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Much Abrew: Dubious Challenge (Modern, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week during our Instant Deck Techs, the new and hopefully improved build of Dubious Challenge, featuring Charming Prince as a powerful new enabler, came out on top. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if some new additions will be enough to make Dubious Challenge slightly less dubious and, with a bit of luck, maybe even competitive! The main goal of the deck is to cast Dubious Challenge and find a big finisher like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Iona, Shield of Emeria along with a flicker effect like Charming Prince. This will put our opponent into a no-win position where no matter which creature they choose, we will end up with the Emrakul or Iona, which will hopefully be enough to win the game. Will Charming Prince and friends make Dubious Challenge competitive in Modern, or will the deck live up to its name? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Dubious Challenge


  • Record-wise, we play a league with Dubious Challenge and ended up finishing 3-2, which is a fine record with an off-the-radar deck. We managed to take down Copy Cat, Jeskai Ascendancy, and Amulet Titan while dropping matches to Burn (which feels like it should be a decent matchup) and UW Control (which feels like a bad matchup). 
  • Let's start with the best news about the deck: Dubious Challenge wasn't dubious at all. In fact, we hit with it 100% of the time. Thanks to the combination of six finishers and even more flicker effects, the current built of Dubious Challenge does a great job of making Dubious Challenge itself devastating. I could see adding one more copy of Iona, Shield of Emeria (in some matchups, she was more important than Emrakul, the Aeons Torn since she shuts our opponent down immediately instead of on the following turn once we attack), and we had to get a bit lucky to find Iona, Shield of Emeria in some matches. Regardless, we had a 100% success rate of ending up with one of our big finishers when we resolved a Dubious Challenge in our league. 
  • On the other hand, playing a bunch of uncastable Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Iona, Shield of Emerias does come with a cost—they are painfully bad draws off the top of our deck, somehow being worse than skipping our draw step altogether, because not only are they uncastable, but drawing an Iona or Emrakul also weakens our Dubious Challenges by leaving one less finisher in our deck.
  • Charming Prince is the biggest new addition to the deck, and it's even better than it looks. While adding an additional flicker effect for our dubious combo is great, just running out Charming Prince on Turn 2 to scry to find Dubious Challenge is a big deal as well, as is gaining three life against decks like Burn (although sadly, it wasn't enough in our matchup). We even got to do a really sweet trick where our opponent flashed in a Ice-Fang Coatl to block and kill our Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, but we were able to Ephemerate Charming Prince to flicker Emrakul, save it from combat, and annihilate our opponent again the following turn!
  • On the other hand, I'm not 100% sure about the backup plan of the deck. Smuggler's Copter specifically is weird. I'm not really sure about its purpose, other than to be an okay threat on its own. When you consider that crewing Smuggler's Copter forces us to play Arbor Elf and Avacyn's Pilgrim over Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise (much better mana dorks), the package might not be worth the trouble.
  • Blade Splicer is fine, but I'm wondering if the deck should go even further down the flicker plan. Outside of Dubious Challenge shenanigans, Blade Splicer is our only consistently good flicker target, which sometimes leaves us without a good way to generate value from Ephemerate, Flickerwisp, and Charming Prince. Moving more toward a Soulherder / Dubious Challenge hybrid shell sounds interesting. Maybe rather than being the primary plan of the deck, Dubious Challenge should be the backup plan to Soulherder grinding out value. A Soulherder deck that sometimes wins on Turn 3 with an Emrakul or Iona sounds pretty appealing.
  • You probably noticed we're playing version two of Dubious Challenge. The changes from the Instant Deck Tech build were fairly small, mostly making the mana base better. Four copies of Mosswort Bridge felt like too many, as drawing one when we really need an untapped land to cast Dubious Challenge is brutal. We also added some extra fetch lands to smooth out our colors.
  • So, should you play Dubious Challenge in Modern? This build certainly feels better than some of the past builds we've played, and the semi-budget price tag is a nice upside, although the backup plan could still use some work. With some extra tuning and brewing, it seems possible that Dubious Challenge could be a real Modern deck—it's just a matter of figuring out the non–Dubious Challenge part of the deck.


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! 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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