Modern Magic 2015 Mayhem

Posted in Reconstructed on July 22, 2014

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

The challenge: build Modern decks that include a new Magic 2015 card.

The results: awesome.

Every set adds new elements to Modern, but the nature of Magic 2015 as a slightly wackier core set lends itself particularly well to Modern deck building. There are all kinds of intriguing Modern options nestled within the set's many layers.

Today, instead of diving deep into one particular deck, I want to run through a smorgasbord of decks that people sent in and spend a little bit of time highlighting each. There's plenty to get through today, so without any further preamble, let's hop right into it!


Ah—where better to start than this classic archetype? Magic 2015 adds a new batch of Slivers to the mix. In Standard, that's to combine with the Magic 2014 Slivers...but in Modern, you get to draw upon the 45 Slivers in Time Spiral block as well! (Plus any Changelings you feel like throwing into the mix.)

Let's take a look at one such interpretation:

Westin's Modern Slivers

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The mana base for Slivers in Modern is absolutely perfect, allowing for you to play numerous five-color lands that have very little drawback in your deck. Only one of these does damage to you, and Cavern of Souls actually helps make your Slivers even better by being uncounterable!

So, what can we do with that?

Well, I would want to try and make Slivers as aggressive as possible. The baseline I use to compare aggressive decks in Modern is to Zoo; I feel like it's important to ask the question, "Why is this better than playing Loam Lion or Wild Nacatl on the first turn?"

Here, the answer is because of how much larger and evasive your creatures can get. Sure, Nacatl will outmatch you on the first turn—but it doesn't take long for your creatures to become larger and significantly harder to deal with.

This is a deck that wants to be aggressive, and I want to play as many two-mana Slivers that up my damage output as I can. Sinew, Predatory, and Frenzy are all good starts, and I want to add Leeching Sliver to that mix.

The Slivers I'm actually not as excited about are, surprisingly, the mana-producing Slivers. While normally these are the backbone of a Slivers strategy in something like Standard, here there isn't time: I want to be as aggressive as possible. Those can go in favor of something that is better for my clock.

Because I want to be so aggressive, I don't really want many noncreatures...but the one exception I'll make is for Æther Vial. Although decidedly not a Sliver, for one mana it lets you pump out extra Slivers at little extra cost for the rest of the game and can lend itself to some of your brutal draws.

What would I go with? Well, something that looks like this:

Gavin Verhey's Nightmare in Sliver

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Of course, there are plenty of other ways you can take Slivers as well.

Like, as Keisuke Onoyama suggests...Intruder Alarm combo?!?

I'll just leave this here for those who are interested in killing in one turn using Dormant Sliver, Manaweft Sliver and/or Gemhide Sliver, and Intruder Alarm:

Keisuke Onoyama's Sliver Bullet

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Chief Engineer

Hmmm, a card that gives all of your artifact spells convoke. I can't think of any Modern decks that use a lot of artifacts and tries to play them all quickly. If only there was some kind of strategy Chief Engineer could have, say, an affinity for...

Chris Stevens's Myracle Engineer

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You can do all kinds of crazy things with Chief Engineer. I received some MUD-esque decks with him, using the Engineer as an engine and Memnites as moxes to power out cards like Trinisphere (which now interacts favorably with convoke!) and Lodestone Golem. I also received some affinity decks with him, letting that deck drop its hand even faster than usual.

But the list I wanted to take a look at is something a bit more interesting. It's sort of like a larger robots deck. It's still capable of some crazy draws—but it also has some longer-game elements as well.

One of the big attractions here is Myr Superion. Hello there! With Grand Architect, Chief Engineer, Etherium Sculptor, and Mox Opal, cheating this creature's drawback becomes surprisingly easy. That can add to your army's power fast!

Speaking of adding power fast, Ensoul Artifact adds some major punch. It's pretty easy to be attacking in for 5 on the second turn with the likes of Ensoul Artifact on a Memnite—or, perhaps even better, putting it on a Darksteel Citadel for an indestructible attacker!

In general, while I don't mind curving a little higher than a robots deck, I don't want a ton of reactive cards here. I'm going to be tapping out a lot to cast spells early, and in a proactive deck like this one I don't want to have cards stuck in my hand. Remand and Path to Exile can go. (Path leaving also makes the mana a lot easier.) At that point, I want to up the artifact aggro tools a bit: Ornithopter contributes to some of your nuttiest draws with the Engineer, and Master of Etherium gets huge quickly. And, as much as I dislike playing against the card, I would certainly be remiss to not include the completely absurd Cranial Plating.

Try out something like this:

Gavin Verhey's A New Kind of Robots

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Of course, that's not where the Chief Engineer insanity stops.

As I mentioned earlier, people sent me in all kinds of Engineer brews. But seeing all of them got me thinking about another kind of Chief Engineer deck. And, as I was playing ones like this, I couldn't help think about something much crazier.

You see, the thing about convoke is that creatures can tap right away to use it—which means you can theoretically have some pretty fast draws. And if you could keep the card flow up, you could continue to cast spells over and over for as long as your deck would allow.

Enter: Riddlesmith and Vedalken Archmage.

Check out this original creation of mine:

Gavin Verhey's Archmages and Architects

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There's one big card for Zombies in Magic 2015: Necromancer's Stockpile.

In a Zombie deck, this can pretty easily become an enchantment that reads, "1B: Put a 2/2 black Zombie token onto the battlefield tapped." And when you combine that with Zombies that have effects out of the graveyard it gets even crazier.

Let's take a look:

Talon Stradley's Modern Zombies

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The idea of this deck is very structurally sound and the core is pretty well built. Disrupt them with discard, not minding some cards that cause both players to discard since many of your cards have effects from the graveyard.

In fact, I would just eschew Lord of the Undead and Death Baron entirely in favor of more creatures that you can play from the graveyard to make sure your Necromancer's Stockpile is working at maximum efficiency.

Make them discard cards while all the while setting up your own incredible endgame engine. It's going to be seriously difficult for many decks to overcome a Necromancer's Stockpile in the long game.

Bonus points if you know what Nim Devourer does!

Gavin Verhey's Necromancy

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Every now and then you'll spot Krovikan Mist decks show up in my honorable mentions section—but with Magic 2015, this deck gets a big add: Illusory Angel!

Nekomata-sensei's Illusion Tribal

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In Modern there are plenty of cards to help cast the Angel on time—like Gitaxian Probe, for example! Simply cast Gitaxian Probe for free, then play the Angel—and there you have a 4/4 flier for three mana.

Another way to help cheat it out is suspend. While perhaps not giving you any discounts on the time you cast it, a suspended Riftwing Cloudskate definitely ensures you'll have a turn where you can cast it without trouble.

This is another deck that works great with Æther Vial, so I'm adding in the full four copies. You can always Vial out an Illusory Angel as well, and it helps you cast creatures while still leaving up Remand mana.

The last major add I have is Master of Waves. Sadly, he makes Elementals and not Illusions—but you still have enough blue mana symbols in this deck to make him quite potent. (Especially when brought in off an end-step Æther Vial!)

Check it out:

Gavin Verhey's Vial Illusions

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I have one more quick deck for you guys before leaving you to go to play some of these yourself! This one features Hammerhand. You know. Hammerhand. The obvious Modern playable staple from Magic 2015? How could you have missed it!

But in all seriousness, I wasn't expecting it either! And soon, I suppose, neither will your opponents:

Matt's Immolating Blitz

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Imagine this.

Turn one, you play a Wild Nacatl. Your opponent plays a Mountain and says go—nothing to worry about. You attack with Nacatl and cast a Tarmogoyf, thinking you're in awesome shape.

Then, you die.

Land, Pyretic Ritual, Desperate Ritual, Immolating Souleater, pump it eight times, Assault Strobe, Hammerhand making your Tarmogoyf not block. Attack for 20.

Well then. Fair enough.

Now, this deck certainly isn't consistent by any stretch of the imagination. Unless you find some solution to not drawing your combo pieces, I wouldn't really recommend it for any tournament. But if you want to play something flashy that can win on turn two with some not unreasonable draws (or turn one, after adding Simian Spirit Guide!) then this is the deck for you.

Normally, I would want to add in Gitaxian Probes and Street Wraiths—but you can't really afford to pay any life because of how it weakens your Souleater. Similarly, your mana base is restricted because you don't want to take any damage. So, there's not a lot more you can really do. Simian Spirit Guide is one addition, and Manamorphose is a way to cantrip and fix your mana without paying life. After that, you're on your own here!

Gavin Verhey's The Hammer is my Souleater

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Modern Times

I hope you enjoyed this week's take on Modern! There are a lot of pretty exciting decklists here—I'd love to know if you try out any of them! Please feel free to send me a tweet or ask a question on my Tumblr and I'll be sure to take a look at any feedback you might have.

There's no deck building challenge this week—in two weeks' time, I'll be covering a little something else. However, that doesn't mean you can't still email me! If you have any cool decks to show off or topics you'd like to be covered at some point, feel free to email me at

I'll be back next week with a look at competitive Standard right before the Pro Tour! If you're a competitive Standard player, you won't want to miss it. Talk with you then!




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