Welcome back everyone, to another riveting Participation Award Magic!
So last time, we decided to dig deep and make our deck very on theme for Halloween, while this resulted in a sweet deck to talk about, it left us feeling as much shame as the parent who “helps” their kids take care of their candy, and does a “little too good a job”.
Needless to say, the deck didn’t perform as well as we’d have liked, but that’s ok, sometimes you try to do too much, and become a master of none.
Which brings us to our new deck
Hey, noone said we needed to learn from our mistakes…
If our last deck was trying to implement a swiss army knife strategy, this deck is going to try to use the swiss army knife of creatures.
Necrotic Ooze is the ultimate guilty pleasure creature for me. I bought my playset when it was first released, and have tried countless times to build a “good” deck around him… her…. them?
The ability on Ooze is completely unique, and absolutely prone to busted combos. The downside, it dies to… well… pretty much everything.
Fatal Push – Check
Path to Exile – Check
Lightning Bolt – Check
A slight breeze – You betcha
So, how do we make this vulnerable 4 drop slightly less terrible? Take advantage of abilities that don’t care about tapping or being summoning sick. That way, as soon as Ooze hits the board, we can start taking advantage.
At a glance, Devoted druid can’t add mana while summoning sick, however, immediately upon entering the battlefield you can put -1/-1 counters onto our Elvish friend. Morselhoarder has the exact opposite ability allowing us to remove a -1/-1 counter from it to add mana to your pool.
Individually these two cards are nothing to write home about, but if they were combined into a single creature, that is an infinite mana engine that can be activated at instant speed, and dodges all forms of removal.
So this is our goal, get these two creatures in the graveyard, land an Ooze, make infinite mana.
Lets take a look at our payoffs for this infinite mana before we look at how we’ll enable it.
Walking Ballista has been the go to mana dump for all decks that make obscene amounts of mana since it’s release in Aether Revolt. It’s two abilities allow players to sink mana in, and use it up to kill their opponents without concerning themselves with summoning sickness or any form of interaction. This is exactly the creature we want in our deck as a payoff. The downside of Ballista in our deck is that we are actually running trim on mana, so unless we’ve already established our combo, it’s very slow. So as a secondary option, we’re running two copies of Cut // Ribbons.
This card is the corkscrew of our deck, having a clear use on the front side, interacting with early creatures for us, but then at the right moment, it shows it’s other use, like a pencil in the hands of Jason Bourne, it’s a killing machine.
There is a reason however, beyond just the interaction that this card is excellent. The Ribbons effect actually dodges Leyline of Sanctity, which can be a big deal against some decks in the format who are hedging against burn and hand disruption decks. We also have no problem at all pitching this card in the bin at any point, it’s exactly where we want it.
Now, we know what our game plan is, how are we going to go about making it happen…
These two cards have been around for a while, and provide us with some excellent card selection and graveyard recursion. Faithless looting is pretty much an auto-include in any graveyard based deck. It offers us incredible card selection, and lets us put exactly what we want into the bin for only a single mana. Then, later in the game we can flash it back for 3 mana. This is actually extra powerful in our deck as it provides us a method to continue digging for the things we need once we’ve landed our infinite mana. While Eternal Witness plays the role of allowing us to keep board presence vs aggro lists, and get back anything we may accidently put in the bin. These two cards have been around for a long time, but they aren’t our only options, so lets take a look at something new.
The newest sets have been incredibly friendly to graveyard strategies, and these two cards are great examples of why. Stitcher’s Supplier was an instant favorite the minute it was spoiled for me. a 1 mana zombie that immediately mills you for 3, and has basically an upside on death is amazing to me. This card has yet to break out in modern, but there is no question at some point people will absolutely be playing this card as a 4 of. In this deck, it’s very powerful. It mills us to fill the graveyard, it acts as a chump blocker vs aggro, and protects our better creatures from edict effects. You can be pretty certain this guy is never going to end up in the red zone however.
Doom Whisperer on the other hand, this big dummy will absolutely end up in the red zone whenever possible. His inclusion in the deck is not because of his huge undercosted body with upside, he was a must include because of his activated ability. Paying 2 life to basically dump 2 cards in the graveyard is insanely powerful in a deck trying to get a specific combination of cards in there. Bonus, since his ability Surveil’s instead of just milling, if we are in a position that we can’t just win the game, we may be able to fix our top deck for next turn instead. I don’t know if I can claim our demon overlord will become a big player in modern, I can certainly tell you how excited I am to see what he can do in this deck. Now, while the ability is powerful, and without a doubt the best way to just dump everything we need in the grave, it doesn’t come at zero cost. 2 life per activation is a real cost when we use it multiple times.
Our deck plan on dumping creatures in the graveyard, and there is a high number of modern decks trying to simply move your life total to zero quickly. If we are able to quickly dump cards into our graveyard, Gnaw to the Bone becomes a nearly unbeatable card for decks like Burn, Zoo, 8Whack, etc. However, at its core, this is a combo deck, and Gnaw to the Bone for us is actually a combo piece. Consider it this way, for each creature in our graveyard, Gnaw provides us with an additional activation of Doom Whisperer’s ability at zero cost. The fact it can be flashed back is unreal, and provides us a ton of freedom to pitch cards into our bin with little concern. I expect this card to be a winner in every way in this deck. We’ll be dumping creatures into our graveyard, and there’s a good chance we’ll end up putting a copy or two of this card as well, so we can always flash it back for insane value late in the game if we’re on the beatdown plan.
We are going to inevitably put cards in our graveyard that we would like to get back, be it an Ooze, or perhaps we’re just trying to beat our opponent down with 6/6 Trample flyers. Journey to Eternity works very well in our list because we naturally want Devoted druid in the graveyard. If our opponents don’t kill our druid, they risk us strapping this enchantment onto it and saccing it ourselves for ramp and value. If that weren’t enough, we’re running Sakura-Tribe Elder’s as well for ramp, and they also are able to sac themselves for value. This card is a house, if a little bit risky too. Because we’re trying to ramp in the early game, Liliana is a great early play that works towards our end goals, allows us some recursion to keep our board threatening, and creates blockers for us that keep pressure on our opponents.
Our sideboard is all about preparing for the grind. While our maindeck is designed to grind already, we’re looking to push things further in the board. Because a combo deck like this is weak to graveyard hate, we have answers to popular hate cards, but we also want to ensure that games 2 and 3 we have alternative ways to punish our opponents sideboarding choices.
To start we look at one of our plays vs Control or midrange decks. Bitterblossom has very little downside for us with Gnaw to the Bone in our deck, and even better, it creates value creatures to sac with Vraska, to get the life back, and draw cards while we pump her up towards her ultimate. If we can ultimate Vraska, Bitterblossom is making 1/1 flying creatures that read “If this creature deals damage to opponent, you win” Making them must answer threats every turn.
If we’re dealing with Control, we also want a hard to answer threat, and Lili of the Veil certainly fills that role well. She is also a house against aggro and midrange decks allowing us to force creature sacrificing or damaging the opponent hands. Plaguecrafter plays the exact same role for us, except we often have a small value creature to sac so we can keep him in play as a 3/2 beater. This card is very annoying for control if they land an expensive planeswalker and can’t counter him.
We have copies of the best removal in Modern for Black and Green decks. Trophy answering literally anything threatening to us, while Pulse gives us a clean answer to tokens. There isn’t much else to say about these cards, their role is pretty clear, and we will be bringing them in against any deck that tries to grind with us or play a mass of planeswalkers.
Lastly we have our other Oozy friend. Scavenging Ooze is a great answer to graveyard strategies, while also providing us a real on board threat. The life gain is not to be sneezed at either. It will take us some time to fill our grave with creatures for Gnaw to the Bone, so against aggro decks, this card can be a total house.
Necrotic Eternity – Jeff Roberts
1 Walking Ballista
4 Stitcher’s Supplier
4 Devoted Druid
3 Sakura-Tribe Elder
2 Eternal Witness
4 Necrotic Ooze
4 Doom Whisperer
1 Liliana, Death’s Majesty
4 Faithless Looting
2 Mausoleum Secrets
3 Gnaw to the Bone
2 Cut // Ribbons
2 Journey to Eternity
2 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Blood Crypt
3 Bloodstained Mire
3 Blooming Marsh
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wooded Foothills
3 Assassin’s Trophy
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Liliana of the Veil
1 Maelstrom Pulse
3 Vraska, Golgari Queen