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Against the Odds: Endless Whispers


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode forty-five of Against the Odds! Last week on our Against the Odds poll, Endless Whispers snuck out a victory over a bunch of options, which means that this week we are heading to Modern to see if we can kill our opponents with some combination of deadly enters-the-battlefieldtriggers and their own creatures! One more thing before we get to the videos.

Normally on the Against the Odds polls, the option that receives the most votes gets made into the video, and the next two options remain on the next poll. Since Eldritch Moon—which might be the best Against the Odds set ever—is finally releasing on Magic Online this week, we are going to shake things up a bit over the next couple of weeks. First, we're not going to have a poll this week because next week, we'll have a very special Eldritch Moon edition of Against the Odds. Then, when the poll returns next week, we'll have an all Eldritch Moon poll, so over the next few weeks, we'll get to cover all of the awesome new cards from the set!

We'll talk more about Endless Whispers in a minute, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Endless Whispers Deck Tech

Against the Odds: Endless Whispers Games

The Deck

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Endless Whispers is a really unique card. Not only can it work like a Donate to give an opponent a creature in conjunction with a removal spell or sacrifice outlet, but since the effect is symmetrical and impacts all creatures, it can also be used as part of a build-your-own Control Magic combo. Most importantly, since the creature dies and then returns to the battlefield, it also triggers enters-the-battlefield abilities. Our deck is looking to take advantage of both aspects of the card!

Plan A: Insta-Win Combo

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Phage the Untouchable is the only creature in our deck, but it's also the best creature in all of Magic when played alongside Endless Whispers. The basic idea is that we'll get an Endless Whispers on the battlefield, and then cast a Phage the Untouchable. Then, one of two things can happen. First, we can start attacking our opponent with Phage the Untouchable, and if we ever get in combat damage, our opponent loses the game on the spot. This means our opponent goes into permanent chump-block mode, because if they actually kill the Phage the Untouchable by blocking or with a removal spell (discounting things like Path to Exile that exile), it will return from our graveyard under their control at the beginning of the next end step, thanks to Endless Whispers, and they'll lose the game. Second, we can simply kill our own Phage the Untouchable with one of our endless removal spells to get the "combo kill" with Endless Whispers. To make sure we have our Endless Whispers and / or Phage the Untouchable when we need them, we also have Dark Petition to search up either half of our combo. 

Plan B: Kill Our Opponent with Their Own Creatures

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The other thing that Endless Whispers can do is turn any removal spell into a Control Magic that also triggers enters-the-battlefield abilities. So, when we aren't killing our opponent with the Phage the Untouchable combo, our goal is to get an Endless Whispers on the battlefield and use our ample removal (we have a massive 20 cards in our main deck that can kill one or more creatures) to steal our opponent's stuff and turn it against them. 

The issue with this plan is that Endless Whispers is symmetrical, which means our opponent can also steal our creatures by killing them (or steal back their creatures), but our deck is built so that in most matchups, we should be able to take advantage of Endless Whispers far more consistently than our opponent. For one thing, we only have one creature in our deck, and if our opponent steals it, they'll die, but for another thing, a lot of decks play removal that isn't all that good at triggering Endless Whispers like Path to Exile

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Probably the ultimate blow-outs are Damnation and Mutilate, which turn into permanent Insurrections when we have an Endless Whispers on the battlefield, stealing all of our opponent's creatures at once. Plus, even when we don't have an Endless Whispers, playing a bunch of removal and wraths helps keep us alive while we are looking to set up our combo finish. 

Protection

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At first glance, it might look like Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Ratchet Bomb don't really fit the theme of the deck, since they don't really synergize with Endless Whispers (although Ratchet Bomb can kill creatures in a pinch), but they are actually super important to the combo. The one thing that shuts down both the Phage the Untouchable kill and our Control Magic plan is graveyard removal, which basically locks Endless Whispers out of the game all together. Well, Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek let us strip cards like Rest in Peace and Relic of Progenitus from our opponent's hand before they hit the battlefield, and Ratchet Bomb gives us some chance of beating those cards if they happen to slip through our discard. So, while these cards don't really work with Endless Whispers, they are an important hedge against some cards that could completely invalidate our entire deck. 

The Matchups

The good and bad matchups for Endless Whispers are pretty straightforward. We want to play against creature-based decks like Jund, Zoo, Merfolk, and Eldrazi, where we should be able to one-for-one them with our removal while we are waiting to get an Endless Whispers online, and after we have an Endless Whispers, all of our removal spells turn into two-for-ones because we get to steal our opponent's creatures.  On the other hand, we really, really struggle against decks like Ad Nauseam, Storm, Tron, and some builds of Scapeshift that don't really need to play creatures to win the game.

While the Endless Whispers / Phage the Untouchable combo can beat anything, it's pretty slow, requiring us to get all the way up to seven mana, and then likely wait another turn to kill the Phage the Untouchable, which means it's pretty unlikely we can race most combo decks. Plus, we just don't have very many cards that interact with these strategies—we're pretty much counting on our discard to keep us alive—and while discard is helpful, it's not usually enough unless it's backed up by a fast clock, which our deck lacks. Finally, the fact that we have 20 creature-removal spells in the main deck is a double-edged sword. While Victim of Night, Dismember, and Damnation are amazing when we are playing against creature-based decks, they are dead cards against many combo decks. 

The Odds

All in all, we won 6 of 15 games for a reasonable 40% game win percentage, but only 1 of 5 matches (20% match win percentage). That said, the way the games broke down were incredibly odd. First of all, every single match went to three games, which means no matter what deck we faced, we managed to win at least once. Stranger still, we had a 100% game win percentage for game ones, but then we won 0% of game twos and only 20% of game threes. Looking back on the matches, I think the reason for this trend is pretty clear. In our game ones, we managed to catch a lot of opponents by surprise with the Endless Whispers / Phage the Untouchable combo kill. Then, in games two and three, not only was our opponent expecting Endless Whispers and Phage the Untouchable, but they also brought in a ton of sideboard hate, in the form of enchantment removal or graveyard disruption, which made winning much, much more difficult post-sideboarding. 

It's also worth nothing that we got a little lucky in matchups, running into mostly creature decks and avoiding the noninteractive combo decks that would have been horrible matchups. While creature-based decks are a majority of the Modern meta, over the course of time, our win percentage would likely drop a bit, because sooner or later, we are going to run into Burn, Ad Nauseam, and Scapeshift, whether we like it or not. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. Next week, we'll have a very special Eldritch Moon edition of Against the Odds, but don't worry—the poll with return next week, and it will be filled with sweet new Eldritch Moon cards! In the meantime, here's a short bonus video that goes behind the scenes in the making of this week's episode!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! Don't forget to come back next week when we get to start exploring Eldritch Moon! 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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