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Against the Odds: 12 Moon (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 129 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a second-chance Against the Odds poll, and things got a bit weird. Zur's Weirding came out on top, so I built a sweet Zur's Weirding deck and started recording matches only to realize that Zur's Weirding is bugged on Magic Online (it reveals hands and the cards players draw but doesn't allow you to pay life to put cards in the graveyard, which means it's basically a four-mana Telepathy). Hopefully, Wizards will get it fixed and we'll be able to play the Zur's Weirding deck in the future, because it seemed sweet.

After realizing that Zur's Weirding was bugged, the card with the second most votes on the poll—Blood Sun—was declared the winner. My initial idea was to build a sort of Blood Sun ramp deck, using Blood Sun to make bounce lands enter untapped, but this didn't actually work very well. I took the combination of Blood Sun ramp not working and Zur's Weirding being bugged as a sign from the Magic gods that we were supposed to be trying to play Blood Sun (along with Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon) on Turn 1 to lock opponents out of the game, which is how we ended up with the deck we're playing today: 12 Moon. Does Blood Sun deserve to be mentioned alongside Blood Moon as one of the best ways to pick up free wins in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: 12 Moon

The Deck

As I mentioned in the intro, once I realized that Zur's Weirding was off the table, my goal was to build some sort of Blood Sun combo / ramp deck, looking to use the enchantment to make bounce lands like Golgari Rot Farm to come into play untapped and make two mana. The problem I ran into with this plan was twofold. First, there isn't really a backup Blood Sun, so our deck does less than nothing if we don't draw our namesake enchantment. Second, the payoff is playing lands that tap for two mana, which is powerful, but at the end of the day, it's just another way of ramping into Primeval Titans, Eldrazi, and the like. Because of this, we ended up with the 12 Moon plan, which is basically a weird hybrid of Mono-Red Ponza and Free Win Red.

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In our deck, Blood Sun is basically an enchantment that shuts down fetch lands while also having some fringe upside, like keeping creaturelands from becoming creatures and attacking or blocking. In the end, this leaves Blood Sun as a really high-variance version of Blood Moon. In some games, it completely locks our opponent from doing anything, essentially being a triple or quadruple Stone Rain for just three mana. In other games, our opponent has plenty of shock lands or basic lands and Blood Sun doesn't do much of anything. Thankfully, when Blood Sun is bad, it still has a much higher floor than Blood Moon because it draws a card when it enters the battlefield, which helps to minimize the downside of playing a card that is somewhat situational and not all that good in multiples.

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Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon round out our 12 moon package. The main idea of our deck is to play one of our Moon effects on Turn 1 (because a Turn 1 Sun or Moon is especially devastating, since our opponent can't crack their Turn 1 fetch and tutor up a basic land), and having 12 total copies makes this plan very realistic. In fact, with four Blood Sun, four Blood Moon, and four Magus of the Moon we'll have one or more of these cards in our opening hand more than 80% of the time! When we get get one of our 12 moons on the battlefield on Turn 1, it's very hard for a lot of decks to function, which should give us time to close out the game, either by beating down with our Magus of the Moon or with our planeswalkers.

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While playing a moon / sun on Turn 3 is fine, this gives the opponent two or three turns to search up basic lands and crack fetches to play around our powerful enchantments. To really maximize the power of our moons and suns, we need to get them on the battlefield as quickly as possible, which is where our rituals come into play. Simian Spirit Guide plus either Desperate Ritual or Pyretic Ritual give us enough mana to cast a Blood Sun or Blood Moon on Turn 1, and any one of these cards by themselves allows for a Turn 2 Blood Sun / Blood Moon

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Stone Rain and Molten Rain give our deck a Ponza-esque feel and are especially devastating backing up our 12 moons. The idea is that we can use Stone Rain and Molten Rain to attack the lands our opponent manages to draw that aren't impacted by Blood Sun or Blood Moon, to make sure our opponent can't really play anything. For example, we play a Blood Sun, which locks all fetch lands; then, we use our Molten Rains and Stone Rains to clean up any non-fetch lands our opponent happens to draw, which keeps our opponent as close to zero mana as possible, With Blood Moon, the plan is similar, but we mostly focus on attacking basic lands our opponent happens to draw, which allow our opponent to make the colors of mana they need to cast their spells. Basically, rather than casting our Molten Rains and Stone Rains as quickly as possible, we're looking to hold onto them to use on lands not impacted by our 12 moons to keep our land lock has hard as possible.

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For finishing off the game after we get some of our 12 moons on the battlefield, we have six Chandras, with four copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and two Chandra, Pyromaster. Sometimes, we can play one of these cards on Turn 1 or 2 thanks to our rituals, but typically we get down a moon first and then follow up with a planeswalker to close out the game. The upside of using Chandras as our finishers is that, along with damaging our opponent (and, for Chandra, Torch of Defiance, closing out the game fast after ultimating), they both draw us cards, which helps us find removal, extra suns and moons, and land destruction to keep our opponent from sneaking out from under our 12-moon lock.

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Ensnaring Bridge and Anger of the Gods help against creature decks. One of the challenges of playing 12 Moon is that if our opponent can sneak a creature or two through our land lock, we don't have a lot of ways of dealing with them, and even if our opponent can't cast most of their cards, they can win with just those creatures. Ensnaring Bridge and Anger of the Gods help solve this problem by keeping our opponent's creatures in check. If we can get down an Ensnaring Bridge or sweep the board with Anger of the Gods, it often buys us a few turns, which is usually enough to ultimate one of our Chandras to win the game. 

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Last but not least, we have Faithless Looting, which does two important things for our deck. First, it helps us filter away extra copies of Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. While having multiple copies of Blood Sun isn't that bad because it cantrips, having a handful of Moons is painful, since we really only need one in most games. Faithless Looting lets us discard our extra Moons to find finishers and removal. Second, Faithless Looting helps us get empty handed to power up our Ensnaring Bridge against creature decks. Thanks to our 12 moons, we have a lot of three-drops in our deck, and casting three or four Blood Suns or Blood Moons takes a lot of time—sometimes too much time, because having the enchantments in hand allows our opponent to attack with their creatures through Ensnaring Bridge. In these situations, having Faithless Looting to filer away expensive cards and find cheap cards and rituals that we can cast to get empty handed is a lifesaver. 

The Matchups

Considering we are playing 12 total copies of Blood Moon and Blood Sun, our matchups are primarily about how good those cards are against our opponent's deck. If they are playing a lot of basic lands and non-fetch lands, things are rough. On the other hand, if they are playing tons of fetches and few basics, we can theoretically win the game on Turn 1 or 2 fairly consistently. 

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches and won three along with winning seven of our 14 games, which puts 12 Moon at 50% across the board, which is just a smidgen above average for an Against the Odds deck. We had some incredibly explosive Turn 1 wins, but we also had some matchups where our 12 Moon plan simply wasn't effective against our opponent's mana base, which left us with a ton of dead cards in our deck. 

As for Blood Sun specifically, it has the highest floor of any of our 12 Moons because it cantrips even when it's a dead card, but it also has the lowest ceiling. We had some games where we played it on Turn 1 and our opponent simply played a few shock lands (untapped even, thanks to Blood Sun) and proceeded to execute their game plan. On the other hand, our last game was a great example of Blood Sun's power. One of the sneaky upsides is that it keeps fetch lands from producing mana at all (rather than making fetch lands produce red mana like Blood Moon does), which means Blood Sun occasionally ends up being close to a one-sided Armageddon!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Dominaria spoiler season kicked off today, and the set seems to be overflowing with sweet legendary creatures. This got me thinking about some of the spicy legendary creatures from Magic's recent past, so let's play one next week! Which one of these legends should we build around in Modern next week? Let me know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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