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Much Abrew: Proteus Hunt (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week during our Instant Deck Techs, we had a clear winner: everyone wanted to see the crazy Proteus Hunt deck that's build around Polymorphing with no creatures in the deck to stack our library before winning with Treasure Hunt, a ton of lands, and Lightning Storm. Playing Proteus Staff without any Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in the main deck feels really strange. Is it actually possible that using the artifact to stack our deck can work in a format as powerful as Modern? Are there really situations where the Treasure Hunt / Lightning Storm kill is better than just getting an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn for our Polymorph in troubles? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Proteus Hunt (Modern)

Discussion

  • First off, the record. We played a friendly league and, against all odds, ended up going 4-1. While the plan of Proteus Hunt looks very strange on paper, apparently it actually works! 
  • Our one loss came to GR Eldrazi, which feels like a hard matchup. In hindsight, we probably should have kept the Blood Moon that we scryed to the bottom of our deck in game two, but the combination of the slowness of our combo and our opponent's big, disruptive creatures made it a challenging matchup either way. 
  • One of the challenge of the deck is that, while consistent, it isn't as fast as some other combo decks in Modern. Our absolute best draw is to make tokens on Turn 2, cast Proteus Staff on Turn 3, activate Proteus Staff to stack our deck on Turn 4, and win on Turn 5. While this isn't horribly slow, it's certainly possible that we get run over by aggro the turn before we are able to close out the game.
  • As for the combo itself, it was surprisingly effective. While the fact that we have to wait a turn to win after activating our Proteus Staff is sometimes frustrating, the same is true of using Polymorph to find an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (although with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, we do have a blocker, which helps to make sure we survive). On the other hand, we have the upside that our combo is always lethal. Our last game against Eldrazi Tron was a good example of how it's possible to Polymorph into Emrakul and have it still not be enough to win the game (while we did end up winning, if our opponent had saced a land instead of Chalice of the Void, we probably would have lost on the backswing, even after annihilating six permanents). 
  • Thankfully, we didn't run into Field of Ruin, which is an incredibly good foil to our deck. While getting one of our non-basic lands turned into a basic land isn't a big deal, the problem with Field of Ruin is that it forces us to shuffle our library (the searching for a land isn't optional, like it is with Ghost Quarter). As such, once our opponent figures out what we are up to, I expect it will be a lot harder to combo off, since opponents can simply leave up a Field of Ruin activation to undo all of our hard work.
  • One concern heading into the matches was timing out, but it's worth mentioning that the combo is actually pretty fast and easy to pull off on Magic Online. Just be careful with your clicking; the cards move around as you put cards back on top of the deck, which makes it easy to accidentally mis-stack (and lose the game) if you aren't careful. In paper, I'd probably just pull all of the lands out first, then look for the Treasure Hunt and Lightning Storm. After that, the order of the cards doesn't usually matter, with a few exceptions.
  • The counters in the deck are a bit strange. While having one Pact of Negation around to help with our combo makes sense (if we are worried about countermagic, we can stack Treasure Hunt, lands, Lightning Storm, and then Pact of Negation and just wait an extra turn before comboing off), having two is probably excessive. Trading it in for the fourth Remand is probably a good plan.
  • We also struggled with big creatures (see: the Eldrazi matchup). Finding room for Roast or something similar somewhere in the 75 could help in matchups where our primary removal (Lightning Bolt and Anger of the Gods) isn't really effective. 
  • One of the biggest challenges of the deck is figuring out when to bring in Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Polymorph from the sideboard. One thing we learned during our matches is that Polymorph is important protection against Stony Silence, so you should pretty much always bring it in if you run into a white deck because we are drawing dead to Stony Silence otherwise (discounting the super-janky and pretty unlikely Goblin token beatdown plan). As for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, we mostly brought it in when we felt like the Treasure Hunt combo might be too slow, but I'm not 100% sure if that's correct or not. The challenge with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is that it stops the Treasure Hunt combo from working, so we need to pick one combo or the other, not both, and it's hard to know which is best in any given matchup.
  • Is stacking the deck to win with Treasure Hunt and Lightning Storm better than just getting an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn? The answer is sometimes. While getting an Emrakul is probably better in most situations, things like sweepers or edict effects do deal with the Eldrazi Titan. On the other hand, the deck-stacking plan has its own set of problems, including the fact that we don't have an Emrakul to block and that Field of Ruin can literally ruin our entire game. The good news is that using Proteus Staff is more fun that getting a boring old Emrakul, and if it is worse, it isn't that much worse.
  • So, should you play Proteus Hunt? While I think the deck will get worse once people figure out what's happening (and realize they can stop the combo with Field of Ruin), we went 4-1 in our league, so the deck clearly works. While I'm not sure I'd expect to put up 4-1 finishes consistently, Proteus Hunt is a blast to play, has one of the most unique wins possible, and is good enough to steal a lot of games! Plus, it's pretty easy to transform into a standard Polymorph build, so if the Treasure Hunt kill stops working, you can still make us of the deck with minimal changes. All in all, Proteus Hunt felt competitive enough, so if you want to get the "I won by stacking my deck" merit badge, go for it!

Conclusion

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 SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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