The Modern Rogue Report – Seismic Swans
Hey there! It’s been a while!
I’ve been a little busy with life lately. Moving, Canadian Nationals, plus a few other things. However, my favourite time of year is approaching. It’s Modern PPTQ season and I’m extremely excited for what’s to come.
This is the 23rd instalment of the Rogue Report and there’s no current plan of turning back! We’ve been janking it up in here for quite a while, so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to drop a fun list on you today – Seismic Swans – something that can actually be surprisingly competitive. In the coming weeks though, we’re going to cover either the lists that I’m playing in PPTQ’s (along with some minor tourney reports), or decks that are more suited to playing higher level events.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not covering top tier stuff, but it may be time to revisit a few decks I’ve looked at in the past. Over the next six to eight-ish weeks I’ll be focusing on more competitive decks that I’d feel comfortable trying to win a PPTQ with.
Now, without further ado…
ASSAULT SWANS, UNITE! Ca-Caw!
This is a combo deck that plays an enormous amount of land, usually around 40+. The idea is to get Molten Vortex or (even better) Seismic Assault into play. From this point there are two options. You can cast Treasure Hunt and hope to draw a big chunk of lands to hurl at the opponent via Seismic Assault. Or you can combo with Swans of Bryn Argoll.
If you do resolve a Swans with a Seismic Assault in play, you can discard a land, target the swans, deal two to it, draw two cards, and hopefully continue to repeat the process. It is possible to fizzle out, but if you start with two or three lands in hand, it’s pretty unlikely. All you need to do is rinse and repeat until you have exactly half as many lands in hand as your opponent has life points. Of course, then, you need to throw your lands at your opponent’s life total.
Opponent at 22 life? No problem, repeat combo until you have 11 lands in hand. 16 life for the opponent? We don’t have to go as far, eight lands will do the trick.
I’m not saying don’t ever overkill an opponent who may have some trick life gain or such. What I am saying is that you don’t always need 10 lands for the win. Draw more lands than necessary to play around specific disruption only.
So what does 40+ land deck look like? Let’s take a peek:
Rodrigo Silva’s Assault Swans
4 Cascade Bluffs
4 Shivan Reef
4 Swiftwater Cliffs
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Temple of Epiphany
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Kefnet, the Mindful
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Laboratory Maniac
1 Mana Leak
1 Molten Vortex
2 Smash to Smithereens
2 Spell Pierce
1 Sphinx’s Tutelage
2 Tormod’s Crypt
Somehow, Rodrigo Silva was able to Top 8 a 50 player Modern event with this deck. So either he’s very lucky, or the swans have been in the corner a little too long.
Playing this deck is comparable to playing solitaire. Except you’re playing solitaire while someone tries to play Magic with you. Typical combo deck.
There are a few spicy sideboard options to win the game, such as Kefnet, the Mindful and Sphinx’s Tutelage. Personally, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with Fevered Visions. But there’s not really a ton of room to switch up the main board since you need play a critical mass of lands to execute the game plan.
It would be interesting to experiment with different deck sizes, though. The more lands you add, the more reliable casting a Treasure Hunt is to draw said lands. However, the more cards you have (past 60 in the main), the less likely you’ll be to draw Treasure Hunt. Maybe this is a reason to look at cards with transmute? I’m getting a little off track, but I was very interested in the explanation and application of Travis Woo’s old 90-card Living End deck. There are rare cases that constitute thinking outside the box in terms of deck size.
Interaction doesn’t often happen with this deck, but when it does, it’s usually the opponent realising they can deal damage to the Swans of Bryn Argoll to draw cards themselves. It’s not a terrible way to try to find a specific answer.
Also worth consideration is Dakmor Salvage. There are alternate versions of this deck that use Dakmor Salvage and the Dredge mechanic to combo off. If you discard a Dakmor Salvage to a Seismic Assault and point it at your swans, you’ll draw two cards. At this point the salvage is already in the graveyard and has Dredge. For the first draw, Dredge Dakmor Salvage back to hand and mill two. Draw a second card.
You may now discard a Dakmor Salvage for free again (if comb-ing using Seismic Assault and not Molten Vortex, which is much slower), and proceed to repeat the steps until you have enough lands in hand to reduce the opponent to 0 life.
You may notice that I mention Living End often, even when it’s only loosely relevant, and here it goes again:
Just like Living End (the deck), this deck is absolutely a one-trick pony.
BUT, it’s still pretty darn good trick. It can be a turn four kill, with only two non-land cards and four lands.
I wouldn’t recommend this deck to someone trying to qualify for the Pro Tour via Modern PPTQ grinding; absolutely not. However, I think this strategy is good enough to keep up with some of the mid-high tiered decks in Modern, and is worth watching in the future. These types of combo decks are always just a single random new effect away from being next-level, so we’ll see what gifts come in the future!
That’s it for this week!
I hope you enjoyed Assault Swans (a.k.a Seismic Swans).
Don’t be afraid to take it out to an event, I’ve actually done respectably with it, myself.
If nothing else… it’s incredibly fun to play.
Until next time; Rogue Out.