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Much Abrew: Sram'O's (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week, we had a clear winner in our Instant Deck Tech voting. In fact, the deck we are playing today might very well be the most popular Instant Deck Tech deck of all time: Sram'O's in Modern! The idea of using Puresteel Paladin and zero-mana equipment to make a storm-style deck has been around Modern for a while, but the deck had a huge problem—it did nothing if it didn't have a Puresteel Paladin (which almost made it like Zombie Hunt, where you'd have to mulligan until you found a Puresteel Paladin). Then, Aether Revolt came along and printed another Puresteel Paladin in Sram, Senior Edificer, which means that with a total of eight copies, the deck is much, much more likely to have one in its opening hand. Is this enough to push the build from tier three to tier one? Let's see!

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Sram'O's Instant Deck Tech

Sram'O's vs. Mardu (Match 1)

Sram'O's vs. Titan Shift (Match 2)

Sram'O's vs. U-Turns (Match 3)

Sram'O's vs. Bant (Match 4)

Sram'O's vs. Mardu Nahiri (Match 5)

Sram'O's (Wrap-Up)

Discussion

  • First off, this deck is awesome. While our overall record was 3-2, it was super fun to play, and when it was doing its thing, it felt like one of the most broken decks in Modern. 
  • I'm actually really happy with how the matches turned out, despite the losses, because they really exemplify both the good and the bad of the deck.
  • Let's start with the good: Sram'O's can win on Turn 2 more consistently than any deck in Modern, and when it's not winning on Turn 2, it's very likely to win on Turn 3. So, if you like goldfishing to fast kills, this is probably the Modern deck for you. 
  • The combo itself is super consistent because it's pretty close to a one-card combo. All we really need is a Sram, Senior Edificer or Puresteel Paladin, and we are good to go. While Retract and Mox Opal are key to actually winning the game, if we have one of our card-drawing two-drops, we'll find them eventually as we draw through most (or all) all of deck.
  • The deck was also a little bit more resilient than I thought it would be, and we won quite a few games through a discard or removal spell. The beauty of the deck is that even when things go poorly (for example, we have a hand with only a single Puresteel Paladin and it gets Thoughtseized), we are always one draw step away from winning the game, which means our opponent has to play less than optimally because they are always worried about dying.
  • As for the bad news: the deck does lose to itself sometimes. While mulliganing into one of eight Puresteel Paladins / Sram, Senior Edificers is much easier than mulliganing into one of four (like the old pre-Sram, Senior Edificer builds), there are still times when we simply don't find a Puresteel / Sram and our deck does literal nothing. 
  • Furthermore, while we can often fight through one discard / removal spell, our odds drop significantly if our opponent has two. 
  • In some ways, Sram'O's reminds me of Legacy Belcher (or other similar decks). We are really good at putting our opponent to the test on Turn 2, and if they don't have an answer, we just win the game. Unlike Belcher, if our opponent does have an answer, we don't simply lose because we still have a hand full of "O's," so we just wait and hope we find another Sram, Senior Edificer or Puresteel Paladin
  • Actually playing the deck is really easy. Once you have a Puresteel Paladin or two, it's really hard to mess things up—you just cast your zero-mana artifacts until you get a storm count of 20 (or more). By this time, you will have drawn your Mox Opals and Grapeshot and the opponent will die. However, figuring out when to go for the combo kill can be a bit of a challenge. Heading into the matches, I figured the best way to play the deck would be like a traditional Storm deck, where you don't really do anything until the combo turn, but after playing with the deck a bit, I became a fan of the "mini-combo on Turn 2" plan where we just run out a Puresteel Paladins / Sram, Senior Edificer and combo as much as we can. If we get lucky and hit our Mox Opals and Retracts, we can win on the spot. If we don't, then we've drawn more Srams / Puresteels to try against the following turn. 
  • The other skill in regards to knowing when to attempt to combo off is understanding the opponent's deck. If they don't have many ways to interact, waiting as long as possible is often the best plan. On the other hand, if the opponent has discard, it can sometimes be right to combo as quickly as possible (even if there is a chance of fizzling), and if they are overloaded on creature removal, it's often best to wait for the opponent to tap out or until we find something like Swan Song for protection. 
  • Another thing I learned while playing the deck is that if we are up against a white deck, it's almost always right to bring in some number of Echoing Truths because we pretty much can't beat a Stony Silence (because we can't make the red mana we need for Grapeshot) and most white decks will have the enchantment in their sideboards. 
  • As for as potential changes to the deck, there are a couple of things I'd be interested in trying out. One option is Simian Spirit Guide, which does two things for the deck. First, it has the potential to speed up the deck by an entire turn, which means instead of comboing off on Turn 2, we'd be comboing off on Turn 1, which allows us to dodge Lightning Bolt and Inquisition of Kozilek if we are on the play. Second, it gives us a way to make red mana for Grapeshot through a Stony Silence. The downside of this change is that it increases our fizzle rate slightly (unless we can cut lands to make room for the Ape, but I'm not sure that's wise). 
  • The second addition that I'm interested in making is Monastery Mentor. Chalice of the Void is a card on the rise in Modern, partly because Eldrazi Tron is very popular at the moment but also because it is so good against Sram'O's. A Chalice of the Void on zero is very hard for us to beat, since it not only locks our equipment out of the game but our Mox Opals as well. Monastery Mentor gives us a way to win through Chalice of the Void—even though all of our "O's" will get countered, if we have a Monastery Mentor on the battlefield, we can go wide with Monk tokens, make them huge with prowess triggers, and win the game with creature beats!
  • So, should you play Sram'O's? If you like goldfishing to fast kills, the answer is most definitely yes. I think there's a strong argument that Sram'O's is the best Turn 2-kill deck in Modern at the moment. While I don't think it's the new best deck in Modern or anything like that, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see that it becomes a solid tier two option, with enough power to spike a tournament if the conditions are right. 
  • One last thing: if you are thinking about building the deck, a lot of the cost is tied up in Mox Opal and fetch lands. While there isn't really a way around spending some money on the Mox Opals (although it might be worth waiting for Modern Masters 2017 just in case), you don't really need Zendikar fetch lands. While playing the 2-2-2-2 split is technically correct (because it helps avoid Pithing Needle, for example) the situations where this will matter are so few that I wouldn't spend the extra money for Zendikar fetches unless you already have them in your collection. Simply playing four copies of Flooded Strand and four Windswept Heaths will work just fine. 

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 and at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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