We're trying something new here at Modern Nexus for the Monday slot. I'd like to use this day's publication for a Deck of the Week feature, where I'll scour the internet for an interesting or innovative build that recently put up results. My aim is to spotlight the unfamiliar and less dominant archetypes here, so don't expect Jund, Affinity or Tron to make regular appearances. Instead, I'll be on the lookout for decks that are the clear result of brewing and tweaking---after all, if the core Tier 1 and Tier 2 cannon in Modern is well established, one of the format's key elements is the fertile ground it provides brewers---probably more so than any other tournament format.
Today's deck is a modified version of Kiki Chord that made Top 8 at the Bazaar of Moxen in Strasbourg last week in the hands of Hervé Stanus. The deck is listed as "Chord Toolbox" on mtgtop8, and while it's basically a Kiki Chord deck, there are definitely some odd things going on. Take a look:
The first thing you'll notice are those Arbor Elfs sitting there in the spot usually reserved for Birds of Paradise. They are complemented (and explained) by the three-of Utopia Sprawl to form the acceleration package so crucial to goodstuff combo decks like this. Assuming you've fetched up both a Temple Garden and a Stomping Ground, the Arbor Elf is more than capable of doing a Birds impression, which is made more reliable by the adherence to just three colors. Once you add in a Utopia Sprawl, Arbor Elf gets to turbo-charge your mana production, allowing for a four-drop on turn two (!) and producing six mana on turn three. That can lead to some pretty busted starts, including the nut draw of a full-on combo kill on turn three.
The combo, of course, is the tried-and-true Restoration Angel/Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker pairing. Alone, these cards work along the same lines as in other versions of Kiki Chord, rebuying the various enter-the-battlefield effects to bury the opponent in value. Eternal Witness rounds out the package to get back a dead Kiki-Jiki for the combo kill (assuming it didn't traverse a Path to Exile), a used up or countered Chord of Calling to find a silver bullet, or just another body to apply more pressure.
Stanus pushed the tutor dimension of his build even further with the addition of Fauna Shaman and Evolutionary Leap. The former was a constructed staple during its time in Standard, where it kept the threats flowing in the midgame and doubled as a deceptively relevant body for beating down. Here it serves as a reasonable replacement for old stand-by Birthing Pod (albeit at a much lower power level), finding bullets against specific archetypes or simply the missing piece of the combo kill. Evolutionary Leap works in a similar fashion, allowing Stanus to churn through his deck for a steady stream of value creatures, all while blanking removal from the opponent (and protecting the one-of Kiki-Jiki from hitting the exile zone). There's a second one in the board, which I imagine comes in in the grindier matchups that aim to kill all your creatures.
Beyond that, it's pretty much more of the same-old Kiki Chord, doing its best Pod impression and letting the value-combo players relive their glory days of yore. I'm unsure if this build is superior to the more traditional Kiki Chord lists, but it's certainly interesting to see Fauna Shaman make an appearance. While Fauna Shaman is not new to the format, it's one of the more powerful and format-defining cards from past Standard formats that has yet to really break out in Modern. There is a solid chance that the card is underplayed in other archetypes too---Abzan Company comes to mind as a deck that could be able to benefit from its inclusion.
This deck is also another candidate for [tippy title="Eldritch Evolution" width="330" height="330"]
[/tippy], the new Natural Order variant that may revolutionize goodstuff toolbox strategies. Between Chord, Fauna Shaman, Evolutionary Leap, and Collected Company, there are a plethora of options for finding bullet and combo pieces in a green-based creature deck. I fully expect people to continue to rock the typical Abzan Company and Kiki Chord lists, but this build points to the potential of underexplored options.
Future Decks of the Week
I would like to hear from our readers on this new Deck of the Week feature. Is this something you're interested in seeing more of? What kind of decks are you most excited to read about? Alternately, if there's anything else in particular you'd like me to write on---something you feel doesn't receive enough attention in the Modern content sphere these days---let us know. I'm still looking to find the right content for Monday articles, so hopefully your comments and suggestions will help!