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By: olaw, Oliver Law
May 03 2019 12:00pm

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Welcome to Rogues' Gallery!  In what I hope will become a new series shining a spotlight on innovative deck building in the Modern format.  Scouring the internet for sweet decklists and new trends is already something I do regularly as part of looking for content for my Becoming A Modern Man series.  As such, I thought recording and discussing some of my finds could be both fun and a good read.  It hopefully will inspire some others too or help me gauge interest in a deck before featuring it on a full Becoming A Modern Man article.

I've seen various articles of this type come and go so I wanted to create a format that was hopefully sustainable.  My idea is to try and make this article a monthly thing looking back on the past month's decklists, so as to give me a good selection of decks to discuss and not to burn out.  Trying to put together sweet rogue decks weekly tends to end in people running out of interesting things to talk about.  With the London mulligan testing currently ongoing online, and at the Mythic Championship, I felt like April would be a good month to start and hopefully May will bring us some awesome War of the Spark inspired brews.


The first deck I want to spotlight is Esper Control.  This deck seems to have caused quite the stir in the format, largely on the back of a 2nd Place run from Zach Allen at SCG Open Cleveland on 6-7 April.

UWx Control decks are certainly nothing new in the format but Red has been the go-to colour for UW Control decks looking to branch out into a third colour.  The deck capitalises on the graveyard hate available in Black, in an increasingly graveyard focused metagame, using Kaya and main deck Nihil Spellbombs as some of its main reason for moving into Black.  We also get to see the surprise appearance of Esper Charm in the main deck, a versatile draw, discard or enchantment removal spell which is great in various situations and blows up Pyromancer Ascension from Izzet Phoenix decks.

Another nice aspect of the deck, with War of the Spark's arrival, is this is that this list runs three different planeswalkers for a total of six.  Proving that planeswalkers have made a real impact on Modern in recent times.  Kaya particularly has seen a surprising uptake in recent times.

If you want to hear more from Zach Allen regarding his deck choice, you can read his Channel Fireball article about the deck.  You can also check out the interview with Zach done by one of my favourite Modern writers at the moment (and fellow Brit), Emma Partlow, at Hipsters of the Coast.


The next decklist I want to showcase is a deck that is something of a throwback.  This Izzet Wizards list from Seven3821 has managed to make a couple of 5-0 league finishes and is very much in the style of old Delver decks.  The deck also takes advantage of the recent Wizard synergies from Dominaria, with Wizard's Lightning playing a staring role.

I actually played a list not too dissimilar from this deck back in the past, which was a brew by h0lydiva.  These types of speedy aggro decks can find a place in the format but seem to be very much on the fringes of things at the moment.


The next deck I want to talk about is Cheeri0s or Sram-0s.  This deck has been around for a while but really benefits from the London mulligan rule as the deck needs to ensure it has either Puresteel Paladin or Sram in its opening hand, which is much more achievable with the new mulligan rule.  Zymak on MTGO has managed to pilot the deck to multiple 5-0 finishes in the Competitive Modern Leagues.

For anybody unfamiliar with the deck, the idea is to put a Puresteel Paladin or Sram onto the battlefield and then cantrip your way through your deck by casting 0-cost equipment, of which there are 20 in the deck.  Retract and Hurkyl's Recall allow you to return all your equipment to your hand and recast them to dig deeper into your deck, while Mox Opal gives you the mana to keep casting spells to avoid fizzling.  The win condition is then a huge Grapeshot.

Noting the Monastery Mentor in the sideboard, it's quite possible this is a deck that will be interested in the new Saheeli, Sublime Artificer as an alternate win condition.

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer


The first list I have to share, and my personal favourite, is probably the most bizarre decklist to 5-0 the Modern Leagues this month (maybe even any month). 

The deck is a very original take on the Eldrazi Processor decks of yore, which were popular just before Oath of the Gatewatch hit.  The deck uses processors like Wasteland Strangler and the more bizarre Ulamog's Nullifier as ways to disrupt the opponent while exiling cards using Tidehollow Sculler, Path to Exile, Spell Queller, Rest in Peace and Relic of Progenitus to help fuel those cards.  The idea is that you can nullify the drawback of cards like Sculler and Spell Queller by removing the exiled cards so they can never return to the opponent's hand, while also gaining advantages from the Processor creatures.  A truly unique and incredibly interesting take on this type of deck.

SaffronOlive took this deck for a spin on MTGO if you want to check out his video to see the deck in action.

The next two lists come after the London mulligan coming into effect on MTGO on 10 April.  Eldrazi lists gain from the London mulligan in that it becomes much easier to craft a hand with Eldrazi Temple to ramp you up.  That said this particular list still does some interesting things eschewing the usual Eldrazi colour combinations for a Mono-Black approach.

As we have already seen, Black gives access to graveyard hate that is proving important in the current metagame but also gives access to Liliana, hand disruption and Ifnir Deadlands as relevant tweaks.

Some Eldrazi variants further pursued the power of the London mulligan, with Serum Powder and Gemstone Caverns and Simian Spirit Guides to ensure a speedy start.  Mark Jacobson went 8-2 at the Mythic Championship with this Mono-Red Eldrazi list:

The sideboard lists on the Wizards website don't list the numbers for the sideboard cards but I assume those are all the cards in the list in various numbers.

SaffronOlive took a similar list for a spin on an edition of Much Abrew if you want to see him testing out the deck.  The deck is really about mulliganing hard to the most insane hand possible, usually fueled by Eldrazi Temple or Gemstone Caverns.

Orzhov Midrange

Another exciting list to come out of the Mythic Championship is Ben Stark's Orzhov Midrange deck.  Stark described it as a non-green alternative to The Rock decks in the format, giving the same hand disruption but being slightly more planeswalker focused and also having access to Lingering Souls.



The final decklist I want to bring comes from MagicFest Sao Paulo in which Wendell Santini played a tasty and relatively budget tokens deck to Day 2 of the Grand Prix event.

This list is super cool with a lot of the cards coming from recent sets and it present a relatively budget option for a Modern deck.  The deck seems very consistent in what it does with the redundancy of so many two-mana token generators.

That's all for this article.  It's been an interesting month with the London mulligan testing online and at the Pro Tour and we are waiting to see the long term effects of that.  I think the new mulligan rule does skew modern somewhat but it doesn't seem to have broken the format as some predicted.  It did, however, enhance the popularity of Tron significantly.  We will see how this develops.  I hope to return next month with more great Modern brews, hopefully featuring some of the new War of the Spark cards.

I'd love to hear from you with your thoughts about these brews and if you would like to see me feature any of these decks in a Becoming A Modern Man article.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)
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