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Against the Odds: The Unspeakable


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 318 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had an original Kamigawa–in-Modern Against the Odds poll, and in the end, The Unspeakable took home a super-easy victory. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can cast Reach Through Mists, Peer Through Depths, and Sift Through Sands all in the same turn to summon The Unspeakable from our deck, at which point we hope that our 6/7 flying trampler (combined with an arcane spell or two from the graveyard) will be enough to win the game. What are the odds of winning with The Unspeakable 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: The Unspeakable

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The Deck

On one hand, building The Unspeakable is pretty straightforward because the challenge of the card isn't just casting it—it's using Reach Through Mists, Peer Through Depths, and Sift Through Sands to tutor it out on the cheap (well, cheap-ish). So before we even start brewing the deck, almost half of our non-land card slots are eaten away by the combo. On the other hand, figuring out what to do with the rest of the slots is tricky. I considering trying to play a traditional control deck with Teferi, Time Raveler and such, but it just didn't feel in the spirit of Against the Odds, so I decided we should probably play The Unspeakable the way Garfield intended: in a deck full of arcane spells and things to splice onto them!

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Let's start with The Unspeakable itself: it's not very good. It costs nine mana and offers a 6/7 flier that can sort of draw a card each turn it deals combat damage, by returning an arcane card from our graveyard to our hand. 

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Thankfully, we're not planning on casting The Unspeakable for its full nine-mana cost. Instead, we're looking to cheat it into play on the cheap by resolving The Unspeakable Tron—Reach Through Mists, Peer Through Depths, and Sift Through Sands—all in one turn. If we do, we're rewarded by being able to tutor out The Unspeakable directly to the battlefield for free! Technically, this makes The Unspeakable six mana, which isn't super exciting in Modern but is much better than a nine-mana The Unspeakable. And we've got a way to speed it up even more...

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Since our main plan is to cast three instants to tutor out The Unspeakable, rather than playing more traditional ramp, we're relying on spell-ramp in Baral, Chief of Compliance and Goblin Electromancer to speed up the process. With either of these cards on the battlefield, we can cast Peer Through Depths, Reach Through Mists, and Sift Through Sands for a total of just four mana, which is actually a pretty decent cost for a 6/7 flying trampler with upside. This gives us a nut draw where we can cast a Baral or Electromancer on Turn 2; use Eerie Interlude to tutor up a missing combo piece on Turn 3; and then cast Reach, Peer, and Sift on Turn 4 to end up with The Unspeakable on the battlefield! Even outside of The Unspeakable shenanigans, both Baral and Electromancer work really well with our deck because our backup plan is slinging arcane spells and splicing things onto them...

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Outside of Lightning Bolt and Counterspell, which we're playing as generically good interaction, all of the spells in our deck are arcane, so we have some split-onto-arcane spells to back them up. Veil of Secrecy works really well with The Unspeakable. We can cast it to protect it from removal (and make it unblockable, if that is relevant on a 6/7 trampling flier), hit our opponent with The Unspeakable to return Veil of Secrecy to our hand, and then do it again the next turn and the next, until our opponent finally dies from The Unspeakable beats. Meanwhile, Glacial Ray and Horobi's Whisper give us repeatable removal if we splice them onto the many arcane spells in our deck. The way splice onto arcane works is that we can play the splice cost and the effect of the splice-onto-arcane spell is added to the arcane spell we're casting. For example, we can cast a Reach Through Mists and pay two extra mana and splice Glacial Ray, and Reach Through Mists will become a cantrip that is also a Shock. Most importantly, the splice-onto-arcane spells remain in our hand, so we can do it again the next time we cast an arcane spell. Glacial Ray is really good a sniping small creatures, while Horobi's Whisper can kill anything, as long as it isn't black. While not especially likely, it's even possible that we can win without The Unspeakable, by slinging a bunch of arcane spells, splicing Glacial Ray, and burning our opponent out of the game!

The Matchups

I'm honestly not sure that The Unspeakable has any good matchups, mostly because The Unspeakable just isn't that strong of a card. We put a lot of effort and cards into getting it onto the battlefield, and our reward isn't a Blightsteel Colossus or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn that is more or less guaranteed to close out the game. Instead, our reward is a 6/7 flying trampler that still can die to removal and isn't necessarily the biggest creature on the battlefield. I'm really hoping that we see a new The Unspeakable (or something similar) in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. I'm really curious what the 2022 version would look like because the 2004 version is a bit underpowered for our current version of Modern.

The Odds

Record-wise, we didn't manage to win a single match with The Unspeakable, although we did manage to win two games across our seven matches (five of which ended up in the video). The first win came by sticking a Blood Moon from our sideboard and eventually hard-casting The Unspeakable, which isn't something I expected to be possible. The second win finally involved casting Peer Through Depths, Reach Through Mists, and Sift Through Sands to tutor out The Unspeakable. As I mentioned a moment ago, the big issue is that The Unspeakable just isn't that great of a finisher by 2022 standards, even if we do manage to cheat it into play on the semi-cheap. 

The good news is that the splice-onto-arcane plan was oddly strong in some matchups. Against Hammer Time, we were able to kill about a million Puresteel Paladins and other small creatures by splicing Glacial Ray onto random arcane spells. While the plan suffers from the fact that most arcane spells are a bit overcosted, in the right matchup, a repeatable Shock (even an expensive one) is really strong. While probably unlikely, if we get more arcane spells in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, the splice-onto-arcane plan could actually be pretty good in Modern. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. 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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