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Against the Odds: Athreos Hard Lock (Modern)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 231 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had an Against the Odds poll for Theros: Beyond Death Gods in Modern, and the buy-a-box promo God—Athreos, Shroud-Veiled—took home an easy win, more than doubling up the second-place finisher Thassa, Deep-Dwelling with 44% of the vote. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can not just win with Athreos, Shroud-Veiled but win by hard locking our opponent out of the game with the help of Athreos, Yosei, the Morning Star, and a sacrifice outlet. What are the odds of winning with Athreos, Shroud-Veiled in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Athreos Hard Lock

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The Deck

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Athreos, Shroud-Veiled is a weird card to build around. While being expensive and slow is a problem that we can work around, the biggest challenge of building an Athreos, Shroud-Veiled deck is that cards like Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Nightmare Shepherd offer similar (and often better) ways of reusing creatures that die. What sets Athreos, Shroud-Veiled apart from these other options? Apart from potentially stealing opposing creatures by putting a coin counter on them and killing or exiling them, the main difference is repeatability. Cards like Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Nightmare Shepherd are good at allowing us to reuse a creature one time by returning it to the battlefield, but the second time the creature dies, it is gone forever. Meanwhile, Athreos, Shroud-Veiled allows us to put a coin counter on the same creature turn after turn after turn, essentially making it invincible, while also allowing for some cool tricks if we can add a sacrifice outlet to the mix to keep reusing the enters-the-battlefield or dies trigger from one creature.

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Of course, for Athreos, Shroud-Veiled to do anything, we need to get it onto the battlefield, which can be a challenge in a format as fast as Modern. To speed up the process, we have a bunch of ramp spells. Heartless Summoning is the best of the bunch. Since all of our creatures are big, giving the crew 1/ 1 isn't really much of a downside, and getting a two-mana discount on all of our creatures makes it much easier to cast our big, expensive combo pieces. Meanwhile, Mind Stone is a backup two-mana ramp spell that can turn into a card later in the game, when we already have enough mana. 

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While Heartless Summoning and Mind Stone are helpful in allowing us to cast Athreos, Shroud-Veiled, the rest of our ramp works with our namesake card more directly. Solemn Simulacrum and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim each tutor a land directly into play when the enter the battlefield, and with the help of Heartless Summoning or Mind Stone, we can start casting our ramp creatures as early as turn three. Then, later in the game, they are fine options to coin counter up with Athreos, Shroud-Veiled, tutoring out more lands (and in the case of Solemn Simulacrum, drawing us a card) when they die and return to the battlefield thanks to Athreos. 

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After we ramp into Athreos, Shroud-Veiled, the next piece of our hard lock is a sacrifice outlet. While we can sometimes get value from Athreos, Shroud-Veiled by putting a coin counter on a creature and having it die naturally, Woe Strider and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician are key to actually locking our opponent out of the game since they allow us to sacrifice a creature at any time for free. 

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The final piece of the puzzle is Yosei, the Morning Star, which makes our opponent skip their untap step whenever it dies (while also tapping down up to five of their permanents). Our deck's main goal is to get Athreos, Shroud-Veiled, Yosei, the Morning Star, and one of our free sacrifice outlets on the battlefield at the same time. This allows us to go to our end step, put a coin counter on Yosei, and immediately sacrifice it to either Woe Strider or Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. This gives us Yosei's death trigger, tapping our opponent out and essentially making our opponent skip their next turn, while Yosei, the Morning Star returns to the battlefield thanks to Athreos, Shroud-Veiled. After our opponent passes through their turn, we can do the same thing again on our next end step, essentially keeping our opponent from playing Magic for the rest of the game by keeping all of their lands and other permanents tapped down—basically a three-card, 15-mana, one-sided Stasis lock! We then win the game by beating down with Yosei, Athreos, Shroud-Veiled, and whatever other random creatures we have on the battlefield.

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While the hard lock is the most exciting thing our deck can do, we have some other sweet Athreos, Shroud-Veiled tricks. The same loop of Athreos and a sacrifice outlet lets us tutor every turn with Rune-Scar Demon (which finds us the Yosei, the Morning Star lock), exile two permanents each turn with Ashen Rider, or basically never die with Platinum Angel (since Athreos, Shroud-Veiled's coin counter protects from both destruction and exile-based removal, it's really hard to lose with a coin-countered Platinum Angel on the battlefield unless our opponent has bounce-based removal like Brazen Borrower or Jace, the Mind Sculptor). 

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Finally, we have Path to Exile, which is mostly in our deck to be removal, but it is worth mentioning that we can use Athreos, Shroud-Veiled to put a coin counter on our opponent's best creature and then use Path to Exile as a one-mana, instant-speed version of Mind Control, putting the creature into play under our control rather than exiling it.

The Matchups

Athreos Hard Lock is at its best against midrange decks, which give us time to ramp into Athreos, Shroud-Veiled and set up our lock. Against aggro, our deck is often just too slow, which probably isn't a surprise considering we have a massive 12 creatures that cost six or more mana. Meanwhile, draw-go control decks can often just leave up a counterspell and stop us from ever resolving Athreos, Shroud-Veiled and our other big threats. 

The Odds

All in all, we went 2-4 with Athreos Hard Lock, giving the deck a 33.3% match win percentage and making it somewhat below average for an Against the Odds deck. Athreos, Shroud-Veiled is just a really slow card for a format as fast as Modern. The good news is that we did assemble the lock a bunch of times, and it was very game-winning once we got it in place. So even though the deck isn't super competitive from a wins-and-losses perspective, when it does win, it does so in a really unique and surprisingly effective way!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Theros: Beyond Death gave us a bunch of new enchantments, but in reality they just scratch the surface of the weirdness the card type offers. As such, next week let's explore the jankier, weirder side of enchantments in the Pioneer format! Which of these oddball enchantments should we build around next week? Let us know by voting below!

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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

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