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Against the Odds: The Rippling (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 113 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had an all-artifact Against the Odds poll, and while Mirror Gallery put up a fight, the rippling artifact Thrumming Stone came out on top in the end. As such, we are heading to Modern this week to see if we can ripple our way to the wins with an all-in combo build of Thrumming Stone. The basic idea of The Rippling is simple: we play a Thrumming Stone, and then if we can cast a single copy of Shadowborn Apostle, the end result should be that we get 20 more copies of Shadowborn Apostle for free! Then, we can win by beating down with our 1/1s or win right away with the help of a couple of other cards in our deck. Can Thrumming Stone 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: The Rippling (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: The Rippling (Games)

The Deck

When Thrumming Stone won the poll, I knew that using Shadowborn Apostle or Relentless Rats was the default way to break the card, but I wanted to see if there were any other Thrumming Stone combos available in Modern. In theory, you can play the card for value and just hope you ripple well, but in a 60-card deck, even if you play everything as a four-of, the odds just aren't very high that you ripple into another copy of the card you cast (somewhere around 20%, depending on exactly how many cards are in your deck, which means Thrumming Stone does nothing four out of every five times). This means to make Thrumming Stone work without going the Shadowborn Apostle route, you need a way to control what cards are on top of your deck, and there simply aren't many options in Modern. The one possibility I did find is Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. With a Momir out, if you cast a green creature, you can stack the triggers in a way where, on cast, you put another copy of the card on top of your deck before the ripple trigger resolves, so you're guaranteed to hit the card you cast with Thrumming Stone. I actually built and played a few games with a Bant deck featuring this combo, but it didn't really work. It was extremely rare to untap with both Momir Vig, Simic Visionary and Thrumming Stone on the battlefield, so instead of being a cool Thrumming Stone deck, it was more of a bad Bant value deck. In the end, we ended up back with the default combo.

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The combo of our deck is simple: we have four Thrumming Stones and 21 Shadowborn Apostles, and our goal is to get a Thrumming Stone onto the battlefield and cast a single copy of Shadowborn Apostle. This gives us about an 80% chance of hitting one or more copies of [[Shadowborn Apostle] with Thrumming Stone's ripple, which lets us cast the second Shadowborn Apostle and ripple again. The end result is usually that we have all 21 copies of Shadowborn Apostle on the battlefield. Here, it's important to note that when we ripple, we get to cast any number of cards with the same name that we find in our top four, which means sometimes we hit two or three Shadowborn Apostles, giving us two or three ripple triggers. This helps make up for the times when our ripple whiffs and we don't find another copy of Shadowborn Apostle. As long as we hit on our first couple of ripples, it's pretty unlikely that our combo will fizzle. After we have 21 copies of Shadowborn Apostle on the battlefield, we can win in a few different ways. The most straightforward is to simply attack our opponent with a board full of 1/1s, but we have a couple of backup plans as well.

As for Dark Petition, it's basically copies five and six of Thrumming Stone. Since we have a ton of Shadowborn Apostles in our deck, drawing that half of our combo is almost never a problem, but with only four Thrumming Stones, we sometimes struggle to find a copy. Having a couple of Dark Petitions to increase the number of Thrumming Stones in our deck helps to solve the problem. 

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Purphoros, God of the Forge lets us win right away with our ripple combo, since every time one of our 21 Shadowborn Apostles enters the battlefield, it deals two damage to our opponent, which adds up to 42 damage altogether—enough to win in just about every matchup. The challenge is that we need to have our Purphoros, God of the Forge on the battlefield before we combo off, or it doesn't really do much of anything. On the other hand, after we get all of our Shadowborn Apostles, we can sacrifice six of them to tutor up our single Demon: Griselbrand. While we don't really have a Griselbrand combo, having a huge lifelinking flier is a good way to close out the game, and drawing more cards is rarely a bad thing. More importantly, having a Griselbrand in our deck gives us a backup plan for when we don't have a copy of Thrumming Stone, since we can always hard cast six copies of Shadowborn Apostle and tutor up the Demon.

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The biggest challenge of building around Thrumming Stone and Shadowborn Apostle is that that combo eats up so many slots in the deck, which means we don't have much room for utility cards. Initially, I used our leftover slots on Thoughtseizes and Fatal Pushes to help slow down the opponent, but this plan didn't really work, since the Thrumming Stone combo is pretty slow without some ramp (we need to play Thrumming Stone on Turn 5, play a Shadowborn Apostle on Turn 6, and unless we have a Purphoros, God of the Forge, try to win on turn seven, which is tough for an interaction-light deck). So, rather than slowing our opponents down, our deck is looking to speed up our Thrumming Stone as much as possible. With the help of Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl, we can cast a Thrumming Stone as early as Turn 3 and combo off with Shadowborn Apostle on Turn 4, which puts the combo more in line with the speed of Modern. Of course, this comes at a cost: we don't have any interaction in our main deck, so we are 100% all-in on goldfishing into our combo and hoping that our combo is good enough to win the game.

The Matchups

Sadly, The Rippling is one of those decks that doesn't feel like it has many good matchups. While our Turn 4 nut draw is good enough to beat a lot of decks, this doesn't happen all that often, and we struggle in most matchups when we are left playing Thrumming Stone on Turn 5. Against aggressive decks, we are likely dead by the time we can cast Thrumming Stone, and the same is true against many of the faster combo decks. Against control, our opponent just holds up a counter for our Thrumming Stone, and our deck is left playing 1/1s every turn and hoping that our Shadowborn Apostles are good enough. Midrange might be our best matchup, but many of these decks have Thoughtseize to take Thrumming Stone from our hand preemptively. All around, I'm not sure there's a single good matchup for The Rippling. 

The Odds

Overall, we played 14 games and won three, good for a 21% game win percentage, along with winning one of our six matches (for a 16.67% match win percentage), which means The Rippling is one of the least competitive Against the Odds decks we've played in a while. We simply weren't fast or consistent enough to keep up with the powerful decks in Modern, and the huge deck-building restriction (of having to dedicate nearly 30 cards to the combo) was too much to overcome. The good news is we did manage to combo off in three times, and the combo is super sweet when it happens! Just be warned: if you decide to pick up the deck, you'll likely only manage to pull off the combo about once every five games.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Mythics are often the most powerful cards in their sets, but they don't always hit the mark. So next week, let's give some of the bad mythics of Magic their due! Which of these bad mythics 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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