MtG: Guest Deck Article: Aldi’s Modern Deck

Greetings dear readers and friends of the fine MtG CCG!

This time I am here again with a very special treat for you all: As I have written enough about various decks and musings around and about said decks, I wanna do something quite different this time around. Today we are going to welcome a guest author who is a good friend of mine from Indonesia, who is as much into Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and card games in general as I am. I met Aldi (which is short for Novaldi) as the brother of another good friend and long-standing card artist of mine, Dennis Saputra, and currently, the three of us are working on an awesome new Elemental Clash Set going by the name of “Elemental Clash – Nusantara Tales”…

EC Nusantara Tales Logo FINAL small…which will be all about Indonesian mythology and folklore, following in the footstep of my previous “Austrian Tales” Elemental Clash Set all themed around Austrian folk tales.

While we were working on the Indonesian-themed Elemental Clash Set (a proper announcement will follow as soon as I have some more visuals to show off!), Aldi and I discovered our common passion for M:tG and started talking casually about the game. Over the course of our chit-chat we talked about our deck and at one point I said “How about you make a guest appearence on my blog?”. Aldi was all in for that and so I would like to give the word to my Indonesian friend, who will introduce himself in his own words (edited by my humble self as Aldi’s English is not exactly perfect – and neither is mine just for the record!!) and tell us a bit about his gaming background after which we’ll take a closer look at his current favorite Modern Format Deck! And after that, I will, with Aldi’s kind permission, comment a bit on said deck and suggest a few things here and there – if need be! So let’s hear it from Aldi now:

To begin with, let me tell you the story of a 26 year old guy who loves everything card games. I started out in my early teen years to play with Yu-Gi-Oh cards, which were actually fake ones. After that I really got into playing Yu-Gi-Oh playing a Synchro Deck made from some Starter and Structure Decks. I never won back then hahaha! After that I used to play a Watt Deck in YGO (Hopperlock)…but even then I never really won anything! After these episodes of my gamer life, I got into Magic starting in the Innistrad block/era. In Magic, my favorite color combination is Green-White because I like Green’s ability to search for land and its great mana acceleration and I like to play White because it has cheap and fast, cost-effective Creatures. And of course, you guessed it, back then I NEVER seemed to be able to win! After that I started experimenting with various other TCGs:  Pokémon, Kaijudo, Cardfight Vanguard… you name it! But all of that never quite satisfied me. So at some point I got back into Yu-Gi-Oh, right when the Hieratic Deck Archetype was in its “golden era” and, lo and behold, I actually managed to finish first in some tournaments in my nearby games store! I loved the playing style of my deck back then which was fast and able to summon a ton of monsters at a time. After a while I however had to realize that the meta game in YGO changes really fast and I was soon unable to compete and stay competitive with so many changes in the banlists and ever new cards being released, so once again, I came back to Magic: the Gathering, during the time of Return to Ravnica expansions. It was then that I started playing Selesnya (the Green-White Guild in Ravnica) and was somewhat successful with that making second and third places in various local tournaments once again. During the Theros block I took a break however because I did not quite like that one, for some reason. But with Khans of Tarkir I was back big time playing an Abzan (Green-White-Black) Deck which really rocked. Currently I am playing Abzan control in Standard featuring mighty Ugin, the Spirit Dragon! With that I managed to be placed 75th in national and usually finish 1st or 2nd in smaller local tournaments. What a story!

Well that is it regarding Aldi’s long journey or rather odyssey in the fascianting world of customizable card games! Let us no look at his current Modern Deck, which centers around Life Gain and the card Chalice of Life in particular – a card which I did not know about at all at first, since I took a break from MtG throughout the Innistrad Block…  Let us hear briefly what Aldi has to say about his Chalice Life Gain Deck:

The idea of one of my two current modern decks is to gain a lot of life as soon as possible in order to turn my Chalice of Life into Chalice of Death which would, in most cases kill my opponent in about 4 turns. As an alternative win condition I am running Felidar Sovereign and am trying to stall with Fog. I really like the idea and think the deck could be really cool but something is missing to make it at least somewhat competitive. The combo I am aiming at is just not happening all too consistently…
So yeah, let us take a look at Aldi’s Chalice Life Gain Deck List just as he provided it to me and after that, we will have a look at what could be done to make the combo happen more frequently!! Anyways, here comes:

Aldi’s Chalice Life Gain Deck (Modern):

Creatures…14

3 x Cathedral Sanctifier W
4 x Arashin Cleric 1W
4 x Nyx-Fleece Ram 1W
4 x Centaur Healer 1WG
2 x Rhox Faithmender 3W
1 x Feldidar Sovereign 4WW

Instants…12

3 x Fog G
4 x Heroes Reunion GW
3 x Whitesun’s Passage 1W
2 x Rest for the Weary 1W

Sorceries…3

3 x Healing Hands 2W

Artifacts…4

4 x Chalice of Life 3

Planeswalkers…3
2 x Ajani Goldmane 2WW
1 x Ajani, Mentor of Heroes 3GW
Lands…24
2 x Plains
2 x Forest
4 x Sunpetal Grove
4 x Kabira Crossroad
4 x Radiant Fountain
4 x Blossoming Sands
4 x Graypelt Refuge

My thoughts on the Deck:

I like the overall idea of the deck of transforming Chalice of Life, a card of which I had been totally unaware of previously as I mentioned already, into Chalice of Death and killing off your opponent through the ability of the latter in a matter of a few turns. There is a ton of very potent life gain in the form of Creatures as well as Instants & Sorceries as well as through lands. Out of 24 lands, a total of 16 are lands that give you some Life Points upon playing them.

However I can see why Aldi says the deck is not very consistent since all relies on one card pretty much – and that is Chalice of Life / Death. In a deck with neither tutoring (searching for specific cards) nor substantial, even ANY form of card draw I can imagine that you won’t get out your Chalice reliably and consistantly in most games. The alternative win condition through just one Felidar Sovereign seems unlikely as well.

I would mainly suggest adding additional win conditions besides the Chalice while taking out that single Sovereign altogether. On the other hand, I would up the numbers of of Rhox Faithmenders to as many as 4 as they turn your ever life gain into twice that life gain. I shall suggest some cards that may serve as additional, more reliable secondary win conditions and start with one that would have to change the deck altogether – by adding the color black to the mix. But before I do that, I would like to draw your and Aldi’s attention to one card that I have been using very successfully in a similar Life Gain Deck and that will make you gain life, and a ton of it, every single turn. Behold the mighty…

With 12 Instants, most of which gain you up to 7 Life, in the case of Heroes Reunion for instance, Isochron Scepter becomes a reliable, constant source of additional Life as you will be using it every single turn at the mere cost of 2 generic mana. And even putting a Fog (a card I am not sure about in this deck) on it will stop an opponent Creature assault short in its tracks.

But now to the suggested alternative win conditions or general suggestions of cards that could be added to the deck for great benefit, starting with the most unorthodox that would require substantial changes in the mana base of the deck since it has double black in its casting cost:

I am not saying “Aldi, add black to your deck” but Sanguine Bond would be a real killer in this deck. Just imagine playing Heroes Reunion for 2 mana, gaining 7 life and making your opponent lose 7 in the process. Furthermore, picture this with Rhox Faithmender in play. It would be an instant plus of no less than 14 Life for you and a loss of 14 for your opponent!! But yeah, to pull this off, Aldi would have to drastically change his mana base and I am not sure if it is worth the while, so let’s move on to more options.

Another great card with this deck would be…

which would give huge boosts of Power and Toughness to any Creature anytime you’d gain life, provided you can pay the (pretty minor) cost of 1W. However Cradle suffers from the same problem as this guy I initially didn’t even want to bring up at all:

While Cradle would boost your Creatures willy-nilly and Ageless Entity would grow to monstrous proportions in like no time, neither gives or has Trample, so even if you had a 20/20 Ageless Entity eventually, a single blocker would foil your evil plans…

A great equipment that may solve the “no-trample” problem and gain you a lot of additional Life would be Behemoth Sledge:

If you combined that with Ageless Entity or any of the Creatures already in the deck I think that would pretty much rock!

My last and maybe best suggestion probably can’t be added to the deck for the sad reason of the card being very costly. I will show it to you anyways:

Archangel of Thune would be f’ing awesome in this deck which has a lot of small and cheap Creatures as not only is it a flying source of lifegain itself, but alos on every instance of you gaining life, it will permantently boost all of your Creatures by +1/+1 in the form of +1/+1 Counters. That would make your army of little ones grow increasingly menacing in like no time. But yeah, sadly, at a cost of about 15+ USD it won’t be an option I guess, since we want to keep this one budget friendly as I assume…

In general, I would suggest removing the Planeswalkers, as awesome as they might appear, as well as the single Felidar Sovereign, from the deck in favor of another card composition and would say adding a playset of Birds of Paradise if available.. Can’t go wrong with Birds! 😀

So Aldi, I don’t want to change your additional deck idea all too much but would like to present you with one of many suggestions for new decklist that may work out slightly better as your old one, if I may do so:

Andi’s Take on Chalice Life Gain (Modern):

Creatures…16

4 x Birds of Paradise G

4 x Cathedral Sanctifier W

4 x Centaur Healer 1WG

4 x Rhox Faithmender 3W

Instants…8

4 x Rest for the Weary 1W

4 x Heroes Reunion GW

Artifacts…11

4 x Isochron Scepter 2

4 x Chalice of Life 3

3 x Behemoth Sledge 1GW

Enchantments…3

3 x Cradle of Vitality 3W

Lands…22

4 x Forest

2 x Plains

4 x Radiant Fountain

4 x Kabira Crossroads

4 x Blossoming Sands

4 x Greypelt Refuge

My Final Thoughts:

I think while I removed some Life Gain cards, this version of the deck SHOULD in theory be more reliable as it does not solely rely on Chalice of Life (or a single Felidar Sovereign) for winning. For once you have Isochron Scepter now on which you can imprint your Heroes Reunion or Rest for the Weary, which will gain you substantial amounts of life on each and every of your turns. Birds of Paradise provide mana ramp/acceleration and are a GREAT target for Behemoth Sledge AND the prime target for the +1/+1 Counters placed through Cradle of Vitality. With Sledge giving Trample you can make sure that the Creatures boosted by Cradle WILL hit your opponent and the same goes for Birds of Paradise which will, in most cases, fly over the opponent armies, hence being a great traget for +1/+1 Counters too. This way you can well win in various ways without even drawing your Chalice of Life. If you do, then great, but if you don’t, no need to worry either as you will have mutliple ways to win besides the Chalice route to victory!

Well, Aldi, please keep in mind that all the above are just suggestions and you are not obliged to “obey my command” haha. Maybe you will find some of this article to some extent interesting and enlightening and will draw some good advice from it. In any case, I thank you for sharing your story and your current Modern Deck idea with us! I hope you won’t regret it.

So to all you out there, including my friend Aldi, I hope you have enjoyed this somewhat special MtG deck strategy article and as always I wish you one and all…

HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi

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