I’m out on vacation this week, so with the exception of my banlist article yesterday (I couldn’t even have left the house without writing that!), I’ll be doing some shorter tech-oriented articles for this week. You can expect more discussion and processing of the banlist next week, as well as some metagame discussion as we move into July. For today and tomorrow, I’ll be focusing on some interesting technology and brews that have cropped up over the weekend. Although it’s unclear how competitive the decks and cards are, they illustrate some interesting brewing and Modern principles and are great starting points for aspiring brewers. Also, we get to play Pongify.
NogiNamecon piloted this deck to a 3-1 finish during a 7/11 Daily. The deck combines the undercosted spot-removal transform spells of Pongify and Rapid Hybridization with undying creatures like Young Wolf and Strangleroot Geist. And that’s just the beginning of the different synergies in this interesting list.
Undying Pongify, by NogiNamecon
4 Rapid Hybridization
4 Mana Leak
4 Vapor Snag
1 Become Immense
2 Boon Satyr
4 Cloudfin Raptor
4 Experiment One
4 Strangleroot Geist
4 Young Wolf
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Breeding Pool
2 Flooded Strand
2 Polluted Delta
1 Windswept Heath
4 Yavimaya Coast
1 Boon Satyr
2 Essence Scatter
4 Vines of Vastwood
|Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)|
I’m not going to oversell this deck too much because a lot of your initial criticisms are probably accurate: it’s a bad Delver deck, it’s budget-minded more than competitive, and there are lots of strange card choices. But despite these very real issues with Undying Pongify, the deck illustrates some interesting principles that will be useful for both brewers looking to get their deck to the next level, and tuners looking to improve an existing top-tier deck.
- Rely on redundant micro-synergy
Synergy can be risky in a format where Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek decks are the most-played in the format. But synergy gets much better when you aren’t looking at capital S Synergies like Warren Instigator and Siege-Gang Commander. Instead, look to the micro-synergies that we see in decks like this (or just play Twin). Cards like Pongify are good as removal spells or blowing up your own undying creatures to increase your army. Going turn one Young Wolf into turn two Experiment One and Pongify on the Wolf leaves you with a 3/3 Experiment, a 2/2 Wolf, and a 3/3 Monkey. And if your opponent disrupts that, you still have creatures and a removal spell. If not, you have a big army ready to attack. These kind of micro-synergies, especially when involving redundant pieces, such as Pongify/Hybridization and Experiment/Raptor, can be very strong in Modern.
- Use catchall answers
Modern is a diverse format, and if you can combine your gameplan and micro-synergies with catchall answers, you will be well-prepared to handle a diverse field. Remand and Mana Leak hit almost any spell that lands on turns 2-5. Vapor Snag, Pongify, and Rapid Hybridization are catchall “removal” spells that screw with basically every creature-combo in the format, not to mention aggressive decks like Affinity and Infect. The key here is not to be purely interactive and reactive, which isn’t what you want to do in Modern anyway. The key is to combine your aggressive gameplan with the answers. Or to just be faster. This deck took the former approach, which is the classic tempo gameplan that we have seen in Delver decks throughout the format’s history.
- Be aggressive
When in doubt, go aggressive in Modern. This format doesn’t generally reward durdling, and if your deck can put on early pressure and sustain that pressure through turn 4-5, it will probably enjoy some success. Undying Pongify does this with cheap creatures and the potential for explosive starts. It can play an interactive game with its catchall answers, which is a nice option to keep open in unfair mathcups. Or it can just beat faces in with Experiment One and Monkey/Frog tokens.
I suspect this deck could be improved with a lot of Jordan Boisvert’s Temur Delver tech: Simic Charm, Disrupting Shoal, etc. But as a case study for some brewing principles, this deck is still interesting. If you follow the above concepts, you won’t always take down a PPTQ or a SCG IQ. But you should be able to consistently create semi-competitive brews at the FNM, Daily, or local level. Until next time, keep up the brewing, keep the banlist talk sane and reasonable, and keep enjoying this summer of Modern!
Sheridan is the former Editor in Chief of Modern Nexus and a current Staff Author. He comes from a background in social science data analysis, database administration, and academia. He has been playing Magic since 1998 and Modern since 2011.