CKL Plays (Modern) Value Maverick

Ever since Monday’s B&R update, I’ve had a bit of a one track mind…

I’ve already shared my overall reaction to this news on episode 162 of the Modern Meta-Call podcast, so I’m not necessarily here to discuss anything other than the newly liberated Stoneforge Mystic.  In fact, I’m excited to share the results of some extensive web-scouring for the best list to house this new package.  Having heard of this change while I began a twelve-hour work day, all I could do initially was brainstorm the best homes for the Kor in Modern.  With that, I came up with a few requirements for a deck that could support Stoneforge.  With exciting new toys like this, players often get a little overzealous and attempt to cram them into already established archetypes.  This doesn’t quite work with a package that involves 6-7 new inclusions.  Most Modern decks are built for synergy and efficiency, and for Stoneforge and the costly equipment that comes with it, certain decks that are either creature-light or low on land count will only feel this new tool as a diversion from their original plan.  That’s not to say, however, that established Modern archetypes can’t be adapted to a focused Stoneforge build.  They can!  But it requires a little more work than replacing six of the worst cards with four Stoneforge and two weapons.

In order for a deck to be a good home to Stoneforge Mystic it must:

  1. Contain creatures that can wield a Sword — preferably with some kind of evasion and in larger quantities
  2. Be capable of producing enough mana to hard cast equipment like Batterskull or Sword of Fire and Ice without too much effort

A few decks immediately came to mind and I began testing.  Here were those ideas…

UW Spirits

This deck contains quite a few affordable flying creatures (like Mausoleum Wanderer and Rattlechains) that can hold a Sword and packs Moorland Haunt to produce more in the late game.  It also includes Aether Vial, which plays very nicely with Stoneforge Mystic because it allows you to set up for a turn in which you attack with a Sword-wielding creature without needing to broadcast this plan on your previous main phase.  In addition, the deck has always seemed a bit hungry for a good turn-two play.

Unfortunately, Spirits functions as a tempo deck that really needs to be playing tribal creatures on turns one-three and taking turn two off for Stoneforge and committing two mana on turn three to put an equipment into play doesn’t necessarily contribute to the tribal gameplan (focused on Mausoleum Wanderer triggers and Drogskol Captain shields).  This might be a good spot for Stoneforge if a version is developed with that plan in mind that relies less heavily on tribal synergies.

UWx Midrange

The testing I’ve done with this deck has been mediocre at best.  It may be that I just don’t have the right build yet, but obvious similarities exist with Modern-legal cards to Legacy Stoneblade builds and cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor have historically been effective ways to get rid of Batterskulls that aren’t useful at the moment in favor of other cards.

Francesco Neo Amati and friends have been big proponents of UW Midrange builds prior to the B&R update that pairs enters-the-battlefield triggers from cards like Wall of Omens, Snapcaster Mage, and Vendilion Clique with Restoration Angel “blinks”.  Stoneforge Mystic has one of the greatest ETB triggers in the history of the game but its not necessarily one that can be spammed for value as you’ll quickly run out of targets.

This deck does cover the prerequisites to a certain extent.  We’re a little lacking on evasive creatures but getting some value out of an otherwise worthless 2/1 adds a little more value to a Snapcaster Mage (ok, worthless is a little harsh but you get the point).  I felt that this type of deck was often strapped for enough mana to do anything with the equipment and playing Stoneforge at the start of my creature curve made it an excellent target for my opponent’s early removal spells.  This made me think that in order to execute such a plan, I might need to involve some mana dorks to ramp and serve as a lightning rod for Bolts and Pushs that would otherwise be striking down my Stoneforge.

Value Maverick

Okay, I’ll admit this name is a little ridiculous.  I’ve shamelessly labeled it this because the word “Maverick” is enticing to a lot of players who have experience with the Legacy version and you just might not be here reading this if it wasn’t advertised as such.  The truth is, its not quite Maverick and its not quite Valuetown.  We’ve got Giver of Runes in the format which looks a lot like the Maverick all-star, Mother of Runes, but I think that the card is different enough to make it quite a bit less useful to us in this type of build (targeting itself would be key) and we’re pretty committed to running nothing but god-danged three mana spells in this deck.  😉

When it came to be GW’s time to be sleeved up, I knew exactly who I’d go to for a list.  Zach Goldman, CKL writer and member of Team Solitary Pro, sometimes wears a trucker hat that reads “Valuetown Daddy”.  He doesn’t yet have a tattoo of Courser of Kruphix in any place visible but I wouldn’t be surprised if its in the works or just not in a spot that polite company is privy to.

Zach shared his list with me and I made some slight modifications resulting in this beast:

Value Maverick [8/2019]

Creatures (27)
Noble Hierarch
Birds of Paradise
Scavenging Ooze
Stoneforge Mystic
Aven Mindcensor
Courser of Kruphix
Eternal Witness
Knight of Autumn
Knight of the Reliquary
Ramunap Excavator
Tireless Tracker

Spells (8)
Path to Exile
Collected Company

Equipment (2)
Sword of Feast and Famine
Lands (23)
Gavony Township
Horizon Canopy
Ghost Quarter
Windswept Heath
Temple Garden
Wooded Foothills
Blast Zone

Sideboard (15)
Knight of Autumn
Sword of Fire and Ice
Collector Ouphe
Shalai, Voice of Plenty
Voice of Resurgence
Aven Mindcensor
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Lyra Dawnbringer
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Eldritch Evolution
Engineered Explosives
Bojuka Bog

There are a lot of unknowns in Modern right now but I have a few hypothesis that support this choice:

  1. With Faithless Looting banned, Modern will slow down…slightly
  2. Tron will take advantage of all of the reasonable people wanting to play Mid-range

With that in mind, there are only a few homes for Stoneforge mystic that also have good Tron match-ups.  This is one of them.

Previously, GW Company was too slow for the format and struggled against the blistering speed of the red decks and their ability to Bolt a crucial turn one mana dork.  Stoneforge Mystic provides a much-needed turn two play that allows for something impactful to happen even if you lose your precious Noble Hierarch.  Additionally, this deck satisfies my requirements for SFM packages by having tons of mana available and plenty of creatures to wield weaponry.  The worst losses with GW Company often involved flooding out and top-decking mana dorks.  This still occurs but a single piece of equipment can help immensely.  With tons of mana and evasive Birds of Paradise, pressure can still be applied.

I’m not going to go too deep into the inter-workings of this deck as to not steal Zach’s thunder (watch for his article on the build soon), but I’ll let the following videos speak for themselves.  I truly believe that GW Company (or Value Maverick, as I call it) is the best home for the Stoneforge Mystic package.  We’re going to see a lot of possibilities in the next few weeks — most of which may be valid — but from my initial testing, this deck has been much more impressive than the others.

Round 1 vs. UB Faeries

Round 2 vs. Burn

Round 3 vs. RB Goblins