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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Mar 06 2014 12:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  In this article I will be looking at an exciting deck that came out of Grand Prix Antwerp.  Czech players Stanislav Cifka and Martin Juza both ran a RW Splinter Twin deck, taking the rather unorthodox route of cutting blue from the deck.  I had hoped to get this article out sooner but haven't been able to upload my videos until very recently.  Therefore, I haven't been able to take the changes to the ban list into account.  However, watching Pro Tour Born of the Gods seems to indicate that Splinter Twin is going to be a big deal in the new Modern environment so this article still seems very relevant.

I have covered the UR Twin and the UWR Twin decks in previous articles in this series - check out the links if you are interested though the articles are little dated.


The idea behind the deck is to have a combo deck that also can play a more aggressive role.  This deck still has various opportunities to combo from Village Bell-Ringer + Splinter Twin, Village Bell-Ringer + Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Restoration Angel + Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker - I even managed having a Splinter Twin on a Restoration Angel and then casting Village Bell-Ringer blinking the Bell-Ringer with the Angel token to go infinite.  Obviously not playing blue means you don't have access to Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch which means you have fewer combo options but that it is balanced against the better Plan B of getting aggressive with Blade Splicer and Restoration Angel.

DECK TECH

Creatures

Wall of Omens
Wall of Omens
Obviously cutting blue limits the draw spells available to us.  Wall of Omens happens to be a great choice, as a cantrip that is also great at protecting you from your opponent's creatures.  Additionally, as a creature with an ETB effect, Wall of Omens is also a potential target for Splinter Twin or a blink from Restoration Angel which will draw you even more cards.

Village Bell-Ringer
Village Bell-Ringer
Village Bell-Ringer is the reason that this deck is now possible.  Without Bell-Ringer this would barely be a combo deck at all.  Bell-Ringer is also a pretty nice combat trick when combined with your other creatures.  Village Bell-Ringer obviously isn't very offensively minded which means it's not the best card for putting pressure on your opponent but I have attacked with them on occasion.

Blade Splicer
Blade Splicer
Blade Splicer is another creature with a powerful ETB effect.  Splicer gives you 4 power on the board for just 3 mana, which is a great deal.  The deal gets even better when you recycle your Blade Splicer's ETB effect using Splinter Twin or Restoration Angel.  Don't be afraid to put a Splinter Twin on a Blade Splicer if you are given the chance.  Repeatedly copying Blade Splicer will result in a considerable board presence in a hurry.

Restoration Angel
Restoration Angel
Restoration Angel is one of my absolute favourite cards in Modern.  There are just a lot of possibilities and she is also a great attacker that can put some serious pressure on the opponent.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Kiki-Jiki pushes up the number of ways you can combo considerably.  Getting to five mana does take time but the instant combo wins are worth the effort.

Other Spells

Relic of Progenitus
Relic of Progenitus
Relic seems a bit random for the main deck and it's certainly not essential.  Really it's a nice cantrip that has some considerable upside in a format filled with Deathrite Shamans and Snapcaster Mages.  The graveyard is a big resource in Modern and so main deck Relic can be surprisingly powerful.

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
This really doesn't need much explanation.  Bolt is a fantastic removal spell and can go to the face for the win when required.

Path to Exile
Path to Exile
The best spot removal available.

Magma Jet
Magma Jet
Magma Jet is another powerful burn spell and one that gives you a little card selection thanks to Scry 2.  The Jet is a nice way to set up your draws and removes a good number of pesky creatures.

Blood Moon
Blood Moon
One of the big advantages of the deck over UWR Twin is that it can take advantage of Blood Moon.  Blood Moon is one of the most powerful non-basic hosers in the format and can be game ending for some decks.

Splinter Twin
Splinter Twin
Splinter Twin is your combo piece making infinite Village Bell-Ringers.  I think I've probably emphasized this enough but Twin is also just generally good in combination with our various ETB effect creatures.  Blade Splicer can make an army of Golems, Restoration Angel can repeatedly blink another creature, Wall of Omens will allow you to draw a lot deeper.  I think the biggest thing I learnt about the deck was that it's not always right to hold onto Twin for the combo win in this deck.

Lands
In terms of lands we have the usually set of fetchlands and duals but I will take a look at some of the more interesting inclusions in the manabase:

Temple of Triumph
Temple of Triumph
The Temples don't see a lot of play in Modern, largely due to the fact they come into play tapped, however they fit in quite nicely here as another way to get a bit more card selection.  The deck doesn't tend to do too much in the early turns so you don't usually miss out too much for having Temple come into play tapped.

Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls
I actually haven't had a chance to try out running Cavern in this deck.  Honestly it's never going to be that great as most of the creatures don't share a creature type.  I guess generally you will be looking at naming Human which makes your Village Bell-Ringer)s and Blade Splicers uncounterable which is reasonably powerful.

Rugged Prairie
Rugged Prairie
Rugged Prairie fits in here nicely as a way of making sure you have Kiki-Jiki mana, though generally that doesn't prove too much of a problem.

Sideboard

Aven MindcensorBoilKiki-Jiki, Mirror BreakerStony SilenceSpellskitePyroclasmCombustBlood MoonGrafdigger's Cage

  • Aven Mindcensor is a great search hoser.  There is a lot of searching that goes on in Modern from fetchlands to Birthing Pod to Gifts Ungiven.  Mindcensor can also add some additional pressure.as a 2/1 flyer.
  • Boil is obviously an anti-blue card.  It can be a real blowout against some decks.  Obviously if your opponent is playing blue you have to watch out for counterspells but this can hit really hard.
  • We have another Blood Moon in the board for when you really want to stick an early Blood Moon.
  • Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker another combo piece for when comboing is your best way to win.
  • Pyroclasm can help you deal with a variety of small creatures as well as tokens and other weenies.
  • Combust helps deal with a variety of problem creatures from Restoration Angel to Delver of Secrets.
  • Grafdigger's Cage is an interesting inclusion - it's most obvious use is to hose Birthing Pod decks but it also has a variety of other uses such as hosing Snapcaster Mage

COST
Well there's no real getting around it.  This deck is very expensive.  Even more so thanks to the growing popularity of Splinter Twin decks in the post-banning format.

Main Deck

4 x Arid Mesa= 64.72
4 x Splinter Twin= 56.56
4 x Marsh Flats= 42.56
4 x Restoration Angel= 24.56
2 x Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker= 18.66
3 x Rugged Prairie= 15.00
2 x Blood Moon= 25.28
2 x Sacred Foundry= 15.04
4 x Path to Exile= 14.08
4 x Blade Splicer= 7.36
1 x Cavern of Souls= 4.66
2 x Battlefield Forge= 1.24
4 x Wall of Omens= 1.00
4 x Lightning Bolt= 0.32
2 x Relic of Progenitus= 0.16
4 x Village Bell-Ringer= 0.08
Total: 291.28 tix

Sideboard

3 x Spellskite= 43.95
1 x Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker= 9.33
1 x Blood Moon= 12.64
1 x Aven Mindcensor= 7.07
2 x Grafdigger's Cage= 5.82
3 x Stony Silence= 3.09
2 x Pyroclasm= 0.10
1 x Combust= 0.07
1 x Boil= 0.03
Total: 82.10 tix
Grand Total: 373.38 tix

GAMEPLAY


Our first matchup is against Jund.  I recorded this before the changes to the banned list so Deathrite Shaman is still in full effect here sadly.  This wasn't a great matchup - obviously Jund has access to some very powerful hand disruption and generally their creatures are more powerful so the aggressive route is not quite so easy to take.


Our second matchup is against a very interesting Krark-Clan Ironworks Eggs deck.  In Game 1, I get beaten on Turn 3 in an impressive combo - annoyingly if I had played by Relic of Progenitus I could have stopped the combo but I don't generally expect to lose on Turn 3 in Modern.  In Game 2, a Stony Silence from my sideboard completely shuts down my opponent and I kill him with a Blade Splicer and Lightning Bolts.  In Game 3, things are very tight unfortunately an unexpected double Erase take out my Blood Moon and my Splinter Twin combo just as I am about to win it.


Our third matchup is against a Restore Balance deck.  In Game 1, a turn 1 suspended Restore Balance is threatening but fortunately we have the Turn 4 combo which manages to take the game before Restore Balance becomes a problem.  In Game 2, I keep a sketchy hand because it contains Stony Silence.  As it turns out our opponents hand is almost entirely Borderposts and this shuts him down long enough for me to get the win. 


Our fourth and final matchup is against UR Tempo.  This has become an increasingly popular archetype.  In Game 1, we manage to overwhelm our opponent with more powerful threats and also potentially had a combo win.  Our opponent eventually folded to our superior pressure.  In Game 2, a timely Boil put our opponent down to one land.  Our opponent couldn't really recover from there and we eventually got the concession as we mounted the pressure.

CONCLUSIONS
I have had mixed results with the RW Splinter Twin deck.  Overall I am not too happy with it.  The deck feels a bit like a jack of all trades, master of none.  It's a decent Blood Moon deck, it's a decent combo deck and it's not too bad at pressuring the opponent, however, it doesn't feel like it's particularly strong in any of those areas. 

The main reason for playing this deck rather than the UR or UWR decks is to play Blood Moon, which works but how good it is depends on what you are playing against.  Honestly it has to be a bit of a metagame call.  As a combo deck it lacks dedication and card selection which can be frustrating when you're really in need of a particular combo piece.   In terms of pressuring the opponent, the deck feels slow as it doesn't really do anything until Turn 3.  Blade Splicer is very good but it can easily be countered or your opponent can have a Bolt for your Golem and all your pressure is gone.

Cutting blue from the Splinter Twin deck is a very intriguing idea but ultimately it's not something I would recommend.  I feel that the UR Twin deck is a much more consistent combo deck and the UWR deck is a powerful variant if you want to have a good Plan B.  RW Twin is an interesting experiment but I'm not sold.

2 Comments

I love Resto Angel, and one by RexDart at Thu, 03/06/2014 - 17:43
RexDart's picture

I love Resto Angel, and one of the great things about using her in this combo is that she's the only one that can win through Illness in the Ranks, which was showing up in PT sideboards. (I guess you can make infinite 0/3 Deceiver Exarchs to block, but that's not the point). And I generally think mana in Modern is far far FAR too greedy, and I cheer for maindeck Blood Moons when I see them :-)

I look forward to watching your match against KCI later when I get home. Caleb Durward just did a video series with that KCI deck, and he says you can win through Relic of Progenitus, but I suppose you have to toss enough stuff in the yard to bait it the way Living End can bait one-shot yard hate on a smaller Living End to set up a bigger one.

Thanks for the comment. Resto by olaw at Fri, 03/07/2014 - 18:08
olaw's picture

Thanks for the comment.

Resto is a big favourite of mine too. I have to say I haven't seen many Illness in the Ranks though that it some interesting tech against Splinter Twin/Exarch.

The KCI deck was really cool. I might have to give that deck a try at some point.