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Against the Odds: Monstrous Balls (Modern)

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of Against the Odds! This week, we're heading to our new Modern Horizons 3 Modern format for a hilariously janky brew that's looking to put all 12 Ball Lightnings (including Groundbreaker and Lightning Skelemental) into play in a single turn with the help of Monstrous Vortex! With some sneaky deck-building, we can make it so if we cast a single Ball Lightning with a Monstrous Vortex on the battlefield we,'ll keep discovering Ball Lightnings until we put every single one of them into play to win with one massive, hasty attack! How many Ball Lightnings can we play in a single turn? How good is Monstrous Vortex? Let's get to the video and find out!

Against the Odds: Monstrous Balls

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The plan of our deck today is shockingly simple: play Monstrous Vortex, then play any of our Ball Lightnings. Since Ball Lightning has more than five power, we'll discover three (Ball Lightning's mana cost). This will start a chain reaction: the first Ball Lightning will hit a second since there are no other cards in our deck it can possibly discover, which will hit a third, and a fourth, and so on until they all end up on the battlefield, which will let us win with one hilariously janky attack with up to 12 hasty 6/1s! Of course, this power comes with a cost: for the discover plan to work, we can't play any cards with mana value three or less except for other Ball Lightnings. We can cheat on this a bit by playing cards like Leyline Binding, Trumpeting Carnosaur, and Bedeck // Bedazzle that we can use as removal in the early game, even though they technically cost so much mana they won't ruin our discover plan.

While the deck is actually oddly powerful when it works, it does come with two big challenges. First, the mana value restriction we talked about before is a big deal. While we can build a functional deck despite it, it does limit the options we have to protect our combo since we can't play Thoughtseize, Spell Pierce, or other interactive spells. Second, our mana base is super janky. It turns out that even in a world of fetch lands, shock lands, and triomes, trying to cast triple-red Ball Lightning and triple-green Groundbreaker is tricky. As such, we're overloaded on dual lands and fetch lands to find them, and we need to be careful about what lands we tutor out or else we might not be able to play our spells.

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Last but not least, we have Leyline of the Guildpact and Scion of Draco. Since we need to be five colors anyway to support cards like Leyline Binding, Leyline of the Guildpact is a solid way to fix our mana. Meanwhile, Scion of Draco is mostly a free-roll thanks to our mana base and is solid with some of our Ball Lightnings, especially Lightning Skelemental, which gains lifelink if we happen to have Scion of Draco on the battlefield. This isn't especially important when we combo off and put all of our Ball Lightnings into play, but when we end up on our backup plan of casting Ball Lightnings fairly and beating down, gaining a bit of life can be super helpful in winning the race.

Record-wise, we ended up going 2-3 with the deck, which isn't exciting but is actually a lot better than I expected. The good news is that we won every time we managed to pull off the combo. It turns out that putting 10 or more Ball Lightnings into play at once is pretty much unbeatable. The problem with the deck is that Modern is super fast and disruptive. In some matchups, it's difficult to get Monstrous Vortex on the battlefield without dying. (It has what I like to call the "Panharmonicon problem," which is being a four-mana permanent that doesn't immediately impact the battlefield.) Decks with a bunch of counters can also be tough since they can simply counter our Monstrous Vortex and force us to try to win fairly, which isn't easy. All in all, I'd say the deck is definitely more semi-competitive than truly competitive. But if you've got the balls to play it, it will pick up some wins and do it in style!


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

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