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Against the Odds: Muraganda Tokens (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode eighty-eight of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a second-chance poll featuring Against the Odds options that came in second and third on previous polls. In the end, it was Muraganda Petroglyphs taking home a fairly easy victory. As such, this week, we are heading to Modern to see if we can vanilla our way to some wins by pumping up some tokens with the wacky green enchantment. Is it really possible that Muraganda Petroglyphs is playable in Modern? Let's get to the videos and find out!

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Against the Odds: Muraganda Tokens (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Muraganda Tokens (Games)

The Deck

Muraganda Petroglyphs is a powerful effect, potentially giving all of our creatures +2/+2. The downside is that it comes along with a major deck-building restriction: Muraganda Petroglyphs only affects creatures without any abilities. When it came time to build the deck, I took a couple of minutes to read up on the ruling on Muraganda Petroglyphs and realized that this drawback is huge—"no abilities" essentially means no rules text at all, which also means very few creatures and even fewer good ones are vanilla in the eyes of the Petroglyphs. 

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With this in mind, there are three possibilities in building a Muraganda Petroglyphs deck. The first is to use actual vanilla creatures like Watchwolf and Savannah Lions. Unfortunately, this plan didn't seem very good. The best vanilla creatures are already big, so making them even bigger doesn't seem all that beneficial. The second possibility is a morph deck, because face-down creatures naturally have no abilities. Here again, there's a bit of a problem: all morphs cost three, which would make the curve of this deck horrible. In the end, we went the third direction: Muraganda Tokens!

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While we still have to make sure our tokens are vanilla (which means no Lingering Souls or Spectral Procession), there are some token producers that are incredibly strong with Muraganda Petroglyphs. Conqueror's Pledge comes down the turn after Muraganda Petroglyphs and—assuming we have the enchantment on the battlefield—makes 18 power and toughness split across six bodies. Increasing Devotion isn't quite as good, but it still make 15 power and toughness across five bodies, which is a pretty good deal for five mana. 

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In the early game, we lean on Servo Exhibition and Raise the Alarm to get the token fun started. While both of these cards are insane with Muraganda Petroglyphs, they also just help us stay alive against Tarmogoyf and other big early-game beaters. Meanwhile, Promise of Bunrei gives us some protection against sweepers, making four 1/1s when one of our creatures dies and can also make it difficult for our opponent to block effectively, since if they kill one of our creatures, four more take its place. 

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Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar do double duty in our deck. On one hand, they make tokens for our Muraganda Petroglyphs, with Nissa's +1 making 2/3s and Gideon's zero ability making 4/4s, which is quite strong. When we don't have a Muraganda Petroglyphs, they work as backup ways to pump all of our tokens, which is actually very important because all of our creatures are extremely underpowered without help.

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While Gavony Township doesn't make tokens, it does gives us yet another way to make all of our 1/1s into 2/2s and then 3/3s and 4/4s to make sure that we are getting in damage even when we don't draw our namesake enchantment. Since it's a land, the opportunity cost is super low, which makes it a great fit for our deck.

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Finally, we have a handful of cards that don't work directly with our plan but are necessary to make our deck function. Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch help us accelerate into our big token producers and Muraganda Petroglyphs a turn early, which is important in a format as fast as Modern. Meanwhile, Path to Exile gives us a bit of removal to help us stay alive while we are setting up our more powerful plays. 

The Matchups

Let's start with the good news: our deck is very strong against ground-based creature decks like most builds of Death's Shadow, Eldrazi decks, Jund and Abzan. We are super good at clogging up the battlefield so we don't die to our opponent's big creatures, and then our creatures will eventually get huge and we can take over the game. We also have a pretty fast clock when we get the right draws. With Turn 2 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar into Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or Muraganda Petroglyphs into Conqueror's Pledge, we can steal a lot of games. 

On the other hand, our deck can really struggle with flying threats like Delver of Secrets or various creature lands like Blinkmoth Nexus (maybe the best example of this is when we played against Soul Sisters and couldn't beat Spectral Procession). This is one of the drawbacks of playing exclusively vanilla creatures. The other big issue is combo decks, where we simply don't have much interaction. While we get some of the good white sideboard cards like Rest in Peace and Leyline of Sanctity, which can help, we still don't want to play against Storm, Ad Nauseam, or Scapeshift. 

The Odds

Heading into our games, I figured Muraganda Petroglyphs would be on the lower end of the competitiveness scale, so I was pleasantly surprised with our record. We played seven matches and won five (71% match win percentage) and 16  games, winning 11 (69% game win percentage). While this is partly because we dodged combo, the deck also just felt pretty strong. Our clock was fast, we made ton of creatures, and Muraganda Petroglyphs was quite good at giving us surprise wins out of nowhere. It felt like most opponents saw a board of 1/1 tokens and weren't especially scared, then suddenly we dropped our namesake enchantment, made all of our tokens into 3/3s, and killed our opponent out of the blue. 

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Last week, it was leaked that one of this summer's Commander 2017 decks is five-color Dragon tribal, featuring some powerful five-color Dragon legends. This got me thinking about powerful five-color cards we've had in the past. There are some sweet options, so let's play one next week! Which of these five-color spells or creatures should we feature next week? Vote 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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