Thursday, September 8, 2011

Modern Marvels: Soul Sisters

In the past, I've only done articles directly relating to standard. For limited, there's too many better than myself out there and I'll just be wasting your time. For the other constructed formats, well I simply never played them enough to offer an opinion. But I have been doing some tooling in Modern, and today I'd like to share that with you all.
Note- This article was written in the mindset that I could run Stoneforge Mystic, which I had mistakenly thought didn't eat the hammer like Jace. When I  was working on my brew I started looking around to see what else I could find on the net and there was not at all a lot to choose from, since the archetipe is indeed under the radar at the moment. Nearly all the lists I encountered ran Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull, which to me said I didn't need to bother double-checking. Either the deck hasn't been adjusted since the Community Cup banlist update or everyone else made the same assumption I did. In any case, the list has been updated and functions pretty much the same as it did before, only without the T2 SFM/Batterskull play.

Soul Sisters was originally a deck for standard that came about with the release of Soul's Attendant and Serra Ascendant, for those who don't know. Originally, the dream start was to play one of the 'Soul Sisters' on the first turn followed by Ajani's Pridemate, immediately becoming a 3/3 on the table. From there, the deck is designed to be able to take the pridemate to larger-than-Goyf levels, until he's either killed or the opponent just loses. To back up the strategy, we had Survival Cache to give the deck more fuel, Ranger of Eos to tutor up a pair of Serra Ascendants, and Elspeth, Knight-Errant serving either to make soldiers and trigger your sisters or throw your Ajani's Pridemate up into the air to beat through for lethal damage. The deck was annoying- very annoying, and now it's back with a vengeance in the Modern format.

The new tool at this deck's disposal is the Stoneforge Mystic/Batterskull package that has seen play in every format up until the ban in standard. The batterskull is insane by itself coming down on the third turn and is even better on the back of an Ajani's Pridemate, but also gives the deck a huge late-game presence, something that the deck rarely had in the past. In standard Soul Sisters, your best hope was to draw something good before you took enough damage that you couldn't bounce back.

Another burst of staying power comes from Proclamation of Rebirth. Casting this after a sweeper can put you right back where you started, bringing back a Serra Ascendant or two with some sisters to boot. From that alone, this card makes a much better recovery tool than Spectral Procession could have been. Then there's the channel ability, which adds a whole new element to the deck. When a game is going to go long, infinite Serra Ascendants will get there, and nothing short of a Thoughtseize can stop you. If you don't have that 30 life yet, infinite Martyr of Sands will do the trick as well. And the martyr can be fetched up with Ranger of Eos as well.

Speaking of Martyr of Sands, the deck has a new dream start in addition to the Ajani's Pridemate and Stoneforge Mystic plans- a Serra Ascendant comes down on the first turn, followed by the casting and sacrificing of Martyr of Sands. Nothing says Modern like a 6/6 with flying and lifelink attacking on turn 2.

Now you see me, gain 2, now you don't.
Now you see me, gain 2, now you don't.
This deck is rather interesting to play, since you are very much a beatdown player but most of your casts are as defensive as they are offensive. With cards like Ranger of Eos, Kitchen Finks, Proclamation of Rebirth and Elspeth, Knight-Errant, you can also extend as much as you'd like without ever actually overextending. I've found that often with this deck it's hard to get down to no cards in hand even if you want to.

One of the strongest ways to cripple this deck is Mental Misstep, since many of the key players only cost one white to cast. Thankfully, it's banned. That makes this deck so much better it's not even funny. Your true enemy will be any combo deck that ignores your life total. Twin is a non-issue as long as you keep a sister in play, so Mill is the big threat to you. You just have to get there before they get you. 12Post is annoying, but it's losing popularity and you just need that Tectonic Edge. Oblivion Ring will help keep Ulamog at bay, as well as Emrakul if you manage to survive a direct hit with three lands and they don't have a way of getting another. If they do get another, they annihilate your oblivion ring in the attack so that buys you more time, although at that point you'll have nothing in play so recovery is indeed doubtful.
Da way you move ain't fair, you know.

The list:

Creatures (26):
Land (23):
-I apologize for not having a sideboard ready just yet. I haven't played enough of the field at this point to make accurate choices. Fortunately, much of it should be easy enough that you can figure it out yourself. I'm not the best when it comes to building a proper board and I know it.-

Note that there are no Flagstones of Trokair or fetchlands in this list. The deck thinning is not relevant enough to go a turn behind on lands most of the time, there are no landfall creatures in the deck, and so much as a single point of damage from a fetchland can be enough to deactivate your Serra Ascendant. Also, we don't have Tarmogoyf, so I fail to see why it would be a good idea to throw lands in the graveyard. If we don't have a fetch and they don't have a fetch, that's even better for us. But if we play 12 lands that go to the graveyard then that will almost never happen.

More cards to consider:

This spell generates three
groupies at a Train concert.
I cut Spectral Procession from this list simply because I like Proclamation of Rebirth better. You may disagree. It does provide flying targets for swords as well as trigger your sisters, making for the dream on turn three after casting a pridemate. However, it doesn't recover as well from a sweep and doesn't allow you to channel an infinite sea of dudes late in the game. Since your early plays are strong enough as they are, I like the proc, but if your opponents tend to pack graveyard hate then it may be a good idea to play Spectral Procession instead.

Figure of Destiny is a good target to fish out from a Ranger of Eos when under 30 life. However, I stand to reason that if you can't get and keep yourself above 30, then that should be more important to you than trying to swing with the Figure.

The Secret Soul Sister
Another suggestion I saw was a green splash to play the planeshifted Essense Warden, adding a dose of consistency to the deck. However, the sisters are not what needs any more consistency and more often than not are dead draws after the fourth turn. It may be worth looking into for a more aggressive list than mine, but I'm not going to do it. I'm not giving it the time because I don't see the benefit, and I don't see where the deck has room to make that kind of change. So for me, it's out of the question. However, if anyone out there comes up with a list, I will admit that I'm curious to see how it performs.

This was Yo Mama, saying don't make me get the ruler.

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