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Much Abrew About Nothing: Modern UW Emeria

Hello everyone! It's time for another edition of Much Abrew About Nothing. This time we are playing an upgraded version of a deck we played on Budget Magic a few months ago: Mono White Emeria Control. While the original is a strong budget deck, the upgraded version which splashes Blue for access to key cards is even more powerful. If I was going to play the archetype at a Grand Prix or SCG Open, Blue-White is the version I would go with. 

For this week's videos we'll be heading to a Modern League on Magic Online. Leagues are generally a step up from the two-man queues where I record Budget Magic. If you're not familiar with Leagues, they are the best thing to happen in Magic Online to a long, long time. Entry is eight tix (or 80 play points) and a League is five guaranteed rounds. If you go 3-2, you break even. At 4-1 or 5-0, you win a profitable mixture of play points, boosters, and Qualifying Points (QPs). Most importantly, you can play your matches at any time. You're not locked into sitting in front of your computer for several hours to finish the event. Leagues typically last a couple of months, so you can play one match every other week and still finish your league on time. Better yet, when you finish your five matches you can jump back into the League with the same (or different) deck to do it all over again!

We'll break down the deck after the videos, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy Much Abrew About Nothing and other video content on MTGGoldfish, subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Modern League: UW Emeria Intro

Match 1: UW Emeria vs Jeskai Flash

Match 2: UW Emeria vs Martyr Proc

Match 3: UW Emeria vs UR Twin

Match 4: UW Emeria vs Scapeshift

Match 5: UW Emeria vs Merfolk

The Deck

UW Emeria plays similarly to Mono-White Emeria. The main difference is we have a few extremely powerful additions and answers to more situations. Since it's been a while since we've talked about the deck, we'll do a full breakdown, spending more time with the upgrades (i.e. Blue cards). If you missed it, make sure to check out the original Mono White Emeria Budget Magic.

The basic idea of UW Emeria is to play a ton of inexpensive creatures that have enter the battlefield abilities (ETB), then reuse those abilities with Flickerwisp, Sun Titan, and Emeria, the Sky Ruin to create incremental, but insurmountable, advantage. 

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Emeria, the Sky Ruin is the card that gives our deck a crazy amount of inevitability. Our opponents find themselves placed on a sort of countdown timer. Land-by-land we get closer and closer to activating Emeria, the Sky Ruin. While an opponent can survive a turn or two against an active Emeria, the Sky Ruin, more often than not they just scoop in response to our seventh Plains. Reanimating something every turn for free is pretty close to unbeatable (barring a Rest in Peace). Often times we are not just reanimating something, but also taking advantage of our abundant enter the battlefield triggers along the way. Instead of getting back a creature, we are getting back a creature and drawing a card, gaining some life, or reanimating a second permanent. This is the advantage that makes Emeria truly insurmountable. 

The Creatures

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A question I get all the time is "why not play Kitchen Finks over Lone Missionary?" Let's get this out of the way right now. Kitchen Finks is clearly the more powerful card. It has more power and toughness, and it can block twice. However, Lone Missionary is better in our deck for a number of reasons. First, it's on curve. We already have several three-drops that are locked into our deck. I would rather play the slightly less powerful Lone Missionary on turn two than a turn three Kitchen Finks vying with Pilgrim's Eye, Flickerwisp, Court Hussar, and Detention Sphere. Second, Lone Missionary gains four life at once, which is relevant. When we are at two life against a Burn deck, Lone Missionary puts us out of Boros Charm range. Kitchen Finks does not. Finally, we can get back Lone Missionary with Ojutai's Command for a massive eight point life swing. All things considered, Lone Missionary is better for our deck. 

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Wall of Omens, on the other hand, needs no justification. It's just a good card. One thing you'll learn about the UW Emeria deck is that our late game is great. We can go over the top of pretty much anything in Modern except Eldrazi. The goal of our deck is to get to the late game. Wall of Omens furthers that strategy by being a solid blocker on turn two that doesn't cost us a card. Many of the same tricks that work with Lone Missionary (e.g. Ojutai's Command) apply to Wall of Omens as well. 

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Pilgrim's Eye is how we make sure to reach the seven Plains necessary to activate Emeria, the Sky Ruin on time. Beyond that it's mostly a disposable body that we can use to chump while getting to the late game. 

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Court Hussar is one of the new additions to the deck, and he's a good one. While he's a reasonable blocker in the early game, the reason we play him is because of his enter the battlefield Anticipate ability. As I'm sure you noticed, the Hussar has a pesky trigger which causes him to be sacrificed unless you spend White mana to cast him. In our deck, this trigger is often a benefit, not a drawback. In the late game, the trigger allows us to use Court Hussar as a literal Anticipate. We can get him back from the graveyard every turn with Sun Titan and Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Don't be afraid to let Court Hussar go to the graveyard. A free Anticipate every turn is often the way we lock up the game by digging for lands, counterspells, and more Sun Titans. 

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Flickerwisp is one of the best cards in our deck. It allows us to reuse the enter the battlefield abilities of all the creatures we talked about. Remember, we are trying to gain an incremental advantage that adds up to an insurmountable advantage that wins us the game. Plays like turn two Wall of Omens into turn three Flickerwisp, flickering Wall of Omens are huge. While it doesn't come up often, we can also use Flickerwisp to flicker one of our opponent's permanents. This distinction comes in handy when they have a huge Voice of Resurgence token, an Aether Vial ticking up, or a blocker we need to get out of the way to attack with Sun Titan.

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Sun Titan is amazing. It's really hard to overstate how powerful he is in this deck. Every single one of our creatures has a converted mana cost of three or less. Need some life? Get back a Lone Missionary. Need a land to turn on Emeria, the Sky Ruin? Get back a Flooded Strand or Pilgrim's Eye. Need some card advantage? Get back Wall of Omens or Anticipate with Court Hussar. The value Sun Titan generates is insane.

Sun Titan's reanimation ability aren't limited to our creature tool box. We can get back Ghost Quarter, which, over time, turns into Strip Mine and locks our opponent out of the game. The single most powerful card Sun Titan can get back is a Flickerwisp. When Sun Titan enters the battlefield or attacks, if we have a Flickerwisp in our graveyard, we can flicker the Sun Titan, allowing us to reanimate another permanent at the end of turn. With this chain, a single Sun Titan trigger often ends up generating 11 or 12 power, or nine power plus a Strip Mine, or the seventh Plains we need for Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Once we get to the point of reanimating Flickerwisp with Sun Titan, it's hard to lose. 

The Spells

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Path to Exile is pretty straight forward. It exiles whatever annoying creature our opponents happen to play. However, we are not above targeting one of our own creatures to find the seventh Plains necessary to turn on Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Just make sure to target a disposable creature; once it's exiled you can't Emeria, the Sky Ruin it back. 

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The more I play this deck, the more I realize how powerful Aether Spellbomb is in Modern. On its worse day, we can cycle it for two-mana and later get it back with Sun Titan for more card advantage. The real beauty of Aether Spellbomb is that it reads, "You can't combo off with Splinter Twin." If we play an Aether Spellbomb on turn one, there really isn't anything Twin can do about it. Dispel, Negate, and Remand do nothing. And since Aether Spellbomb can be sacrificed even while tapped, the usual trick of tapping things down with Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch doesn't work. It's gotten to the point where I've had Twin opponents cast a Vendilion Clique or Thoughtseize, see a hand containing some powerful creatures, a Path to Exile, and an Aether Spellbomb, and choose the Aether Spellbomb. That's how good the card is in the matchup. 

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Detention Sphere and Supreme Verdict are strict upgrades over the Oblivion Rings and Day of Judgments we played in the Mono White build. Obviously, the main benefit of Detention Sphere is that it does everything an Oblivion Ring would, plus it can get rid of a board full of Empty the Warrens or Lingering Souls tokens. It also gives us a main deck out to Rest in Peace, Blood Moon, Ensnaring Bridge, and whatever other hosers we might run into in Modern. Supreme Verdict is a Day of Judgment that gets around Remand, Negate, and Spell Pierce. While this perk doesn't matter in many matchups, against Merfolk or Twin it's a huge deal. 

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Main deck Negate might seem innocuous, but we really don't care much about opposing creatures. UW Emeria is very good at gumming up the board. We are much more worried about non-creature spells like Karn Liberated or Become Immense. Negate gives us an out to these problems, and it gets us free wins because people don't expect it. 

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Oddly enough, we rarely counter a creature with Ojutai's Command. This observation is purely unintentional. I would love to counter creatures with it, but it usually doesn't work that way. Ojutai's Command typically reads something like: (1) gain eight life (reanimating Lone Missionary) and make a chump blocker, (2) draw two cards (reanimating Wall of Omens) and make a chump blocker, or (3) draw a card, gain four life, and make a chump blocker. Being instant speed is a huge deal since it allows us to sucker our opponents into making unprofitable attacks, only to fizzle with a well timed Ojutai's Command — at which point we typically take over the game. 

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Last but not least we have Mortarpod. It has one very important role in our deck: making sure Emeria, the Sky Ruin has something to reanimate in the late game. As you noticed, our deck isn't built to stock our graveyard. We sometimes find ourselves in an unenviable position where we have an active Emeria, the Sky Ruin but nothing to get back. Mortarpod ensures we have something to reanimate. Another problem Mortarpod solves is that we sometimes find ourselves on a cluttered board state where we can't profitably attack. In these situations we use Mortarpod like a Curse of the Pierced Heart, sacrificing (and later reanimating) a creature every turn to deal one damage. Eventually we chip away our opponent's entire life total. 

Tips and Tricks

  • Play it slow. If you can get to the point where you have an active Emeria, the Sky Ruin, you are a huge favorite to win the game. Play the deck to stall things out as long as possible. 
  • I tend to chump block at a much higher life total than I would with most decks. Seriously, we are unlikely to win the game by attacking with Pilgrim's Eye. If you have an opportunity to chump a Tarmogoyf, even at 20 life it's worthwhile. We don't mind stocking our graveyard. 
  • Even the best hate cards are beatable. Probably the most annoying is Rest in Peace, but it's not impossible to win with the graveyard locked down. Blood Moon is a hindrance because it shuts down Emeria, the Sky Ruin, but we have enough basics that it shouldn't shut us off from playing spells. That said, try to save Detention Sphere and Negate to deal with these types of threats. 
  • I tend to go into Ghost Quarter lock mode fairly soon after getting an active Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Unless we are behind on board or at a dangerously low life total, using Sun Titan to get back a Ghost Quarter is often more profitable than getting back a random creature. Running out of basics often pushes our opponents to scoop. 

The Matchups

  • Amulet Bloom: Not favorable, but not unwinnable either. Our best bet is to Ghost Quarter a bounce land or two, Path to Exile a Primeval Titan, and hope we have a timely Negate. If they have Amulet of Vigor on turn one, it's incredibly hard; otherwise we have a fighting chance. 
  • Affinity: I think this one is slightly better than 50/50 for us. We have Ghost Quarter to deal with creature-lands, Supreme Verdict to clean things up, and enough chump blockers that one threat with a Cranial Plating isn't all that threatening. We have Stony Silence in the board, and it's really hard to lose a game where we resolve it during the early turns. 
  • GR Tron: Another tough matchup. If we draw multiple Ghost Quarters we usually win. If we don't draw Ghost Quarter, we usually lose. The trouble is we don't have enough early game pressure to take down a Karn Liberated. We have to lean heavily on our mana denial gambit to stay in the game. 
  • Jund/Abzan/Naya Company/Zoo: Easy matchups. Their threats don't match up well against our strategy. Liliana of the Veil is a joke when we want creatures in the graveyard. Their threats are not evasive. We can chump a Tarmogoyf for days. We have Ghost Quarter to lock down their creature-lands. Against Zoo and Naya Company, we basically do the same thing: chump block and generate incremental advantage until they've expended all their resources and we still have a grip full of cards. 
  • Burn: Not an auto-win, but favorable. Here we try to gain as much life as possible while chump blocking. If we have a poor draw we can lose, but it doesn't take many copies of Lone Missonary and/or Ojutai's Command to put the game out of reach. Post board we even get Kor Firewalker, which gives us a ton of game against Burn. 
  • Scapeshift: Oddly we play this one more or less like the Burn matchup. Our best bet is to gain enough life that the Scapeshift player needs eight or nine lands to kill us. In rare instances we can use Ghost Quarter to disrupt the combo, but that doesn't happen all that often. That said, if your opponent is casting a lethal Scapeshift, you might as well Ghost Quarter something and hope that they don't have enough Mountains left in their deck. Overall we are an underdog, but we do win the matchup on occasion. Adding Leyline of Sanctity or Aven Mindcensor to the sideboard could help. 
  • Twin: For some reason I always beat Twin with UW Emeria, but I'm not really sure why. Path to Exile, Negate and Aether Spellbomb are all strong cards in the matchup, but it's not like we are overloaded with Splinter Twin hate. Regardless, we typically come out on top.
  • Bogles/Infect: These matchups are just weird. The good news is we have a ton of chump blockers, so it's not like we just get run over by a single threat. Plus, we have a few cards that are very good in the matchup including Supreme Verdict, Celestial Flare, Detention Sphere, and Ghost Quarter. On the other hand, their clock is quite fast. 

The Future

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Having access to more dual lands with basic lands types (they count toward Emeria, the Sky Ruin) makes it possible to play a three- or even four-color builds of Emeria. Emeria, the Sky Ruin is an incredibly powerful land, and having more flexibility in deck construction is nice. 

Budget Emeria


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your suggestions, improvements, thoughts, and ideas in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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