Introducing Pack Rat to Modern

January 10, 2015

Today, I want to introduce you to a new modern archetype that has recently popped up on Magic Online after ‘immapwner’ 4-0′ed a few Daily Events with it, followed by a 3rd place PTQ finish from Craig Wescoe and a few more Daily Event 4-0′s with his take on it. The deck looks like an interesting alternative to the regular BGx Rock decks floating around and being pretty popular right now.

Here’s immapwners list for starters:

Bw Pack Rat by immapwner

The game plan of the deck is very similar to the one of BG Rock or Jund. Hand disruption combined with a few game-ending threats backed up by Liliana of the Veil and Dark Confidant to grind them out.

Let’s take a look at what makes this deck differ from Jund and BGx. First of all, the deck gives up on Tarmogoyf, Scavenging Ooze, Courser of Kruphix for Lingering Souls, Pack Rat, Tidehollow Sculler and Brimaz, King of Oreskos. So what does this do? Pack Rat gives the deck an extra option to just run away with the game with turn one discard into turn two haymaker, since Pack Rat is a lot better at taking over a game on its own than Tarmogoyf. Pack Rat also adds additional lategame value since you can simply turn all these blank discard spells and extra lands into rats to swarm the opponent.
Lingering Souls is great in the more grindy fair matchups, such as the pseudo-mirror or UWR type decks, it also helps a lot with one of the weaker matchups of these types of decks: Affinity. It also has great synergy with both Liliana of the Veil and Pack Rat. Even one of the best ways to answer Lingering Souls, Electrolyze, only deals with half of it which makes it really hard for any type of deck trying to play fair to handle it.
Brimaz, King of Oreskos makes a decent [Tarmogoyf] impression while even doing a better offense/defense job thanks to Vigilance.
Tidehollow Sculler replaces the disruption of Ooze with additional hand disruption which is more universally applicable than graveyard hate. Also, turn one discard into turn two Sculler should be tough to beat for all the combo decks floating around in modern, while still being a fine card in fair matchups – compared to extra discard spells.
Second, it exchanges Lightning Bolt and the green black removal for Path to Exile and some extra black removal to compensate. While Bolt is really efficient it is also quite limited in what it can kill. Path to Exile is a lot better at dealing with Tarmogoyf, Restoration Angel, Celestial Colonnade, Voice of Resurgence, Deceiver Exarch, large Scavenging Oozes, persisters and many more and since there is a lot of those around recently Path seems quite appealing to me.
Two Baneslayer Angels maindeck seems a bit rough for me since they are either really good or completely useless at five mana versus combo decks of any kind. To me it seems more like a one of or a sideboard card at best but I guess against some decks it can win the game on its own. Also Batterskull could be a better option for that spot, in particular with Spirit Tokens.

So here is where I would start with the archetype for the PTQ season:

Bw Pack Rat by ManuS

irst of all, Blade Splicer over Brimaz, King of Oreskos gives the deck a better card versus opposing Lilianas and helps with fighting Etched Champion out of Affinity. The golem also helps in fighting Kitchen Finks with exalted or a Gavony Township activation. The first strike of the golem makes it also more efficient in blocking versus fringe decks like Bogles. In terms of a clock, Brimaz is a bit better over multiple turns but usually only barely. Combined with Restoration Angel it also adds a nice tiny surprise and a card advantage package to the deck that can pull you ahead or even blow out your opponents.
The first strike also plays nice with Vault of the Archangel.
An interesting alternative to Restoration Angel could be [Desecration Demon] like in some BG Rock decks, since he hits a lot harder.
As already mentioned, Batterskull seems like a much better fit than Baneslayer Angel and I don’t really want to run more than 1 5 cost card in my fair modern deck.
I felt that with access to black removal, three Path to Exile seems like the right number, since drawing too many in matchups where the land matters or having to cast it too early is too huge of a drawback if you have other ways to deal with early creatures.
Darkblast seems great right now and there is barely anything that Disfigure kills in the major decks that Darkblast doesn’t.
Here a list of cards that Darkblast kills in tier 1 decks:

It also kills a lot of one-offs in Pod decks and many more.
It also mills into Lingering Souls occasionally.
In Addition, I shaved one Lingering Souls since I think it is only good against about half of the field where you are playing grindy fair games of magic and very slow and low impact versus the other half.
Temple of Silence seemed too ambitious to me, considering how fast-paced modern usually is and how many color fixing alternatives you have as well as how low the mana requirements are for the deck.

The deck looks like a really nice consistent alternative to the classic GBx Rock decks running around right now.
Pack Rat gives you the option to develop your board further at instant speed by discarding clunky sorcery speed cards or blanks and excess lands while keeping up mana for removal to stop Splinter Twins’ combo for example or if a creature deck tries to attack into your rats to make them fight better.
Tidehollow Sculler provides you with extra hand disruption versus combo and Lingering Souls gives you an edge in grinding out other fair decks head to head.
Another advantage is that you get to run run cards like Stony Silence in the sideboard, which are very powerful and flexible in the format to deal with a multitude of problems, such as, Tron’s entire array of artifacts, Affinity, Birthing Pod and a bunch of other fringe things that might come up.

On the sideboard:

2 Disenchant (Twin, Affinity, Storm, Bogle, Tron)
2 Drown in Sorrow (Affinity, Storm, Bogle)
3 Fulminator Mage (UWR, Twin, Tron, BGx, Scapeshift)
1 Grafdigger’s Cage (Storm, Pod, UWR, Scapeshift, Twin)
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence (Twin, Pod)
1 Phyrexian Arena (UWR, BGx)
1 Slaughter Pact (Twin, Affinity, BGx, Pod, UWR)
2 Stony Silence (Affinity, Pod, Tron)
1 Sword of Light and Shadow (UWR, GBx, Pod)
1 Zealous Persecution (Affinity, Storm, Bogle, Twin)

This should roughly cover what the sideboard cards are good against, or are supposed to be used against.

As usual questions and criticism is welcome in the comments.,
That’s it for today,


Bonus decklist:

This is based off of Travis Woo’s Bw Vial Rats.

The Deck is more like black Merfolk.

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