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Much Abrew: Shaman (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week, we had an interesting scenario as far as our Instant Deck Techs were concerned, with Modern Shaman and Legacy Curses (which is apparently called Nyx Fit) essentially being tied for most popular. So, how do we resolve a tie? The correct answer is, we don't. Instead of playing one deck or the other, we're actually going to have two episodes of Much Abrew this week, with Shaman today and then Legacy Curses (aka Nyx Fit) coming out on Tuesday. It's a Christmas miracle!

As for our Shaman deck, I'm pretty excited to try it out because we played a budget version of Shaman a long time ago, and even on a budget, the tribe felt pretty good. Without the budget restriction, we not only get Metallic Mimic, which is the perfect lord for a tribe that cares about +1/+1 counters thanks to Rage Forger, but Collected Company as well! Do Shamans have what it takes to compete in Modern? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck.

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Shaman (Deck Tech)

Shaman vs. Martyr Proc (Match 1)

Shaman vs. Tron (Match 2)

Shaman vs. UR Storm (Match 3)

Shaman vs. Merfolk (Match 4)

Shaman vs. Naya Burn (Match 5)

Shaman (Wrap-Up)

Discussion

  • First off, let's talk about our record. We started off in a competitive league and finished with a 3-2 record, which is pretty solid for a rogue deck. However, the loss to Storm wasn't actually from the league. Our other league match was Dredge, but I had a problem with the recording so I couldn't use it. Regardless, the results were essentially the same: Shaman doesn't like fast, graveyard-based combo decks.
  • As for the deck itself, it felt really strong. Normally on Much Abrew, we spend some amount of time discussing card choices, but I think the main deck of this build is pretty close to optimal. The only card that's questionable is Experiment One. While having another one-drop is nice and Experiment One works well with the +1/+1 counter theme, it's possible that Noble Hierarch or Birds of Paradise would be even better in the slot. While it's possible that Experiment One is the best option, it's at least worth testing other possibilities in the slot. 
  • On the other hand, the sideboard of the deck is pretty rough. Playing a lot of creatures makes sense because of Collected Company, but Loaming Shaman specifically simply isn't very good graveyard hate at the moment. The problem is that most of the best graveyard decks in Modern fill their graveyard in one big combo turn, which means against Dredge and Storm, the sorcery-speed Loaming Shaman doesn't do much of anything (unless we happen to Collected Company into it). Playing Relic of Progenitus or Surgical Extraction instead is probably a better option for our current format.
  • Rage Forger is absurd and the card that makes Shaman work. While in general our creatures are less powerful than other aggro options (like Zoo for example, with Wild Nacatl and Tarmogoyf), Rage Forger is enough of a payoff that it's worth playing some seemingly underpowered Shamans to take advantage of it. 
  • Generally, it felt like Shaman was fast enough to get in underneath slower combo decks and control while also putting up a fight against midrange, thanks to the card advantage from Collected Company and Eternal Witness. On the other hand, fast combo decks were miserable matchups, In fact, every loss we had was to a fast combo deck (Dredge, Storm, and Naya Burn). The problem is that even when we have a good start, we're typically looking at killing our opponent around Turn 4 or 5, while many of the fast combo decks in Modern can win on Turn 3 or 4, which means unless our opponent had a clunky draw, we're just too slow to win the goldfish race.
  • Overall, there really aren't too many tricks to Shaman. The deck is just fast and fairly consistent thanks to Flamekin Harbinger to tutor up Rage Forger (and also Fulminator Mage after sideboarding, which is really helpful against Tron specifically). We mostly just look to flood the battlefield as quickly as possible and hope that the combination of going wide with Shamans and Rage Forger is enough to close out the game before our opponent kills us or finds a sweeper to stabilize. 
  • As for the sideboard, fixing the combo matchups would be helpful, but I'm not really sure how to go about it, since red and green aren't the best colors for dealing with decks like Storm and Dredge. Better graveyard hate is a must; otherwise, I'm not really sure what to add without splashing another color. While going into white would make the mana more painful and somewhat less consistent, it might be worthwhile to have access to Stony Silence, Rest in Peace, Rule of Law, and the other great sideboard options the color offers. 
  • So, should you play Shaman? If you like aggressive tribal decks, I think the answer is yes, but try to tune the sideboard to have more game against combo. The deck is surprisingly powerful and can compete with most of the midrange and control decks in the format, so if we can figure out a way to not auto-lose to combo, it's possible that Shaman could end up being a real deck in Modern. As it is, assuming you replace Loaming Shaman with Relic of Progenitus, Shaman is a great choice for an FNM or for playing some leagues on Magic Online and, with some more work, could compete at a Grand Prix or SCG Open.

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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