After playing with Sagas in Limited, I've completely come around on them. They're great, and I really just want to play as many of them as I can all the time.
I'm a little worried that some of my favorite ones, like The Mending of Dominaria might be only viable in Limited and Brawl, but there are several I'm excited to try in Standard and even Modern.
After getting crushed by it repeatedly in Limited, I'm probably most excited about Song of Freyalise. I love Cryptolith Rite, and Song of Freyalise seems even better in Modern. While it doesn't let you do ridiculous late-game things like I was doing with Cryptolith Rite in Abzan Tokens in Standard, it does let you empty your hand quickly and then it turns into a finisher, and in Modern, you should be looking to close the game as soon as possible, which the third step of Song of Freyalise will help with. Let's examine a few ways to do this:
- 4 Nest Invader
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
- 3 Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter
- 3 Rhys the Redeemed
- 1 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
- 1 Saffi Eriksdotter
- 2 Shanna, Sisay's Legacy
- 1 Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle
- 2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
- 1 Ajani Goldmane
- 1 Garruk Relentless
- 1 Garruk Wildspeaker
- 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
- 1 Huatli, Radiant Champion
- 4 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
How fun does this deck look? This deck can regularly get a planeswalker down on Turn 2 (Noble Hierarch or Mox Amber with Rhys the Redeemed; Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter; or Kytheon, Hero of Akros into Nissa, Vastwood Seer; or Mox Amber with a legendary creature and Noble Hierarch or a second legend-ruled Mox Amber and then a four-mana planeswalker on Turn 2) and gets much crazier from there.
Further, it makes great use of Legendary Sorceries. Rhys and Oviya are convenient early ways to turn on Mox Amber and cheap creatures to make sure we get mana off Song of Freyalise, but they double as fantastic mana sinks for our low-curve deck that empties its hand very quickly.
I'm pretty excited about the sideboard for this deck. I think Urza's Ruinous Blast is great against opposing creature decks like Humans, G/W Hexproof, and Affinity, as well as other decks with a battlefield presence like Lantern Control. Gaddock Teeg, Rest in Peace, Gideon of the Trials, Worship, and Shalai, Voice of Plenty are all pretty good at thwarting various ways people might try to beat you with spells. Walking Ballista; Linvala, Keeper of Silence; and Lyra Dawnbringer offer additional tools against opposing creature decks.
There's certainly some tuning to be done in terms of figuring out the curve and which legendary creaturess and planeswalkers pull their weight (which are so good you want two, and which aren't worth having at all?), but this basic structure has a lot going on and takes full advantage of a lot of Dominaria cards.
As for the construction of the maindeck, I wanted a healthy mix of good early legendary creatures to make my Mox Ambers work, and then I wanted to focus on planeswalkers that make tokens to maximize the value that I'm getting from Song of Freyalise while minimizing my exposure to sweepers.
The big choices were filling out the four-ofs in the deck: Noble Hierarch, Nest Invader, Song of Freyalise, and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. Song is the point of the deck, so I want to start by pushing it, but I could imagine ultimately cutting one; it was very common to only play three Cryptolith Rites, but extra Songs aren't entirely redundant. Noble Hierarch feels pretty obvious. I didn't want to entirely rely on Mox Amber and Song of Freyalise for mana acceleration, because this deck definitely doesn't want to wait until Turn 4 to cast a four-mana planeswalker.
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar seemed to be doing everything I want to be doing here, and it's a pretty easy planeswalker to cash in if you draw two. Nest Invader is probably the card I'm least sure about, but I think it's the best card for making two bodies early, it's the most reliable way to cast a four-mana planeswalker on Turn 3 through disruption, and it helps a lot with the more expensive sideboard cards. I fully expect it to be great in this deck.
- 4 Benalish Marshal
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 4 Dauntless Bodyguard
- 4 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
- 4 Knight of the White Orchid
- 4 Student of Warfare
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
I'm not sure if History of Benalia is good enough for Modern, but as it turns out, there are enough respectable Human Knights that a deck can easily support both tribes. Unfortunately, Champion of the Parish and Thalia's Lieutenant aren't Knights, but every creature other than the Knight tokens is also a Human, so things are getting along nicely. The curve here is good, and we have Benalish Marshal, Thalia's Lieutenant, History of Benalia, Honor of the Pure, and Shefet Dunes to pump our creatures.
This deck is extremely straightforward. Either it's good enough or it isn't. Ultimately, I suspect more interaction than this is needed in Modern, but if you just want a mono-white beatdown deck instead of Death and Taxes, this deck can run some people over.
- 4 Catacomb Sifter
- 4 Greater Gargadon
- 4 Mogg War Marshal
- 4 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Skirk Prospector
- 3 Skirsdag High Priest
- 4 Zulaport Cutthroat
I've really outdone myself with this one.
It takes a little while, but Rite of Belzenlok gives you five creatures for four mana, and one of them is a 6/6 flier. The 6/6 flier is even a sacrifice outlet! What's not to love? This is another deck that goes both big and wide, except the "big" is huge: 5/5 Demons, 6/6 Demons, 9/7 Beasts, and even a 9/7 Demon. Fecundity and Catacomb Sifter are both outstanding here, and Skirk Prospector and Song of Freyalise let you cast expensive spells like Siege-Gang Commander.
The sideboard here is great as well. How does an opposing creature deck beat a Grave Pact out of this deck? Trying to answer my threats? Good luck against full playsets of Fecundity and Catacomb Sifter.
Is this a Tier 1 Modern deck? I straight-up have no idea, but I certainly want to live in the world where it is!
I hope you're not tired of Song of Freyalise yet, because it's the best way I can think of to get enough mana to cast the more expensive Sagas fast enough for them to matter…
- 4 Arcbound Ravager
- 3 Memnite
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Signal Pest
- 4 Steel Overseer
- 4 Vault Skirge
- 4 Walking Ballista
Song of Freyalise is very good with Walking Ballista, which also happens to be good with Arcbound Ravager and Steel Overseer, as well as being relatively well-positioned in the format in the moment because it's good against Humans. This Affinity deck is modified to take advantage of Walking Ballista with Song of Freyalise, and it uses The Antiquities War in place of Etched Champion to beat opposing removal decks.
This isn't a huge change from Affinity, but the core remains entirely intact, and the additions might actually be an upgrade over what Affinity had before. New cards and new directions for a deck this well-established are rare, but if these are good, it would be a big deal, as Affinity doesn't need much to make it the best deck in Modern.
In Standard, I'd absolutely love to make The Mending of Dominaria work. I'm not sure if I can, but the resulting deck would be incredibly sweet. This is inspired by what I want to be doing in Brawl:
- 4 Champion of Wits
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 2 Ramunap Excavator
- 1 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 2 Wayward Swordtooth
- 3 World Shaper
- 1 Muldrotha, the Gravetide
- 1 Tatyova, Benthic Druid
- 2 The Scarab God
This is another deck I just love the look of. Search for Azcanta, Perpetual Timepiece, World Shaper, The Mending of Dominaria, Evolving Wilds, and Fetid Pools put lands into the graveyard, where we can play them with Ramunap Excavator or Muldrotha, the Gravetide…or put them all onto the battlefield with World Shaper or The Mending of Dominaria.
Vicious Offering allows us to sacrifice World Shaper if the opponent doesn't want to kill it so we can get our lands on the battlefield. Once we have a lot of mana, we can do sweet things with The Scarab God, Champion of Wits, and Search for Azcanta, and we don't have to worry about decking ourselves with self-mill and Tatyova because The Mending of Dominaria and, if needed, Perpetual Timepiece can recycle our graveyard for us.
Not playing Jadelight Ranger in a deck like this feels really weird, but avoiding the double-green cost is nice, and I think the other three-mana creatures are better.
Phyrexian Scriptures is great with Muldrotha. I was looking for permanents that I could play that would be answers to things like Thrashing Brontodon and Ravenous Chupacabra, and Phyrexian Scriptures is great because it sacrifices itself, and so I can recast it to keep sweeping their battlefield every few turns with Muldrotha (not that I expect the game to last that long most of the time).
I'm loving Dominaria. My first impression when I saw the first cards previewed was highly skeptical, but now that I've played with it, I'm loving everything about it. The Limited format is fantastic, and I'm excited to compete with tons of these cards. All of these decks look legitimately fun and exciting to me, so I'm going to have a blast preparing for all my tournaments this month.