(UPDATE June 2014 – The Modern Event Deck has had such underwhelming sales that copies are currently selling well below retail price: $50-60 USD, especially on Amazon and TCG Player.)
Finally the day has come when the decklist for the Modern Event Deck has been revealed. It was revealed early this morning on Wizards.com. The deck is indeed Black/White tokens and it has some nice little surprises in it.
Here’s the list
2 Soul Warden
3 Tidehollow Sculler
NON-CREATURE SPELLS (31)
3 Honor of the Pure
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Intangible Virtue
4 Lingering Souls
3 Path to Exile
4 Raise the Alarm
2 Shrine of Loyal Legions
4 Spectral Procession
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
3 Zealous Persecution
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
First of all, let us consider what the spoiler from a couple of months ago told us. We were expecting Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Intangible Virtue, and Honor of the Pure. What is missing is Hero of Bladehold. This is okay, because of what it was replaced with:
Considering that this deck has an original MSRP of about $75, it’s great to see a card of this high value in a deck. It obviously fits the deck quite well. It also somewhat makes up for the lack of fetch-lands in the deck.
Speaking of fetch-lands, let’s look over the no-fetch mana base.
A full play-set of the white-black “pain” land will help you fix for your colored mana, plus two City of Brass. A full play-set of Isolated Chapel, the white/black “buddy” land will help you also fix without the need for pinging yourself for life, as long as you control a Plains or Swamp. There are 5 plains and 4 swamps to complement them. In addition, there is a Vault of the Archangel, with which you can tap for 2WB to give your creatures deathtouch and lifelink until end of turn. There is also a full play-set of Windbrisk Heights, a rather useful card with Hideaway. Whatever card gets put under it can be cast for a single white mana and a tap, providing that you have attacked with at least three creatures in a given turn.
Overall, it’s not a bad mana base, although I would replace the two City of Brass and at least one plains and one swamp for a full play-set of Godless Shrine. It is, at least, a functional mana base.
Being in a deck with only five creatures, it would make sense that Soul Warden would comprise a couple of those spots. With all of the tokens that this deck generates, Soul Warden will help you keep your life total high. Note that she also gives you life for opponents’ creatures entering the battlefield, as well. There’s a reason that Soul Sisters can be difficult to beat. Many burn decks and aggro decks hate this card, although Skullcrack and Flames of the Blood Hand do exist, as well as the Leyline of Punishment, to counteract these effects. OF course, with only two Soul Warden in the deck, in those match-ups, the Wardens can easily slip out for something in the sideboard.
An old white/black favorite, sure to see even more play in the near-future in Modern with the existence of Athreos, God of Passage, Tidehollow Sculler deprives your opponent of a non-land card until the Sculler leaves the battlefield. It’s a very solid two-drop that compliments the other hand distruption in this deck quite nicely.
Let’s move on to the meat of the deck, the non-creature spells!
The three copies of Honor of the Pure, which pumps all of your white creatures by +1/+1 are an obvious inclusion, as are the full play-set of Intangible Virtue, which gives all tokens +1/+1. Being able to stack multiple copies of this card on the board is key to this deck’s success.
As many speculated, there are also two copies of Inquisition of Kozilek in the deck. It’s yet another way to disrupt your opponents’ hands of their early plays, giving you time to build up your forces on the board while they recover. There are also 3 copies of Zealous Persecution, an instant which gives your creatures +1/+1 and your opponents’ creatures -1/-1 until end of turn, making combats a bit tricky for your opponent.
As for tokens, there is a full suite available. A full-playset of Lingering Souls, with its Flashback ability, is an absolute must. It’s joined by a full-playset of Raise the Alarm, which creates two 1/1 white soldiers for only 1W. There’s also a full play-set of Spectral Procession, which makes 3 flying tokens.
There’s also a couple of copies of a fun card from New Phyrexia, Shrine of Loyal Legions. The cool part about this card is that so much of the deck is comprised of white spells. Each time you cast a white spell (which includes the dual-colored spells) it gains a charge counter. You can pay 3 and sacrifice the Shrine and put a 1/1 colorless Myr artifact creature token onto the field for each charge counter that had been on the Shrine. This can potentially be a lot of token generation.
The deck also contains 3 Path to Exile, which is a very pricey removal card nowadays.
Now onto one of the main win conditions of the deck, my favorite card in all of Magic: the Gathering:
Elspeth, Knight-Errant should need no introductions. Both of her +1 abilities are fantastic, and her ultimate ability, her -8, gives you an emblem that basically wins you the game. Making more tokens, then making them fly over opponent’s creatures is always fun. And making everything indestructible is pretty good, too. You also will have enough blockers to protect her, meaning that her potential of going ultimate is actually pretty high if they don’t deal with her outside of combat.
Overall, the main deck looks quite playable. Let’s look over the sideboard:
Here’s a card you don’t typically see, two copies of Burrenton Forge-Tender. Obviously, this card exists to help in match-ups against mono-red decks. I’m pretty sure by design that these are meant to replace the two copies of main-board Soul Warden in those match-ups. The cool thing about Forge-Tender is that it can prevent damage from any red source, including board-wipes like Anger of the Gods (the bane of this deck’s existence) and Blasphemous Act. Speaking of Blasphemous Act, in those Boros builds that include Boros Reckoner, that damage isn’t dealt to the Reckoners, either, saving you at least 13 points of damage from that card’s ability. Solid little sideboard option here.
Most of the remaining side-board cards are self-explanatory. Dismember deals with big threats, Duress gives you more hand-destruction, Ghost Quarter gives you some land destruction ability against greedy mana-bases and Relic of Progenitus helps stop graveyard shenanigans.
The last card in the sideboard is a very useful card called Kataki, War’s Wage. Three copies exist in this sideboard. Essentially what it does is make all artifacts have an upkeep cost of 1 mana. This obviously can be quite problematic for Affinity and Tron decks in the format. It also has a negative interaction with the Shrine of Loyal Legions, but those can come out when this card is boarded in. It’s nice to have three copies included.
Overall, this deck looks fairly solid. Black/white tokens are a deck that doesn’t necessarily need the fetch-lands to function. Of course, four Marsh Flats and the four Godless Shrine would be nice, but the pain-lands do suffice in this case. Besides, the pain from the fetch-lands and the shock-lands coming in untapped is very similar, and you’re gaining life back from Soul Warden in many cases anyhow.
I think as a gateway deck into the format, there’s nothing wrong with Wizard’s first attempt. Is it worth the $75 MSRP? I would say most likely. Since card price numbers can fluctuate over time, I won’t break it down here, but the cards do currently add up to well over $75 if you consider median prices for these cards (double that, in fact!) I certainly am happy to see the Sword in here, although Hero of Bladehold may have made more sense. It’s clear that Wizards wants to give it the “Bang for its Buck” without having speculators buying them all up, thus making them inaccessible to players trying to enter the format. For what it’s meant to be, it’s pretty good, and it’s put copies of some harder-to-get cards out there more readily available without flooding the market too much.
I can see this not selling quite as well as some might have first suspected, but I think it’s a worthy start to what will hopefully be a long line of event decks for the Modern Format.
~ Elspeth for the Win