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By: kcastle11, kevin castle
Feb 06 2014 1:00pm
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I have a confession to make, I’m a Johnny. I want to make the coolest combo decks ever, and have them kill everyone. If I dreamt about magic, which I don't sadly, I’d be casting Exsanguinate for 40 billion.

Magic, for me, is about having fun. I also like winning, so in that sense I’m a Spike, but I’d much rather have fun than win, if I had to pick one. But when you can win AND have fun, that’s the ultimate thrill ride. It’s the reason I continue to brew new decks, tweak existing decks, and throw out bad decks.  I love Modern and for now I’ve decided that’s the format I want to learn. It’s full of depth, and yet it’s also relatively new. It’s slow enough that some slower combo decks can exist, and yet fast enough to breed restrictive creativity. So for this article, I picked two pet cards that I love and tried to brew some decks around them.

The first card up is Necrotic Ooze. Ever since this card was released, I’ve been scouring each set trying to make the best Ooze combo deck. I've tried different things like using Mirror-Mad Phantasm to mill their library then reanimating Laboratory Maniac with Unburial Rites, or Gigantomancer and Squadron Hawk, and even I tried combining Spikeshot Elder with it, but all attempts ended rather poorly. Even Conley Woods tried using it to some success in old Extended, focusing on Quillspike and Devoted Druid. But Modern is a different beast, and with decks like Tron maindecking Relic of Progenitus and several decks packing Scavenging Ooze and Deathrite Shaman, we need to take our graveyard game to the next level. We need to go off at instant speed, and preferably without attacking. We don’t want cards like Ensnaring Bridge, Cryptic Command, or Path to Exile tripping us up. So without further ado, I present:


The deck works like this. We have Necrotic Ooze in play, with Mogg Fanatic and Kiki-Jiki in the graveyard. We tap the Ooze and make a copy of itself thanks to Kiki-Jiki’s ability, the copy which has haste makes a copy of itself, and repeat as necessary. And with Mogg Fanatic in the graveyard, you can sac all the copies to kill your opponent one damage at a time.

In case your opponent has shroud thanks to something like Leyline of Sanctity, you can put Devoted Druid and Kiki-Jiki in the graveyard, then make infinite copies of the Ooze, at which point you can untap them all and attack.

The main ideal start would be:

Turn 1: Deathrite Shaman or Turn 2: Devoted Druid

Turn 3, opponent’s endstep: Gifts Ungiven getting Thornling and Kiki-Jiki

Turn 4: Necrotic Ooze… Win. (don’t forget to have Devoted Druid Kill herself if you need to attack!)

(Side Note: If you make your tokens during the end step, they will stick around until the next one. So you could make your tokens on your opponents end step after casting gifts and attack for the lethal the next turn)

The rest of the cards are added for redundancy or are enablers, so let’s go over them briefly.

Fauna Shaman- Since we don’t get things like Buried Alive or Entomb to use, Fauna Shaman is the next best option. She helps us put all our combo pieces in the graveyard and also helps us find Necrotic Ooze. Don’t forget that the Ooze gains her ability as well, so don’t fret too much if she dies.

Deathrite Shaman- Another mana accelerant, and the bane of decks that use graveyards. Thankfully, our deck doesn’t have to worry as much about opposing Shamans. I know Shaman is good, but I’m not sure if this spot isn’t better used for cards like Thoughtseize. Only time will tell.

Thornling- Hopefully, you’ll never have to cast this shapeshifter. It’s only purpose in the deck is to be in the graveyard, thus giving you the option of giving Necrotic Ooze haste and/or indestructibility. And with all the removal that modern has to offer, those are very good things. Path to Exile is still a problem so we could use Aetherling instead, which gives us protection from Path, but we also lose the ability to gain haste. I’m not sure which is more important at the moment.

Spellskite- Modern has a ridiculous amount of removal, and unfortunately, Necrotic Ooze dies to most of it. That’s where Spellskite steps in; he’ll gladly take the bullet. He should be awarded a medal for how awesome he is at his job.

Drown in Filth- I picked this tech up after watching Travis Woo’s Complex Dredge deck. It seemed good at taking out opposing creatures and buying time, and the digging certainly would help us, but Abrupt Decay just might be better. Again, time will tell.

Grisly Salvage- This card is awesome and it digs like no other. Unfortunately, you do run the risk of dumping your combo cards early by having too many in your five, which is bad news if you’re facing down opposing Shamans or Scavenging Oozes, but that’s the risk you run in playing graveyard combo.

Gifts Ungiven- This is the centerpiece of the deck, though it’s certainly not necessary to cast this to win. Most likely, you’ll never Gift for more than 2 cards, thus making them both go in the graveyard. Realistically, there are a couple of different gift piles you’ll do routinely:

1. If you have Necrotic Ooze in play and an empty graveyard, gift for Kiki-Jiki and Mogg Fanatic/Devoted Druid.

2. If your combo along with Ooze is in the yard, gift for Unburial Rites and Thornling.

Sometimes, you can just Gift for Unburial Rites and Griselbrand. Some decks straight up can’t beat that.

Next up is the little vedalken that could which has seen a lot more success even heading to the finals of a Grand Prix thanks to Brad Nelson. Ever since its release, people have been trying to make infinite mana by combining it with Pili-Pala (plus it’s a really fun name to say).  I haven’t been able to put together a solid decklist yet, which either spells doom for that idea or I haven’t found the right cards yet.

The other direction we can go is with Devotion. Grand Architect and Master of Waves combine together to make a ridiculous amount of power. Just those two alone make 13 power!



Imagine this scenario:

Turn 2: Sygg, River Cutthroat (or Insert Two Drop Here)

Turn 3: Grand Architect

Turn 4: Master of Waves, Wurmcoil Engine, and Phyrexian Metamoprh copying whatever you want.

Warning! Your opponent might poop their pants afterwards.

There are a few cards I wanted to try out, and I’m not certain on any of the numbers, but this deck has some serious power. Even a lackluster turn sequence of Azorious Guildmage then Thassa followed by Kira is still pretty decent, but obviously the deck pulls its power from the Architect and Master of Waves.

Kira, Great Glass-Spinner- Like I stated above, removal is everywhere, which makes Kira a Spellskite on crack. One nice surprise is that Grand Architect’s ability doesn’t target, so you don’t need to get rid of the protection of Kira to make some mana. Just make sure to play around Abrupt Decay because it won’t be countered.

Phyrexian Metamorph- This got the nod over Phantasmal Image for 2 reasons- 1: It’s an artifact, and can be played on turn 3 via Grand Architect and a blue dude or just by itself. 2: It gets protected by Kira, whereas Image does not (even though the spell is countered thanks to Kira, Image is still targeted and thus dies to its own ability).

Azorius Guildmage and Tidebinder Mage- These are the best UU two drops that I could find. Guildmage can do a lot of work though, from countering Planeswalker abilities, to stopping splinter twin/kiki-jiki, to even preventing fetch lands from fetching. And in a pinch, it can push through damage by tapping dudes. Tidebinder Mage tends to be good in most matchups, as most decks have either green and/or red creatures. And even if you’re facing U/W Control, it’s still a 2/2 for UU, and feeds the devotion count.

Sygg, River Cutthroat and Thassa, God of the Sea- I wanted to try and replicate the effect that Silvergill Adept has in Merfolk decks, and I think a mix of the two cards does just that. These kinds of decks tend to run out of steam, and the more threats we can jam down their throats, the better off we’ll be.

Wurmcoil Engine- Need I say more? Just bash with it, that’s what it was made for.

Path to Exile and Vapor Snag round out our removal suite, and Sword of War and Peace gives us even more added protection. Just be careful about equipping things with Kira in play, you might leave yourself open to removal. But that’s why we have Gitaxian Probe, which also tells us when we can go all in or need to hold back.

Enjoy Pew Pewing, and I'll see you next article!  


Yes I know the decklist has by JXClaytor at Thu, 02/06/2014 - 13:15
JXClaytor's picture

Yes I know the decklist has Deathrite Shaman in it. It was submitted before the ban was announced, and I thought the piece was neat enough to give it a go!

As he says in the article, by Paul Leicht at Thu, 02/06/2014 - 13:53
Paul Leicht's picture

As he says in the article, thoughtseize can take its place.

Thanks for clarifying guys. by kcastle11 at Fri, 02/07/2014 - 17:25
kcastle11's picture

Thanks for clarifying guys. :) Arbor elf works just as well.

Just make sure to pack tormod's crypts or grafdigger's cages in the sideboard for opposing graveyard decks.