This isn’t a completely new modern deck like the last few I have done deck techs on, it’s been around for a few months now and it’s slowly putting up more and more results on Magic Online. This is Mardu Pyromancer, an incredibly grindy deck that looks to gain small incremental advantages and disrupt the opponent long enough for you to assemble an army of tokens to kill them with. This isn’t exactly a budget deck (thanks to the rather expensive mana base) but if you’ve been involved in modern for a while then there is a chance you have a lot of these cards already. Mardu has always been known as a grindy archetype and I will probably be trying this one out myself in the coming months. Let’s have a look at the list and then break down what the deck is aiming to do.
What does the deck do?
The deck is clearly focused on casting spells (literally half the deck is made up of spells). To take advantage of all these spells it plays Young Pyromancer to create an army of tokens and then Bedlam Reveler as a large threat and as a way to refill your hand. Since this is modern and the deck runs black we see the usual inclusion of Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize to help slow down and disrupt the opponent. There is also a large amount of removal spells that help control the board while you build the army of tokens. The deck also plays Lingering Souls to further help build a large army of tokens and also to help control the board. This also plays into the idea of card advantage and getting more value out of its spells than other decks.
The Mana Base
The deck only runs nineteen lands in total, which is fairly low for modern, BUT the deck is centred around the two drops so it never needs much more mana. It’s a fairly simple mana base (by modern standards) as it is a black red deck splashing white off just two shock lands that are fetchable by the ten fetchlands. Blackcleave Cliffs is an important include because the deck needs multiple colours in the first two turns and paying life for shocklands can be a bit too much. The deck runs three Mountains and one Swamp to make fetching a bit less costly on the life and also the Swamp comes in handy whenever the deck sticks a Blood Moon.
There aren’t many creatures in the deck but the deck almost entirely hinges on how you use them. Monastery Swiftspear is only a two-of because it isn’t as necessary as the others but it can be very powerful; haste AND prowess can lead to large amounts of damage out of nowhere (especially in the late game). Bedlam Reveler is always gonna cost a lot less than it’s full cost and it is gonna help refill your hand with some sick spells to cast. Young Pyromancer is one of the main engines of the deck and is gonna be how you win a lot of games. Since the deck is filled with cheap spells you are going to be able to play pyromancer and then cast a bunch of spells to immediately get some tokens. Honorable mention to Lingering Souls which is the other key engine for the deck and while it is a spell it does make a lot of creatures and they will win you the game.
Let’s start with Faithless Looting. Some of your cards will be poorly positioned in certain match ups (like Blood Moon) while others will be the key to you winning easily (oh hey Blood Moon). Looting lets you churn through your deck to find the engine cards (Young Pyromancer or Lingering Souls) or find that much needed removal/ disruption spell. This also fills up your graveyard to make Bedlam Reveler cheaper. A single Forked Bolt is there to help against any go-wide decks and at worse can always hit the opponent in the face. The removal spells are pretty common; Lightning Bolt, Terminate, Dreadbore, Collective Brutality and Lightning Helix are all decent and help keep your life total high and keep the board relatively clear. Kolaghan’s Command is one of the best spells because it can rebuy one of your very important creatures in the late game while also being able to control the board and disrupt your opponent’s hand.
Because this is modern and you need to stop your opponent from killing you on turn three, the deck runs four Inquisition of Kozileks and three Thoughtseizes. These are gonna help to slow down the opponent and also let you form a game plan going forward into the game. There isn’t much to say about these as they are so common in modern now. The other way to disrupt the opponent is to just turn all their non basics into mountains and they can never cast any spells, which is where Blood Moon comes in. Most people will be pretty familiar with Blood Moon and just how powerful it can be in certain match ups, however it is very risky and that’s why it is only a one-of in this deck. Thanks to Faithless Looting and Bedlam Reveler it is very unlikely that you can’t turn Blood Moon into a different card if you don’t need it.
I think this deck will continue to put up results on Magic Online and once a few more people start playing it and putting up results in paper then it will catch on at the FNM level too. The deck looks super fun to play (assuming you like long grindy games where you make lots of tokens). Just be on the look out for control decks and be careful of graveyard decks like dredge and the various reanimator builds. I really hope I’ll have the chance to play this myself in the next few weeks and I recommend you give it a try if you love grindy midrange decks (how can you resist?). I am super excited to play this deck because I haven’t played Young Pyromancer since Treasure Cruise was banned. I will take any chance to relive the glory days of Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer in modern.