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Against the Odds: Force of Savagery

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode forty-four of Against the Odds! Last week on our Against the Odds poll, Force of Savagery won in a landslide, taking in 40% of the nearly 4,000 votes cast! Lich in Legacy and Inverter of Truth in Standard came in tied for second and will return for another shot at glory on this week's poll. Meanwhile, Warp World in Modern and Enduring Scalelord in Standard came in at the bottom of the list; as a result, they'll drop off the poll to be replace by some fresh new options! Anyway, this means that our task for this week is to figure out a way to win in Modern with a creature that has zero toughness, which means that under normal circumstances, it dies as soon as it hits the battlefield!

We'll talk more about Force of Savagery 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: Force of Savagery Deck Tech

Against the Odds: Force of Savagery Games

The Deck

The good news about Force of Savagery is that it does one specific thing better than any other creature in all of Magic; the bad news is that one thing is dying. Time Spiral block led to some really odd designs, and Force of Savagery is certainly on the list. I mean, what are you supposed to do with a creature that has zero toughness? We have two main possibilities when it comes to building a deck around Force of Savagery. The first is to try to boost the toughness of Force of Savagery with anthem effects (for example, Gaea's Anthem), so that instead of immediately dying when it hits the battlefield, it sticks around as a 9/1 with trample. The problem is that a 9/1, even with trample, isn't really all that exciting in Modern—even with the toughness boost, Force of Savagery dies to anything from Gut Shot to Darkblast to Lightning Bolt to Abrupt Decay, and god forbid our opponent manages to kill our anthem while we have multiple copies of Force of Savagery on the battlefield.

The second possibility is to try to turn Force of Savagery's natural ability to die into a positive instead of a negative. What if there was a deck that actively wanted a 8/0 in the graveyard? In that deck, Force of Savagery would be the perfect card, because unlike other creatures that need to be discarded or somehow die in combat or to a removal spell, with Force of Savagery, all we'd need to do is spend three mana and it would go to the graveyard—no questions asked! So, what type of deck might want a suicidal Force of Savagery

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Varolz, the Scar-Striped likes it when creatures are in the graveyard, since it allows us to scavenge a bunch of counters onto whatever creatures we happen to have on the battlefield. With a Varolz, the Scar-Striped on the battlefield and a Force of Savagery in the graveyard, we can pay three mana to put eight +1/+1 counters onto one of our creatures, turning Force of Savagery into the greatest pump spell ever, rather than just a creature that's really good at dying. This is the basic idea of our deck: we get a Force of Savagery into the graveyard, use Varolz, the Scar-Striped to dump a bunch of counters onto a hard-to-deal-with threat, and then ride that threat to victory.

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Hunted Horror is essentially our backup Force of Savagery, allowing us to scavenge seven counters onto a creature for only two mana. The problem is that, unlike Force of Savagery, we can't just cast a Hunted Horror and let it die to get it into the graveyard. In fact, if we ever actually cast a Hunted Horror, we are likely going to lose to the six power worth of protection from black tokens it gives our opponent. Instead, we need to get creative and play some ways to discard Hunted Horror, so that we can scavenge it from the graveyard. 

Pack Rat and Lotleth Troll do two things for our deck. First, and most importantly, they allow us to discard our Hunted Horror or Force of Savagery to set up Varolz, the Scar-Striped, and they also happen to be two-drops, which helps our curve. Second, they give us a way to win the game when we don't draw our Force of Savagery or Varolz, the Scar-Striped. Just like in limited, Pack Rat has the ability to get out of control in Modern if we can play it on Turn 2 (maybe after a discard spell). If our opponent can't kill it immediately, we simply discard a card to make another Pack Rat every turn and end up with an almost unkillable, ever-growing pack of rats. Lotleth Troll is a little riskier. While regenerating means it dodges removal like Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile can still take it down. But when the situation calls for it, we can just go all in on discarding creatures to pump it up. Sometimes, attacking with a five- or six-power creature on Turn 3 will be enough to close out the game. 

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Finally, we have some creatures to load up with +1/+1 counters. Silhana Ledgewalker is pretty close to the green Invisible Stalker, while Troll Ascetic and Thrun, the Last Troll are almost impossible to kill, thanks to the combination of hexproof and regeneration. It doesn't take many attacks with a 10+ powered Troll to close out the game, and in the worst case, we build our own The Abyss, since once we get a bunch of counters on a Thrun, the Last Troll or Troll Ascetic, our opponent will be force to chump block pretty much every turn just stay alive. 

Inkmoth Nexus is our way to steal games when everything else is going wrong. If we can scavenge a Force of Savagery onto an Inkmoth Nexus, we suddenly have a nine-power infect creature, which means all we need to do is get in one random hit with Inkmoth Nexus early in the game for one attack to be lethal. 

The Matchups

The biggest problem we had with the deck was losing to ourselves. Since we only have four copies of Varolz, the Scar-Striped, it's really easy to draw the wrong half of our deck. If we draw all Force of Savagery and Hunted Horrors but no Varolz, the Scar-Striped, we have a really hard time winning. On the other hand, if we draw Varolz, the Scar-Striped but nothing to scavenge, we are in just as bad of shape. 

As far as specific matchups, fast combo decks are pretty difficult. We played against Dredge and UR Thing, and it felt like we didn't really have the tools to keep up. Even when we managed to draw into disruption (for example, when we killed the first two copies of Pyromancer Ascension against UR Thing), unless we just happen to have our combo of Force of Savagery and Varolz, the Scar-Striped, our clock is slow enough that we let out opponent eventually draw into more combo pieces and win the game. Fast aggro decks are also difficult because we don't have a ton of removal and our deck is built around going big rather than going wide, so if our opponent can flood the board with little creatures, it's hard to block our way out of the situation. 

On the other hand, we are fairly resilient to non-Path to Exile removal, since a lot of our creatures regenerate and others have hexproof, so midrange and control matchups are slightly better. Plus, we have Pack Rat, which might have been the most impressive card in our entire deck. We had a few games (with the best examples being game one against Double Moon Walkers and our mull to four against Dredge) where Pack Rat either won the game all by itself or kept us hanging around in a game we had no business being in. 

The Odds

All in all, we went 4 of 14 in games (good for a 28.5% game win percentage) and 1 of 6 in matches (16.67% match win percentage), although I think our struggles were at least somewhat compounded by running into some difficult matches. Pretty much every match was against either a super-aggressive deck like Elves or Death's Shadow, or against some weird combo deck like UR Thing in the Ice or Dredge. If he had run into more midrange/control decks, I think it's possible we would have ended up with a couple more wins. Regardless, the deck was still fun to play, and we did eventually pull off the Force of Savagery kill, which was awesome!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Normally, on the Against the Odds poll, I try to include one Legacy, two Modern, and two Standard options, but since we are heading into this weird dead time when Eldritch Moon will be available in paper but not on Magic Online, for the next couple of weeks, the poll is going to be more Modern focused than usual. Then, once Eldritch Moon releases, we'll have an all-Eldritch Moon poll, which will likely be focused mostly on Standard, so things should even themselves out in the long run. 

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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


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