You may have noticed that, last week, Wizards of the Coast announced the contents of their new Modern Event Deck. Now, having digested that sentence, you’ll likely fall into one of two camps:
Firstly, you may not have noticed, in which case you can find the details here.
Secondly, you may have logged into social media at some time in the last seven days… in which case you’ll have been bombarded with opinions about whether the deck is over or under powered, priced and rated.
It’s the considered opinion of this writer that the deck is both a great entry point into Modern and great value for money. However, there were a lot of folks online who felt that, for the £65 MSRP, they could have built a better deck.
Here at Manaleak, we love a challenge. Can you construct a better Event Deck within the £65 budget? Would you like to win a free copy of that deck, complete with sleeves and a nice new deckbox, delivered to your door courtesy of Manaleak.com?
If so, read on…
Throwing down the gauntlet (the rules!)
Here, intrepid brewers, is your brief:
Build a Modern-legal, 60 card deck and 15 card sideboard, which will act as a great entry point to the format for a new player. Don’t worry about building a deck which could win a Pro Tour – like Wizards’ Event Deck, we intend this one to be upgradable over time.
Price your submission via the Manaleak.com store, ensuring that the whole deck and sideboard costs £65 or less. Don’t worry about basic lands – we’ll give you those for free, because we’re nice. Similarly, don’t worry if some cards are listed as currently not in stock, we restock every day, so you can still add them to the list.
Send us your decklist and a run-down of the total cost to email@example.com with the subject line as “Modern Event Deck Competition“. Prices change all the time, so if you can provide a screenshot of your Manaleak.com shopping basket, full of the cards in your deck, that would be really appreciated!
There isn’t a real limit to how many entries you can submit, however we do has that you only send your BEST designs. Otherwise we may never get any sleep!
The competition is open throughout this week, closing at midnight on Friday 30th May. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.
A little inspiration
To support the challenge, we’ll be running a series of articles throughout the week in which our writers profile decks that meet the criteria. £65 is a tight budget, but we’re determined to show it can be done!
To kick things off, I’m going to share my contribution: a new spin on a old favourite.
How it works
Heartbeat combo was a great strategy in both Standard and the old Extended, but it hasn’t made a huge splash in Modern, simply because some of the other combo decks are fractionally faster or more consistent. Nonetheless, it’s a powerful and proactive deck – and falls straight into our budget ‘sweet spot’.
The game plan is simple: filter through cards and ramp mana until you are able to deploy a Heartbeat of Spring, then untap your lands with Early Harvest. Subsequently go crazy, tutoring your way into extra copies of your combo pieces – which all cost three mana, you may have noticed – by transmuting Drift of Phantasms.
Eventually, you’ll play enough copies of Heartbeat and untap enough times to have a titanic amount of mana in your pool… at which point you’ll aim a Blue Sun’s Zenith at your opponent for the entire contents of their library and more, decking them instantly.
There are some intricacies to the deck which deserve explanation, so I’ll go through them one at a time.
Rude Awakening acts as an additional untap mechanism, which can be selected in the same Gifts Ungiven pile as Early Harvest. It can also just kill your opponent, if the game goes long and they manage to disrupt your traditional combo.
Regrowth effects, in Eternal Witness and Recollect, are pretty important to the deck’s operation. They allow us to reuse Early Harvests, which are our most critical resource; they cost three mana, so they can be transmuted into our hand once mana is no longer an issue; and they allow us to build unstoppable Gifts Ungiven piles.
Gifts Ungiven is the second-best spell in the deck, greatly improving our chances of victory if it resolves once a heartbeat is in play. If we need a specific card, our plan should be to Gifts for that, a regrowth effect, a Drift of Phantasms and any other useful selection – a line which tends to work out well for us.
Praetor’s Counsel is the best spell in the deck. Scapeshift is often described as a ‘one-card-combo’ deck; it would be just as valid to say that this is a Praetor’s Counsel combo deck, with 59 support slots.
Resolving a Counsel mid-combo, once your mana is buoyant but you are running out of gas, is the best possible play. Not only will you return every ramp, draw and untap effect you’ve already used to reach critical mass, but you’ll also get your Drift of Phantasms back, allowing you to tutor into the remaining pieces and Blue Sun’s Zenith for the kill.
Blue Sun’s Zenith is both workhorse and warhorse in this strategy, powering up combo turns and delivering the coup de grace with aplomb.
Got some mana but running out of gas? Cast a Zenith to draw a new hand (but make sure to leave up three mana for the Early Harvest you hope to draw). Got 68 mana in your pool and want to get the job done? Invite your opponent to draw 65 cards.
On the bench
This sideboard is pretty simple – and it’s intended to hedge against some typical problems the deck might have.
- Dispel is the cheapest possible answer to counterspells which aim to disrupt your combo turn.
- Wipe Away bounces problem permanents which may stop you ‘going off’, such as Leyline of Sanctity or Ethersworn Canonist. As a bonus, it can’t be countered; as a further bonus, it can be tutored up with Drift of Phantasms.
- Tormod’s Crypt gives us a chance to interact with the opponent’s graveyard, whilst leaving our own intact – a crucial point for a Praetor’s Counsel deck.
- Creeping Corrosion… well, I just hate losing to Affinity.
The price tag
If you think this deck sounds too good to be true for £65, I’m happy to show you the evidence:
The next steps for upgrading the deck are pretty straightforward. First, I’d recommend substituting copies of Remands for the See Beyonds in the main deck; next, I’d advocate for picking up a set of Misty Rainforests, as the deck thinning and colour flexibility is pretty useful.
Nonetheless, you’ll find this version plenty strong enough to surprise players at your local Modern events, with or without expensive cards.
I’ve wasted enough of your time – you should be brewing, remember?
Get your notepad and pen ready, open a Gatherer window and get to it. The deck of your budget dreams is just one moment of inspiration away…