Modern Brainstorming

November 21, 2014

Hi there!

I hope you’re ready for some decklists today! I’ve chosen to list some of the decks I’m testing at the moment and tell you a thing or two about each of them: strengths, weaknesses and other stuff. I shall be attending Grand Prix Minneapolis at the beginning of May and really want to choose my deck soon and still have plenty of time for thorough testing, getting into the right mindset and so on.

Allow me to begin with my rebound girl after Deathrite Shaman got banned, and I couldn’t play my Junk deck from Grand Prix Antwerp and the Bazaar of Moxen anymore .



4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
2 Snapcaster Mage


4 Scapeshift
4 Search for Tomorrow
3 Farseek
1 Prismatic Omen
3 Peer Through Depths
2 Izzet Charm
4 Remand
4 Cryptic Command
4 Lightning Bolt


4 Misty Rainforest
4 Steam Vents
4 Stomping Grounds
2 Breeding Pool
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
1 Flooded Grove
3 Island
3 Forest
2 Mountain


3 Relic of Progenitus
2 Swan Song
2 Counterflux
2 Combust
1 Gigadrowse
3 Firespout
2 Fracturing Gust


Scapeshift is a deck that had a hard time against all the Liliana of the Veils that used to dominate the format. I even discarded the deck after the unbanning of Bitterblossom, scared that Faeries would establish itself as the combo slayer of the format. However, the metagame today is a different story. In a lot of matchups you can easily pseudo Time Walk them with cards like Remand, Lightning Bolt and Cryptic Command while making land drops, accelerating and cantripping into a lethal Scapeshift. The Blood Moon trend seems to be declining, and even though this card is far from unbeatable, it’s still a good thing for Scapeshift if it vanishes slowly. What makes this deck even better-positioned is the fact that Tron is basically non-existent, and therefore land destruction like Molten Rain, Sowing Salt and Fulminator Mage show up less often.

I use the sideboard slots to exile graveyards, win important counter wars and make sure I never lose to Splinter Twin. Swan Song answers Splinter Twin, Blood Moon, Cryptic Command, Pyromancer’s Ascension[/card] and Past in Flames, to name just a few enemies. That’s huge for one Blue mana. When playing against Counterflux, make sure to save your Remand, counter your own Scapeshift and try the same trick next turn.

What I dislike about the deck is the fact that you have to draw and resolve a Scapeshift to win the game. No matter how many times you cantrip and cast Peer Through Depths, sometimes your four win conditions remain in the bottom 30 cards of your library. These games cannot be won no matter how good a player you are. It’s pretty frustrating, but the overall strategy is so powerful and can ignore so many threats and game plans in the format that I’m convinced it’s worth the occasional anti-climatic game.

Next on the list is a deck I’ve played a few hundred matches with over the past three months. I was 99% sure I would play it at Grand Prix Minnesota until after the Pro Tour where Storm started to show up in big numbers. That was very unfortunate and the deck got shelved… temporarily.

Kiki Pod


4 Birds of Paradise
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Voice of Resurgence
3 Restoration Angel
2 Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker
1 Deceiver Exarch
1 Murderous Redcap
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Spellskite
1 Phantasmal Image
1 Zealous Conscripts


4 Birthing Pod
2 Domri Rade


4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Arid Mesa
2 Gavony Township
1 Rugged Prarie
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Steam Vents
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Breeding Pool


4 Path to Exile
3 Aven Mindcensor
2 Unified Will
2 Fracturing Gust
1 Trinket Mage
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Izzet Staticaster


No need to go into detail about the strengths and inevitability a resolved Birthing Pod grants its controller. I like the Kiki version over Melira for a few reasons. You can basically win on the spot with two creatures in play and a Birthing Pod – it’s just a matter of mana and life points. For instance:

– Voice of Resurgence gets Deceiver Exarch to untap Birthing Pod. Noble Hierarch gets Phantasmal Image, copying the Deceiver to untap the Pod once again. Image’d Deceiver gets Restoration Angel which blinks the Deceiver, which untaps the Pod. Restoration Angel gets Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker and you can now combo off.

– You have no creatures in play but a Birthing Pod (not completely unrealistic with Anger of the Gods in the format). You draw and play either Murderous Redcap or Glen Elendra Archmage. You get Zealous Conscripts after persisting your 4-drop, untap your Birthing Pod, sacrifice the persist creature again to get Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker. Conscripts + Kiki is also a combo and you win the game.

Aside from being better at comboing off than Melira Pod, this deck also handles better situations where you don’t have an active Birthing Pod. Playing a value midrange deck with 4 Voice of Resurgence, 4 Kitchen Finks, 3 Restoration Angel, 2 Domri Rade and 2 Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker is more than enough to overcome quite a few decks. I feel you need to build your Birthing Pod deck to be as strong as possible without a resolved Birthing Pod. If you manage to draw and resolve it, most games should be pretty straightforward, so playing without it on the battlefield should be your focus. Going up to four copies of each Voice of Resurgence and Kitchen Finks accomplishes this in a pretty simple way and should have been done a long time ago.

About Domri Rade. I see people play Chord of Calling in this slot. While I agree that Chord of Calling is more synergistic with your game plan of assembling Kiki and another creature to win the game, I also felt pretty bad when I sideboarded them out against people with Grafdigger’s Cage, Aven Mindcensor or Shadow of Doubt. I like adding another axis of card advantage to the deck that can beat the hate and just being an awesome value card either way. Resolve this once vs. UWR on turn-2 and you will never look back.

The sideboard makes up for your sub-optimal Splinter Twin and Storm matchups and provides some help vs. Affinity and Living End

There just might be too many Anger of the Gods floating around at the moment to play this deck, even though the recent winner of Grand Prix Richmond didn’t seem to care. I was cheering for the lone Kiki Pod player to take down the whole thing when I saw the Top 8 stacked with Melira Pod.

The third and last decklist for today is my take on Zoo. When Wild Nacatl was unbanned, people quickly jumped to the conclusion that Big Zoo would beat all the Small Zoo that people were going to play. As we witnessed at the Pro Tour, no one played Small Zoo and the ones playing Big Zoo got destroyed by various combo decks. Now that the hype is over, I feel it’s time to bring back Small Zoo which has a fighting chance against combo.

Small Zoo


4 Wild Nacatl
4 Kird Ape
4 Loam Lion
4 Experiment One
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Ghor-clan Rampager


4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
4 Path to Exile
3 Boros Charm


4 Scalding Tarn
4 Arid Mesa
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Marsh Flats
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Plains
1 Steam Vents


4 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Ancient Grudge
4 Swan Song
3 Magma Spray


A fast version of Zoo is capable of beating opponents on turn-4 fairly often. Three 1-drops on turn-2 is not a rare sight, and your opponent is then in some trouble. Ghor-clan Rampager can power through opposing Tarmogoyf and Kitchen Finks to break up a board stall. Note the addition of a Plains to make the Rampager realistically hard-castable against opponents equipped with Path to Exile

Boros Charm is the latest addition to the list. The most frequently used mode is as a direct damage spell, but “countering” Supreme Verdict, Engineered Explosives, Firespout or Anger of the Gods will come up in sideboarded games. You can even combo it with a bloodrushing Ghor-clan Rampager to create a double-striking monster, something I haven’t had the pleasure of doing yet. This card battled for a slot in the deck with Steppe Lynx, Vexing Devil and Mutagenic Growth, which are all playable though not very reliable options.

The sideboard is pretty straightforward. Tormod’s Crypt combined with a fast clock beats Storm, Living End and “random” graveyard decks that try to do broken things. A single Ancient Grudge is usually enough to beat Affinity with your wild animals before they recover. This slot used to be Stony Silence, but we don’t need the cross over for the Tron matchup anymore, and Ancient Grudge is a much better topdeck after the first few turns. Swan Song counters everything from Scapeshift to Past in Flames to Summer Bloom to Living End. It’s relatively easy to sit on an uncracked fetch land and blow your combo opponent out with a clutch Swan Song, leaving him with little to no time to recover. Magma Spray makes sure I don’t get stonewalled by a Kitchen Finks in combat and prevents them from accelerating into a quick Birthing Pod. Taking away their ability to accelerate and their 1- drop creature to Pod away is big game.

That wraps up today’s article. I mixed it up a little bit with three different decks instead of going into full detail about a single deck. I hope you liked it because I think I have the same thing in store for next time. Tweaking decks and learning about a number of decks at a time is my thing, so I’m looking forward to showing you three new ones next time!

Andreas Petersen @ facebook
ecobaronen @ MTGO
andiiment at hotmail dot com

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