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By: jay85, Jay Nelson
Jun 25 2015 11:00am
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  I've been trying to figure out how to get my hands on Tarmogoyf for about as long as I've been playing Modern, which has got to be around two years now. Last year a particular Splinter Twin deck was being played, and it included the usual cards like Serum Visions, Gitaxian Probe, Remand, Snapcaster Mage, and, of course, the Twin combo. But it also had a pretty strong back up plan in case the combo couldn't be pulled off or just wasn't there. That plan was Tarmogoyf.

 Thanks to Modern Masters 2015 I've finally been able to snatch up a playset of 'goyfs, and even though the Twin deck everyone seems to be playing right now is Grixis Twin, I've wanted to play Tarmo Twin for a while now. So I threw the deck together and fell in love with it. I enjoy it much more than the other Twin builds, and if you've been wondering if Tarmo Twin is still a viable option then I recommend you keep reading to find out.


 Unlike straight U/R Twin, this particular build is not as reliant on the combo. You can just as easily win with Tarmogoyf and Huntmaster of the Fells as you can with Splinter Twin. I think this is a good thing in the current meta since Twin decks are at the very top of the tier and everyone will be expecting this deck in a tournament. They'll be packing their Twin hate in their sideboards and even some in the main if they feel it will be a truly horrid match up to play against. If that's the case, Tarmo Twin don't care about no combo!


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Deceiver Exarch Pestermite Splinter Twin 

 This is our bread and butter, and really the entire reason to play this deck in the first place. The general gameplan is to flash in either Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch on your opponent's end step, then on your turn enchant one of them with Splinter Twin; make a bunch of dudes (preferably enough to actually defeat your opponent with) and then turn them sideways.

 This list is only running three Deceiver Exarchs. Other decks of this archetype use the whole playset, but like I said earlier, the combo is not as necessary as it is in U/R Twin. We can afford to trim down on Exarchs and be just fine.

 Another thing worth mentioning is when you're goldfishing, take into account any of your opponent's untapped mana. If you only make enough copies of Deceiver Exarch to deal exact damage, she may be able to disrupt you by flashing in a blocker like Snapcaster Mage or Restoration Angel. I like to make two or three extra tokens, just in case. And also remember, just because she is tapped out that does not mean she doesn't have any tricks up her sleeve. Slaughter Pact is a real card.


Snapcaster Mage Tarmogoyf

 Not much to say about Snapcaster Mage that you probably haven't already heard. The deck is playing a full playset, and rightfully so. The Mage is a staple in Modern and is good at beating down your opponent, just like...

Tarmogoyf. The 'goyf can put a lot of pressure on your opponent while she is trying to keep you from comboing off. It's a precarious position you are putting your opponent in. Should they keep mana open just in case you flash in Deceiver Exarch, or should they tap out and deal with this 5/6 Tarmogoyf that's killing them? Tough call. What's great is sometimes no matter what your opponent chooses to do, it's inevitably the wrong choice.


Dispel Gitaxian Probe Vendilion Clique

 We are running a single copy of Dispel mainly to protect our combo, but it can also save our Tarmogoyf from removal if we've decided to just play the deck as a midrange/control deck and forgo the combo.

 Gitaxian Probe lets us peek at our opponent's hand to see if it's safe to "go for it." With some decks I'd say you could cast Gitaxian Probe as early as turn one if you are using the spell mainly as a cantrip. But with a combo deck like this, I believe the correct play is to save it for as long as possible. Ideally, you'll want to be casting this the turn before you decide to flash in Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite.

 Vendilion Clique is like the Probe, but it can actually put a problematic card (like a Mana Leak or an Abrupt Decay) on the bottom of its owner's library. The Faerie can also just win the game for you if left on the battlefield unanswered. I love Vendilion Clique because it's basically a blue Thoughtseize on a 3/1 evasive body. 


Lightning Bolt Electrolyze  photo Roast_zps7hummj8q.png

 These three spells count as our removal package for the deck. Pretty common in most decks of these colors. Lightning Bolt is in the top three for being the best removal spell in Modern, right up there with Path to Exile and Abrupt Decay. Bolt can destroy just about anything in this format, or (and this is why I prefer it over Path and Decay) it can just be thrown at an opponent's face. I also like the combo of Lightning Bolt + Snapcaster Mage, otherwise known infamously as Bolt, Snap, Bolt. I just can't praise Bolt enough. It's one of the major draws for me to play Modern in the first place, and why Red is one of my favorite colors to play with.

 Electrolyze is a spell you can ring every last drop of value from in a lot of matches. Dealing two damage across the board and draw a card? Sign me up. It's great especially against Lingering Souls and keeps opposing Snapcaster Mages and Vendilion Cliques from beating your face in.

 Twin decks used to run Flame Slash in order to beat one of their biggest hosers, Spellskite. The Slash has now been replaced with Roast. I play two copies, and not because I'm that terrified of 'skite. Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Gurmag Angler are rampant right now thanks to the rising popularity of Grixis. Roast hardly ever gets sideboarded out. People will be bringing in Spellskite. You'll want this spell to deal with it.


Cryptic Command Remand Serum Visions

 The downside to playing a combo deck is sometimes you won't actually draw into your combo pieces. I've lost plenty of games where my only out was with the combo and I lost simply because I failed to find it. It's happened to me with Scapeshift, U/R Twin, Melira Pod, and now even with Tarmo Twin. This is why it is crucial to run cantrips in these kinds of decks. Along with Gitaxian Probe and Electrolyze, we use 13 cantrip spells. Vendilion Clique can also be used to target ourselves so we can get rid of a dead card and hope to draw into a combo piece.

 Serum Visions draws us a card and sets up our next two draws, and Cryptic Command almost always draws us an extra card. I'm not saying we should be drawing a card with it every time, but in most circumstances it is the correct play. Remand is a great counter spell, but it truly shines in tempo and combo decks such as this one. We couldn't care less about hard countering most things our opponents are trying to resolve. We just want to set them back long enough until we draw into Splinter Twin and either Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch.


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 photo Negate_zpsmkiglmgi.png Counterflux

 Negate is your typical counter that you will find in most sideboards. However, Counterflux is not, at least not anymore. For nonwhite decks, Counterflux is your best answer to Storm decks, but that's not really why it's in the sideboard. I can't remember the last time I faced Storm in a daily. I'm surprised by that fact, too. I figure Storm would be a great option right now since no one would be expecting it. I like decks that can fly under the radar of a current meta. 

 Counterflux is nice to have because when a counter war is about to start, Counterflux says, "Nope, we are done here." It should be noted that people can still play around the uncounterable ability. If you cast Counterflux targeting an opponent's spell, they could cast Remand targeting their own spell, thus countering Counterflux. If you've found that this spell is not all it's cracked up to be and Storm is not a threat right now, you can replace it with another Negate or Dispel and I'd be fine with that.


Ancient Grudge Vandalblast  

 If your deck is R/G/x then Ancient Grudge is your go-to spell against Affinity. It's instant speed removal that is cheap and can be used twice without the help from Snapcaster Mage.

 I'm not entirely sold on Vandalblast yet. I would typically just throw Shatterstorm in this slot, but i guess what you can do with Vandalblast is cast it the first time destroying a single artifact, and then later in the game flash it back with Snapcaster for its overload cost. I don't think it really matters what you use here. You could jam another Ancient Grudge in its place or just go with Shatterstorm. All that really matters is that you have plenty of artifact hate for when the dreaded Affinity matchup occurs.


Pyroclasm Izzet Staticaster

 Pyroclasm is our sweeper of choice. It's nice against Affinity and great against a lot of the Collected Company decks running around like Elves and Anafenza's Company. You could go with Anger of the Gods because it's better against Kitchen Finks, Murderous Redcap and Zoo decks, but I like Pyroclasm 'cause it's a tad cheaper to cast and it still destroys a lot of Anafenza's combo pieces, like Viscera Seer, Melira, Sylvok Outcast, and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit.

 Izzet Staticaster is brought in against Elves, Affinity, Young Pyromancer, and decks still running Lingering Souls. One thing worth mentioning is Soul Sisters is a surprisingly tough match up since they can gain life every time you put out a token when trying to combo off. Izzet Staticaster gets rid of Soul Warden and Soul's Attendant.


 photo Huntmaster of the Fells_zps68hyxbdn.png Keranos, God of Storms

 I love Huntmaster of the Fells. He's the kind of creature that can easily take over a game. I bring him in a lot, but especially against Junk, Jund, and Grixis. Those decks are packing a ton of removal, so it's nice to have a creature with ETB triggers. Even if they destroy Huntmaster of the Fells, you still gain two life and get a token. He's perfect for those grindy matches. I will usually replace two Splinter Twin for both Huntmasters.

 Most U/R decks run at the very least a single copy of Keranos, God of Storms. He's great against Control/Midrange decks because he is so hard to deal with once he resolves. I don't like the idea of running more than one, though. His cmc is expensive and he is a little slow. I think one is correct in this list.


 photo Rending Volley_zpszxxoywii.png Blood Moon Simic Charm

 For the mirror match, Rending Volley has replaced Combust. I'll bring the Volley in against more than just Twin, though. It's also really good against Restoration Angel and Delver of Secrets.

 I recently read an article (I think it was either on ChannelFireball or Starcitygames, I can't remember exactly) that said something along the lines of, Modern's meta is decided by Blood Moon decks. If a deck just rolls over dead to a resolved Blood Moon then it probably isn't good enough for Modern. Though I know there are exceptions to this. Amulet Bloom is probably the best deck right now, and it gets absolutely wrecked by Blood Moon. But the fact that Amulet Bloom can beat you on turn two might have something to do with why it is still playable in a format riddled with Blood Moon. The Moon is awesome against people still trying to make UWR Control a thing, and also is brought in against Amulet and Tron.

 I got the idea of including Simic Charm when I was perusing decklists and saw RUG Delver. In my old U/R Twin build I have one copy of Mizzium Skin in the sideboard and I thought Simic Charm could be used in much the same way to protect our Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite. But I also liked that it could be used on a Tarmogoyf to give it +3/+3, and the Charm can also be used like a Vapor Snag if need be.


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 So in that last round when I blocked the Snapcaster Mage first with Izzet Staticaster before destroying it, it was the correct sequence to do that, but it was just the wrong scenario. I learned long ago that if your opponent gives you a chance to block then you should do that first, then cast a removal spell like Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile. That way if they counter the removal you are still blocking. If you pass the block step without blocking and they counter your removal spell then you end up taking the damage. Make sense? My brain was in the right place, it was just wrong because I was destroying Snapcaster with the Staticaster's ability, not with a removal spell. So yeah, what I did was kind of cute, but I didn't mean it to be like that.

 Anyways, I really enjoyed the deck. It's a strong option to consider for a tournament. The Twin combo is a proven tactic and you can pull some free wins with it, and Tarmogoyf is such a strong creature even with the delve mechanic being so relevant in Modern, he still ends up being a 3/4.

 I love combo decks, which may be why I enjoy Modern so much. I love playing them and I don't mind playing against them, either. If you're looking for a deck to play with and money isn't a real concern then pick up Tarmo Twin and give it a spin!

 I really do appreciate you guys for taking the time out of your busy day to read my article and watch my videos. Doing these articles is a bit time consuming, but I love writing and I also enjoy sharing my matches with you, so thank you and I'll see you next time!  


I played this deck briefly by Joe Fiorini at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 14:06
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I played this deck briefly before selling all my Modern staples to buy into Legacy. If I did start to play Modern again, the decks I'd want to play would be RUG Twin, Scapeshift, Tron, or perhaps Jund. Probably a deck with blue in it. I never got to cast Cryptic Command, and I want to try it some day.

Casting Cryptic Command is a by JXClaytor at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 22:21
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Casting Cryptic Command is a dream. That's all I know about it!

Lanterns 4 LIFE by Joe Fiorini at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 14:32
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You should ask your readers for deck suggestions some time. I did that, and it was interesting.

I vote for Lantern Control!

Lantern Control!? Oh, man, by jay85 at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 19:30
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Lantern Control!? Oh, man, I'd rather saw my foot off, shoot it, and then sew it back on then play that deck... Let me see if I can get the cards. Maybe you'll see some videos from me in the near future. But if any one complains to me in the daily then I'm going to tell them to take it up with Islandswamp!

I forgot to add the emoticon by Joe Fiorini at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 19:39
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I forgot to add the emoticon for "I'm kidding" :) Maybe though if you added more green cards and called it "Green Lantern" then it would be ok!

Thank God! For a minute there by jay85 at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 20:44
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Thank God! For a minute there I thought you hated me or something. lol

What advantage does Tarmo by TheKidsArentAlright at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 16:11
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What advantage does Tarmo Twin have over Grixis right now? I'm by no means a Modern expert, having just started playing the format last week, but it seems like Tasigur/Angler are more resilient than Goyf and Terminate, IoK, and K Command outclass anything green brings to the table.

I've played Grixis Twin and by jay85 at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 19:24
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I've played Grixis Twin and liked it. I don't think it's a bad deck, but I just prefer Tarmo Twin over it. Goyf does have a slight advantage over Tasigur, which is Tasigur is legendary. Grixis Twin usually runs two Tasigurs and no Anglers. Grixis Delver is the deck that you'll most likely see Angler, not Twin. Another thing I like about Tarmo is that Gitaxian Probe gives us information and draws a card, enabling us to dig a little deeper for a combo piece. Inquisition doesn't dig. K Command is pretty sweet, no argument from me there, and all Grixis Twin is doing is replacing Roast for Terminate. The decks are very similar and your goal with either deck is the same. It mostly just comes down to personal preference.

Gotcha, thanks. I had by TheKidsArentAlright at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 20:01
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Gotcha, thanks. I had assumed that Twin ran 2 Tasigurs and 2 Anglers. But I guess there's no room for Thought Scours, making the deck unable to support 4 Snapcasters and 4 Delve creatures. I think, though, that if I branch out to Twin I'll just build Grixis since I already have Chapin's control list built and Goyfs plus the green duals are a significant financial commitment on top of what I'd already need to buy.

If you already have most of by jay85 at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 20:48
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If you already have most of the cards for Grixis Twin, then go with that. Any Twin build is a lot of fun and not just because of the free wins you can get from it, but also how the deck plays. These Twin decks can switch gears pretty easily and become more control, which is another nice archetype I enjoy playing. Build Grixis Twin and you're not far off from also having Grixis Delver, so that's also a plus!

Yea, I'm on Grixis Control by TheKidsArentAlright at Thu, 06/25/2015 - 21:45
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Yea, I'm on Grixis Control right now, more or less Pat Chapin's list from GP Charlotte, and having a lot of fun with that. I also incidentally have a Delver list since I have the cards from Vintage, just missing the Blood Moons and running Fulminators for now. The reason I'm considering buying Twin is all the Tron decks I'm seeing. I appreciate the advice and will definitely consider it if I decide to pull the trigger this weekend.

I just snagged an invitation by jay85 at Sat, 06/27/2015 - 01:44
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I just snagged an invitation to the Modern Festival Finals with this deck. It took me to a 4-1 victory. Not saying Grixis Twin isn't as good, but after the daily I showcased in my article and now this, I'm sticking with RUG!

You can't Snapcaster Mage by MarcosPMA at Sat, 06/27/2015 - 03:20
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You can't Snapcaster Mage Vandalblast and pay the overload cost. The overload cost is an alternate casting cost for the card, and Snapcaster Mage only allows you to cast a card for its original mana cost.

Thanks for the correction, by jay85 at Sat, 06/27/2015 - 08:08
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Thanks for the correction, Marcos. I wasn't sure about that and I wanted to say something nice about Vandalblast since I'm not a fan of the card in the first place, but I was wrong.

Nice article. How do you by olaw at Sat, 06/27/2015 - 03:42
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Nice article. How do you feel about Bounding Krasis from Magic Origins for RUG Twin? I'm not sure whether it's better than Pestermite or Exarch though it is a far better beater than Exarch.

I could see it being played, by jay85 at Sat, 06/27/2015 - 08:12
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I could see it being played, but not as a four-of. The only cool thing about it is the beatdown it can deliver. But not being able to tap or untap lands with it is why I think Exarch and Pestermite are better.