by Aaron Gazzaniga

For any of you that may be redditors this post will ring a bell and for those of you, like myself, who aren’t allow me to show you the challenge that I accepted (although I am not a Pro-Tour participant). The original reddit post has since been deleted, but the link here will give you an idea of the challenge. The basic rules of the challenge are that the participant has to actually brew and run a deck that is based around [casthaven]Séance[/casthaven] at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.

I will admit that when I first encountered this challenge I thought it would be a piece of cake. Then I realized that the creature token that gets put into play neither has haste, nor does it remain on the battlefield. “What garbage?” I thought. Then I realized that as suggested on the original reddit post that creatures with haste and creatures with good “Enters the Battlefield” triggered abilities were what the deck needed. Here is the direction that I went with the deck. Unfortunately we have to focus on Séance for our deck so bear with me while we travel together through these choices.

Modern Séance Challenge

Lands (24)
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Marsh Flats
Mystic Gate
Polluted Delta
Sacred Foundry
Steam Vents

Creatures (12)
Hellkite Overlord
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Massacre Wurm
Resolute Archangel

Spells (24)
Faithless Looting
Izzet Charm
Jace, Architect of Thought
Monastery Siege
Ojutai’s Command
Path to Exile
Supreme Verdict
Sideboard (15)
Deceiver Exarch
Lightning Bolt
Path to Exile
Splinter Twin

Here we have a deck that is centered about looting effects so that we can dump our large uncastable creatures, a few control type spells, and Séance. Come with me in an intricate travel through this terrible challenge and hopefully new archetype for Modern.

The Seance

I felt as though this was the best place to start as the Timmy in me loves cards like [casthaven]Hellkite Overlord[/casthaven] that otherwise don’t really see Modern play. We have [casthaven]Resolute Archangel[/casthaven] for more aggressive match ups where it can help us gain back any life we may have lost, [casthaven]Massacre Wurm[/casthaven] to help in the aggressive/swarm match ups (plus the 2 life lost per creature could be relevant), then we have [casthaven]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/casthaven] which is something we can cast in order to gain additional copies of tokens that we have created with [casthaven]Séance[/casthaven]. Picture turn 4 playing a Séance and on our turn we get to bring back a [casthaven]Hellkite Overlord[/casthaven], then on the next turn cast a Kiki and copy it. Granted this possible play is relatively unlikely, but still worthwhile to mention.

[casthaven]Hellkite Overlord[/casthaven] is our main threat, hence it has the most copies for our Large Uncastable Creatures. I have chosen it for the fact that it is an 8/8 with haste, trample and flying. As far as creatures go for the combo this seemed like an option which guarantees damage output and a lot of it for every copy brought back. He is our main win condition for the combo whereas the other options were chosen for their ability to extend a game and give us time to win. [casthaven]Massacre Wurm[/casthaven] as mentioned is there for its ability to wipe out a swarm of weenies and possibly allow us to kill that way, or just buy us time for our other win conditions to get there. [casthaven]Resolute Archangel[/casthaven] putting us back to our starting life total is very relevant for any aggro or burn strategy since we are naturally soft to that being a 4cmc card combo deck.

The Looting Effects

Being a graveyard-based deck we want as many effects that can not only draw us into  our combo, but can also enable it by putting our fatties into our yard ready to be exiled for our advantage. Here we have [casthaven]Faithless Looting[/casthaven], [casthaven]Izzet Charm[/casthaven], [casthaven]Monastery Siege[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy[/casthaven].

[casthaven]Faithless Looting[/casthaven] is a Modern and Legacy staple. It gets played in most any graveyard based deck from LED Dredge in Legacy to Hulk Footsteps in Modern. It costs one to immediately begin the graveyard engine, then it returns with flashback for three mana to continue paying out dividends.

[casthaven]Izzet Charm[/casthaven] is modal so not only does it help to enable your combo at instant speed with its [casthaven]Faithless Looting[/casthaven] mode, it has a [casthaven]Shock[/casthaven] mode to kill something threatening like [casthaven]Scavenging Ooze[/casthaven], and to top it off the [casthaven]Spell Pierce[/casthaven] mode can counter [casthaven]Rest in Peace[/casthaven] or any other spell that threatens our game plan.

[casthaven]Monastery Siege[/casthaven] gives us a free loot each turn after we initially cast it it (Khans Mode) in order to keep digging through our deck and discarding our Fat Uncastables. It also can double as protection for us and our combo by taxing spells that would target our permanents and ourselves (Dragons mode).

Our last looting effect is the latest fad in Magic: The Gathering: [casthaven]Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy[/casthaven]. His ability gives us an additional looting effect and since we fill our yard quickly with many of our spells he flips quite easily allowing us to reuse any spells and help to blunt the assault from our opponent’s creatures. I suppose in a longer game that his ultimate could allow us to chain looting spells to just flat out mill our opponent. Not really what we are going for here, but seemed worth noting.

It is possible that [casthaven]Gitaxian Probe[/casthaven] could find a home in here essentially as a free spell that gives us the necessary information about what our opponent is doing and what we need to play around. It just seems the potential two life to cast is going to be more of a liability and using mana on it taps us down on our turn when we likely want to keep that mana up for the instants that we run.

The Control Pieces

Here for control we have [casthaven]Ojutai’s Command[/casthaven], [casthaven]Path to Exile[/casthaven], [casthaven]Supreme Verdict[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Trickbind[/casthaven]. Ojutai’s Command is a newcomer to Modern and has seen some random play in that UW [casthaven]Emeria, the Sky Ruin[/casthaven] deck that has had some success recently. We have this over [casthaven]Cryptic Command[/casthaven] because we mostly want the life gain, the ability to instant speed return a [casthaven]Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy[/casthaven] to the battlefield, draw cards and counter creatures that may be used to kill us. It also isn’t as tough on our mana at 2UW as Cryptic Command is at 1UUU which means we’ll likely always be able to cast it on turn 4 if we believe we will need to.

Path to Exile is a great removal spell in Modern. Answers most any creature in Modern and does not care about color, power, toughness, etc. Granted it does ramp our opponent, but we aren’t as worried about that as our opponent having a [casthaven]Tarmogoyf[/casthaven] beating us down early. [casthaven]Supreme Verdict[/casthaven] is our board sweep spell that we can cast through any counter magic of our opponent and kills most any creature in Modern barring a Thrun with 2 mana up and man lands like [casthaven]Inkmoth Nexus[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Celestial Colonnade[/casthaven]. [casthaven]Trickbind[/casthaven] plays double duty for us both in the control and combo game. It can provide an early tempo advantage by countering a fetchland, it can make [casthaven]Splinter Twin[/casthaven] wait a turn for the kill and it enables our combo further by countering that pesky trigger that exiles the token at the end of turn.

The Sideboard

Here I have taken the colors that I selected and gone for the best back up plan possible as well as some additional removal and ways to protect our combos. [casthaven]Splinter Twin[/casthaven] is one of the best decks currently available in Modern, and luckily for us it comes in the Jeskai color combination. The best part about this kind of boarding plan is that removal in general isn’t great against what we are trying to do, so what are our opponents going to do against us? Board out inefficient removal and board in graveyard hate. How awkward for them when they are hard casting a [casthaven]Rest in Peace[/casthaven] or taking mulligans in order to find their [casthaven]Leyline of the Void[/casthaven] when we surprise them with Exarch into Twin and just kill them that way. The rest of the board is removal in the form of [casthaven]Path to Exile[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Lightning Bolt[/casthaven] again to improve our aggro matchups and [casthaven]Dispel[/casthaven] to help us force through our combos against heavy control decks.

Final Thoughts

I think this deck could potentially become a fringe Modern archetype with a little bit of refinement, but as it stands the card Séance is at best a bulk rare that maybe one day will catch you off guard in an awkward game of magic where you can’t overcome your confusion in order to actually beat it. To any Pro Tour participants that decide to take this challenge just to prove something, good luck. Happy brewing to each and every one of you. If anyone has an idea for a brew that they would like to see, I will gladly take requests and challenges in the comments. 🙂

Aaron Gazzaniga manages a restaurant and in his off time has been an avid magic player/brewer since 2003. Having begun in Odyssey Standard Block and always favoring control and prison style decks, we come to this moment in time where Aaron finally gets to talk about and share his ideas.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.