Most people would consider me a deck nomad. That is to say, I do not stay on one deck for an extended amount of time. Some players take Affinity to every Modern tournament, while others might show up with an Esper control list no matter the format. I do have preferences and favor some things slightly, but generally, if you had to guess what deck I was playing for any given tournament, it would be a total shot in the dark.
However, in the last year or so, that has changed a bit. I have taken Eggs to 4 Grand Prix at this point and even played it in the local PTQ here in Colorado last weekend. Prior to the banning of Second Sunrise, I recognized the deck's power, like anyone did, but the deck seemed solved for the most part. Without a lot of room to develop the deck, I played it in one tournament before Sunrise was banned and that was about it.
Once Sunrise was banned, my interest was piqued. People seemed to immediately discount the deck, but I was not so sure. Going into the bannings, I assumed the most obvious and easy banning would be Lotus Bloom. Without Bloom, the deck could not function and lacked consistency. As future me now knows that with Lotus Bloom in Modern Masters that was not really an option.
Once Sunrise was banned, I took a step back to look at the deck. Remember that Faith's Reward was already a 4-of in the list and would allow the deck to still “go off,” it just lacked extra redundant copies of the card (and specifically 3-cost versions of the cards, which is where Bloom was amazing).
After some searching, Open the Vaults came up as a similar effect that could easily work in the deck. It could even retrieve artifacts lost long ago to a Thoughtseize or Creeping Corrosion, but it did cost 6 mana. In order to loop that type of card, you would need two copies of Lotus Bloom looping just to pay for the card, which is asking a lot. A new mana engine would need to exist in order to run 8 copies of recursion as Eggs was used to.
This all lead to a rediscovery of Krark-Clan Ironworks. KCI is one of the most powerful cards ever printed in terms of abusability, but it has rarely found a home. I don't want to get too deep into deckbuilding here, as I want to focus on the intracacies of the deck, but I cannot stress enough how important KCI is to this new style of the deck. Before I get into exactly why, here is the list I played at a local Denver PTQ this past weekend:
Notice how Lotus Bloom is only a 2-of these days? That is because of the presence of Ironworks and how it fundamentally warps what the deck does.
Your opening hands with this deck are a little different than with old Eggs. Lotus Bloom is no longer the end-all be-all that it once was. You will certainly take one in your opening hand, especially on the play, but one does not have to be there for you to keep. Generally, you want to only be Reshaping for Bloom to cast an early KCI.
I want about 2 lands in my opening hand, a Mox, 2 cantrip artifacts of some kind, a KCI, and one spell that can be anything basically. Reshape, Faith's Reward, Open, and Thoughtcast all work fine there.
Some matchups look to attack your hand. In that case, you will want a lot more cheap artifacts in your hand. This way you can play out your hand and then just wait to draw a KCI and go off. I managed to beat a Rack player by doing this and then simply drawing a card or two each upkeep to keep from dying to his Racks. Cards like Faith's Reward are still good, but having one in your opener is just going to expose it to the likes of Thoughtseize.
This is the place where most people get scared of Eggs. On the one hand, people are worried about “screwing up” as the Eggs combo they remember was very intracate and involved a lot of correct sequencing and you often had to do this over and over again until eventually everything comes up Milhouse. On the other hand, people are scared of Eggs because they remember just how long and painful it was to watch an opponent go off with Eggs. The turns were unreasonable in length, sometimes taking 15 minutes for a single turn and yet your fate is often inevitable.
KCI Eggs improves on both of these areas. Because KCI generates such an absurd amount of mana and will also draw you an absurd amount of cards due to the cantrip artifacts in the deck, the turn you play KCI will often be the turn you win. If you look at this list, we have nine different ways to power out a turn 3 KCI, which is a full turn faster than Bloom would resolve from suspend. Because of this, we aim to be a turn 3 deck at our best against a goldfish, but will often win a turn or two after when we are not under pressure or are trying to play around something, just to make sure everything goes smoothly.
You have two ways to “go off” under normal conditions and one will often run into the other midway through your combo.
In the natural scenario, you begin sacrificing artifacts such as Terrarion, Ichor Wellspring, and Chromatic Star to generate mana and card advantage. All of this mana and card advantage will eventually be used to cast a Faith's Reward or Open the Vaults when you eventually find one and have run out of fodder for your KCI.
You will continue to do this until you find additional copies of Faith's Reward/Open the Vaults, constantly digging deeper and deeper into your deck and making a million mana. Eventually, the goal is to draw Banefire and aim it at the opponent's face for lethal. Easy enough.
*Colorless mana is plentiful in this scenario but colored mana can be a choke point. Because of this, be extra careful to manage your mana properly. You are looking to draw Faith's Reward or Open the Vaults, which both require white mana, so floating that is always good. Blue mana to fuel Thoughtcast or Reshape is also nice, but will not be as necessary once you are deep in your combo.
What happens when you do not have access to additional Faith's Reward/Open the Vaults though? Maybe you just bricked off and didn't draw one or maybe you have somehow cast all 7 copies and not yet won (basically impossible, but work with me here). In these scenarios, you have Codex Shredder.
Codex Shredder allows you to “go infinite” while also allowing you to demonstrate a true loop, ending games MUCH faster than previous Eggs. Basically, if you ever get into a game state in which you have access to 9 mana, one of which is white, you can use Codex Shredder to Regrowth a Faith's Reward from your graveyard. Then, casting Faith's Reward with your remaining mana will return the Codex Shredder, rinse and repeat. Along the way, any cantrips from a Chromatic anything or Wellspring will allow you to continue digging further into your deck. At some point, you draw Banefire and win.
Because you can Reshape for Codex Shredder, it will often be correct to just do this mid-combo, demonstrate the loop to your opponent, and then show them the Banefire. Any reasonable person concedes in this spot, allowing the deck to win very quickly.
Playing Around Hate
Game 1 situations with Eggs are generally pretty straightforward. The opponent lacks ways to meaningfully interact with you, so it is mostly about setting up your combo and going off before your opponent kills you. An occasional counterspell might cause some issues, but there is basically no deck in the format with proper disruption to stop you in game 1. They may kill you first, but that is a different discussion altogether.
Once you get to game 2 situation the real test begins. Now your opponent will have cards to stop you. Below are tips and tricks to navigating around these obstacles.
Of course, the generic solution for most of these is simply to bounce them and win, but hopefully this is a little more helpful.
Occasionally, you will face this in a game 1 situation out of some Tron deck, so it is important to know how to handle this. The best thing to do would be to constrict your opponent's mana to a point where they will not have access to the one mana on your turn. This is difficult to do consistently, but occasionally an end-of-turn spell will force the opponent to tap out, at which point you need to take advantage of your one-turn window.
More likely, you will need to reach a point where you have a copy of Faith's Reward and another graveyard recursion spell and the mana to cast both. For example, I begin to go off, sacrificing artifacts along the way. My opponent cannot break his Relic during this, as I might respond with more sacrificing and then Faith's Reward. Instead, my opponent must wait for me to cast the Reward first.
Once I cast a Reward or an Open the Vaults, my opponent naturally has to break their Relic. At this point, you cast a Faith's Reward, returning all the things you originally planned on. From here, you want to let your opponent's Relic ability resolve but DO NOT let your original Open the Vaults or Reward resolve just yet. Once the graveyard removal is out of the way, sacrifice all of your stuff again, to KCI or just naturally, and then let your original recursion resolve. This will give you the same output as if you had just cast them separately while playing around the hate.
Rest in Peace is a little different than Relic because it will prevent your trinkets from cantripping as they never hit the graveyard. This means that the amount of fresh cards you have access to is limited. In these scenarios, you are looking to push the game longer. They have a card spent entirely on stopping you, which means whatever pressure they could have is diminished. You will often have quite a few turns to just play draw/go and set up a hand. Ichor Wellspring and Thoughtcast are your friend in this situation as you just want to make land drops and sculpt a winning hand.
From this point, you have two options. You can either bounce the RIP, which is what our sideboard plan would expect you to do, but you can also beat this just using the cards in the main deck. Because Banefire requires no critical mass of spells or anything, KCI into a board of a bunch of artifacts can just be lethal. Sacrifice all of those useless trinkets for some mana, add a red, and then deal the last 15 or 16 points of damage to your opponent after they hurt themselves with their mana base. This does mean you drew your one-of Banefire, but these things come up.
This is the archenemy of the deck and is probably the sole reason the deck is not more popular than it is. One of the advantages to picking up Eggs right now is that this card is seeing much less play than normal and it is the card you care most about in the format.
Stony Silence shuts off a big amount of your mana and most of your card draw. This makes it difficult to find answers to it as you are choked on every resource.
There is unfortunately no way to “play around” Stony Silence, once the card hits play, you only have one thing to do and that is find a bounce spell and use it. You want to drag the game out in a similar manner as with RIP and then bounce the Silence the turn before you go off (or sometimes on that turn).
If an opponent is playing Stony Silence against you and you have cantrip artifacts in play and not a bounce spell in hand, you should heavily consider breaking one or all of them until you happen to draw the bounce spell. You will have time to recover your permanent loss as most of your deck is of this category, but not finding a bounce spell means just losing the game.
I have always been a fan of fighting through counterspells as opposed to around them. The key to being able to do that though, is to generate enough threats that you overload an opponent's resource pool. This list can have trouble doing that at times, so you need to be willing to take both approaches depending on what you have to work with.
The following cards are ones that the opponent will usually counter, if given the chance:
Additionally, some players will prioritize cards like Thoughtcast as well.
Generally, if you can use any of these cards to rid an opponent of countermagic in order to resolve a KCI, the game is very winnable. Lotus Bloom is particularly nice at this because it comes in for free on upkeep and demands attention, else you just use it to begin combo'ing off.
Reshape is a great tool here as well as you can use them to sacrifice Wellsprings and bait counterspells all in one. An opponent has to answer a Reshape for 6 and you wanted the card off of that Wellspring anyway, so things tend to work out for you.
In post-board situations, you want to preserve important spells and protect them with Silence, Swan Song, or Defense Grid. Remember that Reshape can grab Defense Grid, so that acts as a powerful tool at 4 mana as well. Silence is so strong in this spot as it requires attention and drains you of very little mana. Control matchups either go very fast, or very slow, but both situations are pretty good for us, in my opinion.
Tips and Tricks
In the old Eggs, Ghost Quarter was one of the ways to generate extra mana. With just one GQ and a Bloom going, each Second Sunrise netted you a mana. Because KCI is such a big mana engine, this list does not rely on GQ in the same way. That said, the extra colored mana and thinning of lands can be crucial.
Remember to start any turn in which you know you will be going off by activating your Ghost Quarters on your own lands, preferably lands that also die, like Adarkar Wastes, or Islands etc. This will lessen your chances of bricking off by drawing lands and with every Faith's Reward you cast this turn, you are returning 2 lands untapped, generating mana.
If you think you will be going off, but need to draw the Reward or something, you can instead Ghost Quarter your Darksteel Citadel. This will leave you with the same land count in play, so you do not hamper future turns should you fizzle, but will still thin your deck and return some mana with Faith's Reward. It is not quite as profitable, but it is safer.
Shredder has combo implications, but it also has a little utility. Remember to activate the mill aspect every turn that you aren't going off. Using it on an opponent can be good if they are Scapeshift or something to potentially rid them of their win conditions but otherwise the card can be activated on yourself to dump more artifacts into the 'yard for a future Open the Vaults.
The first is to simply find Codex Shredder to establish your loop and win the game.
The second is to find Ichor Wellspring. You will find yourself at a dead end many times with a KCI in play and no gas left aside from Reshape. Reshape something like Darksteel Citadel into an Ichor Wellspring will not only generate you two cards and a Wellspring in the yard, but it also gets Citadel into your yard, effectively generating an additional mana with you recur it.
Lastly, you will Reshape for KCI on occasion, but six mana does not come easy.
Keep in mind that you can always find something lower than X. This means that if you are playing around Spell Snare, Reshape with an X of 1 can find Lotus Bloom or whatever.
There will be people that argue in favor of one of the two combo cantrips (Sleight of Hand/Serum Visions) but those cards are much worse while comboing off and are much worse in long games where card advantage is actually good. You will occasionally spend 3 mana on a Thoughtcast, sure, but that is because you have nothing else going on. If you had trinkets of any sort, you would play those and reduce the cost again.
I never mind spending three mana to set up an excellent next turn. Generally the spell is going to cost you one or two mana though.
Keep in mind that the casting cost gets locked in on announcement, before you actually pay costs. This comes in handy when you have no blue mana aside from Chromatic Star or Sphere and yet also want to cast Thoughtcast for one rather than two. You can announce the Thoughtcast, setting it to cost 1, then sacrifice your Star or Sphere to generate the blue mana to actually pay for it!
Eggs is certainly a deck you should consider for this PTQ season, but it is a metagame call more than anything. You can beat just about everything not named Stony Silence, so if you suspect that card is out of fashion, by all means. The deck can be built for relatively cheap online and with the new kill mechanism is actually testable in that environment as well. You need to invest in Mox Opals, but that is probably something you can make most of your money back on when you are done with them.
I am not sure how many more PTQs I will get to play in, but I had fun playing this last weekend, as well as in Minneapolis a month ago. To anyone looking to whip up some Eggs, don't forget the hot sauce! Thanks for reading!