[The Colors of Modern] Part 6: The Nephilim, WUBRG, and Colorless

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Strictly Average MTG for another Modern article. My name is Scott, and I want to welcome the new followers on Twitter recently. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it.

Today we have reached the end of a journey that, when planned, was to take us through the rest of Winter as the first day of Spring happens in a few days. I wanted to showcase at least one deck per possible color combination in Magic: the Gathering for the Modern format. This is done not only to show that there is more to the format than the top deck of an event, and as a counter to the (somehow still continuing) conversations that goes something like this: “You play (deck that did not hit first place last week)? That deck is bad, and you’ll just lose”…or something similar. The negativity that conversations about this format bring about are part of what brings interest in this format down, and lead to “Modern is not fun” conversations. I could spout opinions that would be contrary to those conversations, or I can show my work. That’s what I have done here. Thank you for coming along this journey with me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.

Today I’ll be looking at five decks that are four colors, a five color deck, and a colorless deck to finish off all thirty-two (32!!!) decks for Modern. This is a wild number to think of, While interest in four color decks recently obtained some interest with the release of the 2016 Commander decks there were five cards released years before that which really started the interest in the possibilities of this unique color combination.

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Enter The Nephilim

With the release of Guildpact these creatures were brought to life. Four color, or “non-(enter single color here)” cards were attempting to merge multiple color identities into one card. Designed to provide an alternative to the guild focus of the first Ravnica block these cards fell out of favor quickly due to the difficulty of being able to cast them. Many players often feel (correctly so) that they should have been Legendary to allow for different options in EDH play.

Since their release though their names have been used, albeit sparingly, to describe four color decks. During the 2013 SCG Open there was a deck tech on a Witch-Maw deck (White, Blue, Black, Green). The mana base was super greedy, but the deck was quite effective. While I don’t know how this player finished in the tournament I know he wiped the floor against me.

So with this in mind we’ll go over each of the four color decks by naming the corresponding Nephilim (and listing their colors), and as usual I’ll start at the top of the color wheel with White.

Yore-Tiller (White, Blue, Black, Red)

Robots (aka Affinity)

Creatures (24)
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Vault Skirge
4 Signal Pest
4 Ornithopter
3 Master of Etherium
3 Memnite
2 Etched Champion

Artifacts (14)
4 Cranial Plating
4 Springleaf Drum
4 Mox Opal
2 Welding Jar

Instants (4)
4 Galvanic Blast

Sorceries (1)
1 Thoughtcast

Lands (17)
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Spire of Industry
1 Mountain

Sideboard
2 Ghirapur Aether Grid
2 Wear//Tear
2 Rest in Peace
2 Negate
2 Dispatch
2 Thoughtseize
1 Damping Sphere
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Tormod’s Crypt

Perhaps the oldest deck in the format the deck somehow has not been able to shake it’s name “Affinity”. There are no cards with the keyword Affinity in the deck as it’s more akin to Robots, but nonetheless through multiple banned and restricted updates, some players moving to Hardened Scales, and everything else that’s happened in the format this still is a widely played deck.

Powering out your hand early, and attacking quickly, a deck like this can be well positioned if your local meta is filled with linear non-interactive decks. If you have friends who stopped playing shortly after the Scars of Mirrodin block left Standard they can come back with some adjustments and have a top Modern deck.

Why should you play this deck?

  • It’s an aggressive aggro deck.
  • All of the cards have synergy with each other.
  • You don’t have to update the deck often.

Why you shouldn’t play this deck.

  • More artifact hate keeps being printed.
  • You prefer another Mox Opal deck.
  • The deck feels too one dimensional to you.

While there is still concern that Mox Opal could eventually be banned from the format (I don’t think it should) there are still plenty of players enjoying this archetype. It can also be ported to Legacy with very little upgrades. If you want to play another deck with these colors look at Ad Nauseam.

Glint-Eye (Blue, Black, Red, Green)

Dredge

Creatures (18)
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Prized Amalgam
4 Narcomoeba
4 Bloodghast
2 Golgari Thug

Artifacts (4)
4 Shriekhorn

Instants (1)
1 Darkblast

Sorceries (18)
4 Creeping Chill
4 Cathartic Reunion
4 Life From the Loam
4 Faithless Looting
2 Conflagrate

Lands
4 Copperline Gorge
4 Wooded Foothills
3 Bloodstained Mire
2 Blood Crypt
2 Mountain
2 Stomping Ground
1 Gemstone Mine
1 Mana Confluence

Sideboard
4 Nature’s Claim
3 Ancient Grudge
3 Lightning Axe
2 Ravenous Trap
1 Collective Brutality
1 Assassin’s Trophy
1 Darkblast

Of the four color decks this, and one we will look at later, are the most represented. Another deck that not only has survived multiples banned and restricted updates, but has also seen it’s position improved as other decks have lost cards to those updates. Dredge can not only be a deck that wins through attacking quickly due to having multiple Prized Amalgams on the board, but also win just on the backs of Conflagrate and Creeping Chill.

Why should you play this deck?

  • Although the list of broken mechanics is called “The Storm Scale” you know Dredge is the most powerful mechanic.
  • You like playing cards without paying their mana costs.
  • You fight for the honor of Golgari Grave-Troll. May he live on forever.

Why you shouldn’t play the deck.

  • It’s challenging to master.
  • You don’t like to fumble with triggers.
  • You hate having your graveyard spilled all over the play area (it can be confusing).

While Dredge is a great deck another archetype is rising in these colors. Look for the Whir Prison decks that are starting to post good results. There also is another deck I’ll talk about next that has taken out white in favor of blue.

Dune-Brood (Black, Red, Green, White)

Traverse Death’s Shadow

Creatures (13)
4 Street Wraith
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Death’s Shadow
1 Ghor-Clan Rampager

Artifacts (4)
4 Mishra’s Baubble

Instants (10)
3 Fatal Push
3 Tarfire
2 Kolaghan’s Command
2 Temur Battle Rage

Planeswalkers (2)
2 Liliana of the Veil

Sorceries (13)
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Thoughtseize
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald
1 Collective Brutality

Lands (18)
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Wooded Foothills
1 Arid Mesa
1 Blood Crypt
1 Forest
1 Godless Shrine
1 Marsh Flats
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
1 Swamp

Sideboard
3 Lingering Souls
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Collective Brutality
1 Grafdigger’s Cage

While this may appear to be simply “another Death’s Shadow deck” it really is not. The White cards add an aggressive element in Lingering Souls which will be good vs fair decks with planeswalkers, and Ranger of Eos allows you to find additional Shadows to play more than your opponent. Tarmogoyf can potentially be a better creature than Gurmag Angler as it can have a larger toughness than the Zombie Fish to dodge removal such as Lightning Axe.

While the mana base is super greedy the deck can still provide a lot of power, and tutor for creatures when needed with Traverse the Ulvenwald.

Why should you play this deck?

  • It kind of feels like an aggressive Jund that can make Tarmogoyf HUGE.
  • You are way more interactive than other decks.
  • Traverse the Ulvenwald post sideboard feels like a way to tutor for something to help with your current matchup.

Why you shouldn’t play this deck.

  • You don’t like four color decks.
  • You prefer the version that runs blue instead of white.
  • You want to make room for more threats.

This option has not appeared in awhile, but is still quite viable within the current metagame.

Ink-Treader (Red, Green, White, Blue)

Amulet Titan

Creatures (13)
4 Primeval Titan
4 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
2 Trinket Mage
2 Courser of Kruphix
1 Walking Ballista

Artifacts (9)
4 Amulet of Vigor
4 Lotus Bloom
1 Engineered Plague

Enchantments (1)
1 Hive Mind

Instants (5)
4 Summoner’s Pact
1 Pact of Negation

Sorceries (4)
4 Ancient Stirrings

Lands (28)
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Gruul Turf
4 Simic Growth Chamber
3 Forest
3 Tolaria West
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Boros Garrison
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Kabira Crossroads
1 Khalni Garden
1 Slayer’s Stronghold
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
1 Vesuva

Sideboard
4 Path to Exile
3 Abrade
2 Negate
1 Hornet Queen
1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Academy Ruins

Now we get to the boogyman in the room. Of every deck in the format in my opinion Primeval Titan decks have been the ones to survive the most when banned & restricted announcements happen. When Summer Bloom was banned many thought the deck went away, but alas here it is…still.

These decks are incorporating more colors now to defend against multiple decks across the format, and is a real threat to take down any tournament.

Why should you play this deck?

  • It has a diverse number of threats as it does not solely rely upon Primeval Titan.
  • The lands are mostly cheaper than other decks.
  • It’s another deck that does not require much, if any, upkeep when new cards enter Modern.

Why you shouldn’t play the deck.

  • You feel it needs more threats.
  • You feel the deck relies upon Amulet of Vigor too much.
  • You simply don’t like the Titan.

While the sideboard for this archetype is always in flux to fit the expected meta there are other options with the color combination. Look for decks that revolve around Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian.

 

Witch-Maw (Green, White, Blue, Black)

Wilderness Teachings

Creatures (2)
2 Snapcaster Mage

Planeswalker (2)
2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Enchantments (4)
4 Wilderness Reclamation

Instants (24)
4 Cryptic Command
4 Growth Spiral
3 Hieroglyphic Illumination
3 Mystical Teachings
3 Remand
3 Path to Exile
1 Nexus of Fate
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
1 Pulse of Murasa
1 Abrupt Decay

Sorceries (2)
2 Supreme Verdict

Lands (26)
4 Flooded Strand
4 Island
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Creeping Tarpit
2 Field of Ruin
2 Hallowed Fountain
2 Polluted Delta
1 Breeding Pool
1 Forest
1 Godless Shrine
1 Plains
1 Swamp
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Watery Grave

Sideboard
3 Ravenous Trap
2 Celestial Purge
2 Fatal Push
2 Life Goes On
1 Torrential Gearhulk
1 Murderous Cut
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Negate
1 Ceremonius Rejection
1 Dispel

A new deck to Modern this deck revolves around Wilderness Reclamation and Mystical Teachings. While most versions known have focused on just the Sultai colors I wanted to show what a splash of White can add to the deck.

Why should you play this deck?

  • It’s a different take on control.
  • A toolbox deck where all of your mana is available all the time sounds great.
  • You like greedy mana bases.

Why you shouldn’t play this deck.

  • The mana base.
  • You don’t like Teferi decks.
  • The answers don’t feel like they properly match the threats in Modern.

All in all the deck looks solid, and would be fun to run. If you do let me know how it goes.

Now that we have explored the Nephilim color combinations let’s take a look at the last two possibilities.

WUBRG (all five colors)

Humans

Creatures (37)
4 Mantis Rider
4 Reflector Mage
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
4 Meddling Mage
4 Phantasmal Image
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Noble Hierarch
3 Kitesail Freebooter
2 Anafenze, the Foremost

Artifacts (4)
4 Aether Vial

Lands (19)
4 Ancient Ziggurat
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Horizon Canopy
4 Unclaimed Territory
1 Island
1 Plains
1 Seachrome Coast

Sideboard
4 Auriok Champion
3 Deputy of Detention
2 Damping Sphere
2 Dismember
2 Knight of Autumn
1 Kambal, Consul of Allocation
1 Sin Collector

What happens when you keep printing the card type “Human” for years? Well you have enough to make a deck with just creatures that can not only win quickly, but can recover from a board wipe.

Why should you play the deck?

  • It’s a unique aggro deck that has creatures that are more than just fractions.
  • Aether Vial “casts” your cards.
  • You enjoy the most of what Magic has to offer, which this deck exemplifies.

Why you shouldn’t play the deck.

  • There’s only one reason. You want to play Merfolk or Death & Taxes.

There really are no other five color options so if you are going to play those colors this is the deck. It’s affordability is definitely an issue.

Colorless

Eldrazi Stompy

Creatures (25)
4 Reality Smasher
4 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Matter Reshaper
4 Eternal Scourge
4 Eldrazi Mimic
1 Endbringer

Artifacts (9)
4 Serum Powder
4 Chalice of the Void
1 Smuggler’s Copter

Instants (3)
3 Dismember

Lands (23)
4 Eldrazi Temple
4 Ghost Quarter
3 Blinkmoth Nexus
3 Cavern of Souls
3 Gemstone Caverns
2 Mutavault
2 Scavenger Grounds
2 Wastes

Sideboard
4 Leyline of the Void
3 Ratchet Bomb
2 Damping Sphere
2 Spatial Contortion
2 Torpor Orb
2 Warping Wail

I don’t think there is anyone that does not like the Eldrazi from Oath of the Gatewatch more than I do. The scars of Eldrazi Winter still run deep for some of us, and although Eldrazi Temple still being legal is amazing to me the Eldrazi have not caused a lot of noise in Modern lately. Currently a strong archetype in Legacy this deck feels like as close to a copy of that deck as possible.

Why should you play this deck?

  • This feels like a fair midrange deck with giant threats that can close the game quickly.
  • It is possibly the best Chalice of the Void deck in Modern.
  • Without color restrictions you don’t stumble as much on spells.

Why you shouldn’t play the deck.

  • It seems it can be easily disrupted.
  • The non-interactive decks can just ignore you.
  • Chalice of the Void is your only true defense against opposing decks.

There might be other colorless builds out there, but just like with Humans in the five color slot this is the best option available.

In conclusion

There was a lot to unpack with this project, and during the course of it we got news cards and some decks changed a little bit (such as Amulet Titan going four colors in a good number of builds). We found some older decks that can still appear at FNM, and even mentioned decks that could also appear in the color combinations.

Which one was your favorite? Was there one I missed? Please comment below, and follow me on both Facebook as well as Twitter.

NEXT WEEK I’ll be talking about one of the decks in further detail that is on this very list. What one will it be? You’ll have to come back next week to find out!

Until then…

TAP MORE MANA!!!

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