When Matt Nass first brought his early versions of Rally the Ancestors decks to Team ChannelFireball, they were met with a lot of skepticism. Not only was he playing a bunch of different colors, but an entire deck built around some bulk rare seemed dubious at best. It turns out that Matt had it right, and Rally became one of the best decks in Standard for the duration of its time in the format, but can the same shell work in Modern?
Rally the Ancestors requires a very specific deck to work. You need both a ton of cheap creatures and a way to get them into the graveyard. You also need a sacrifice outlet, or they’ll be exiled shortly thereafter.
Like the Standard deck, the Rally combo centers around Zulaport Cutthroat. Because this is Modern, you actually get to play more than four of this effect, starting with four Blood Artists. They’re simply better in a deck that has no need for the 1 additional power. With a sacrifice outlet, the Blood Artist effects can turn Rally the Ancestors into an instant win. If you’re able to bring back several of these creatures, the life you’re draining the opponent for will multiply.
Modern also has the perfect sacrifice outlet. Viscera Seer has been a format staple since the days of Birthing Pod and Melira combo. In a deck like this that won’t necessarily be able to deal 20 in one turn, especially early on in the game, Viscera Seer will give you enough scry triggers to either find another Rally or other key card to allow you to finish what you started.
What has really allowed Rally to perhaps make a big splash in Modern is the printing of Stitcher’s Supplier. This is the enabler this deck sorely needed. For just a single mana, you mill three cards, and with a sacrifice outlet, you’re milling three more. Now you’re going to need to actually draw the Rally, but if you have access to the white instant already, the graveyard is where you wanted your creatures anyway.
The tools are there to make Rally work thanks to cheap mana creatures, various Blood Artist effects, and a cheap sacrifice outlet and mill creature. Combine all of this with Collected Company to gain value and find the pieces, and the Rally deck is capable of winning without even combo’ing off, like Pod decks of old. So how does this deck stack up against the competition?
Rally plays well against sweepers, but with the move to Terminus in U/W Control decks, things have gotten harder. Rally doesn’t care much about a Supreme Verdict, Pyroclasm, or Damnation, but Terminus or Anger of the Gods can be decimating.
Against aggro and midrange strategies, you should be able to put up a real fight. You’ve got lots of card advantage, ways to buffer your life total in Blood Artist effects, and even if your creatures die to removal or being forced to chump block, you have the trump card in Rally the Ancestors.
Against combo decks, things can be really rough. While the nut Rally draw can offer a pretty quick kill, it’s not as fast as many of Modern’s other combo decks and it offers no disruption. You’re playing Abzan, however, so things do get better after sideboard. With access to cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to slow them down, Thoughtseize to disrupt them, and the always powerful Stony Silence to throw a wrench in many decks’ plans, you’re prepared to swing tougher matchups in games 2 and 3.
I don’t know whether Rally the Ancestors is a potential tier 1 strategy, but it has all of the tools to win. With resilience to interaction like Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push, it may be the superior Collected Company strategy going forward.