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Against the Odds: Saheelia (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode sixty-four of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a second-chance poll, giving cards and combos that came in second or third over the past couple of polls another shot at glory, and in the end it was Saheeli Rai coming out on top over perennial runner-up Mortal Combat and Darksteel Reactor. As such, this week we are heading to Modern to not just play Saheeli Rai, but to go infinite with Saheeli Rai! The last couple of weeks, we've had some extremely janky Against the Odds decks, so this week I decided to try something a little bit different—today's deck is basically the answer to the question, "If you were going to go infinite with Saheeli Rai at a Grand Prix, how would you do it?" The end result is a deck that draws heavily from UW Emeria, which happens to be the perfect home for the Kaladesh planeswalker: Saheelia!

Anyway, let's get to the videos, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Saheelia (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Saheelia (Games)

The Deck

As soon as Saheeli Rai won the poll, I knew that I wanted to play a deck that was looking to go infinite with Sun Titan. People have suggested using Saheeli Rai to go infinite with Altar of the Brood and Liquimetal Coating, and while this combo does work, it takes three different pieces, and none of the pieces are especially good as standalone cards. On the other hand, I love casting Sun Titan, and many of the cards that work well with Sun Titan, like Flickerwisp, Wall of Omens, and Court Hussar, also synergize with Saheeli Rai. After realizing this, heading towards a Jeskai Emeria, the Sky Ruin build was an easy choice. 

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The infinite combo with Saheeli Rai and Sun Titan is pretty simple. We need two copies of Saheeli Rai, which sounds like a lot but is made easier by the fact that one or both Saheeli Rais can be in the graveyard, which means we can play Saheeli Rai in the early game for value, and even if they die, we can still combo off. We also need to find a Sun Titan to get back a Saheeli Rai from the graveyard. Then, we simply copy Sun Titan with Saheeli Rai, getting back the other Saheeli Rai (forcing us to sacrifice one of the Saheeli Rais, so we keep the one we haven't used yet), using the new Saheeli Rai to copy Sun Titan, getting back Saheeli Rai again, rinse and repeat. The end result is we have an infinite number of Sun Titans, all with haste, allowing us to kill our opponent with a giant army. 

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Of course, our combo is a little bit slow. We need to not only find two copies of Saheeli Rai but also resolve a six-mana Sun Titan. The good news is that Saheeli Rai herself can help us find our combo pieces with the help of Wall of Omens, Court Hussar, and Pilgrim's Eye. Actually, these cards work together in two different ways. First, we can use Saheeli Rai's 2 to copy Wall of Omens or Court Hussar to dig through our deck and find the rest of our combo pieces plus Pilgrim's Eye to find the lands we need for Sun Titan. Second, all of these cards are really good on defense, which means that if we can clog up the ground with Wall of Omens and Court Hussar, we can keep our Saheeli Rai alive, which lets us scry every turn, which is another good way to find the other cards we need to win the game. 

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Maybe my favorite synergy in the deck is Saheeli Rai and Flickerwisp, which can do all kinds of fun things. Most obviously, we can use Saheeli Rai to copy Flickerwisp, get in some flying damage with the token, and also flicker Saheeli Rai so it comes back at the end of our turn with three loyalty. We can also use this combo to get a blocker out of the way to get in even more damage, blink our opponent's tokens to kill them forever, or reset counters on creatures or planeswalkers. However, my favorite synergy is to use Saheeli Rai to copy Flickerwisp, use the copy of Flickerwisp to flicker the real Flickerwisp, which returns to the battlefield at the end of our turn. This means we can get rid of one of our opponent's permanents for their entire next turn, which is especially important with Tron lands, planeswalkers, or aggressive attacking creatures. 

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The rest of the deck is a bit of removal, a few counters, a Phantasmal Image for Sun Titan shenanigans, and Lone Missionary to gain some life, but Emeria, the Sky Ruin is worth talking about for the minute. Since our deck is overloaded on Plains, Emeria, the Sky Ruin gives us an low-opportunity-cost way to generate a ton of value in the late game. More importantly, it gives us a way to get back a Sun Titan from the graveyard, which lets us get back a Saheeli Rai to start our infinite combo. 

The Matchups

Easily our most difficult matchups are fast combo decks because we are pretty lacking in interaction, with just a single Negate in the main deck to fight against cards like Scapeshift or Ad Nauseam. While it's possible we can win in these matchups thanks to a combination of trickery with Flickerwisp and Saheeli Rai or clunky draws from the opponent, these are by far our worst matchups. 

Against aggressive creature decks, we have a chance thank to our endless blockers and some life gain from Lone Missionary, although we can also lose against these decks if we draw poorly. On the other hand, against anything midrange or controlling, we are very favored because Sun Titan, Saheeli Rai, and Emeria, the Sky Ruin give us inevitability and help blank our opponent's removal and counters. 

The Odds

All in all, we won three of our five matches (giving us a match win percentage of 60%) and seven of 12 games, good for a 59% match win percentage. Of course, this was aided by the fact that we beat Ad Nauseam, which was a bit fortunate because it should be one of our worst matchups, but perhaps this luck was evened out by our loss to UR Delver, where our opponent had an incredible turn-one flip percentage on Delver of Secrets and we only just barely lost a close three-game match. 

Most importantly, Saheeli Rai was amazing in the deck. While she's obviously sweet when we are comboing off with Sun Titan, I was amazed at how good Saheeli Rai was in other situations as well. With most planeswalkers, the idea is to have them sit out on the battlefield for as long as possible to generate value, but this isn't really where Saheeli Rai is at her best. Instead, Saheeli Rai is essentially a combo planeswalker that can generate a ton of value, but only for a turn or two before dying. Looking back on our matches, apart from our combo wins, Saheeli Rai was directly responsible for beating Tron by copying Court Hussars to Anticipate for Ghost Quarters and even let us close the door on Ad Nauseam by copying Flickerwisps to keep our opponent off the lands they needed to combo off. Next time I play a league with UW Emeria in Modern, I very well may splash red for Saheeli Rai. She was that good in the deck!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

For this week's poll, we're heading back to the original Mirrodin block for a poll filled with janky artifacts. Which do you want to see next week? Let us know by voting in the poll 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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