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Against the Odds: Clever Superfriends (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 152 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a second-chance poll, and in the end, it was Mirror Gallery that came out on top by a wide margin. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see what life is like when the legend rule doesn't apply! The plan for today's deck is pretty simple: play ton of planeswalkers and hopefully take advantage of the fact that all planeswalkers are now legendary, which means that with a Mirror Gallery on the battlefield, we can have multiples of the same exact planeswalker on the battlefield. What's better than one Elspeth, Sun's Champion or Jace, the Mind Sculptor? Two, of course! We even have a clever way to get multiples of the same planeswalker onto the battlefield that helps to reduce the clunkiness of our deck when we don't have a Mirror Gallery. Can a Mirror Gallery superfriends list 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: Clever Superfriends (Modern)

The Deck

When Mirror Gallery won the poll, I actually tried a few different ideas for building around it before settling on the planeswalker plan. Initially, I wanted to play and copy Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV to make it impossible for the opponent to cast spells but quickly realized that having a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on the battlefield also made it pretty hard to cast Mirror Gallery. Next, I tried a random Bant legends deck, worked on a Honden deck, and tried to figure out a way to make Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain work with Mox Amber and Mox Opal but eventually gave up and went with the most obvious plan: planeswalkers—lots and lots of planeswalkers.

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Mirror Gallery is actually a super-simple card: you pay five mana and, for as long as it's on the battlefield, both players can have multiples of the same legendary on the battlefield together. The biggest challenge of building around Mirror Gallery is that it's pretty expensive, making it clunky with cheaper legends, since they tend to clog up your hand before Mirror Gallery comes down. At first, I thought it would be fun to build a deck overloaded with legendary lands but soon realized that this made it really hard to get to five mana to cast Mirror Gallery, since with mostly legendary lands, you end up legend-ruling yourself in the early game far too often. The basic plan of our Clever Superfriends is to ramp into Mirror Gallery and start playing legendary planeswalkers (which is all planeswalkers, thanks to the errata), maybe clone a planeswalker or two, and eventually overwhelm our opponent with planeswalker value. 

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For ramp, we have the tried-and-true package of Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl, which is the fastest way to get enough mana to cast Mirror Gallery or our expensive planeswalkers. Each of these cards is fine on its own, adding additional mana, but even better together, when Arbor Elf untapping Utopia Sprawl can get us all the way up to six mana on Turn 3, enough to cast any card in our deck. Thanks to a ton of Foresty shock lands, Arbor Elf also helps fix our mana, and Utopia Sprawl can name a color we are missing to make sure we can cast all of our stuff on time.

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We aren't going to talk about all of our planeswalkers individually because our deck isn't so much about the individual abilities of the planeswalkers anyway. Each planeswalker generates repeatable advantage for as long as it's on the battlefield, and we're hoping that by getting as many on the battlefield as possible, the small advantage—regardless of what they may be—will add up to the win. In the end, we have 10 different planeswalkers, ranging from the three-mana Nissa, Voice of Zendikar to the six-mana Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and every spot on the curve in between. Most of our planeswalkers are one- or two-ofs, which may sound strange in a Mirror Gallery deck, but we have a clever solution to our problem.

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Our main plan for getting multiples of the same planeswalker on the battlefield at the same time is Clever Impersonator—one of the most powerful clones ever printed, since it can copy any nonland permanent (including, of course, planeswalkers). To make Mirror Gallery relevant, we want a bunch of the same planeswalker, but if we play our planeswalkers as four-ofs, we have two problems. First, if we run planeswalkers as four-ofs rather than as one- or two-ofs, we'd end up with only a small number of unique planeswalkers (something like four Gideon of the Trials, four Jace, the Mind Sculptor and four Teferi, Hero of Dominaria), so we'd see fewer sweet, unique planeswalkers over the course of the game. Second, if we played our planeswalkers as four-ofs, our deck would be horrible in the games where we didn't have a Mirror Gallery, since we'd have a ton of dead draws thanks to the legend rule. Clever Impersonator solves both of these problems. Once we have a Mirror Gallery, we can copy our best planeswalker and have two on the battlefield; if we don't have a Mirror Gallery, we can play our planeswalkers fairly and use Clever Impersonator to copy random creatures or other impactful permanents. In the end, it allows us to take full advantage of Mirror Gallery while still having a somewhat functional deck when the artifact is shuffling around in our deck rather than sitting on the battlefield. 

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Otherwise, we have Path to Exile and Settle the Wreckage for a bit of defense against our opponent's creatures, helping us keep our planeswalkers alive in the face of the powerful threats of the Modern format. 

The Matchups

The most challenging matchups for Clever Superfriends are fast aggro and combo. While we have the ability to out-power most decks in the mid- to late game, we don't have that much early-game interaction in the main deck, so if our opponent can kill us on Turn 3 or 4, there isn't a whole lot we can do. Thankfully, much of our sideboard is dedicated to beating the unfair, fast decks of the format, so we do have some more options for games two and three. On the other hand, against midrange or control, we have so many repeatable sources of card advantage and value in the form of our planeswalkers that we can often run our opponent out of resources and pick up the win.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches and won three, giving us a 60% match win percentage, along with winning six of our 12 games, good for a 50% match win percentage, which makes Clever Superfriends fairly reasonable for an Against the Odds deck. As for Mirror Gallery, we had a couple of games where it was super sweet, allowing us to get multiples of the same planeswalker on the battlefield at once, although it does tend to be slow and fragile. Once you have a bunch of planeswalkers with the same name on the battlefield, you live in constant fear that the opponent will find an Ancient Grudge or Maelstrom Pulse and not only kill the Mirror Gallery but a bunch of planeswalkers as well. The good news is that the Mirror Gallery wins are super unique and spectacular. While it probably won't show up in a more tournament-focused Superfriends list, it can do some crazy things when everything goes to plan!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Next week, we'll kick off Guilds of Ravnica spoiler season with a preview show on September 1. In celebration of our return to return to Ravnica, let's play a card from our last visit in Modern next week! Which of these cards from Return to Ravnica should we build around next week? Let us 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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