Modern Spice — Bring the Tooth

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Hello everyone!

Are you ready for a spicy Modern brew? While many people will try to play decks with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf, I have a spicy combo deck for those of you who want to do something different. Both Tooth and Nail and Bant Knightfall are fringe decks in Modern on their own—what if we mash those two together? What would it look like?

 

Bring the Tooth — Dennis Gabriels | Modern

Creatures (14)
4 Arbor Elf
3 Voyaging Satyr
2 Eternal Witness
3 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Xenagos, God of Revels

Spells (25)
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Fertile Ground
3 Garruk Wildspeaker
2 Kiora, Master of the Depths
2 Retreat to Coralhelm
2 Harmonize
2 Primal Command
2 Bring to Light
4 Tooth and Nail

Lands (22)
4 Wooded Foothills
3 Windswept Heath
1 Temple Garden
1 Breeding Pool
1 Stomping Ground
1 Overgrown Tomb
9 Forest
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Sejiri Steppe

Sideboard (15)
1 Bring to Light
1 Creeping Corrosion
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Slaughter Games
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 [Wrath of God
1 Crackling Doom
1 Crumble to Dust
1 Jund Charm
1 Pulse of the Fields
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Magus of the Moon
1 Back to Nature
1 Eternal Witness
1 Spellskite

How does the deck work?

Plan A: Ramp into your Planeswalkers and cast an entwined Tooth and Nail (as early as turn three!). With Tooth and Nail, you find Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Xenagos, God of Revels. You go to combat, give Emrakul haste and +X/+X via Xenagos and swing for 30 in the air. This is lethal 99.9 percent of the time.

Plan B: Win via Knight of the Reliquary and Retreat to Coralhelm. You can use the ability of Knight to find a land, use the landfall trigger from Retreat to Coralhelm to untap the Knight and repeat until it's big enough to swing for lethal. Grab Kessig Wolf Run to pump and give your Knight trample too!

Plan C: Is there is a plan C, you ask? Well, yes there is. Against some decks, using Garruk Wildspeaker to pump out 3/3 Beasts for the beatdown is very solid. Hardcasting a turn three Xenagos to swing with a 6/6 Beast works really well against certain strategies.

Card Choices:

Manabase

Seven fetches and one of each Green shock land provide us with plenty of ways to get to four (or even five colors) as early as turn three. This is relevant since you play Bring to Light.

9 Forests: Against aggro decks, you can just search for Forests instead of shock lands so we can preserve our life total. This doesn't hamper our ramp strategy whatsoever.

Kessig Wolf Run: Great utility land that can turn even a Voyaging Satyr into a lethal threat.

Sejiri Steppe: With an active Knight of the Reliquary, this card can provide instant protection from any one color.

Ramp package

4 Utopia Sprawl and 4 Fertile Ground to enchant our lands, and 4 Arbor Elf and 3 Voyaging Satyr to untap them. Always play Arbor Elf first if you have Elf plus Utopia Sprawl in your hand—this gives you access to four mana on turn two to cast a Planeswalker.

Creature Suite

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Xenagos, God of Revels are your two Tooth and Nail targets.

3 Knight of the Reliquary: Great utility creature that grows as you crack your fetches. Knight of the Reliquary combined with Retreat to Coralhelm can be a win condition. It also can help ramp if needed.

2 Eternal Witness: Again, great utility to add resilience to the deck. Can combo with Primal Command to chain Witness and set back your opponent several turns (using Primal Command's "Put target permanent on top of its owner's library" ability).

Other spells

Both Garruk Wildspeaker and Kiora, Master of the Depths can help you ramp. As mentioned earlier, Garruk can also make an army of 3/3 Beasts, which is very efficient against control decks. Kiora's -2 ability provides some digging for a creature should you need it.

2 Retreat to Coralhelm: This card combos with Knight of the Reliquary but can also help you ramp (tap a land, tap Arbor Elf to untap a land, play a land and uses the Retreat trigger to untap Arbor Elf). Even without ever seeing a Knight, Retreat to Coralhelm is solid. You can crack a fetch during your opponent's turn to tap down a creature and prevent it from attacking as well—this can buy you the time you need to find your own combo.

2 Harmonize: Best card draw in Green to help find what we need.

2 Primal Command: Lots of utility. You can search out a creature you need, gain some life (great against Burn!), put a permanent on top of your opponent's library to blank their next draw, or reshuffle a player's graveyard back into their library (note that is says player, which can be relevant at times).

2 Bring to Light: Your utility spell, especially after sideboarding. We'll talk about that in a little bit.

4 Tooth and Nail: Your main combo piece.

Sideboard:

The sideboard contains one extra Bring to Light and 14 silver bullets. When you board in your third Bring to Light, you in essence have access to four of each of these silver bullets since all of them are searchable with Bring to Light (with the notable exception of Boseiju, Who Shelters All).

Our Silver bullets:

1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All: The only card not searchable with Bring to Light happens to be fetchable with Knight of the Reliquary. Great addition against permission-based control decks.

1 Creeping Corrosion: This card absolutely wrecks Affinity, and can also provide use versus Lantern Control.

1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast: She is here to shut down infect, which has seen a little bit more play lately.

1 Slaughter Games: Helps beat combo decks.

1 Wrath of God: Sometimes you need a reset button, especially against decks such a Mardu Pyromancer and other go-wide strategies.

1 Crackling Doom: Great against Bogles and other Voltron strategies. Since it requires the other player to sacrifice the creature with the greatest power, even fetching for Dryad Arbor doesn't help.

1 Crumble to Dust: A concession to Tron since Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is backbreaking for the deck. Slowing them down with this buys you the time you need to combo out.

1 Jund Charm: A versatile spell that is mostly brought in against graveyard-based decks.

1 Pulse of the Fields: Gain life against Burn and it will likely return to your hand so you can cast it again!

1 Reclamation Sage: Need to get rid of a pesky artifact or enchantment? Reclamation Sage can do this for you!

1 Magus of the Moon: Since you play lots of basics, this can really wreck an opponent's manabase.

1 Back to Nature: Great against enchantment-based decks. Yes, it hurts your enchantments as well, but some decks need theirs more than you do (think Bogles).

1 Eternal Witness: Provides extra resilience against control decks. If you force your opponent to counter Witness, that is one less counterspell they have for a threat. If they choose not to counter, you can possibly get that countered threat back.

1 Spellskite: Sometimes you need some extra protection or just a way to deal with Voltron decks. I have cast Tooth and Nail for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Spellskite before because the protection Spellskite provides all but guaranteed a win for me.

Tips and Tricks

Sequencing

This is extremely important since it really can impact your turn two and turn three plays. Generally, you will always want to cast your "untap" creatures before you cast your mana enchantments. Arbor Elf turn one followed by a turn two Utopia Sprawl gives you four mana to cast Kiora or Garruk (or both if you cast Kiora first).

Naming colors with Utopia Sprawl

Keep in mind what your hand looks like and which lands you will be fetching. Generally you will want to name White or Blue as your first color. However, sometimes naming Red or Black is right if you know you can play Temple Garden or Breeding Pool and need to play a turn three Bring to Light for four.

Use Utopia Sprawl and Fertile Ground wisely

Several decks play Spreading Seas, Field of Ruin, and other cards that attack lands (Spreading Seas on a Forest causes Utopia Sprawl to fall off!). If you know you are playing against UW Control or Merfolk, it may be wise to spread out your enchantments. While this will slow you down a bit it ensure you have some more resilience against these decks.

Garruk Wildspeaker

Just because you can untap two lands with him doesn't mean you have to. Often enough, creating a 3/3 Beast is the correct play so you have some protection from opposing creatures or start presenting a clock your opponent has to deal with it.

Knight of the Reliquary

He is an alternative win condition (especially with Retreat to Coralhelm). Knight can also help you ramp to get that last mana you need to cast Tooth and Nail.

When you decide to use the "Plan B" win condition, keep the following things in mind:

  • Grabbing a fetch gives you two triggers. You can use this to tap down your opponent's creatures will still allowing you to keep grabbing lands with Knight.
  • Keep building up mana when starting the combo. When you finally grab Kessig Wolf Run, you can sink the mana into the Wolf Run to pump your Knight and give it trample.
  • Make sure to have a fetch in play when attacking with Knight of the Reliquary, as well as one Forest (or shock land) and Sejiri Steppe in your library. Should your opponent try to remove your Knight, you can crack the fetch to grab the Forest, untap your Knight and tap the Knight to sacrifice the Forest and grab Sejiri Steppe to protect your Knight.

Retreat to Coralhelm

We just talked about the potential-game winning combo with Knight of the Reliquary; however, there are many more useful applications:

  • Use it to untap Arbor Elf following landfall and help ramp into Tooth and Nail.
  • Keep an untapped fetch to crack during your opponent's turn to tap down a threatening creature.
  • Scry: Sometimes you just need to search for what you need. Retreat can helps us find it.

Chaining Primal Command and Eternal Witness

Sometimes, casting Primal Command to find Eternal Witness and put a permanent on top your opponent's library (ie: a land on an empty board) is a great play. Cast Eternal Witness to grab back Primal Command to find Eternal Witness number two and again place a permanent on your opponent's library. Use Eternal Witness two to cast Primal Command again, and you have just pretty much taken three Time Walks while advancing your board state. With the last Primal Command you can find another useful creature.

Silver Bullets

After sideboarding, you will usually bring in a third Bring to Light along with some silver bullets. Choose them wisely, and you may not need all of them. Playing a variety of silver bullets with very specific uses limits the cards you board in for each match-up—this makes it so that the main strategy of the deck remains intact. This can give you an edge because you are hardly sacrificing your own strategy to combat your opponent's.

Wrapping Up

I have personally played this deck at several FNMs with some decent success including some 4–0 and 3–0–1 (split last round) results. The deck has several win conditions and can switch gears as needed. I have won several games without ever casting Tooth and Nail, just playing beatdown with 3/3 Beasts.

Bring to Light has brought a lot of variety to a sideboard and playing what can be called in essence four copies of each of the sideboard silver bullets feels great. I will never forget the look on my opponent's eyes when I cast Bring to Light for four to grab Slaughter Games with no Black source in sight. This deck has always been fun to play and while it has some linear strategies, it has many different lines it can take as the game develops. This makes the deck fun since not every game ends with Tooth and Nail into Emrakul and Xenagos.

I hope you enjoyed today's spicy deck tech. Keep brewing your own brews and enjoy playing cards other players barely touch. It keeps the format diverse and fun and maybe one day will lead to the newest "hot deck" in Modern!

See you next week!

Dennis Gabriels (@GabrielsDennis) is an avid Modern player. Currently, he’s rocking casual Modern FNM's with the occasional drafts when a new set is released. Before moving to the USA from Belgium, Dennis' best finishes included several regional top 8 finishes with Izzetron in the Ravnica block / Time Spiral block Standard era. Dennis is also looking to expand his horizons to the Legacy format after having completed the Pox deck entirely through Puca.

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