Anticipating Varolz in Modern

Posted in Feature on May 2, 2013

By Sam Black

Sam Black is a Platinum Pro Player and longtime writer for StarCityGames.com. He is a respected deck builder and took over Daily Decks for the first half of 2013.

Recently, osmanozguney finished 3–1 in a Modern Daily event with a black-green aggro deck with Death's Shadow that used Dark Confidant, Overgrown Tomb, fetch lands, Putrid Leech, Thoughtseize, and Dismember to pay life to make it big early in the game.

Varolz, the Scar-Striped

While this is a relatively interesting strategy in Modern, in that it isn't all over, a 3–1 finish with a Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant deck might not ordinarily warrant closer investigation. However, Dragon's Maze is about to come out, and Varolz, the Scar-Striped has been hyped as part of a two-card combo with Death's Shadow to turn Death's Shadow into a one-mana "Aura" that gives +13/+13, which can be, as we say in the business, "big game."

The question has been finding a shell for this combo, and there are some who think it's all hype because the cards aren't independently good enough. I'm optimistic about this combo specifically because I think each card is good on its own, and they fit so well in the shell osmanozguney has built that I wonder if it was being tested specifically in anticipation of Varolz, the Scar-Striped.

Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek are perfect for making sure your opponent can't kill one of your creatures before you invest your +13/+13 and, incidentally, Tarmogoyf doesn't make a bad Aura after it's dead, either.

The question is, what can be cut to make room for Varolz, the Scar-Striped? Unfortunately, I don't have an easy answer for that. All the cards in this deck look both good and important, and I expect it to be more a question of trimming than a direct replacement. Maybe I'd try three Varolz, the Scar-Stripeds over a Liliana, an Inquisition of Kozilek, and a Dismember to start.

osmanozguney's Death's Shadow

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