It’s that time of year again, light snow is starting to appear, pumpkins and witches adorn the houses in every neighbourhood, and ghouls and ghosts wander the streets with their minds filled with hope for treats, but always prepared for a trick or two…
So to celebrate the holiday, I’m bringing you a halloween themed deck filled with Horror, Costume changes, and maybe a few tricks thrown in for good measure.
Our Trick or Treater
What would Halloween be without a mischievous rascal to put on a clever costume and roam the streets looking for treats. Well Guilds of Ravnica did a great job of providing us with just such a actor. Enter everyones favorite secret guild leader, Lazav.
Wizards latest iteration is the ultimate face swapping, costume wearing, clone effect in magic. He can switch his outfit at instant speed to any creature in our graveyard. So clearly, if we’re looking at inviting someone to our costume party, Lazav is going to be on the top of that list.
But what in the world will he be wearing to such an important event, lets take a look.
Halloween wouldn’t be the holiday it is without scary monsters, and we have no shortage of those. Lazav needs to pick carefully when choosing a costume to wear, so all of these creatures are bigger than their mana costs would imply or have an upside that makes them a great costume for Lazav to throw on. Most of these creatures have a downside of course to justify their low cost, but Lazav has a built in way to turn that into an upside.
Hunted Horror leads our pack as a 2 mana 7/7, with the downside of giving our opponents 2 3/3 protection from black friends when he enters the battlefield. This is an issue if we run this creature out on turn 2, but we have ways of answering those creatures in our spell package, but more importantly, when our little trick or treater decides to wear this costume from the graveyard, we don’t give our opponent anything except a beating.
Let me say, Thing in the Ice is a terrible costume. He’s a vanilla 0/4 that can’t attack and Lazav can’t flip over when spells are cast. However, Thing in the Ice is also a huge board sweeper who is capable of closing out a game on his own. His inclusion is important against aggro matchups, and since many of our biggest threats are horrors, we don’t need to worry about losing the tempo of returning our creatures back to our hand when he flips, the major plus side to this effect is that if timed correctly, you can cast a Hunted Horror, give our opponent 2 3/3’s, then flip our Thing effectively exiling those creatures in the process.
If you’ve been playing Modern in the last few years, you’ll know that Death’s Shadow is a big player in the format, so if we were going to pick a costume of a popular character, why in the world wouldn’t we pick our undercosted friend? He’s the perfect costume for Lazav as a generally huge threat for just a single mana. It doesn’t get much more efficient than that.
Geist of Saint Traft was a late addition to the deck. Originally this slot was going to be Invisible Stalker to make our Lazav harder to kill for slightly cheaper, however, after working with the deck, I realized that when in the graveyard, stalker was fine, but I would almost never want to cast him. Geist on the other hand is a real threat. He’s a proper clock, and is great against matchups like Tron and control. The decision to splash white wasn’t restricted only to Geist, but he is certainly a great reason to have it.
Filling the Wardrobe
Part of the difficulty when considering Lazav as a key piece in a deck is how do we enable his wardrobe so to speak. There are quite a few ways to fill your graveyard in modern Magic, but after assessing many of them, I realized that Hedron Crab does everything we want. It fills our graveyard efficiently, and being a 1 mana creature, Lazav can slip into his crab costume in order to self enable if we end up with one in the graveyard. This little crab is a huge factor in this deck being able to do anything. He also plays a big factor in our sideboard plan, but we’ll take a look at that shortly.
Jace plays a key role in our deck in a few ways. Firstly, he’s a looter, so we can use him in the early game to fill up our graveyard with creatures for our shapeshifter. Secondly, after transforming into a planeswalker, he avoids being swept away by our Thing in the Ice flipping over. His planeswalker abilities are nice, his -3 being a great way to rebuy some of our removal or disruption when needed, and it has great synergy with the alternate casting cost on one of our sideboard cards.
We need to fill our graveyard if Lazav is going to let us cheat the drawbacks on our big threats, but we don’t want to do this if it’s not going to benefit us in the process. Thought Scour is a fantastic enabler. 1 mana, replaces itself, and lets us put a few cards into the bin. It’s a super efficient card and also works very well with our sideboard plan.
Liliana, the Last Hope, this planeswalker continues to impress me every time she’s on the battlefield. Her plus is a major player against decks with small go wide creature strats, or can shrink a big threat like Tasigur down enough to not concern ourselves quite as much with him ending the game. Her minus is a huge boon for our list, allowing us to increase Lazav’s wardrobe, but also return a Lazav or another threat like Death’s Shadow to our hand to keep pressure on our opponent. If we happen to just protect her long enough, Liliana’s ultimate is absolutely game ending, and near impossible to come back from.
Like wearing reflectors on the coat you inevitably are wearing over top of your sick costume to protect you from the extreme Halloween traffic, we need to protect ourselves if we’re going to have any shot at winning games.
Thoughtseize plays an important role disrupting our opponents in the early game and taking key combo pieces to allow us to play a slightly more fair game of magic. This one mana disruption spell also helps us enable our Death’s Shadow by causing loss of life. There is a reason this is a key piece in most normal DS lists, so we’ll be leaning on it as our first form of interaction.
Playing against Grixis Death’s Shadow should give you some impression on the power level of Stubborn Denial in a deck that can land any creature with 4 or greater power. This might be the most powerful counterspell in Modern in the right deck. We’re running 3 of these in the main deck to help protect our threats and stop our opponents from casting key pieces of their strategy.
Path to Exile was not the original removal spell I considered for this deck. I was running Fatal Push as an efficient black removal spell, but after mulling over my sideboard plan, I realized that Path was the only answer for this slot. Not only is it one of the most powerful removal spells in modern, it causes the opponent to search their library, which will be important in our sideboard plan.
The last card in our main deck plan is a hedge against ourselves. There is always going to be a chance that we need to cast a Hunted Horror or two. If this ends up being the case, then we suddenly have 2 3/3 pro black creatures we need to deal with. Echoing truth is a clean 2 mana answer to these creatures, while also allowing us to answer certain threats from opponents or clear the way of tokens from cards like Lingering Souls who would attempt to block our Death’s Shadows or Skaab Ruinators.
The Ultimate Costume Change
I considered a sideboard that included a wide variety of control and disruption, I mulled it over, switched out cards, reconsidered, and then sat back and looked at the main board and it dawned on me. There are A LOT of important pieces to the modern Mill lists that float around online. When I came to that realization, everything started to snap into place.
This is the ultimate costume change, a great way to throw our opponents game plan out of whack.
Based on our main deck, our opponents are likely to lean heavily on removal and graveyard hate. If we switch our sideboard to basically just be a mill list, we can bypass almost all that hate, and catch them from a different angle.
In some matchups, we may not need to bring in a full mill package, but Ensnaring Bridge is an amazing card against a lot of decks in modern, and our list interestingly is able to play under it because of Hedron Crab.
The little Crab is a 0/2, so it can ignore the effect of a bridge, but importantly, it also doesn’t have defender, so we’re able to attack with it…. or at least a clone of it.
Lazav is able to costume change at instant speed, so under bridge, we’re able to attack as a Hedron Crab, then switch Lazav to a large threat afterwards, bypassing any downsides.
The sideboard is also largely responsible for the addition of white to the deck. Path to Exile is one of the best ways to have our opponents search their library, turning on our Archive Traps. We are also running a single Field of Ruin in the main to force our opponents to search if they try to play around our sideboard plan.
Fraying Sanity is the linchpin card to our sideboard. While Archive Trap and Glimpse are obviously powerful mill cards, Fraying Sanity supercharges both of those cards, but also makes Hedron Crab, Though Scour, Mesmeric Orb super efficient mill effects that let us end the game quickly, instead of requiring us to grind our way through a value war with opponents.
Dr Horrorble’s Halloween Costume Bash
3 Death’s Shadow
4 Hedron Crab
4 Hunted Horror
3 Lazav, the Multifarious
3 Thing in the Ice
2 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
4 Path to Exile
3 Stubborn Denial
4 Thought Scour
2 Echoing Truth
3 Darkslick Shores
1 Field of Ruin
2 Flooded Strand
1 Godless Shrine
2 Hallowed Fountain
2 Polluted Delta
3 Watery Grave
4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
2 Mesmeric Orb
3 Ensnaring Bridge
2 Fraying Sanity
4 Archive Trap
Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you enjoy the list, and I can’t wait to try it out this week to celebrate the Holiday!