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May 5, 2016

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Rogue Tech Report: May 2016 Edition

Hello and welcome back to Rogue Tech Report, where we look at some creative new additions to established decks, and celebrate those strange moments where what ought to have been janky… was actually kind of good.

                   

First up this week, here’s an inclusion that might not technically fit this series, because it’s about the Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek combo, which people are desperately trying to plop into its best home in the format. But instead we have it the other way around, where the expected cards are going into an unanticipated home.

Forget Blue-White Gifts Ungiven, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas control, or even Affinity – the synergies for this combo in the mostly-ignored Esper Monastery Mentor deck are off the charts.

Sword of the Mentor

Adding the combo into this deck does a lot of interesting things. For one, the deck is already loaded with cantrips, so digging for combo pieces is something it’s naturally equipped for. Secondly, one of these combo pieces already wants to be in the graveyard, so Thought Scour high-fives itself again. And finally, both pieces of the combo offer Prowess triggers, and the synergy is a two-way street as Mentor’s Monk tokens offer another way to recur Sword of the Meek. This isn’t just a cute value play while your combo is offline, it also lets free spells like Slaughter Pact save the Sword from a Relic of Progenitus while you’re tapped out.

In this strange backwards case, we’re putting a 9/10 power-level card combination into a 5/10 power-level deck. Will the combination make the archetype competitively viable though? Time will tell.

Erayo Lockdown

Next on the list, we have a card so busted it’s banned in Commander, Erayo, Soratami Ascendant. Erayo has never really found her home in Modern, despite the obscene power of her lockdown ability. But in my recent experiences testing various decks, I’ve seen a few people trying her out in surprisingly effective applications:

  • Puresteel Paladin “Cheerios”: Okay, it’s a fringe deck, but one that will often steal a handful of surprise wins. With a pile of zero-mana equipment like Accorder’s Shield made repeatable by Retract, flurrying into your fourth spell of the turn is easily achieved. The deck tends to also run Myth Realized, as a cheap card that enables Erayo while also benefitting from even failed attempts to flip her, and also already runs Muddle the Mixture as a way to access Puresteel Paladin. All this culminates in a Erayo offering a pretty nifty way to turning the game into a one-sided affair. Would be bulletproof if the Paladin wasn’t already weak to Abrupt Decay.
  • Sideboard into Storm: As a deck that relies on either Grapeshot or Empty the Warrens to win, any opponent other than Burn will rush to side out all their spot removal. In comes Erayo, and a few Desperate Rituals later, the game is yours for the taking. Also see: Thing in the Ice. Too bad Pyromancer Ascension means Abrupt Decay still stays in.
  • Affinity: This one is some real rogue nonsense, as Affinity doesn’t lend itself well to having spare slots in the deck for this kind of tomfoolery. Still, against a tough opponent like Jeskai Control, Erayo can do an obscene amount of work. Turn one: Darksteel Citadel, Ornithopter (1), Mox Opal (2), play Erayo (3), Memnite (4). That’s what we in the business call a turn 1 win. It’s just too bad Cranial Plating is already a good Abrupt Decay target.

It’s also worth noting that Erayo sees all spells, not just yours, so if you’re capable of casting at least three, your Erayo is effectively immunte from removal that turn, or else she flips and is no longer a creature. Unless, yknow. Abrupt Decay.

tl;dr: Erayo is awesome in certain decks, but as usual, Abrupt Decay = fun police.

                   

Faerie Nice to Meet You

Finally, with the unbanning of Ancestral Vision, there have been a lot of whispers about the reemergence of Faeries as a competitive archetype. Sadly, they’re not a tribe that has gotten a ton of love outside of Lorwyn block, but it turns out that Quickling and Faerie Miscreant are deceptively playable little buggers.

Quickling is basically a smaller on-tribe Restoration Angel, for the builds that don’t play White. In very much the same way, you still pay four to re-use a Spellstutter Sprite, or get a cheap flier upgrade when using a Bitterblossom token as chump blocker.

The Miscreant, on the other hand, looks worse, but has been the one posting better results. Several straight Blue-Red PestermiteKiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker variants have been using them as tribal diggers that can pack a punch with the help of Scion of Oona.

While high-impact cards these are not, their flexible nature lends themselves well to a lot of different builds, and by being blue, they even offer a way to play Faeries without playing black.

Wrapping Up

Of these interactions, I think Erayo has the highest ceiling and is most worth focusing on as something to tune decks around. The payoff is enormous, and she’s so far off the Modern radar that it’s entirely feasible to shred an FNM with her before anyone can even begin to figure out how to best play around the threat.

But anyways, that’s it for this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest discussion of janky cards in real decks. Tune in next week for Going Rogue, as we take a look at some of the new developments in one of my favourite archetypes, Dredgevine. Until then, have fun, and may the force be with brew.