Modern Deck Spotlight: Mardu Pox

With the deck lists pouring in from the SCG States events around the country a week ago, perhaps there are some diamonds in the rough that we can find that look interesting….

The following Mardu Pox list that showed up in the top 8 of Maryland really tickled my fancy….

Mardu Pox – Matthew Currie (33)
Fulminator Mage
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Liliana of the Veil
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Boom
Damnation
Haunting Echoes
Lingering Souls
Smallpox
Bitterblossom
Lands (27)
Plains
Swamp
Arid Mesa
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Godless Shrine
Lavaclaw Reaches
Marsh Flats
Sacred Foundry
Flagstones of Trokair
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Sideboard (15)
Kitchen Finks
Stony Silence
Rakdos Charm
Wear
Anger of the Gods
Inquisition of Kozilek
Shatterstorm
Slaughter Games
Thoughtseize
Wrath of God

Couple of things that stand out to me very quickly in regards to this deck:

1). It punishes fair deck’s and their mana bases. Between Fulminator Mage, Boom, and Smallpox this deck has a ton of land destruction. While much of it seems to also hurt you, the reality is that it does not. Flagstones of Trokair is a great land to sacrifice to Smallpox, as it replaces itself so you don’t lose anything. Boom can also target one of your fetchlands, which you then retain priority and sacrifice before the spell resolves. So long as the other land is still around, you just blew up a land on the cheap.

2). It can stall out the board very well. Between the 4 copies of Lingering Souls and 3 copies of Bitterblossom, it can easily buy time to get to the late game. The late game for this deck is when each player is playing off the top of their deck, much like Jund does. The exception is that this deck has also blown up many of the opponent’s lands at this point, often taking them off at least one color entirely and making topdecks even worse.

3). It can close games out quickly. If you read a lot of articles you may have read about a deck’s ability to “turn the corner”. What this means is that for a slower deck to go from a position of strength to the point of actually finishing the game, and is generally a concern for control decks. The old Esper Drownyard decks could not turn the corner very quickly, as they were still only able to Drownyard every turn and it would take quite some time to finish. Aetherling control decks had it much better, as it was often only a few swings with the creature to finish the game. This deck gets to use Gideon, Ally of Zendikar as the closer of choice. Drop him, make a 2/2, and then you can start swinging for 7 every turn until the game is over. Coupled with the burn spells in the deck this means you are likely winning the game two turns after playing Gideon, which is pretty good at that point.

Now, on to the things I dislike….

1). No targeted hand disruption. This deck seems very soft to fast combo decks (Amulet Bloom, Grishoalbrand, Storm). Without Thoughtseize or something similar you’re going to have a very hard time beating them game one. Well, maybe not Amulet Bloom quite as much, because of the amount of land destruction you play. Maybe. I think I’d try to find room for at least a few targeted discard cards though.

2). Haunting Echoes. Yes, I’m sure this card is a ton of fun to actually cast. But as a one of in the deck AND needing to jump through hoops to have it be any good AND needing to resolve a 5 mana spell, it just doesn’t seem worth it. I seem to recall saying I wanted to find room for some targeted discard….

3). Soft to big creatures. So your opponent resolves a quick Tarmogoyf or Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Now what do? Sure, you can chump block them for a while thanks to token creatures, but you’ll run out eventually in many cases and then just die. There’s no good way to get rid of a big creature in the deck, and it may make sense to have some number of a card like Terminate maindeck. Well, until they allow us to play Vindicate in modern…. Wouldn’t that be something.

Overall I think this deck looks like a lot of fun (plus I own most of it already). Perhaps I’ll sleeve it up for FNM some time, with a few minor tweaks for my local meta….

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.