Game Plan

  1. UR Splinter Twin’s main victory condition is to win by assembling the combination of Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite in conjunction with Splinter Twin to create infinite tokens with haste and win the game.
  2. Plan B involves using permission and burn spells to clear the way for Snapcaster Mages and Vendilion Cliques to finish off the opponent. This happens quite often and is one of the big draws to playing the deck. UR Twin is a combo deck that is fairly resilient and can win by playing the role of an aggro-control deck.

Deck Difficulty (Hard) – This is definitely a deck that takes some practice to play. It is important to be able to identify what removal spells the opponent can have on any given turn. Vendilion Cliques help, but if you are very new to the format, I would suggest playing 2 Peeks over 2 Sleight of Hands as it is much easier to combo off knowing the entire contents of the opponent’s hand.

Weaknesses

Junk is probably one of the worst matchups for the deck. Hand disruption, Abrupt Decay, and Liliana of the Veil are all very good against Twin. Abrupt Decay in particular is annoying as it disrupts the Twin combo and cannot be countered. On top of that, Junk features Tarmogoyf, which applies pressure very quickly and can force you to try to combo off and hope that they don’t have a removal spell. The matchup does get much better after sideboard as the deck morphs into a Blood Moon control deck and basically foregoes the combo and tries to win with cards such as Keranos and Batterskull.

Decks with fast clocks can outrace the Twin deck. Splinter Twin has evolved and added more ways to interact with opposing decks to help combat this. As a result, the deck has also slowed down a bit and can’t combo off as quickly as it used to.

What is a Favorable Metagame for this Deck?

Splinter Twin is favored against Affinity, R/G Tron, Living End, Martyr, and Infect. When choosing to play a deck in a large field, UR Twin is a very solid choice as it preys on all of the “random” decks that you’ll play in a tournament. I have played in tournaments where I played against a different deck in every single round. This is very common in Modern as there is a ton of deck diversity and even the tier 2 decks are very competitive.

U/R Twin also has pretty much a 50/50 matchup against the rest of the tier 1 decks in the format with the exception of Junk. It is a very skill-intensive deck and will reward tight play as there are many decisions to make during a game (or you can just cast turn 3 Deceiver Exarch, turn 4 Splinter Twin every game).

Deck Core Cards

  1. 4x Splinter Twin: The reason why this deck exists. Allows you to make infinite Pestermite/Exarch tokens with haste for the win.
  2. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker: Splinter Twin #5
  3. Deceiver Exarch/Pestermite: These are the creatures necessary to combo off with Splinter Twin. Deceiver lives through Bolt, which is huge, but Pestermite is a much better aggro-control role-player. Which direction you want to lean will decide this split.
  4. 4x Serum Visions: As a combo deck, there needs to be some form of deck manipulation and this is the best that Modern has to offer.
  5. 4x Lightning Bolt: Cheap, efficient removal and goes very well with Snapcaster Mage
  6. 4x Remand: Pseudo permission but also a cantrip which allows you to get closer to combo’ing off.
  7. 4x Snapcaster Mage: Goes very well with all the cheap spells that go in the deck. Allows the deck to win without combo’ing as the deck can function as an aggro-control deck.
  8. 2x Vendilion Clique: Provides valuable hand information and is a form of disruption to protect your combo. It also does a good job of putting some pressure on the opponent’s life total, which is very important for plan B (burn ’em and bash ’em)

Deck Optional Cards

  1. 2x Sleight of Hand: Helps find the combo and smooth out draws. Could be replaced by more interactive cards.
  2. 2x Spellskite: Helps protect the combo and is very good at countering Abrupt Decay. Fairly bad in a metagame where Junk and Splinter Twin are not heavily played.
  3. 1x Flame Slash: A 5th Lightning Bolt of sorts. Another cheap removal spell to buy back with Snapcaster Mage and can potentially kill Tarmogoyf. Not as good in a more combo-heavy field.
  4. 1x Electrolyze: I like value and drawing cards. Do you like value? If Zoo becomes very popular, then Electrolyze is not an ideal maindeck choice.
  5. 2x Cryptic Command: Number varies from 1-2. Great versatile card that can get you out of a jam when no other card can. Could be a bit slow if the format becomes filled with fast aggressive decks.

Sideboard Cards

  1. 2x Dispel – Great against other blue decks and Storm. Allows you to win counter wars to combo off.
  2. 2x Negate – Similar to Dispel but is more versatile as gets important cards like Scapeshift, Living End, and Karn.
  3. 1x Engineered Explosives – Great against aggressive decks featuring a ton of 0- and 1-drops. Mainly for affinity, Bogles, and Zoo.
  4. 2x Anger of the Gods – Sweeper effect for the Zoo/Affinity matchups. Was much better when Birthing Pod was around but should still be a very solid card in the deck.
  5. 2x Blood Moon – Backbreaking against certain decks. A powerhouse against R/G Tron, Junk, and even effective against Zoo
  6. 1x Threads of DisloyaltyTarmogoyf is a problematic creature and Threads is the best answer to it. Another card to bring in against Zoo but also good against Junk.
  7. 2x Keranos, God of Storms – One of the key cards as part of the “transformational” sideboard when many people will likely be ready to deal with the Splinter Twin combo after game 1. Keranos allows you to win the game off of sheer card advantage.
  8. 1x Batterskull – Much like Keranos, another alternate win condition after sideboard. It may even be good enough in the main as it is strong against Jund, Zoo, and Red Deck Wins.
  9. 2x Ancient Grudge – Affinity is going to be a major player with the bannings and Ancient Grudge is one of the absolute best cards against them. You could even play a Shatterstorm over an Ancient Grudge if you want to really beat Affinity.

The Best Cards Against You

  1. Abrupt Decay, Path to Exile, Dismember, Slaughter Pact: Instant-speed removal spells are all good as they disrupt the Splinter Twin combo. Slaugher Pact and Abrupt Decay are particularly strong as they are difficult to play around.
  2. Thoughtseize/Inquisition of Kozilek: Hand disruption is naturally good against Twin as it is a cheap and effective way to disrupt the combo. Thoughtseize is better than Inquisition as it can also get Cryptic Command, Splinter Twin, and Kiki-Jiki.
  3. Liliana of the Veil: Liliana forces the Twin deck to attempt the combo as the +1 effect will eventually run you out of resources.
  4. Counters: There aren’t too many counters that are played in Modern, but a dedicated blue-based control deck could pose problems for the deck.
  5. Spellskite: Spellskite is problematic since it can redirect a Splinter Twin aimed at your creature to itself.
  6. Combust: A sideboard card, but probably one of the best against Twin. There is no way to actually counter this, and even Spellskite doesn’t do the trick. If you expect a lot of Combusts, I recommend playing Mizzium Skins in the sideboard.

Tips and Tricks

  1. It’s not always correct to Vendilion Clique opponents on their draw step. If you have counters in your hand, it’s better to wait until their end step. You can also Clique yourself if you have drawn multiple Splinter Twins and want to filter through them.
  2. Try to figure out what removal spells your opponents have represented based on the mana they left untapped. This will allow you to better assess whether or not you can combo off.
  3. Use your Pestermite/Deceiver Exarch to tap down the lands that most likely will tap for the mana of the removal spell you expect the opponent can have. If they have a Plains and a Forest up and pass, tap the Plains and force them to use it right away.
  4. When fighting against a deck with counterspells, Remanding your own spell in response is an excellent way to get value and effectively counter their counter.
  5. If the opponent tries to go off by casting Splinter Twin on their creature, you can save yourself for a turn by casting an Exarch or Pestermite and tap the creature in response. You can then untap and play your own Splinter Twin for the win. This does not work against Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker as that does not require the Exarch/Pestermite to actually tap.

Sideboarding Guide

Junk (Unfavorable game 1. Slightly favorable after sideboard)

In

Out

Most Junk players tend to bring in just a lot more removal spells to deal with the combo. This is where the transformative sideboard shines. It is incredibly difficult to actually win via the combo so I like to take out most of the combo. I keep in 2 Splinter Twins as potential value creatures and just a way to keep them honest. If the Junk deck plays Lingering Souls, then I would sideboard out the Pestermite and Vendilion Cliques and just play Deceiver Exarchs instead. Spellskite stays in as it is a good way to protect Blood Moon against Abrupt Decay. Blood Moon is fantastic in this matchup and it is incredibly difficult for them to win with one in play.

U/R Splinter Twin (Skill matchup—50/50)

In

Out

While Keranos does not seem like it would be great as they could potentially punish you for tapping out, the games end up going very long with both sides not doing a whole lot. One of the main reasons is because the first person to cast Splinter Twin will usually lose since the combo can be disrupted if you Pestermite/Exarch their creature in response to the Twin.  Since the games do go long and neither player wants to pull the trigger on the Splinter Twin, you can often find a window to resolve Keranos and still leave countermagic up.

It may seem counterintuitive to board out Spellskite but I feel that many people will be bringing in Ancient Grudge and could also potentially bring in Twisted Image to blow you out. Combust is also a common sideboard card and Spellskite cannot protect against it. I prefer Deceiver Exarch as the combo creature of choice as it has 4 toughness and it cannot be disrupted by Lightning Bolt.

Zoo (Even)

In

Out

Remands are pretty poor against a deck with a ton of 1- and 2-drops. Electrolyze doesn’t kill anything and Cryptic Command is a bit expensive. Kiki-Jiki is also unreliable as they tend to play many Bolt-type effects in the deck so it’s a very fragile way to combo off. The sideboard cards are fantastic in this matchup and should help swing the matchup heavily in your favor.

Affinity (Favorable)

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Out

Affinity is a pretty good matchup as you can generally outrace them. Galvanic Blast is the only card that interacts with you game 1. While Galvanic Blast is good at shutting down the Twin combo, they usually do not have access to two red sources on a turn so you can use a Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite to tap down their lone red source and force them to Galvanic Blast your creature. This allows you to safely combo off with whatever extra copy of Exarch/Pestermite you may draw in future turns.

Once again, Remands are at their worst against aggressive creature decks. Vendilion Cliques are OK but do not go well withAnger of the Gods. If the Affinity deck brings in Combust, then keeping the Cliques is more than reasonable.

Red Deck Wins (Slightly unfavorable)

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Out

This deck is a pure race. It’s a matter of whether or not they can burn you out before you can find your combo. Spellskites and Deceiver Exarchs are great in this matchup as they will be playing a ton of 3-damage burn spells in their deck. I would put the slight edge in this matchup to the burn deck as they are far more consistent at killing on turn 4 than you are.

Dispel and Negate are actually very good in the matchup. The Red Deck tends to only play 12 creatures and the rest of their deck is chock-full of burn spells. Having cheap counters for their burn can buy you just enough time to assemble your combo. Once again, Kiki-Jiki gets the cut since I don’t like it very much against decks featuring Lightning Bolt. Getting your 5-mana creature destroyed by a 1-mana instant is not the best feeling in the world.

RUG Scapeshift (Slightly unfavorable)

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Out

Scapeshift’s edge in the matchup is the fact that they can simply outmana you. They can just wait to get a ton of mana in play and protect their Scapeshift with counters. Vendilion Clique is one of the strongest cards here as it can potentially nab Scapeshifts or key counters out of their hand. Splinter Twin also only runs 2 Cryptic Commands main as hard counters, so at some point Scapeshift will be able to sculpt a hand that can successfully cast and protect its combo.

After sideboard, the matchup gets much better as all your bad cards get replaced by hard counters. Bringing in 4 cheap counters allows you to actually fight them and win counter wars. Blood Moon isn’t fantastic as they generally will have Repeal and Cryptic Command but it is probably better than Lightning Bolt and it at least forces them to answer it before casting Scapeshift.

R/G Tron (Very favorable)

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Tron is one of the best matchups for the deck as they have no way to interact with you game 1. Remand is amazing here and Wurmcoil Engine is laughable. The only way they can actually win game 1 is if they are able to establish Tron very early and play a turn 3 Karn or have an Oblivion Stone with a lot of mana up.

After sideboard, they will undoubtedly bring in some good cards for the matchup. You can expect some combination or Nature’s Claims and Combusts. Despite that, you still bring in very good cards against them as Blood Moon is great at hosing them. It buys you a ton of time to be able to Vendilion Clique away the Combusts and win with the combo.

Splinter Twin was my deck of choice while I was battling in the PTQ trenches prior to Khans of Tarkir. It was a tier 1 deck back then and with the recent bannings, it should once again be one of the dominant decks in Modern. The deck takes some practice to play optimally, so if you’re interested in trying out the deck, you’d better start practicing with it now!

Videos (June, 2014)