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Against the Odds: Impromptu Temur (Modern, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 181 of Against the Odds. Last week during the Against the Odds poll, it was a tight battle between Hand of the Praetors and Impromptu Raid. In the end, the Gruul enchantment edged out the infect lord by less than 100 votes! As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if Impromptu Raid really is the Modern version of Sneak Attack. The plan of the deck is simple: stack huge threats on the top of our library and then use Impromptu Raid to cheat them into play with haste, annihilate our opponent's board, and pick up some free wins. If we end up stuck with massive Eldrazi in hand, then Through the Breach gives us a backup plan for cheating them into play. Can Impromptu Raid work in 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: Impromptu Raid (Modern)

The Deck

When Impromptu Raid won the poll, I was pretty sure right away that we'd be cheating Eldrazi into play. One of the downsides of cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is that they are so powerful there isn't really a good reason to even consider other lesser options when it comes to cards like Impromptu Raid. That said, Impromptu Raid is a bit more complicated than just playing a bunch of big creatures and hoping for the best since it works with the top of our library rather than our hand, which means we also need ways to control the top of our deck, or else we risk whiffing with Impromptu Raid far too often, so there was still plenty of brewing to be done. In the end, the deck landed in a pretty solid spot, playing a bunch of powerful cards that also happen to support our Impromptu Eldrazi plan.

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Impromptu Raid is essentially a fixed Modern-legal version of Sneak Attack. Apart from costing more mana to activate, the biggest drawback of Impromptu Raid compared to the original is that, rather than putting a creature into play from our hand, it gives us the top card of our library, assuming it's a creature. As such, Impromptu Raid comes with a secondary requirement: since just hoping we have a big creature on the top of our deck isn't a realistic plan, we need ways to purposefully put a massive threat on the top of our deck to make Impromptu Raid work.

Meanwhile, Through the Breach is basically our backup Impromptu Raid, and it does two very important things for our deck. First, it gives us some redundancy. With eight uncastable Eldrazi in our deck (more on this in a minute), we really need some ways to cheat our huge finisher into play, so just four Impromptu Raid isn't enough. Second, Through the Breach helps when we get stuck with a big finisher or two in hand, giving us a way to put it into play without getting it on the top of our deck first.

The Finishers

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As for finishers, we have the entire original cycle of Eldrazi Titans, with four Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and two each of Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. The biggest upside of all of our Eldrazi is the annihilator mechanic. While none of these cards is guaranteed to win us the game with damage the turn we cheat them into play, in the worst case, we make our opponent sacrifice most (or even all) of their permanents, which buys us a ton of time to find another finisher to close out the game. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is the best of the bunch since it doesn't die to Path to Exile and has flying and the bigger annihilator number, while Ulamog and Kozilek are fine backup plans, giving us a total of eight finishers to go along with our eight ways to cheat finishers into play, making Impromptu Temur very consistent with its primary plan.

Stacking the Deck

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Our main plan for stacking Eldrazi on the top of our deck is two planeswalkers: Nissa, Steward of Elements and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Oddly, Nissa, Steward of Elements is the better of the two in Impromptu Temur, coming down on Turn 2 with the help of our mana dorks, scrying to find our Impromptu Raid, and after we have Impromptu Raid, scrying to stack our massive Eldrazi on the top of our deck to make sure that our Impromptu Raid activation will hit. Plus, Nissa, Steward of Elements is a surprisingly effective backup finisher, quickly getting to her ultimate and offering 10 damage in the air. Meanwhile, Jace, the Mind Sculptor has the upside of putting Eldrazi that we happen to draw back on the top of our deck so we can Impromptu Raid them into play, while also giving us a solid source of card advantage.

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Courser of Kruphix is our final deck-stacking trick. While not as good as digging through our deck as our two planeswalkers, being able to see the top of our deck is extremely helpful when it comes to activating Impromptu Raid. If we know there's a non-creature on the top of our deck, we can simply choose to not activate our enchantment and do something more productive with our mana. Plus, with the help of fetch lands to shuffle our deck, Courser of Kruphix does sort of give us a way to manipulate the top of our deck to search for our finishers since if we have a bad card on our library, we can get a free look at something else by cracking a fetch land.

Fast Mana

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Rounding out our deck is a bunch of fast mana to help us get down our combo pieces faster. Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch ramp us on Turn 1, while Simian Spirit Guide offers some surprise mana from our hand. In theory, with the help of these cards, we can use Through the Breach or Impromptu Raid to get a hasty Eldrazi on the battlefield as early as Turn 3, which is more than fast enough to beat most of the best decks in Modern.

The Matchups

Based on our matches, Impromptu Temur struggles with hardcore counterspell decks and also Burn. The challenge with decks like Bant Spirits or various UWx Control builds is that our opponent can simply counter our Impromptu Raid or Through the Breach and leave us stuck without any way to sneak our Eldrazi into play. While having a bunch of planeswalkers gives us some hope, in general, these are tough matchups. As for Burn, the big problem here is that we can often annihilate our opponent on Turn 3 or 4 and still lose the game since our opponent can simply draw a land and keep throwing Lightning Bolts at our face. On the other hand, Impromptu Temur feels great against random creature decks and even most combo decks. Turn 3 or 4 hasty Eldrazi are apparently pretty good in Modern. Who would have guessed?

The Odds

All in all, we played seven matches with Impromptu Temur and won five, giving us a 72% match win percentage, while taking down 11 of 17 games for a 65% game win percentage, making Impromptu Temur solidly above average for an Against the Odds deck. While it is true that we picked up some of our wins with Through the Breach, Impromptu Raid was also surprisingly solid. The combo of Nissa, Jace, and Courser of Kruphix made it pretty easy to set up the top of the deck, and we even won one matches by blind flipping an Eldrazi from a random activation!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Artifacts are some of the most fun cards to build decks around since their colorless nature means there are almost endless possibilities, so let's build around a janky artifact next week! Which of these cards should we feature (in Modern) next episode? Let us know by voting below!

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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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