Earlier in the month, we saw Stoneforge Mystic come to form the backbone not just of popular UW and Stoneblade decks, but of Colossus Hammer combo decks and bulkier flash strategies. Blue aggro-control decks also had an interesting month, with Arclight Phoenix making a comeback and Devotion to Blue rearing its head. The latter trend continues into the end of August, with blue decks dipping into white and green for support. The kicker? Not all of these decks even play Uro!
...But a Lot of Them Play Do Uro
I mean, it'd be almost wrong not to, right? We'll start by looking at the more traditional Uro-style shells that experimented with new tech this month.
We've seen midrange decks lean on other plans but still rely on 4 Hour of Promise before, most notably the Jund Field deck we covered in May. That was during the companions' reign over Modern, although the same concept still applies.
Uro Hour plays a controlling game with blue-chip countermagic and Uro itself, but should opponents find a way to deal with the Titan—via grave hate, perhaps—Hour provides an independent alternative, generating hordes of Zombies with Field of the Dead. It's especially nice that Growth Spiral, a staple in Uro shells, also contributes significantly to the Field plan, even though the two strategies require totally different answers: Uro demands grave hate and heavy-duty removal while drawing cards and going tall, while Field requires nonbasic land hate and damage-based sweepers while going wide.
I first picked up on Bant Moss early this month (see list above). While the deck looked interesting, I found myself scratching my head at the prospect of running 4 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss in a Modern midrange deck. I mean, it's a land destruction spell that costs four mana! Was that not too much for a type of card typically used to deny opponents mana early on?
It turns out that in Uro mirrors, ramping yourself while de-ramping opponents is the sauce, even if that's not to happen until the mid-game. Indeed, Bant Moss nabbed 4-1 in a preliminary at the end of the month, a testament to its potential viability. And the deck has more going on than first met my eye.
For one, there's the creature suite: Uro is backed up by Scavenging Ooze, something of an Uro-slayer in the mirror; it can out-grow 6/6 and handily removes Titans from an opponent's graveyard. Similarly, bouncing Uro with Teferi, Time Raveler provides a massive tempo swing, and cutting Uro decks off their permission is also the sauce. Then there's Stoneforge Mystic to cheese wins against aggro and have a grave-independent angle of attack. Sword of Fire and Ice gets the nod for insulating creatures against Uro, sure, but also Aether Gust, fast becoming one of Modern's premier hate cards.
tl;dr: meet the Uro deck that wins the mirror.
Uro decks tend to be creature-light, since the recurring behemoth is at its best when it makes up the bulk of a red-zone attack. So more creature-centric Bant decks trim its numbers. Still, I think it's great news that such decks exist; this scenario illustrates that Uro is not dominating the UGx color quotient as it once may have.
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter was hardly singled out as a Modern-playable upon its release, costing enough to emerge on the turn many decks end the game by and refusing to trigger until the next turn. But Bant Rashimi wouldn't take no for an answer, employing the Druid alongside a suite of useful flash creatures to get the most out of it.
Hitting all those cascade triggers is sure to get out of hand quickly, and Force of Negation holds things together by protecting Rashmi while players are tapped out after deploying him. For future turns, Spell Queller does that job, also combo-ing with Teferi to lock opponents' spells away for good. And both Force and Queller trigger Rashmi for even more pseudo-cascades!
Didn't I tell ya? No Uro! Instead, Reclaimer Toolbox maxes out on Elvish Reclaimer to enable both a beatdown plan and a packed land toolbox suite; it's got Blast Zone for removal, Flagstones for ramping, Bog for graveyard interaction, Quarter for land hate, Field for midrange games, and Valakut for... a combo kill?! The deck's other 4-of creature is Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, giving it a dedicated combo plan ready to fire at any moment should the window present itself.
The creatures, too, form a toolbox, with Eladamri's Call fishing up goodies like the spell-hosing Arasta of the Endless Web and Ponza's favorite new stabilizer, Elder Gargaroth. Primeval Titan supports the Valakut plan, while Eternal Witness buys back lost pieces. And Aether Vial cheats everything into play!
After its Challenge placing, Reclaimer Toolbox went on to 5-0, boding well for the deck's longevity; it certainly seems to come with a steep learning curve, featuring packages upon packages for the uninitiated to wrap their skulls around. It also looks like there's something in here for everyone, so I wonder if enough players will give it a whirl that it catches on.
I Can't Get in the Club
We haven't seen Bant at these levels since the lockdown began, and I'm sure UGW mages worldwide are rejoicing. Hopefully other shards and wedges get some love in the coming months and their respective fanbases can also celebrate. For now, though, I guess we can enjoy this Titan's party!