The new Standard metagame, and strong opinions about Aetherworks Marvel, have dominated MTG conversation over the past couple of weeks. But if you've been paying attention, there are plenty of other exciting and engaging narratives floating around these days. You just have to look for them.
Modern is always a good place to look for emerging metagame trends. The format is big enough and has a large enough following that things are always moving forward.
In The Corner Stands a Tool-Boxer, a Fighter By His Trade
"Come and knock on our door,
In the Top 6 will be two."
In particular, Modern is a place where you can look to be entertained with story time. People were quick to note that Amonkhet's Vizier of Remedies enables an infinite mana combo with Devoted Druid, but outside of noting that it exists and is probably good the talk has largely stopped there.
"The remedy is the experience
It's a dangerous liaison."
The combo is straightforward. If these two creatures are in play at the same time (and the Devoted Druid is not summoning sick) the player is able to continue to untap the Druid repeatedly and the Vizier stops the Druid from ever gaining -1/-1 counters when it untaps. The mana is so infinite…
Abzan CoCo has long been a steady and solid Modern deck and the option to diversify with Vizier of Remedies and Devoted Druid only makes the bench that much deeper. I love the way the deck now has a combo that doesn't go through the graveyard.
The core of the deck is and always will be Collected Company, Chord of Calling, mana dorks, and synergy creatures that create infinite combos. The key is that now you need to look at how people are building and tuning the deck to figure out what the ideal builds will look like.
How Much Combo is Too Much Combo?
I love when a deck reaches a critical mass where there are so many viable pieces that I legitimately have to cut things because there are too many good options!
The Collected Company combo has reached that point. Let's take a look at a couple of different lists and see what winning deck tuners have been on.
Joshua Lye, 3rd place at Aussie Modern
The first list looks like a traditional Abzan Company list based around the "Life" combo that incorporates the Vizier/Druid combo.
The advantage of a deck like this is that it has access to Kitchen Finks, which gives the deck an inherently good matchup against hyper-aggressive matchups like Burn.
Some traditions tend to persist…
You can also see other types of lists that forego the Finks and life plan, and focus hard on the Druid combo:
Lasse Bo Hansen, 1st place at GPT
The mono-Druid combo version of the deck has a lot of grind to it.
When did the world go crazy and green creatures become the best way to draw extra cards in Magic? One thing is for certain: between Collected Company and friends, green decks have a lot of staying power against traditional controlling strategies.
Whatever your preference, there are options available once the infinite mana combo has been assembled. Duskwatch Recruiter is pretty sick because it allows you to draw every creature in your deck and then cast them all.
Pros and Cons of Each Version
There is no consensus "best version" of the deck yet, but I will talk about what each version tends to do particularly well.
- The life combo doesn't have summoning sickness. If the 3 creatures are in play at the same time (regardless of whether they entered this turn), you can go off.
- Finks is an inherently great Magic card, with or without the combo.
- Better at the beatdown plan, especially post-sideboard.
- Black gives you access to Fulminator Mage.
- Viscera Seer isn't going to win games by itself!
- The more spots you devote to extra combo options the less room you have for grindy card advantage creatures like Recruiter and Eternal Witness.
- More streamlined in the sense that all of the pieces work together toward a common goal of grinding for the combo.
- Straight 2-color option means better mana, more resilience to Blood Moon, and less loss of life from shocklands.
- The deck can't go off until the Druid has shrugged off summoning sickness.
- Without Finks in the deck, nearly all of the creatures are fragile and not good at combat. Card advantage creatures are fine against decks without many creatures, but most decks have creatures that can attack and block these days.
- Non-black versions don't have access to Fulminator Mage against Tron decks (which is already a bad matchup).
Stuck in the Middle with You
I've been working on a version of the deck that suits my play style and walks the middle ground between the two types of lists.
I am of the opinion that the Devoted Druid combo is the absolute real deal. I love the fact that the card is more mana redundancy and a combo card, but I want to incorporate some elements of the Kitchen Finks package as well.
The name "Creatures Toolbox" is kind of inaccurate since the deck really doesn't function as much of a toolbox deck. Aside from the 1 copy of Scavenging Ooze in the main deck against Dredge there isn't much situational tutor targeting at work here. The deck just tutors for whatever piece of the combo that it doesn't have.
There are a few spicy tutor targets in the sideboard but for the most part the deck just grinds really hard for card and board advantage and eventually hits a critical mass that ends the game on the spot.
Final Thoughts on Playing Company
I've been a huge fan of Collected Company pretty much from the the beginning. The card is utterly insane. I made a bold prediction last year that the card would ultimately end up on the banned list in Modern. Keep in mind that I said "eventually"—I'm not saying it needs to be banned right now. The fact is that CoCo is already an insane card, but every new cheap creature only adds kindling the fire.
Vizier of Remedies is just the next step in the evolution of Collected Company creature combo, and a fine step it is!
Various G/W and Abzan combo decks have had the largest increase in Top 8 deck lists on MTGTop8 over the past few weeks and the deck only appears to be picking up steam as we move into the summer months. The deck is certainly important to familiarize yourself with as it is sure to be a format defining deck for months to come!