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Much Abrew: Changeling Party (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Ever since the party mechanic was revealed, I've been wanting to try it in Modern with "all creature type" Changelings as support cards to help us assemble a full party as quickly as possible. Of course, the idea is pretty janky since Changelings are generally underpowered (with their power coming from being all creature types, rather than their stats or abilities) and party being a tricky mechanic to build around since it tends to be very all or nothing (if you have a full party, many party cards are super strong, but they don't do anything exciting if you are just a single party member short). Well, today is the day to figure out if Changelings can throw a good party in Modern! With a good draw with Changeling Party, we can have a full party assembled as early as Turn 3, which is exciting. But when things go poorly and our opponent can kill our creatures, we're often left playing sad Mothdust Changelings, sitting all by themselves like a kid who didn't have anyone show up for their birthday party. Can the plan work? Are Changelings the way to party on Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Changeling Party

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Discussion

  • Record-wise, we ended up 2-3 with Changeling Party, which actually feels about right for the deck, despite the fact that we were super close to winning basically every match we played (all five went to three games, and we ran into some weird, random cards that we couldn't beat in a couple matches, like the mostly out-of-style Stormbreath Dragon in Ponza, which dodged our removal and shut down our offense with protection from white). While we might have gotten slightly unlucky with the deck in our five-match set, I played a bunch of matches with various similar builds while trying to tune the deck, and a 40% match win percentage feels about right. 

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  • The plan is simple: we have one party payoff of each party creature type, with Archpriest of Iona being an above-the-curve Cleric one-drop that can send a threat to the air if we have a full party, Nimble Trapfinder giving us an evasive Rogue that can draw us a ton of cards once the party is assembled, Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate offering a Wizard that protects our board and offers removal once it is party time, and Squad Commander potentially adding seven power and five bodies to the battlefield and pumping our team of partiers. Of course, the problem with all of these cards is that outside of Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate (which offers good protection for the rest of our creatures at all times, thanks to its sacrifice ability), they aren't great (and some are pretty bad) without a full party. In Magical Party Land, we can curve our Archpriest of Iona into Nimble Trapfinder into Linvala into Squad Commander and have a full party, but this isn't all that likely in practice. So, how do we make sure that we have a full party as often as possible? Changelings, of course!

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  • Since Changelings count as all creature types, they are the perfect way to get the party started as quickly as possible. While each changeling can only count as one party type (so we do need four creatures, at a minimum, on the battlefield for a full party), by being all creature types, each Changeling can be whatever party type we are missing. For example, three changelings and any one of our party payoffs give us a full party, as do two different party payoffs and two Changelings. 
  • The problem with Changelings is that outside of Unsettled Mariner, which is a legitimately good card that just happens to be a Changeling, most are pretty underpowered, as 1/1s costing from one to three mana. Mirror Entity can be powerful if the game goes long and we have a bunch of extra mana, but in general, we're playing underpowered creatures hoping that they can help us assemble a full party and the power of our party payoffs will make up for the fact that cards like Mothdust Changeling and Universal Automaton are in our deck. 
  • Thanks to Aether Vial (and to a lesser extent, Mutavault as a free party member in our mana base), with a good draw, we can have a full party assembled as early as Turn 3, which is actually pretty powerful. 
  • By far the biggest downside of our deck is that it is very hit or miss. In some games (the ones where we can keep four creatures on the battlefield and have a full party), it feels absurdly powerful. In others, we end up with a couple of 1/1 Changelings as our party payoffs die and get brutally run over. In many ways, it's the opposite of most aggro decks, which tend to be very consistent but sometimes lacking in late-game power. Changeling Party is very inconsistent thanks to how the party mechanic works but has tons of power when everything comes together.
  • As far as how competitive the deck really is, I'd say it's somewhere between medium and lacking. It can win games, but the consistency issue is a big one. The good news is that the deck felt competitive in basically every matchup—even when we were losing, we were keeping things close and sometimes super close—which suggests that we aren't that far away from having a competitive Party deck in Modern. What does the deck need to be truly competitive? There are two possibilities.
  • First, we could get better Changelings. The printing of Unsettled Mariner (by far the best Changeling) in Modern Horizons suggests it's possible that Wizards could print more on- (or even above-) curve Changelings in the future. Even small improvements, like upgrading cards like Universal Automaton and Mothdust Changeling into Changeling Savannah Lions, would go a long way toward increasing the deck's power. At this point, most Changelings are underpowered enough that it sometimes feels like we are playing bad cards to make our good cards better. Upgraded Changelings would solve this problem.
  • Second, we could get more good party cards (which seems likely since we have a Dungeon & Dragons set coming up next year). If we had more good party members, we could cut some of the weaker Changelings for actual party cards while keeping the stronger Changelings to fill in the gaps in our full-party plan. 
  • All things considered, I wouldn't be surprised if Changeling Party (and the party mechanic in general) were a lot better next summer after Modern Horizons 2 and the D&D set release. As I mentioned before, the deck felt close to being good even with cards like Universal Automaton. Imagine how sweet it would be if we got even a handful of upgrades to the party!
  • So, should you play Changeling Party? From a purely competitive perspective, I think the answer is currently no. Yes, you can win some games with it, but is it consistent enough to 5-0 a league? Probably not. On the other hand, the deck is unique and fun, and it is good enough to pick up some wins. So if you want to party and aren't super worried about maximizing your win percentage, it is a fun, semi-competitive option. Plus, it has the potential to get a lot better in the not-super-distant future, so even if the answer is "no" for now, that could change quickly once the archetype gets more support in future sets.

Conclusion

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 SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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