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Budget Magic: $84 (65 tix) Modern Troll Worship

Troll Worship vs Affinity

Troll Worship vs Affinity


Hello Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again. Since we still have a couple days before Battle for Zendikar releases on Magic Online, we are heading back to Modern one more time — fear not, starting next week we'll have several Standard Budget Magics in a row, designed to help combat what looks to be a very expensive Standard format. The good new is that this week's deck, Troll Worship, is super well-positioned in the current Modern meta. We're not talking "good for budget" good, but "favored against a large portion of the field" sort of good. Good enough to go 4-1, 4-1 in two consecutive Modern leagues this week despite my best efforts to punt away potential 5-0 finishes. I'll explain why in a few minutes, but first check out the videos. Just a quick reminder — if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Troll Worship Intro

Troll Worship vs Abzan

Troll Worship vs Naya Burn

Troll Worship vs Angel's Grace Combo

Troll Worship vs Skred Red

Troll Worship vs Grixis Twin

This is usually where I spend a while breaking down the card choices in the deck; while I'm still going to talk about a few cards briefly, the reason Troll Worship is good is not so much about what's in the deck, but instead, it's about what cards are not in other Modern decks and what decks are not currently seeing much play in Modern. 

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The deck itself is really quite simple. Ideally we play mana dorks on turn one, a "troll" (either Troll Ascetic or Witchstalker) on turn two, and then we play Worship on turn three. Until and unless our opponent can remove either our hexproof creature (and often multiple hexproof creatures, some that regenerate), or our four-mana enchantment, we basically cannot lose the game. This is pretty much as good as winning the game because once you can't lose, you have all the time in the world to figure out a way to kill your opponent (typically some combination of Gavony Township activations, Sigarda, Host of Herons and/or Sun Titan). 

If you accept that not losing is just as good as winning, our combo is actually very similar to Splinter Twin. We are looking to resolve a three-drop creature followed by a 4-cmc enchantment. In fact, our combo is better in several ways since our creatures have hexproof (so we don't get blown out by a Path to Exile or Lightning Bolt) and our enchantment is not an aura so we can still resolve it even when we don't have a creature on the battlefield. 

There really is no "trick" to the deck; it's actually pretty straight forward. We get a troll and a Worship on the battlefield and ask our opponent "can you beat this?" The beauty of the deck is that most Modern decks have very few answers to this lock. 

What Beats Troll Worship?

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The most common way for us to lose is by not resolving a troll and a Worship, so the main trick is playing around counterspells and discard. Thankfully, we have two good work arounds for countermagic. First, we can resolve our combo before our opponent gets in a position to sit on a counter, which is why having five one-drops is so important to the deck. Second, counters in general are on a downswing in Modern. Decks that could max out on counters (for instance Grixis Twin) are going on a more proactive game plan involving removal spells, so we are usually just fighting through a playset of Remand (which isn't all that bad, since we can just cast our Worship again the following turn) and maybe one or two Cryptic Commands. As for discard, thanks to the aggressive Modern meta, many decks are playing more Inquisition of Kozileks (which can't hit Worship) than Thoughtseizes, so we naturally have some amount of protection against targeted discard. 

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After we resolve a Worship, the main way people get out from under the lock is enchantment removal, which is exceedingly rare in main decks and fairly scarce even after sideboarding. Modern players are not used to having to beat an enchantment, so they don't bother to include much enchantment removal in their 75s (instead relying on catch all answers like Abrupt Decay, which looks silly against the 4cmc Worship), so the format in general is soft to Worship.

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The other way to beat the lock is to kill our creatures, which is easier said than done since our ample supply of hexproof blanks the most popular answers in the format (Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Abrupt Decay). We can even get around most sweepers with the help of Troll Ascetics regeneration or by using our six manlands as fill-in creatures post-wrath until we can resolve another troll. Better yet, we have some sweet sideboard tech for red sweepers like Anger of the Gods, Bonfire of the Damned and Pyroclasm in the form of Mark of Asylum, which counters damage-based sweepers permanently for only two mana. 

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Finally, the other way to beat Troll Worship is to not care about dealing damage. Worship can't save us from poison counters, being milled out, or from having Emrakul, the Aeons Torn annihilate away our board (although Sigarda, Host of Herons is an amazing answer to Eldrazi). The good news is somewhere in the neighborhood of 85% of Modern deck are looking to end the game with good old fashion damage, so these fringe cases aren't all that troubling or problematic. 

The Modern Meta

Just for fun, let's look through the twelve most played decks in Modern and see just how many answers there are for our combo. Actually, let's make it 10 of the 12 most played, because I will tell you right up front that Infect (5.39 percent of the meta) is an almost unwinnable matchup because our combo is dead against poison counters and RG Tron (4.79 percent of the meta) is a bad matchup, since neither Karn Liberated or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn card much about Worship. To be fair, Tron isn't quite as bad as Infect because we have four copies of Ghost Quarter and five copies of Eternal Witness and Sun Titan to get them back from our graveyard, so some percentage of the time we can win by going on the mana denial plan, but we are still a significant dog. 

Troll Worship vs The Modern Meta
Deck Percent of Meta Answers to Worship Answers to Worship SB Answers to Troll Answers to Troll SB
Affinity 10.18% 0 0 0 0
Living End 7.19% 3 Beast Within 0 3 Living End (plus 8 cascade spells) 0
Amulet Bloom 6.59% 2 Hive Mind 1 Nature's Claim, 3 Seal of Primordium 0 0
Naya Burn 5.99% 0 4 Destructive Revelry 0 0
Jund 5.99% 2 Maelstrom Pulse 0 1 Damnation
UR Twin 5.99% 2 Cryptic Command (bounce mode) 0 0 0
Grixis Twin 4.79% 2 Cryptic Command (bounce mode) 0 0 0
Scapeshift 2.99% 3 Cryptic Command (bounce mode) 2 Nature's Claim 0 0
Jeskai Flash 2.99% 0 2 Wear // Tear 0 0
GW Company 2.40% 1 Dromoka's Command, 2 Qasali Pridemage 0 0 0
Averages   1.5 Main Deck Outs to Worship 0.9 SB Outs to Worship 0.4 Main Deck Outs to Troll 0.1 SB Outs to Troll

So there you have it. The beauty of Troll Worship is that it puts the typical Modern deck on a two-outer as soon as Worship resolves. Even after sideboarding, the average deck only has 2.4 ways to get out from under the lock. Troll Ascetic, likewise, is almost unkillable since no one is playing true wraths and answers like Liliana of the Veil and Anger of the Gods aren't that effective through mana dorks or regeneration. 

I made a list similar to this before playing the deck; on paper, Troll Worship seemed extremely well positioned in the format, and its record (80 percent MWP in two Modern leagues) and the videos support this. However, one thing I realized is, with a bit of tweaking, we could make the deck even better and the lock even harder by splashing blue. Here's the non-budget Troll Worship list I've been playing the last couple of days:

While this version changes the creatures base slightly —mostly by adding a Thrun, the Last Troll and a Knight of the Reliquary in place of two Witchstalkers and by upgrading our mana dorks from Llanowar Elves to Noble Hierarch, which makes it easier for our trolls to attack — the deck plays out more or less the same pre-board. Even though we are a bant deck, we only have a single blue card in the main deck (Sphinx's Revelation). The real benefit of the blue splash is seen post board where we get to bring in three Dispel and two Negate to counteract the small number of spells our opponent will have to break up the Worship lock. Almost every single answer to Worship is an instant and this build allows us to have more answers to our opponent's answers.


Anyway, that's all for today. Give Troll Worship a shot. It is not only inexpensive, but in the current Modern meta, extremely well positioned. More importantly, it's also pretty fun to play and watching your Affinity or Burn opponent scoop on turn three in response to Worship is hilarious. As always, leave your suggestions, comments and opinions below, and you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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