In my experience, the key to enjoying any Constructed format in Magic is having a deck you like playing. Those who are familiar with a bit of my Magic backstory likely know that I gained a bit of my initial notoriety from playing Kiki Chord in Modern. Sadly, as Modern became more focused and linear, Kiki Chord became a worse choice due to its inability to keep up with decks more efficient than it.
Recently, at the Magic Fest in Toronto, there was an archetype that started the event 8-0 that rekindled a bit of my love for Modern: 4-Color Vannifar Chord. This archetype feels like the natural progression of helping Kiki Chord be competitive again in a more brutal format. Before we dive into specifics, let's take a look at my current configuration based off of the list from Toronto:
4-Color Vannifar Chord | Modern | Jeff Hoogland
- Creatures (34)
- 1 Deceiver Exarch
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Glen Elendra Archmage
- 1 Knight of Autumn
- 1 Reflector Mage
- 1 Renegade Rallier
- 1 Reveillark
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Scryb Ranger
- 2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- 2 Wall of Omens
- 2 Wall of Roots
- 3 Kitchen Finks
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Prime Speaker Vannifar
- 4 Restoration Angel
- Instants (3)
- 3 Chord of Calling
- Sorceries (2)
- 2 Eldritch Evolution
- Lands (21)
- 1 Island
- 2 Forest
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 Sacred Foundry
- 1 Steam Vents
- 1 Temple Garden
- 2 Stomping Ground
- 2 Windswept Heath
- 2 Wooded Foothills
- 3 Grove of the Burnwillows
- 4 Misty Rainforest
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker with Restoration Angel or Deceiver Exarch. When Kiki copies Resto, the new Resto can blink Kiki - untapping him so he can copy the Angel again. When Kiki copies Deceiver Exarch, the new Exarch can untap Kiki letting him make another copy.
While these creatures are kind of expensive by Modern combo standards, they are reasonable in this archetype because of the ways in which we can assemble them. One line of play this deck has access to is assembling its entire combo with just a single Chord of Calling over the course of a few turns. We do this with the following sequence:
- Chord for Eternal Witness, pick back up Chord
- Chord for Restoration Angel, blink Witness, pick back up Chord
- Chord for Kiki-Jiki and combo with Restoration Angel
While this requires a good deal of mana, it is worth noting that all of our creatures in play can count as mana. We can also pay these costs over a series of turns if we have enough time.
The big thing Prime Speaker Vannifar does for the Kiki Combo is provide a brutally fast method to assemble our combo from very little. In fact, this deck can assemble a combo kill from simply Prime Speaker Vannifar, two forests and a 1 mana creature. We do this with the following sequence:
- Pod 1-drop into Scryb Ranger, untap Vannifar
- Pod Scryb Ranger into Renegade Rallier, get back Scryb Ranger, untap Vannifar
- Pod Scryb Ranger into Deceiver Exarch, untap Vannifar
- Pod Rallier into Restoration Angel, blink Deceiver Exarch, untap Vannifar
- Pod Restoration Angel into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combos with Deceiver Exarch
The fact that Prime Speaker Vannifar allows us to combo from so little really gives this archetype a level of consistency and "unfairness" that it desperately needed to be competitive in Modern. Past this, the fact that we can use mana creatures as combo pieces allows us to play more mana creatures with less drawback. This allows us to go fast like we need to in Modern, with minimal downside.
Past Prime Speaker Vannifar and Chord of Calling, this deck is also playing Eldritch Evolution to search up things we need even faster. In addition to finding combo pieces and Vannifar, our tutor cards also have the ability to search up a variety of utility creatures:
After Vannifar, Knight of Autumn is one of the biggest boons creature combo decks have gained since I last really played Kiki Chord. Previously, we had to register cards like Lone Missionary and Reclamation Sage in our main deck; leading to lots of awkward Game 1 draws when these cards were not relevant. Knight wraps up utility, along with the ability to just be a 4/3 creature to help with combat.
Reflector Mage gives us a touch of creature interaction, while Glen Elendra Archmage gives us a bit of interaction on the stack. All three of these cards also play well with Restoration Angel to get more mileage out of our single bullets.
One of the reasons I have always loved playing toolbox decks like this in Modern is because our tutor effects let every one of our sideboard slots go a lot further. The additional copies of Eldritch Evolution in the sideboard are for when we need to get to our hate card or combo as fast as possible. With these extra tutors, we can search up a variety of other bullets:
We also have a couple of beefier targets to help us out midrange other fair decks in the format that will be disruptive to our combo:
When Prime Speaker Vannifar was first spoiled, I honestly did not think that much of it. I am glad I gave this deck a shot though. The fact that Prime Speaker Vannifar dodges Lightning Bolt, combined with the fact that it is practically a one card combo when active is extremely powerful. It adds a level of consistency to this archetype that is has not had since Birthing Pod was legal.
If you are someone else who enjoys creature toolbox decks and have felt a bit lost in Modern in the recent months, I would highly encourage you to give this deck a try. If you want to see it in action before you play it yourself you can check it out on my website here.