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Much Abrew: Venser Bant (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week during our Instant Deck Techs, Grixis Showdown for Standard was by far the most popular, but we aren't actually playing Grixis Showdown this week. After I realized the deck had won, I started playing some games with it on Magic Online and realized the deck is bugged in a couple of different (and very important) ways. All of the problems seem to be tied to aftermath cards. Basically, Magic Online doesn't count them as "discarded" when we discard them to Cathartic Reunion, Tormenting Voice, or any of our other discard effects. This means they don't return to our hand with Shadow of the Grave (which is one of the primary plans of the deck) and also don't reduce the cost of Hollow One (the backup plan of Grixis Showdown). Until the bugs get fixed, the deck is basically unplayable. 

So, instead of playing Grixis Showdown, we're playing one of this week's Instant Deck Tech decks: Venser Bant! Venser, the Sojourner is my all-time favorite planeswalker, so I'm super excited to have an excuse to play him in Modern. The basic plan of our deck is simple: we're looking to cast Cryptic Command a bunch of times by blinking Eternal Witness over and over again and eventually win the game by beating down with creatures like Spell Queller and Kitchen Finks, or by exiling away all of our opponent's stuff with a Venser emblem. Is Venser, the Sojourner playable in Modern? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll have some thoughts on the deck!

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Venser Bant (Deck Tech)

Venser Bant vs. 5C Humans (Match 1)

Venser Bant vs. Mono-Green Stompy (Match 2)

Venser Bant vs. 5C Humans (Match 3)

Venser Bant vs. Death's Shadow (Match 4)

Venser Bant vs. Lantern Control (Match 5)

Venser Bant (Wrap-Up)

Discussion

  • First off, sorry about the duplicate matchup against Five-Color Humans. We played in a competitive league, and our matches were Mono-Green Stompy, 5C Humans twice, and Lantern Control twice. I managed to play another match in the two-player queues against Death's Shadow and used it to replace the loss to Lantern Control but couldn't find the time to record another match to replace one of the 5C Humans matches. 
  • As far as the record, we finished our league 3-2 but technically dropped to 3-3 when you consider the loss to Death's Shadow in the two-player queues, which isn't a great record but overall a solid performance for Venser Bant. 
  • Let's start with the good: while we had trouble casting Venser, the Sojourner on occasion, he was great once we got the planeswalker on the battlefield. Apart from generating value by blinking our creatures like Wall of Omens and Eternal Witness, the Venser emblem actually gave us a path to beating Lantern Control and was very strong in other matchups as well. 
  • The deck is also very good at grinding. All of our creatures do something when they enter the battlefield, and our opponent is constantly at risk of getting locked under Eternal Witness and Cryptic Command once the game goes long. 
  • As far as the creatures, most of them seemed solid. The only creature in the deck I wasn't impressed with was Renegade Rallier. It seems like we should always be able to trigger revolt thanks to fetch lands, but Renegade Rallier was just a 3/2 much of the time. Part of the problem is we don't really have many permanents that cost two of less (pretty much just lands and Wall of Omens), so even if we have revolt, we don't always have something in our graveyard that Renegade Rallier can get back. While I'm not sure what would be better (maybe just more Spell Quellers and Kitchen Finks), there's probably something more powerful and consistent that can go in the Renegade Rallier slot.
  • Probably the biggest problem with the deck is the mana. Things run pretty smoothly when we have an Aether Vial, but we sometimes struggle to cast our spells when we don't have an Aether Vial (or our opponent manages to kill our Aether Vial). We have some very demanding mana costs and are running three Ghost Quarters, which complicated our mana. 
  • The other card I didn't especially like in the deck was Serum Visions. While a one-mana cantrip is never really bad, it feels strange in an Aether Vial deck that wants as many creatures as possible. 
  • As such, the biggest change I would make would be to drop Serum Visions for Noble Hierarch. This one change seems like it fixes most of the issues I had with the deck. Noble Hierarch gives us more colored mana sources (and more lands in general) to cast our spells. It works somewhat like a backup Aether Vial by letting us cast our three-drops on Turn 2 and also ups our creature count so Aether Vial is active earlier in the game. 
  • The other main change I'd make is to the sideboard. We have access to a lot of powerful sideboard cards in white, but instead we are playing a ton of creatures that destroy artifacts and enchantments when they enter the battlefield. Slotting in some Rule of Law and Leyline of Sanctity over some number of Reclamation Sage and Acidic Slime is probably a good idea. 
  • One thing our matches made me realize is the upside of Wrath of God. While Wrath of God is normally just a worse version of Supreme Verdict (since being uncounterable is a lot more relevant than the anti-regeneration clause), with Meddling Mage on the rise as a main-deck card in Modern, there's some fringe value in having a Wrath of God, since Meddling Mage players always name Supreme Verdict if they are going to name a wrath. Even apart from Venser Bant, there might be an argument for playing a weird split of wraths in a deck like UW Control, at least while Five-Color Humans is near the top of the format. 
  • So, should you play Venser Bant? Assuming you change Serum Visions to Noble Hierarch and consider Renegade Rallier a flex slot that can be improved, I think the answer is yes. The deck felt competitive and was able to grind though many of the best decks in the format. It's certainly good enough to compete at an FNM and, with some tuning, could probably compete at a Grand Prix as well!

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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