September Brew Report, Pt. 2: Creature Feature

Last week, we kicked off the September Brew Report, covering some of the juiciest decks to emerge from recent 5-0 dumps. As the format continues to find its footing after the Hogaak ban, the possibilities seem endless. Today we’ll discuss the other newcomers.

Fair Enough

We’ll kick things off with Modern’s unsung heroes: the decks that play it fair against all odds.

Temur Midrange, by C4N7O (5-0)

Creatures (13)
Tarmogoyf
Ice-Fang Coatl
Snapcaster Mage
Tireless Tracker

Planeswalkers (4)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Wrenn and Six

Instants (18)
Abrade
Cryptic Command
Force of Negation
Lightning Bolt
Magmatic Sinkhole
Mana Leak
Opt
Spell Snare

Sorceries (3)
Serum Visions

Lands (22)
Breeding Pool
Field of Ruin
Fiery Islet
Ghost Quarter
Lonely Sandbar
Lumbering Falls
Misty Rainforest
Prismatic Vista
Scalding Tarn
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Sideboard (15)
Alpine Moon
Ancient Grudge
Anger of the Gods
Ashiok, Dream Render
Damping Sphere
Engineered Explosives
Flame Slash
Fry
Keranos, God of Storms
Pyroclasm
Surgical Extraction
Weather the Storm
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Temur Midrange has never been a deck in Modern, though that hasn’t stopped players from trying time and again to crack the code. It simply lacks the heavy-duty removal options of black and white, as well as proactive non-creature plays with which to develop its position. Jund loses out on the ability to run counterspells, but gains targeted discard and Liliana of the Veil, draws that Temur could never match.

Until, perhaps, now. Joining the wedge’s ranks are Wrenn and Six, a proven powerhouse in and out of Jund that offers Temur an on-plan way to satisfy its hungry mana requirements. Also new is Ice-Fang Coatl, a pseudo-removal spell with its condition met. Temur is already in the business of fetching basics, so the snow creature does a fine Baleful Strix impersonation for the deck.

Whether such developments turn the combination around remains to be seen, but color me doubtful for the time being. Discard spells greatly enhance this kind of nickel-and-diming playstyle, and Jund is a force to be reckoned with right now for that reason.

BR Claim, by IVAN_CATANDUVA_BR (5-0)

Creatures (14)
Pestilent Spirit
Rix Maadi Reveler
Rotting Regisaur
Seasoned Pyromancer

Planeswalkers (4)
Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Liliana of the Veil

Instants (11)
Gut Shot
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt

Sorceries (9)
Claim // Fame
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize

Lands (22)
Barren Moor
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Field of Ruin
Marsh Flats
Mountain
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Collective Brutality
Pillage
Plague Engineer
Shadow of Doubt
Surgical Extraction
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BR Claim follows in the footsteps of a breakout deck post-Horizons, BR Unearth. That strategy aimed to abuse Unearth by reanimating juicy targets like Seasoned Pyromancer. Variations have dipped into three drops as diverse as Lightning Skelemental, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, and Monastery Mentor. This deck runs the staple Seasoned Pyromancer and Rotting Regisaur. But it doesn’t run Unearth; only Claim // Fame, which targets neither of those creatures.

Claim can only bring back one creature in the list: Rix Maadi Reveler. As such, it serves as a mini-velocity engine to power through the deck. But it’s much less efficient at doing that than reanimating Pyromancer. Rather, the draw to Claim lies in its other half, Fame. With the aftermath spell in the graveyard, opponents need to be wary at every turn, as a 7-power Regisaur could emerge out of nowhere and take a bite out of their life points.

With all that said, I sincerely don’t understand why this deck doesn’t have any Unearths in it and would dearly appreciate any guidance in the comments!

Fishing for a New Religion

Fish-style tempo decks have taken many forms in Modern, and the strategy continues to emerge in unique constructions as new cards are released.

Deadguy Ale, by BENNYHILLZ (5-0)

Creatures (20)
Dark Confidant
Giver of Runes
Thraben Inspector
Stoneforge Mystic
Kitesail Freebooter

Instants (6)
Cast Down
Fatal Push
Slaughter Pact

Sorceries (11)
Collective Brutality
Inquisition of Kozilek
Lingering Souls
Thoughtseize

Artifacts (3)
Batterskull
Elbrus, the Binding Blade
Sword of Fire and Ice

Lands (20)
Concealed Courtyard
Flooded Strand
Godless Shrine
Marsh Flats
Plains
Polluted Delta
Snow-Covered Plains
Swamp
Sideboard (15)
Collective Brutality
Lingering Souls
Fulminator Mage
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Liliana of the Veil
Liliana, the Last Hope
Manriki-Gusari
Rest in Peace
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Deadguy Ale is a black-white fish deck with more midrange elements than your typical Death & Taxes, such as Dark Confidant and Inquisition of Kozilek. It’s long been native to Legacy, but as Stoneforge has just arrived in Modern, the strategy is a newcomer here.

BENNYHILLZ did us the favor of breaking it in, employing Giver of Runes and Thraben Inspector to generate a beautiful curve without the need for Aether Vial. Lingering Souls plays exceedingly well with Sword of Fire and Ice, and Elbrus turns any flying creature (there are plenty) into a serious threat. A full set of Fatal Pushes round out this elegant list.

Trending away from synergy is rare in Modern, but as a lover of all-purpose disruption, I’m excited to see if such developments continue.

Company Hatebears, by POC (5-0)

Creatures (27)
Knight of Autumn
Collector Ouphe
Eternal Witness
Giver of Runes
Leonin Arbiter
Noble Hierarch
Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Instants (9)
Collected Company
Mana Tithe
Path to Exile

Artifacts (2)
Batterskull

Lands (22)
Field of Ruin
Ghost Quarter
Horizon Canopy
Razorverge Thicket
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Plains
Temple Garden
Sideboard (15)
Collector Ouphe
Knight of Autumn
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Phyrexian Revoker
Ramunap Excavator
Ranger-Captain of Eos
Rest in Peace
Tocatli Honor Guard
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Speaking of moving away from synergy, Company Hatebears pulls a Naya Zoo in using its titular instant for non-combo purposes. When you’re fishing out the best two-drops in Modern, among them Stoneforge and Thalia, who needs to go infinite?

A big factor allowing this deck to exist is Collector Ouphe, which gives it superb interaction against artifact strategies the likes of Whirza. That deck certainly isn’t going anywhere, and Ouphe’s stock should only rise as Emry makes a splash alongside Jeskai Ascendency come Throne.

Pride of the Pack

Of course, Modern is still home to plenty of synergy, and much of it has to do with creatures. These decks put innovative spins on that old concept.

Bant Pride, by INTERNETSURFER09 (5-0)

Creatures (34)
Pride of the Clouds
Aven Mimeomancer
Birds of Paradise
Deputy of Detention
Empyrean Eagle
Mantis Rider
Mausoleum Wanderer
Noble Hierarch
Selfless Spirit
Unsettled Mariner

Instants (5)
Collected Company
Force of Negation

Lands (21)
Botanical Sanctum
Breeding Pool
Fiery Islet
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Horizon Canopy
Island
Misty Rainforest
Plains
Razorverge Thicket
Sacred Foundry
Steam Vents
Temple Garden
Waterlogged Grove
Windswept Heath
Sideboard (15)
Selfless Spirit
Collected Company
Force of Negation
Blessed Alliance
Celestial Purge
Collector Ouphe
Disdainful Stroke
Life Goes On
Reflector Mage
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Behold Bant Pride, AKA flying tribal. But hasn’t this deck been done before? Like, with Spirits? Well, kind of. Spirits has better lords, to be sure. But it doesn’t have the grind game enabled by the forecast mechanic. Or durdle game?

Balancing out that snail-slow plan is Mantis Rider, the game’s-now-over closer from Humans. Growing Rider above 3/3 is an interesting premise, and one I’ve spent many hours trying to implement well myself. The format’s changed a lot since those days; perhaps it’s the 4/4 or 5/5 Rider’s day to shine outside its original tribal deck and alongside some straight-up draft cards.

Company Hatebears, by POC (5-0)

Creatures (29)
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Acidic Slime
Birds of Paradise
Blood Artist
Geralf’s Messenger
Kitchen Finks
Scavenging Ooze
Strangleroot Geist
Thragtusk
Wall of Roots
Young Wolf

Instants (3)
Chord of Calling

Sorceries (4)
Eldritch Evolution

Lands (24)
Blooming Marsh
Forest
Khalni Garden
Overgrown Tomb
Swamp
Twilight Mire
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Sideboard (15)
Collective Brutality
Collector Ouphe
Damping Sphere
Dosan the Falling Leaf
Leyline of the Void
Obstinate Baloth
Reclamation Sage
Shriekmaw
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Yawgmoth Undying might not play Collected Company, but it’s got the other green creature-finders, Eldritch Evolution and Chord of Calling. That’s because it’s not looking for a critical mass of beaters or disruptors so much as one specific card: Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.

With the Cleric in play, Young Wolf and its undying buddies get a new lease on life, not from the graveyard this time, but from the bulk bin. Yawgmoth’s -1/-1 counter cancels out the +1/+1 counter from undying, letting pilots draw cards at will. They only have 20 life, of course, but Geralf’s Messenger races that clock by dealing twice as much damage each sacrifice, and recruiting Blood Artist first goes infinite. It’s likely that players mid-combo will find a way to grab Artist in their next 10-or-so cards.

A Month in the Books

September has been very exciting for Modern, and the fun’s just beginning: Throne of Eldraine is about to become legal! Which brews stand out to you the most? What kinds of decks do you hope to see emerge from the new expansion? Let’s keep the discussion going in the comments.

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