Modern Deck Tech: Black-Red Bridgevine

Posted in Event Coverage on August 5, 2018

By Corbin Hosler

Vengevine is one of the most unique Magic cards ever printed. The Rise of the Eldrazi Elemental was a hit alongside Fauna Shaman during its time in Standard and has only grown more powerful since. It was a major player in Legacy as well. So good, in fact, it helped lead to Survival of the Fittest getting banned.

The card has floated in and out of Modern, with some attempts at recreating the Standard "Dredgevine" lists that existed, or more recently teaming up with Hollow One as an additional threat. But while the card pops up from time to time, it's never been part of a top-tier strategy in the format.

Until now.

While the above battlefield doesn't have the hallmark Vengevine, it does feature one-half of the "Bridgevine" deck's power in action, as Bridge From Below still powers out crazy early turns.

Jacob Nagro has found success with perhaps the most innovative of all. His Black-Red Bridge list took his team all the way through the end of day, and it offered a take on the deck that goes even further than other teams who also discovered the strategy on Magic Online.

It's all possible thanks to an overlooked card from Core Set 2019: Stitcher's Supplier. The one-mana creature does it all for a Vengevine deck: it mills cards into the graveyard, blocks early to buy time, and costs just a single mana to help trigger Vengevine. It's an innocuous but pivotal part of the deck, and helps to both fuel the engine and pay off its own setup.

There's a lot going on with the deck, but the end goal is fairly straightforward: Get Vengevine and other recursive creatures into play, including by putting creatures from play to the graveyard like Insolent Neonate or Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker (for zero) to trigger Bridge from Below. Along with Gravecrawler and Bloodghast, the deck is able to spam the board with creatures extremely quickly, and we're talking as early as the second turn.

That's already strong enough. Vengevine has haste and the other creatures can attack on the next turn, enough to end games in a hurry. But it doesn't end there, because Goblin Bushwhacker can give the entire team haste and create a truly massive attack as early as the second turn. Sound overly optimistic? Maybe, but almost a dozen players showed up with some version of the deck, and it's helped to carry Nagro's team all the way to the end of Day Two in contention.

And it's largely because of Nagro's own innovations.

"I saw a version of the deck online and I tried it out but didn't like some of the choices, so I cut the bad cards and put in good ones like Greater Gargadon instead," he explained.

Gargadon plays a very key role in the deck. Not only is it an additional sacrifice outlet for creatures to fuel Bridge From Below—one that can't be hit by Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile—but it also allows the Vengevine player to sacrifice their extra permanents for a huge, hasty creature. And remember, when Gargadon comes off suspend, it means casting a creature, which counts toward the clause to return Vengevine to play.

It's a lot to take in, but the final package is an incredibly streamlined list that can destroy opponents in the blink of an eye on turn two, or generate repeated, recursive value that is difficult for opponents to stop. In many ways it is similar to the Hollow One decks that have broken out in Modern this year, and while it is weaker against Rest in Peace than those Hollow Ones decks, Nagro also said that many times Rest is Peace is simply too slow to stop the explosive deck.

It's a true innovation in a Modern format that continues to surprise us, and it's without a doubt the breakout deck of the format this weekend.

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