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Insane In The Brain


Modern is a format that shifts between grindy midrange decks, combo-control decks, and fast non-interactive decks. Somewhere between in the middle, there is occasionally space for decks that are somewhere between aggro and midrange. This includes decks like Zoo, Naya Collected Company decks, and various token-based strategies. Sam Black has a new take on the attrition-based aggro deck that has some exciting graveyard elements. Let’s take a look:

This is a wacky deck with all manner of exciting interactions. The deck starts off on with powerful one-drops Cryptbreaker and Gravecrawler, which already gives the deck a way to start pulling ahead early on in the game. Leading off with Cryptbreaker and activating it by pitching Gravecrawler allows you to get ahead on the board without investing cards and sets you up to begin drawing extra cards off of Cryptbreaker if your opponent doesn’t have an early removal spell. These one-drops also allow early copies of Dark Salvation to be functional removal spells, and the early discard outlet encourages you to play Fiery Temper over Lightning Bolt.

Additionally, the deck has the ability to use Faithless Looting and Cryptbreaker to get Prized Amalgams into the graveyard, which allows you start getting even further ahead when you rebuy copies of Gravecrawler or Haunted Dead. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is another discard outlet that also allows you to flasback copies of Dark Salvation later on in the game. This makes it easier to cast them as Disfigures early in the game since you’ll still have the ability to cast them for Zombies later on.

The interesting piece of this deck is the inclusion of both Grave Scrabbler and Gray Merchant of Asphodel at the top of the curve. Grave Scrabbler is a great way to rebuy valuable engines like Cryptbreaker and Jace or haymakers like Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a surprisingly efficient way to close out games for a deck that’s good at keeping large numbers of creatures on the board. This deck is particularly adept at maintaining a board presence, even through sweepers. This is largely because you can activate Mutavault to get a zombie for Gravecrawler. Any Gravecrawlers will then allow you to rebuy Prized Amalgams to make it like Supreme Verdict never happened.

There’s a lot of power in this shell since you can generate so many free Zombie tokens with Cryptbreaker and Necromancer's Stockpile combined with creatures that want to be in the graveyard anyway. It’s possible that some number of Bloodghasts want to sneak into this list as yet another resilient threat. The advantage to this over something like Dredge is that there’s more room for interactive elements like Fiery Temper and Inquisition of Kozilek, particularly out of the sideboard. Additionally, while this deck relies on the graveyard, it’s backup plan of grinding out games with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Cryptbreaker is certainly better than the Dredge plan of casting Stinkweed Imp and Narcomoeba.

All told, this is a really interesting strategy that has a lot of potential. There’s plenty of explosive openings that can lead to either running your opponent over with Zombies or sitting back and playing a more attrition-oriented game. The ability to play both roles means that you should have a reasonable matchup against midrange and control decks, particularly given the deck’s resiliency to sweepers. It’s unfortunate that Modern is so frequently polarized such that this deck is out-raced by the linear decks, but as the format shifts back towards fair decks, this could be a fantastic option.

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