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Much Abrew: Footsteps Hulk (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Protean Hulk is one of the most infamous combo pieces in Magic's history thanks to its interaction with Flash, which leads to such easy Turn 1 kills that it was banned in Legacy after about a week of existence. While we don't have anything nearly as degenerate as Flash to work with in Modern, we can do something very similar from the graveyard with the help of Footsteps of the Goryo, which not only reanimates a creature for just three mana but also makes us sacrifice it on our end step. This normally is a drawback, but it's an upside in our deck because we need our Protean Hulk to die to win the game, which lets us tutor up a convoluted but also game-ending chain of creatures. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can win some games with Magic's buffest beast by comboing off with Protean Hulk. Is Protean Hulk combo competitive? Can we execute it without timing out on Magic Online? Let's get to the video and find out on today's Much Abrew About Nothing!

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Much Abrew: Footsteps Hulk

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  • First up, shout out to Anthony Mannino, probably better known as IPlayBadDecks, who is the creator of the list. If you like janky brews that are occasionally competitive, I'd definitely recommend checking out his Twitter and content.
  • Record-wise, we finished 3-2 with Footsteps Hulk, which I think is pretty representative of the deck. The deck is powerful thanks to its game-ending Turn 3 combo potential and free wins from reanimating Archon of Cruelty, but it's also disruptable, especially by graveyard hate but also by counters. Footstep Hulk felt absurd in the good matchups, like it was hard to lose, but things are much more difficult in the bad matchups (or if our opponent draws graveyard hate) because we're mostly left trying to win by hard-casting underpowered combo pieces or overcosted threats. 
  • Of course, the deck's big draw is the Protean Hulk combo. In many ways, Protean Hulk is a one-card combo piece: if we can get it on the battlefield and it dies, we should be able to tutor up a chain of creatures that wins us the game on the spot. With our best draws, we can win with the combo on Turn 3 with the help of Footsteps of the Goryo, which is the perfect way to cheat a Protean Hulk into play since it not only reanimates it for just three mana but also makes us sacrifice it on our end step, which oddly is an upside in our deck. We can also combo by reanimating Protean Hulk with Persist, although this is hard mode since we need Protean Hulk to die, which we can achieve by sacrificing it to Viscera Seer or, if we get lucky, by our opponent killing it with removal or in combat. 
  • The combo itself is a bit convoluted, so let's walk through it. I should say that this is how I combo with Protean Hulk. I'm pretty sure there are a few different ways you can tutor up creatures with Protean Hulk's death trigger that will lead to the same result, but it's easiest to memorize one and use it unless there's a reason not to. So, let's assume we get Protean Hulk on the battlefield and it dies. This allows us to tutor up six mana-value worth of creatures from our library. Here's what happens next:
  • It's also worth mentioning that if we happen to have a Archon of Cruelty in our graveyard, we can reanimate it with Karmic Guide rather than Cauldron Familiar, which greatly speeds up the combo kill since each Archon of Cruelty trigger drains for three rather than just one. 
  • One other quick note on the combo: there is sometimes some awkwardness if we happen to draw a combo piece. For example, we only have one Reveillark and one Karmic Guide in our deck, and it ruins our combo if they end up in our hand rather than in our library. As such, be aware of this during mulligans and focus on looting those creatures away to Faithful Mending so they can be reanimated and we can combo off. We had one game where we were all set to go infinite only to draw Reveillark the turn we were about to go off, which ruined our plans. The good news is that even if we can't go infinite, we can still usually build a pretty massive board of creatures or try to win by beating down with Protean Hulk
  • Speaking of Archon of Cruelty, it's our backup plan. Since our deck is built to fill the graveyard and reanimate creatures to support the Protean Hulk combo, we can also just randomly reanimate Archon of Cruelty, perhaps as early as Turn 2 with Persist, which often is enough to win the game on its own.
  • In general, the deck felt really solid, although there are two things I didn't like about it. First, both our primary plan (Hulk combo) and our backup plan (reanimating Archon of Cruelty) depend on the graveyard, which means we are in really rough shape if our opponent has graveyard hate. While we do have a main-deck answer in Leyline Binding and more answers to graveyard hate in the sideboard, winning through graveyard hate isn't especially realistic since all of our creatures are either combo pieces (which are bad outside the combo) or cost seven or more mana. I'm not sure what the solution to this problem is, but it is worth noting that graveyard hate shuts us down super hard. Second, we had a couple of games where we wanted to hard-cast Protean Hulk, but our deck only has one green source of mana, which was awkward. Adding one more green source (maybe playing Ketria Triome over Xander's Lounge) might be worth considering. While spending seven mana to hard-cast Protean Hulk isn't one of our primary plans, it would be nice to have the option.
  • So, should you play Footsteps Hulk in Modern? I think the answer is yes! As IPlayBadDecks has shown, the deck is more than good enough to 5-0 a league if you hit the right matchups, and it performed well for us even though we jumped into a league without any practice! Footsteps Hulk seems like a solid option if you like comboing off and reanimating big threats—just watch out for the graveyard hate!

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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