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Much Abrew: Selective Memory Combo (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. One of my favorite things in all of Magic is when a card that is unplayably bad in 99.9% of decks suddenly becomes good. Take, for example, the card our deck is built around today: Selective Memory. Exiling your own deck normally isn't helpful, and even the most obvious combos for Selective Memory (like Thassa's Oracle) haven't traditionally worked because Selective Memory can't exile lands. However, thanks to the modal double-faced lands from Zendikar Rising, Selective Memory is suddenly a very playable card. If we play a deck with no "real" lands using just MDFCs to make mana, then Selective Memory can exile our entire deck (minus a Thassa's Oracle) for just four mana, allowing us to untap, draw Thassa's Oracle, and cast it to win the game with its enters-the-battlefield trigger! Is Selective Memory actually good now? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Selective Memory Combo

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The Deck

  • That went surprisingly well! We jumped into a Modern league with Selective Memory Combo and ended up going 4-1, and if it weren't 't for some tough draws in our three-game match against Lurrus Jund, we could have had the fabled 5-0 finish! 
  • Selective Memory Combo is actually fairly simple: Selective Memory itself is essentially a one-card combo kill with suspend one. We cast it, exile our entire deck minus a Thassa's Oracle, and then draw the Oracle the following turn to win the game. If we happen to have Teferi, Time Raveler, we can even cast Selective Memory at instant speed on our opponent's end step, which is basically unbeatable thanks to Teferi's static ability keeping our opponent from casting cards at instant speed.
  • While Selective Memory is the most exciting and flashy thing our deck can do, we have Goblin Charbelcher as a backup plan, which is weirdly similar to Selective Memory in that it wins the game all by itself when we activate it because our deck has no real lands, which means a single activation deals damage equal to the number of cards in our deck, which is generally 35 or 40, at least. 
  • Thanks to Simian Spirit Guide and Pentad Prism offering fast mana, with our best draws, we can win the game as early as Turn 3, while its theoretically possible that we could win on Turn 2 (although it would require having two Sea Gate Restorations (for untapped blue mana), three Simian Spirit Guides, and a Selective Memory in our opening hand, which is super unlikely).
  • Of course, the big question for Selective Memory is why we should play it over the other two big "no land / MDFC" decks in Modern: Belcher and Oops, All Spells. While I wouldn't go as far as to say that Selective Memory is strictly better than the other options, if we look at how the decks work, it's clear that there are some upsides to the Selective Memory plan. Here's a quick breakdown of the decks...
  • Oops, All Spells is the fastest of the MDFC decks in Modern, potentially winning the game on Turn 1 or 2 with a really strong draw. On the other hand, it's also the most fragile since it loses to graveyard hate along with other interaction. The combo also takes quite a few cards since along with a payoff, you also need a bunch of Vengevines, Creeping Chills, and other graveyard-based shenanigans, which aren't especially helpful outside of the combo itself.
  • Belcher is not quite as fast as Oops, All Spells (since you need seven total mana to play and activate Goblin Charbelcher, while Oops, All Spells wins the game for just four mana), but it doesn't require quite as many combo pieces (while rituals help to speed up the deck, all you really need for lethal damage is Goblin Charbelcher itself), and it isn't as easy to disrupt since it doesn't care about graveyard hate (although counterspells and things like Thoughtseize are still very strong).
  • Selective Memory is generally slower than both Oops, All Spells and Belcher, but it is the hardest of the MDFC combos to disrupt, in part because it doesn't use the graveyard, in part because it doesn't have to sit on the battlefield and potentially be destroyed like Goblin Charbelcher can, and in part because we get to play Teferi, Time Raveler to protect our combo. It also requires very few combo pieces. Technically, all we need to win the game is Selective Memory itself and a single copy of Thassa's Oracle somewhere in our deck, although it's usually worth playing more than one Oracle just in case we happen to draw it and it gets hit by discard. The drawback is that if things go wrong (for example, we resolve Selective Memory without a Teferi, Time Raveler on the battlefield and our opponent counters the Thassa's Oracle), we lose the game by drawing on an empty library. 
  • The other massive upside to Selective Memory Combo is that we actually get to take advantage of our MDFCs beyond just using them as lands. Silundi Vision is the one we cast most often since it digs for Selective Memory, but Jwari Disruption, Skyclave Cleric, and both of the mythics are also semi-real cards in the right situation.
  • In general, I've found Disrupting Shoal to be bad in Modern, but having a deck full of MDFCs might change the equation because we can suddenly exile extra lands to cast Disrupting Shoal for free, making it much closer to a real Force of Will in our deck than most other decks that might play it.
  • As you can see, each of the MDFC combo decks in Modern has different drawbacks and benefits. Is Selective Memory Combo the best of the bunch? I'm still not 100% sure, but it did feel very competitive.
  • So, should you play Selective Memory Combo in Modern? I think the answer is yes! The deck is fast and consistent, and it is much more resilient than the other MDFC combo decks in the format. Plus, winning with a "bad" card like Selective Memory is super fun and funny. With a tiny bit more luck (or potentially better mulligan decisions), we could have easily gone 5-0 with the deck, so it's clearly good enough to compete with the top of the Modern format. If you're looking for something different, competitive, and Zendikar Rising–influenced to try in Modern, give it a shot!

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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