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Modern Gifts

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This week, I’d like to talk about decks featuring a card that I think is underplayed in current Modern decks: Gifts Ungiven. Gifts Ungiven has been a role player in quite a few decks since Kamigawa Standard (Greater Gifts with Greater Good, Gifts Ungiven, and reanimation spells), Kamigawa Block Constructed (Gifts Ungiven was the dominant deck by far), and old Extended (Gifts Rock, and more recently: Gifts Emeria).

More recently, in 2009 Extended at Pro Tour: Austin, Shouta Yasooka (yaya3 on Magic Online) featured this spicy deck.

If you look closely at this decklist, you’ll see it is completely Modern-legal.

This deck seeks to get to the endgame of Miren/Yosei/Emeria every turn, which effectively ends the game for your opponent or kills the opponent with Rude Awakening. To this end, all of the cards are pretty good at either stalling the game or bringing you closer to your goal of locking your opponent out.

Pulse of the Fields is an interesting inclusion, although it may not be good enough. Four Kitchen Finks and a Hierarch is a lot of time bought against aggressive decks if they don’t have much evasion. Six board sweepers also buys a ton of time, and the deck is naturally resilient against control decks with its endgame of Emeria, Loam, and Yosei or Witness.

A few common Gifts Ungiven piles are:

Emeria, Loam, Witness, and any Card X eventually gets you Card X if you have enough Plains in play.

Day of Judgment, Wrath of God, Engineered Explosives, and Eternal Witness gets you two sweepers.

Witness, Makeshift Mannequin, Emeria, and Yosei gets Yosei into play.

Another Gifts deck that has seen a fair amount of play is W/U Tron:

I don’t know who to originally credit with this exact type of list, but several people have been championing the deck on Magic Online, including Zwischenzug (who posts very good results).

Gifts Ungiven here helps you assemble Urzatron through the use of Crucible of Worlds, Academy Ruins, and the pieces of Tron that you are missing. In a pinch, it can also find three threats (Karn/Mindslaver/Kozilek) or four board sweepers. Be careful with Kozilek, though; Giftsing for Kozilek and not having him end up in your hand means your entire graveyard will be shuffled in, which turns off Academy Ruins and Crucible of Worlds. An interesting part of this deck is the fact that it can board into Eye of Ugin and Emrakul to give inevitability against any other slow deck.

I’m not entirely sure that either of these decks is better than the alternative plan of Gifts for Unburial Rites and a large creature.

An example of a deck that is entirely focused on doing that is:

This deck is extremely focused and has a pretty good game plan of sideboarding into a Fish-type deck for Games 2 and 3 to dodge potential hate cards. Sun Titan is an interesting choice to rebuy cards like Oblivion Ring, Phantasmal Image, and Kitchen Finks. More notably, he chooses not to play a creature like Sundering Titan, Angel of Despair, or Empyrial Archangel, which seems like a fine choice.

The main use of Gifts Ungiven in this deck is to Gifts Ungiven for just two cards: Unburial Rites and a large creature (Iona/Elesh Norn/Sun Titan). Frank Karsten first publicized this play when he was playing Greater Gifts in Worlds 2005. It was also a play in old Extended Gifts Rock—you would Gifts for Genesis and Eternal Witness in the late-game to recur your best card every turn.

In a pinch, you can still Gifts for four value cards if a single fatty won’t be enough to win the game (Sun Titan, Oblivion Ring, Snapcaster Mage, and Phantasmal Image come to mind).

The last Gifts deck I want to cover is an update of old Gifts Rock (played to 3–1 recently):

Check out all those one-ofs! I think some form of this deck could be good, but this deck seems to be a mishmash of good cards thrown together. Etched Oracle is cute, but it’s probably not very good. He doesn’t have enough creature sanction or card-draw to either defend or assemble Gifts with Rites quickly enough. I’m not sure why he has Reflecting Pool in his mana base and no man-lands (Tar Pit and Colonnade come to mind here). Loam is another awkward exclusion (Crucible sort of does the same thing but is extremely awkward when you gifts for Crucible, Ruins, and two other cards). Regardless, this type of deck still has potential if the metagame swings the right way.

To summarize, Gifts Ungiven is still an extremely powerful card that has several routes available to it. Unburial Rites with large creature is the most obvious, but how about Gifts Ungiven for Reveillark, Body Double, Exarch, and Kiki-Jiki? Or some other obscure combo that hasn’t been fully explored yet?

Until next time, you can tweet @jkyu06 or write in the comment section here.

 


 

A bonus decklist that a friend of mine (stainerson on Magic Online) has been championing:

Limited time 35% buy trade in bonus buylist