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Modern Monday – Abzan Sneks

Last week on Magic TV, Paul Cheon and I joked around about how good Winding Constrictor ended up being in Standard. We got onto the subject of how we wished there were some form of graveyard removal in Standard, and Paul mentioned Scavenging Ooze. I suggested that Ooze would be a problem when you’re able to give it multiple counters per activation—Paul came around pretty quickly.

Someone else had the same idea, it seems—but in Modern, which is a much more powerful format. Magic Online user Themata wasted no time in trying out the Standard Snek strategy, as they crammed in all of the best creatures that benefit from counters they could find. Take a look.

Abzan Sneks

And we’re not just talking about Winding Constrictor here. You also have Walking Ballista and Fatal Push from Aether Revolt, proving once again how large an impact the set may have on Modern. In addition, you have a few other recent, synergistic cards in the form of Hardened Scales (what?), Hangarback Walker, Traverse the Ulvenwald, and Dromoka’s Command. For some of these, this is their first or second time in the format, and I would argue that only Traverse has ever made a consistent appearance in a top-tier deck.

Two surprising yet obvious creatures are the Arcbound brothers: Arcbound Ravager and Arcbound Worker. Of course, one is a little older and gets all of the credit, but don’t underestimate the younger, scrappier robot.

I have not been this eager to try a deck in quite some time. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

As with most decks I try on Modern Monday, you can have some really strong and explosive draws, but then you can also have unplayable draws as well. You may argue that that’s the case with every deck, but it’s definitely more of an issue with decks that want to assemble a specific plan composed of cards that are otherwise underwhelming on their own. Because let’s be real—you rarely want to cast a Walking Ballista for 6 mana in this deck.

Which brings me to the core issue I faced. After playing the deck a good deal, I think I know what went wrong. At first, I was really discouraged by the Traverse the Ulvenwald. I had a hard time fulfilling delirium, and I never wanted to waste one on finding a basic land. I only had 2 copies after all. With only 20 lands in the deck, there were times where I missed my third or fourth land drop, and those were pretty crucial. 3 lands allow you to play a 1- and a 2-drop, and 4 allow you to play an XX spell for 2. What I think was happening was that I wasn’t searching for land aggressively enough with Traverse the Ulvenwald when I had the opportunity. While I’m still not sure if this is better than adding a couple more lands, it could be the change that I needed. Worth noting is that the sorcery is also the perfect fourth card type for delirium in the deck after artifact, creature, and land.

I won’t even go into how good both Gavony Township and Vault of the Archangel are with all the cards that add additional counters and Walking Ballista, respectively. Not only does it seem obvious, but hopefully you watched it happen in the videos!

I dislike this deck’s inability to stop certain strategies like Dredge or Valakut. The deck doesn’t have a single way to destroy a Primeval Titan (or any large creature for that matter) or a nonbasic land, and I imagine similar struggles against Tron and their Oblivion Stones. I do have a Pithing Needle in the sideboard, but as I regularly lament, no dedicated artifact removal. That’s definitely something I would look at, along with something like Fulminator Mage or more universal creature removal like Path to Exile.

Despite some stumbles against the linear combo decks in the format, this still might be one of my favorite Modern decks in quite some time. I hope you enjoy it as well!

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