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The Fish Tank: Kaldheim Edition (January 17-23, 2021)


Welcome back to The Fish Tank, the series where we sneak a peek at sweet viewer-submitted decks and maybe, with our powers combined, turn them into real, fun, playable lists! This week is Kaldheim week! Even though we don't have the full set yet, people are hard at work brewing around the new cards, and we have some really sweet submissions! What cool Kaldheim brews did you all submit this week? Let's find out! But first, to have your own deck considered for next week's edition (and for our Fishbowl Thursday Instant Deck Tech), make sure to leave a link in the comments, or email it to me at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.

Historic

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One of the most interesting aspects of Kaldheim is the MDFC cards. Unlike Zendikar Rising, where all the MDFCs were spells on one side and lands on the other, Kaldheim has a bunch of spell + spell combinations. Take Valki, God of Lies, for example. One half is a random two-drop creature, while the backside is the massive, powerful seven-mana planeswalker Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter. While having a creature for the early game and a planeswalker finisher is powerful in and of itself, kedros has an even spicier plan for abusing Valki, God of Lies in Historic: Release to the Wind. Generally speaking, blinking an MDFC doesn't do anything (if you Cloudshift Valki, God of Lies, you'll return Valki, God of Lies to the battlefield, whether you like it or not). But Release to the Wind is a unique blink-style card, allowing the controller of the exiled permanent to cast it for free. What this means in practice is that if we play Valki, God of Lies on Turn 2, we can Release to the Wind Valki on Turn 3 and choose to cast Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter rather than Valki. In a lot of ways, this is comparable to Modern Tron, with the end result being a nearly unbeatable, high-loyalty seven-mana planeswalker on the battlefield on Turn 3e, with the extra upside that you don't need to warp your deck around finding specific lands or using colorless mana! The rest of Grixis Release is just a pretty straightforward Grixis Midrange / Control shell, with plenty of removal and interaction to keep us alive through the early game while we get Release to the Wind set up. The fact that Grixis Release looks like a solid deck without its Tron-esque combo and can also just randomly (essentially) win the game on Turn 3 by playing a Tibalt for free makes me think that it might actually be fairly competitive in Historic. Either way, the synergy between Valki, God of Lies / Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter and Release to the Wind is really sweet and worth keeping in mind when moving forward to Kaldheim's release!

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Infect has long been a competitive strategy in Modern, but now, thanks to Fynn, the Fangbearer, it might be possible to poison opponents in other formats! frogler offers a sweet Simic Infect build for Historic, with the goal being to win the game as early as Turn 4. The plan? Flood the board with one-mana, one-power deathtouch creatures and then stick a Fynn, the Fangbearer to give them all poison 2. With five creatures, that's enough to win the game in one attack, and worst case, we can use Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive to turn all of our 1/Xs into Blighted Agents and win the game with a couple of unblockable attacks. The rest of the deck is mostly about finding Fynn, the Fangbearer (with the help of Opt and Of One Mind) and protecting Fynn (with Spell Pierce and Pact of Negation). While the deck looks fast and explosive, it also looks like it is super dependent on finding a Fynn, the Fangbearer and having it stick around for a couple of turns, which might be tough with only four copies of Fynn available. Either way, if you like the idea of poisoning opponents but want to do it in a Magic Arena–legal format, this seems like a fun, aggressive, and (outside of rare dual lands) budget-friendly option for the format!

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I know, I know, it's a Kaldheim-themed week, but Tim B.'s Journey to Eternity Mill Combo deck is too sweet to not show off. Here's the idea: use cards like Minister of Inquiries, Sage of Mysteries, Chart a Course, and Corpse Churn to fill our graveyard. What are we trying to get in the graveyard? Any cheap auras are helpful, but the main combo is at least two copies of Journey to Eternity (and preferably one flipped on the battlefield, if possible) and as many copies of Dead Weight / Mire's Grasp as possible. We can then cast (or reanimate with a flipped Journey to Eternity) a Storm Herald to reanimate a bunch of auras, milling ourselves a bunch more with Sage of Mysteries. Having two copies of Journey to Eternity is important because they legend rule each other, which gets around Storm Herald's exile clause and puts a Journey to Eternity back in the graveyard. After reanimating a bunch of stuff, we use Dead Weight / Mire's Grasp to kill our Storm Herald. Journey to Eternity will return it to the battlefield and return itself from exile as a land. (If we already have a flipped copy, we'll legend rule again, putting a copy of Journey to Eternity back into the graveyard.) Storm Herald once again reanimates as many auras as possible, and we repeat the process. Eventually, we'll mill our entire deck and win by reanimating a Thassa's Oracle. In a pinch (if our opponent has graveyard hate like Grafdigger's Cage), we can try to mill our opponent out instead! While I have no idea how good Journey to Eternity Mill is in practice, it is by far one of the most unique combo decks I've seen for Historic, and the weird abuse of the legend rule to get around Storm Herald's drawback of exiling all of the auras it reanimates is really sweet!

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Normally, this is where I do a write-up about the deck, but Kelvin-escesare's Vannifar Combo deck for Historic comes with a pretty in-depth breakdown of the combo and what the deck is trying to do. And considering Kelvin took it to top 600 mythic in best-of-one Historic, we might as well stick with the expert...

Modern

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In Modern, everyone is trying to break Tibalt's Trickery. Most decks fall into one of two camps: decks that are consistent at resolving Tibalt's Trickery but, thanks to the cards you need to make the deck consistent, also have a fail rate where you sometimes Tibalt's Trickery into a Simian Spirit Guide or even a literal dead card. The second approach is to build a deck that is somewhat like Zombie Hunt, where you'll have a much lower fizzle rate if you resolve Tibalt's Trickery, but, like Zombie Hunt, you have to mulligan aggressively for one of your four Tibalt's Trickery, and if your opponent can counter or Thoughtseize it, you probably just lose the game. 

Alok's build—Shadowborn Trickery—is in the latter Zombie Hunt-esque group. The idea is that you mulligan into Tibalt's Trickery and trust that you'll have one of your 22 Shadowborn Apostles in hand. On Turn 3, you cast Shadowborn Apostle and counter it with Tibalt's Trickery, which will find us one of our non–Shadowborn Apostle cards and let us cast it for free. Considering that the only other cards in our deck are four Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, four Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, four Behold the Beyond (which allows us to tutor up another Tibalt's Trickery and a Shadowborn Apostle to try again the following turn), and three more copies of Tibalt's Trickery, we're 80% to end up with an Eldrazi or a respin to find an Eldrazi, either of which should win us the game. The fizzle is hitting another Tibalt's Trickery, in which case I guess we try to beat down with Shadowborn Apostles. Is 80% to essentially win the game on Turn 3 or 4 enough? My guess is that Tibalt's Trickery ends up in the same space as Zombie Hunt (without the benefits of being budget-friendly), where it can pick up some really sweet, fast wins but isn't quite consistent enough to be a real top-tier deck. One slight suggestion to improve the deck is adding one Griselbrand. While perhaps not as game-ending as an Eldrazi, having a backup plan of casting and sacrificing a bunch of Shadowborn Apostles to tutor it up sounds helpful. Plus, in the worst case, we can use Griselbrand to draw enough cards to find another copy of Tibalt's Trickery to spin for an Eldrazi the next turn. In fact, Griselbrand might just be better than Behold the Beyond in the deck thanks to its Shadowborn Apostle synergies. Either way, the deck looks really unique and fun. And while consistency is a hurdle to overcome, if someone can figure out the right formula, then Tibalt's Trickery could end up being a really solid combo piece in Modern, along with being a great way for red decks to stop combos!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for this week! If you have any ideas about how to improve these decks, make sure to let us know in the comments, and if you have a deck you want to be considered for a future Fish Tank, leave that there as well! Thanks to everyone who sent in decks this week! 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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