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Grief-Free Elementals



Looking for a deck that can withstand the value engine of the new Feasting Troll King deck in Modern? Not only do Elementals have stronger engines, but also you can play and tutor for maindeck hate that ends their food party.

Modern Horizons 2 has given us many new exciting and powerful cards, none more so than the cycle of elemental incarnations. First I wrote about the strength of Grief and Ephemerate and next about the unsubtle strength of Subtlety. Now I am giving Fury its due. The preorder price of the mythic rare is curiously low, perhaps because people do not understand the strength of Pyrokinesis, or they don't know what archetype would want Fury. Just how strong is the card in Modern? Well, it makes five-colored-tribal elementals reasonable.

Horde of Notions

If you have fond memories of playing with Horde of Notions, now is the time to find them in your collection. If you own a playset of Primal Beyond, dust them off. Or, if you were sad at the banning of Omnath, Locus of Creation in Standard and would love a chance to play it alongside Modern fetches, you now have permission, thanks to Fury and friends. The legendary elementals are stronger than ever before, being multicolored, because you can exile them to any of the new incarnations. We're playing all those that match the color identity of Omnath, Locus of Creation: Fury, Subtlety, Solitude, and Endurance.

Omnath, Locus of Creation

Playing four-and-five-mana spells in Modern is usually a liability, but ours can be exiled to power out free spells. Our expensive cards that should lose us tempo instead grant us reactive speed. Exiling cards from our hand won't even always result in card disadvantage. Fury often kills two creatures, and if we have Risen Reef on the battlefield, we can maintain card parity while accelerating. And once we have the mana to hard cast our elementals, we overwhelm our foes with value.

Five-color elementals now has the free spells to stop fast decks, and it has the late game to win against them and other midrange strategies. Not only does Risen Reef synergize with Omnath, Locus of Creation, but also the Simic card turns Flamekin Harbinger into a better Demonic Tutor.

Risen Reef

Risen Reef is our deck's engine. It makes our free spells also card neutral and gives us inevitability. Also, it's delightful. If you've never played with the card, it's a real rush, like wading into a refreshing sea of card advantage. The good news is if we don't have Risen Reef in our opening hand we can find it with Flamekin Harbinger. The bad news is that it has only 1 toughness in a format with Lava Dart. Even in this worst case, Risen Reef replaces itself, and by avoiding other one-toughness cards we can deny our foe full use of the Lava Dart.

For that reason, we're playing Arboreal Grazer as our main accelerant. We also have Unsettled Mariner to force Lava Dart to cost more, a tax that will become harder to pay after we side in Thorn of Amethyst. Although Smokebraider is potentially powerful, I do not want to rely on it because of its 1 toughness. You can search for it if you have reason to expect it to live to summon a turn-three Fury, at full price.

Flamekin Harbinger

Flamekin Harbinger rewards us for playing a few situationally powerful one-of's. Fulminator Mage may slow down Tron but is even better against Temple Garden enchanted with Utopia Sprawl, or simply against a foe stumbling on mana. Endurance is an ace against Dredge and Mill. Masked Vandal can exile Heliod, and our incarnations will give us the necessary creature to exile in our graveyard. Solitude isn't a singleton but is still uniquely strong against Death's Shadow, as Fury is against creature decks like Elves.

Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Yasharn, Implacable Earth is our hate piece against the new Modern food deck that abuses Urza's Saga, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, and Feasting Troll King. Our wee little piggy ends their banquet. They have no maindeck answers to it. To protect it in sideboard games, use Veil of Summer, or revive it with Horde of Notions. You can add more copies of Yasharn to the sideboard until the Troll King craze ends. Don't worry. It's no Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. Urza's Saga is its strongest card, but you can tag that with Fulminator Mage.

When sideboarding we will take out the singletons that don't make sense in the matchup. You can also trim incarnations, depending on your foe. You don't need so much Fury against decks with big creatures, or as much Solitude against smaller swarms. The un-subtle Subtlety is potent against most decks but doesn't do much against combo or graveyard strategies like Dredge. Luckily, you have plenty to side in against decks playing only non-creature spells.

Thorn of Amethyst

I do wonder if we should play Thorn of Amethyst maindeck. If we did, they would be our only non-creature spells. Typically, tribal decks at least have Aether Vial, but that card is better paired with a glut of two-mana creatures. It helps less when we have a grip full of five-drops that we can deploy for free.

Most of our sideboarding is straight-forward, but it bears mentioning I included Cursed Totem against Heliod. It shuts down both sides of their combo, though don't expect it to hold them for long, since they can dispose of it with Skyclave Apparition. Also bring in the two copies of Masked Vandal, so you can exile more than one god. Side out Unsettled Mariner if you have to. Against opposing incarnations, you should know that Veil of Summer is good against Grief as long as you cast it while the Black spell is on the stack and before it enters the battlefield, but the Green instant does nothing versus Subtlety.

Speaking of doing nothing, I do not believe in Eyes of the Wisent. Even though you can search for it, I would advise against the tribal enchantment. One card worth searching for is Yasharn, Implacable Earth. Bring it in against Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. You should note the elemental does prevent players from fetching.

Other options are worth considering for the sideboard. Leyline of Sanctity will defend you from Grief; or you can pitch it to Solitude. Depending on the meta, it may be best. Feel free to also consider Stigma Lasher. I tried it against Heliod and wasn't certain it was worth the sideboard slot. I did also want it against Through the Breach decks, to prevent them from gaining fifteen every time I exiled their Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with Solitude.

For the maindeck I tried singletons of Realmwalker and Incandescent Soulstoke. They both have their uses, but I decided we would be better off with more copies of Unsettled Mariner, as we needed more cards to play on turn two and more multicolored spells in hand.

That said, you won't always have the mana to play the uwchangeling on the second turn. I prioritized fetch lands and shocks, rather than more creature tribal lands such as Unclaimed Territory. Not only do the fetches allow us to cast our turn-one accelerant, which is not an elemental, but also the dynamic lands excite Omnath, Locus of Creation. Further, I didn't want to lock myself out of using the activated ability of Horde of Notions. That's also the reason I didn't maximize our count of Cavern of Souls. In testing I wanted to go over the top by reviving elementals from my graveyard more often than I needed my elementals to be uncounterable. Of note, Omnath can also pay for this ability's cost, though for that too you will want fetch lands.

As silly as it is to trample your foes with Horde of Notions, it's also effective. You may well wonder how confident I am in this archetype. Let me say that I've already preordered four copies of Fury. The other incarnations are more expensive, and their cost is well earned. It would be foolish to underestimate a strategy that can make good use of so many free spells. Thank you, multicolored elementals! I also considered Fusion Elemental, which is a prismatic riot. I hope the convergence of these cards will unleash an incarnation of your inner joy.

Fusion Elemental

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