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Much Abrew: Bant Snake Tribal (Modern)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About NothingOne of the best parts of paper Modern slowly returning is that the infamous small Japanese tournaments and, along with them, some wild decklists are back! This week, we're heading to Modern to play one of those decks: Bant Snake Tribal for Modern! The idea is to grind out value in the early game by combining Snakes like Ice-Fang Coatl and Coiling Oracle with Ephemerate, flood the board with Snake tokens with the repeatable Sosuke's Summons, and then, once we have a big board full of snakes, play Seshiro the Anointed to pump them and hopefully kill our opponent in one or two attacks. Can the plan actually work? Are Snakes competitive in Modern? Let's find out on this week's Much Abrew About Nothing

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Much Abrew: Bant Snake Tribal

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  • Record-wise, Bant Snakes wasn't great. We finished our league 1-4, which obviously isn't ideal. That said, it really felt like we should have won at least one and maybe two more matches with the deck. Every match went three games, and we were incredibly close to pulling off a couple more Snake wins. While the deck might not be all the way there yet, it wasn't one of those 1-4 performances that made it feel like the deck was unplayable. Instead, I came away from the league feeling the deck was surprisingly close to being competitive. 
  • As I mentioned in the intro, the main idea is to generate value with enters-the-battlefield Snakes, like Coiling Oracle, Ice-Fang Coatl, and Mystic Snake, alongside Ephemerate to reuse the enters-the-battlefield triggers. This helps develop our mana and make sure that our hand is full of cards. Eventually, we'll find our Snake payoffs and hopefully be able to close out the game.
  • So, what are the payoffs for putting a bunch of Snakes together in the same deck? We have two. First is Sosuke's Summons, which was a lot more powerful than I had thought. Making two 1/1s for three mana isn't especially efficient, but thanks to Coiling Oracle and Lotus Cobra, our deck can make a decent amount of mana. What makes Sosuke's Summons powerful is that whenever a nontoken Snake enters the battlefield, we can return it to our hand, so we're often casting it multiple times each turn in the mid- and late game, and all those small 1/1 Snakes eventually add up. As we draw through our deck, we'll eventually find our second payoff: Seshiro the Anointed, which is essentially a double-Snake lord for six mana. Giving all of our small Snakes +2/+2 allows us to close out the game in just one or two attacks. Many of our wins came as a result of finding and playing Seshiro. While being six mana and legendary means we can't really play a full playset, I do think that we need more than one. It was often the card we wanted to draw most in the mid-game, and with a single copy, we didn't find it often enough.
  • Outside of our Snakes, we have a bunch of white removal, with Solitude, Prismatic Ending, and Path to Exile. While these cards are great against creature decks, they are pretty bad against combo and control. One easy way to improve the deck would be to add some more control and combo hate to the sideboard, which currently offers mostly more hate for fair decks. Some Force of Negations or even Dovin's Vetos would go a long way toward shoring up some of our harder matchups.
  • So, should you play Modern Snakes? Probably not, if your goal is to be competitive, at least not with the deck in its current form. It's hard to recommend buying a deck that just went 1-4 in a league, although as I mentioned before, it really did feel like we were super close to winning one or two more matches, which would have really changed the story of the deck. The deck is really good at grinding out value, but it's really bad at closing out games. A faster clock (maybe more Seshiro the Anointed or another way to pump our small Snakes) would go a long way toward allowing us to close out the game quickly. We had a few games where we would stabilize but not be able to kill our opponent fast enough to race whatever was coming off the top of our opponent's deck (see the double–Reality Smasher draw against Eldrazi Tron). Basically, Snakes is sweet and felt more competitive than its 1-4 record would suggest, but there is still some work to do to make the deck truly competitive in Modern.


Anyway, that's all for today. 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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