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Deck of the Day: Modern Elementals

Everybody loves a tribal deck. What a great excuse to play with interesting cards and assemble cool synergies! Modern is home to a virtually limitless number of strong tribal decks. Goblins, Elves, Eldrazi, Merfolk, Spirits, and Humans are just a few that come to mind.

In particular, the Humans deck is a work of art. It uses Aether Vial, Cavern of Souls, Unclaimed Territory, and Ancient Ziggurat to support a five-color manabase where you can play with all of the best Humans available in the format. What else might you be able to accomplish with a similar structure? Magic Online player Psych4tog gave us one answer in a recent Modern League.

I didn’t think it was possible, but Elementals takes the five-color manabase even further by using the elemental-specific land Primal Beyond. Imagine a deck that plays with Lightning Skelemental, Risen Reef, and Flickerwisp all at the same time!

So what’s to like about the Elemental tribe?

First, you have Flamekin Harbinger. Lots of tribes have access to a Harbinger or a Forerunner, but not many cost one mana. Flamekin Harbinger is the ultimate set-up card, allowing you to invest the smallest possible amount of mana, get a relevant body, and search up whatever creature the situation might call for.

Next, you have Risen Reef. Reef builds card advantage into a deck type that might otherwise struggle against board sweepers and spot removal. More than that, it’s the ultimate snowball card! Once you get a little ahead with a Risen Reef, an opponent will find themselves completely buried and unable to catch up.

Finally, you have Thunderkin Awakener, which is an absolute beating with both Risen Reef and Lightning Skelemental. Imagine the frustration of saving your removal spells for the opponent’s key pieces, only to have them return to the battlefield at a profit via the four copies of Thunderkin Awakener.

There’s a lot to like about this decklist, focusing simultaneously on power, flexibility, and resilience. If I was to change anything, it would be related to the mana. Let’s get Waterlogged Grove out of there, since it’s so bad to draw alongside Lightning Skelemental. I’d also be interested to see how things play with more copies of Smokebraider, since generating two mana of any color is an extremely powerful effect.

Regardless of individual card choices, it’s clear that Elementals has a lot to offer in Modern. Some of the most powerful stand alone creatures happen to be Elementals–like Voice of Resurgence. Meanwhile, it also has some of the best tribal payoffs in cards like Risen Reef and Flamekin Harbinger. I can’t wait to fire it up!

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