Building_on_a_Budget

Back From the Grave

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The letter L!ast week, I experimented with a Faithless Looting deck in Modern. You can find last week's column here. A lot of readers were interested in the deck and asked if I would continue working on it for another week. I decided to put some more time into it to see if I could make it tournament ready.

Let's start by taking a look at where the deck was last week.

Jacob's Faithless Looting Discard
Modern


I played about thirty matches with the archetype and changed cards along the way, making the list better in the current metagame. I'm going to jump right into things and show you the final decklist. Then I'm going to explain the basic changes I've made to the deck. Finally, I'm going to give in-depth matchup analysis and explain how I've engineered the deck to work optimally against all the major decks of the format.

Here's what the deck looks like now:

Jacob's Faithless Looting Discard, Revamped
Modern


First, I'd like to talk about general improvements to the deck.

Smallpox | Art by Ryan Panacoast

The biggest addition is Smallpox. To be honest, I have no idea how I didn't have this in the original list. It's especially strong against decks that play inexpensive creatures. Think about it: I cast Smallpox when my opponent has one creature in play and I have zero. I discard Lingering Souls, Bloodghast, or Sedraxis Specter and sacrifice a land. My opponent sacrifices a land, discards a card, and loses a creature. That's actually an absurd amount of card advantage for just two mana that can, at times, completely ruin your opponent's draw. (Destroying the only land of a certain color, for example.) Smallpox is especially effective when opponents mulligan.

Rise // Fall was the least impressive card in the original deck. I tried replacing it with Wrench Mind and was immediately impressed. Rise // Fall's mana cost was prohibitive, whereas you can cast Wrench Mind whenever you have two mana available. It also feels a lot safer to cast Wrench Mind on turn two.


Rotting Rats is quite good here, but I was never happy to draw more than one copy in a given game. I went down to two copies and I've found that I'm usually much happier when I draw one and I don't have the awkward double-Rotting Rats draw nearly as often.


Bloodghast probably should have been in this deck from the beginning. The card is easy to acquire these days and it synergizes very well with the rest of the deck.

To summarize:

Removed Added Changed Numbers
1 Despise 1 Vivid Grove –1 Augur of Skulls
1 Rakdos Carnarium 2 Inquisition of Kozilek –1 Vivid Creek
2 Distress 2 Nezumi Shortfang –2 Rotting Rats
3 Duress 3 Bloodghast –3 Sulfurous Springs
4 Rise//Fall 4 Smallpox +1 Nyxathid
4 Shriekmaw 4 Wrench Mind +2 Swamp

And in the sidebar:

Removed Added Changed Numbers
4 Purify the Grave 1 Plagued Rusalka –2 Ancient Grudge
3 Nihil Spellbomb –1 Darkblast
4 Oblivion Ring –1 Ray of Revelation

Now I'd like to talk about the different matchups and how I've changed the deck to handle them.


I played against a few Red-White and Zoo decks. I expected these matches to be difficult, but after some tweaks I was winning easily.

Nyxathid is really strong in these matches, and I wanted an extra copy. You're usually behind on board once you empty your opponent's hand, but Nyxathid changes that very quickly.

I found that most games against Zoo and Red-White Aggro are won by triggering The Rack and chump blocking with Lingering Souls tokens, Rotting Rats, and Sedraxis Specters. I wanted extra copies of The Rack, so I decided to try two copies of Nezumi Shortfang. The Champions of Kamigawa rare worked really well in the new iteration of the deck. I had cut a lot of discard to make room for Bloodghast and an extra Nyxathid, and Nezumi Shortfang is very good at playing cleanup when your opponent only has one or two cards left in hand. Once it flips, Stabwhisker the Odious is a crazy threat that deals as much as 6 damage per turn.

I wait to cast Smallpox against these decks. You want to make sure you're getting one of your opponent's creatures and not losing one of your own, unless you're sacrificing something with unearth or a Bloodghast. Bloodghast is your worst card here—these decks have Thalia, Guardian of Thraben; Plated Geopede; and what seems like an endless stream of 2/3s.

Damnation is far and away your best sideboard card. Lingering Souls works well when you're on the chump-block plan, but I wanted a way to make it better. I decided to include a single copy of Plagued Rusalka and I've been very happy with it.

...against Zoo:

–3 Bloodghast
–2 Augur of Skulls
+1 Plagued Rusalka
+2 Damnation
+2 Oblivion Ring

...against Red-White:

–3 Bloodghast
–2 Augur of Skulls
+1 Darkblast
+1 Oblivion Ring
+1 Plagued Rusalka
+2 Damnation


As expected, I didn't have a problem against Pyromancer Ascension. It has an incredibly difficult time racing your discard and dies before it can start making use of Past in Flames. I lost a few Game 1s against Pyromancer Ascension, but only because it was able to resolve its namesake enchantment on the second turn. After sideboarding, Ray of Revelation solves this problem handily.


–3 Nyxathid
–2 Lingering Souls
+2 Ray of Revelation
+3 Nihil Spellbomb


Both WU and RG Tron decks turned out to be the biggest problem of all for me. The deck has trouble applying enough pressure to beat Karn Liberated; Wurmcoil Engine; or Iona, Shield of Emeria. The addition of Smallpox definitely helped these matchups, but I still wasn't confident that I was in a good spot.


I tried Fulminator Mage in the sideboard, but the RG Tron deck has too much redundancy with Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying; it would just find the Tron piece I had destroyed and I'd lose anyway.

I decided to try Sowing Salt. There are a lot of games where Wurmcoil Engine or Karn is already on the table and I lose anyway, but sometimes I was able to sneak in the big sorcery and give myself enough time to steal the game. So I tried Oblivion Ring over Sowing Salt. Oblivion Ring could be brought in for many matchups, as it's a much less narrow card. I believe Oblivion Ring to actually be better against Tron anyway. It's difficult for a Tron player to have more than one big threat before it doesn't have any cards left in hand. Trying to interact with its land was difficult because so much of the deck is dedicated to forcing perfect Tron. I've been much happier just focusing on my discard plan and using Oblivion Ring to remove the big permanents from the game.

Nezumi Shortfang and Lingering Souls aren't great here. They take too long to use beneficially and they make our deck more susceptible to Pyroclasm.

–4 Lingering Souls
–2 Nezumi Shortfang
+2 Ancient Grudge
+4 Oblivion Ring


Aggro Loam is a nightmare matchup for the deck. Life from the Loam can be used to essentially draw three cards against us. The lands returned from the graveyard can be discarded to Wrench Mind, Augur of Skulls, etc.

I found that Nihil Spellbomb is a great sideboard card here. Relic of Progenitus isn't good because it affects both players' graveyards and that can mess up our Lingering Souls, Sedraxis Specter, Bloodghast, etc.


Darkblast and Plagued Rusalka are necessary tools in the fight against Dark Confidant. Augur of Skulls is the worst card here. Aggro Loam has multiple ways to deal 1 damage to a creature at little to no cost.

–4 The Rack
–2 Augur of Skulls
–1 Rotting Rats
+1 Darkblast
+1 Plagued Rusalka
+2 Ray of Revelation
+3 Nihil Spellbomb


Splinter Twin can be difficult depending on its game plan and its draw. Sometimes it feels like you just get fishbowled, but a lot of the time you're able to empty out your opponent's hand before the deck combos.


Slaughter Pact isn't as budget as I'd like it to be, so I chose not to include it in the deck. However, if you're having a lot of trouble with Splinter Twin then I strongly recommend finding some copies. Splinter Twin players often won't have Dispel or Spell Pierce left to defend the combo; they're usually going off with their last card.

–2 Smallpox
+2 Ray of Revelation


The Affinity match might be slightly in its favor for the first game, but after sideboarding it becomes one of the easiest matchups I've ever played.

Plagued Rusalka with Bloodghast is pretty much impossible for Affinity to beat. Ancient Grudge is obviously insane against it. Damnation is a fine reset button. Wrench Mind is bad against artifact aggro decks for obvious reasons. The Rack and Nezumi Shortfang are especially strong here because this deck empties its hand for you. It's not unusual for Affinity to have two or three cards left in hand after the first turn.


Lingering Souls tokens trade with a huge amount of the deck. Think about how bad Signal Pest is against Lingering Souls. Some versions of Affinity are playing Tempered Steel now. If you see a decent amount of white mana in the first game I'd recommend bringing in your Ray of Revelations.

...without Tempered Steel

–4 Wrench Mind
–2 Augur of Skulls
+1 Darkblast
+1 Plagued Rusalka
+2 Ancient Grudge
+2 Damnation

...with Tempered Steel

–4 Wrench Mind
–2 Augur of Skulls
+1 Darkblast
+1 Plagued Rusalka
+2 Ancient Grudge
+2 Ray of Revelation


One would expect Melira Pod decks to give me some trouble, but I've had a surprisingly easy time beating every copy I've played against.

You can usually empty a Melira Pod's hand before your opponent has an opportunity to cast Ranger of Eos. If your opponent doesn't have the Ranger, it becomes really hard to race your The Rack and Nezumi Shortfang.

Nihil Spellbomb can be used to prevent Melira Pod from comboing, so I like to sideboard those in and wait until my opponent has no cards in hand and no combo in play to cantrip with them.

Melira Pod's fallback plan of being a green-based beatdown deck is terrible against you. Bloodghast is your worst card against Melira Pod because of Wall of Roots. It's also important to note that this is one of the matches where I'm really happy to have a pair of Damnation in my sideboard.

On the Play

–3 Bloodghast
–2 Inquisition of Kozilek
–2 Rotting Rats
–1 Nyxathid
+1 Darkblast
+2 Ancient Grudge
+2 Damnation
+3 Nihil Spellbomb

On the Draw

–3 Bloodghast
–3 Nyxathid
–2 Rotting Rats
+1 Darkblast
+2 Ancient Grudge
+2 Damnation
+3 Nihil Spellbomb


There are other mainstream decks I haven't had the opportunity to play against yet, like Delver and Mono-Blue Faeries. (Both of these seem like they would be very good matchups.) I'd love to hear your plan for these matches if you decide to put this deck together.

I've been very happy with the deck's performance and I'd strongly recommend it to anyone who feels like priced out of the Modern format. The entire deck can be acquired pretty easily on Magic Online as of me writing this. I'm happy I was given the opportunity to write about the deck again and I'd love to do more in-depth columns like this in the future.

Hit the forums or shoot me an email with your thoughts on this week's column. Did you enjoy an in-depth description of particular matchups? Would you have preferred a new deck?

Happy Brewing!



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