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Against the Odds: Double Moon Walkers (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 271 of Against the Odds. We missed our poll last week because I was away on vacation, but today, we're playing a Modern deck that I'm excited about for multiple reasons: Double Moon Walkers! You might remember way back in 2016 when we played a deck built around ramping into Doubling Season as quickly as possible and then using Doubling Season to instantly ultimate a game-ending planeswalker. Well, today's build is an updated version of the archetype, taking advantage of some really powerful planeswalkers (like Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God) that didn't exist back in 2016. The other reason I'm hyped to revisit Double Moon Walkers is Kaldheim. I had forgotten all about the archetype until Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider was previewed, offering another way to instantly ultimate planeswalkers by doubling their loyalty. While we don't have access to Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider yet (and I'm not sure we'd actually play any copies in the Modern build since we have access to Doubling Season, which is both cheaper and harder to kill for most decks), once Kaldheim is released, we'll be able to pull off similar shenanigans in Pioneer, Historic, and even Standard, with Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider replacing Doubling Season. What sweet new additions has Double Moon Walkers gotten in the past five years? Can the archetype compete in 2021? 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: Double Moon Walkers

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The Deck

Doubling Moon Walkers is essentially a combo deck, with the combo being Doubling Season and planeswalkers that have enough loyalty to reach their ultimate the turn they enter the battlefield when doubled by Doubling Season. The plan is actually surprisingly simple, although the end results and the way that it wins games can be spectacular!

Step One: Ramp, Ramp, Ramp

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Modern is a fast format, and for Double Moon Walkers to work, we need to resolve a five-mana enchantment that doesn't do anything right away (Doubling Season) and then follow it up with a planeswalker that costs between three and eight mana to win the game. This makes ramping important to keep up with the speed of the Modern format. We actually have an extremely high number of ramp spells in the deck, with four Arbor Elf, four Utopia Sprawl, four Birds of Paradise, and two Noble Hierarch to accelerate us into our combo kill (and also fix our mana, but more on this later).

Step Two: Doubling Season

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While we can sometimes win games by ramping into random planeswalkers and playing them fairly, our main goal is to play our planeswalkers as unfairly as possible by using Doubling Season to double up their loyalty counters when they enter the battlefield, which allows us to ultimate any of the 10 planeswalkers in our deck immediately, which should, in turn, win us the game! While we do have a few planeswalkers that make tokens to embrace Doubling Season's token-doubling ability, that's a very secondary plan. What Double Moon Walkers really wants to do is ramp into Doubling Season, play a planeswalker, ultimate the planeswalker, and have the most absurd turn possible before eventually winning!

Step 3: The Planeswalkers

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We have a massive 10 different planeswalkers in our deck, but all except two are one-of finishers. Meanwhile, we have the full four copies of Jace, Architect of Thought and two copies of Tamiyo, Field Researcher because if we can insta-ultimate them with the help of Doubling Season, they should be able to find us one of our finishing planeswalkers to win the game. Jace, Architect of Thought's ultimate allows us to snag a card from each player's deck and put it directly into play, which means we can snag whichever of our one-of planeswalkers is best suited to finish the game, tutor it up with Jace, insta-ultimate the new planeswalker, and theoretically kill our opponent on the spot. As for Tamiyo, her ultimate essentially gives us an Omniscience emblem that also draws us three cards. While we could the theoretically ultimate Taimyo and still lose, in general, the combo of playing all of our stuff for free and refilling our hand means that once we ultimate Tamiyo, Field Researcher, we follow it up with a bunch more planeswalkers that we can insta-ultimate; have a huge, splashy turn; and then finish off our opponent.

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All of our one-of finishing planeswalkers have different upsides and purposes. Let's run through them quickly. Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God is our most direct win (but only if our opponent doesn't have a legendary creature or a planeswalker on the battlefield). We can play (or tutor up) Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God and immediately –8 to kill our opponent. If our opponent happens to have a legendary creature or planeswalker of their own? No problem! We have plenty of other planeswalker ultimates that can get around not being able to win with Nicol Bolas.

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With a Doubling Season on the battlefield, Jace, Cunning Castaway makes infinite copies of itself, and then these copies also make an infinite number of 2/2 Illusion tokens, which should be able to kill our opponent on the next turn by attacking. Even if our opponent manages to kill all of our tokens with a sweeper, we'll still have infinite copies of Jace, Cunning Castaway, so we can repeat the process the following turn, make infinite 2/2s again, and eventually win after our opponent runs out of sweepers.

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Liliana, Dreadhorde General doesn't directly win us the game, but her ultimate does offer a one-sided Cataclysm, putting our opponent down to a single land, creature, artifact, enchantment, and / or planeswalker, which generally leads to a concession. The other upside of Liliana is that her +1 makes 2/2 Zombies, which are doubled by Doubling Season, making her a good way to clutter up the board with blockers if we are worried about dying to our opponent's creatures.

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Ral Zarek is another planeswalker with an ultimate that doesn't technically win us the game but usually does in reality. Flipping five coins and getting an extra turn for each flip we win means that we'll usually get two or three extra turns when we ultimate Ral Zarek, which will give us plenty of time to find another planeswalker (or even just beat down with our random mana dorks) to pick up the win.

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Tamiyo, the Moon Sage is one of the stranger planeswalkers in our deck. The ultimate doesn't really do anything right away, but returning any card that goes to our graveyard to our hand can do some hilarious things by allowing us to keep ultimating our other planeswalkers. For example, a Tamiyo, the Moon Sage ultimate comboing with Ral Zarek should give us infinite turns (unless we're super unlucky at flipping coins, which is always a concern). We can ultimate Ral Zarek, get two or three extra turns, minus Ral Zarek to make it go to the graveyard during the extra turns, return it to our hand with Tamiyo's emblem, and then play and ultimate Ral Zarek again to get another set of two or three (on average) extra turns.

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Teferi, Hero of Dominaria doesn't immediately win us the game either, but his "exile a permanent when you draw a card" ultimate does typically win over the course of a few turns as we eat away all of our opponent's relevant permanents and maybe even pick up a flawless victory if our opponent sticks it out to the bitter end.

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Ugin, the Spirit Dragon offer some removal without its ultimate, and if we do manage to ultimate it with the help of Doubling Season, we will get to draw seven cards and put seven permanents into play, which generally means we'll end up with two or three more planeswalkers that we can insta-ultimate and use to kill our opponent. While Ugin doesn't technically win the game by itself most of the time, it usually finds us something that does.

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Narset Transcendent is our most matchup-dependent planeswalker to ultimate. It doesn't do much of anything against creature-based decks, but against combo or control, making an emblem that keeps our opponent from casting noncreature spells essentially ends the game, even though it will probably take another planeswalker to actually put our opponent out of their misery. 

Step 4: Blood Moon

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The theory of Blood Moon in Double Moon Walkers is essentially the opposite of our mana dorks: rather than speeding our deck up to make it fast enough for Modern, Blood Moon slows our opponent's deck down, giving us enough time to resolve Doubling Season and a planeswalker. Of course, you're probably wondering how our five-color deck can actually resolve its important spells with a Blood Moon on the battlefield. While mana fixers like Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, and Utopia Sprawl help (and also help ramp us into Blood Moon on Turn 2), there's one card that makes all of our mana troubles go away for just a single mana...

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While we can win the game without an Oath of Nissa on the battlefield, the one-mana enchantment is one of the best and most important cards in our deck. Apart from being a green Ponder that digs three cards deep for a creature, land, or planeswalker, with an Oath of Nissa on the battlefield, we can cast planeswalkers as though our mana were any color. This means we can Blood Moon ourselves into oblivion and still cast cards like Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God, Tamiyo, Field Researcher, and the rest of our Planeswalkers, even if all or most of our mana is red thanks to Blood Moon

The Matchups

By far the hardest matchups for Double Moon Walkers are fast combo. With our very best draws, we can win the game on Turn 4, but in reality, Turn 5 or even 6 is more likely. Against fair decks, our planeswalkers, mana dorks, and Blood Moons can help keep us alive long enough to win, but against spell-based combo, we don't have many options other than to try to out-goldfish our opponent. It can work if our opponent has a slow hand, but in general, our opponent usually ends up comboing a turn or two before we can win. On the other hand, fair midrange and control decks are likely our best matchups since they give us enough time to get Doubling Season online, and then any planeswalker we resolve should end the game.

The Odds

We finished 2-3 with Double Moon Walkers, although we did some spectacular things even in the matches we lost, including making infinite Jace, Cunning Castaways and Illusion tokens, only to lose to a flier we couldn't block before we got a chance to attack. While Double Moon Walkers is likely a bit too slow and janky to be a real option in Modern, the good games are hilariously good. And when things go well, we can have some of the biggest, flashiest turns possible in the entire Modern format!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Next week as we wait for Kaldheim to release we're trying to combo off in Modern, but what combo should we play? Click here to vote!

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. You can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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