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Against the Odds: Gideon Tribal (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode eighty-three of Against the Odds. Last week, we didn't have an Against the Odds poll because Amonkhet was released on Magic Online on Monday, which means today we have a special episode! While Amonkhet has a bunch of cards that seem sweet for the series (and you can vote for which Amonkhet card you want to see next, at the end of the article), one deck stuck out above the rest as a good starting point: Gideon Tribal. Gideon of the Trials is one of the most hyped cards from Amonkhet, and while I'm sure the new three-mana planeswalker will show up in various decks, our question is whether it's good enough to create Gideon.dek. So this week, we are heading to Modern to play a deck that's not just built around Gideon of the Trials but Planeswalker — Gideons in general! Is it possible that a deck built around playing a bunch of the same planeswalker can actually work in the powerful Modern format? We're about to find out!

Let's get to the videos, and then we'll talk a bit more about the deck, 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: Gideon Tribal (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Gideon Tribal (Games)

The Deck

Once we decided to play Gideon Tribal, the main question was just how Gideon-focused the deck should be. While it's technically possible to play a deck where every single non-land card is either a Planeswalker - Gideon, or a card with Gideon in its name (like Gideon's Lawkeeper), the problem is this deck would be bad—really bad—partly because having too many of the same planeswalker leads to diminishing returns because we can only have one on the battlefield at a time, and partly because the "Gideon" support cards are pretty far from Modern playable. In the end, I decided the best thing to do would be to try to build a good Gideon Tribal deck, not simply a meme deck with every Gideon card. This meant cutting down on the number of actual Gideons in the deck.

The Gideons

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All in all, we have ten Planeswalker — Gideons in our main deck (along with a couple more in the sideboard), which is far from the max number possible but feels like the right number to not have endlessly clunky hands where we get Gideon flooded and lose thanks to the planeswalker uniqueness rule. Gideon of the Trials is the reason we are playing the deck, and while it does a lot of powerful things, including dealing with our opponent's biggest threat and beating down as a 4/4 indestructible threat. However, the big payoff is the emblem, which gives us a Platinum Angel as long as we have a Gideon on the battlefield. The problem with Gideon of the Trials is that it only has three loyalty, which means it's far from guaranteed to stick around to keep the emblem active. While some decks in Modern will really struggle to beat the emblem, especially in game one, others will just Lightning Bolt our Gideon of the Trials and proceed to kill us. Thankfully, we have a couple of higher-loyalty Gideons we can play to support Gideon of the Trials emblem.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is our more aggressive Gideon. As a 5/5 beater for only four mana, it can take huge chunks out of our opponent's life total while also making an anthem emblem to pump all of our creatures. Meanwhile, Gideon Jura comes into play with a massive eight loyalty (assuming we plus it immediately), which makes it the best Gideon for supporting the Platinum Angel emblem. 

Gideon Support

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Heart of Kiran gives us a weird aggressive nut draw that allows us to kill our opponent really quickly when the situation calls for it. If we play a Heart of Kiran on Turn 2 (possibly after taking our opponent's removal spell with Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek on Turn 1), we can play a Gideon of the Trials on Turn 3 and immediately attack for four in the air by crewing with a loyalty counter. We can attack for eight on Turn 4; then, if we can do the same thing again on Turn 5, our opponent is dead to just two cards! Thanks to vigilance, Heart of Kiran also does a good job of defending our Gideons, getting in for damage on our turn and then blocking as well for just one more loyalty counter.

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Oath of Gideon is a dual-purpose card and sort of leads into the second part of our deck. On one hand, it gives our Gideons an extra loyalty counter, and while one extra loyalty doesn't do anything especially broken, when our plan is to sit behind a Gideon of the Trials emblem, every loyalty counter helps. On the other hand, Oath of Gideon makes a couple of tokens, and using tokens to block or even to beat down with the help of a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar emblem is the backup plan for our deck.

Tokens

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Lingering Souls is amazingly good in our deck, either making a bunch of chump blockers to defend our Gideons or going on the offense in the air to close out the game quickly, with the help of our big, indestructible Gideon beaters. Meanwhile, Anointed Procession is just a one-of, and while it probably isn't good enough in the deck, I really wanted to give it a shot. Making eight 1/1 fliers for five mana with Lingering Souls seems powerful, as is making four 1/1 Allies with Oath of Gideon. Plus, it works with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar as well, doubling up the tokens we make with the zero-loyalty ability. 

Other Stuff

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Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek are super important to our deck because our curve doesn't really start until Turn 2 or 3, and having these one-mana plays gives us something to do on Turn 1. Depending on our game plan and hand, they can either take a removal spell (Path to Exile or Dismember, primarily) that can deal with a Gideon or get a potential blocker out of our opponent's hand so we can close out the game quickly with Gideon beats. 

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The rest of the non-land slots in our main deck are dedicated to removal. Path to Exile and Fatal Push help keep our Gideon's loyalty high when we are planning on winning by not losing with an emblem, while also getting annoying blockers out of the way so we can keep attacking with our aggressive planeswalkers. As for Wrath of God, it's only a two-of, but it takes advantage of the fact we have very few real creatures, so we can cast it during our main phase, sweep away our opponent's board, and then immediately beat down for a ton of damage with a Heart of Kiran and a Gideon.

The Matchups

First off, we have a handful of "free win" matchups where a Gideon of the Trials emblem makes it almost impossible to lose, especially before sideboarding. This includes decks like Ad Nauseam and (as we learned) Mill, which have a really hard time getting a Gideon off the table. Beyond the occasionally free wins, I'm not really sure our deck has a lot of bad matchups, as strange as that sounds. Against aggro, we clog up the board with tokens, and eventually our Gideons are just better than anything in our opponent's deck. Against control, we just need to stick a single Gideon to win the game, and we have plenty of discard to deal with our opponent's answers. Against combo, we have a ton of Thoughtseizes in the main deck, good sideboard options like Leyline of Sanctity, and an additional level of protection thanks to the Gideon of the Trials emblem. Plus, since our Gideons are white, we get many of the most powerful sideboard cards in the entire Modern format in Rest in Peace, Stony Silence, and Leyline of Sanctity, while black gives us access to Fulminator Mage. At least in our experience with the deck, Gideon Tribal is just good.

The Odds

Believe it or not, Gideon Tribal is—by far—the best Against the Odds deck of all time. We won 11 of our 14 games (78.57 game win percentage) and five of our six matches (83.33% match win percentage), and this doesn't include the fact that we actually played against Tron a second time and won that match as well. So many decks simply can't beat Gideon, let alone Gideon after Gideon after Gideon, backed up by good removal and discard. Even better, we actually beat a bunch of tier decks. While there were a couple of weird matchups like UB Mill, we also beat Tron (twice), Jund Death's Shadow, and Ad Nauseam, all of which are near the top of the Modern format! Gideon of the Trials was great, our other Gideons were great, and the deck was great!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Amonkhet is here, so this week for our poll, we have all options from Magic's newest set. As far as format, assume we'll be playing in Standard, but there's an outside shot that there could be a switch if something crazy comes up for Modern. Anyway, which Amonkhet card should we play next week? Let's 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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