Flashback to a few weeks ago.

“Dude I think the card is good in Modern.”

Rodrigo points to the screen at the recently spoiled [casthaven]Kolaghan’s Command[/casthaven].

I’m not convinced. “I mean, it’s probably ok. All the modes seem relevant though I’m not sure how powerful it is as a three mana removal spell.” Over the years I’ve become a bit jaded about spoilers after losing my shit only to find out a card is not really constructed playable. Don’t ask me about [casthaven]Time Reversal[/casthaven], I still don’t want to talk about it. Anyway, the thing about [casthaven]Kolaghan’s Command[/casthaven] is that it does a lot of things just nothing particularly well. It [casthaven]Shatter[/casthaven]s, [casthaven]Shock[/casthaven]s, Raises Dead, and is a…uh…instant speed [casthaven]Cry of Contrition[/casthaven]. In Modern, decks that could pay the BR mana cost probably don’t want a clunky three mana pseduo-removal spell even if it’s modal and gives the caster options.

Rodrigo didn’t agree with me. “I was thinking of playing it in Cruel Control, maybe just as a one-of. It gets back [casthaven]Snapcaster Mage[/casthaven] and Clique, shocks mana dorks and infect guys, blows up everything in affinity, and can make them discard during their draw step.”

“Maybe.” I say, though I am quietly thinking about how tough it is to build a manbase that curves Kolaghan’s Command into Cryptic Command.

Flash forward to this weekend.

I am at the TCGplayer Modern States in Rhode Island. This is not to be confused with SCG Modern States which is this upcoming weekend. It bothers me that you can win one of these events and become state champion only to have people ask you, “Which one?”

I digress.

I was playing Amulet, my brother Eric was on Burn, and my buddy Tim was playing the Zur deck he spiked a PPTQ with three weeks prior. After I dismantled a burn deck on the back of multiple Thragtusks, I sat down to watch Tim play against a guy on a Mardu brew.

On turn one of game three, Tim plays [casthaven]Inquistion of Kozilek[/casthaven] and sees this:

[casthaven]Lavaclaw Reaches[/casthaven], [casthaven]Marsh Flats[/casthaven], [casthaven]Dark Confidant[/casthaven], Two [casthaven]Young Pyromancer[/casthaven], and Two [casthaven]Kolaghan’s Command[/casthaven].

Tim tanks for a bit and ends up taking one of the [casthaven]Young Pyromancer[/casthaven]s. He had a second discard spell in hand to follow up on the next turn. On turn three he plays [casthaven]Lingering Souls[/casthaven]. Now think about this, Tim actively disrupted this guys gameplan and then used one half of a card to put two creatures in play. [casthaven]Lingering Souls[/casthaven] just seems insane against this guys deck of X/1’s and one-for-one removal spells. Yet, his opponent was able to clutch the game thanks in part to flexibility and power of [casthaven]Kolaghan’s Command[/casthaven]. He “rebought” [casthaven]Young Pyromancer[/casthaven], hit Tim for two damage, then was back in the race with an active Pyromancer.

I chatted with the guy about his list after the game and got bits and pieces of his decklist. If I had to reconstruct it, it would look something like this:

Kolaghan Mardu

Lands (23)
Bloodstained Mire
Marsh Flats
Arid Mesa
Blood Crypt
Godless Shrine
Sacred Foundry
Vault of the Archangel
Lavaclaw Reaches
Blackcleave Cliffs

Creatures (11)
Young Pyromancer
Dark Confidant
Pack Rat
Monastery Mentor

Instants and Sorc. (26)
Lightning Bolt
Kolaghan’s Command
Path to Exile
Lightning Helix
Lingering Souls
Inquisition of Kozilek
Sideboard (15)
Rending Volley
Kor Firewalker
Molten Rain
Stony Silence
Zealous Persecution
Rest in Peace

The numbers here certainly aren’t perfect but this provides the basic shell of the deck. The deck looks like a hybrid of BW Tokens and Burn/Boros Aggro. You have most efficient removal in the format in [casthaven]Path to Exile[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Lightning Bolt[/casthaven] paired with the best hand disruption. While the deck does tend to play a lot of one-for-one removal, you regain some card advantage through [casthaven]Dark Confidant[/casthaven], [casthaven]Lingering Souls[/casthaven], and of course, [casthaven]Kolaghan’s Command[/casthaven]. Here the command rebuys your cheap threats while also pressing your opponent’s life total, stops them from slamming their topdecked spell, and blows up [casthaven]Spellskite[/casthaven], [casthaven]Inkmoth Nexus[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Oblivion Stone[/casthaven]. While three mana is not free, Kolaghan’s command tops the curve of this very aggressive deck and just adds a bit of resiliency in those games where you’re teetering on the edge of killing your opponent.

Some notes on potential match-ups:

Twin—I like the fact that you have maindeck discard to break up the combo as well as six pieces of removal that kills [casthaven]Deceiver Exarch[/casthaven] ([casthaven]Path to Exile[/casthaven]/[casthaven]Terminate[/casthaven]). Post-board you can bring in [casthaven]Rending Volley[/casthaven], [casthaven]Wear//Tear[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Duress[/casthaven] and take out some number of Bolts, Helixes, and Commands. This match-up seems slightly in our favor.

Abzan—The matchup on the other hand seems not in our favor. Their threats are bigger and aren’t easily dispatched by Bolt and Helix. We do have [casthaven]Lingering Souls[/casthaven] which is pretty good against Liliana, but also are in the unfortunate disposition of having [casthaven]Abrupt Decay[/casthaven] kill all threats in our deck and [casthaven]Maelstrom Pulse[/casthaven] blow up our armies of tokens. Post-board we bring in [casthaven]Molten Rain[/casthaven] to try to punish their manabase and kill man-lands but it just doesn’t seem like enough. The match-up isn’t unwinnable but I wouldn’t play this deck if you were expecting a lot of Abzan.

Infect—This has to be a good match-up. We have a million removal spells, [casthaven]Lingering Souls[/casthaven] to block their guys, and a proactive game plan. I have dreams about [casthaven]Kolaghan’s Command[/casthaven] blowing up [casthaven]Inkmoth Nexus[/casthaven] and shocking a [casthaven]Noble Hierach[/casthaven] at the same time.

Burn—Despite having a playset of Helix’s we take a lot of damage from the manabase, [casthaven]Thoughtseize[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Dark Confidant[/casthaven], which is never good against Burn. Post-board we have a bunch of [casthaven]Kor Firewalker[/casthaven]s which definitely help shore up the match-up. I think this one is slightly unfavorable but could be tweaked to have a more favorable match-up if your meta is like mine and populated heavily by Burn.

For what it’s worth, the guy piloting the deck at the event lost his win-and-in for top eight. Furthermore, Mardu has not been an effective color combination in Modern with the exception of the [casthaven]Bump in the Night[/casthaven] version of Burn. I’m not sure Command is enough to carry the deck to the top tables but it certainly opens up the conversation a bit. I do like that this deck has game against most of the meta, some disruption for combo; removal for aggro, and enough speed to go under some of the midrange and control strategies in the format. It definitely looks sweet, that’s for sure, I think I’ll be sleeving it up for a future FNM.

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil [casthaven]Thorn Elemental[/casthaven]). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as [casthaven]Jace, the Mindsculptor[/casthaven], and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.




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