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Against the Odds: As Foretold (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode ninety of Against the Odds. Last week we had a poll featuring a bunch of spicy Standard options that we've never played before, and when it was all said and done, As Foretold took home a dominant victory over Neheb, the Worthy and friends. However, I ended up making an audible at the last minute, not with the card (we are indeed playing As Foretold), but with the format. I tried really hard to make As Foretold work in Standard, but simply couldn't find a way to make a fun deck featuring the enchantment. The only realistic path to making As Foretold work is playing a very counterspell heavy control deck, and simply going draw, go, counter your spell, for 20 turns doesn't really make for an entertaining episode of Against the Odds. Thankfully, As Foretold can do some crazy things in Modern with the help of free spells, so in the end switching formats was likely for the best because our deck today is super sweet! Let's get to the videos so you can see for yourself and then we'll talk some more about the deck.

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As Foretold (Deck Tech)

As Foretold (Games)

The Deck

As I mentioned in the introduction, getting to our As Foretold deck was a long process. In Standard, As Foretold was just too slow since most of the things we'd want to cast for free cost five- or six-mana. However, in Modern we can get value from As Fortold right away with the help of free spells. We have three different free (or zero-mana) spells, all of which help us win the game in different ways!

Plan #1: Draw Cards

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The trick to As Foretold is to get value from it right away. Modern is a fast format so planning on waiting until we have a bunch of counters isn't a realistic plan. Thankfully, Time Spiral brought us the perfect tools for this plan with a cycle of spells with no costs designed to be suspended. For example, Ancestral Visions. Once we cast an As Foretold, we can immediately use the enchantment to cast Ancestral Visions for free, turning it in to an upgraded version Ancestral Recall. While drawing three cards doesn't directly win us the game, it does help us find our other free cards which do have the ability to win the game.

Plan #2: Restore Balance

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Modeled after the original Balance, Restore Balance is an absurdly powerful Magic card; when things go well it often makes our opponent sacrifice all their lands and creatures while occasionally destroying their hand as well. The combo here, apart from finding an As Foretold to cast Restore Balance, is to get a Greater Gargadon suspended so we can sacrifice all of our lands in response to Restore Balance, which then forces our opponent to sacrifice all their lands as well. While sacrificing all of our lands might sounds like a big cost, we naturally break the symmetry of Restore Balance with As Foretold since it sits out on the battlefield, ticking up each turn and allowing us to cast spells even without any lands!

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As far as winning the game after we Restore Balance, we have a couple of plans. First, we can win with our Greater Gargadons once they come off suspend, which happens pretty quickly once we sacrifice all of our lands. However, this plan isn't a guaranteed work since our opponent can draw a land or two and a removal spell to kill our Greater Gargadon. As a backup, we have some planeswalkers: Nahiri, the Harbinger ticking up to find Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and Narset Transcendent which helps us find our As Foretold and free spells pre-Restore Balance with her +1, and then ultimates to lock out removal against our Greater Gargadons after Restore Balance

Plan 3: Living End

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The third part of our free spell plan is Living End. Sometimes we use the updated Living Death as a wrath to sweep away a board full of our opponent's creatures to stay alive and protect our planeswalkers, but we also can use it to reanimate some of our own creatures. Collective Brutality and Faithless Looting gives us multipurpose discard outlets to get our creatures in the graveyard. Collective Brutality kills a creature or Duresses our opponent along with letting us discard a card or two, while Faithless Looting digs for our all important As Foretold while also stocking our graveyard.

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As for reanimation targets, the main one is Greater Gargadon. When we are on the Living End plan, instead of suspending our Greater Gargadons, we can discard them to Faithless Looting and Collective Brutality and then use them to kill our opponent after sweeping away their board with Living End. We also have a single Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, which is another dual purpose card serving as another reanimation target for Living End, but also backup for when we ultimate Nahiri, the Harbinger as well. While the situations are few and far between, there are times when getting a hasty Emrakul, the Aeons Torn isn't good enough (against go-wide creature decks or token-heavy builds). In these cases, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite can come down and sweep away the board. 

Other Stuff

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Tolaria West lets us tutor up whatever free spell we need for a given situation with transmute. If we need to draw cards we can find Ancestral Visions, if we have a Greater Gargadon ready to go we can find Restore Balance for the kill, and if we have some juicy targets in our graveyard we can get Living End. The opportunity cost is low since we can always just play Tolaria West as an enters-the-battlefield-tapped land.

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The borderposts are an old Restore Balance trick, giving us mana sources that stay on the battlefield after Restore Balance and also helps minimize the numbers of lands we have in play by bouncing one back to our hand. However, we aren't overloaded on borderposts like some old Restore Balance decks because we don't really need mana once we have an active As Foretold.

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Serum Visions helps us find our As Foretold while Path to Exile kills something in the early game. One of the downsides of playing cards like Restore Balance or Living End is that you have to warp your deck by not playing any one- or two-mana spells to control your ability to cascade into them. With As Foretold, we can play an actual deck with good spells and still be able to cast our devastating free spells when we need them. Our deck is much less all-in than most Restore Balance and Living End builds and gives us the ability to play "real" Magickilling creatures, drawing cards, and casting planeswalkerswhen everything else goes wrong. 

The Matchups

It's hard to say too much based on the matchups we played during our videos. We ended up losing to a super crazy artifact combo deck built around Aetherflux Reservoir which didn't care about losing all of their lands or creatures, and then to Chalice of the Void from Eldrazi Tron. The good news is we crushed the creature decks and even managed to beat a Koth of the Hammer emblem from Skred Red by using Restore Balance to sweep away all of their lands. 

From a more broad perspective, our deck should be good against just about any type of creature deck and even reasonable against Tron thanks to Restore Balance being an Armegeddon. Control is more hit or miss; if we can stick As Foretold we should be able to win, but if our opponent can keep it off the table, we'll have problems. On the other hand, combo can be a problem. While we can still win thanks to Restore Balance if we resolve a copy fast enough, we don't have that many ways to interact with decks like UR Storm.

Maybe the biggest problem with our deck is we only have four copies of As Foretold and we really need one for our deck to function. While Faithless Looting and Serum Visions help make sure we have a copy when we need one, there are still times when, no matter how much we dig, we just can't find one and our deck does nothing. 

The Odds

All in all we got in five matches and ended up winning three, good for a 60% match win percentage, while also winning 7 of our 13 games for a 53.8% game win percentage. Overall I felt like the deck was actually a bit better than the record would suggest for a couple of reasons. First, we didn't play any answers to Chalice of the Void which was probably an oversight and is an easy fix by playing some Wear // Tear in the sideboard. Second, one of our losses was to an incredibly spicy but strange Aetherflux Reservoir deck which just happened to not care about anything we were doing, and somehow wasn't even bothered by the Stony Silence we have in the sideboard. While this deck was super fun, it's unlikely we'll run into it again in Modern. The good news is the deck was a blast to play and the power level is extremely highhigh enough that it seems like, with a bit more tuning, free spell As Foretold could end up being a fairly competitive deck in Modern.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

This week was marked by the banning of one of the most powerful artifacts in Standard: Aetherworks Marvel. The good news is there are plenty of jankier artifacts that are still legal in both Standard and Modern, so let's play one next week! Which one of these janky artifacts should we play? Vote below to let us know!

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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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