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Against the Odds: Hive Mind (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 270 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a Modern Against the Odds poll, and in the end, Hive Mind took home a clear, easy victory! Hive Mind is a really weird card. Basically, whenever anyone casts an instant or sorcery, everyone gets a copy of that instant or sorcery. Why would we possibly want to help our opponent by giving them copies of our spells for free? The trick is to fill our deck will spells that our opponent almost certainly doesn't want to cast and use Hive Mind for force our opponent to cast them, hopefully with lethal results! What shenanigans can Hive Mind enable in Modern? What are the odds of winning with a deck built around the enchantment? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Hive Mind

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The Deck

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Hive Mind is a super-unique card. In theory, you could probably play it for value, using it to get a free copy of whatever instants or sorceries your opponent happens to cast. But perhaps the most exciting and fun way to build around Hive Mind is to overload your deck with cards that your opponent almost certainly don't want to resolve and use Hive Mind to force your opponents to cast them. Our deck today has two different, somewhat related plans to win the game with our namesake enchantment.

Plan 1: Pacts

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Our first plan is the Future Sight Pact cycle. In fact, we have at least one copy of every single Pact in our deck. Pacts are pretty strange cards—they essentially loan you the mana you need to cast the spells (they are all free to cast) and require you to pay it back with interest on your upkeep. Take Summoner's Pact, for example. You can cast it for free and tutor up a green creature (well, if you have one in your deck, which we don't), but then you have to pay 2GG on your upkeep or else you lose the game on the spot.

In conjunction with Hive Mind, the right Pact at the right time can win the game almost immediately. The idea is that we can ramp into Hive Mind, resolve the enchantment, and immediately cast a Pact of a color that our opponent doesn't have access to. Hive Mind will force our opponent to cast a copy of the Pact as well, and then we can just pass the turn and watch our opponent lose the game on their upkeep when they can't pay for the Pact. We even have Tolaria West to tutor up whatever Pact our opponent is least likely to be able to pay for!

The upside of the Pact plan is that it's fast. Since Pacts are free to cast, once Hive Mind hits the battlefield, we can cast one and win the game even if we don't have any more mana. The downside is that winning with a Pact is pretty dependent on what colors of mana our opponent has in their deck. If our opponent is playing a Primeval Titan deck, for example, a Summoner's Pact not only is unlikely to kill our opponent but might also even help them by allowing them to tutor up a creature. Considering that some Modern decks are five colors and others play cards like Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, in some matchups, it can be pretty difficult to get the Pact win (although it is still possible if we have multiple Pacts in hand since if we cast two or three Pacts, our opponent likely won't have enough mana to pay for them, even if they do have the right colors). Thankfully, we have a second plan for winning with Hive Mind that doesn't care at all about what colors our opponent might be playing...

Plan 2: Glorious End

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The way that Glorious End interacts with Hive Mind is pretty cute: let's say we resolve Hive Mind and cast Glorious End. What ends up happening is that we put our Glorious End on the stack, Hive Mind triggers to give our opponent a copy of Glorious End, which will resolve before our copy, and when our opponent's copy resolves, the turn ends, which exiles our Glorious End so we don't have to worry about losing the game on our next end step should something go wrong. Our opponent, on the other hand, has a lot to worry about. Once their Glorious End resolves, they have exactly one turn to kill us before they die on their end step to Glorious End's "lose the game" trigger! 

Much like the Pact plan, the Glorious End plan has upsides and drawbacks. The good news is that Glorious End doesn't care about what is in our opponent's deck or the colors of mana they have on the battlefield. On the other hand, Glorious End costs three mana, so we can't spend all of our mana ramping into Hive Mind and immediately win the game; instead, we generally have to wait until the next turn.

Support Cards

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Of course, for either Hive Mind plan to work, we first need to get Hive Mind on the battlefield, which can be a challenge considering that it costs six mana. To speed things up, we have Pentad Prism and Lotus Field, both of which add two extra mana and, with the right draw, allow us to cast Hive Mind (and perhaps win the game with the help of a Pact) as early as Turn 4. Pentad Prism is simple—it's basically just a weird, temporary mana rock. Lotus Field, on the other hand, takes a bit of work to turn into ramp thanks to its drawback of forcing us to sacrifice two lands when it comes into play...

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As far as turning Lotus Field into ramp, we have one Blood Sun in the main deck and more in the sideboard (since it's very good against Primeval Titan decks looking to win with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Field of the Dead). But our primary plan is Tale's End, which does double duty in our deck. On Turn 3, we can use it to counter Lotus Field's enters-the-battlefield trigger, giving us a land that taps for three mana without the downside of sacrificing two other lands to ramp into Hive Mind. We can also using Tale's End to counter the "lose the game" trigger from our Pacts and Glorious End if we need to cast them before we are ready to win the game with Hive Mind.

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Speaking of casting Pacts and Glorious End pre–Hive Mind, the last important part of our deck is Gideon of the Trials (along with one each of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Gideon Jura as high-loyalty Gideons likely to stick on the battlefield). Along with potentially giving us a backup plan for winning the game without Hive Mind by beating down with indestructible planeswalkers, Gideon of the Trials gives us another way to cast our Pacts and Glorious Ends without losing the game thanks to its emblem. If we can emblem a Gideon of the Trials and keep any Gideon on the battlefield, we can cast all of our "lose the game" cards whenever we want to counter spells with Pact of Negation, kill things with Slaughter Pact, and take extra turns with Glorious End without having to worry about dying to our own cards since Gideon's emblem will keep us alive. 

The Matchups

The matchups for Hive Mind are pretty strange. While we can technically kill anyone on Turn 4 with a good draw, this is somewhat dependent on the colors of our opponent's deck, thanks to our Pact plan. In general, we would prefer not to play against five-color decks since it's pretty easy for a five-color opponent to pay for our Pacts. Dedicated aggro can also be a problem since we can get run over before we get Hive Mind online. On the other hand, having cards like Pact of Negation and Glorious End in our deck (along with ways to prevent dying to them after they resolve) makes Hive Mind oddly effective against combo decks, which tend to get blown out mid-combo by a surprise counter or their turn ending. Control can be tough if our opponent has a ton of counters, although here again, Pact of Negation helps since we can use it to force through Hive Mind. And once Hive Mind is on the battlefield, even if we can't win the game right away, our opponent loses the ability to counter our spells since if they try to, we'll get a copy of the counter, which we can use to counter our opponent's counterspell. Basically, Hive Mind can beat anyone, although the plan can be inconsistent, not just because we have a deck full of cards that we can't cast without additional help (like Pacts and Glorious End) but also because the colors in our opponent's deck can have a major impact on how our deck plays.

The Odds

All in all, we finished 2-3 with Hive Mind, giving us a reasonable if unexciting 40% win percentage with the deck. The good news is that we did manage to pull off some really sweet Hive Mind kills, and we were fairly competitive even in matches that we ended up losing, picking up some additional game wins along the way! Sadly, it's probably unlikely that the Hive Mind / Pact plan can be truly competitive in the current meta, mostly because many of the top decks in the format have Dryad of the Ilysian Grove or three or more colors, helping to allow our opponent to pay for our Pacts. It is super fun to play, though, and wins in an incredibly unique way. Plus, games of Magic with a Hive Mind on the battlefield are really, really strange (see: our match against Ad Nauseam). 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Next week, I'll be away for the holidays, so we'll be missing our episode. Don't worry, Against the Odds with return with the next year, with plenty more jank and, before long, sweet new Kaldheim cards to mess around with! Happy holidays everyone! 

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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