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Against the Odds: Starfield Paradox (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 126 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had one of the closest Against the Odds polls of all time. In the end, it came down to Paradox Haze and Blood Sun, and the final tally was Paradox Haze taking down the win, with its 1,830 votes edging out Blood Sun's 1,827! As such, we're heading to Modern this week to play a deck I'm playing Starfield Paradox. The basic idea of the deck is to fill our graveyard with enchantments, many with abilities that trigger on our upkeep. Then, we get down a Paradox Haze along with Starfield of Nyx to start reanimating not just one but two enchantments each turn, thanks to our extra upkeep, and hopefully use these enchantments to win the game. Can an enchantment-based build of Paradox Haze compete in Modern? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Starfield Paradox (Modern)

The Deck

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In theory, there are a lot of different possibilities for Paradox Haze, since there are a lot of different cards that trigger on a player's upkeep and because Paradox Haze can enchant either player. Because of this, I spent quite a while digging around through the various upkeep cards in Modern before eventually landing on the list we're playing today. The biggest reason to play Paradox Haze in an enchantment deck is that it helps to minimize one of the biggest drawbacks of Paradox Haze: it's a three-mana enchantment that doesn't do anything right away and might not do anything for a while if we don't have a card that cares about upkeeps. Thanks to a handful of enchantment synergies in our Starfield Paradox deck, even when our extra upkeeps aren't relevant, Paradox Haze is often doing something by supporting our other enchantments, just by being an enchantment itself. 

 

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While we have a bunch of cards that can take advantage of our extra upkeeps, our two main combo pieces are Starfield of Nyx and Curse of Misfortunes. Starfield of Nyx is great in our deck for a couple of reasons. First, since we have Starfield of Nyx in our deck, we can mill our Paradox Haze in the early game when it's bad and still have it on the battlefield in the mid- and late game when it can be great by giving us an extra upkeep to trigger all of our upkeep cards. Second, Starfield of Nyx works well with Paradox Haze once we have it on the battlefield, since it reanimates an enchantment on our upkeep, which means we get two enchantments from our graveyard to the battlefield for free each turn. While there's some amount of risk to turning all of our enchantments into creatures, Starfield of Nyx works as a finisher in the late game, allowing us to kill our opponent by beating down with our Paradox Haze and all of our other enchantments!

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While we don't have a ton of Curse of Misfortunes targets, the Curses we do have are really powerful, especially when we can tutor up two a turn thanks to Paradox Haze. The main idea is to first tutor up Overwhelming Splendor to make all of our opponent's creatures 1/1s (while also shutting off activated abilities, which is important against decks like Lantern Control); then, we tutor up Curse of Death's Hold, which, in conjunction with Overwhelming Splendor, hard-locks our opponent out of playing creatures. Finally, we find our Cruel Reality, which hits our opponent for five each turn (since they don't have any creatures to sacrifice) to close out the game. In the late game, we can even enchant our opponent with Paradox Haze to speed up the Cruel Reality kill by making them lose 10 life a turn instead of just five.

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Commune with the Gods helps us find our important enchantments while also milling enchantments into our graveyard so we can eventually reanimate them with Starfield of Nyx. As I mentioned before, one of the best parts of this deck is the fact that we can mill over things like Paradox Haze and Curse of Misfortunes in the early game but still have access to them (for free) in the late game thanks to Starfield. 

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Search for Azcanta is oddly great in our deck. In the early game, it fills our graveyard for Starfield of Nyx while filtering our draws. Once we have a Paradox Haze, we get to trigger it twice each turn, which either helps us flip Search for Azcanta quickly or simply lets us dig and fill our graveyard. Finally, once we flip Search for Azcanta, we have a consistent, cheap way to dig through our deck for Paradox Haze, Starfield of Nyx, and any other enchantment we might need for a given situation.

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Assemble the Legion and Palace Siege round out our upkeep cards. Palace Siege probably looks weird since we don't have any creatures in our deck, but the idea is that we can set it on Dragons and drain our opponent for four or even six life each turn with the help of Paradox Haze triggering it multiple times. This helps to keep our life total high against aggro and can kill the opponent over the course of a few turns. Speaking of killing the opponent, Assemble the Legion is a pretty fast clock with Paradox Haze giving us an extra upkeep. The turn after we cast it, we get three hasty Soldier tokens; the next turn, we get seven; and the third turn, we get 11, which is usually enough to close out the game. In the worst case, we can use the tokens as chump blockers to help stay alive while we are digging for our Curses and Starfield of Nyx

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Otherwise, we have a bunch of other enchantments with specific jobs. Fertile Ground and Trace of Abundance help us ramp into our powerful four- and five-mana plays. Ghostly Prison and a single Sphere of Safety keep us alive against creature decks, while Leyline of Sanctity offers protection against spell-based decks like Burn and Storm. It's also worth mentioning that since all of these cards are enchantments, we can reanimate them with Starfield of Nyx and potentially even beat down with both of them once Starfield turns them into creatures.

The Matchups

In theory, we have the cards needed to beat just about anything in the format, assuming our opponent doesn't have a surprising amount of enchantment destruction, but in general, we'd much rather play against decks looking to win with creatures than decks looking to win with spells. We have a ton of hate against creature decks, with Overwhelming Splendor plus Curse of Death's Hold along with Ghostly Prison and Sphere of Safety, which means the odds of us finding an answer to creatures in a timely manner are fairly high. On the other hand, our answers are limited against spell-based decks. Life is good if we happen to draw a Leyline of Sanctity, but we'll have some games where we simply can't find a Leyline (see: some of our games against Burn), and then we lose. Control decks can be hit or miss. We should be good if we manage to slip a Starfield of Nyx through our opponent's defenses, although it's also possible our opponent can leave up counters for all of our important spells, and then Starfield Paradox will struggle.

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches and won four, good for a 66.67% match win percentage, along with winning eight of 13 games, good for 61.5%, which makes Starfield Paradox above average for an Against the Odds deck. More importantly, we actually made Paradox Haze work, at various times double-tutoring our Curses with Curse of Misfortunes, reanimating two enchantments a turn with Starfield of Nyx, and doubling up our muster counters on Assemble the Legion! Heading into the games, I was a bit worried that most of our wins would be from janking our opponent out with Sphere of Safety and Leyline of Sanctity, and while both of those spells were important, most of our wins can be attributed to some combination of Starfield of Nyx, Curse of Misfortunes, and Paradox Haze rather than a "gotcha" enchantment.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Cards that say "you win the game" are the backbone of Against the Odds. Unfortunately, we've played most of the "I win" cards in the past, but I realized this week that there are still a handful of less traditional ways to win games that we haven't won with in Modern. While a couple of the cards on this week's poll have been played in other formats, other haven't been played on Against the Odds at all, which is surprising. Anyway, which of these "I win" cards should we play in Modern 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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