Gifts Ungiven is one of the more powerful cards in Magic, and it brings with it some of the most interesting deck building decisions you’ll find.
Gifts Ungiven asks that you search your library for up to 4 different cards and let the opponent put 2 of them into the graveyard. But you have the luxury of complete information, while the opponent is left guessing. This can make things especially tough when you Gifts for value. Your opponent might try to deny you sweepers or removal in a situation where those cards are particularly important by giving you the otherwise better cards in the pile. But they end up on the wrong side of the deal if you already have the sweepers or removal in hand.
By allowing you to pick up to 4 cards, you have the option to put fewer cards into your hand if you would prefer them to be in the graveyard. The “combo” with Gifts involves getting any creature and an Unburial Rites with no other cards. In the main deck, that is Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Elesh Norn will kill most creatures, and any others will be severely impaired. Since Elesh Norn also pumps your team and is a massive creature with vigilance, that’s usually more than enough to win.
The other combo here is Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek. Having access to both of these cards will allow you to sacrifice the Sword to the Foundry, make a 1/1 Thopter, gain 1 life, and then bring the Sword back equipped to the Thopter to repeat. This gives you a Thopter and a life for every mana you have. You can start the combo with Sword in the graveyard if you have another artifact, but with Academy Ruins, you can get the combo back.
Gifts can also play plenty of transmute cards to fill in the gaps. Need an Academy Ruins? Search up Tolaria West to transmute for the 2nd copy. Want an additional Thopter Foundry? Muddle the Mixture can get the job done there.
You want plenty of removal, and diversity for Gifts. Wrath of God and Supreme Verdict tend to be 1-ofs. Engineered Explosives can act similarly. Path to Exile is your best removal spell, while Detention Sphere, Oblivion Ring, and Runed Halo can deal with problematic permanents that slipped through the cracks.
The only other creature besides Elesh Norn in the main deck is Snapcaster Mage. Snapcaster can flashback a Gifts, or bring back any instant or sorcery that opponents choose not to give you. If you desperately need a sweeper and only have access to Verdict and Wrath in your library with Gifts, Snapcaster can ensure you still cast your game-saving spell.
Gifts is a powerful card and the glue to hold together several different great combos. With tons of play to the deck, and the ability to board in other awesome game-winning creatures (I’m looking at you, Iona), Gifts is another player among the great Modern decks.