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  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    I would disagree that the list plays out as midrange, compared to other GBx archetypes we lack a clock alltogether. The early builds had often more than 10 creatures in their deck, among them things like Goyf, Knight of the Reliquary, Tireless Tracker, Grim Flayer, Scavenging Ooze und such. Contrary to that, I currently play 5 creatures, reanimation targets included. I think the best description for this strategy is attrition-based control, contrary to permission-based archetypes like UWx. That said, there is an adaption of the 4C Gifts strategy to the latter approach, see for example https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/1644845#paper. Growth Spiral was kind of the missing piece in this kind of list.

    If you don't enjoy midrange matches, this could regardless be a deck for you. Gifts gives you access to a plethora of answers, some of which are:
    • Life from the Loam, Raven's Crime, Urborg and Tectonic Edge in grindy matches and/or control mirrors.
    • Life from the Loam, Academy Ruins, Engineered Explosives + X for permanent-based control and/or prison strategies, recurring removal.
    • Abrupt Decay, Assassin's Trophy, Snapcaster Mage, Maelstrom Pulse lets you deal with any (nonland) permanent.
    • Life from the Loam, Academy Ruins, Ensnaring Bridge + X for dealing with slower creature-based strategies.

    This did not include the obvious Gifts/Rites against things like Humans, Merfolk or Storm to name a few examples. Depending on the board state you can extend the Gifts piles or search for the Gifts/Rites package + extra value stuff like Loam, Crime or Souls, just pitch the creature to an active Liliana. There is virtually no board state you can't get out of, given you fetched correctly in the early turns.

    Edit: Somewhat off-topic, but maybe you want to have a look at 4C Saheeli: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/1860239#paper
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    I have played a similar list at some point in the past and I absolutely did not like it. It is way too durdly and frankly, quite janky. Of course the results speak for themselves, but there is a whole pile of problems I see with this particular configuration. First of all, the Bring to Light router is even slower than the traditional approach, which in itself is borderline at the current speed of Modern. Sure, once in a while you search for Thragtusk or Sigarda, but you haven't saved yourself any mana but needed to spend WUBRG instead of 4G or 2GWW, respectively. The colours worked out fine, to be fair.

    Secondly, there is way too much air in this list and far too little interaction. Personally, I wouldn't mind Gaddock Teeg at all since it does not apply a significant amount of pressure and dies to Push, Path, Decay, Trophy, Brutality, Liliana and Pulse. That's 13 outs still not counting turn 1 discard effects (5 of those, additionally) should it be necessary, so please be my guest and play Teeg on turn 2. What does Bring to Light help if there are no proper outs to search for or if you would have to spend 5 mana instead of a simple removal spell + something that puts you ahead? Cut the Search for Tomorrow, cut the Bring to Light, cut Sigarda and Ashen Rider, cut Pentad Prism, switch to proper mana dorks if you insist on playing them, skip Faithless Looting and drop the 5th colour. Instead, play things that interact with your opponent (and Liliana of the Veil, she's great), that's the only route to victory as this deck is impossibly faster than any remotely competitive deck in Modern. Improving your topdecks is key in many matchups.

    If you want to have a go at janky creature combo, try 4C Saheeli Evolution, that's a blast to play and potentially pretty fast.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    First of all, congratulations of becoming father and all the best for the future!

    Secondly, Caryatid can't block that many guys in the current metagame if you want her to survive. Since you are not supposed to chump when you want to wratch the board on turn 3, you don't save any damage is the opponent has creatures with power 3 or more (that is, Hollow One, Amalgam, Tarmogoyf, Tracker to name a few). Regarding that Spiral is a much better topdeck and the manabase is fine even without them (go up a land when going from dorks to cantrips, though), I think it's correct to run Spirals if the colour focus of the deck can support it. I'm also not sure if you need to stabilize with some big dude on the board, planeswalkers usually do a good job in keeping the opponent at bay at some point, especially LotV, JtMS and big Teferi, depending on your colour pie again.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    So, I in fact strongly dislike Caryatids currently and the reasons are twofold: First of all, it feels just so bad when you need to immediately get a Wrath package to have your dorks die just after you have played them. Secondly and somewhat related, keeping up T2 interaction allows for Growth Spiral at the end of the opponent's turn, leaving you with the exact same amount of mana sources on T3. Given that lists with Spiral play a smidge more lands than those with dorks, having a third (or fourth) land is very likely in these lists.

    Kind of similar experience with a more creature-heavy list, the bigger dudes such as Lyra or Baneslayer Angel just immediately eat removal and do nothing apart from being a massive tempo swing in favour of the opponent. I think it's better to let the opponent's removal be dead and make our own creatures have an immediate impact on the board (Snapcaster and Elesh Norn, basically) or even be removal proof in certain situations such as Iona. Apart from that, running Kalitas is kind of a meta choice with Phoenix and Dredge around, the above argument equally applies unless we can kill and hence exile creatures in response. Apart from that, I have found the lack of discard to be a little concerning, we have no hand disruption beyond Brutality, which does only take instants and sorceries. Taking Azcanta, Teferi, Jace or Reclamation is often crucial, to name a few.

    In the end it might be a meta choice, I'll move back to a more control-ish list.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Congratulations to your finish, I am always glad to see 4C Gifts putting up results. Interesting how your impression is that the control matchups are the more difficult ones, apart from Sultai Teachings (which is rather bad due to all their instant speed shenanigans). A resolved Gifts is half a win due to Loam/Crime/Souls and there is almost always a window to resolve Gifts against UWx archetypes, also Inquisition, Thoughtseize, Brutality and Liliana are really good against those decks. That's one point I absolutely like about this deck, shifting the main colours leaves so much space for customisation. As it currently stands, I might just try your list and report my findings.

    I totally agree with cutting Sun Titan for Gideon, walkers that protect themselves are great here. Regarding the colour focus, I guess Wildwood is fine as well, but I would thoroughly miss my Tar Pits against opposing planeswalkers. Why Baneslayer over Lyra? Occasional synergy with Iona and a split between Lyra/Baneslayer in MB and SB works fine. I am still not entirely sold on Caryatids, if you're already heavier on GW you might try Growth Spiral in that slot, which gives you access to Wraths a turn earlier and hence might as well save you some life while not dying to your own sweepers. And it cantrips later in the game, which makes it superior to dorks as well. Do you like the 4th Wrath better than the 4th Gifts? I almost always want to see Gifts in my games. As far as the sideboard is concerned, try Raven's Crime instead of Worm Harvest in the board against control, it's great. Have you considered Surgical Extraction as well? Synergises pretty well with Snapcaster Mage and can provide a nice Gifts pile with Unmoored Ego, Extirpate and such.

    How did you like Field of Ruin so far? I have the fear of running out of basics, especially when recurring it with Loam. I am tinkering with a more WUGb midrange-ish list currently, as I always end up jamming Knight of the Reliquary into Gifts decks. I might draw some inspiration from your list, I like the bigger Liliana, Gideon and Thrun (+ Worship). Last time I tried this approach I went 0-4-1 in my local FNM, so maybe this time...
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Quite spicy at first glance, still there are a few things that come to mind: You have not very much (early) disruption going on, neither discard nor early interaction you are eager to cast (Path isn't really a pleasure in the first 3 turns), Fatal Push is a pretty natural inclusion in a deck relying on B and we can consistently trigger revolt with the fetchlands. Brutality is of course fine, but occasionally whiffs on important cards, be it creatures, enchantments (looking at Blood Moon) or planeswalkers, Inquisition and Thoughtseize (maybe Duress, depending on your meta) are often better.

    At a second glance, the mana base looks a little awkward, I have counted only 6 fetchlands (Field of Ruin not counted). Contrary to that, I play 10 of those with the same number of basics as you do, together with 2 colourless sources and 25 lands in total due to the lack of dorks, which sounds about right going through the numbers. I have however come to the point where I don't like mana dorks, Birds are just too fragile right now, on turn 2 I rather have disruption and/or removal available, turn 3 usually is occupied with LotV. Turn 3 Gifts is of course nice, but drawing a dork later in the game feels terrible in grindy matchups, hence I skipped them altogether.

    The 3BB Liliana seems fine, more or less the same effective cost as an Unburial Rites in your hand with additional upside. Baneslayer is also a nice reanimation target in certain matchups, be it Burn or more recently Izzet Phoenix, although the default options also do the trick most of the time here. I am not a fan of Sun Titan, there is not much to get back apart from Champion, Snapcaster, Azcanta and lands. Maybe add a second Snapcaster in that slot? I have always enjoyed having multiples and 2 seems to be the sweet spot. Doom Whisperer is definitely spicy, I don't see it do much though to be honest, it is even underwhelming in Standard most of the time.

    I have tried Azcanta as well, but in the grindy lists it has always conflicted with the disruption plan, as it fits more in a traditional, permission-based control shell. Maybe it does the job in your build, definitely nothing wrong with including that one. How have the wraths been doing for you? I feel that merely destroying creatures isn't enough, which is why I have gone over to using Terminus in one of my current UWgb Gifts builds, together with Growth Spiral as the primary ramp option to hold up interaction on turn 2 (as opposed to disruption in attrition-based lists). This of course requires at least 3 JtMS and a more heavy lean on U, hence skipping LotV completely, which works out fine so far. Alternatively, Ensnaring Bridge seems like an option for build with heavy discard, removal and most importantly LotV. Has a nice synergy with Lingering Souls, too and can be disposed of rather easily if needed, although drawing up to 3 cards to swing with pumped tokens or leaving back Iona is both fine, the game at this point is fairly locked up then.

    The sideboard does seem a little messy, still. Worm Harvest without Life from the Loam? I also think you need more GY interaction, Surgical Extraction and Extirpate synergize pretty well with Snapcaster Mage and can be searched for in a deterministic pile. This could replace the Spellbombs (since you have no artifact synergy, i.e. Academy Ruins) and the Unmoored Ego, which is often too slow I suppose. Eternal Witness is nice with Titan of course, but I found GG to be always a little rough on the mana side, but maybe your dorks pull the weight for you. Runed Halo is spicy, but this and the rest seems legit, in the end I have of course no idea how your (local) meta looks like, so take everything in this paragraph with a grain of salt.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Quote from alanyuan0408 »
    I need to rely mostly on Nahiri to carry that matchup. The matchup isn't good. The DragonLord Silumgar gives you a somewhat feasible path to victory -> As long as your topdeck is stronger than your opponent and they are using their resources to slow down your land drop but not applying relevant pressure, you're not in a bad position.

    90% of the time I clique myself. Clique is relevant as a card draw and to apply pressure on their walkers.

    The Worm Harvest is a tutor target where you go Gifts into 3 Fetches + Worm Harvest. Then you use Worm Harvest every turn to retrace 5-10 worms every turn. This is my package against control decks. Its also a second gifts "bullet" in case for some reason your first bullet was removed by some odd way.

    The problem was against Control decks like UW, Abzan etc. You cannot name them off a color and they got too many sweepers and removal to make reanimating something like Grave Titan a reasonable plan.

    You can also go something like Liliana/ Jace Discard - Hold Priority -> Gifts for Worm, Unburial, Iona. Then discard what they give you.

    The deck replaces the Inquisitions with 4 Brutalities.


    Well, if they drop a Blood Moon and get either your Swamp or Island, there is no way of casting the Dragon. And there is no way you can discard their Blood Moon apart from Clique (since Brutality does not hit Enchantments), which forces you to fetch for a nonbasic. Same story with the Plains as far as Unburial Rites is concerned, at this point it pretty much does not matter anymore if they apply pressure because essentially your whole deck is uncastable, all but (at best) a few topdecks become dead draws.

    True that, the planeswalker issue is solved by Abrupt Decay and Assassin's Trophy in the lists with G, one of the reasons to consider this instead of R.

    True, against UWx and other control archetypes we need something to close out the game with, the fatties don't do it reliably enough. Sometimes Elesh + Lingering Souls is a fast enough clock, but the tokens (and somewhat Norn herself) are rather fragile when it comes to removal. I rely on manlands + Loam if they should get disrupted in any way, recently going for 2 Tar Pits instead of a 1/1 split with Colonnades because they can be activated much earlier and provide a B source (I have 17 currently). Still, triple-B seems like a stretch for the manabase, for casting it on curve (that is, after a T4 Gifts) you need 18 black sources (just as for LotV) without a single one being disrupted along the way. Since you don't run G you can't use the hybrid mana either and Remand or any counter is a huge tempo loss with this kind of play, but this gets us in many cases I guess...

    As said, Brutalities don't get creatures, enchantments or planeswalkers and are a full turn slower. Imo, Brutalities can supplement the discard suite (hence I run it as a 1-of, maybe exchanging it with Bridge going to the sideboard) but not replace it. Of course, I do not run Clique, but that's two turns slower, where games are sometimes effectively (or actually) over.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    The list definitely looks spicy, I am always inclined to point out the lack of turn 1 interaction and counters though. Sounds rough if you start on the draw against an opponent on Dredge, Hollow One or Phoenix without being able to disrupt their plan until turn 3, Path to Exile excluded of course, but that's not quite the most powerful thing to do early on. Do you have some experience to share against those archetypes? Also, what's up with Worm Harvest? This doesn't sound overwhelming without Loam, especially when you need to cast it for 2BBB due to the lack of G.

    Your statement about the Ponza matchup makes me curious, how does Dragonlord Silumgar matter at all? I was not able to reach 4 lands until turn 6 eventually, but at this time I was facing either Stormbreath Dragon, Inferno Titan or just both, maybe paired with Scavenging Ooze. There is not much one can do at this point, even Damnation is a stretch at 2BB with only one basic Swamp. Same story with Liliana of the Veil and Vendilion Clique in your list, basically uncastable under a Moon. When the Ponza player goes after you Plains, Nahiri is also out of the equation. I don't know how many LD spells current lists play, but the one I tested against runs 8 of them + 4 Blood Moon + recursion in the form of Eternal Witness, that's just miserable.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Did you playtest the sideboard plan with Madcap/Emperion yet? At least on paper and since you are in Red anyway, this sounds viable.

    Needless to say, I tested around 10 matches against Ponza and was able to win a single one where they stumbled on their mana and/or draws, respectively. Not a single game was won by casting Gifts Ungiven, almost everything that mattered was done on the back of an early LotV paired with even earlier discard and enough outs for Blood Moon. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet was the single best creature one can imagine, as soon as the opponents needs to chump this guy, things get pretty ugly. Occasionally Trophy snipes a Stormbreath Dragon, but it overall feels pretty much like Abrupt Decay in the matchup. Ensnaring Bridge was mediocre, I managed to stabilize for several turns without finding anything that matters while having enough basics under a resolved Blood Moon (WUB basically, so enough for Gifts/Rites). Initially, keeping the number of cards low worked pretty fine until Stone Rains, Acid-Moss and Beast Within started hitting my basics, which led to my hand piling up, rendering Bridge utterly useless. Do you have any experience in running against Ponza? I think I have never had a matchup this bad so far (I'd estimate 10:90, obviously), although Tron sometimes felt pretty similar without Terastodon in the pile, maybe Trophy helps a bit.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Initially I would think the same, maybe I'll just playtest the new mulligan rule and see how it goes. On the other hand, especially post board we might face hate more consistently while also finding disruption ourselves on a more regular basis. The Tron matchup will stay abysmal regardless, I think.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Today I had a testing session with 4C Gifts Rock (so the B-heavy build) against GDS and Sultai Control (with and without Mystical Teachings, essentially Jeff Hoogland's list with minor tweaks). Maybe you all know how the matchups play out, I'll state my experiences anyway: GDS seems to be about even, it strongly depends on how good they draw (that is, how fast their draw is) and how many Stubborn Denials there are, heck is this card annoying at time. Lingering Souls are great in this matchup, although they don't help much against a Temur Battle Rage, however getting through some damage is enough at times. This is a potential matchup where Abrupt Decay might have an upside as compared to Trophy, the uncounterability clause does wonders, whereas Decay does neither hit Angler nor Tasigur though.

    Against Sultai Control without Teachings (so roughly 59 out of 60 cards of Hoogland's list basically) it played out quite nicely. Early discard clears the way for Lingering Souls, Liliana or even Gifts Ungiven which usually goes for the Loam/Crime engine together with a Tectonic Edge to shut them off of Cryptic mana. From there on it's a steady grind until we eventually find Lingering Souls, another Gifts or simply Kalitas to close out the game as their capability of removing our threats are greatly diminished. A different story it is when Mystical Teachings come into the equation, that is quite the annoyance. As soon as we stumble with our discard or don't have a play every turn to pressure their hand or threaten to cast Gifts, they can EoT Teachings for Cryptic or another Teachings given they already have counters in hand, all backed up by growth spiral. Another huge liability is a main board Surgical Extraction that can be found with Cryptic Command and cast immediately, which can only be delayed by discard due to the relatively high flashback cost of Teachings, but it is nevertheless going to happen. Going for one of the fatties isn't really an issue, as Rites is usually just countered or the creature is bounced or destroyed with Trophy, maybe even disposed of via Devour Flesh. The upshot is, it is quite a liability if the opponent's deck is close to full instant speed when we have quite a bunch (around 11-13, depending on the build) of sorceries, the only real out is again the Loam/Crime package but even when drawn naturally, Sultai Teachings did put up quite a fight.

    Needless to say, Ensnaring Bridge (and EE for the Sultai matchup) weren't great at all. I got some Death Shadows with EE and got an additional turn with Bridge, but I guess these are not the matchups those are in for. I think cutting them from the main board and getting rid of Academy Ruins as a recursion engine is still not correct, but I very well might be wrong and it is plain side board material (maybe for an extra Brutality). Any thoughts? In the upcoming days I might get to some testing against Ponza, where I expect Ensnaring Bridge to shine against their Baloths, Stormbreath Dragons and Inferno Titans, but these guys are of course not the final issue in this particular matchup, although I haven't played it since the release of Trophy, those might go a long way.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    I might join you in this regard and run a couple of Peer Through Depths to see how they work out. The Burn matchup is incredibly bad in my experience, unless you can mostly search basics or at least do it as painlessly as possible to T4 Gifts into Iona. A nicely placed T2 Brutality helps a lot, but generally we are on the loosing side. Dredge I can't really comment on as I haven't played the matchup a ton, Elesh seems to do quite a good job though and pseudo sweepers like Flaying Tendrils or Cry of the Carnarium do help. And Kalitas, of course.

    Yes, my go-to Gifts list plays 11 discard outlets, 5 of the are reusable. Vendillion Clique did not quite make the cut due to mana requirements up to now, UU and BB on turn 3 together with G for Decay/Trophy/Loam seem to be quite a stretch. I tried Grave Titan a while ago, but the lack of evasion and immediate impact (apart from a 2/2 zombie) wasn't enough to keep him in the board so far. Gifts as mainly a land tutor sounds a little odd to be honest, there are sure situations where it is the correct play, but generally I wouldn't want to run a playset of Realms Uncharted.

    Regarding tournament results, it (that is, Esper Gifts) put up some 5-0s in competitive leagues on MtGO last summer. Here are some of the lists: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/1220849#paper
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    Quote from alanyuan0408 »

    I personally think gifts decks need to move away from the idea of 1 offs tutor for gifts piles:

    1) Gifts decks, especially the Green version without any card draw cannot consistently draw their gifts ungivens. Even with with cards like Jace VP, you're at best 60% to draw your gifts in the matchup by turn 4.

    2) You need to assume your graveyard is under attack post board. Especially post board, I think gifts deck needs to move away from their graveyard and move above ground with grindy cards or ways to protect their combo.

    3) This Gifts into Radical Idea, Lingering Souls etc isn't really a "winning" line of play.

    I'm a strong proponent of gifts decks maxing out on discard outlets such as Brualities, Cliques, Liliana, Nahiri etc and essentially allowing you to play a much higher curve than other archetypes given your combo and your discard outlets and winning that way. I'm also a proponent that 4c gifts lists need a sideboard option of something like Peer through depths or Merchant scroll to help belcher out the combo against non-interactive matchups.


    While your first point holds some truth indeed, I think that Gifts isn't always needed in certain matchups. Most of the lists, especially the ones leaning more heavily on B and consequently on more discard as well can outgrind an opponent without seeing Gifts only once. Lingering Souls does a great job in this regard, but yes, sometimes one just can't find it in time and ends up a turn short, as one does with other combo decks as well. The more recent iteration holds a number of cantrips in Growth Spiral which might help speed up the deck and see 1 or 2 cards in addition, so we'll see. I considered running Merchant Scroll already, but I fear that it is just too slow or too low impact. On turn 2 or 3 one needs to have some form of disruption/removal available, so I don't think there is time for Scroll. Peer Through Depths could be worth a try, Gifts Storm often uses this post board to reduce the reliance on the GY, so maybe it is a valid strategy here, but we are on a pretty different strategy alltogether.

    Moving away from the GY in a Gifts deck is a tough task. As said, R has the opportunity of Nahiri/Emrakul or simply Madcap/Emperion but I don't see how the BGUw lists should operate fully 'above ground' as you say, the GY is intrinsically woven into the strategy. You can't ask Dredge to play without their GY post board, although that admittedly is a little more drastic than with Gifts. And sure, Gifts into Souls/Radical Idea/Rites/X does not win the game on the spot but is a (deterministic!) possibility for discarding a reanimation target in hand without leaning too heavily on B.

    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on [Primer] 4C Gifts
    The different style of the deck was more or less on purpose, as I think we can't hold up to the mostly B 4C mana base while running Growth Spiral and T1 discard effects. You can't ask the deck to produce T1: B, T2: UG, T3: 1BB and T4: 3W for Rites without getting messed with I think. But yes, it will play a little Miracle-ish for sure, which might be a viable option in the current meta where LotV has a little fallen out of favour I feel. And if 4C Gifts Rock isn't something, then that is streamlined. I always experienced it as incredibly durdly, setting aside purposefully streamlined lists with e.g. more Delve threats and Thought Scour instead if the heavy attrition package. Just think of grinding with Loam/Crime/Tec Edge, sure it feels like a well-oiled machinery at times, but the solutions it provides are sometimes really slow, although I will admit the deck has solutions for almost anything.

    Regarding your question with the fatties in hand: First and foremost we have JtMS, he cares about things we not want in our hand, be it Terminus or one of the bigger dudes. Apart from this you might notice the 1-of Radical Idea, which can be easily included in a pile with Rites and things like Lingering Souls and Snapcaster/Pulse of Murasa to discard the creature wer can't currently cast and generate incidental value along the way.

    As said, I haven't playtested the list so far, it is really just 'theory crafting' if you like. In any case I will let you know how it went.
    Posted in: Combo
  • posted a message on Bant Draw-Go Control
    Since you count cantrips as a quarter of a mana source, I suppose you are referring to the recent article of Frank Karsten. I see that point, alongside with the issue of Dredge and Phoenix I think it is a wise decision to choose Terminus as the primary sweeper in the list, hence I went up a Jace and down a Teferi. Similarly I adjusted the mana base a little bit, accommodating more G sources for T2 Growth Spiral and consequently going down a couple of basics, the 3 Islands and 2 Plains were a relic from when I attempted to run Cryptics and the sorcery speed wrath package.

    I thought about Radical Idea but simply forgot, hence I included it in the recent list as a 1-of. As far as EE is concerned, I am not sure if it is material for the main if there is no way of finding it via Gifts due to the Lack of the Loam/Ruins engine. It is a little durdly for sure, but does its job in grindy matchups. In this particular list however, it just is a 1-of with no chance of recurring contrary to the spot removal spells and Snapcaster Mage.

    The list from the above post has been updated accordingly, so you might want to have a look again.
    Posted in: Deck Creation (Modern)
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