Often I enjoy looking for innovative Modern decks on the forums or from recent Magic Online leagues. Occasionally I decide to build a deck from scratch and just toss it into the wide open world of Modern to see how it does. This week’s deck is just that, a deck that I’ve brewed up from a clean slate. I’ve had my eye on this idea for a while but never really considered it until Ixalan introduced this little guy: Tocatli Honor Guard. Let’s take a look!
ETBeatdown – Zac Elsik
This is an incredible, weird list! It has some powerful creatures in Eater of Days and Dust Elemental but they are creatures with huge downsides. The goal of this deck is to mitigate these drawbacks by preventing them from occurring thanks to effects like Torpor Orb. The reason we can reliably get away with this is because we get to play with twelve total copies of this trigger prevention effect. Four copies of each Torpor Orb, Hushwing Gryff, and Tocatli Honor Guard. Once we have one of these effects on the battlefield, then we can deploy our big threats. Eater of Days and Dust Elemental are the biggest payoff cards, as they offer an incredibly fast clock that can’t easily be stopped by creature defenses; the Leviathan has Trample and the Elemental has Flying and Fear!
I’ve also included several defensive cards to protect our “combo” of anti-trigger effect + big creature. Stubborn Denial functions as strong as a Negate when we have a huge creature on the battlefield since all of our payoff creatures have 4-or-greater power. Selfless Spirit not only protects our big creature but also the smaller creatures that disable triggers. Shining Shoal is a curious addition because I wanted something cheaply costed to keep the supporting anti-trigger creatures alive. The last thing we want to happen is to begin casting Eater of Days only to then have our opponent Lightning Bolt our Tocatli Honor Guard.
Peculiar side-effects of Torpor Orb
A funny by-product of playing with so many cards that prevent creature abilities from triggering is that this deck will randomly prevent our opponent’s deck from fully functioning. Decks that are aiming to gain value from Snapcaster Mage might as well be using Ambush Viper instead. Primeval Titan now only works when it attacks. Thought-Knot Seer will no longer steal a card from your hand, but it will still give you a card back when you kill it. Flickerwisp from Death & Taxes, Harbinger of the Tides from Merfolk, and Shaman of the Pack in Elves simply don’t work anymore. While turning off these creatures’ abilities isn’t the most powerful thing a deck can do in Modern, it’s definitely worth mentioning as I’m sure it will catch plenty of opponents by surprise.
Another not-so-obvious benefit of Torpor Orb is that it doesn’t just prevent self-triggering abilities of creatures like Restoration Angel, but it actually prevents any trigger that would occur as the result of a creature entering the battlefield. This leads to a really odd interaction with one of our sideboard cards: Intruder Alarm. The “Whenever a creature enters the battlefield, untap all creatures” clause on Intruder Alarm will never trigger or resolve because “creatures entering the battlefield don’t cause abilities to trigger.” While I’m not certain this card belongs in this deck, I definitely want to give it a shot as it’s possible the effect is as powerful as it is hilarious against some Modern decks. Imagine your Elves or Zoo opponent never getting to untap their creatures for the entire game.
Other creatures worth considering
It may be possible that other color combinations can strengthen this deck, allowing access to a variety of huge creature threats that would otherwise have painful drawbacks if it weren’t for our twelve anti-trigger effects. We can swap away from blue in favor of black to be able to play both Hunted Horror and Treacherous Pit-Dweller. These are difficult to splash in a three-color deck, but a BW deck might be able to take better advantage of these creatures. Black could also give us access to Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize to protect our powerful creatures, as well as let us more easily interact and disrupt our opponent’s gameplan.
The only red creatures I could find of note were Boldwyr Heavyweights and Vexing Devil. While an 8/8 creature with trample is a good deal for four mana, I’m not sure if it’s better than just slamming Dust Elementals or Eater of Days. There’s also Sky Swallower and Hunted Lammasu, but both of these can more easily get chump-blocked compared to our other options.
Well I hope you enjoyed this weeks brew. As always, if you have any questions or comments you can find me on twitter @UTDZac or leave a comment below.