[The Colors of Modern] Part 2: Allied Colors

Hello everyone, and welcome back to part 2 of this new series, looking in depth at the possibilities in the Modern format. Today I’ll be highlighting the best options in the allied color pairings. Unlike last time where I provided ten decks in total, this time around I will just mention some other decks you may want to search for. As you add colors together the optimal card combinations become clearer, and the best possible archetypes to build become more noticeable; however that does not mean those are the only options for that combination.

Now some of you may be asking: “What is an allied color pair”?

As you look at the back of a Magic: the Gathering card one thing you will notice is that each of the colors are represented with a little orb. As you go clockwise around the orbs you will move from one color to the next.

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For instance as you move clockwise from white to blue those two colors form an allied pair as they are next to each other. As the game grew this thought process was used to develop cards for the colors to compliment such builds, and in the case of the Azorius Senate in Ravnica help create a world where all possible duo color pairings are represented.

If you are still confused hopefully that will become clearer as I take you through both this and next week’s enemy color pairings. For now though let’s begin. I will be naming these by color combinations for ease of understanding, however color combinations are often times referred to by their in-game name for the pairing. For duo colors the decks are often-times given their name from the plane of Ravnica, perhaps the most popular plane in the game. Let’s begin.

White and Blue

Azorius Miracles

Creatures (3)
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Vendilion Clique

Enchantments (3)
2 Detention Sphere
1 Search For Azcanta

Instants (17)
4 Cryptic Command
4 Path to Exile
4 Opt
2 Negate
1 Hieroglyphic Illumination
1 Logic Knot
1 Spell Snare

Planeswalkers (5)
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Sorceries (7)
4 Terminus
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Ancestral Vision

Lands (25)
6 Island
4 Field of Ruin
4 Flooded Strand
3 Celestial Colonnade
3 Plains
2 Glacial Fortress
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Ghost Quarter

Sideboard
3 Rest In Peace
2 Celestial Purge
2 Negate
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Cataclysmic Gearhulk
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Runed Halo
1 Stony Silence
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Dispel

This is the preeminent control deck in the format. It wants to lock opponents out of the game with the card advantage gained via the pair of planeswalkers Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. If you count Terminus you have eight removal spells that only cost a single white mana, which helps in this aggressive world of the Modern format. These colors typically lean towards control-based strategies: winning with planeswalkers, running your opponent out of cards in their library, or even having a flying creature or two in order to win through dealing damage.

Why should you play the deck?

  • You love control decks. Yes. Yes I do.
  • “Magic: the Gathering is a thinking person’s game” is your bumper sticker.
  • Either of these colors are your favorite color.

Why you shouldn’t play the deck.

  • It’s too challenging to master.
  • You might be impatient (nothing wrong with that).
  • You prefer aggro decks.

There are other options in these colors beyond control. I would take a look at Azorius Spirits, Death & Taxes variants that splash blue, Taking Turns (or what I like to call “Oops! All Turns”), and Turbo Fog decks.

Blue and Black

Dimir Mill

Creatures (5)
4 Hedron Crab
1 Snapcaster Mage

Artifacts (6)
4 Mesmeric Orb
2 Ensnaring Bridge

Instants (17)
4 Archive Trap
4 Visions of Beyond
3 Fatal Push
2 Mission Briefing
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Murderous Cut
1 Crypt Incursion

Sorceries (10)
4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Thoughtseize

Lands (22)
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Field of Ruin
4 Polluted Delta
3 Island
2 Swamp
2 Watery Grave
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Shelldock Isle

Sideboard
3 Extirpate
1 Psychic Spiral
1 Set Adrift
1 Damnation
1 Crypt Incursion
1 Dismember
1 Hero’s Downfall
1 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Echoing Truth
1 Collective Brutality
1 Torpor Orb
1 Spell Pierce
1 Fatal Push

The Dimir are the masters of secrets. While they have many yet share with few, there is nothing more they want than your secrets. Mill is a strategy that gives Dimir what they want by seeing your entire deck go to the graveyard. From the diminutive Hedron Crab to the powerhouse Glimpse the Unthinkable this deck is now more than a simple “budget brew.” Using both Mesmeric Orb (to continue the milling) and Ensnaring Bridge to help stay alive this deck has quite the staying power. Sequence your spells right, and it could spell victory.

Why should you play the deck?

  • Milling always feels like an alternate win condition even though it’s the primary one here.
  • You do not have to worry about having counterspells and removal if your opponent can’t cast their spells.
  • Glimpse the Unthinkable speaks to you, and not just in your dreams.

Why you shouldn’t play the deck.

  • You feel the deck is very one dimensional (aren’t many Modern decks)?
  • It’s hard to understand what the real plan is.
  • You simply don’t like this deck (and neither do your friends).

Don’t fret though. These colors have some other options. If you haven’t played since Lorwyn left Standard you can still bring your Faeries deck as-is to play. Also look at some Tezzerator builds, but keep in mind they splash green (if not more colors) to deal with pesky enchantments.

Black and Red

Hollow One

Creatures (24)
4 Gurmag Angler
4 Street Wraith
4 Hollow One
4 Flamewake Phoenix
4 Bloodghast
4 Flameblade Adept

Instants (6)
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Fatal Push

Sorceries (12)
4 Goblin Lore
4 Burning Inquiry
4 Faithless Looting

Land (18)
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Bloodstained Mire
3 Blood Crypt
3 Mountain
2 Stomping Ground
2 Wooded Foothills

Sideboard
4 Leyline of the Void
3 Ancient Grudge
2 Collective Brutality
2 Fatal Push
2 Thoughtseize
1 Ravenous Trap
1 Abrade

Hollow One is one of the streamlined graveyard decks in the format. While the deck usually has a single splash of green to flashback Ancient Grudge it may not longer be needed with the banning of Krark-Clan Ironworks. This deck focuses on the looting spell in red. Prior to Dark Ascension being released these cards would draw first, and then discard at random, however Faithless Looting gave players more control over what was discarded. With the added power of Street Wraith one could easily have multiple Hollow One on the field on turn one, with maybe a Flamewake Phoenix in the graveyard ready for the next turn.

Why should you play the deck?

  • The synergies with the cards and graveyard interaction are appealing.
  • Placing two 4/4 creatures into play on turn one is something you really want to do. A lot.
  • You realize Burning Inquiry can wreck an opponent more than Thoughtseize.

Why you shouldn’t play the deck.

Overall the deck is streamlined, and powerful. It’s still a solid option to play so if you have it rock it. Other options for these colors are limited, but there is a deck out there with Pack Rat, and Blood Moon.

Red and Green

TitanShift

Creatures (8)
4 Primeval Titan
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder

Artifacts (2)
2 Relic of Progenitus

Enchantments (2)
2 Khalni Heart Expedition

Instants (5)
3 Lightning Bolt
2 Summoner’s Pact

Sorceries (16)
4 Scapeshift
4 Search For Tomorrow
4 Farseek
2 Anger of the Gods
2 Explore

Lands (27)
6 Mountain
4 Stomping Ground
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
4 Wooded Foothills
3 Cinder Glade
3 Arid Mesa
2 Forest
1 Windswept Heath

Sideboard
3 Damping Sphere
2 Obstinate Baloth
2 Tireless Tracker
1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Pulse of Murasa
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Abrade
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Relic of Progenitus

Of all the Titans available in Magic not only is Primeval Titan one of the most popular, but it is also banned in EDH. It’s ability to find lands (not just basic lands) is the focus here in this deck as it takes a strategy that first appeared in Standard (during the Zendikar to Scars of Mirrodin era), and brings it forward to Modern. Using the direct damage triggers of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle this deck can win quickly if you are allowed to cast all of your spells. You only need eight lands to win with Scapeshift, and your spells allow you to put lands into play from your library. However in your more grindy matches the Tireless Trackers from your sideboard may end up doing more damage than your primary win-conditions. Keep in mind if you lose your Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle to land destruction plus Surgical Extraction you can still Scapeshift with Tireless Tracker in play to get a ton of potential draws.

Why should you play the deck?

  • You like playing Big Mana strategies, but don’t like Tron.
  • You used to play this strategy when it was in Standard.
  • YOU ARE GRUUL! HEAR YOU ROAR!

Why you shouldn’t play the deck.

  • There are few win conditions.
  • The deck is weak vs targeted land destruction, and Thoughtseize.
  • Your friends keep playing Disdainful Stroke against you (and laugh while doing so…what jerks).

While this deck is sweet, and it is nice to see an old Standard deck make it’s way to the tops of Modern’s lists, there is at least one other option. If you like winning by taking their lands away, instead of having more, do a search for Gruul Ponza. It has a good scheme to it. There are also people out there trying to brew with Rhythm of the Wild so keep an eye out for those decks.

Green and White

Hatebears

Creatures (28)
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Noble Hierarch
3 Courser of Kruphix
3 Tireless Tracker
2 Ramunap Excavator
2 Scavenging Ooze
1 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
1 Renegade Rallier

Instants (9)
4 Collected Company
4 Path to Exile
1 Dromoka’s Command

Lands (23)
5 Forest
4 Windswept Heath
3 Wooded Foothills
2 Field of Ruin
2 Horizon Canopy
2 Temple Garden
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Gavony Township
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Plains
1 Tectonic Edge

Sideboard
3 Surgical Extraction
2 Knight of Autumn
2 Celestial Purge
2 Stony Silence
1 Nissa, Vital Force
1 Worship
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Choke
1 Pulse of Murasa
1 Blessed Alliance

Now we arrive at the last color pair in green & white. Known for being the colors of the Selesnya Conclave on the plane of Ravnica this deck takes to heart the need to populate…the battlefield with creatures. At nearly THIRTY creatures this is quite the aggro deck, but it does more than turn creatures sideways. You are essentially a Death & Taxes variant, however you are looking to get as much value out of your creatures each and every turn as possible. Imagine a turn where you sacrifice a land via Knight of the Reliquary, put a utility land into play, and then get the previous land back with Ramunap Excavator! That’s just one of the many interactions this deck has.

Why should you play this deck?

  • The synergy this deck has makes it a refined machine of many mechanics developed by Magic: the Gathering over the years.
  • Voice of Resurgence is seeing very little play, and you want to take advantage of that.
  • You want to play a deck that does not fear Blood Moon, any Big Mana decks, and has game against graveyard based decks game one.

Why you shouldn’t play the deck.

  • Too many creatures, and not enough spells.
  • These just simply are not your favorite colors.

While this is just an option for the deck you could look at building a tokens based strategy with it, or look at the combo of Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies. Those decks though may have a third color.

In conclusion

As you can see while mono color options can be quite potent, the power level can increase by adding a second color. So far I have reviewed the five mono colors, and five allied colors, and that gives us at least ten Modern decks that are known decks you may see at your Friday Night Magic.

…but why stop there?

Next week I will take a look at the enemy color pairs to show you what they have to offer. Modern truly is a great format as there is a deck for everyone, and every color combination.

Was there a deck in the allied color pairs that you think is the best of those colors? Please leave a comment below, and make sure to follow me on both Facebook as well as Twitter.

Until next time…

TAP MORE MANA!!!

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