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Against the Odds: Enduring Curses (Modern, Magic Online)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 186 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a slew of janky enchantments during our Against the Odds poll. In the end, we had a clear victor in Curse of Misfortunes. As a result, we're heading to Modern this week to see if we can win some games by using Curse of Misfortunes to tutor up the right combination of Curses to lock our opponent out of the game! The main plan of the deck is to assemble one of two enchantment-based locks, depending on the matchup, and then tutor up something like Curse of Thirst or Cruel Reality to Curse our opponent to death while they are locked under our other Curses. Can the tutoring power of Curse of Misfortunes make for a competitive Curse deck in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck! Oh yeah, one last thing. Next week, we'll kick off War of the Spark season with a special episode, so no poll this episode. If you're a fan of the Against the Odds poll, don't worry—it will return next episode and will be overflowing with sweet and spicy War of the Spark cards!

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Against the Odds: Enduring Curses 

The Deck

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In some ways, building around Curse of Misfortunes is easy. Since all Curse of Misfortunes does is tutor for more Curses, we obviously need to have a bunch of different Curse options in our deck. The tricky part is figuring out which Curses (or combinations of Curses) are actually helpful in Modern. Sadly, there are a lot of unplayable Curses, so just jamming every Curse and hoping things somehow work out isn't a great strategy. As such, the plan of Enduring Curses is to make sure we can consistently find Curse of Misfortunes and then have packages of Curses to tutor up to essentially lock our opponent out of the game, which will buy us time to eventually tutor up our finishing Curses to close out the game.

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The "Enduring" in Enduring Curses is Enduring Ideal, which does a couple of things for our deck. First, it gives us extra copies of Curse of Misfortunes since we can cast it and immediately tutor up our winning Curse directly onto the battlefield. Thanks to the Epic ability of Enduring Ideal, once we have a Curse of Misfortunes and Enduring Ideal going, we get to tutor up two enchantments (with at least one being a Curse) each turn, which is a lot of free value. Second, while not being able to cast spells for the rest of the turn is a drawback, thanks to the tutoring power of Curse of Misfortunes, we don't really need to cast spells once we have Enduring Ideal and Curse of Misfortunes going. Instead, we can quickly lock our opponent out of the game with our tutoring power and then find our finisher to close out the game in just a couple of turns.

Curse Lock #1: Creature Decks

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So, which Curses are we tutoring up with Curse of Misfortunes? Here, we have three separate packages, each serving a specific purpose. First, when we run into creature-based decks, our main game plan is to get a Curse of Death's Hold and Overwhelming Splendor on the battlefield, which essentially locks our opponent's creatures out of the game. Overwhelming Splendor makes all of our opponent's creatures into 1/1s, and then Curse of Death's Hold gives them all 1/1, which means not only do all of the creatures on our opponent's side of the battlefield die, but they also can't play any more creatures until they deal with the Curse lock since they will immediately die as well.

Curse Lock #2: Spells

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While Overwhelming Splendor and Curse of Death's Hold are devastating against creature decks, they don't do much against decks using spells to win the game. Thankfully, we have a plan for spell decks as well. The idea here is to get a Curse of Exhaustion on the battlefield with honorary curse Possibility Storm. With both cards on the battlefield together, whenever our opponent casts a spell from their hand, it will get exiled by Possibility Storm, but our opponent won't be able to cast the card they find with Possibility Storm thanks to Curse of Exhaustion limiting them to just one spell each turn. Of course, there is a problem here: Possibility Storm isn't a Curse, so we can't find it with Curse of Misfortunes, which is pretty annoying (and there isn't a Curse that does something similar to Possibility Storm), although Enduring Ideal is a good way to help us set up this lock. If we cast an Enduring Ideal, we can immediately tutor up Curse of Misfortunes and then assemble the lock on our next upkeep, with Curse of Misfortunes grabbing Curse of Exhaustion and our epic copy of Enduring Ideal snagging Possibility Storm.

Curse Finishers

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When it comes to finishing the game, we rely on Curses as well. After we lock our opponent with one of our Curse lock packages, our next tutor target will typically be one of our Curse finishers. Curse of Thirst generally ends up hitting our opponent for at least four damage a turn, and the number keeps increasing turn by turn as we continue to tutor out more and more Curses. Meanwhile, Cruel Reality is especially effective once we have the creature lock of Overwhelming Splendor and Curse of Death's Hold assembled since our opponent won't have the option to sacrifice creatures, which means they will be forced to take five damage a turn. Once we have both of our finishing Curses on the battlefield, we can normally close out the game in just two or three turns with the damage from our Curse finishers.

Other Stuff

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One of the drawbacks of playing a Curse deck is that Curses tend to be slow. Take Curse of Misfortunes, for example. Not only does it cost five mana (which is already a lot for Modern) but we also have to wait a turn before tutoring up our first Curse. As such, having some ways to ramp into Curse of Misfortunes (or, as a backup, Enduring Ideal to find Curse of Misfortunes) is important. For this, we have Lotus Bloom, Orzhov Signet, and Boros Signet to speed up the deck and help make sure we can get our Curse tutors (and eventually our Curse locks) onto the battlefield as quickly as possible.

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Ghostly Prison and Sphere of Safety help us stay alive against creature decks in the early game by making it hard for our opponent to attack. While our long-game plan is to get the lock of Overwhelming Splendor and Curse of Death's Hold on the battlefield, having some defense in the early game is important for buying us enough time to get Curse of Misfortunes up and running.

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Leyline of Sanctity and Runed Halo give us protection from spells (while Runed Halo can also work like creature removal in a pinch). Leyline of Sanctity is especially important since if we can put it into play before the game starts, it gives us protection from cards like Thoughtseize that give our opponents easy and cheap ways to deal with our Curse of Misfortunes before it even hits the battlefield. Meanwhile, Runed Halo can stop cards like Grapeshot or Conflagrate along with having the flexibility to name whatever creature happens to be beating us down.

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Finally, we have one copy of Blood Moon and two copies of Rest in Peace, which give us access to powerful hate cards that can swing some difficult matchups in our favor that are also tutorable by Enduring Ideal. Blood Moon gives us a main-deck answer to Tron, which is especially important since cards like Karn Liberated and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon can exile all of our Curses. Meanwhile, Rest in Peace is great against graveyard decks while also powering up our Sphere of Safety by being an enchantment. These cards aren't really a primary part of our plan, but they are invaluable in specific matchups. Both are worthy of a couple of slots in our main deck, especially considering we can tutor them up when they are good (and hopefully not draw them when they are bad.

The Matchups

While Enduring Curses, in theory, has answers to both creature decks and spell decks, in practice, our deck did much better against decks trying to win with creatures. There seem to be two reasons for this trend. First, Possibility Storm isn't a Curse, so it's more difficult to set up our spell lock. Second, Ghostly Prison gives us an additional layer of protection against aggressive creature decks. This isn't to say that we can't beat combo or control, just that we'd much rather see a creature deck across the table. Decks with a lot of small creatures are especially easy (see our match against Soul Sisters) since we don't even need Overwhelming Splendor to lock them out of the game—just a Curse of Death's Hold will get the job done.

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches with Enduring Curses and won three, giving us a 50% match win percentage, which is just a touch below average for an Against the Odds deck. As for Curse of Misfortunes itself, it's pretty high variance. It's almost unbeatable for a lot of decks if we have enough time to get it going, but the slowness of Curse of Misfortunes is a problem in other matchups, and we occasionally end up dying before we get to tutor out a single Curse. The good news is that even though the deck is probably middling in terms of competitiveness at the moment, Wizards keeps printing Curses, so Curse of Misfortunes is a card that should continue to get better and better over time. While being five mana and needing to wait a turn before we tutor for the first time will probably keep it from ever being truly competitive at a tournament level, the deck was decent (and super fun) in its current form, and even just one or two more good Curses would really improve the deck (especially some sort of Curse that works like Possibility Storm, to combo with Curse of Exhaustion and help in the non-creature matchups).

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. War of the Spark is about to be released, which means we'll have a special episode next week showing off the new set! Don't worry, the poll will return next episode, and it will be overflowing with sweet new War of the Spark options!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. 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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