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Much Abrew: Five-Color Birds (Modern, Magic Online)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week, during our Instant Deck Techs, Five-Color Birds for Modern came out on top. As such, we're heading to Modern to find out if playing a motley crew of flying creatures backed by payoffs like Empyrean Eagle and Pride of the Clouds can actually compete in the format. Can Gilded Goose and Birds of Paradise make a five-color flying deck work in Modern?  Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Five-Color Birds

Discussion

  • First off, we ended up going 2-3 in our video matches, but in reality, Five-Color Birds was even worse than it looked on video. I played a league with the deck, went 1-3 drop, and decided to try again. In the second league, I went 1-3 drop again and ended up mashing the two leagues together to try to give you a look at what the deck can do. Basically, we went 2-6 with Five-Color Birds overall, which isn't great.
  • While our record was bad, some of our losses were extremely close, with Humans and Grixis Death's Shadow immediately coming to mind. With a bit more luck (or tighter play), it's possible we could have picked up another win or two, but even then, Birds would have just been average. 
  • When it comes to tribal decks, we often talk about the tribe's competitive advantage, and while Five-Color Birds is really more of a flying tribal than a true Bird tribal deck (although we do play a lot of Birds), it's close enough to consider what the deck does better than any other tribe. The answer here seems to be evasion. Apart from Unsettled Mariner, every creature in our deck has flying, which allows us to get in damage over ground-based defense from our opponent. 
  • While flying may be the competitive advantage of Five-Color Birds, the problem is that Spirits also are a flying-based tribal deck, and it's hard to figure out a reason why Birds are better than Spirits from a competitive perspective (although being able to "honk honk" at your opponent when you play your creatures does offer some tilt value). Spirits do basically everything that Birds do, except they also have a bunch of disruptive options like Spell Queller and Rattlechains (although with a two-mana lord) that Birds are missing. In a lot of ways, Five-Color Birds feels like bad Spirits, unfortunately. 
  • As far as improving the deck, there are a couple of options. An easy one is adding Path to Exile to actually be able to kill a creature. Against decks like Death's Shadow, we were mostly just helpless to our opponent playing a big creature into Temur Battle Rage. Adding Path to Exile to the main deck would give us an out to these situations.
  • The other issue with Five-Color Birds is unfair decks. Unlike Spirits, we don't really have much interaction, making us more of a pure aggro tribal deck. The problem is that even our good draws don't usually kill until Turn 4 or even Turn 5, which means with an unfair deck, our opponent can usually just combo off before we can kill them. Here, the easiest fix is probably changing up the sideboard. We have a lot of lifegain for aggro and answers to artifact decks but not much for unfair combo outside of a third Force of Negation. Since white is one of our base colors, we have access to a ton of options, ranging from Rest in Peace to Rule of Law, with cards like Damping Sphere also being reasonable. Rebuilding the sideboard to have more play against unfair combo decks would go a long way toward improving the deck. We don't really need to stop unfair decks from combo-ing forever—just for a turn or two, to give our Birds enough time to get the beatdown win.
  • So, should you play Five-Color Birds in Modern? I think the answer is mostly no, at least from a competitive perspective. It's really hard for me to come up with a reason why anyone would play Birds over Spirits if the goal is to win a tournament. On the other hand, just being able to say you're playing Five-Color Birds sounds cool, and the deck didn't feel that far away from being at least somewhat competitive. So if making tweets and honks at your FNM opponents sounds like a fun way to spend a Friday night, add some Path to Exiles to the main deck and some hate cards to the sideboard, and you might even pick up some wins along the way!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! 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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