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Against the Odds: Progenitus (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 235 of Against the Odds. Last week, we tried something a bit different with the Against the Odds poll, posting it both in StrawPoll form in the article and on YouTube, and in the end (with around 10,000 votes cast!), Progenitus came out on top in a close battle with Spawnsire of Ulamog. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can win some games by cheating Magic's former biggest baddy into play as early as Turn 3! There was a time years ago, before Emrakuls, Griselbrands, and Ulamogs, when Progenitus]]—as a 10/10 protection from everything—was the best "cheat into play" creature in Magic. How does it hold up more than a decade later? 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: Progenitus

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The Deck

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When Progenitus won the poll, I immediately knew that we wouldn't be casting it for double WUBRG—that's just not how you play Progenitus. Instead, we'd need to find a way to cheat it into play on the cheap and then hopefully use it to kill our opponent in a couple of big protection-from-everything attacks. The upside of Progenitus is that once it is on the battlefield, it might be the hardest creature in all of Magic to remove—protection from everything means it's essentially just edicts and wraths that can get it off the battlefield. However, because Progenitus only hits for 10 damage, we usually need it to stick around for two turns to win the game, so Through the Breach–type effects usually aren't ideal. The end result is a deck that not only has a bunch of different ways to cheat it into play but also has some tricks to turn Progenitus from a two-turn clock into a one-turn clock to speed up the process!

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Plan A for cheating Progenitus into play is the fastest ramp package in Modern along with Quicksilver Amulet. Together, Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl can make four extra mana on Turn 2. This just happens to be enough to cast Quicksilver Amulet, which lets us put a creature into play from our hand for four mana. Then, on Turn 3, we can simply activate Quicksilver Amulet, put Progenitus onto the battlefield, and hopefully kill our opponent with two massive protection-from-everything attacks!

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One of the unique aspects of our Progenitus deck is that we don't just have four copies of Progenitus. Thanks to Time of Need and Eladamri's Call, we have 12! While the main reason we have these creature tutors in our deck is to make our deck more consistent by allowing us to find Progenitus every single game, they also allow us to find a couple of one-of backup ways to cheat Progenitus into play!

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While Ilharg, the Raze-Boar and Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded aren't as good as Quicksilver Amulet when it comes to cheating Progenitus into play, mostly because they only put Progenitus onto the battlefield long enough to get in one attack with the Hydra Avatar, they add a lot of consistency to our deck. Since they are legendary creatures, we can find them both with Time of Need and Eladamri's Call, so if we don't draw our Plan A in Quicksilver Amulet, we have a solid and consistent backup plan for getting Progenitus onto the battlefield. Plus, while Ilharg and Purphoros only put Progenitus into play for a turn, they literally or essentially give Progenitus haste, allowing us to smash our opponent immediately for a huge chunk of damage. If one big Progenitus attack isn't enough to win the game, we can always use Time of Need or Eladamri's Call to tutor up another one to hit for 10 more, or we can use another expensive legendary creature to speed up the clock...

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While having protection from everything is normally one of Progenitus's biggest benefits, since it means our opponent can't interact with our finisher, it can also be a drawback, in that we can't target it with spells. As a result, we can't use something like Temur Battle Rage to turn Progenitus into a one-shot kill attacker since we can't legally target Progenitus. Thankfully, we have a workaround in Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. The Boros mythic doubles all of our damage, which means if we can sneak Gisela, Blade of Goldnight into play alongside Progenitus, a single Progenitus attack amounts to 20 damage, which should be enough to kill most opponents on the spot! As a legendary creature, we can find our one Gisela with Time of Need and Eladamri's Call, while being a red creature means we can use Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded (along with Ilharg, the Raze-Boar and Quicksilver Amulet) to cheat Gisela, Blade of Goldnight into play.

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Rounding out our creature package are a couple more legends in Klothys, God of Destiny and Dragonlord Atarka. Klothys, God of Destiny is surprisingly strong in our deck, coming down on Turn 2 with the help of our one-mana accelerants; working as a backup ramp spell to get us to Quicksilver Amulet, Ilharg, the Raze-Boar, and Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded; and gaining us some life to buy a turn or two against aggro. Oh yeah, and one of the other weird upsides of Progenitus is that its ridiculous mana cost is really good at giving Gods enough devotion to turn into creature form. With a Progenitus and Klothys on the battlefield, we just need one more red or green mana symbol to make Klothys into a 4/5 indestructible threat. Meanwhile, Dragonlord Atarka is basically a really expensive (but tutorable) removal spell. One way that our opponents can potentially beat Progenitus is by getting far enough ahead on board that they can kill us through a 10/10 protection from everything. If we fall behind on board, we can always tutor up Dragonlord Atarka, cheat it into play, and kill a creature or two, hopefully buying us enough time to finish the game with Progenitus

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Finally, we have Blood Moon and a single Magus of the Moon (to find with Eladamri's Call) to help slow down the game long enough for us to get Progenitus onto the battlefield. Thanks to Arbor Elf, Utopia Sprawl, and Birds of Paradise, there's a decent chance that we can cast Blood Moon on Tu2two, which should buy us several turns to find and play Progenitus while our opponent fights their way through mana problems. 

The Matchups

The upside of our Progenitus deck is that it is both fast and consistent, which gives us a decent chance to race all but the fastest combo decks in the format. On the other hand, disruption can be an issue. Since our deck is full of cards that are either hard to cast (or in the case of Progenitus, literally uncastable), if our opponent can stop Quicksilver Amulet and our other enablers, we're likely to get stuck with a bunch of expensive creatures in hand. Thankfully, Veil of Summer in the sideboard helps to shore up our worst matchups (and was especially key in allowing us to beat counterspell-heavy control decks), although Thoughtseize decks can still be a problem.

The Odds

All in all, we went 3-2 with Progenitus, giving us a 60% match win percentage and making Progenitus above average for an Against the Odds deck. Progenitus itself was solid. While we did have a few games where it got stuck in our hand, once it hit the battlefield, it was almost always game-ending. And we even pulled off the one-shot combo kill of Progenitus and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight! While perhaps not as immediately game-ending (at least, without help) as some newer finishers like Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Progenitus is still a really effective way to kill opponents, especially when it hits the battlefield on Turn 3!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Ikoria is adding all kinds of strange new counters to Magic, and while we can't play with new Ikoria cards yet (one week to go!) we can explore some weird counters from Magic's past. Which of these oddball counter cards should we build around next week? Let us know by voting below!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. It's almost time to start playing with sweet new Ikoria cards, but in the meantime, 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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