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If You Can't Beat 'Em, Beat Everything Else - Kendall Halman (11/25/2012)

Toward the end of the Scar
Scar
ScarSet: Shadowmoor
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
194
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.
s of Mirrodin/Innistrad Standard season, I built a handful of decks. They typically did fairly well against a meta-game full of sub-optimal aggro decks like my local Friday Night Magic. However, it seemed like whatever deck I built, it would lose to a top-decked Bonfire of the Damned
Bonfire of the Damned
Bonfire of the DamnedSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
M
Number:
129
Artist:
James Paick
Text:
Bonfire of the Damned deals X damage to target player and each creature he or she controls. Miracle {X}{R} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it's the first card you drew this turn.)
on Magic Online. One night, just for fun, I decided to build a deck that relied on over-extending its creatures. Instead of trying to beat the best card in standard, I decided to make my opponents have it every time. I ended up playing a mono-red Goblins deck. The list was not anything special, but it was extremely aggressive and could beat most of the decks I ran into who could not wipe my board by turn four or five. That night, I went something like 6-0 in the two man queues.

I told you that story to tell you this story. A few weeks ago, at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, Gerry Thompson and his team brought a modern deck that centered on Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus ElementalSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
219
Artist:
Mike Bierek
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Exile an instant or sorcery spell you control: Put two +1/+1 counters on Nivmagus Elemental. (That spell won't resolve.)
and could win on turn two or three. Unfortunately, Jund
Jund
JundSet: Planechase 2012 Edition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Plane
Sub Type:
Alara
Rarity:
C
Number:
20
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Whenever a player casts a black, red, or green creature spell, it gains devour 5. (As the creature enters the battlefield, its controller may sacrifice any number of creatures. The creature enters the battlefield with five times that many +1/+1 counters on it.) Whenever you roll chaos, put two 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens onto the battlefield.
, over thirty percent of the metagame, had an incredible match up against it. Gerry Thompson went undefeated against non-Jund
Jund
JundSet: Planechase 2012 Edition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Plane
Sub Type:
Alara
Rarity:
C
Number:
20
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Whenever a player casts a black, red, or green creature spell, it gains devour 5. (As the creature enters the battlefield, its controller may sacrifice any number of creatures. The creature enters the battlefield with five times that many +1/+1 counters on it.) Whenever you roll chaos, put two 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens onto the battlefield.
decks, but lost every match he had against Jund
Jund
JundSet: Planechase 2012 Edition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Plane
Sub Type:
Alara
Rarity:
C
Number:
20
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Whenever a player casts a black, red, or green creature spell, it gains devour 5. (As the creature enters the battlefield, its controller may sacrifice any number of creatures. The creature enters the battlefield with five times that many +1/+1 counters on it.) Whenever you roll chaos, put two 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens onto the battlefield.
. Because of this, the initial hype about the Elemental Combo deck disappeared over night.

What do these two stories have to do with one another? Just like the fact that not everybody played Bonfire of the Damned
Bonfire of the Damned
Bonfire of the DamnedSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
M
Number:
129
Artist:
James Paick
Text:
Bonfire of the Damned deals X damage to target player and each creature he or she controls. Miracle {X}{R} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it's the first card you drew this turn.)
last summer in Standard, not everybody plays Jund
Jund
JundSet: Planechase 2012 Edition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Plane
Sub Type:
Alara
Rarity:
C
Number:
20
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Whenever a player casts a black, red, or green creature spell, it gains devour 5. (As the creature enters the battlefield, its controller may sacrifice any number of creatures. The creature enters the battlefield with five times that many +1/+1 counters on it.) Whenever you roll chaos, put two 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens onto the battlefield.
in Modern on Magic Online. Based on this logic, and combined with the fact that I was too asleep to go to Friday Night Magic, late this past Friday night, I decided to sell some Thragtusk
Thragtusk
ThragtuskSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
193
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
5
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Thragtusk enters the battlefield, you gain 5 life. When Thragtusk leaves the battlefield, put a 3/3 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.
s (tired of that card anyway) and try a budget version of the deck. Here is Gerry's list.


Land: 17
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blackcleave CliffsSet: Scars of Mirrodin
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
224
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Text:
Blackcleave Cliffs enters the battlefield tapped unless you control two or fewer other lands. {T}: Add {B} or {R} to your mana pool.

4 Scalding Tarn
Scalding Tarn
Scalding TarnSet: Zendikar
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
223
Artist:
Philip Straub
Text:
{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Scalding Tarn: Search your library for an Island or Mountain card and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

3 Blood Crypt
Blood Crypt
Blood CryptSet: Dissension
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
171
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
Swamp Mountain, (T: Add B or R to your mana pool.) As Blood Crypt comes into play, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, Blood Crypt comes into play tapped instead.

3 Arid Mesa
Arid Mesa
Arid MesaSet: Zendikar
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
211
Artist:
Raymond Swanland
Text:
{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Arid Mesa: Search your library for a Mountain or Plains card and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

2 Gemstone Mine
Gemstone Mine
Gemstone MineSet: Weatherlight
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Brom
Text:
When Gemstone Mine comes into play, put three mining counters on it.tap, Remove a mining counter from Gemstone Mine: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. If there are no mining counters on Gemstone Mine, bury it.

1 Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.


Creatures: 10
4 Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus ElementalSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
219
Artist:
Mike Bierek
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Exile an instant or sorcery spell you control: Put two +1/+1 counters on Nivmagus Elemental. (That spell won't resolve.)

4 Kiln Fiend
Kiln Fiend
Kiln FiendSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Beast
Rarity:
C
Number:
153
Artist:
Adi Granov
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Kiln Fiend gets +3/+0 until end of turn.

2 Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin HarbingerSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Shaman
Rarity:
U
Number:
167
Artist:
Steve Prescott
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Flamekin Harbinger comes into play, you may search your library for an Elemental card, reveal it, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.


Instants & Sorceries: 33
4 Tainted Strike
Tainted Strike
Tainted StrikeSet: Scars of Mirrodin
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
80
Artist:
James Ryman
Text:
Target creature gets +1/+0 and gains infect until end of turn. (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)

4 Slaughter Pact
Slaughter Pact
Slaughter PactSet: Future Sight
Cost:
0
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
78
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Slaughter Pact is black.
Destroy target nonblack creature.
At the beginning of your next upkeep, pay 2B. If you don't, you lose the game.

4 Mutagenic Growth
Mutagenic Growth
Mutagenic GrowthSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
116
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Text:
({(g/p)} can be paid with either {G} or 2 life.) Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

4 Gut Shot
Gut Shot
Gut ShotSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
86
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
({(r/p)} can be paid with either {R} or 2 life.) Gut Shot deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

4 Ground Rift
Ground Rift
Ground RiftSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
Target creature without flying can't block this turn. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)

4 Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian ProbeSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
35
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
({(u/p)} can be paid with either {U} or 2 life.) Look at target player's hand. Draw a card.

4 Apostle's Blessing
Apostle's Blessing
Apostle's BlessingSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
6
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
2
Artist:
Brad Rigney
Text:
({(w/p)} can be paid with either {W} or 2 life.) Target artifact or creature you control gains protection from artifacts or from the color of your choice until end of turn.

3 Thoughtseize
Thoughtseize
ThoughtseizeSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
145
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

2 Assault Strobe
Assault Strobe
Assault StrobeSet: Scars of Mirrodin
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
82
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Target creature gains double strike until end of turn. (It deals both first-strike and regular combat damage.)


Sideboard
1 Thoughtseize
Thoughtseize
ThoughtseizeSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
145
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

2 Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin HarbingerSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Shaman
Rarity:
U
Number:
167
Artist:
Steve Prescott
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Flamekin Harbinger comes into play, you may search your library for an Elemental card, reveal it, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.

3 Pyroclasm
Pyroclasm
PyroclasmSet: Ice Age
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Pat Morrissey
Text:
Pyroclasm deals 2 damage to each creature.

2 Inquisition of Kozilek
Inquisition of Kozilek
Inquisition of KozilekSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
115
Artist:
Tomasz Jedruszek
Text:
Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it with converted mana cost 3 or less. That player discards that card.

1 Faithless Looting
Faithless Looting
Faithless LootingSet: Dark Ascension
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
87
Artist:
Gabor Szikszai
Text:
Draw two cards, then discard two cards. Flashback {2}{R} (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

2 Dismember
Dismember
DismemberSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
11
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
({(b/p)} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.) Target creature gets -5/-5 until end of turn.

4 Clout of the Dominus
Clout of the Dominus
Clout of the DominusSet: Eventide
Cost:
1
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Enchantment
Sub Type:
Aura
Rarity:
C
Number:
99
Artist:
Jaime Jones
Text:
Enchant creature As long as enchanted creature is blue, it gets +1/+1 and has shroud. (It can't be the target of spells or abilities.) As long as enchanted creature is red, it gets +1/+1 and has haste.



The only differences between my list and Gerry's are his Thoughtseize
Thoughtseize
ThoughtseizeSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
145
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.
s and mana base. I don't have all of the Scalding Tarn
Scalding Tarn
Scalding TarnSet: Zendikar
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
223
Artist:
Philip Straub
Text:
{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Scalding Tarn: Search your library for an Island or Mountain card and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.
s. If I decide to optimize the deck, I will probably buy into the mana base before picking up any Thoughtseize
Thoughtseize
ThoughtseizeSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
145
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.
s. Inquisition of Kozilek
Inquisition of Kozilek
Inquisition of KozilekSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
115
Artist:
Tomasz Jedruszek
Text:
Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it with converted mana cost 3 or less. That player discards that card.
seems to do the job most of the time. I am bouncing between Duress
Duress
DuressSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
132
Artist:
Lawrence Snelly
Text:
Look at target opponent's hand and choose a noncreature, nonland card there. That player discards that card.
and Despise
Despise
DespiseSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
56
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a creature or planeswalker card from it. That player discards that card.
as supplements.


How the deck works:

The way this deck works is fairly simple. First, you cast a Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus ElementalSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
219
Artist:
Mike Bierek
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Exile an instant or sorcery spell you control: Put two +1/+1 counters on Nivmagus Elemental. (That spell won't resolve.)
. Then, if you can kill your opponent by eating free spells and casting Assault Strobe
Assault Strobe
Assault StrobeSet: Scars of Mirrodin
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
82
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Target creature gains double strike until end of turn. (It deals both first-strike and regular combat damage.)
and/or Tainted Strike
Tainted Strike
Tainted StrikeSet: Scars of Mirrodin
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
80
Artist:
James Ryman
Text:
Target creature gets +1/+0 and gains infect until end of turn. (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
, win. If not, cast a Kiln Fiend
Kiln Fiend
Kiln FiendSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Beast
Rarity:
C
Number:
153
Artist:
Adi Granov
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Kiln Fiend gets +3/+0 until end of turn.
and pump him up by casting a bunch of free or cheap spells. Ground Rift
Ground Rift
Ground RiftSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
Target creature without flying can't block this turn. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
's interaction with the elementals is particularly interesting, because you can cast it as your third or fourth spell of the turn, eat all or most of the copies with Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus ElementalSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
219
Artist:
Mike Bierek
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Exile an instant or sorcery spell you control: Put two +1/+1 counters on Nivmagus Elemental. (That spell won't resolve.)
, and swing for the win. Finally, unlike most combo decks, you do not necessarily have to win after you combo off for it to be correct. Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus ElementalSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
219
Artist:
Mike Bierek
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Exile an instant or sorcery spell you control: Put two +1/+1 counters on Nivmagus Elemental. (That spell won't resolve.)
gets two +1/+1 counters every time you activate its ability. In one of my first matches, I was only able to get it up to an 11/12 on turn 2 with mana open to protect him with Apostle's Blessing
Apostle's Blessing
Apostle's BlessingSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
6
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
2
Artist:
Brad Rigney
Text:
({(w/p)} can be paid with either {W} or 2 life.) Target artifact or creature you control gains protection from artifacts or from the color of your choice until end of turn.
. Luckily, even in Modern, there are only so many ways to deal with eleven power and twelve toughness on turn two. After my elemental's newly acquired protection from white countered a Path to Exile
Path to Exile
Path to ExileSet: Conflux
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
15
Text:
Remove target creature from the game. Its controller may search his or her library for a basic land card, put that card into play tapped, then shuffle his or her library.
, my opponent conceded.


Things are not as simple as they seem:
Most of the time, when I try a new deck, I can get the feel for whether or not a deck is good with about five or ten matches in the tournament practice room. I may not be an expert with the deck and may make some basic changes, but I can usually get a general idea with the deck. With this deck, however, I lost just about all of my early games. I even lost to a deck where the player clearly just wanted to keep playing his Scar
Scar
ScarSet: Shadowmoor
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
194
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.
s/Innistrad Standard deck(Turn one Champion of the Parish
Champion of the Parish
Champion of the ParishSet: Innistrad
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Soldier
Rarity:
R
Number:
6
Artist:
Svetlin Velinov
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever another Human enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on Champion of the Parish.
, etc).

Quickly, I realized that the deck was much more complicated than I initially thought. A handful of questions came up that I still do not have clear answers to. Although, when I started thinking about them, my win percentage started to go up. Here are some of those questions:


Should I let my Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian ProbeSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
35
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
({(u/p)} can be paid with either {U} or 2 life.) Look at target player's hand. Draw a card.
resolve?

This question arises with every spell when you have a Nivmagus out, but Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian ProbeSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
35
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
({(u/p)} can be paid with either {U} or 2 life.) Look at target player's hand. Draw a card.
s are the toughest to decide which is correct. On the one hand, you may need to see your opponent's hand in order to know how all-in you want to be on the combo this turn. Also, you do get to draw a card, which might be another free spell. The Probe
Probe
ProbeSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
66
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Text:
Kicker 1B (You may pay an additional 1B as you play this spell.)Draw three cards, then discard two cards from your hand.If you paid the kicker cost, target player discards two cards from his or her hand.
will still add to your storm count for Ground Rift
Ground Rift
Ground RiftSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
Target creature without flying can't block this turn. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
and pump your Kiln Fiend
Kiln Fiend
Kiln FiendSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Beast
Rarity:
C
Number:
153
Artist:
Adi Granov
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Kiln Fiend gets +3/+0 until end of turn.
if he is out. On the other hand, some decks simply do not run Path to Exile
Path to Exile
Path to ExileSet: Conflux
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
15
Text:
Remove target creature from the game. Its controller may search his or her library for a basic land card, put that card into play tapped, then shuffle his or her library.
or any other ways to kill your creatures, and this is one of those decks where every point of damage counts. This question can be answered more easily with math for most of the other spells in the deck.


How much value do I need to get from Ground Rift
Ground Rift
Ground RiftSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
Target creature without flying can't block this turn. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
?

I have not played decks that utilize the Storm mechanic very much, but I suspect this is an issue that comes up fairly often. Every turn that you do not cast Ground Rift
Ground Rift
Ground RiftSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
Target creature without flying can't block this turn. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
is potentially an extra two spells for Nivmagus to eat. It can also lead to being able to double dip with Kiln Fiend
Kiln Fiend
Kiln FiendSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Beast
Rarity:
C
Number:
153
Artist:
Adi Granov
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Kiln Fiend gets +3/+0 until end of turn.
. However, this is Modern. The format is full of crazy combo decks that go off before you even know what they are. I had an opponent play two Island
Island
IslandSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add U to your mana pool.
s before I killed him in game one. This made me think he was playing Delver, so I side-boarded accordingly. It turns out, he was playing a Storm deck. Also, even if your opponent is not playing a crazy combo deck, he might be playing a deck that stabilizes on turn three or four. I never won a single game where my opponent resolved a Bloodbraid Elf
Bloodbraid Elf
Bloodbraid ElfSet: Alara Reborn
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf Berserker
Rarity:
U
Number:
50
Power:
3
Toughness:
2
Text:
Haste Cascade (When you play this spell, remove cards from the top of your library from the game until you remove a nonland card that costs less. You may play it without paying its mana cost. Put the removed cards on the bottom in a random order.)
.


Should I kill his creature?
Slaughter Pact
Slaughter Pact
Slaughter PactSet: Future Sight
Cost:
0
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
78
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Slaughter Pact is black.
Destroy target nonblack creature.
At the beginning of your next upkeep, pay 2B. If you don't, you lose the game.
and Gut Shot
Gut Shot
Gut ShotSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
86
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
({(r/p)} can be paid with either {R} or 2 life.) Gut Shot deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
are both very good removal spells that you can cast for free. Admittedly, Slaughter Pact
Slaughter Pact
Slaughter PactSet: Future Sight
Cost:
0
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
78
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Slaughter Pact is black.
Destroy target nonblack creature.
At the beginning of your next upkeep, pay 2B. If you don't, you lose the game.
does cost three, but it happens at the beginning of the upkeep, so you don't have to actually leave three mana up. This deck does get to three land fairly often if you cannot kill the opponent by then. On the other hand, as I said before, each spell can represent between two and ten damage, depending on which creatures you swing with and whether or not you cast Ground Rift
Ground Rift
Ground RiftSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
Target creature without flying can't block this turn. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
. You typically want to use Slaughter Pact
Slaughter Pact
Slaughter PactSet: Future Sight
Cost:
0
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
78
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Slaughter Pact is black.
Destroy target nonblack creature.
At the beginning of your next upkeep, pay 2B. If you don't, you lose the game.
on something big and/or scary like a Blighted Agent
Blighted Agent
Blighted AgentSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Rogue
Rarity:
C
Number:
29
Artist:
Anthony Francisco
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.) Blighted Agent is unblockable.
that might kill you before you get a chance to kill your opponent. Those decisions are not usually too difficult.

Gut Shot
Gut Shot
Gut ShotSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
86
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
({(r/p)} can be paid with either {R} or 2 life.) Gut Shot deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
is different. In Standard, it was a tempo card that you would use on a turn one Birds of Paradise
Birds of Paradise
Birds of ParadiseSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Mana Birds
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Power:
0
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. This ability is played as an interrupt.
or something. In Modern, I am not sure how often that is the correct move. A turn one Glistener Elf
Glistener Elf
Glistener ElfSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf Warrior
Rarity:
C
Number:
111
Artist:
Steve Argyle
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Infect (This creature deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to players in the form of poison counters.)
might be a different story, especially since not all Modern Infect decks run Mutagenic Growth
Mutagenic Growth
Mutagenic GrowthSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
116
Artist:
Dave Kendall
Text:
({(g/p)} can be paid with either {G} or 2 life.) Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
, and there are worse things than forcing an Infect player to use a free pump spell to protect their creature.


Am I on the beat-down plan or the combo plan?
Sometimes, Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus ElementalSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
219
Artist:
Mike Bierek
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Exile an instant or sorcery spell you control: Put two +1/+1 counters on Nivmagus Elemental. (That spell won't resolve.)
is just a 3/4 or 5/6 that you can drop on turn one, and that is enough. Against non-interactive decks like Storm or Infect, where you need to kill them before they combo off, you probably need to be attacking for as much as possible every turn. Of course, sometimes you are just a Ground Rift
Ground Rift
Ground RiftSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
Target creature without flying can't block this turn. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
away from having a hand that can combo off. It can be tempting to hold onto your cards until you top deck a Ground Rift
Ground Rift
Ground RiftSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
162
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
Target creature without flying can't block this turn. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
. After all, pumping your Nivmagus is costing you extra cards, and you do not want to be blown out by a Path to Exile
Path to Exile
Path to ExileSet: Conflux
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
15
Text:
Remove target creature from the game. Its controller may search his or her library for a basic land card, put that card into play tapped, then shuffle his or her library.
.


My hand is not perfect, do I take a mulligan?
This deck mulligans terribly. You trade card advantage for tempo with Nivmagus's ability, so losing another card to a mulligan can really hurt. On the other hand, this deck is the only deck I've ever played where you might consider keeping a no land hand, and can easily keep a one land hand. If your opening hand has a Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus ElementalSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
219
Artist:
Mike Bierek
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Exile an instant or sorcery spell you control: Put two +1/+1 counters on Nivmagus Elemental. (That spell won't resolve.)
or Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin HarbingerSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Shaman
Rarity:
U
Number:
167
Artist:
Steve Prescott
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Flamekin Harbinger comes into play, you may search your library for an Elemental card, reveal it, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.
and a land to cast it, it is almost always a snap-keep. I still have not figured out if it is correct to keep a hand full of spells with a few lands but no creatures. You only have 10 creatures in the deck. Fetch Lands and Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian ProbeSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
35
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
({(u/p)} can be paid with either {U} or 2 life.) Look at target player's hand. Draw a card.
s help thin out your deck, but you still will have no turn one creature on the play.


Final thoughts on the deck:
I have been grinding this deck on Magic Online all week in the Tournament Practice Room and about 10 Two Man Queues. I won about 70% of the matches in the Practice Room and none of my matches in the Two Man Queues. Obviously, the average power of decks I was facing in the Practice Room was lower than the Two Mans, but I would not entirely write the deck off. It goes without saying that this deck relies quite a bit on luck. My opening hands and match ups were not the best in many of the Two Mans, and I also made some stupid mistakes. One game, against Storm, I had the turn two kill, but played my spells in the wrong order, so my storm count was one short. I got my opponent to two life, he played a Fetch Land to go to one, and killed me with a million Grapeshot
Grapeshot
GrapeshotSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
160
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Grapeshot deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Storm (When you play this spell, copy it for each spell played before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
s.

The questions I posed in this article are not ones that I have clear answers to. It may be that you should always mulligan until you have a Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus Elemental
Nivmagus ElementalSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
219
Artist:
Mike Bierek
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Exile an instant or sorcery spell you control: Put two +1/+1 counters on Nivmagus Elemental. (That spell won't resolve.)
, then never let any spells resolve that do not protect said Elemental. This also may not be the best build of the deck. I have messed around a little bit with Death's Shadow
Death's Shadow
Death's ShadowSet: Worldwake
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Avatar
Rarity:
R
Number:
57
Artist:
Howard Lyon
Power:
13
Toughness:
13
Text:
Death's Shadow gets -X/-X, where X is your life total.
instead of Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin HarbingerSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Shaman
Rarity:
U
Number:
167
Artist:
Steve Prescott
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Flamekin Harbinger comes into play, you may search your library for an Elemental card, reveal it, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.
. Between Fetches, Shock
Shock
ShockSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
206
Artist:
Randy Gallegos
Text:
Shock deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
s, and Phyrexian Mana spells, your life total does get pretty low, and the Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin Harbinger
Flamekin HarbingerSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental Shaman
Rarity:
U
Number:
167
Artist:
Steve Prescott
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Flamekin Harbinger comes into play, you may search your library for an Elemental card, reveal it, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.
is pretty terrible if you do not need it. It is a shame that we no longer have access to free spells in Standard, because something like this deck would be great with Talrand and Guttersnipe
Guttersnipe
GuttersnipeSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Goblin Shaman
Rarity:
U
Number:
98
Artist:
Steve Prescott
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Guttersnipe deals 2 damage to each opponent.
, but they are probably too slow for Modern.

Anyway, for the time being, I have put this deck on the back burner and am working on the Green Blue Infect deck that everybody else is playing. It is doing very well in the Tournament Practice Room. We'll have to see how it does in actual tournaments. As always, if you like what you read here, follow me on Twitter @khalman and listen to Kitchen Finks
Kitchen Finks
Kitchen FinksSet: Shadowmoor
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Ouphe
Rarity:
U
Number:
229
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
3
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Kitchen Finks comes into play, you gain 2 life. Persist (When this creature is put into a graveyard from play, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to play under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)
, my casual magic podcast, on mtgcast.com.


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