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Against the Odds: Worldpurge (Modern, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 206 of Against the Odds. Last week, in honor of the return of hybrid mana in Throne of Eldraine, we had an all-hybrid (in Modern) Against the Odds poll. In the end, it was Worldpurge taking home a commanding victory in the voting. As such, we're heading to Modern today to play the most fixed of Upheavals in Worldpurge. On its face, bouncing everything seems like a powerful effect, but Worldpurge is built with a ton of safety valves (emptying mana pools, only allowing you to keep seven cards in hand, costing eight mana) that make it really difficult to break the symmetry. However, there is one (insanely janky) way to turn Worldpurge into a game-ending combo piece: Barren Glory! That's right—this week, we are going full-on jank mode and looking to get a Barren Glory under a Detention Sphere, resolve a Worldpurge to bounce all of our permanents (returning Barren Glory from under Detention Sphere in the process), and empty our hand (by choosing to keep zero cards) and praying to the Magic gods that we get the Barren Glory win on our upkeep. How many losses will it take to get the Barren Glory / Worldpurge combo kill in Modern? What are the odds of winning with the most fixed version of Upheaval imaginable? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Worldpurge

The Deck

Worldpurge is an incredibly hard card to break. After the brokenness of Upheaval, Wizards seemingly went out of its way to make sure that none of the tricks that made Upheaval so broken (mostly floating a bunch of mana before casting it) would work with Worldpurge. As such, to make Worldpurge more than a big, annoying "restart the game" button, it takes going really deep and really janky. In fact, the only way I could find to truly turn Worldpurge into a game-ending combo piece was Barren Glory, and when Barren Glory is somehow the most competitive option...

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Anyway, the plan for our deck is simple: we spend the early game ramping so we can get enough mana to actually cast Worldpurge. Hopefully, along the way, we will manage to resolve a Barren Glory and then exile it with Detention Sphere. Then, when we resolve Worldpurge, we will get back Barren Glory from under Detention Sphere, making it our only permanent, and then take advantage of the fact that Worldpurge says we can keep "up to" seven cards in hand by choosing to keep zero, making the conditions right to trigger the Barren Glory win on our upkeep.

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While not our most essential combo piece, Teferi, Time Raveler is one of our best support cards. Forcing our opponent to play at sorcery speed makes it hard for them to interact with our combo kill, and Teferi's +1 allows us to do the cool trick of casting Worldpurge at instant speed (ideally on our opponent's end step), which will allow us to immediately go to our upkeep and hopefully get the Barren Glory win. Otherwise, Teferi, Time Raveler can help to slow down our opponent by bouncing a threat or even let us reuse one of our ramp spells, like Risen Reef, or draw more cards with Mulldrifter.

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Our backup plan for breaking the symmetry of Worldpurge is Nezahal, Primal Tide. If we can get Nezahal on the battlefield before we Worldpurge (which isn't too hard since they are nicely on curve with each other), we can discard three cards to flicker it into exile before we Worldpurge, and after bouncing all of our permanents (and our opponent's permanents), we'll get back our Nezahal, Primal Tide on an empty board during the next end step. Ideally, the 7/7 will be enough to close out the game before our opponent rebuilds post-Worldpurge. While I considered other options for this slot (like Aetherling), Nezahal, Primal Tide is perfect for Worldpurge because it doesn't cost any mana to activate (leaving us all of our mana for Worldpurge purposes) and because discarding three cards isn't much of a downside, since we normally have to shuffle a bunch of cards from our hand into our deck after Worldpurge anyway. 

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Otherwise, Arbor Elf, Utopia Sprawl, and Risen Reef provide ramp. For our plan to work, we need to get to six mana for Barren Glory and then eight for Worldpurge as quickly as possible. Together, these cards can get us all the way up to Worldpurge mana as early as Turn 4, hopefully making our combo kill fast enough to keep up with the most powerful decks in Modern.

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Finally, Mulldrifter gives us a source of card advantage, basically being a Divination if we evoke it that also ups our Elemental count for Risen Reef purposes. It keeps us churning through our deck to find our combo pieces and ramp and, in the worst case, offers a flying chump blocker to (hopefully) buy us one additional turn to combo off.

The Matchups

While this might come as a surprise, I'm not sure our Worldpurge / Barren Glory combo deck has many (or even any) good matchups. The plan is really slow (although awesome when it comes together) and also somewhat inconsistent because without the help of Barren Glory or Nezahal, Primal Tide, Worldpurge by itself doesn't offer a ton of value. In theory, we want to play against a slow deck that also doesn't have much interaction, but I'm not sure a deck like that exists in Modern. Mostly, we're hoping to get a good draw and for our opponent to get a slow draw. When these stars align, it's possible for the ultra-janky Worldpurge combo kill to happen.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches with Worldpurge and won two, giving us a 40% match win percentage, which is somewhat below average for an Against the Odds deck but actually not all that bad. That said, I wouldn't expect to win 40% of the time with Worldpurge. One of our wins came against Neobrand, where our opponent somehow fizzled after drawing 14 cards in game one, beat us instantly on Turn 2, and then lost to our sideboard Force of Negation (which flavorfully pitched a Worldpurge) in game three. While it would be nice to claim victory in the match, it was really more of a case of our opponent's deck beating itself than Worldpurge being awesome. 

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The good news is that the Worldpurge / Barren Glory / Detention Sphere kill is possible, and when it happens, it is pretty spectacular. If you're looking to win a game in the jankiest way possible, Worldpurge is a good option. On the other hand, if you're trying to win a Grand Prix (or even an FNM or a casual game on your kitchen table), there are much better and easier ways to go about pulling off the victory.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Next week we get to start playing with new Throne of Eldraine cards, but for this week we're going to try something that has been heavily requested: revisiting a classic card from the early days of Against the Odds. While it's hard to believe, the first episode of Against the Odds went live in September of 2015, which means we're celebrating our four year anniversary. In the past four years, a ton has change in Modern, with new cards, sets and bannings. Plus I've (hopefully) grown and improved as a deck builder. As such, even though we've technically played all of the cards on these week's poll before, there's a good chance the deck will feel fresh and new. Anyway, which one of these classic Against the Odds cards should we build around next week? Let us know by voting below!

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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

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