Persecuting the Enemy

Posted in Feature on November 20, 2013

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

I haven't been playing a ton of Modern lately, but I saw a recent list that caught my eye. Played by the Magic Online user Smaland, this blue-black deck features the fearsome curve of Geralf's Messenger into Abyssal Persecutor, so I took one look and thought "What would Conley do?" His obsession with Persecutor is well-chronicled, and I assembled the deck with that in mind.

Abyssal Persecutor

The loudest and most interesting card in the deck is definitely Abyssal Persecutor, and it certainly impacts how the deck is constructed. Persecutor is a very solid deal, and always has been, although its strength hinges greatly on what removal spells are being played. It's weak to Path to Exile, like it was when it was released, but Modern right now has a lot of Lightning Bolts and Abrupt Decays being tossed around, both of which it dodges. The next step is figuring out how to fire Abyssal Persecutor once its contract is up—something it certainly resists. Between Damnation, Devour Flesh, Far & Away, Vapor Snag, Victim of Night, and Rapid Hybridization, it isn't usually a problem, with your opponent maybe getting a turn or two of respite, if that. Also, you can't forget the triple Disfigure line; it comes up a lot.

Besides Persecutor, this deck has Geralf's Messenger and Creeping Tar Pit ready to deliver the beats, all of which are very hard to kill and do a ton of damage. Damnation pumps Messenger, misses Tar Pit, and usually only kills Persecutor when you want it to die. One addition I made here is Dark Confidant, which I ended up adding over a Damnation, two Jaces, and a Rapid Hybridization. I like Dark Confidant enough that I was willing to risk the extra life loss, although it did make me want to switch Phyrexian Arena for Liliana of the Veil.

Four Thoughtseizes, four Inquisition of Kozileks, and a Snapcaster Mage round out the disruption and do a very good job of stripping the few answers that exist to your team. Path to Exile is the number-one threat to the creatures this deck has, but luckily the discard hits play earlier than the creatures do. There's not much better than casting two discard spells into Messenger into Persecutor, and that's something this deck doesn't have much trouble pulling off.

Smaland's UB Persecutor (with some modifications)

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