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Against the Odds: Walls of Glory


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode sixty-two of Against the Odds! Last week, we had a "you win the game" Against the Odds poll, and in the end Barren Glory came out on top, taking home 25% of the vote and beating out Mortal Combat and Darksteel Reactor, which came in tied for second with 20% of the vote. As a result, this week we are heading to Modern to see if we can win with a card that started out in silver-border land as The Cheese Stands Alone before moving over to the tournament scene with a functional reprinting as Barren Glory. When it comes right down to it, Barren Glory is one of the most difficult "you win the game" cards to build around, not only because it's six mana but because the condition for winning the game—having no cards in hand an no other permanents on the battlefield—takes a lot of work to achieve. Is it possible we can make it work in an aggressive Modern format? We're about to figure it out!

Anyway, let's get to the videos, but first 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: Walls of Glory (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Walls of Glory (Games)

The Deck

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Barren Glory might be the most difficult "you win the game" card to build around in the entire game of Magic. It's just so slow, and it's surprisingly hard to get your entire battlefield and hand emptied of cards after getting a Barren Glory down. The most obvious trick to win with Barren Glory is to use something like Oblivion Ring or Detention Sphere to exile it and then blow up everything to get back the Barren Glory, and in fact, this was my first stab at the deck. The plan was to get a Barren Glory under a Oblivion Ring and then Through the Breach in a Bearer of the Heavens or Hellcarver Demon, with the backup plan of using Sins of the Past to cast a Worldfire from the graveyard. Unfortunately, this deck just didn't feel right. Instead of being a good Barren Glory deck, it felt like a bad Through the Breach deck. As a result, I decided to switch things up a bit, and the end result is a deck I'm calling Walls of Glory, which has not one but two ways of winning with Barren Glory

Winning the Game

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Our first plan for winning the game with Barren Glory is Death Cloud, which gives us a way to clear our entire board and hand with just one card. The trick to making Death Cloud work with Barren Glory is twofold. First, we need to make sure we don't have any artifacts or enchantments on the battlefield because Death Cloud won't allow us to sacrifice them and the cheese won't stand alone. Second, we need to make sure we can cast Death Cloud using at least three mana from nonland sources, which makes "x" big enough that we sacrifice all of our lands. 

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Plan B for winning with Barren Glory is Karn Liberated, which is where things get a big janky. The plan here is to resolve a Karn Liberated, +4 it to exile a Barren Glory from our hand, and then +4 it again to exile a spell (we have Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, Path to Exile, and Death Cloud) from our hand. This gives Karn Liberated enough loyalty where we can ultimate and restart the game with a Barren Glory; then, we simply mulligan to zero and win the game on our first upkeep!

The Walls

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Apart from a few removal and discard spells, the rest of our deck is overflowing with creatures with defender. Most importantly, these creatures make a ton of mana, sometimes tapping for two, three, four, or more, which allows us to play all of our important expensive cards like Barren Glory, Karn Liberated, and Death Cloud. As a result, our walls are essential to winning with Death Cloud, since they give us enough mana from nonland sources to use Death Cloud to wrath away all of our land, and with Karn Liberated, since our wall ramp allows us to produce enough mana to actually cast it. They also provide defense in the early game, which helps us stay alive long enough to try to win with Barren Glory

The Matchups

This was a rough one, and I'm really not sure we have any good matchups. When it comes right down to it, we are a deck built around two-card combos, but our two-card combos cost six or more mana; plus, it takes us multiple turns to actually win the game. As a result, there just isn't a really good way to make Barren Glory into a competitive card—it's simply too expensive and requires too much work. In theory, we'd rather play against slow decks to give us time to set up the combo, but these are the decks that are most likely to have counters, and counters are great against us. Against more aggressive decks, we are mostly hoping we can block long enough with our walls to set up the combo, and while this can work in some matchups, many of the best decks in Modern have ways around this plan, like Blighted Agent, Cranial Plating, or burn spells.

The Odds

All in all, we won one of six matches, good for a 16.67% match win percentage, and 3 of 13 games, good for a 23.07% game win percentage. Even worse, only one of our wins actually came from Barren Glory, and this win took a lot of finagling. All in all, this horrible record seems representative. While we had a couple of games where we were really close to winning with Barren Glory (sometimes being just a single turn short), we also shouldn't have beat Infect (I still don't know why our opponent kept sacrificing Inkmoth Nexus instead of other lands). As such, if you decide to build around Barren Glory in Modern, you should expect to win somewhere between 15% and 20% of the time.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Last week on our Brewer's Minute, we talked about some infinite combos in Modern, and a ton of people asked if they could see the decks in action. Well, this is your chance, because for this week's Against the Odds poll, we have several of those infinite combos battling it out against each other, and the winner will be made into next week's videos!

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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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