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Against the Odds: Archive Sisters (Modern)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 157 of Against the Odds. Last week during our Against the Odds poll, we had a tight battle between Alhammarret's Archive and Chaotic Backlash, but in the end, the artifact managed to sneak out a win by just a single percent! As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can double up our lifegain and card draw with Alhammarret's Archive. After trying a few things, we ended up with a very strange Soul Sisters-style deck, looking to gain life with Soul Warden and Soul's Attendant but also going really deep with Trading Post and some interesting lifegain payoffs like Felidar Sovereign and Cradle of Vitality. Does Alhammarret's Archive have what it takes to compete 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: Archive Sisters (Modern)

The Deck

When I realized that Alhammarret's Archive had won the poll, my first instinct was to try to recreate Turbo Tutelage in Modern, since drawing cards is pretty fun. Unfortunately, after playing a couple of games with the deck, I came to the realization that Sphinx's Tutelage itself is bugged, literally crashing the game as soon as the first trigger went on the stack. As such, we had to audible to a second Alhammarret's Archive deck, which ended up being this weird mashup of Soul Sisters for lifegain and a Trading Post deck for even more Alhammarret's Archive shenanigans.

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Alhammarret's Archive is basically the Panharmonicon of lifegain and card draw, doubling up both abilities. While it is fairly expensive at five mana, and being legendary can be an annoyance if we draw multiples, we can minimize some of these downsides if we build our deck to (hopefully) start getting value out of Alhammarret's Archive right away. The upside is that things will get out of hand quickly once it sits on the battlefield for a few turns, as we will gain tons of life and refill our hand with cards.

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Our Soul Sisters—Soul Warden, Soul's Attendant, and Auriok Champion—do two important things for our deck. First, they come down on Turn 1 or 2 and start gaining us life, which helps make sure we live long enough to get a Alhammarret's Archive on the battlefield. This is key, since plenty of Modern decks can win by Turn 4 (or even Turn 3). Second, once we have an Alhammarret's Archive, they gain us insane amounts of life, since instead of one life whenever a creature enters the battlefield, each is gaining us two life. This, in turn, helps us get over 40 or 50 life quickly, which turns on some of our life-based finishers.

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Norin the Wary and Genesis Chamber make sure that we are triggering our Soul Sisters as often as possible while also making a bunch of artifact tokens, which is important for the next part of our deck. Norin the Wary is one of the strangest creatures ever printed since it can't attack or block, but it is a great way of repeatedly triggering enters-the-battlefield triggers (like those on Soul Warden and Soul's Attendant), since it normally exiles itself and then returns to play every turn. As Norin flickers himself, we also generate a bunch of 1/1 Myr tokens, which again triggers our Soul Sisters while also flooding the board with tokens we can use to chump block, attack, or sacrifice to Trading Post.

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Trading Post is the other key piece of the deck, to the point where we are playing the full four copies. On level one, Trading Post is great with Alhammarret's Archive, since we can pay one, discard a card, and gain a massive eight life or sacrifice an artifact (like our endless Myr tokens from Genesis Chamber) to draw two cards, but it's sneakily synergistic with the rest of our deck as well. Making a Goat token is a good way to trigger our Soul Sisters, and our Myr tokens are also creatures that we can sacrifice to return an artifact (like an Alhammarret's Archive, Trading Post, or Genesis Chamber) from our graveyard to our hand. Basically, once we untap with an Alhammarret's Archive and Trading Post, we can generate a ton of value, hopefully enough to win the game in short order.

Winning the Game

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When it comes to finishing the game, we have a few plans (including the boring plan of making a bunch of Myr tokens, gaining a bunch of life, and beating our opponent down). First, we have Azor's Gateway and Banefire. Azor's Gateway is great with Alhammarret's Archive, drawing us two cards for one mana while exiling just one, and then if we manage to flip it around, we have a land that can tap for an absurd amount of mana. Then, we can simply use that mana to cast a huge, uncounterable Banefire at our opponent's face with X equal to our opponent's life total. 

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Once our deck assembles all of its pieces, it's pretty easy to end up with more than 100 life in just a turn or two thanks to Alhammarret's Archive, which lets us make use of two life-based finishers. Felidar Sovereign is a bit slow, since we need to play it and wait until our next upkeep to win the game, but as a 4/6 with lifelink, it's a fairly fine threat on its own. Meanwhile, Aetherflux Reservoir is both another way to gain life and a way to kill our opponent by throwing 50 damage at their face by paying 50 life, and thanks to our Soul Sisters, Norin, and Trading Post (combined with Alhammarret's Archive), getting over 50 life is pretty easy for our deck. 

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Finally, Cradle of Vitality allows us to go on the beatdown plan. If we have Trading Post and Alhammarret's Archive, we can pay a total of three mana to discard a card, gain eight life, and put eight +1/+1 counters on one of our creatures, turning a random Myr token or Soul Sister into a 9/9 attacker. If that isn't enough to finish off the game immediately, we can do the same thing the next turn and the turn after until we eventually have an overwhelmingly big board of overwhelmingly big creatures to beat our opponent down with.

Other Stuff

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Rounding out the deck is one copy of Solemn Simulacrum to loop with Trading Post, by playing it to find a land, sacrificing it to draw a card (or two with Alhammarret's Archive), and then sacrificing a Myr to return it to our hand to start the process over. While it's a slow loop, it does generate a lot of value and draw us a lot of cards while also triggering our Soul Warden effects along the way. Meanwhile, Path to Exile gives us a way to deal with annoying creatures in the early game. In some matchups, we can simply block with disposable Myr tokens, although cards that shut down lifegain or work as evasive attackers can be a problem, but Path to Exile provides a clean answer.

The Matchups

The matchups for Archive Sisters are pretty simple: we don't want to play against combo decks. While our deck is very good at grinding out wins against fair decks by making tons of blockers and gaining tons of life, some decks in Modern don't really care about lifegain or blockers (like Storm, Ad Nauseam, and other combo decks). These matchups are by far our hardest, although we do have some good sideboard options to give us a chance in games two or three. Control can also be a challenge, since if our opponent is smart, they can leave up mana to counter our four- and five-mana plays, which is pretty punishing. Plus, they can use things like Terminus or Supreme Verdict to keep our board from spiraling out of control. On the other hand, Archive Sisters loves playing against fair creature decks, since we have a ton of blockers and our lifegain is very relevant. Also, Burn seems like a pretty good matchup.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches and won three, giving us a 60% game win percentage, along with winning six of 11 games, putting us at 55% in terms of game win percentage, which makes Archive Sisters just a bit above average in terms of Against the Odds decks. As for Alhammarret's Archive itself, one of the more disappointing parts of the deck is that we didn't really get to use our finishers, since once we got down an Archive and starting gaining hundreds of life and drawing tons of cards, our opponents typically conceded before we could play a Felidar Sovereign or Aetherflux Reservoir. Still, it was pretty amazing to see games where we would be right on the edge of dying, play an Alhammarret's Archive, and suddenly shoot up to 50 life in just a turn or two. The synergy with Trading Post was super fun, and the deck functioned pretty well in general, although there are some difficult matchups. Still, for being our backup plan once we learned that Sphinx's Tutelage was bugged, things turned out pretty well for Archive Sisters. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Next week kicks off Guilds of Ravnica Standard. As per tradition, we'll be starting with a special episode, so no poll this week. Don't worry, the poll will return next week and be overflowing with sweet new Guilds of Ravnica cards!


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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