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Against the Odds: Abzan Thran-Fall (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 154 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had an all-enchantment Against the Odds poll, and in the end, a new Saga from Dominaria came out on top: Fall of the Thran. As such, we are heading to Modern this week to play a deck that walks the line between a strange landfall build and a mass-land-destruction brew. Is there a way to build a deck that takes advantage of all aspects of Fall of the Thran? Can we find a competitive and fun shell for the Saga in the powerful Modern format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Abzan Thran-Fall (Modern)

The Deck

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When I realized that Fall of the Thran had won the poll, my initial idea was to go all-in on turning Fall of the Thran into an Armageddon by playing it in conjunction with ways to exile our opponent's graveyard, because blowing up lands is a lot of fun. After trying a couple of decks, I realized that simply blowing up lands didn't really do Fall of the Thran justice. To really harness the power of the Saga, we needed to not only be able to use it as an Armageddon but also take advantage of the fact that after we blow up all of the lands on the battlefield, Fall of the Thran returns lands to the battlefield for the next two turns. How do you take advantage of lands entering the battlefield? Landfall, of course! The end result is Abzan Thran-Fall, a deck that is partly mass land destruction and partly a weird take on landfall.

Armageddons

 

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To turn Fall of the Thran into a (mostly one-sided) Armageddon, we not only need Fall of the Thran itself but also a way to exile our opponent's graveyard. Our primary plan here is Bojuka Bog. If you can cast Fall of the Thran while we still have a land drop available, we can immediately play Bojuka Bog to exile all of the lands from our opponent's graveyard (along with other cards), leaving our opponent without any lands to return from the battlefield with the second and third lore counters. The other trick with Bojuka Bog is that if we play it in the early game, we can destroy it with Fall of the Thran and then return it to the battlefield the following turn with Fall of the Thran to exile our opponent's graveyard. While this allows our opponent to get back two lands (from the first counter), it still helps to power up Fall of the Thran and keep our opponent as low on resources as possible. 

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Knight of the Reliquary allows us to tutor up Bojuka Bog after we cast our Fall of the Thran by sacrificing one of our other lands. Beyond just finding Fall of the Thran, Knight of the Reliquary helps us ramp into Fall of the Thran while also being a massive threat, thanks to all of the lands that Bojuka Bog puts into the graveyard. This allows us to close out the game quickly after blowing up all of our opponent's lands. Meanwhile, Scavenging Ooze gives us a backup plan for exiling our opponent's graveyard one card at a time. While not as efficient as Bojuka Bog, it makes up for this downside by allowing us to gain life against aggro and filling out our curve. 

Landfall

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The second part of our plan is to use Fall of the Thran as a way to generate landfall triggers. The basic plan is to stack up some landfall creatures on the battlefield so that we get a bunch of landfall triggers when Fall of the Thran returns lands from our graveyard to the battlefield. Lotus Cobra joins Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch as our ramp creatures. In the early game, they help us get to Fall of the Thran and our other big finishers as quickly as possible, and then after we cast a Fall of the Thran, Lotus Cobra generates a bunch of mana for free as we return two lands a turn from our graveyard to the battlefield. More importantly, because Sagas trigger at the beginning of our first pre-combat main phase, we can actually make use of this mana at sorcery speed to cast creatures and more copies of Fall of the Thran

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Tireless Tracker and Courser of Kruphix don't technically have landfall, but for all intents and purposes they do, triggering whenever a land enters the battlefield. Tireless Tracker generates Clue tokens, which we can sometimes sacrifice using the mana from Lotus Cobra. The Clues keep us churning through our deck, finding more action and hopefully letting us close out the game. On the other hand, Courser of Kruphix gives us some lifegain against aggro, a big blocking body, and a weird source of card advantage by allowing us to play lands off the top of our deck. With the help of fetch lands to shuffle away cards we don't want, we can also use the ability to see the top card of our library, as a strange source of filtering to dig through our deck to find our Saga and finishers.

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When it comes to closing out the game, apart from beating down with random smaller creatures, we have two finishers. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen works incredibly well with with Fall of the Thran. If we can get Ob Nixilis, the Fallen on the battlefield before Fall of the Thran, we can kill our opponent incredibly quickly with landfall triggers, each of which drains our opponent for three. Imagine the turn after we play Fall of the Thran. We get back two fetch lands, which drain our opponent for six and makes Ob Nixilis a 9/9; then, we crack the fetch lands to drain our opponent for six more and make Ob Nixilis a 15/15; and finally, if we have a fetch land in hand, we can play and crack that too, upping our drain to a massive 18, and if that isn't enough to kill our opponent, we have a 21/21 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen left over! Even if we don't win right away, even just returning non-fetch lands with Fall of the Thran amounts to 12 drain over the course of two turns (and a 15/15 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen). 

Avenger of Zendikar works similarly. If we can get it into play before Fall of the Thran to make a bunch of Plant tokens, then as The Fall of Thran returns lands to the battlefield, our Plant tokens will become huge, hopefully allowing us to kill our opponent in just one attack!

The Matchups

The matchup for Abzan Thran-Fall are weird. We have a lot of good cards, and apart from a tough combo matchup in game one, we have a chance to keep pace with most decks in the format. While the Armageddon plan of Fall of the Thran is only good in some matchups and much worse against aggro or decks that can cheat things into play with Aether Vial, in the matchups where Armageddon isn't great, the landfall-triggering ability of Fall of the Thran keeps it relevant and even powerful. While I'm not sure that Abzan Thran-Fall has a great matchup against any one deck, it does feel like it has a reasonable matchup against the field at large.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches and won all five, giving us a perfect 100% match win percentage, along with winning 10 of our 14 games, putting us just over 71% in terms of game win percentage, making Abzan Thran-Fall one of the best Against the Odds decks we've ever played. More importantly, Fall of the Thran itself was very strong, giving us combo kills with our landfall creatures and straight up beating control by being an Armageddon, with the help of Bojuka Bog. The deck, including Fall of the Thran, felt oddly strong and might have a chance to compete in Modern!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

With another multicolor set on the horizon in Guilds of Ravnica, it's probably a good time to ease our way into playing two-color cards. Which of these two-color cards should we build around in Modern next week? Let is 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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