Coming up with the idea for a new deck can come from anywhere. Sometimes you see a particular card and just want to build a deck around it. Sometimes you spot a combo and want to test it out. And sometimes you get a silly deck name in your head and just have to build it to satisfy that brewer’s itch. This is one of those decks.
While I was down at MagicFest London, I got to meet up with many other great content creators. Most of these meetings were over a game of Commander, as is the way at MagicFests. During one such game against @junglefiver, @emmmzyne, and our very own Kristen, Emma didn’t have a Commander deck on her, so I offered to loan her one of mine. She chose my sneaky snake Infect deck (yes, it is as evil as it sounds) led by Kaseto, Orochi Archmage. While she was shuffling, she casually asked if the deck had a Smuggler’s Copter in it, because if I did, I could call it ‘Snakes on a Plane.’
I immediately kicked myself for not coming up with the idea, but afterwards I began to wonder – what would a Snakes on a Plane deck look like? Would it be playable, or even competitive? Well, there was only one way to find out. And that was to build the deck. So, once I got home, I began looking at how I would put this deck together.
I decided that I would build a Modern deck, as Modern is my favourite format. I also decided that I would build it on a budget so that I could build the deck myself and play it online. Once I got done with the brewing, the deck only came to around 6 tix on Magic Online and around $70 in paper, which is pretty budget as far as Modern is concerned.
We’ll start off with our snakes. We’re running full playsets of Sakura-Tribe Elder, Coiling Oracle, Lorescale Coatl, Mystic Snake, and Honored Hydra, as well as a playset of honorary snake lord Metallic Mimic and three copies of Prowling Serpopard. This may at first seem like a weird bunch of creatures, and to be fair it is. Sure, Sakura-Tribe Elder is a snake that ramps you, and Metallic Mimic is an auto include for tribal decks without a decent number of lords. But what about the others?
Well Coiling Oracle is, in my opinion, a seriously underplayed card, being able to either ramp us or draw us more cards in a similar way to the explore creatures in Ixalan. Mystic Snake is a solid counterspell with a 2/2 attached that most opponents won’t see coming, and Prowling Serpopard is just a solid card when facing control decks. But what about the Lorescale Coatl and Honored Hydra?
Well that’s where the ‘planes’ part of our deck comes in, with four copies of Smuggler’s Copter. That’s right, the card that was too good for Standard is back and is full of snakes. If all goes as planned, and you can play a land each turn, you can play a Smuggler’s Copter on turn two. You then follow it up with a Lorescale Coatl on turn three, crewing the Copter and attacking to draw a card (which will put a counter on the Coatl) and discarding an Honored Hydra. By the time turn four has ended you can have fourteen power on the table and a decent grip of cards in hand. Not bad for a janky brew.
But four ‘planes’ is hardly enough, so we’re also running three copies of Aethersphere Harvester to give us more power in the air. We round off the deck with a playset of Incubation // Incongruity. The first half of this split card allows us to dig for our snakes and make sure we don’t run out of gas. The second half is a great exile-based removal spell considering our creatures will typically be larger than a 3/3. During testing I was able to get rid of an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger my Tron opponent was relying on to hold off my board.
We finish off the deck with two Aether Hub, playsets of Unclaimed Territory and Hinterland Harbor, and a decent selection of basics. Moving on to the sideboard we want to make sure we can cover as many bases as possible. Dispel and Negate give us some game against control and noncreature-based decks. Naturalize handles problematic artifacts and enchantments, while Plummet makes sure we can take care of flyers. Two copies of Winged Coatl provides us with additional removal when we need it, and a playset of Relic of Progenitus makes sure graveyard decks don’t run over us. And there you have it – ‘Snakes on a Plane.’
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Coiling Oracle
4 Metallic Mimic
4 Lorescale Coatl
3 Prowling Serpopard
4 Mystic Snake
4 Honored Hydra
4 Smuggler's Copter
3 Aethersphere Harvester
4 Incubation // Incongruity
2 Aether Hub
4 Unclaimed Territory
4 Hinterland Harbor
2 Winged Coatl
4 Relic of Progenitus
The deck is a lot of fun to play and I have been having some success with it in the practice rooms. It might require a bit of tweaking after further testing, but I think the deck has some potential despite its meme-related origins. Besides, this wasn’t about creating a ‘top tier’ deck. This was about having some fun with an idea born from a silly deck name, and in that regard it was a total blast. The process of building the deck has given me an idea. I want to do some more deck techs like this one, taking a weird and wonderful deck name and creating an entire brew around it. But I don’t just want to do this all by myself. Much like how Emma Partlow inspired this crazy deck, I want your help in inspiring me. All you have to do is leave a deck name in the comments below or tweet one at me @MTGTengu with the hashtag #brewmeadeck and the funniest, weirdest, and most random might just end up being used as future inspiration for a deck tech.
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