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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Jul 20 2012 8:58am
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In this edition of Becoming A Modern Man I'm going to finish off looking at the UR Combo decks with a look at Splinter Twin.

Here's an example of what the Modern Splinter Twin deck looks like: 

Splinter Twin
3-1 Modern Daily Event 07/07/12 Decklist by baconator5000
4 Deceiver Exarch
2 Grim Lavamancer
3 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
4 Pestermite
3 Spellskite
16 cards

Other Spells
4 Dispel
4 Flame Slash
4 Serum Visions
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Splinter Twin
20 cards
1 Breeding Pool
2 Cascade Bluffs
2 Halimar Depths
3 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
24 cards

Splinter Twin

The current lists usually splash green off Breeding Pool or a Stomping Ground to allow access to Ancient Grudge's flashback out of board.  Some decks also run Ranger's Guile out of sideboard as an additional way to protect their creatures.

Below is the current list I'm working with.  As per usual my version is suffering a little in the manabase, however, here it's a lot more relevant than in Storm or Hive Mind as you need double or even triple red mana for Splinter Twin and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.  My sideboard could probably use some work too but I'm happy to build on the deck.

Splinter Twin is a combo deck.  It works by using Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to create copies of Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite.  The copied Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch then allows you to untap the enchanted creature or Kiki-Jiki thus allowing the creation of infinite hasty tokens which then attack for the win.  Ultimately, it is a fairly simple 2-card combo which you can generate in a number of ways and without a whole lot of mana.

Combo Pieces

Splinter Twin
Splinter Twin
The deck's namesake is the enchantment Splinter Twin.  Once a chaff rare Twin managed to rise to the lofty heights of seeing play in Standard thanks to the printing of Deceiver Exarch and now in Modern where a lot more combo pieces lie. 

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Kiki has the same function as Splinter Twin but on a creature.  Being a creature means that he attacks the opponent from a different angle.  Sided in all your Spell Pierces, Annuls, Gaddock Teeg etc.  Too bad!  Kiki-Jiki means that your opponent has to be prepared for both potential combo options which makes life a lot more difficult for them.

Deceiver Exarch
Deceiver Exarch
Deceiver Exarch is arguably the better of the two bodies available for the combo in that it has a 1/4 body.  This means that it is well protected against opposing Lightning Bolts and other damage-based removal.

Pestermite is slightly more fragile than Exarch but it is a better beater if for some reason your combo happens to break down.

Combo Protection

Dispel counters a lot of the ways in which your opponent can disrupt your combo.  Instant speed removal or bounce is one of the main ways to stop your combo and Dispel counters that perfectly.  Dispel is also useful in any counterwars that may occur over your combo pieces.

Remand is the premier counterspell in the format even if it doesn't exactly counterspells, really just delays them.  Remand is excellent in combo decks like this as it draws you closer to assembling your combo whilst also slowing your opponent's tempo.


Spellskite protects your combo creature by eating removal spells and other directed hate.  Also, as a 0/4 for 2 mana he makes a pretty good wall and can absorb early pressure from aggressive deck.  I'm currently only running 2 but I'm not sure if I should increase that to 3.  Spellskite tends to be very good in matchups where your opponent's main strategy is to use removal on your combo creature, however, in other matchups it's practically a dead card.  The balance is quite fine and I'm not sure what the correct number is for this guy.

The Rest 

Flame Slash
Flame Slash
You might be thinking why Flame Slash instead of Lightning Bolt.  The simple reason is that this deck doesn't care about your opponent's life total, no matter how high it is you can make enough tokens to take it down.  Flame Slash deals more damage to creatures which is the only thing you want to do with it.  Flame Slash buys you more time against aggressive decks by killing their beater or deals with any other problematic creatures.  It also kills opposing Spellskites which can prevent you going off by stealing your Splinter Twin or redirecting Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker's ability.

Some versions of the deck run Electrostatic Bolt over Flame Slash as it has the advantage of being instant speed whilst also killing Spellskites.

Grim Lavamancer
Grim Lavamancer
Arguably, Grim Lavamancer is the most expendable card in the deck.  Some people play him others don't.  He doesn't really further your combo strategy so I can see his inclusion being questioned.  In Grim's defence though he is a very powerful card that has game against a lot of decks.  The majority of the creatures in the format have 2 or less power and Grim Lavamancer preys on them wonderfully.  At the very least he can end up eating a removal spell intended for your Pestermite or Exarch.  So far I've quite liked Grim Lavamancer in the deck and I think he'll be staying in my build.

As I mentioned the manabase for my deck is somewhat budgeted.  Again here it matters considerably more than the past two decks I've played because you need to have access to double or even triple red.  
Sulfur FallsSteam VentsShivan ReefScalding Tarn
I invested in Sulfur Falls and an Arid Mesa to improve my manabase but ideally I would play at least one more Steam Vents and maybe one or two Cascade Bluffs.  Also, if you want to run Ancient Grudge out of the sideboard you'll need to pick up a Breeding Pool or a Stomping Ground.
Cascade BluffsBreeding PoolStomping Ground 

Splinter Twin used to be reasonably budget friendly but it's price has risen quite considerably in recent times.  Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker's stock in Modern has really picked up recently and he's now often seen as a 4-of in Birthing Pod decks where he combines with Restoration Angel to combo. Sadly this means that cost of Kiki-Jiki has risen considerably and it is by far the most expensive card in the deck now.  The rest of the cost is largely in the manabase, as usual, but there are still reasonably expensive cards.  A playset of Splinter Twins is just under 6 tix and Spellskites are pretty expensive too.  Also, if you want to build a version that has access to Ancient Grudge from the sideboard you'll need to pick up a Stomping Ground, Breeding Pool and some more fetches.

Main Deck
3 x Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker= 45.00
4 x Scalding Tarn= 22.24
1 x Steam Vents= 16.27
2 x Misty Rainforest= 9.42
4 x Sulfur Falls= 6.80
4 x Splinter Twin= 5.76
2 x Spellskite= 5.12
1 x Arid Mesa= 4.00
2 x Shivan Reef= 3.42
4 x Remand= 2.40
3 x Grim Lavamancer= 1.59
4 x Serum Visions= 0.76
4 x Dispel= 0.32
4 x Pestermite= 0.32
4 x Sleight of Hand= 0.32
4 x Deceiver Exarch= 0.28
2 x Flame Slash= 0.16
Total: 124.10 tix

3 x Grafdigger's Cage= 4.59
3 x Spell Pierce= 0.24
1 x Flame Slash= 0.08
2 x Pyroclasm= 0.06
3 x Shattering Spree= 1.11
3 x Magus of the Moon= 5.67
Total: 11.75 tix
Grand Total: 135.85 tix

Splinter Twin is the most expensive of the UR Combo decks by a fair margin these days.  However, I have to say that I've really enjoyed playing the deck.

As always I'm going to bring you some commentated videos of me playing the deck to show you how it plays.  I've put the different matchups in separate playlists, the next game will start once the first video has finished or you can skip through.

The first match I played with the deck was this one against an Infect deck.  This matchup seems super favourable for us as we just have so many good cards against them.  Grim Lavamancer, Flame Slash and Spellskite are all horrible for them and even your Pestermites and Deceiver Exarchs allow you to slow them down by tapping their attackers.  They can have some explosive draws but I think generally you're a heavy favourite in this matchup.

The second match I bring you is against Merfolk.  Merfolk isn't a deck that comes up that much in Modern but I expect it to see a lot more play once Master of the Pearl Trident is released in M13.  This matchup is tough as they have access to a lot of permission which is rough on your combo.  I didn't sideboard correctly for Game 2 which cost me the game.  Had I sideboarded correctly I would have had a better chance.

The third matchup I bring to you is the Splinter Twin mirror match.  Clearly my opponent hadn't skimped on the manabase like myself but the basic cards are still the same.  I sideboarded badly for this match although it's not helped by the fact that my board hasn't got much helpful for the mirror.  Echoing Truth or Combust are good sideboard cards if you think you'll be playing against the mirror.  I think this matchup comes down to luck really.  Also, being on the play can be a huge advantage as you'll see in Game 1.  

The fourth matchup is against RG Tron.  Judging from this match this matchup is fairly good.  Granted I think my opponent probably didn't draw as well as he could have but I still think Twin has the edge.  Unless they have a particularly fast hand they will have trouble stopping you comboing off in Game 1.  Game 2 will probably be a little more tough as they'll probably have some sort of artifact-based hate against you but I still think you're favoured, particularly if you stick a Blood Moon effect.

I've really enjoyed playing this deck.  It is more consistent than Hive Mind and less complex than Storm, which to me is really the sweet spot.  The fact that you can run up to 16 combo cards means that you won't have a hard time putting it together.  It's quite rare for you to not have at least one-half of the combo in your opener and fairly often you'll have both pieces you need.

The flip side is that your deck is a little more easily disrupted.  As your combo is reliant on creatures it is vulnerable to creature removal which is a problem not shared with its UR Combo compatriots.  Their removal spells are still very much live in Game 1 but you have ways to deal with them.

In the next edition of Becoming A Modern Man (or BAMM) I intend to look at Red Deck Wins!
Also if you have any Modern decks you'd like to see get the Becoming A Modern Man treatment let me know and I'll see what I can do.  Provided I can make them within a reasonable budget I'm willing to give them a go.  Equally if you have a Modern deck and want to help me get footage for my videos, I'd be happy to play a match with whatever deck I'm playing at the time.

Thanks for reading!!!
Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)



Another Good Overview by Bugsy at Fri, 07/20/2012 - 13:27
Bugsy's picture

I am very glad to see more modern content. Just one thing though, your opponent can re-direct a Kiki-Jiki activation all he wants but it can only target one of your creatures.

Thank You! by olaw at Fri, 07/20/2012 - 13:52
olaw's picture

Thank you very much for the positive feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed the article and I hope others are also enjoying the series. Splinter Twin has been my favourite deck in the series so far and I hope that shows in the quality of the article.

Yes, my mistake, Spellskite interactions can get confusing.

Good Article by ChantryGilbert at Fri, 07/20/2012 - 14:20
ChantryGilbert's picture

Thanks for the article. :-)

Makes me want to "sleeve up" some Splinter Twins and give the deck a spin. I'm a pretty huge fan of combos that only require two cards and win immediately if they can't answer it.

I'm curious: What do you think of Kiki/Restoration Angel combo builds? Obviously a fairly different deck since the Angel doesn't work with Splinter Twin and therefore needs the Mirror Breaker to win. Better, worse, other thoughts?

Glad you enjoyed the article! by olaw at Sat, 07/21/2012 - 02:37
olaw's picture

Glad you enjoyed the article! Thanks for the taking the time to comment.

Splinter Twin is a fun deck especially if you enjoy combo so I would highly recommend it.

Unless you're talking about the Naya Birthing Pod deck, which is the main deck running the Kiki/Restoration Angel combo, then I haven't seen many other decks trying to combo with Kiki/Restoration Angel. The Kiki/Angel combo is very good in Pod decks where you can search up the pieces you need as and when you need them, also don't forget that Village Bell-Ringer is basically the white Deceiver Exarch. Also, since Pod is already running a load of ETB effects Restoration Angel and Kiki are impactful on their own even without comboing off. Also, if you're asking me if Naya Pod is better than Splinter Twin then I don't really know but high-level results (GP Yokohama) indicate than Pod is better.

Outside of Pod I don't think Kiki/Angel is a combo you want for your Splinter Twin deck. If you are all in on your combo then you don't really need Restoration Angel as it really just waters down your strategy, except as a better beater if things go badly. It's a mana more expensive that it needs to be for your combo creature and only works with Kiki.

Hope I understood your question right and that is a sufficient answer.

mod men by BOBBAKAKE at Mon, 07/23/2012 - 03:31
BOBBAKAKE's picture

I too am becoming a modern man. Classic is broken, standard is redundant, modern seems so much more fun. Then again I play mostly multiplayer.

Couldn't agree more. I think by olaw at Mon, 07/23/2012 - 04:31
olaw's picture

Couldn't agree more. I think Modern is one of the most fun formats going right now. Really enjoying it and glad you are too.