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Against the Odds: Smothering Riches (Modern)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 249 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a Modern "you win the game" Against the Odds poll, and Revel in Riches picked up a tight win over Hellkite Tyrant, with 26% of the more than 15,000 votes cast. As such, we're heading to Modern today for a deck I'm calling Smothering Riches, which is one of the wilder decks we've played in a long time, looking to combine Smothering Tithe with Revel in Riches (and a bunch of other sweet stuff) to make 10 or more Treasure tokens in one big combo turn to win the game on the upkeep with Revel in Riches. Can the plan work? What are the odds of winning with Revel in Riches in Modern? 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: Smothering Riches

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The Deck

Building around Revel in Riches was much, much harder than I thought it would be. Obviously, Revel in Riches is a challenging Modern card since 10 Treasures is a lot in a format where games often end on Turn 3, 4, or 5, which means I cycled through a ton of different possibilities during the deck-building process. My first attempt was pretty straightforward: Rakdos Treasures, where we used cards like Wily Goblin and Pitiless Plunderer (combed with removal to trigger Revel in Riches itself) to make Treasures. Sadly, the deck was really slow, and most of the cards we played to make Treasures were really bad. Most importantly, the deck was boring. I don't mind playing slow decks or bad decks, but if a deck is going to be bad and slow, it at least needs to be interesting. I tried a couple of other color combinations of the "make Treasures fairly" plan but quickly gave up.

I flirted with the idea of an infinite Treasure combo, but after realizing it needed six cards (Zirda, the Dawnwaker to reduce the cost on Ruthless Knave to keep sacrificing Bloodsoaked Champion with both Pitiless Plunderer and Anointed Procession on the battlefield, along with Revel in Riches to win the game), I decided that I could probably play a million Modern matches, and it would never actually happen.

Finally, I decided that if we were going to win with Revel in Riches, what we needed to do was be as unfair as possible. Rather than making Treasures one by one with cards like Wily Goblin or trying to get six specific fragile cards on the battlefield at once, we needed to find a way to make 10 Treasure tokens all in one turn, which was the realization that led to Smothering Riches. 

The Combo

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To win the game with Revel in Riches, we need to get at least 10 Treasure tokens on the battlefield and survive until our next upkeep. While Revel in Riches sometimes helps up our Treasure count by giving us a Treasure when one of our opponent's creatures dies, this plan is far too inconsistent (since some opponents won't have many creatures) to be anything more than a bonus. So how do we get 10 Treasures on the battlefield? With Smothering Tithe, by far the fastest Treasure token producer in all of Magic. With a Smothering Tithe on the battlefield, whenever our opponent draws a card, they either need to pay two mana or allow us to make a Treasure token. Two mana is a ton in Modern, which means that once Smothering Tithe hits the battlefield, we often get a Treasure naturally from our opponent's draw step. But our deck's main goal is to greatly increase the speed of our Treasure production by forcing our opponent to draw cards.

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When it comes to forcing our opponent to draw cards, our two main cards are Burning Inquiry and Wheel of Fate. Burning Inquiry makes both players draw and randomly discard three cards for just one mana, likely giving us three Treasures with Smothering Tithe to build toward our Revel in Riches win. Here, it's important to remember that we can also sacrifice the Treasures to make mana, which means Burning Inquiry is also a weird Dark Ritual, costing us one mana and immediately making back three mana in Treasure tokens that we can use to make more spells. We also have Wheel of Fate, which is basically Wheel of Fortune with suspend four, making everyone discard their hand and draw seven cards, which usually gives us a massive seven Treasure tokens. This means that, in theory, one Burning Inquiry and one Wheel of Fate resolving with a Smothering Tithe on the battlefield can make us 10 Treasures, exactly enough to win the game on our next upkeep with Revel in Riches. Of course, suspending Wheel of Fate for four turns is far too slow—four turns is an eternity in Modern—so we need a way to speed up the process...

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As Foretold and Electrodominance are in our deck because they allow us to cast cards immediately like Wheel of Fate that don't have a mana cost, rather than waiting a bunch of turns for them to come off suspend. This allows us to sort of combo off with the help of Smothering Tithe and Wheel of Fate. We can cast Wheel of Fate for free, get seven Treasure tokens, draw seven new cards, and hopefully hit another copy of Wheel of Fate and another way to cast it right away, using our Treasure mana to cast our spells. 

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Since we're playing As Foretold and Electrodominance, we have some more powerful no-mana-cost cards to cast with them. Ancestral Vision draws us three cards, helping us find our combo pieces. And in a pinch, we can even use it to target our opponent to make more Treasure tokens with Smothering Tithe. Meanwhile, Restore Balance gives us a super-board wipe that can also potentially make our opponent sacrifice all of their lands (if we sacrifice ours first to a suspended Greater Gargadon, which isn't a big deal since we can cast our spells with our Treasure mana or with As Foretold) and empty their hand. If we happen to have Revel in Riches on the battlefield, we also get a Treasure token for each creature our opponent sacrifices, making Restore Balance another way we can build toward the 10 Treasures we need to win the game. 

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Because we have Burning Inquiry and Wheel of Fate (and to a lesser extent, Restore Balance), both of which are in our deck to force our opponent to draw cards so we can make Treasures with Smothering Tithe and also make our opponent discard cards, we also have Waste Not as a backup payoff that can draw us a ton of cards and make oodles of mana. We talked a minute ago about how once we get things set up, we can have a big combo turn where we chain together several copies of Wheel of Fate. Things become even crazier if we pull this off with a Waste Not on the battlefield as each card our opponent discards makes us mana, draws us a card, or gives us a 2/2 Zombie. The cards help us find more copies of Wheel of Fate and Burning Inquiry to keep the fun going, the mana allows us to cast things like Revel in Riches and Smothering Tithe to make even more mana, and the Zombies are even somewhat helpful as a way to chump block and stay alive while we are setting up the Revel in Riches win. 

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Finally, we have Simian Spirit Guide and Greater Gargadon. Simian Spirit Guide speeds up our deck by giving us an extra mana, and going down a card isn't really a big deal since we'll hopefully be casting Wheel of Fate anyway to draw a new hand. Meanwhile, Greater Gargadon is mostly in our deck so we can sacrifice all of our lands with Restore Balance on the stack, so our opponent has to sacrifice all of their lands in the name of Balance. It's actually a good backup win condition as well since we can sacrifice Treasure tokens to remove time counters and get it on the battlefield quickly. 

The Matchups

Probably the hardest matchups for Smothering Riches are decks with a ton of counterspells. For our deck to function, we really need to be able to resolve As Foretold and Electrodominance (so we can cast our free spells) and eventually Smothering Tithe and Revel in Riches as well. If our opponent can counter our few key spells, our deck can be left spinning its wheels and not making any real progress toward winning the game. Apart from counterspell decks, I'm not really sure what to make of the matchups for Smothering Riches. I don't think we're really favored against many decks (although fair-ish midrange creature decks are probably our best matchups), but we also have the power and combo potential to beat almost anyone if we have a good draw.

The Odds

All in all, we went 1-4 with Smothering Riches, giving us a 20% match win percentage and making Smothering Riches pretty far below average for an Against the Odds deck. That said, there is some good news. Of our losses, the only match that didn't feel close was Burn. Against everyone else, we were really close to winning, even though it didn't technically work out. More importantly, the combo turns were absolutely absurd, and I had a ton of fun playing the deck. So even though we didn't win in the traditional sense, I'd considering Smothering Riches a win, just because of how ridiculously fun the deck is to play and because of the crazy things we were able to do with the deck!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Last week's "win the game" poll was super close, so let's run it back next week with some new options! Click here to vote!


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

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