The most important thing when trying to build a tribal deck is redundancy. Whatever your strategy, you need enough redundancy to ensure your tribal synergy is consistent. Kind of like Jund... only a bit more Johnny… JohnnyCroat that is!
There are 27 creatures with the Advisor subtype and, to pad the numbers a bit, there are 20 creatures (pre-Modern Horizons) with subtype Changeling. And Mutavault, of course. It's just a question of seeing if we can cobble something together workable in Modern, even if it's not going to be taking down tournaments any time soon. Let's brew!
Advice on Advisors
So, what advice can our Advisors give us in terms of colors? What's stylish this season?
There are seven White Advisors: Droning Bureaucrats, Lagonna-Band Elder, Masako the Humorless, Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker, Sram, Senior Edificer, Traveling Philosopher, and most recently, Tomik, Distinguished Advokist. We can chuck in the Azorius hybrids too like Azor's Elocutors and Minister of Impediments. The gold ones consist of Council of the Absolute and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV.
Blue gives us Civilized Scholar, Minister of Inquiries, Novijen Sages, Persistent Petitioners, and Trusted Advisor, while Green provides Elder of Laurels, Mayor of Avabruck, and, in part, Gaddock Teeg. There's a solitary Red entrant in Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician. It's fair to say we can ignore the goblin though as he's more about the Goblin subtype.
The rest are in the Orzhov syndicate, rather fittingly: Agent of Masks, Cartel Aristocrat, Kambal, Consul of Allocation, Obzedat, Ghost Council, Teysa Karlov, Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, and Teysa, Orzhov Scion.
In terms of Changelings, there's really only former Type II powerhouses Chameleon Colossus and Mirror Entity. There are a few new additions in Modern Horizons, but there's no real stand-out creature yet, due to high converted mana cost or their general abilities don't gel with the notion of a control build. We'll see later if Mutavault has a place in the manabase.
Okay, so this leaves us with four of the five colors. Green doesn't really *fit* with what we're trying to do, but a Green duo really do look like they could be great out of the sideboard. Teeg is a Modern All-Star helping low to the ground builds power through controlling decks, and maybe the Mayor could do a fair impersonation of Dragonmaster Outcast on stalled board states. This 'reduces' us to an Esper shell, which is really not a huge surprise when all things are considered. Kambal sees play in Legacy, Cartel Aristocrat saw heavy Standard play and still has a deck named after her, and of course the most recent version of Teysa has had a few interesting Afterlife decks built around her.
What Makes the Cut?
So, we need to pragmatic and that means we can't depend on Lagonna-Band Elder and Novijen Sages. There's simply not enough utility or upside to running them and they won't perform better than just having more petitioners. Our curve should be low enough that we're reaching the necessary glut of Advisors to mill our opponent's out, or perhaps to stymie their game plan enough that their decks no long function.
Starting from the Top
Azor's Elocutors: I know… it costs five mana. But hear me out. Azor's Elocutors is great at staying on the battlefield, and assuming we're successful at gumming up the board, it can offer a way to finish our opponent, provided we can't mill them.
Obzedat, Ghost Council: This card is equally expensive, but just as worthwhile. It helps hedge against burn, assuming we get to cast it, and the fact that it leaves the field isn't such a big deal when we have a line of faithful high-toughness Advisors protecting us.
Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker likely has a home in the sideboard but might be too slow against the fast-paced world of Modern.
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV can be back-breaking in control matchups, but by the time it's out, many decks won't even have cards in hand for Augustin to tax.
Kambal, Consul of Allocation: Kambal is just great. He needs to be killed and any burn aimed at him is burn not going to face. Removal also still triggers his ability, so you're always getting something out of him.
Masako the Humorless: is definitely a powerhouse against white weenie decks. You can attack with impunity and you can use abilities pre-combat while still getting to block.
And of course, the Persistent Petitioners themselves. A whole bunch of them. Add it all together and here's what I've got:
|3Cavern of Souls||16Persistent Petitioners||4Fatal Push|
|3Flooded Strand||3Azor's Elocutors||4Path to Exile|
|3Hallowed Fountain||4Cartel Aristocrat|
|4Island||3Kambal, Consul of Allocation|
|2Plains||3Obzedat, Ghost Council|
|3Supreme Verdict||4Surgical Extraction|
It's painful not including all of the Teferis, but there's some obligation involved in keeping to a theme. The sideboard is a mix of board resets, removal, graveyard meddling, and pure shields-up defense. We're not really looking to attack, but rather stall out until a win is in sight. If needed, Cartel Aristocrat can be protected and sent in to help deal with opposing Planeswalkers, or even to get in for those final few points of damage if needed.
It's possible to shave a few Petitioners from the 60 and add in some extra counters, but we're not overly concerned with facing those same cards as we can often respond with activated abilities and our curve is generally low enough that the bounce counter won't delay us that much. It'll be interesting to see how this does at my local kitchen tables and FNMs! If you try it, let me know on Twitter, or below in the comments.
We'll be back with #TwitterBuildsModern in June, with a podcast detailing the fun and games involved in putting together an EDH version of the deck. Until then!
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