Rogue Deck Review: The Recent Notables


Looking for something spicy and different to play this week? Hans has you covered in this week’s article as he digs up the rogue decks that have caught his attention. The only way to find out if there’s something of interest is to take a look inside!

People play everything in Modern, and there’s a lot of fun involved in digging through the various published lists. While some decks are completely new and others old, more often than not, these decks are somewhere in between. This gives people a reference point for how the deck might function, but the new technology that people incorporate into their lists also gives a sense of discovery when we come across an unusual take on a well-known card or archetype. This week, I collected some of the rogue decks that caught my eye and wanted to share them with you. Maybe one of these lists will pique your interest enough to pick it up and try it out at your next FNM!

Grixis Delver

Delver of Secrets

The first deck I wanted to pull up is an oldie but a goodie. Justice Reames took sixth place at the SCG Modern IQ in Centerville with an archetype straight out of 2016. Grixis Delver fell out of favor after the rise of Grixis Death’s Shadow, and there’s a good reason why: Death’s Shadow is faster and doesn’t rely on the cruel mistress that is the Delver of Secrets. Reames’ list doesn’t even play any cards past Kaladesh (the three copies of Ceremonious Rejection in the sideboard being the only “new” cards from current Standard), yet he seems to have found some success piloting an old archetype. If anyone needed the motivation to sleeve up his or her Delver and Snacpasters, here’s your chance!

Blue-Black Control

Drowner of Hope

Control decks have been defined by their win-conditions as much as by their answers, and this particular iteration of UB Control by MTGO player BARNYARD plays five game-ending creatures. Before I type out the rest of the sentence, I made sure to splash some water on my face and drink a second cup of coffee: This control deck plays four copies of Drowner of Hope and one copy of Emrakul, the Promised End. With the help from four copies of Eldrazi Temple, the deck can technically play a Drowner of Hope on turn four. The maindeck copies of Engineered Explosives, Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, and Forbidden Alchemy all synergize to put card types in the graveyard for Emrakul. The way the mana base is built does open the deck to being punished harder by Blood Moon, but who cares – this is a sweet and unique take on blue-black control.

Naya Ponza

Arlinn Kord

We’ve all gotten accustomed to having our lands blown up by Red-Green Ponza, but MTGO player robbit_hatman took the Modern League by surprise by piloting a Naya version of the deck to a 5-0 finish. Two things stick out on this decklist: the planeswalkers and the Madcap package. While the Madcap Experiment and Platinum Emperion combo is something we’ve seen from time to time in Ponza lists, we’ve certainly never seen it combined with seven planeswalkers in the main deck.

That’s right: seven.

Two copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance are standard for Ponza lists, but we also see neck-turning two copies each of Ajani Vengeant and Arlinn Kord, and one copy of Chandra, Flamecaller. One of Ponza’s biggest weakness has been card advantage, and robbit_hatman seems to have thrown in a smorgasbord of these card-advantage engines to see what would stick.

Blue-Red Merfolk

Master of Waves

The release of Rivals of Ixalan saw Modern Merfolk enthusiasts take on a green splash for Merfolk cards from the Ixalan block, but MTGO user maian splashed red in April’s Modern Challenge and went 5-2 with a unique Blue-Red Merfolk list. The most noticeable aspects about the main deck are the two Lightning Bolts. However, looking at the sideboard shows the spicier side of the list – two copies of Vandalblast, one copy of Blood Moon, and a single Hazoret, the Fervent. Vandalblast is obviously great against Merfolk’s arch-nemesis, Affinity, but I’m puzzled by the inclusion of the lone Blood Moon. Hazoret seems like a great card against midrange matchups and aggro mirrors, as she hits fast and hard and can’t be removed profitably other than through a Path to Exile. If you ever feel like switching up your Merfolk list, this might be a list you might want to check out.

Bant Chord

Shalai, Voice of Plenty

This next list by MTGO player Atomic is as close as someone gets to Commander in Modern: CoCo-less Bant Chord. Atomic piloted this deck to a 5-0 in a Modern League, and out of the 29 creatures in the deck, fourteen are singletons. Still not good enough? In that case head on over to the sideboard, where every card is a singleton.

The specific card choices are interesting: We have one copy of Meddling Mage, Dauntless Bodyguard, and even a Spellstutter Sprite. Dominaria’s very own Shalai, Voice of Plenty makes an appearance as well, but nothing caught my eye quite like the three copies of Mystic Snake. Otherwise, the deck plays the standard Bant Midrange cards we expect to see in a Modern list, and curving out into a three-drop after a turn one mana dork is always going to be a powerful start. The deck does seem to rely heavily on its Chord of Calling though, and I wonder how the deck expects to utilize its toolbox game plan without more redundancy. In the end, the answer just might be that it doesn’t need any additional redundancy.

Black-Red Death’s Shadow

Claim // Fame

The final list in today’s article is Black-Red Death’s Shadow from MTGO player esella. The deck looks like a mashup between a Burn deck and a Shadow deck, but there are also some outliers. The four copies of Abbot of Keral Keep isn’t something you see very often. The deck also plays four Claim // Fame to be able to return every creature other than Street Wraith to the battlefield. I’m always a fan of proactive strategies in Modern, and this list does just that by aggressively beating down and having that extra reach via its burn spells.

Anyway, that’s all for this week! If there are any other lists you came across that you want to send my way, leave them below in the comment section. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week!

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