Modern is not all it seems

Okay guys, full disclosure. I was trying to brew up something for Amonkhet standard (a certain three colour tribe if you must know), but I hit a brick wall. Not because of the lack of cards in Amonkhet, far from it. No, my issues come from the fact the new ban list will go live today, and my deck designs either use cards that may or may not get banned, or work to stop their strategies. So I will have one week off standard brewing, and once more head to modern. Fear not, next week I will have some spicy standard goodness, I promise.

Well, it’s been a few weeks since the release of Modern Masters 2017, and everyone has reaped the benefits. Whether you enjoy limited play, or have finally got the fetches you need for your Jund deck, Magic’s latest set has done marvels for the community. What’s more, budget brewers have been able to break into the Modern scene without the need to break open the bank. Even decks that wouldn’t have been considered budget a few months ago, have had their prices slashed, much to the joy of most gamers. Today we look at our take on one such deck that for under $50 (or around £40 for us in the UK) can allow you to crash your friends at your local store. What’s more, we are going to be aggressive in blue! Yes, you heard right. So, without further a due, let’s take a look at Illusion Tribal.

Illusions is a tribal deck that makes use of the powerful Illusion creature type. This archetype isn’t new, and has been seen before, but can surprise unprepared opponents with how fast it can be. Creatures such as Phantasmal Bear, Illusionary Servant and Phantasmal Dragon, all have statistics that are way above the curve for their converted mana cost. They do come with a bit of a drawback, in that if they become targeted by a spell or ability, you must sacrifice them. This is less of a drawback than you would think, as most targeted removal in the Modern format would remove the creature anyway, but we do have a way of protecting our army of Illusions. Lord of the Unreal provides an anthem effect to all our Illusions, as well as giving them Hexproof, (yes, he may not be an Illusion himself, but we won’t hold that against him). But since he is a Human, he can be targeted by removal. Luckily, one of the Modern Masters reprints helps us with this little problem. Phantasmal Image copies a creature when it hits the battlefield, and if we copy one of our Lord of the Unreal, then it gives all the benefits, and is protected by the original creature. Additionally, we include a full playset of Adaptive Automaton, in order to increase the number of lords we can run.

We also want to run more Illusions, and Krovikan Mist can be one powerful Illusion when accompanied by a large number of its friends. With a large enough board, this humble two mana flyer can be a win-con all by itself. And speaking of win-cons, they don’t come much spicier than Chronozoa. This Planar Chaos rare can be a real problem if left unchecked, as in three turns, it will become two, then four, and so on, making it a real headache if the game goes long. Our spell package contains more ways to protect our board, with a full playset of Turn Aside, that for a single blue mana can stop a pesky Lightning Bolt or Fatal Push. A couple of Monastery Siege provide more protection from targeted removal, or if need be, can provide card filtering. In terms of our own removal, a playset of Vapor Snag can provide great tempo, and the life drain is not too shabby. Our last non-creature spell is two Muddle the Mixture. This can be used after a Vapor Snag to remove the threat of a Tarmogoyf or Death’s Shadow, but the main reason we want to include it is for the Transmute. We can pay three and discard, to tutor up an either a Lord of the Unreal, or Phantasmal Image, giving the deck more reliability.

Our mana base is super simple, twenty-two Islands, that’s it. Since we are mono blue we don’t need to worry about fixing, and it means decks running Blood Moon are of little concern. The sideboard is versatile and customisable, as to suit your own meta. Disperse can bounce anything that might cause you issue, from Planeswalkers, to hate cards such as Ensnaring Bridge. Tormod’s Crypt will handle any Graveyard strategies, and Unified Will prevents control decks from clearing the board. A couple of Echoing Truth will handle token strategies, and we finish off with a two Spreading Seas to punish greedy mana bases, and two Dispel just to be more blue.

Creatures (26)

4 Phantasmal Bear

4 Phantasmal Image

4 Krovikan Mist

4 Lord of the Unreal

4 Adaptive Automaton

2 Illusionary Servant

2 Phantasmal Dragon

2 Chronozoa

Spells (12)

4 Vapor Snag

4 Turn Aside

2 Monastery Siege

2 Muddle the Mixture

Lands (22)

22 Island

Sideboard (15)

3 Tormod’s Crypt

4 Disperse

2 Unified Will

2 Echoing Truth

2 Spreading Seas

2 Dispel

A few points about the deck, yes you are playing blue, but you don’t want to be sitting back, you want to be aggressive. Once you have got your lords down, start to swing in. You work much like a Merfolk deck than anything else, so don’t be afraid to rumble in when you have the chance. Your opponents may not be ready for the aggro game after you play your first Island, so take advantage of that fact.

Lastly, I want to touch on some upgrades to the deck. if you want to make the deck more competitive then there are two cards that you want to consider, but be warned, the price of the deck will increase 400%. A full playset of Mutavault and Aether Vial will set you back a pretty penny, but provide a great boost to your deck, allow you to play uncounterable creatures at instant speed, and have even more threats hiding in your land.

And there you have it, a way of playing blue that doesn’t make my stomach hurt. Why not try it out for yourself at your local FNM. I grantee you will find it a thrill when you smash in for lethal with this tribal deck, why’ll your friends just stare at that Path to Exile, sitting useless in their hand.

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