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Against the Odds: Evershrike (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 155 of Against the Odds. We had a multicolored Against the Odds poll last week, and in the end, the recursive Evershrike came out on top. As such, we are heading to Modern this week to see if it's possible to make the Elemental work in Modern. The basic idea of the deck is simple: we look to get an Evershrike into the graveyard as quickly as possible and then return it to play with the help of Rancor or Wreath of Geists to build a massive flying threat as early as Turn 3. Is it possible to build a functional deck around Evershrike? What are the odds of winning with the Elemental in a format as powerful as 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: Evershrike (Modern)

The Deck

When Evershrike came in first in our poll, I was worried. At first glance, it seems like the only hope for the card is in some sort of strange (and probably bad) Bogles deck. My first attempts at building around the Elemental did look a lot like Bogles, featuring decks overloaded with auras looking to make Evershrike as big as possible after getting it back from the graveyard. These decks were pretty horrible. As a result, I moved on to focusing on the graveyard aspect of Evershrike—the card is at its best when we can get it back from the graveyard on Turn 3 with a powerful aura attached, which led to the build of Evershrike we're playing today!

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Evershrike is strange. It's extremely overcosted if we are casting it fairly and even pretty expensive when it's coming back from the graveyard, if we're playing auras that cost more than a couple of mana. However, it's actually extremely good when we can get it back from our graveyard on Turn 3 with the help of a powerful one-mana aura. While there is some amount of risk involved since we can't get back Evershrike at all if we don't happen to have an aura in hand, with enough auras and ways to draw through our deck, we can consistently get back Evershrike on Turn 3 as a huge flying threat!

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When it comes to auras, we only have two options in the deck, both costing one mana to allow us to get back Evershrike on Turn 3. Rancor is the less powerful of the two options, but it's also the most consistent. When we have Rancor in hand, we can pay a total of three mana to get Evershrike back from the graveyard and put Rancor on it, making Evershrike a 6/4 flying trampler for three mana, which is a pretty great deal, even in a powerful format like Modern. The other upside of Rancor is that if our opponent manages to deal with our Evershrike, we get Rancor back in our hand so we can try again the next turn. Unless our opponent has exile-based removal like Path to Exile, we can keep getting Evershrike back over and over again. 

Meanwhile, Wreath of Geists takes advantage of the fact that we get a ton of creatures in our graveyard, turning Evershrike into a massive threat. While there is some risk of getting blown out by removal, it's not uncommon for Wreath of Geists to make Evershrike big enough that it can kill our opponent in just one or two attacks, minimizing our opponent's opportunities to draw an answer. Occasionally, we get multiple Wreath of Geists and Rancor on the same creature, which usually allows us to kill our opponent in just a single attack, often through blockers, thanks to flying or trample!

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For any of this to work, we need to make sure that we can get Evershrike (and as many creatures as possible) into the graveyard as quickly as possible. For this, we have a few different options. Faithless Looting draws us through our deck and works well if we happen to mill it into the graveyard with one of our other cards, thanks to flashback. Stitcher's Supplier and Satyr Wayfinder give us additional ways to get Evershrike into our graveyard while also being creatures to pump Wreath of Geists if we happen to mill them into the graveyard. Toss in a couple of Grisly Salvages for good measure, and we have a ton of different cheap ways to fill our graveyard with Evershrike and our other cards. 

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Stinkweed Imp gives us another way of milling our graveyard once we manage to discard it to Faithless Looting or mill it to Stitcher's Supplier by dredging it back to our hand to mill five cards, pumping our Wreath of Geists, and finding our Evershrikes. In a pinch, Stinkweed Imp is also a good blocker, having both flying and pseudo-deathtouch and coming back from the graveyard each turn after it dies. 

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Bloodghast and Bloodsoaked Champion give us a backup plan for winning the game. We can simply mill or dredge them into the graveyard, get them back to the battlefield, and beat down. If our opponent happens to have removal, then we can get them back again the next turn and keep attacking until our opponent's life total hits zero. While not as exciting as Evershrike, throwing a Rancor and Wreath of Geists on a Bloodghast or Bloodsoaked Champion is still a pretty reasonable way to win a game.

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Viscera Seer is just a two-of, but it gives us a way to to get our creatures from our battlefield to the graveyard. This is helpful with Stinkweed Imp if we need more dredging while pumping our Wreath of Geists by filling our graveyard. Having a sacrifice outlet is also important with Evershrike. While Evershrike and Rancor is resilient to most removal, Path to Exile can be annoying, since it deals with Evershrike forever. Being able to sacrifice Evershrike in response to a Path to Exile allows us to return it again the next turn and keep beating down. 

Matchups

The main problem with Evershrike is graveyard hate. While the deck has the power to beat many of the best decks in the Modern format, everything falls apart once our opponent gets down a Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void, and we are stuck beating down with five-mana 2/2s and underpowered Stinkweed Imps. Thankfully, we do have some answers in the sideboard in Ancient Grudge and Destructive Revelry, so err on the side of bringing them in, just in case. Otherwise, the deck can lose to aggro if the opponent has a fast start and sometimes to fast combo as well, but it has the ability to win as early as Turn 4, which is a pretty reasonable speed for a deck in Modern.

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches and won five, good for an 83.3% match win percentage, along with winning 11 of 17 games, putting our game win percentage at 64.7%, making Evershrike great for an Against the Odds deck. In fact, out of our six matches, the only one we lost was to the Sly Sword deck, which managed to lock us out of the game with multiple Ensnaring Bridges. More importantly, Evershrike itself was great. We were consistently able to get it back as a huge flying threat on Turn 3, allowing us to close out games quickly. More surprising was Wreath of Geists, which was absurdly good in our deck, allowing us to steal wins out of nowhere and build massive threats extremely quickly. While we did occasionally get blown out by removal, the one-mana aura was more than worth the risk. In the end, Evershrike was great and felt like it might actually be a competitive archetype in Modern!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. We'll be having a special episode next week!

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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