Hope Eternal—Turn-One Kill

There’s a deck out there in the wilds of Modern with a theoretical turn-one kill. It’s not the most likely of scenarios, and most of the time you’re looking at a turn-three or -four kill, but it’s still a badass deck. I am, of course, talking about Legendary Reanimator, a deck that has gotten better since they banned Seething Song, which in previous builds had been a key card. The newest builds replace Seething Song with Simian Spirit Guide, and having access to three mana on turn one can easily be good game. Here’s the list:

Legendary Reanimator

2 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Blood Crypt
2 Darkslick Shores
1 Island
1 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
1 Swamp
3 Verdant Catacombs
1 Watery Grave
4 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
4 Griselbrand
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Faithless Looting
3 Fury of the Horde
4 Goryo’s Vengeance
4 Izzet Charm
4 Serum Visions
2 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Thoughtseize
4 Through the Breach

2 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Dismember
2 Dispel
2 Extirpate
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Pithing Needle
2 Pyroclasm
2 Torpor Orb
Volcanic Fallout

If it looks familiar, it’s because it most recently popped up on the mothership, buried within that article on the Blistercoil Weird/Paradise Mantle combo. But the deck looked fascinating to me, and since Twelve-Post has been out of the format for a while now, Through the Breach has come back down to a reasonable price.

The ideal turn-one kill is a hand with Griselbrand, Faithless Looting, two Simian Spirit Guides, Goryo’s Vengeance, and a land that produces black mana (or can fetch for one that does). You loot away the Griselbrand off a Simian Spirit Guide activation, Vengeance it back into play with the second Simian Spirit Guide, and then swing at your opponent for seven points of lifelinked damage. Then, when you’re at somewhere between 24 and 27 life, you activate Griselbrand’s ability to draw up to 21 cards, in the hopes of getting a Fury of the Horde and two red spells to pitch to it. This lets you attack again, for a total of 14 damage done that turn, and you get to draw more cards in search of another Fury to do 21 points of damage in total. On turn one. Which is awesome.

In fact, that sequence of play means that you usually want to be using Griselbrand as your unfairly animated beater of choice. While you can reanimate Emrakul with its shuffle trigger on the stack, or drop it into play with Through the Breach, 15 points of damage won’t always be enough to kill your opponent. Of course, the six-permanent annihilate effect usually will wipe your opponent’s board, giving you some breathing room to find a means of repeating the process. Plus, a lot of fetch manabases these days can easily do more than five points of damage to themselves before you get your flying spaghetti monster online, so it’s still a very strong win condition. But Griselbrand is the star of this deck, and he truly shines in it.

But, like most combo decks, it’s a little vulnerable to specific pieces of hate. Deathrite Shaman is commonly played main, and it can shut off your chances of reanimating your beef of choice. Sure, you can play around it with two reanimation spells, beat it to the punch with a turn-one or -two kill, and even hold off until you can drop it into play with Through the Breach—but, regardless, it’s the type of card you need to have a plan against.

The sideboard in the list above uses Pithing Needle and Pyroclasm effects, but I also like the potential of Lightning Axe, particularly when you’re going for the Griselbrand win. One piece of hate that the sideboard doesn’t seem to account for is Rest in Peace, which completely turns off the reanimation half of the combo. Now, I get that you can pluck it from their hand with Thoughtseize, and then Extirpate them all away, but that seems a bit complicated and doesn’t deal with the chance that it makes it through your discard to land on the board. For that reason, I think I would want the Dispels to be Spell Pierces. Having a hard counter is often nice, but you should be going off fairly early, while your opponent is still mana-constrained. Spell Pierce may be a bit weaker against Path to Exile, but I think I’d prefer a little bit of flexibility in that slot.

Anyway, I unfortunately couldn’t make it to the inaugural Tuesday Night Modern at the Twenty Sided Store last night (I’ve been trying to shake a fever since Saturday), and even if I did I am waiting on a few copies of Fury of the Horde to make it to me in the mail. Still, I’ll report back on this and a few other decks I’ve been playing around with after the next event I attend. I’m excited by this deck’s potential, and I think the meta might be in a place where the legends of Magic could do some damage.

9 Responses to “Hope Eternal—Turn-One Kill”
  1. Matt Jones says:

    Good gravy! This is insane!!! Keep it away from me!! AAAAAHHHHHHH!

    Also – feel better.

    • Justin says:

      There’s also an article about it on LegitMTG, main differences are Lightning Axe main, along with Spoils of the Vault for dig and a singleton Shizo, Death’s Storehouse to get Grizzy past blockers: http://legitmtg.com/competitive/a-modern-defense/

      • Matt Jones says:

        that LegitMTG article is good. I liked the end bits about Modern and why it’s good.

      • thejlina says:

        Bood article! I was thinking about Shizo, but I am a little less impressed with maindeck Lightning Axe. I see that it gives another red card to exile to Fury of the Horde, but I like Izzet Charm a bit more in that role. I also don’t get Inquisition over Thoughtseize… the point of running ‘seize is that in a pinch you can aim it at your own face to discard one of your big dudes for reanimation purposes, and Inquisition isn’t going to be able to do that.

        But his defense of Modern is spot on. I agree, Modern is a ton of fun. It’s a lot more welcoming than Legacy, and there’s more to do in it than there is in standard at any given point in time. Both things are great in my book.

  2. Justin says:

    Lightning Axe over Thoughtseize if you’re running Spoils of the Vault (hence Gemstones over more shocklands), because you might need the extra 2 life points and it’s also a maindeck answer to Deathrite Shaman. I assume Inquisition is to strip out other pieces of hate, i.e. RiP, Cage, etc.

    Might also be worth it to cut the Manamorphose for more rituals to accelerate into Through the Breach quicker.

    • Manamorphose is good at fixing color post combo, its also red to pitch and just draws a card. The issue is more often not having the combo card than not having the mana for it. Gitaxian probe costs life

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