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Against the Odds: Solemnity (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode ninety-four of Against the Odds. Hour of Devastation is finally here, and we're kicking things off with a special episode featuring one of my favorite cards (and the MTGGoldfish spoiler card) from the set: Solemnity! While the enchantment looks like a hate card (and in some sense, it is), it also has the potential to enable a lot of interesting locks and combos. In fact, our deck can not only keep us alive forever with the power of Solemnity and Phyrexian Unlife but can also deal infinite damage or gain infinite life as well. So this week, we are heading to Modern to embrace the power of Solemnity! What are the odds we can make the enchantment work in this fast and powerful format? Let's get to the videos and find out!

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: Solemnity (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Solemnity (Games)

The Deck

For special episodes, I usually have a pretty good idea about the deck we are going to play when heading into deck building, but Solemnity was a bit different. While I knew that the Phyrexian Unlife combo was worth exploring, we actually started out with a hardcore prison build with not just Unlife and Solemnity but also Ghostly Prison, Sphere of Safety, and lots of removal. While the deck was okay at winning games, it was also a bit boring, with lots of games that were overloaded with draw-go turns after our opponent was locked out of killing us but before we found a finisher. Then, I realized that we could play the lock but without being a dedicated prison deck. This led us to the deck we're playing today, which is overflowing with Solemnity synergies!

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Solemnity is a strange card. In Modern, it's only middling as a hate card—although after playing a bunch of games with it, there are odd situations where Solemnity is very good, like when the opponent tries to tick up a Ratchet Bomb or play an Arcbound Ravager—but it's great as a combo piece. While most of the good cumulative upkeep cards are in Legacy, there are a bunch of sweet and potentially game-winning synergies involving the enchantment in Modern as well. 

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While we aren't dedicated to setting up the combo, one of the most powerful things our deck can do (at least, in certain matchups) is get Solemnity on the battlefield alongside Phyrexian Unlife, which basically makes it so we can't die until our opponent deals with one of our enchantments. Phyrexian Unlife keeps us alive after our life total hits zero and turns all of our opponent's damage into poison counters, while Solemnity keeps us from getting counters (including poison counters). Just how good this is mostly depends on the matchup. Some decks literally scoop up the game to the lock (especially before sideboarding), while others have outs like Abrupt Decay or Maelstrom Pulse (although Solemnity protects itself from some potential outs, like Ratchet Bomb and Engineered Explosives

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Apart from randomly locking the opponent out of the game, our deck can also make our opponent lose infinite life or let us gain infinite life with the help of Solemnity and some of our creatures. Geralf's Messenger and Kitchen Finks both come back from the graveyard when they die if they don't have a counter on them, and with a Solemnity on the battlefield, they never have a counter, so they always come back. More importantly, Geralf's Messenger drains for two whenever it enters the battlefield, while Kitchen Finks gains us two life when it enters the battlefield, which means if we can assemble this combo with a sacrifice outlet, we can use the enters-the-battlefield trigger an infinite number of times by repeatedly sacrificing the creature. With Geralf's Messenger, this means our opponent dies on the spot, while Kitchen Finks gains us an infinite amount of life, which is enough to beat most decks, even though it doesn't directly win the game.

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Viscera Seer and Cartel Aristocrat are our sacrifice outlets, and while neither is especially exciting on its own, they make our deck super scary by giving us a legitimate nut draw. To win the game, all we need is one of our eight sacrifice outlet creatures by Turn 2, Solemnity on Turn 3, and either Geralf's Messenger or Kitchen Finks on Turn 4. Viscera Seer also has some additional value when things are going poorly because we can always sacrifice away our board in a desperate attempt to scry into the Solemnity / Phyrexian Unlife lock to keep us alive.

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We also have a couple of sweet one-ofs on the top of our curve. Zur the Enchanter gives us another way to find our Solemnity, which is important—since so many of our synergies are built around our namesake enchantment, drawing a copy is important, and it doesn't always happen with only four in our deck. Zur the Enchanter acts like a fifth copy of Solemnity, while also tutoring up Phyrexian Unlife if we already have Solemnity or a bunch of other sweet options after sideboarding. Meanwhile, Glen Elendra Archmage gives us infinite one-mana Negates with Solemnity, which makes it one of our best ways to protect the Solemnity lock. If our opponent finds an answer, we can simply sacrifice our Glen Elendra Archmage to counter it, and then we get the Faerie back without a counter thanks to Solemnity, so we can do it again and again and again.

Support Stuff

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Finally, we have a handful of support cards that don't directly work with Solemnity but are important to making a functional Modern deck. Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek give us ways to disrupt our opponent on Turn 1, taking away an answer to our combo or one of their most important cards. Meanwhile, Path to Exile and Fatal Push give us ways to deal with our opponent's creatures for just a single mana, which is especially important because even though we have the ability to lock damage out of the game with Solemnity and Phyrexian Unlife, we aren't especially dedicated to putting together our lock pieces. 

The Matchups

There are a few different considerations when it comes to matchups because our deck attacks on so many different levels. Some decks don't have an answer to the Phyrexian Unlife / Solemnity lock, especially before sideboarding, and these matchups are great. Eldrazi and Tron decks usually have answers, and some GB decks do as well, but many other color combinations struggle to deal with a combo that involves two enchantments. Even if a deck has a few scattered answers, the lock usually buys us enough time to find one of our other combos to actually close out the game. 

From a broader sense, counterspell-heavy control decks and non-Eldrazi Tron decks seem like our hardest matchups. Control decks can counter our relevant combo pieces, and even if something slips through, they usually have lots of spot removal to disrupt our Geralf's Messenger / Kitchen Finks combos, while Tron decks just go over the top of what we are trying to do and can sweep everything away with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or Karn Liberated. On the other hand, we are strangely well positioned to take on most other decks. Our discard keeps us alive against combo; Kitchen Finks and Phyrexian Unlife (even without Solemnity) are great against aggro; and we have a weird combination of good, efficient threats and removal to deal with midrange creature decks. 

Most importantly, we can beat anything thanks to our nut draw. Having a legitimate Turn 4 combo kill means that, even if our opponent is doing powerful things, we can often do something even more powerful and win the game. Maybe the best example of this was our very first game against Eggs, where our opponent suspended Lotus Bloom on Turn 1 and looked to have a Turn 4 kill, but we killed our opponent with Geralf's Messenger on our Turn 4 before our opponent could untap and win!

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches and won five, good for an 83.3% match win percentage, while getting in 14 games and winning 10, giving us a 71.4% game win percentage. Basically, the deck was amazing and seems like it could actually have legs in Modern. We won some games by locking opponents with Phyrexian Unlife; we had some Turn 4 kills with Geralf's Messenger; and we also won some games by just being a good, value-heavy midrange deck without any help from Solemnity at all. While Solemnity itself was great, probably the best part of the deck was that Solemnity supports a lot of good cards, so instead of trying to turn bad cards into good cards with the help of Solemnity, we were making already good cards better with the enchantment, which is the recipe for a super-sweet and surprisingly successful deck!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Hour of Devastation is here, and while we just played one of my favorite cards in our special episode, next week it's time to play your favorite card! The format will be Standard, so keep that in mind as you cast your vote. So, which of these Hour of Devastation cards should we play next week? Let me know by voting!

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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