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Against the Odds: "Scarecrow"-amonicon (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 269 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a super-close vote for our Against the Odds poll. While Hive Mind took home 25% of the nearly 10,000 votes cast, the Scarecrow lord Reaper King took home the win with 28%! As such, we're heading to Modern today to play a deck I'm calling "Scarecrow"-amonicon. The biggest problem with Reaper King is that Scarecrows are one of the least powerful creature types in all of Magic. Because of this, rather than filling our deck with Scarecrows, we're turning all of our creatures into "Scarecrows" with the help of Arcane Adaptation. With both Reaper King and Arcane Adaptation on the battlefield, every creature we resolve can blow up one of our opponent's permanents (or two, if we have a Panharmonicon on the battlefield), with the idea being that we can chain together cheap card-draw and ramp creatures and hopefully blow up all of our opponent's permanents for a flawless victory! How good are "Scarecrows" in Modern? Can we actually get a flawless victory with the help of Reaper King? 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: "Scarecrow"-amonicon

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The Deck

When Reaper King won the poll, I immediately focused on a super-janky infinite combo featuring the Scarecrow lord that could blow up all of our opponent's permanents in one turn. The idea was to get a Morophon, the Boundless on the battlefield naming Scarecrow, which allows us to cast Reaper King for free. Then, with the help of Cloudstone Curio to bounce our own permanents, we could keep looping cheap Changelings like Unsettled Mariner, Changeling Outcast, and Mothdust Changeling (all of which are technically Scarecrows and free if we have a Morophon, the Boundless) to blow up all of our opponent's permanents. Unfortunately, I spent hours and hours playing different builds of the deck and didn't come particularly close to pulling off the combo a single time. Eventually, I gave up and decided it was time for the return of an old favorite—Panharmonicon—which led to the "Scarecrow"-amonicon deck we are playing today!

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Reaper King is actually a pretty powerful card. If we can make five colors of mana (which our deck is designed to do with the help of fetch lands, shock lands, Triomes, and mana dorks like Birds of Paradise and Gilded Goose), it's a five-mana 6/6 that not only pumps our other Scarecrows but also blows up a permanent whenever a Scarecrow enters the battlefield. The problem with Reaper King is that the rest of the Scarecrows in Magic are bad. Like really, really bad (see One-Eyed Scarecrow, Jousting Dummy, Chainbreaker, et al.). As such, building around literal Scarecrows is extremely risky. If our Reaper King sticks around and we can cast a bunch of bad Scarecrows, we can potentially win a game or two by blowing up our opponent's stuff. But if we can find a Reaper King or it is countered or dies before we get to cast more Scarecrows, there's little chance that our deck will do anything cool. But what if we could harness Reaper King's destructive power, but with the help of a better supporting cast? Thankfully, we can...

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Apart from getting Reaper King on the battlefield, the next most important goal of our deck is to resolve an Arcane Adaptation naming Scarecrow so that all of our creatures will be Scarecrows in addition to the other types, which means Reaper King will be able to blow up a permanent whenever we resolve any creature. Thanks to Arcane Adaptation, rather than filling our deck with underpowered Scarecrows, we can play a bunch of  "Scarecrows" like Birds of Paradise and Gilded Goose to ramp us to Reaper King and cheap card-drawing "Scarecrows" like Ice-Fang Coatl and Wall of Blossoms and still blow up all of our opponent's stuff!

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While blowing up permanent every time a creature enters the battlefield once we get our Reaper King / Arcane Adaptation combo set up is nice, blowing up two (or three or four) permanents every time a creature enters the battlefield is even better. For this, we turn to Panharmonicon and a copy of "Scarecrow" Yarok, the Desecrated. With a Panharmonicon effect on the battlefield, we not only get to blow up two permanents with Reaper King for each creature we cast but also get to draw an absurd amount of cards with our "Scarecrow" army, which keeps us finding more creatures to keep triggering Reaper King until our opponent runs out of permanents. Once our opponent has nothing left, we can use our last "Scarecrow" to blow up our own Arcane Adaptation since Reaper King isn't a "may" ability and we'd have to start blowing up our own permanents every time we play a creature.

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As for our support "Scarecrows," they all either draw us a card when they enter the battlefield (or two with Panharmonicon / Yarok, the Desecrated on the battlefield) or make mana. Ice-Fang Coatl and Wall of Blossoms keep us churning through our deck to find our combo pieces in the early game and then turn into two-mana Vindicates once we have Reaper King and Arcane Adaptation on the battlefield. Meanwhile, Risen Reef gives us something to do with additional copies of Arcane Adaptation. Once we get one set on Scarecrow, we can put the next copy on Elemental so every creature we resolve draws us a card and possibly ramps us!

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Birds of Paradise and Gilded Goose do double duty in our deck. In the early game, they fix our mana and ramp us into Reaper King. Then, in the late game, when mana dorks are typically dead draws, Birds of Paradise and Gilded Goose turn into the best removal spells in all of Magic with the help of Reaper King and Arcane Adaptation, blowing up any permanent (or multiples, with the help of Panharmonicon) for just a single mana, which is an absurdly good deal!

The Matchups

Since our deck is all about blowing up permanents, we really want to play against decks built around putting stuff on the battlefield, like midrange or even control decks. In these matchups, just a single turn with Reaper King and Arcane Adaptation can win us the game as we chain together cheap "Scarecrows" and blow up all of our opponent's relevant permanents. At worse, we can just blow up a bunch of lands, making it hard for our opponent to play the game. On the other hand, decks that are winning with spells (various combo decks like Storm, Ad Nauseam, and Oops, All Spells) along with very aggressive decks (especially aggro backed up by burn spells) are much harder since even if we have a hand that lets us start blowing up permanents on Turn 4 or 5, it will probably be too late. While we can beat these decks with sideboard cards or if our opponent has a slow draw, we'd rather avoid them, if possible.

The Odds

All in all, we ended up going 2-3 with "Scarecrow"-amonicon, which might not sound all that exciting, but considering that we didn't win a single match the last time we played Reaper King back in 2016, 2-3 felt like a win. We also were super close in some other matchups. If we had one more turn against Ad Nauseam, we could have blown up our opponent's entire board and won the game (although we're never beating Restore Balance in a million years). Reaper King was actually super powerful in the deck. Even though we only had a couple of true blowouts where we destroyed all (or most) of our opponent's board, many of our other wins came from Reaper King coming down and blowing up a few lands and our opponent scooping before we could finish off the rest!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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We've had some really interesting cards fall just short on recent polls. Let's give one a second chance next week, but which one? Click here to vote!

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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