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  • 2

    posted a message on UR Phoenix
    From the Phoenix discord:
    -Eldrazi + Chalice
    -Ad Nauseam
    -UW Miracles with maindeck RIP
    -UW Spirits (maindecking 3 thalias and 4 paths)
    -Breach Amulet
    -Abzan Midrange
    Posted in: Aggro & Tempo
  • 1

    posted a message on UR Phoenix
    Thought Scour vs Sleight of Hand has been a contentious point of conversation. Here I will summarize the Pros and Cons for each.


    Thought Scour - an Instant that improves the chances of hitting our best plays by helping us to bin additional copies of Arclight Phoenix / Faithless Looting and grow Crackling Drake. As a trade-off, Scour replaces itself with a random card.

    At best, a play like T2 Manamorphose + Thought Scour + Faithless looting lets you dig 6 cards down for a 35% chance of hitting another Phoenix. Combined with a Phoenix in hand this could lead to an extremely aggressive start. What kind of performance can we expect from Scour on average?

    Per Thought Scour Cast:

    74.8% mill 0 Phoenix/Looting
    23.5% mill 1 Phoenix/Looting
    1.7% mill 2 Phoenix/Looting

    23.0% Drake +1 Power (Scour Only)
    50.7% Drake +2 Power
    26.3% Drake +3 Power

    Overall most likely scenario for a single given cast is to bin 0 Phoenix/Looting and give Drake +2 Power.

    However, over 4 rounds, assuming 1-2 ("1.5" avg) casts of Scour per game and 2.5 avg games per round, you will typically mill 2 copies of Phoenix and 2 copies of Looting into the GY.

    In some cases, having that extra Phoenix in the grave or 1-2 points of power on the Drake will make the difference between a game win and a game loss. While that sounds small, those games might determine their respective matches, which could tip your overall placement.

    One philosophy is that Modern rewards players that proactively build around and hit broken nut draws. Having more "hot" hands is more important than having more "keepable" openers. Therefore, strengthening our nut draws with Scour is the most sensible way to fill our flex slots.


    Sleight of Hand - a Sorcery that focuses on improving the deck's performance through added selection and consistency. As a trade-off, it doesn't raise the ceiling of the deck's best-possible plays.

    Improved selection helps in many core aspects of the deck:

    A 1-lander with Sleight is potentially keepable on the play and comfortably keepable on the draw. A 1-lander with Scour is probably not keepable either way. By increasing our pool of keepable hands we effectively improve the number of nut draws we can access while also decreasing the number of non-games we encounter.

    Sleight of Hand also improve our odds of successfully chaining spells to rez Phoenix. Scour has a 50% chance of replacing itself with another Instant/Sorcery compared to Sleight's 75% chance. There are also situations where you have the necessary three spells in hand but need another land to cast them all -- Scour can find the land 31% of the time, while Sleight finds it 50% of the time. This performance difference can be less pronounced in the mid game when our hand is full of spells, but in the late game -- as our grip thins -- Sleight's selection is more likely to make the difference in enabling a successful Phoenix-rez / Thing-flip.

    While Sleight doesn't instantly bin spells in the graveyard, its improved ability to draw into more spells can also effectively translate into larger Drakes. And once the Drake is large enough to one-shot the opponent, any extra size is superfluous.

    Unfortunately, Scour's ability to bin Phoenix and Looting are dependent upon the graveyard -- and thus vulnerable to GY hate. Sleight's improved selection remains constant in games 2/3.

    Finally, improved selection means a better ability to dig for cards you need -- extra threats, answers, or valuable SB cards. This selection becomes more valuable the longer the game runs and the more fluid your role selection needs to be.


    Role Flexibility
    Although our deck aims to be on the offense as often as possible, our ~T4 clock demands that we offer some small amount of interaction and stay ready to fluidly shift between offense and defense. Sleight and Scour help this in different ways. Sleight's selection lets you dig for the cards you need to support your current role -- maybe you need that 1-of Lightning Axe on defense or really need a Drake to turn the corner. Conversely, Scour doesn't help you find these cards, but by being an Instant it allows you to keep your "shields up", holding mana open for interactive spells and then potentially Scouring EOT.


    In summary, both spells effectively improve our number of nut draws and help us to maintain role flexibility, although in different ways.

    Thought Scour utilizes the GY to further turbo-charge our offensive nut draws, while also complementing our other instant speed interaction.

    Sleight of Hand offers a reduction of non-games, better Thing-flip / Phoenix-rez chain rates, overall better dig power, and resistance to GY hate.

    We have enough data to suggest that both spells are viable, and there may not be a "correct" spell to run. In making the choice yourself, ask
    (1) In terms of play-style, am I "all-in" (Scour) or "flex" (Sleight) oriented?
    (2) Are my average games running shorter (Scour) or longer (Sleight)?
    (3) Am I encountering moderate GY hate (Scour) or heavy hate (Sleight)?
    Posted in: Aggro & Tempo
  • 3

    posted a message on Saheeli Evolution/Chord
    I went to a ~24 person FNM yesterday and 34 person PPTQ today:

    Deck List My general sideboard strategy is here.

    FNM Report
    R1 vs Ad Nauseam + Shadow (1-2)
    Ran into to a rules issue. I combo'd out vs the Ad Naus player with Unlife on the board, putting him at -1 million life, passed the turn. He plays Shadow followed by a spell that gives it haste and trample (not TBR). I Negate the red haste spell but he Pacts my Negate and swings at me for 1 million. I concede, but later find out that there had been a rules update such that Shadow can't be larger than 13/13, which could've won me the match. Ah well. Always call a judge.

    R2 vs Burn (2-1)
    Voice and Rallier bought me time to Evolve into Shalai. Lost to aggressive beats and Eidolon G2. Sin Collector and Worship plus Shalai sealed G3.

    R3 vs Mill (2-1)
    G1 I combo'd out quickly. G2 he Surgical'd my Felidar and eventually milled me out. G3 I disassemble his hand with Sin Collector into Saheeli copying Sin Collector and then combo out a few turns later.

    R4 vs Mardu (2-1)
    G1 we trade resources for a bit and I sneak the combo through when he taps out. G2 the opponent has a double discard opener leading into Pyro and double Reveler chain to finish me off. G3 I pick apart his hand with Sin Collector into Felidar and then combo out a few turns later.

    PPTQ Report
    R1 vs Bridgevine (0-2)
    G1 mulled to a 6 with Bird, Voices and Felidar. I curved out but didn't draw anything to blink with Felidar. Died T4 as the opponent had double Bridge in the yard to make 8 zombies with a Vengevine. G2 Mulled to a 5 with Cobra, Voice, RIP, and 2 lands. T2 RIP slowed him down significantly but I flooded for the next 5+ turns until he drew into a Ballista, which cleared a bunch of my board, locked me out of comboing, and took over the game.

    R2 vs Jund (2-1)
    G1 I snuck the combo through at 2 life. G2 I kept a hand with 2 lands but didn't draw any more and died. G3 he had a fist full of Goyfs, BBEs, and Flayers but I curved out with multiple Reflectors and multiple Felidars flickering the Reflectors. My life total started to dip but I drew into Saheeli and combo'd out.

    R3 vs Mardu (2-1)
    This was similar to Friday's Mardu matchup. One of the games his disruption + pressure lines up and I die, but the rest of the games I get down some early value, pick apart his hand with Sin Collector, and then jam the combo until it sticks. Unlike Friday's Mardu player this one kept Blood Moon in and cast it in the middle of G3. I was able to get enough basics and the 2nd or 3rd Dork stuck so this did not effect me.

    R4 vs GB Elves (0-2)
    I knew I was against Elves and needed a combo hand to carry me but the deck didn't cooperate. I mulled to a 5 with acceleration and Felidar G1 but didn't draw into Saheeli or anything else relevant for (a surprisingly generous vs Elves) 5+ turns and died. G2 I mulled to a 4 with 2 lands, Cobra, and Saheeli. Once again I didn't draw into the other half and died.

    R5 vs UW Control (2-1)
    G1 my opponent mulled to 5 while I kept a hand with dorks, double Saheeli, and Evo. He flashed a Snap in end of T2 without a target in an attempt to ambush Saheeli but she was at 4 and I combo'd out T3 or T4. G2 I kept a hand with Voice, Gaddock, Negate, and some other good stuff but he managed to systematically dismantle my defenses and Terminus my board with Kiki + Voice + Elemental. I still had Tracker and Saheeli in hand but he countered Saheeli and took over from there. G3 I stick T2 Voice followed by some ramp and Saheeli. He Opts into Terminus but I have Negate ready. I topdeck Felidar -- he has one Plains open but I just go for it and the combo works out.

    R6 vs G Tron (2-0)
    G1 I accelerate with T2 cobra on the play, follwed by T3 Kiki. He gets Tron online and Karns Kiki. I play Felidar next, followed by a Saheeli to combo out. G2 I keep a hand with Cobra, Stony, Negate, and something else. He cracks Map in response to T2 Stony to get his second Tron land, and then casts Sylvan Scrying to find the final Tron land. With Tron online he taps 8 for 4/4 Walking Ballista but can't activate it further due to Stony, so he starts chipping in. I draw into dorks but use these to chump the Ballista and stay alive. He taps out for Ugin but I have Negate ready. I put down Gaddock and Spellskite on top of the Stony for a nice little hate lock. We both topdeck nervously for a few turns, he puts down an unactivatable O-Stone, and then a few turns later I topdeck Evo to tutor up my missing combo piece.

    In the end I missed Top 8 due to breakers but was still reasonably happy with the deck’s performance.

    Thoughts and Takeaways:

    With overall records of 3-1 and 4-2 the deck felt pretty good.

    I won all but a couple games with the combo. The beats plan really takes the back seat right now, as Lejoon said.

    I've already explained some of the stuff below on our Discord, but I'll put all of my thoughts down here for completeness.

    Plan vs aggressive decks
    Aside from UWx Miracles I was expecting mostly aggressive creature-based strategies. Unfortunately there are so many different flavors of aggro these days and Terminus has pressured them all to become increasingly resistant to spot removal and/or non-Terminus sweepers. Worship works against some of these decks but is unreliable vs decks with access to Infect or Brutality, and can also just randomly lose if your creature count gets too low or it gets removed. Fiery Justice is generally good but can be thwarted by Mausoleum Wanderer, (instant speed!) pump effects, Selfless Spirit, graveyard recursion, get delayed by Thalia, snatched by Kitesail. Spot removal like Path can be good at sniping Lords or Meddling Mage but sometimes won't even buy you a whole turn vs the wider swarm decks. And so forth. For this reason I felt like the best strategy was just to build a list that was fast and low to the ground with MB Reflector Mages to try and out-tempo them while jamming the combo.

    I settled on 7 Birds, 3 Cobras, and 4 Reflectors to maximize two possible sequences against these aggressive decks: T1 Birds, T2 Reflector, T3 Felidar blink Reflector, T4 combo out or T2 Cobra, T3 Felidar + Saheeli. Because my MB was built in this way I lost many (but not all) of the pre-board games against spell-heavy interactive decks. However, I had a strong enough SB plan to consistently edge out matches against these decks.

    Plan for spell-heavy decks
    Specifically, running 3x Gaddock Teeg, 3x Sin Collector, and 2x Negate (on top of the 4 MB Voice) created a consistent package of early disruption that allowed me to eventually combo out against decks that previously gave me trouble. Going into the events I wasn't sure if Sin Collector was worth splashing a 5th color for, but now I feel fairly confidant that this was the right call. I admit that the mana was undeniably greedy... there were at least 2 games where I had Kiki stuck in hand. Sometimes I had to twist my curve out in slightly non-ideal ways just to set up my mana. But I never got color screwed badly enough to lose a game -- even against Mardu trying to kill my dorks and landing Blood Moon or UW Miracles tucking my dorks and cracking Field of Ruin -- so for now I'll argue that being just barely short of "too greedy" is the best place to be and I'll stick with the full five colors. :p

    Walking Ballista
    On another note, we can just randomly auto-lose to Walking Ballista and it is quickly becoming one of my most feared cards. Simply casting Ballista for 2 allows the opponent to interrupt our combo at instant speed at any time, even if tapped out. A 2/2 Ballista can kill a 4-loyalty Saheeli or blocking Felidar with its psuedo-doublestrike. A highly pumped Ballista can clear our board. I'm glad to have 2 Stony and Spellskite to help with Ballista a bit, and might try to find room for other cards to take care of it. Maybe it's as simple as having 2 Knight of Autumn in the 75 and bringing them in for potential Ballista matches.

    Goldfish speed vs. linear decks
    The common factor in the matches that I lost (GB Elves, 4c Bridgevine) was that I needed to "solitaire" the combo out quickly against other potentially explosive decks but I just couldn't find what I needed and could never hope to present a traditional clock with beats to match theirs. In these scenarios an extra MB tutor would be nice.

    • The obvious suggestion would be running the 4th Eldritch Evolution. There are a lot of counterspells in the meta right now but this might be the right answer, I'm not sure. I'm probably going to lose G1 against those decks anyways so maybe it I shouldn't worry about it too much.

    • There's also Chord of Calling per Lejoon's suggestion. Much better vs interactive decks but slower when racing and not as attractive without the Chord-Witness-Resto-Kiki chain available.

    • Lastly I could go back to a copy of Bring to Light. This is right in the middle as it's usually faster than Chord but not instant speed so it's harder to get through counterspells. It's also worth noting that Meddling Mage naming Kiki also stops Kiki from being cast off BTL.
    Moving forward I will be updating the deck with 1-2 Knight of Autumn and one more tutor. Beyond obviously replacing SB Rec Sage with Knight of Autumn I will be looking at Tracker, Shalai, the fourth Voice, and SB Worship as somewhat flexible slots to play around with.

    Shalai -- she can win games vs Burn / Storm / Mill if unanswered, but she’s solidly mediocre vs everything else. She seems like she should be ok vs Midrange as a flying protective threat with a great ability but because she lacks an ETB effect and the opponent is highly incentivized to remove her the majority of the time I'm paying 4 mana for her to eat a Push (etc) on resolution and take a big tempo hit. Even if she does stick for a few turns I haven't had a good opportunity to activate her pump ability as I usually have a small board vs interactive decks and/or just generally better things to do with 6 (!) mana than activate her pump. "You have Hexproof" sounds good vs discard but in reality they will still tear your hand up T1/T2 before you can get her down. In a vacuum a flying 3/4 sounds like a reasonable blocker, but in practice aggressive decks like Humans, H Affinity, H1, Bridgevine can all go wider and/or taller, so we’re paying 4 mana to buy ourselves a turn at most. As the cherry on the top her Legendary status makes her impossible to clone, and she awkwardly turns off Spellskite. As a general "role-player" 4-drop P&K Nalaar provides better blocking vs aggro and more guaranteed value vs interaction. With Knight of Autumn arriving to help with Burn it's getting harder to justify space for Shalai in the 75.

    Tracker -- Tracker is awesome vs interactive decks but takes too much time and investment to be a good card against aggressive decks outside of some perfect curves like T2 Cobra T3 Tracker -> Fetch crack -> Clue crack. I'm not sure if I want more than 1 Tracker in the main since I board him out so often, but there aren't a lot of value / card-draw 3-drops that sound better. Perhaps Eternal Witness, Carven Caryatid, Sea Gate Oracle, or something totally different like Lyev Skyknight.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • 1

    posted a message on Saheeli Evolution/Chord
    @Siefer: regarding the Archmage / Shalai niche, what do you think about Sin Collector? Emzed and Rober Dalentis both have had a lot of success with the card. I haven't gotten a chance to play it yet but am planning to run 2x copies SB at an upcoming PPTQ.

    As you noted in the Baloth example, lower CMC is a big deal, and Sin Collector comes down earlier than Glen Elendra Archmage with a more proactive effect that works better with our copy/blink effects. Sin Collector requires Black so it stretches the mana a bit but you're already most of the way there to a 5c manabase (just add an Overgrown Tomb) and Archmage's effective requirement of double blue can sometimes be even tougher than a single black splash. However, Glen Elendra does handle all non-creature spells and can stop a topdecked Terminus where Sin Collector can't stop Teferi or miracle Terminus, so I can see her merit as well.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • 1

    posted a message on Mardu Pyromancer

    It is a common observation that Mardu's performance is dramatically improved for the games that you draw Faithless Looting. Games without Looting tend to run clunkier -- we can get stuck on 2 lands, we might draw into worse cards like late game discard / a pointless Moon / target-less spot removal, our Revelers come down slower, and so forth all contributing to lost games. Our deck certainly benefits from a little extra grease and all of the other past options in Mardu colors have been lackluster.

    Enter Discovery, a 2-CMC black filtering cantrip. It's not Preordain -- the extra mana is a lot! -- it can't help us keep 1-land hands and we'd have to take T2 "off" to cast it so it’s mostly useful in the mid game onwards. From that standpoint it's tempting to dismiss Discovery outright. On the other hand Surveil has good synergy with our Flashback spells / Reveler (the ceiling would be to Surveil two Souls into the yard), it's a better immediate topdeck than late-game Looting, and I think our deck benefits from some "grease" enough that this might be worth trying, perhaps as a 1-of supplement to the standard playset of Looting.

    Posted in: Midrange
  • 2

    posted a message on Saheeli Evolution/Chord
    Both decks attempt to ride the line of value midrange vs combo but Kiki is primarily a midrange deck and Saheeli is more of a combo deck.

    Kiki has some perks -- many of its spells can be played at instant speed, Restoration Angel is a much better standalone card than Felidar Guardian, and you can (eventually) combo off from a single copy of Chord -- but otherwise it is a worse deck for today's fast and wide-open Modern.

    Saheeli is just faster, more proactive, and smoother. It aims to combo out on T3, consistently by T4. Evolution tutors up hate cards faster than Chord. Oath of Nissa is an incredible tool for fixing your mana, smoothing out your draws, and then a great blink target later -- IMO one of the best cantrips in Modern in this shell.

    Kiki-Chord can curve out nicely at times, but there are also lots of really clunky hands. These hands might have more mana trouble, or you draw into more of the random one-of hate cards stuffed into the MB which happen to be irrelevant in a current match. Saheeli lists don't have to run as many narrow hate cards because racing with the faster combo provides a better baseline gameplan against unfair decks.

    There is a playstyle component -- if you want to play a more midrangey, interactive, instant speed deck you might enjoy Kiki-Chord more. If you're ok with a more all-in sorcery speed / permanent-based gameplan Saheeli will probably take your further in a competitive setting right now.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • 2

    posted a message on Saheeli Evolution/Chord
    Good news: there's a reddit post linking to a Flipside Gaming article that will bring more attention to Saheeli Evolution.

    Bad news: the author, Parker Ackerman, copied Nal2's 5-0 list card for card, put his name on it in the article...

    edit: the author says the article will be updated to credit Nal2 / Beakid as soon as they can
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • 2

    posted a message on Saheeli Evolution/Chord
    In other news I've set up a discord for us here.

    I think it would be a fun way to hang out, tune decks together, and discuss slots in real time. Hope to see you all on!
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • 1

    posted a message on Saheeli Evolution/Chord
    I agree that Knight is a great card. It's land utility function is broadly helpful and most of the time it will be a decently large creature for 2 less mana. You are also correct than Hydra still loses to Path / Terminus.

    However I wouldn't say that Hydra does no work against UW Control. If they Path our early Voice / Gaddock then ramping us into a Hydra's 2-turn clock could be dangerous. If they don't have Path in hand a lone Hydra essentially requires them to clear the board with Terminus, allowing us to present a fast clock while committing fewer threats to the board.

    For my list I am trying to lean on the graveyard as little as possible -- even the current 3x Voice, 2x Rallier, 1x Lark is pushing it IMO. Knight can still be shrunk down to a 2/2 in the face of opposing hate such as RIP (or our own copy).

    Hydra also has trample built in rather than taking a turn off to tutor up Wolf Run with Knight.

    Lastly, as I mentioned Hydra is effectively a win con with Saheeli/Kiki. The best case scenario would be T2 Cobra, T3 Hydra, T4 Saheeli copy Hydra, swing for 32 points of trample damage. I doubt that we'll curve out exactly like that very often but in general it's a reasonable mid-late game alternate win-con.

    Knight is definitely the safer and more consistent choice, but the rest of the deck is so packed with safe value creatures and we stress the opponent's removal enough with our combo attempts that I'd like to try one copy of a (Bugler/Lark-compatible) Baneslayer style card that really punishes them if they don't have an answer on hand immediately.


    Regarding your Bugler questions:

    A) I have cleanly whiffed on two Bugler casts in the last 8 matches including one instance of sending a potentially game-winning Saheeli 2nd from the top to the bottom... but the theoretical hit rate is still quite good (89%) so I'm not worrying about the whiffs much right now. In terms of Bugler vs Tracker I think Bugler is a more consistent mainboard card. When you're on the back foot vs an aggressive deck Bugler gets you another card immediately without additional investment and thus has a more expendable body. When you're trying to pressure a control deck Bugler still gives guaranteed free value and is a true 3-drop rather than waiting for Tracker + land drop. It has a higher floor than Tracker but a lower ceiling. Bugler is also a part of the reason I feel like I even have a chance vs Burn despite running so few dedicated hate cards.

    B) I'm not really sure what you mean by unimpactful 2- and 3-drops. The recent builds have added enough higher impact <= 2 power cards that I don't think this is so much of a problem anymore. I also haven't had any issues at all with my current curve. I wouldn't say that Bugler adds any consistency to the combo since he mostly draws you into the flicker half, and I usually side him out vs fast decks where I just want to combo and don't care about card advantage.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
  • 2

    posted a message on Saheeli Evolution/Chord
    @Mull234turn5win: my only suggestion would be to possibly swap the MB Pridemages out for another 2-drop (the rest of the Voices? Wall?) since you have the disenchant angle covered with Acidic Slime and with Evo to find Slime you generally don't need too many more copies of that effect. But if you expect to face a lot of KCI, Lantern, and Affinity running the Pridemages could make sense.

    @Koopa: I'm sure nal2 will add his own thoughts but I found Unified Will to be unreliable due to its creature clause in too many matchups, awkward on mana where we have to leave open (and potentially waste) 1U while the rest of the deck is hungry for mana to develop the board, and perhaps most importantly Gaddock accomplishes many of the same goals while having many advantages / synergies as a 2 CMC creature. I would personally run a 3rd Gaddock before the first Unified Will, but if I really wanted a counterspell I would run Negate before Will.

    @nal2: Terminus is one of the main reasons I like the idea of running the extra 2 Buglers in the side, although I haven't gotten to test the matchup yet.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
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