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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Jul 29 2019 12:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man!

In my usual sweep of Modern decks from MTGO events I stumbled across a fun looking Monument Sisters deck using Force of Virtue and was excited to test it out.  Rebus8 played the following list to a 5-0 in a MTGO Modern League:


DECK TECH

Creatures

Soul WardenSoul's Attendant
Soul Warden/Soul's Attendant
The Soul Sisters were the core of viable deck near the beginning of Modern history.  Since then they have fallen very far off as format staples.  Here they buff out life total significantly with the constant stream of creatures, and tokens, we aim to produce with the deck.  I successfully got to a triple digit life total in more than one of my League matches.

Squadron Hawk
Squadron Hawk/Legion Conquistador
Squadron Hawk and Legion Conquistador are key cards for the deck.  They provide the deck with a steady stream of creatures for triggering Oketra's Monument and to maintain a consistent board presence.  They also provide free fodder for Force of Virtue, a nice way to counter the card disadvantage of pitching a card to it.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
I would not normally question the inclusion of Thalia in a white Modern deck as she is a deserved staple.  However, it has to be said that Thalia is a little awkward in this deck.  Thalia taxes Force of Virtue, meaning it's no longer free, and Oketra's Monument which are two of the key cards for the deck.  This led to a few awkward spots when I was playing the deck.  Thalia is very strong against various matchups but there is a tension with our own gameplan here.  I'd be interested in trying some alternatives options in the Thalia slot and perhaps relegate her to the sideboard if necessary.

Whitemane Lion
Whitemane Lion
The lion makes for a nice combo piece with Oketra's Monument, somewhat akin to the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo.  With Monument in play you can cast Whitemane Lion for W and bounce it to its own ability to generate a 1/1 tokens for each W mana you have available.  However, this combo can be disrupted by removal on the Lion before you get a chance to bounce it back to hand.  Lion can also be used to protect a creature from removal or get another use from a ETB creature.

Ranger of Eos
Ranger of Eos

Ranger can tutor up two Soul Sisters which is a big way to keep us in the game and fight off aggro decks.  Additional creatures to cast also give us more activations for our Monument or fodder to exile to Force of Virtue.  I felt that the package of 1-drop creatures for Ranger could be wider - a Thraben Inspector to dig deeper or a Giver of Runes to force through damage could be handy.

Sky Hussar
Sky Hussar
Hussar is an interesting card.  It is potentially a one-sided Howling Mine if we can generate excess creatures to tap.  It's also a decent body in the event that the ground gets stalled.  However, the draw aspect of the card is slow and means you are committing to drawing cards over attacking.  It's very handy in grindy games but does very little to assist in games where you require a quick win.  Personally I would cut some or maybe all of the copies of Sky Hussar.  Though I like having a draw engine I just don't think the card is quick enough and only really helps in the grindy matchups that we should already be thriving.

Venerated Loxodon
Venerated Loxodon

Venerated Loxodon has some nice synergy with the deck, allowing you to tap and grow your creatures and cast it for free with enough creatures on the board while also getting another activation from Oketra's Monument.  I'm not sure if it is a bit slow in this deck but it does give us a big body.

God-Eternal Oketra
God-Eternal Oketra

God-Eternal Oketra is a large extension on Oketra's Monument - generating 4/4 vigilant Zombie tokens for each creature cast.  I feel the God-Eternal is probably more fun than practical but she only costs 4-mana with Monument out and makes a much more expansive board.  Very fun once it hits the board but perhaps a win-more card as it really only helps out in grindy games that we should be winning already.

Spells

Path to Exile
Path to Exile
Prime removal and sometimes opponents just play must answer threats or big roadblocks to the board.  It's useful to have an answer these types of problem.

Artifacts

Oketra's Monument
Oketra's Monument

A key card for the deck.  Monument discounts our creatures and also creatures a 1/1 Warrior with vigilance each time we cast any of our creatures.  With Monument in play we can rapidly build a very big board presence, with 1-mana Squadron Hawks and 2-mana Legion Conquistadors ensuring you get plenty of activations from Monument.

Enchantments

Force of Virtue
Force of Virtue

The much maligned Force of Virtue has found a home here with Squadron Hawk and Legion Conquistador off-setting the card disadvantage of pitching a card to cast the enchantment.  The anthem effect powers up all our creatures and makes them much more effective in combat.

The anthem effect was generally good but I couldn't help think that given all the creatures in the deck are white, other than God-Eternal Oketra tokens, that we could just be playing Honor of the Pure and it would be similarly effective and we wouldn't need to pitch a card.  In real terms, given the alternative, we are cheating on the cost of a 2-mana card and I'm not sure it is worth it.

Lands

Shefet Dunes
Shefet Dunes

A land that allows us to pump the team.  Given the life gain in the deck any drawback of playing Dunes is minimised.  Given the nature of the deck having another one-off Anthem effect can help us finish off the opponent.

SIDEBOARD

White, being the colour of powerful sideboard cards, has some solid options here:

  • Rest in Peace is one of the most powerful graveyard hate cards available in Modern and there are lots of graveyard shenanigans in the format at the moment.  Hogaak, Phoenix, Dredge, Snapcaster Mage, Tarmogoyf are all effectively hosed by this powerful enchantment.
  • Stony Silence is another powerful two-mana enchantment that shuts down artifacts.  It's a powerful tool against Tron, Thopter Sword Combo, Affinity, Lantern Control and any other artifact heavy deck really.
  • Ceremonious Rejection is hate for artifact and Eldrazi.  Rejection can counter a large creature from Tron, which is a pretty bad matchup generally.
  • Unified Will can be a solid counterspell provided you can maintain a creature advantage on board, which is pretty easy against certain decks.
  • Selfless Spirit is a way to counter mass removal/board wipes which the deck is quite weak to as we need a big board presence as our individual cards are fairly low impact.
  • Elixir of Immorality is a way of shuffling back in your Hawks and Legion Conquistadors when they die, however, I can't see many games getting that grindy.  I think this space could be better used.  Also, a Mistveil Plains in the main deck would achieve a similar effect without sacrificing a sideboard slot.
  • Thalia is very strong against certain matchups, like Storm and Izzet Phoenix, so there is an extra copy here when you really want to see Thalia in your opening hand.
  • The fourth Path to Exile is there for matchups where removal is important, such as the Infect matchup.

GAMEPLAY


Our first matchup is against the Rakdos Arcanist/8-Ball deck, which runs Dreadhorde Arcanist and Thunderkin Awakener for repeated value.  Our lack of removal makes this matchup a little tricky but life gain is fairly effective against (Lightning Ball)s and attacking into us with Awakeners and Arcanist become trickier as we swamp the board.  This matchup seems pretty good overall.


Our second matchup is against Tron.  This matchup seems really awful.  Our deck cannot kill fast and Tron goes vastly over the top of what we are doing once it gets online.  We have artifact hate post-board but it can't hold Tron back for too long.  This matchup seems really rough for the deck.


Our third matchup was against Thopter/Sword Combo.  This match is interesting as we can go over the top of their combo provided they don't go infinite with Urza.  Also, post-board we have access to Stony Silence and other hate cards that can be troublesome for the opponent.  That said the deck can survive those moments thanks to cards like Sai and Urza and is more versatile than I previously gave it credit.


Our fourth matchup is against Rakdos Goblins.  This seemed like it should be a positive matchup but the latest version of Goblins has a few more tricks up its sleeve than 8-Whack.  Krenko + Sling-Gang Lieutenant is very problematic when you cannot find an answer for Krenko and Goblin Matron allows them to tutor up ways to win the game through our gameplan.  Accordingly this actually ended up being a pretty bad matchup for the deck.


Our final matchup is against The Rock.  This match feels like it could be favourable as they aren't a fast deck and we can overwhelm their creatures.  They do, however, have some problematic cards like Dark Confidant, Maelstrom Pulse, Plague Engineer and Assassin's Trophy which can help swing things back in their favour.  A fairly close matchup in reality it seems.

CONCLUSIONS

My experiences with this deck spiked between fun and frustration quite a bit.  The deck is very grindy and struggles to close out the game with any speed.  Some decks are not readily equipped for that type of gameplan and you can attrition out creature-based aggro decks.  However, Combo and Control decks are a problem as we struggle to interact with them and a board wipe can be crippling. 

Also, as a deck looking for grindy attrition wars I feel we lost too many of those games.  Rakdos Goblins managed to put together a better endgame than us with Krenko and Sling-Gang Lieutenant.  Thopter Foundry combo can go infinite in a way our deck just can't.  This feels like a real flaw - even when the game goes the way our deck would like we aren't necessarily winning those games.  The deck lacks reach with the only real way to win being by overwhelming the board and attacking with multiple creatures which is an issue when the opponent is also capable of clogging up the board.

Pros:

  • The deck can generate big and overwhelming board states.
  • The life gain aspect of the deck can make it very difficult for creature/aggro decks to beat you.  Matchups like Burn and Humans feel like they should be good matchups as we can gain a lot of life and throw up a lot of roadblocks.
  • The deck's gameplan doesn't rely on the graveyard, activated abilities of artifacts etc. and so is not easy to attack with common sideboard cards.

Cons:

  • The deck lacks speed and cannot close the game out quickly. This leaves it vulnerable to combo decks and decks that go over the top such as Tron.
  • The deck lacks interaction which means it can struggle with combo decks or problematic permanents.
  • The deck is vulnerable to mass removal/board wipes.  Oketra's Monument can help you rebuild but clearing the board really puts the deck back to square one.
  • Although the deck thrives in grindy games it isn't always the better deck in those scenarios as it lacks a way to go infinite or recur its threats.

This is a cool deck and one that could potentially be tweaked and worked with to improve.  However, I think there are a few potentially fatal weaknesses to the deck that bar it from being an overly competitive Modern deck.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)