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Deep Tracks: Atog

Hey folks! Welcome to another edition of Deep Tracks. Last time, I asked all of you to build me a deck based on Lich's Mastery. I received a bunch of submissions, and I wanted to start things off with a HUGE thanks to everyone who sent in a Decklist. I very much enjoyed all of your unique ideas, and each Deck Builder had their own personal flavor, which is great to see! After careful consideration, I have to say, there was one Modern list that really got my gears turning:
Now that’s the kind of outside-of-the-box thinking I love to see! The deck isn't very flashy and looks pretty straightforward, but I see some clever ideas laced within, and I really like the concept. The strategy also appears to be cohesive. With the addition of a proper sideboard, I think the deck could be FNM worthy, and even have a chance as a rogue brew at larger tournaments. And hey, I have a soft spot for Wall of Omens :) One thing that I would like to see in this deck is some kind of backup plan to Approach of the Second Sun. Other than that, I really like the deck idea. Thanks JoeTNT for the submission, Great job!
Alright boys and girls, time for our main topic. Today we’re going to tinker with an old classic that I’m hell-bent on brewing around for Modern:
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Why, you ask? Well, first of all, I love old school Magic cards, and Atog goes all the way back to Antiquities! Check out this crazy Atog deck I stumbled upon while doing some research. It dates back to 2010:
The basic description of 1st Turn Kill Atog is this: Mulligan until you have Glimpse of Nature and Elvish Spirit Guide, cast / draw / cast your entire deck, then win with Atog and Reckless Charge! You can find a link to the original post at the bottom of this article.
The second reason why I’m interested in Atog is because Affinity just so happens to be the deck that got me hooked on…  Pauper! If you’re not familiar with Pauper, it’s a format that shares similarities with Legacy. From a Meta perspective, the top archetypes in Pauper are well-known and established, and it would take substantial bans or unbans to shake things up. Unheard of fringe decks pop up. And occasionally a new card is printed or an old card is downshifted to Common rarity, and the format gets a little kick.
Affinity is a staple archetype in Pauper, and a typical Decklist looks like this:
Here we see that Atog is already an essential element of a “competitive” deck. But why isn’t it a thing in any other format? Is it possible to build an Atog deck for Modern? I’m curious.
Here’s one thing to consider — with the release of Aether Revolt, we received what is essentially an exact replica of Atog:
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…Exact same CMC, color identity, stats, and activated ability. With the addition of Ravenous Intruder, we now have redundant copies of Atog to work with, which is encouraging.  However, if we refer back to the Pauper Affinity list, it sports only a lone Playset of Atog, which appears to be enough. So, do we really even need eight Atogs?
I have two different trains of thought when it comes to building a Modern Atog deck:

Going “All-In”

The first idea is to take advantage of Ravenous Intruder and go “all-in” on the Fling-Atog combo. In theory we should be able to spill out a handful of cheaply costed Artifacts, slam an Atog or Ravenous Intruder, attack once and then follow it up by Flinging our way to victory. This actually seems attainable in a format where Mox Opal exists!  Conversely, by going with this plan, we’re making certain concessions. The deck could be fragile, produce awkward draws, and lack resilience. Nonetheless, I’ve assembled an “all-in” Decklist:
The “all-in” deck is functional, fun to play, and capable of squeaking out victories. And, although a rare occurrence, the deck is actually capable of winning on turn two with the right configuration of cards! But ultimately, it comes up a little short in terms of power level when compared to the top decks in Modern. There are two main reasons for this. First, we don’t really have a good way to give Atog evasion (outside of Temur Battle Rage), which is important; we can’t always rely on Fling and will often need to go for a big “all-in” attack. We do have the option of including cards like Apostle's Blessing or Aqueous Form for example. However, by dedicating slots to non-Artifact spells, we’re contributing to the biggest problem the deck faces, which is its inability to quickly amass enough Artifacts for a one-shot lethal attack or Fling attempt. Here's a slightly different version of the "all-in" deck with a twist:
That one's dedicated to by buddy Will, who suggested this article should be about Infect ;)
After some painstaking trial and error and several iterations of the “all-in” deck, it dawned on me that there may be a more logical approach to building a Modern Atog deck:


Easy — let’s just try to emulate the aforementioned Pauper Affinity deck and port it to Modern. Seems reasonable, yes? Not so fast… there are key cards in the Pauper deck that are banned in Modern:
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As such, we can’t actually go with this plan. But hear me out. What if these cards weren’t banned? Would the premise of emulation then be viable? If you’re not aware, SCG CON is quickly approaching and “No Banned List Modern” will be under the spotlight. So, why don’t we at least explore the possibility?
Taking this unusual format into consideration, here’s my attempt to emulate Pauper Affinity for No-ban Modern:
To me, this deck actually seems to have potential. Without a modern ban list to worry about, we can go nuts! Here we have a relatively similar version of Pauper Affinity for Modern, but even better. With the ability to sift outside the realm of Common rarity, we can include heavy hitters like Mox Opal, Etched Champion, Ensoul Artifact, and Karn, Scion of Urza. Of course we're going to roll with the banned Artifact Lands, but I’ve also included a few other banned cards to up the spice level:
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Chrome Mox is self-explanatory. Mental Misstep, Gitaxian Probe, and Treasure Cruise come in from the sideboard versus Midrange and Control strategies. I especially like Treasure Cruise. With Atog playing a key role in our plan, we’ll likely be filling up our graveyard with Artifacts on the regular, and nothing plays into late-game resilience better than powerful card advantage!
Now, as much as I’d love to jam nothing but Artifact Lands in the No-ban deck, we need to play it safe and hedge a little bit because I will admit, Stony Silence seems very, very, VERY scary. Thus, the inclusion of Blinkmoth Nexus, a couple Basic Lands, and Spire of Industry became a necessity. And much like “stock” modern Affinity lists, we need to also be weary of cards like Ancient Grudge, Shattering Spree, and… must I go on? It goes without saying that these cards must always be on the radar, but still, I feel like No-ban Fling-Atog could be capable of edging out victory even through the hate.
At this stage, I can only imagine what a wide-open Modern Format would look like. It’ll probably be comparable to the Wild, Wild West! I don’t really know what to expect, but there is one thing I am certain about: it sure is refreshing to think about the possibilities.
Well, that’s it for this installment of Deep Tracks.  Let me know what you think!  Are there other ways we can put the classic Atog to use? What are your thoughts on No-ban Modern? Feel free to send me your Deck ideas. If something catches my eye, I’ll be sure to include it next time.  As always, all comments are welcome, thank you so much for reading, and have a great one!
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