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Much Abrew: NeoBrand (Modern, Magic Online)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week during our Instant Deck Techs, our Modern option—NeoBrand—came out on top, so we're heading to Modern today to see if we can kill some opponents on Turn 1 by using Neoform to tutor out Griselbrand, draw our entire deck, and hopefully win the game with Laboratory Maniac. In theory, NeoBrand should be one of the best decks at winning on Turn 1 in all of Modern, but how consistent is the plan (especially with the current non-London mulligan rule)? That's the big question for today. Is using Neoform to tutor out Griselbrand on Turn 1 the new best thing you can do in Modern? How often can we win on Turn 1? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we can talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: NeoBrand

Discussion

  • Record-wise, we ended up 3-2 with NeoBrand, losing to ElectroBalance and Naya Burn but taking down Izzet Phoenix, Death and Taxes, and Golgari Midrange. 
  • In general, the deck felt incredibly powerful, and we had a few Turn 1 wins across the course of the league. But the drawback to that power is that NeoBrand mulligans a lot and can be inconsistent. With the London mulligan rule, it seems like the inconsistency problem will mostly go away since we're basically looking for opening hands with specific two- and three-card combinations of cards. If there's one thing the London mulligan rule supports, it's finding a couple of specific cards in your opener consistently. If Wizards does end up implementing the rule game-wide, NeoBrand will likely get a lot better.
  • Speaking of opening hands, we're basically looking for Allosaurus Rider (along with two random green cards to cast it for free) and Neoform. While not quite as good, we can also use Summoner's Pact as a substitute for Allosaurus Rider and Eldritch Evolution for Neoform, which give us a lot of redundancy. Apart from these combo pieces, the second thing we're looking for is fast mana, with Chancellor of the Tangle or Manamorphose with Simian Spirit Guide giving us the extra mana we need to try to combo off on Turn 1.
  • Assuming we have our combo, our plan is pretty simple: we cast Allosaurus Rider for free by exiling green cards, turn it into a Griselbrand with the help of Neoform or Eldritch Evolution; hopefully use Griselbrand to draw our entire deck with Nourishing Shoal; exile our big, expensive green cards; and gain enough life to keep drawing through our deck. Eventually, we'll find our Simian Spirit Guides, use Manamorphose or Wild Cantor to filter red mana into blue mana, cast Laboratory Maniac, and activate Griselbrand one more time to win by drawing on an empty library.
  • As far as the combo, it's worth mentioning that there are some other options as finishers. Lightning Storm or Seismic Assault could do something similar by discarding all the lands we draw but come with the downside of getting countered by Negate effects. And it's possible that we could run out of lands to discard since we've only got 15 in the deck, but if Laboratory Maniac isn't your style, they can get the job done as well.
  • Maybe the most frustrating aspect of the deck is that it still occasionally fizzles even after we've managed to get Griselbrand on the battlefield. Perhaps the best way to think of NeoBrand is as a Grishoalbrand deck that doesn't need the graveyard since it uses Neoform rather than Goryo's Vengeance. While avoiding the graveyard is a huge bonus in our current format, it also means that our Griselbrand doesn't have haste, so it can't attack right away to gain us life (and draw more cards). There are some games where we Neoform into Griselbrand, draw 14 cards, and don't hit a Nourishing Shoal, which not only fizzles the combo but potentially puts us in a position where we can die to a couple of Lightning Bolts. The good news is that our Griselbrand sticks on the battlefield, so if we don't lose during our opponent's turn, there is a chance we can win by beating down with a massive, lifelinking flier and mostly forget about the combo (or we can gain some life with Griselbrand and attempt to combo off again the next turn).
  • If you're going to pick up the deck, the most important skill to practice is your mulligans. With NeoBrand, you're going to mulligan more often than not, and figuring out just how low you can go in an attempt to find the Turn 1 or 2 win and when you should stop and play a "fair" game is tough. With the London mulligan rule, odds are you'll find your combo more often than not if you mulligan aggressively. But with the current mulligan rule, the possibility of mulliganing to four cards and keeping a hand that does basically nothing is fairly high.
  • Noxious Revival is also worth mentioning. As we talked about before, the easiest way for the deck to fizzle after the combo is assembled is not finding Nourishing Shoal, so keep in mind that Noxious Revival is a great way to get an extra copy back on top of your deck to gain more life and draw more cards. While there are other purposes as well (like fizzling opponent's graveyard synergies), most of the time, Noxious Revival ends up being a free spell that ends up gaining seven-ish life and allowing us to draw seven cards, which is a pretty insane deal. Just make sure to think ahead and put Noxious Revival back on top of the library while you still have enough life to draw seven with Griselbrand.
  • Where does all of this leave us in terms of NeoBrand? The deck might very well be the scariest deck in Modern at the moment—nothing else has as much potential to literally win the game on Turn 1. While the current mulligan rule does cause some inconsistency, the deck is still powerful enough to win a lot of matches anyway. On the other hand, if the London mulligan rule is implemented, NeoBrand will likely rise to the top of the format and might even move near the top of the imaginary watch list for potential bannings. It's like Grishoalbrand but a version of Grishoalbrand that dodges Grishoalbrand's biggest enemy: graveyard hate. The main thing that keeps Grishoalbrand in check is cards like Surgical Extraction, Tormod's Crypt, and Rest in Peace. All of these cards do close to nothing against NeoBrand, which is what makes the deck so scary.
  • So, should you play NeoBrand in Modern? This is a tricky question that mostly depends on how likely you think it is that the London mulligan rule will go into effect. With the current mulligan rule, NeoBrand is good, but the inconsistency built into the deck will likely keep it from being truly great. On the other hand, with the London mulligan rule, there's a realistic possibility that the deck will end up in the top tier of the format. The good news is that most of the deck is fairly cheap. While the total price tag is over $1,000, this is mostly because of Misty Rainforest, Chalice of the Void, and Leyline of Sanctity, which are expensive because they are cross-deck staples rather than NeoBrand-specific, which makes buying into a deck based on a potential mulligan rule change a bit less risky since even if the deck ends up fizzling out, the staples in the deck should maintain their value. If you're looking to kill people on Turn 1 in Modern, NeoBrand is the best choice with either mulligan rule. Just practice your mulligans and be warned that your deck will occasionally betray you and leave you with a four-card hand that does nothing.

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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