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Against the Odds: Aether Snap Battles (Modern)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 375 of Against the Odds. This week, we're heading to Modern to do something I've been wanting to try ever since March of the Machine spoiler season: see how many battles we can flip with Aether Snap! Can the plan work? Let's get to the video and find out on this week's Against the Odds!

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Against the Odds: Aether Snap Battles

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The Deck

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The goal of today's deck is simple. First, we need to get as many battles on the battlefield as possible. All in all, we're playing five different battles, with 18 total battles in our deck. Ideally, we'll spend the first few turns of the game adding battles to the board while also generating value. Invasion of Ergamon ramps us toward Aether Snap while also rummaging through our deck, while Invasion of Kaldheim wheels away our hand to help us find action...

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Meanwhile, Invasion of Tarkir and Invasion of Azgol offer some removal, with Tarkir sniping small creatures and Azgol offering an edict. Finally, we have Invasion of Ikoria, which is our most important battle for two reasons. First, it flips into the biggest threat, giving us an 8/8 Dinosaur that lets our team deal damage through blockers. Second, its ability to tutor up a creature when it enters the battlefield helps us ramp in the early game, snags removal spells like Grist, the Hunger Tide or Fury when they are needed, and also offers us a powerful backup plan, which we'll talk about in a minute.

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Once we get a few battles on the battlefield, we can use Aether Snap to flip them all at once! For five mana, Aether Snap removes all counters from all permanents (while also exiling all tokens, which is pretty hilarious in some matchups—against a token deck, it's basically a cheap Plague Wind). Since battles flip when their last defense counter is removed, a single Aether Snap will transform every single one of our battles, which leads to some pretty huge turns. Invasion of Ikoria turns into a massive 8/8 Dinosaur. Invasion of Tarkir offers a Shocking 4/4 Dragon. Invasion of Ergamon flips into a 3/4 that lets us tutor up more battles. Basically, when things go according to plan, an Aether Snap will give us a massive, hopefully game-ending board of creatures out of the blue!

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Backing up Aether Snap is Vampire Hexmage, which can flip any one battle by sacrificing itself. While Vampire Hexmage is great in general since we can use it to flip whatever battle is most important for just two mana, it's especially good with Invasion of Ikoria since we can use Invasion of Ikoria to tutor up Vampire Hexmage and then sacrifice Hexmage immediately to flip Invasion of Ikoria into an 8/8 Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria, which should hopefully let us close out the game with just a couple of attacks.

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Even better, thanks to our ramp package of Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl, we potentially can cast Invasion of Ikoria for X = 0 to find Vampire Hexmage as early as Turn 2, which is more or less unbeatable unless our opponent has a removal spell to deal with Zilortha, Apex of Ikoria.

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Rounding out the deck is a bit of removal in Grist, the Hunger Tide and Fury, both of which can be tutored up by Invasion of Ikoria, along with Lightning Bolt. We also have two copies of Dryad Arbor, which we can tutor up with Invasion of Ikoria for X = 0, turning the battle into a weird ramp spell.

The Matchups

By far the hardest matchup for Aether Snap Battles is fast combo. While our deck can do some hilarious, huge things, we need time to stack up some battles on the battlefield for Aether Snap to work. As such, fast combo decks that can win the game on Turn 3 or 4 are some of our toughest matches. While we do have some good sideboard cards to help slow these decks down, in general, we'd much rather play against fair decks that give us a little bit more time to get things set up. Another concern is the removal that our opponent happens to be playing, specifically when it comes to Invasion of Ikoria. While Zilortha being an 8/8 is awesome, it's awkward that its mana value is two—the same as the front side of the battle—because it means cards like Fatal Push and March of Otherworldly Light can snipe the massive Dinosaur. While hoping to dodge removal altogether is silly, we'd much rather play against Unholy Heat and Lightning Bolt than Fatal Push and friends.

The Odds

Record-wise, we went 2-3 in a Modern league and 2-2 in a few one-off matches, giving us an overall win percentage of 44.4%. In general, the deck felt solid. While we had a couple of games where we got run over without doing much of anything (see: our match against Amulet Titan), more often than not, we played really long, interesting, unique games. While Aether Snap was good and led to some hilarious turns where we flipped multiple battles (and also wrecked that poor Dino Whack player by exiling all their tokens), I was even more impressed with Vampire Hexmage. The combo with Invasion of Ikoria was strong, and being able to use it to flip an Invasion of Ergamon and tutor up another battle was oddly effective. While our record was middling, the deck felt pretty solid overall, and some sort of Vampire Hexmage / Aether Snap battle plan might be worth exploring more in Modern. 

Oh yeah, I'm still not exactly sure what was going on in that match against Living End. As best as I can tell, battles are bugged with Living End itself on Magic Online but not all the time. Our opponent cast a lot of Living Ends during that match, and sometimes, a Living End would reanimate a single battle, which shouldn't happen because battles are battles in the graveyard, not creatures. The weird part of the bug is that Living End worked properly other times, and we often had multiple battles in the graveyard when a Living End resolved, but only one would come back into play (if any did at all). All this is to say, if you have any idea what was going on with MTGO during that game, let me know in the comments. While it's pretty clear there was a bug, I'm not sure exactly what the bug is (or what makes it happen).

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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March of the Machine: Aftermath is here, so let's try a new card for next week's episode! Which one should be build around, most likely in Standard? Click here to vote!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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