


Our second matchup is against Jeskai Mentor.  It is an interesting deck which looks to abuse Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor.  Tokens aren't usually too much of a problem for us due to the numerous trampling creatures or trampling enablers in the deck.  However, Mentor and Pyromancer can very easily take over a game and ideally want to be answered rapidly.  Other than with Dismember we struggle to do that, and even then we only have access to 2, with no additional copies in the sideboard.  The deck as it stands certainly struggles against these army in a can type cards if it isn't able to blast past them quickly.


Our third matchup is against Skred Red.  This was an entertaining matchup with us managing to power through our opponent's creatures.  We also got to use the lesser used side of Vines of Vastwood to prevent a lethal Skred targeting Boros Reckoner.  In Game 2, we got to use Avatar of the Resolute to its full effect and got a mighty +7/+7 out of our Aspect of Hydra, and almost +9/+9.

ALTERNATIVE TAKES
I haven't seen too many more list like HugeElfBoy's in the Dailies but there is certainly some scope for tweaks and changes. 

Collected_Company.jpg
Collected Company is a card I have been playing with a lot recently and could fit at the top end of this deck, as added pressure and as a reset switch after a board wipe.  The potential problems with using Collected Company is that it might compromise our speed, which is very important for the deck. 

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Oran-Rief would work very well with Avatar of the Resolute but the fact that it comes into play tapped again may compromise the speed of the deck.

Path to ExileDromokas_Command.jpg
Another option is to splash white.  This gives us access to Path to Exile and possible Dromoka's Command as another solid option for the deck.  It also opens up a number of sideboard options.

CONCLUSIONS
This deck was quite a lot of fun and not very expensive to build either.  It's never going to be a top tier deck but if you like quirky aggro decks this is definitely worth a try.  Avatar of the Resolute is a decent card and definitely playable in Modern but needs to be built around to be at its best.  This deck does well to harness the creature's power.

That's all for this week!

Thanks for reading,
Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)

6 Comments

really digging this build, by Adam_the_Mentat at Sat, 05/23/2015 - 11:12
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5

really digging this build, Oliver!

Thanks Adam! by olaw at Sat, 05/23/2015 - 16:10
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Thanks Adam!

Rancor reads: Enchanted by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 05/23/2015 - 12:45
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5

Rancor reads: Enchanted creature suddenly becomes a threat, no matter how insignificant it was previously. I remember when Rancor was first released, and I was forced to learn the rules of Magic better. I asked my friend (who is now a store owner/judge) if there was any way to get rid of a Rancor, and he told me that I could kill the creature Rancor was being targeted with, and it would "fizzle". I didn't know that fact prior to Urza's Destiny.

If I was going to splash a color, it might be black, for Abrupt Decay, Thoughtseize, and Golgari Charm. Decay is awesome vs Twin, Tarmogoyf, Liliana, and much more. Thoughtseize is your counterspell, and Golgari Charm says "Counter Target Supreme Verdict". I'm not sure if the deck needs a splash or not. Also, Maelstrom Pulse as a one-of that can kill big creatures, walkers, enchantments, and artifacts is pretty good. I had a Mono-black aggro deck that splashed green back in Theros-BTg-Jou Standard, which was a decent deck. Only the temples slowed me down.

Good read!

EDIT I rarely lost a game, let alone a match to the older mono green aggro deck with Tron. It's the Pyroclasms O-stones and Wurmcoils that are so good. I almost want to make tron again, that deck was awesome.

Thanks for the comment!Yeah, by olaw at Sat, 05/23/2015 - 16:07
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Thanks for the comment!

Yeah, it's impressive how scary a Dryad Militant can be when you stick a Rancor on it. Learning how to fizzle a Rancor is an important skill and certainly a more advanced part of the rules.

Splashing Black is another possible option, though I'm concerned that some of those cards would slow down the deck too much. I really want to be dropping creatures rather than disrupting my opponents hand with cards like Thoughtseize. Golgari Charm seems like nice protection against board wipes.

GR Tron is actually not bad against our deck but I feel like we should be beating it really as an Aggro deck. I've never had the Karns to play GR Tron myself but hoping that will change with the reprint in MM2015. It is a very good deck.

I don't really like splashing by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 05/23/2015 - 19:57
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I don't really like splashing a color in an aggro deck, even in modern where you can get a ton of lands that won't slow you down, you're going to make your burn matchup miserable.

There is certainly a big by olaw at Tue, 05/26/2015 - 13:42
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There is certainly a big advantage to not using fetchlands/duals in terms of protecting your life total.