Retreating to Coralhelm with Eduardo Borges

Posted in Event Coverage on November 1, 2015

By Chapman Sim

Can It Be?

Just a couple of days ago, Melissa DeTora put a Legacy deck in the spotlight, a creation made possible by a very important addition from Battle for Zendikar. Christened “Reliquary Retreat", she spoke of Steven Schlepphorst's brew which features the lethal duo of Knight of the Reliquary and Retreat to Coralhelm.

There has also been a lot of talk about it being “a thing” in Modern, but nobody has quite proven it yet. Nobody, except Eduardo Borges, who brought his design through to strong finish here at Porto Alegre. Along with fellow teammate Rafael Toro, both Porto Alegre locals are currently competing in Day 2, hoping to break into the Top 8.

Eduardo Borges (left) and Raphael Toro (right) shows of the namesake cards of their Reliquary Retreat deck!

The Unknown Innovator

Borges might not have enjoyed international fame, but he has four Pro Tour appearances and is certainly a well-known personality within the Latin American community. For example at Grand Prix Sao Paulo 2009, Diego Keretzky Crusius who made the Top 8 credits his Cascade Desire deck as a “Eduardo masterpiece”. Featuring eight Commands that serve as ways to oppress an opponent's manabase, it also sought to abuse the unfair Cascade mechanic.

Diego Keretzky Crusius's Cascade Desire

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Also, when Jose Francisco Dantas Mangueira da Silva won Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro 2013, he also thanks Borges, as well as Pedro Carvalho, for fine-tuning and improving upon Tom Martell's Pro Tour Gatecrash winning decklist to better suit the Latin American metagame.

Jose Francisco Dantas Mangueira da Silva's Aristocrafts

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As one of the most underrated and unknown innovators, I wanted to hear his take on his product which he had brewed up for the new Modern format. Also, with everyone wondering if Retreat to Coralhelm is the real deal, I wanted to shed some light on the subject.

Reliquary Retreat? Or Bant Hatebears?

Borges summarized the entire deck's ideology with one simple sentence.

“Just think of it as Bant Hatebears deck that can kill on Turn 3.”

Sure enough, his list contains a bunch of hate cards, which he feels is very well-positioned in an unfair metagame.

“It's Modern, and there are a lot of unfair decks. With Modern being so diverse, I really think it's not a good time to be playing fair decks. For example, you could be killed on the spot if you tap out for something like Siege Rhino, and that card doesn't even do a single thing against more than half the decks in Modern. I would assume most people to want to play unfair. This is why I think that my deck is well-positioned. It won't do very well against the fair decks though, so my choice today is strictly a metagame call.”

Traditionally, White-Green Hatebears have had problems with the combo decks but Borges has decided to put an end to that trend. With the full set of Meddling Mages and Spellskites in the maindeck, one can see how anti-combo the deck really is.

Not only do Meddling Mages shut out key combo cards such as Goryo's Vengeance, Living End, Scapeshift and Primeval Titan, the Spellskites serve double duty by protect Chris Pikula and serve as hate against Splinter Twin, Bogles and Burn.

However, those are but distractions that Borges intends to throw in his opponent's way, while he attempts to set up the combo that can deliver the killing blow in one fell swoop.

“Once I untap with Knight of the Reliquary and drop Retreat to Coralhelm, I can grow it to a maximum of 23/23,” he demonstrates the process of tutoring out all his fetchlands, cracking them open before ending with Ghost Quarters (usually on his own land for an additional Landfall trigger) as well as the usually-lethal Kessig Wolf Run.

“If my opponent somehow gains 4 life and goes up to 24, I'll need Kessig Wolf Run to finish the job. Also, the trampling ability is very relevant against Etched Champions and Hexproof creatures, which I cannot tap down with Retreat to Coralhelm.”

Borges confesses that the combo is actually very fragile, considering that you'll need to untap with a three-drop, which can be easily answered or stymied with so many popular cards in Modern, such as Abrupt Decay, Remand, Terminate and Path to Exile. Meddling Mage helps out a little, but it is not quite the hard-lock or protection it strives to provide.

Regardless, the Reliquary Retreat deck is not an “all-in” combo deck. Coupled with Collected Company and Chord of Calling, it can also operate as a beatdown deck sprinkled with lots of value. Chord of Calling not only finds the crucial combo piece, it also serves the function of being a removal spell and disruption.

“Fiend Hunter is the worst card in the deck, but it's a necessary evil. Sometimes, there is simply an annoying creature you want to get off the board, and having it in my maindeck turns Chord of Calling into a removal spell if I need it. Magus of the Moon is also a major shocker for most people. Once I resolve Chord or Company and the opponent doesn't tap mana in response, he'll likely be locked out out of nowhere.”

As for the sideboard, the highlights include triple Izzet Staticaster, a card that is absolutely bonkers against creature-based strategies when combined with Retreat to Coralhelm. Borges cites that the deck has problems against the “Tribal decks” such as Elves and Merfolk, as well as other creature-oriented strategies like Affinity and Tokens. In addition, the reason why he has so little non-creatures cards in his sideboard is to make the entire deck as “Company-friendly” as possible.

The full set of Burrenton Forge-Tenders are also the perfect foil to burn-based sweepers such as Anger of the Gods and Pyroclasm, which is bound to be very commonly encountered.

“Forge-Tender is basically part of the lock that I'm trying to assemble. It protects Meddling Mage in ways that Spellskite cannot, and is also a cheap Chord of Calling target. Not to mention that it gives the Burn decks a major headache. Haha!”

Somehow, when I think of Knight of the Reliquary, I'm naturally reminded of Sejiri Steppe. “Yes, I've definitely thought about it too,” Borges was quick to defend, but it's not something you need at all. If you can untap with Knight of the Reliquary, it usually means that your opponent doesn't have a kill spell for it. At that point, I don't really need Sejiri Steppe anymore.”

As we speak, Borges is sitting at 9-2, while his teammate Raphael Toro who is running the exact 75 has picked up a third loss. With a little push, we could very well be seeing some Retreats in the Top 8!

Eduardo Borges' Reliquary Retreat 

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