It's quite rare for a deck to suddenly appear fully formed. In fact, I don't think it happens except when Wizards makes a mistake. Most decks spend years wallowing in non-viability before the right combination of players, cards, and metagame arrive. Just go poking around the dark corners of Magic Discords and forums if you don't believe me.
Today I'll be highlighting just such a deck. While it is likely to remain fringe for the time being, it could become a solid player in Modern. Don't sleep on it.
The Forgotten Set
I don't know if anyone remembers, but Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths was a pretty wild set. It was filled with so many new ideas and interesting mechanics that nobody really discusses because the only part that mattered were the companions. I can't specifically remember any cards from Ikoria seeing play in Modern beyond the triomes and companions. Which I know isn't true because I frequently exclaim "wait, that came from Ikoria?" The companions were sufficiently warping that I still forget Shark Typhoon and A-Winota, Joiner of Forces shared a release date with Lurrus of the Dream-Den.
One such forgotten card is Song of Creation. I have vague memories of certain players getting excited for Song's potential before being smothered by Lurrus. And then for two years, there was silence. I'm sure that development was ongoing, but I heard nothing. I'm not privy to everything happening in obscure Discords and forums, after all. Then in July, I suddenly started seeing results. And streamers picking up the deck, including Gabriel Nassif. When a Hall of Famer is playing a deck, it's hard not to take notice.
An Odd Deck
I don't remember where the Song deck started out, nor do I want to spend the time necessary to find out. I do know that I was not ready the first time I saw the deck in action on Nassif's above linked video. To be honest, as I'm writing this article, I still feel like this deck shouldn't work. But does it ever.
bobthedog is Gabriel Nassif's MTGO handle, for those unaware.
So that sure is a pile of cards. It's very weird to see Summoner's Pact without Primeval Titan. And the last time I saw anyone play Wild Cantor, they were setting up to kill with Laboratory Maniac. And what's with the singleton Everflowing Chalice? Sideboard A-Omnath, Locus of Creation just seems wrong; that's a maindeck card!
Essentially, this is a storm-combo kill that doesn't play rituals. Or an engine that makes mana. It's a combo deck built entirely around a single card that just provides an extra land-drop and lots of cards you can't keep. The mind simply reels and wants me to reject the deck out-of-hand.
However, that's all just misdirection and misinterpretation. This deck is surprisingly genius. A true "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" situation. Enough that I'm quite high on the deck and hope that it has staying power in Modern.
There are some barriers to that right now, but the future holds endless possibilities. I have some experience with Gifts Storm and I prefer Song of Creation to Storm. I'm not saying that it's a superior deck, but I think it's much better in the typical Modern metagame and for the typical player.
How to Sing the Song
As mentioned, Song of Creation is a storm combo deck in that it intends to kill with a massive Grapeshot. If that fails, it can Glittering Wish for Master the Way. To make either happen requires resolving the titular card. With that done, all the zero-mana spells become Pot of Greed. Simply play as many free spells as possible, draw as many cards as possible to find Grapeshot, cast it, and win. A straightforward storm kill.
Playing the Chorus...
Of course, observant readers are already asking what happens when that doesn't come together. This is a non-deterministic combo after all, and resolving the key spell definitely doesn't translate directly into a win. More analytical readers may also wonder about the odds of actually finding the Grapeshot and more importantly how to cast it. Song only provides one additional land drop, so unless the plan is to go off with five mana, it's not going to work out.
That's where the genius comes in. An Offer You Can't Refuse and Strike It Rich are the mana-makers. With Song out, Strike is mana-neutral card advantage in a deck where Manamorphose is too expensive. While Offer can be used to protect the combo, its main purpose is to fulfill its predicted destiny. The only card that absolutely has to resolve is Song (though Strike is close to necessary), so countering all the cheap chaff for treasure is a good deal when it makes the mana needed to keep the storm building.
... and the Bridge
A very important sequence is to play Summoner's Pact, counter it with your own Pact of Negation, then counter that with Offer for six new cards and two treasures. Then, resolve the original Pact. While Cantor is a decent target, that's mostly for when there aren't enough treasures to get or keep going. More often, Abnormal Endurance should be chosen. It's not only a free spell, but it recycles all the spent cards back into the library.
Churning through 60 cards is more than enough storm to kill with and if it isn't, there are bigger problems. The problem is decking. The draw trigger on Song is not optional, and sometimes Grapeshot will be on the bottom of the deck. In other words, by the time the kill can happen, it actually can't without the pilot dying first. Abnormal Endurance therefore provides the space needed to keep going while also powering towards that endgame.
Meet the Backing Band
Alternatively, Wishing for Master is an option. However, it's harder to pull off than I like. The sequence requires seven mana, which isn't nothing. In testing I frequently found it difficult to keep treasure around between paying for Strike, Offer, and Utopia Sprawl. I felt like I had to really plan to go for Master rather than just trusting the deck to find the Grapeshot.
However, win condition weirdness aside, Glittering Wish is essential to the deck and arguably as important as Song itself. There's a full Wishboard here, with some very essential targets. Obviously, Guttural Response and A-Teferi, Time Raveler are great against Counterspell decks, but I grabbed Wear // Tear more often. I'll explain why down the page.
I know that Nassif often boarded in both Omnaths in matchups he didn't expect to successfully combo, but I found that just bringing one in was correct. I wanted that Wish target and needed it often. Song combo can't always get all the way there, and Omnath is pretty good as far as fair backup plans go. Though you never want to be in that position, as it is significantly harder to win via beatdown.
As previously stated, I think that Song is a good deck in Modern. I've often said that Modern is seriously lacking in combo decks despite there being ample room in the metagame for them. Indeed, in a metagame dominated by grindy fair decks, an unfair combo should be well positioned for success, especially with maindeck Veil of Summer. Belcher has tried to fill that niche, but just can't quite cut it. The aforementioned straightforward combo kill coupled with the Wishboard utility should make Song a solid player in Modern.
In terms of internal weaknesses, there is a small chance of the combo fizzling. Drawing two cards per spell goes a very long way towards preventing fizzles, but sometimes only lands are drawn. Other times, it takes all the treasure and extra land drop to get into the combo, and there's no mana to cast Grapeshot. Fortunately, the risk of fizzle due to sequencing errors mid-combo is very low. Just keep playing spells and counter them as necessary; the order doesn't matter very much.
Of course, a fizzle is probably fatal. Song won't go away, so there will be more chances to combo. However, because of that the enchantment's final clause, starting over means doing so from scratch. It is possible to draw really well and go from zero to victory. But it is much harder. Flashing back Strikes might do the job but I wouldn't rely on that.
This is also why players shouldn't be afraid of playing their Pacts. The upkeep trigger is unlikely to matter, and failing to pay probably won't change anything.
What About Storm?
Which may be a shock to Storm players, since Song is very similar strategically, but I've also said that I wouldn't play Storm seriously again. The reason is simple: Storm is too complicated. Especially in the current metagame. I lack the dedication to Storm required to succeed with Storm. Song doesn't require total and complete devotion, making it easier to put down and pick up when appropriate as the metagame shifts.
Winning with Storm requires solving dozens of puzzles of escalating complexity continuously. The standard line of playing cost reducers then playing Gifts Ungiven to set up the kill only works if the opponent has no interaction. Usually, Storm has to carefully plan out many turns ahead how it will play through interaction, exactly how it will tutor and when, whether it has to go for an alternative kill, how long it can spend sculpting with cantrips, etc., etc., etc. It is incredibly difficult to manage.
Storm is also vulnerable to many types of disruption. In addition to obvious anti-combo hate, graveyard hate shuts off all the easy Storm kills. The compensation is that with so many lines available, a good Storm player can outplay almost anyone and any deck. Given time, good Storm players can put on a ballet that makes everyone look like they're playing Go-Fish. However, getting to that point requires so much work that it's prohibitive.
Song gets points on Storm for being significantly more straightforward. Cast and protect Song, play lots of spells, find a win. There's no working around the creatures dying, worrying about the correct sequence of plays to get the right outcome, no long tutor chains. Cast spells, draw cards, make treasure. A solid plan.
Additionally, graveyard hate isn't effective at preventing Song's combo. In the face of Rest in Peace, Storm must plan out how to win without Past in Flames or find an answer. Song just needs to avoid decking themself. Given that graveyard hate is essential in Modern, this is a huge advantage.
It is balanced by Song having some weaknesses Storm doesn't, but they're less likely to matter. The first is that Song is an enchantment and the combo doesn't work without it. Thus, enchantment removal can shut down a combo turn. However, it isn't so bad. No Song on the field means no discard trigger. Also, Song plays eight counters to answer said removal, and enchantment removal is pretty sparse these days. More troublesome is Narset, Parter of Veils. The combo can't happen against a Narset. She doesn't see much play in Modern, fortunately, but remains something to be aware of.
That said, Song's reliance on zero-mana spells is a problem right now. All the anti-cascade cards also hit Song. Chalice of the Void on zero not only answers the combo but bricks a chunk of the deck. Void Mirror is even worse. Engineered Explosives is only a two-of and can't deal with everything.
I think that Song is a good Modern deck coming up at an unfortunate time. There's a lot of splash damage thanks to Shardless Agent. Players will be put off by this and won't pick up Song, not only because of that combo stigma but the very plausible fear of being hated out.
However, this is an opportunity. This is the sort of deck that can very easily spike a tournament against an unprepared field. I'm keeping this in my back pocket for the RCQ's. There will be an event where players assume that cascade won't be a factor. Song will enjoy not only the lack of hate but the unfair combo advantage over the grindy fair decks. Practice a lot with this deck in private, but don't play it in weekly events, and they'll never see it coming.
Subsequently, I'd advise anyone with even a passing interest to buy now. The critical cards are fairly cheap while the deck is new and unproven. Nothing in it is likely to be hit with a ban, so holding for the right metagame is a safe move. The manabase and Abnormal Endurance are Modern staples and should be on the acquisition list anyway. Buy now, master it, sit on it, and wait for the opportunity to strike. There will be a window to shock an event.
I don't think that Song of Creation is in the running for Tier 1. There's too much hate available if it really starts to take off. Narset is the worst, but a simple Thalia, Guardian of Thraben also proves crushing. However, as a long-term Tier 3 deck with spike potential, it fills the niche far better than Storm. It may even have more staying power than Belcher thanks to the Wishboard. Once again, don't sleep on this deck!