Last time, I told you about the next hot new Magic format: Modern Highlander. Today, I’ll walk you through the Blue-Red Splinter Twin deck I’ve built to dominate the competition (and use as many banned cards as possible).
Before we get too far into things, here’s my current decklist:
As a reminder, the rules for Modern Highlander deck construction, as made up by my friend and myself, are:
- Decks must contain 60 cards printed during the Modern era (8th Edition on). However, there’s no ban list. So, for example, my Blue-Red deck can play Splinter Twin, Preordain, and Dig Through Time. That’s because …
- Decks can contain only one copy of each card (except for Basic Lands). When my friend and I created the format, we figured the chances of doing extremely broken things with one copy of Modern’s currently banned cards are fairly low. (And y’know, we just wanted to play with banned cards. Playing with banned cards is cool.)
So why play Blue-Red Splinter Twin, of all things, with the entire Modern format at your fingertips? There are a few reasons.
Blue Has So Many Banned Cards
Of the 33 cards on the current Modern ban list, six of them (18%) are Blue:
And it just so happens, all six of those banned cards slot perfectly into a Blue-Red Splinter Twin deck! The card draw and selection spells help dig to Twin combo pieces (or Blood Moons, but we’ll talk about that in a bit), while also combo-ing with Instants-and-Sorceries-matter cards like Young Pyromancer, Snapcaster Mage, and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.
Of course, not having a banned list also beefs up Twin combo by allowing access to actual Splinter Twin (still banned at the time of this writing), alongside Kiki-Jiki, Deceiver Exarch, and Pestermite. And as anyone who played Modern during Twin’s heyday knows, having access to a game-winning, turn four combo is extremely powerful.
Splinter Twin Gives You Outs
For those who didn’t play a lot of Modern during Splinter Twin’s heyday, here’s how the Splinter Twin combo works:
- At the end of your opponent’s third turn, play a Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite.
- On your fourth turn, play a land. Then, play Splinter Twin on the Exarch or Pestermite.
- Assuming everything resolved, you can now create an infinite number of Exarchs/Pestermites! Splinter Twin allows your combo creature to tap and create a copy of itself. Then, you can use the copy’s enter-the-battlefield ability to untap the Twinned creature. Then, you can repeat the process (again and again and again).
- Create enough (hasty) copies, then attack your opponent for lethal!
Now, Splinter Twin decks can’t expect to combo out every time – especially in a singleton format. But putting Pestermite and Splinter Twin in your deck forces your opponents to play around the combo.
As soon as you play your third land, your opponent has to respect that you could win the game on your next turn – without having played either piece of your combo until their End Step! You can pass through your third turn holding up mana for cards like Electrolyze, Mana Leak, and Opt, all the while bluffing Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite. If you opponent plays something, fine. If they don’t, you’ve bought another turn to do whatever it is you’re doing (or keep digging toward your combo).
Because the deck can win out of nowhere, Blue-Red Twin’s great against an unknown field. Or in this case, against an unknown format. I have no idea what sort of deck my friend is going to play when we throw down in March, but I know Splinter Twin has at least a chance to beat it – thanks to the combo.
But sometimes, Splinter Twin’s not enough or just doesn’t show up. And you might be wondering, how does this deck win in those scenarios? I’ve got a couple back-up plans.
Blue-Red Has Back-up Win Conditions Galore
Against three-color (or more) decks, this Blue-Red Twin deck gets to rely on one of Modern’s most powerful non-banned cards:
Blood Moon (and its creature cousin, Magus of the Moon) can shut three-color decks like Jund and Abzan out of entire games of Modern by making it so those decks can’t cast their spells. Packing a couple Blood Moon effects should turn several midrange match-ups in this deck’s favor, even when the opponent’s deck contains “better,” grindier cards.
There will, however, be games where both Twin and Blood Moon fail or simply aren’t good enough. In those games, this deck can pursue a proactive, tempo-oriented game plan.
Creatures like Vendilion Clique and Nimble Obstructionist can chip in for a few points of damage at a time, while the deck draws, casts, and re-casts its Lightning Bolts. The deck can also generate recurring value using its Planeswalkers: Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
And that’s how I plan to win – without Twin if needed!
Testing It Out
I plan to test Blue-Red SingleTwin out as best I can soon, by replacing the banned cards and running the deck through a real Modern tournament! The results will be nowhere near conclusive, but the experiment should make for a fun evening of Magic. Now I just have to decide on a sideboard …
Didn’t see your favorite Blue or Red Modern card? Not all of my faves are in the deck either! Even in singleton, finding room for your favorite cards is tough. There were loads of additional cards I would’ve loved to fit in the deck … but there’s only so much room.
Feel free to make an argument for your favorite missing card, or lay out what you’d build for Modern Highlander, in the comments below. And until next time, may your new format take off.