Hello everybody, and welcome back to Strictly Average MTG for another Monday Modern article. I hope you all are enjoying the Guilds of Ravnica preview season. I’ll be talking about those cards after we have them all previewed.
Today though we’re going to talk about another planeswalker. Today’s spotlight will land on the Sangromancer himself: Sorin.
There have been four planeswalker cards featuring Sorin Markov in various casting costs, and he is quite the fan favorite among many in the Magic: the Gathering community (Editors Note: Also still stuck in a rock). I’ll go through each one, in order of release, and take a look at a possible deck for each of them. First up the original.
Mono Black Control
How the deck works
Appearing for the first time in Zendikar Sorin Markov is designed for a heavy black build if not just mono black (which honestly is more likely). Unlike blue based control decks this deck cannot counter spells the opponent is playing (yes we are NOT going to play Dash Hopes. Sorry.) so we have to be proactive. This requires us to attack their hand, and play a lot of removal. Your manabase is also really simple allowing you to attack their mana with Field of Ruin, Ghost Quarter, and Fulminator Mage. While the fetchlands may not feel like they are necessary it does turn on Revolt for your Fatal Pushes.
Your primary way of winning is putting the opponent’s life total to 10 with Sorin Markov, and finishing them off with Corrupt. You can build up a lot of mana with the few permanents you have due to them having more than one black symbol in their mana costs so exploit that as much as you can while keeping your opponent in top deck mode. Your sideboard has additional hate for Big Mana decks with Rain of Tears, and plans for Burn, graveyard based decks, and blue based Control decks.
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Modern Esper Control
3 Snapcaster Mage
4 Flooded Strand
3 Celestial Colonade
3 Polluted Delta
2 Field of Ruin
2 Glacial Fortress
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Godless Shrine
1 Marsh Flats
1 Watery Grave
2 Spell Queller
2 Stony Silence
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Settle the Wreckage
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Celestial Purge
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Nihil Spellbomb
How the deck works
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad was released in Dark Ascension, and until the next Sorin was released this one was my favorite. The ability to produce a lot of tokens with this Sorin makes him his own win condition, however I added a few more. This deck actually existed during the time of Innistrad through Return to Ravnica blocks, and did quite well for itself in that meta. I decided to make a few changes to the original list for Modern play. Let’s go over a few of these.
- Gideon Jura couples well with the other planeswalkers in the deck. Stalling any non-flying aggro from hitting you or damaging Gideon too much gives you time to clear the board (hopefully for the second time) before attacking for a lot of damage.
- Terminus is the best board wipe in Modern. If you run a deck that can cast it for one white mana you should run this over other sweepers.
- Secure the Wastes works great with Sorin’s emblem as you have a lot of 2/1 creatures, and those could end the game rather quickly on their own.
This deck only splashes black for cards like the aforementioned Sorin, Fatal Push, and a few sideboard cards. If you’re looking for a fun FNM deck to play I would start here. Yes the Azorius Charm looks strange, but it’s bounce ability works well with Field of Ruin, and the hidden mode of lifegain can be relevant.
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Modern Abzan Midrange
How the deck works
Before I stopped writing my “Speaking Casually” series of articles (and I may bring those back) I was going to write about a similar build of this deck. Although the above cards are the foundation of a token strategy this deck does focus a lot on green for quality midrange creatures. By landing an early Tarmogoyf, or Grim Flayer you start applying early pressure to your opponent. The later of those two can power them both if it connects which can be brutal when paired together. Your non-creature spell suite, while mana efficient, can also be situational. Path to Exile, for instance, doesn’t do well vs Azorius Control. However Lingering Souls does. Make sure to sideboard out the right cards in your matchups to capitalize on their effectiveness. The remainder of the deck is typical for a black/green/x deck currently in Modern with the exception of two cards:
- Tasigur the Golden Fang: Not typical for these lists, and his Delve mechanic may seem counter productive to the rest of the creatures in the deck, it’s ability can refill the graveyard for use again. You could even use Scavenging Ooze to limit the opponent’s choice of bad cards to give you when you activate Tasigur.
- Walking Ballista: This is something I saw this week at FNM, and damn does it seem sweet here. I should probably get a few copies for myself honestly as it’s even starting to see play in Control decks in Legacy. This card counts as two card types for Tarmogoyf and Grim Flayer.
As always there are ways to fight Tron in the sideboard, as well as Burn, Control, and artifact based decks. This would also be another neat deck to run at FNM if you can’t afford traditional midrange pieces like Liliana of the Veil, and Dark Confidant.
Sorin, Grim Nemesis
Modern Orzhov Prison
3 Wall of Omens
How the deck works
I’ll admit this one was a little tough, but I wanted to find a way to highlight each Sorin as they are all unique in some way. For instance this Sorin, which was released in Shadows Over Innistrad costs SIX MANA to play. That’s a lot, and if you aren’t ramping then how the heck are you going to play this? This is when I thought about a Prison style deck (Editors Note: Fitting deck style, considering he’s stuck in a rock). Let’s look a bit further.
- Ghostly Prison slows down aggro decks as the opponent would have to pay an extra two mana for each attacking creature. However we’re not stopping there with Enchantments.
- Sphere of Safety taxes the opponent even more for not only attacking you, but also your planeswalkers. That tax is equal to the number of enchantments you control as well.
- Gideon of the Trials while not an enchantment can still tax your opponent. With Wall of Omens in play, and even just Ghostly Prison the opponent may not be able to attack with everything. You have probably already used Gideon’s +1 ability to Fog a creature, and you’ll have removal in hand to deal with another.
So how do you win? Well drawing cards with Sorin, Grim Nemesis of course. It’s +1 ability slowly drains life from the opponent until you either have defeated them, or made a ton of 1/1 creatures with this. Imagine if your opponent has “an arbitrarily large life total” due to a combo. You wipe the board with Terminus, and then ultimate Sorin, Grim Nemesis. It sounds like a bad time for them.
In the sideboard you have more enchantments, and cards to deal with both Artifact decks, any deck that wants to interact with you, and ways to tax your opponent further with Gideon’s Intervention.
Even though there are only four Sorins this was a little complex trying to find a home for each of them. Remember these decks are made to focus on the planeswalker himself, and build around it in some fashion.
NEXT WEEK I will take a look at each of the guilds coming to us in Guilds of Ravnica. It will be a HUGE undertaking for me as it will be the first time I have done this, and I know many of you are asking me about my thoughts. Trust me. They are coming.
Until next week…
TAP MORE MANA!!!
Scott Campbell, better known as MTGPackFoils, has been playing Magic since he was 17 (which was in 1993). He’s known for loving decks such as Azorius Control, Jund, and others (especially in Modern). He is a husband, father, and a former nightclub DJ.