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Against the Odds: Eternal Mining (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode ninety-two of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a core set-focused Against the Odds poll in celebration of the return of core sets next year! In the end, it was the strange red enchantment Aggressive Mining that came out on top by a wide margin over The Chain Veil, with Underworld Dreams coming in a distant third. As such, this week, we are heading to Modern to see if we can find a way to break Aggressive Mining, which can draw us up to four cards each turn cycle but comes with some really significant drawbacks. The end result is one of the jankier decks we've played on Against the Odds in a while—so janky, in fact, that Eternity Vessel is involved! Can we find a way to make Aggressive Mining work in the fast and powerful Modern format? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck. 

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: Eternal Mining (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Eternal Mining (Games)

The Deck

Aggressive Mining is one of the most challenging cards we've had for Against the Odds in a while. While drawing two extra cards every turn is powerful, the drawbacks are massive. Not only do we have to sacrifice a land to draw the cards (which, in turn, gives us less mana to cast the cards we draw), but we can't even play more lands to keep fueling Aggressive Mining. Heading into deck building, I knew the one thing I didn't want to do was to just stick Aggressive Mining in a "real" deck and use it as card draw (the most likely possibility would have been Modern Burn). It just felt against the spirit of Against the Odds.

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After a ton of searching, I realized there really aren't any obvious combos for Aggressive Mining, I considered things like Splendid Reclamation to set up the Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle kill from the graveyard after we sacrifice all of our lands but realized the downside of not being able to play lands made this plan really difficult. I also considered a Harmless Offering deck built around giving our opponent Aggressive Mining to keep them from playing lands, but this was just too slow because so many decks in Modern can function with four or fewer lands. At this point, I realized that, no matter what direction we went, the deck was going to be janky, and if we were going down the jank path, we might as well go all the way...

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While it probably sounds counterintuitive considering the "you can't play lands" drawback of Aggressive Mining, we're basically a really odd landfall deck. The main idea of Eternal Mining is to take advantage off all aspects of Aggressive Mining, including the drawbacks. Our plan is to ramp into Eternity Vessel as fast as possible so that it comes into play with a bunch of counters, which means every time a land enters the battlefield, we get to reset our life total to where it was when Eternity Vessel entered the battlefield. Then, with the help of all the cards we draw with Aggressive Mining, we find a Drownyard Temple, which is amazing with Aggressive Mining, since we can sacrifice it and then get it back from the battlefield whenever we want to, which lets us sacrifice it again to draw even more cards. More importantly, the combo of Aggressive Mining and Drownyard Temple gives us a way to trigger the landfall ability on Eternity Vessel whenever we want by sacrificing Drownyard Temple to Aggressive Mining and then paying three to get it back, which resets our life total and makes sure our opponent can't easily kill us. 

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Avenger of Zendikar gives us another landfall payoff to take advantage of the Aggressive Mining / Drownyard Temple combo. While it's only a one-of, we can tutor it up with Primal Command when we need it, and then it helps us close out the game quickly by making a huge board full of Plants and then pumping them whenever our Drownyard Temple enters the battlefield. 

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Not being able to play lands is a huge drawback, especially since we need lands to be able to keep drawing cards with Aggressive Mining and to have any chance of casting the cards we draw. While Drownyard Temple helps by giving us a free sacrifice outlet (since we can keep returning it to the battlefield, even with an Aggressive Mining out), we also have a couple of ways to get lands on the battlefield without playing them. Sakura-Tribe Elder helps us ramp into our Aggressive Mining and Eternity Vessel and then gives us a way to trigger our landfall abilities at instant speed. Meanwhile, Primeval Titan is another one of our finishers and works well with Avenger of Zendikar by double-pumping our Plant tokens. 

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Obstinate Baloth and Primal Command do double duty in our deck. On one hand, both help to make sure that our life total remains high to get as many counters on Eternity Vessel as possible. Obstinate Baloth also helps us stay alive against aggressive decks, gives us a solid blocker, and can go on the offense in some situations. Meanwhile, Primal Command can tutor up our finishers while also giving us a way to get rid of our own Aggressive Mining if we need to play lands again by putting it on top of our deck. 

Other Stuff

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Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl form the fastest ramp package in Modern and help make sure we get to our Eternity Vessel and Aggressive Mining in a timely manner. This is important because our deck is pretty slow by Modern Standards, but with Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl, we can be playing Primeval Titan or Eternity Vessel as early as Turn 3. They also gives us mana sources that we can play even when we are locked out of playing lands by our own Aggressive Mining.  

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Lightning Bolt gives us some early-game removal to deal with Delver of Secrets, Goblin Guide, Dark Confidant, and the other powerful one and two-drops of the format. Anger of the Gods lets us sweep away a bunch of small creatures against random go-wide creature decks like Zoo, Affinity, and Goblins while also being good against Dredge and Kitchen Finks decks thanks to the exile clause. Finally, Chandra, Torch of Defiance is an expensive removal spell with the upside of drawing us cards or even helping us ramp into our more expensive finishers. 

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Beast Within is basically a catch-all removal spell, dealing with everything from Tron lands to planeswalkers to Thought-Knot Seer and Tarmogoyf. Of course, it comes with the big downside of giving our opponent a 3/3 Beast, which is why it isn't usually played as a removal spell. However, in our deck, it has the upside of being another way we can kill our own Aggressive Mining if we need to be able to play more lands. 

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Last but certainly not least, we have Blood Moon, which helps to buy us time to cast our six- and seven-drops by slowing down our opponent and making it hard for them to cast their spells. Getting to Eternity Vessel at a high life total and assembling the rest of our combo pieces takes time, and Blood Moon is our best chance at actually living long enough for our deck to have a chance at doing the cool things it wants to do.

The Matchups

I'm not sure we actually had any good matchups. Against aggro, it's very possible that we die before we do anything relevant because our combo is so expensive, although it's possible we can steal a win if we get down our Aggressive Mining / Eternity Vessel / Drownyard Temple fast enough. Against midrange, our opponent can usually kill our ramp pieces, which makes it hard to actually cast our expensive finishers. Against control, our opponent can just counter our Eternity Vessels and Aggressive Minings, and against combo, we don't really have many ways of interacting with things like Ad Nauseam and Storm. 

On the other hand, we do occasionally win games by getting down a Blood Moon early, which gives us a lot of time to assemble the combo, or by getting our ramp nut draw with Utopia Sprawl and Arbor Elf. All in all, Eternal Mining is more about getting the right draw than our deck actually being good in any specific matchup. 

The Odds

All in all, we got in seven matches and won three, good for a 42% match win percentage, while playing 15 games and winning six, good for exactly 40%. Technically, this is about average for an Against the Odds deck, but it still felt a bit disappointing because Aggressive Mining didn't really do all that much. Even when we assembled our combo, it wasn't usually game winning—we'd end up drawing a ton of lands that we couldn't cast and discarding them to hand size. So, in some ways, it seems like we were winning despite our namesake enchantment rather than because of it. While the deck was fun and the synergies are super unique, Aggressive Mining just isn't to a point where it can be a competitive card in Modern, especially considering how many four-mana red card-draw options with upsides exist (like various Chandras and Outpost Siege). Because of this, to make Aggressive Mining the right option for a deck, we need to find a way to abuse the downsides, and that's a lot harder than it looks.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

It's been a few weeks since we've had a second-chance poll, which means it's time to give some cards that came in second or third on our previous polls another chance to shine! Which of these cards deserve a chance to be featured on Against the Odds 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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