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Cold Horror

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In this experiment, we make it storm to bring about the titans in a burst of speed and thaw out the thing in the ice.

It may not have the same correlation to everyone as it did to me at first glance, but Thing in the Ice really reminds me of Pyromancer Ascension—which happens to be my favorite card for competitive play.

You see, they both cost 2 mana, and they both deal with counters (either accumulating or shedding) to reward you for casting instant or sorcery spells. And after the requisite number of triggers, each rewards you greatly. In the case of Awoken Horror, we gain a 7/8 for 2 mana that (probably) removes all our opponent’s creatures (A.K.A. blockers) from the battlefield.

Pyromancer Ascension decks win through steady streams of spells that start turning into crazy card advantage as we cast the likes of Manamorphose and Gitaxian Probe with an active Ascension before eventually winning with a big Grapeshot or a bunch of copied Lightning Bolts. Thing in the Ice asks that we attack with a beefy creature—and we may have to do so as many as three times.

It will probably be hard to get in more than once, however, so we’ll have to build our Thing in the Ice storm deck a little different from our Pyromancer Ascension storm deck. Incidentally, I wrote an article a few weeks ago about Crush of Tentacles with similar concepts, but Thing in the Ice has the potential to be a couple turns faster.

Dealing 20

My first goal was to imagine, given that I aim to transform the Thing, how to deal 20 damage with it as soon as possible. Naturally, this involves double strike.

Titan's Strength Brute Strength came to mind first, as U/R is the default for Storm-style strategies. Giant Growth does the same job if you want to play a green spell instead. I also looked at Might of Old Krosa, which might be even better than any of those options since +4/+4 is bigger than +3/+3 and we’ll rarely be actually using the spell as a combat trick. However, I settled on Titan's Strength because the toughness shouldn’t matter, and the scry could end up very useful.

Titan's Strength
Assault Strobe

Assault Strobe I picked the most basic option here for double strike. If we give the 7/8 Horror +3/+1, double strike means turning that 10 power into 20 damage, which does the job. Temur Battle Rage was in the list initially, because that’s what I chose for the Crush of Tentacles deck, but I don’t think we need the trample here since we’ll be going for the kill the turn we transform the Thing (and thus have just bounced all potential blockers). Psychotic Fury tantalizes me—that extra card would be amazing here, but unfortunately, we’re not working with multicolored. Finally, Armed of Armed // Dangerous may very well be worth that extra mana, as 16 damage could be enough to kill an opponent with a painful mana base.

Cheap Spells

The above combo makes for a great third turn after casting the Thing on turn two. However, we’ll still need to cast two other spells, so the cheaper the better here—especially since we might even be going for a turn-two kill.

Noble Hierarch While technically a spell in Magic, this isn’t an instant or sorcery and so doesn’t belong in this category, but I think it’s worth mentioning ahead of time. This will help us curve out. Maybe it should be Birds of Paradise instead since the Birds can make red mana and the Hierarch will be frequently returned to our hand anyway for not being a Horror, denying it the opportunity to exalt our attacker, but we might replay it occasionally enough that the 1 damage could be worth it.

Magmatic Insight I’m never sure whether this belongs in a deck. We won’t end up with a lot of lands in our list, but we don’t want excess in our hand either, and going two cards deep is a big deal. I have a hard time stomaching the card disadvantage of Faithless Looting.

Noble Hierarch
Magmatic Insight
Mutagenic Growth

Mutagenic Growth This only gives +2/+2, but it can cost as little as 0 mana! If we play a turn-one Hierarch and a turn-two Thing in the Ice, we can play four Mutagenic Growths and a haste-granting spell to attack for 15 on turn two. That might not kill our opponent (though, alternatively, it might), but it sure does make a good dent.

Gitaxian Probe This one, really, is too easy. It can cost 0 mana, and it digs us toward something else. We also gain the information of what, if anything, we need to play around from our opponent, and that’s hard to put a price on. (Though in this case, the price is 0.)

Noxious Revival I’m not super-confident in this, but I like the idea. Since a lot of our spells are cheap or free, we can pick out something we’ve already cast and set it up to cast again. This is card disadvantage, and we don’t gain the card we target right away—we’ll probably want one of our twelve draw spells to immediately pick up our chosen card. And twelve draw spells isn’t a lot.

Gitaxian Probe
Noxious Revival
Burst of Speed

Burst of Speed This will allow us to attack with our Horror the turn we cast the Thing (assuming we transform it successfully). Expedite is strictly better for dealing with one creature, but as you’ll soon see, we may have more than one!

Manamorphose Like Gitaxian Probe, this is basically an auto-include. This one doesn’t even cost us 2 life to pay for Phyrexian mana, and we can filter mana if the card’s actual effect is needed. It isn’t as powerful here as it is with an active Pyromancer Ascension, but that hardly matters.

Pact of the Titan And here’s the kicker. Looking for cheap spells, the Pact cycle jumped out at me. Summoner's Pact doesn’t find us anything except Noble Hierarch, Intervention Pact is too reactive. Pact of Negation is reactive, too, though it could be useful. And Slaughter Pact seems redundant with Awoken Horror’s transform trigger. But Pact of the Titan looks pretty fun. Imagine the scenario above about Mutagenic Growth, but instead of four copies of Mutagenic Growth, we have four copies of Pact of the Titan. Now when we cast Burst of Speed, we can not only attack with our transformed Thing, but we attack for an additional 16 damage worth of Giants. We could even win on turn one on the draw with a hand of Mountain, four copies of Pact of the Titan, Burst of Speed, and two copies of Mutagenic Growth.

The sideboard has a few interesting Horrors to play around with, and you might need Slaughter Pacts to deal with opposing copies of those cards. Not of This World stands in as a Pact of Negation we don’t have to pay 3uu for. Chasm Skulker could be neat in a version that plays more draw spells, and Hunted Horror becomes much more exciting when we can easily remove those pesky Centaurs. But those are all ideas for another day.

Chasm Skulker
Hunted Horror
Clockspinning

So if you want a turn-two win in Modern, if you’re looking forward to defrosting the new cool Shadows over Innistrad card, or if you just like decks that give you opportunities to fail to pay Pact costs, give this deck a try.

Andrew Wilson

@Silent7Seven

fissionessence at hotmail dot com


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