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Against the Odds: Squee's Tomb (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 148 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had our second all-Core Set 2019 Against the Odds poll, and in the end, it was the sweet, new Bat-making artifact Desecrated Tomb that came out on top. As such, we are heading to Modern this week to see if we can pick up some wins by making a ton of Bat tokens with the combo of Desecrated Tomb and Squee, Goblin Nabob. The basic idea is to get a Desecrated Tomb or two on the battlefield and find our Squees and a way to discard them every single turn, giving us a bunch of Bats for free as they return to our hand. Can Desecrated Tomb compete in a format as powerful as Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Squee's Tomb (Modern)

The Deck

When I realized that Desecrated Tomb had won, the first decision was figuring out whether we would play the card in Standard or Modern. Unlike last week's Arcades deck, which just wouldn't work in Standard, it's certainly possible to play Desecrated Tomb in Standard. However, the problem I found in Standard is that rather than being the focal point of the deck, Desecrated Tomb often just makes a Bat token every now and then as you beat down with Scrapheap Scrounger or Rekindling Phoenix. Since the goal is to build a Desecrated Tomb deck and not just a deck that happens to play Desecrated Tomb, I moved on to Modern. Initially, I considered various combo builds like Four Horsemen and an ill-fated Heartless Summoning deck (TLDR: all the Bat tokens die because of Heartless Summoning) before realizing that rather than going truly infinite with Desecrated Tomb, maybe the best plan was to use the artifact as a sort of super-Bitterblossom to generate a bunch of Bat tokens for free each turn with some of the synergistic support cards in Modern. This is eventually where we ended up, with Squee's Tomb.

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Step one for our deck is finding a copy or two of Desecrated Tomb, making it so whenever a creature leaves our graveyard, we get a 1/1 Bat token with flying. For this, we primarily use Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion, which, along with digging through our deck for Desecrated Tomb, allow us to stock our graveyard as well (hopefully with creatures that leave our graveyard to trigger Desecrated Tomb). 

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Once we get a Desecrated Tomb on the battlefield, our next goal is to fill our graveyard as quickly as possible to find the rest of our combo pieces. For this, we primarily use the dredge ability of Stinkweed Imp and Golgari Thug. While milling four or five cards a turn is extremely helpful, both of our dredgers come with an additional upside: when we dredge them, they are technically creatures leaving our graveyard, which means we get a Bat token from Desecrated Tomb! It's also worth keeping in mind that with the help of Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion, we can dredge multiple times in the same turn, dumping a bunch of cards in our graveyard and making several Bat tokens.

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The goal of all of our graveyard filling is to find as many copies of Squee, Goblin Nabob as possible. While Squee isn't great as a creature, it's amazing as a combo piece with Desecrated Tomb, since it returns to our hand from the graveyard for free each turn, making a Bat for each copy of Squee, Goblin Nabob we have in the graveyard. Meanwhile, Bloodghast is our backup version of Squee. While it doesn't offer as much repeated value, it still makes Bat tokens when it returns from the graveyard to the battlefield with its landfall trigger, and then we can attack our opponent, knowing that if our opponent blocks and kills our Bloodghast, we can always play more lands to get back Bloodghast and make more Bats.

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The final piece of the puzzle is a way to repeatedly discard our Squee, Goblin Nabobs. While cards like Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion help, our best option is Zombie Infestation. If we can find two copies of Squee along with Zombie Infestation and Desecrated Tomb, we have an engine that allows us to discard both of our Squees to make a 2/2 Zombie, and then we also get two 1/1 flying Bat tokens when the Squees return to our hand. Then, we can repeat this process every turn without spending any mana at all! Eventually, we'll find all four Squees, and then we can make two 2/2 Zombies and four 1/1 Bats each turn, which is an overwhelming amount of free value! Eventually, our army of free tokens will be enough to attack and kill our opponent, and even if it takes a while to get to that point, it doesn't really matter, since we have an endless stream of chump blockers for whatever threats our opponent might have!

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Rounding out our deck are Thoughtseize to help against combo and control, along with a couple of removal and discard spells that double up as additional ways to discard our Squees and dredge cards. Lightning Axe can kill just about anything in the format for just one mana, and thanks to our Squee, Goblin Nabobs, discarding a card isn't really much of a downside in our deck (and it's sometimes actually an upside, when we are able to get a dredge card in our graveyard). Meanwhile, Collective Brutality is even more flexible in our deck than most, since we can usually escalate it two or three times, essentially for free, thanks to all of the cards we actively want in our graveyard!

The Matchups

The scariest matchups for Squee's Tomb are fast combo decks. While the combo of Squee, Zombie Infestation, and Desecrated Tomb offers an almost unbeatable late-game engine, if our opponent is combo killing us on Turn 3 or 4, all of the 1/1 Bats in the world won't save us. While having Thoughtseize, Collective Brutality, and some good sideboard options helps, fast combo is still our hardest matchup. Meanwhile, Squee's Tomb is extremely strong against creature and control decks. Against random removal-heavy midrange decks, we don't really care about our opponent's removal, since we just keep making more creatures for free each turn, and we can chump block big, annoying Tarmogoyfs and Death's Shadows forever. As for control, cards like Bloodghast and Zombie Infestation are really difficult for our opponent to keep up with, since even if they wrath our board, our threats just keep coming back. Plus, both Zombie Infestation and Desecrated Tomb are fairly cheap, making it easier to slip them through our opponent's counterspell defenses than other more expensive combo pieces.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches and won four, good for an 80% match win percentage, while winning nine of 13 games, good for a 69% game win percentage, making Squee's Tomb one of the best Against the Odds decks in a while. More impressively, it's not like we feasted on brews and lower-tier decks—while we did lose a three-game matchup to Humans, we managed to beat Tron, Bant Spirits, Burn, and a Teferi control deck along the way! While we might have gotten a bit lucky to dodge some graveyard hate, which is very good against our deck, we also managed to beat Tron in a game where they found Relic of Progenitus to exile our graveyard. As for Desecrated Tomb itself, it's surprisingly good. While we did win a few games without it, the power to rebuild our board at lightning speed every turn is extremely powerful, and our matchup against Spirits showed the power of the artifact. Our opponent had a ton of massive hexproof fliers, but they couldn't do anything against our board full of Bats, allowing us to eventually make a massive board and simply swing through our opponent's defenses for the win!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

While we'll get back to the normal Against the Odds poll soon, there are still some sweet Core Set 2019 cards that we haven't played yet, so let's delve into Magic's newest set one more time. Which of these M19 cards should we build around (mostly likely in Standard) next week? Let us know by voting 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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