With my last article before Christmas, I wanted to use it as an excuse to make Christmas puns and bring you a cracker of a deck.
Recently, I was excited to discover Glittering Wish and that it’s legal in Modern. It’s a pretty Christmassy card to build a Modern-legal deck around. Christmas is the time of year that children wish for particular presents and spill glitter all over the floor which you still find 5 months later. Plus, if you combine Glittering Wish with red mana, you get the most appropriate colors for the time of year.
But how to use it?
I thought about trying to find a deck that wants to tutor for a missing combo piece, but I’m really not a combo sleuth, especially in a pool the size of Modern. So instead I want to utilize it as a toolbox card in a control deck with a combo finish. Which led me nicely to a combo-kill not seen in Modern at the moment, and features the most festive of animals—the swan.
Did you know the sleigh was traditionally pulled by swans?
Swans of Bryn Argoll was a force in Standard in its time, and did see some use in Extended. Both decks utilized this somewhat unusual card with my very favorite card: Seismic Assault. For those that haven’t seen this before it works as follows:
You get Seismic Assault and Swans of Bryn Argoll in play. You discard a land to target Swans. The 2 damage is prevented, and you draw two cards. Hopefully, you can repeat this until you have sufficient lands to kill your opponent.
To facilitate this, you run a high number of lands—including Dakmor Salvage which is purely a combo enabler. You discard it to Assault you then dredge it, and draw a card; so every activation is mill 2, draw 1. In case you get very unlucky or your opponent has too much life, the deck runs a reshuffle effect such as [card kozilek, butcher of truth]Kozilek[/card]. This either gets milled from a Salvage dredge, or you go to your discard step and discard it. There is a reshuffle trigger which resolves, and you get priority again before a second cleanup step to start again.
In Modern, you also have access to Life from the Loam to ensure a reasonable stock of lands to combo off with—and sometimes win without the Swans, if necessary.
I love Seismic Assault, but the power level of Modern Aggro Loam has fallen off as combo decks have become more prevalent, plus the abundance of maindeck graveyard hate with Deathrite Shamans everywhere. However, by rebuilding the deck with Swans to ensure a quicker finish against combo, and with decks like GW and Zoo which Seismic Assault loves to prey on becoming more popular, I feel it’s due for a return.
I just want to emphasise here that this deck has been designed for fun. It would be awesome if someone takes my raw turkey, roasts it, adds all the trimmings and turns out a top-level deck, but today is about festive fun.
And what summarizes Christmas better than some Fiery Justice. After all, Christmas is about eating too much and getting indigestion (or so all the TV ads tell me). If that isn’t Justice I don’t know what is.
Joking aside, Fiery Justice is exactly what this deck wants to power it towards that late game. Sure, your opponent gains life but you really don’t care with your killer Swans combo to win the game with.
The next big question was what to wish for, aside from the obvious pony and playstation?
As a labor of love, I trawled through the shops to find the very best stocking fillers and found the following multi-colored cards which make the perfect gifts (seriously, why is Gifts Ungiven not in this deck?).
We can also put a copy of Swans in the board, so that we are really running 7 copies in the main as well as that fourth Fiery Justice. There are a couple of other tempting cards, such as Naya Charm in case of Swan death, or getting a dredged Assault back.
By the way, it is illegal to kill Swans on British soil as they are owned by the Queen. So don’t even think about [card terminate]Terminating[/card] one or you’ll hang.
Seriously though, removal in the form of Terminate and Path to Exile is a problem for this deck, but hopefully we can combo off in response, or at least draw ourselves into a new copy for later. Sometimes you aren’t going to be able to go off straight away, so finding time to wish for Saffi will provide protection for your Swans from Terminate at least.
Going back to our toolbox sideboard—I hope the reasons for my choices are fairly clear. Firespout is another great sweeper against aggro, and by putting it in the board we don’t have to overload the main deck.
Fracturing Gust will just ruin Affinity players. Yes, they are fast, but with the other removal available we should get to five mana and then we can rip through their board state like a five-year old through wrapping paper. Assault has always been good against Affinity, so this spicy one-of might be unnecessary, but it’s only one slot.
Harmonic Sliver and Qasali Pridemage fill the same role, but in slightly different ways. By having both, we can get the Sliver if the problem has already resolved (probably Pod), but we can get Pridemage as a preemptive measure if it’s not already in play. I like having the different options available.
Naya is very short on ways to stop combo decks, but Gaddock Teeg will help against some Storm wins, Scapeshift, and even delay Eggs while leaving us unimpeded (unless you are trying to cast Fracturing Gust. But, why on earth have you wished for Teeg and Gust in the same matchup you lunatic?).
Vexing Shusher is a nod to anyone running counterspells in Modern at the moment (UW mid-range is the only one of note, I think).
“Enough beating around the Christmas Tree,” you cry, “Give me the deck list!”
As it is Christmas and you have been very good this year, I will acquiesce to your request.
I have put in four [card leyline of sanctity]Leylines[/card] to hopefully stop many of the annoying combo decks, although this deck can kill on turn four so you are perfectly capable of fighting it out. It may also help against opposing Slaughter Games, which could prove awkward—Swans beatdown was not what I had in mind.
I tried playing some games against Owen’s Haunted Zoo deck.
Here are my thoughts after some quick games:
As I expected, this deck is pretty strong against a creature-based deck. Its biggest problems are a very aggressive start or a Geist of Saint Traft. I found I wished a lot for Firespout to deal with this, and so it’s possible that they want to be in the main over Fiery Justice. However, (as a previous mtgdaily article demonstrated) Justice is just much more Christmassy.
Once you have Assault, Swans, and a Dakmor Salvage you can basically keep going indefinitely, so it’s always wise to accrue excess lands. It only costs you a little time and, if you use all your lands in a failed attempted to kill them (probably due to a well-timed Lightning Helix), then you are going to feel like a turkey at Christmas time.
Very few decks can deal with a resolved Assault. Abrupt Decay is the notable exception, but Jund is always annoying. There are many more answers to Swans being played, so it’s generally correct to resolve Assault first. It’s also just more useful to have down early as you can use it to control the board state, whereas Swans will probably just net your opponent cards so they can find an answer to your combo.
You almost always wish for Swans, but if you don’t have the Assault yet, then the utility cards come into play. It’s a shame there are no multicolored enchantment tutors in order to find Seismic Assaults. The Idyllic Tutor provides a slow fifth copy, and it may be that the deck wants to focus more heavily on finding the combo and simply play a sixth and even seventh copy.
This deck is hilarious fun (way better than Christmas jokes). Even after a little play, I already changed the list from the original build to make it more competitive. I said at the beginning that this deck is designed for fun, but with some work it could even win you a Modern tournament. If your store is adopting the new powers of running Modern FNMs, then definitely try it there!
All that is left is for me to wish you a Happy Christmas!