Modern Horizons 2 is going to be extremely powerful, and is shaping up to blur the line between Modern and Legacy. As such, I’d like to explore a deck that made me fall in love with Legacy a decade and a half ago – Orzhov Pox.
5 Swamp 2 Godless Shrine 2 Marsh Flats 1 Fetid Heath 4 Concealed Courtyard 4 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 4 Mishra’s Factory 2 Castle Locthwain 2 Shambling Vent 1 Nether Spirit 4 Fatal Push 4 Inquisition of Kozilek 4 Raven’s Crime 1 Thoughtseize 4 Smallpox 4 Lingering Souls 4 Vindicate 3 Damn 4 Liliana of the Veil 1 Cling to Dust Sideboard 2 Rest in Peace 2 Leyline of the Void 3 Collective Brutality 2 Ashiok, Dream Render 2 Fulminator Mage 4 Dark Confidant
Pox is a resource denial deck that seeks to pare down opposing resources and prevent the opponent from executing their game plan. When the dust settles, this deck can win the game with creature-lands or some meager Spirit tokens. After all, you don’t need much if you can completely and utterly dismantle the opposing defenses.
This deck gains a built-in advantage by playing no real creatures of its own. For starters, Smallpox is extremely powerful when you’re able to break symmetry and make sure your opponent is the only one sacrificing a creature. Next, Nether Spirit is guaranteed to return to the battlefield every turn because it’s literally impossible for there to be another creature clogging up your graveyard. And finally, any removal spells your opponents might have will effectively be dead cards, sitting ducks to be knocked out of their hand by a Liliana of the Veil +1 or a Raven’s Crime.
Since this deck is all about exchanging resources, Vindicate is really the perfect card. It gives you outs to planeswalkers and troublesome noncreature cards like Leyline of Sanctity. But crucially, it will never be useless; you can always trade for one of your opponent’s cards. In particular, being able to destroy lands can help you solidify your stranglehold on the game.
Finally, there’s Damn, which is effectively a split card of Terminate and Wrath of God. That’s just so powerful! You get to have a reset button for when you find yourself in a sticky situation, and yet you can cast it early and operate well on a small amount of mana.
What you want to avoid is being non-committal. In other words, don’t play “Five-Rack.” Either you’re willing to devote these resources to racing your opponent with damage, or you’re not. And in this case, I was not. Lingering Souls is a great card which gives you something profitable to discard to Smallpox and Liliana. That said, having Lingering Souls, Vindicate and Damn raises the mana curve significantly, and the Eight-Rack strategy needs to play mostly cheap spells.