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Breaking Back with Vizier Knightfall

Written by Billy Mitchell on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Breaking Back with Vizier Knightfall

Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell is an L1 judge and competitive player from the Philadelphia area. Outside of Magic, Billy is a high school math and science teacher. He can be found on Twitter @badluckbandit.

For the better part of two years, Modern has been an expedition of sorts for me. Following Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, a format that I intimately understood was washed away and replaced with an abomination that later became known as Eldrazi Winter. I understood how to survive in a world of Summer Bloom and Deceiver Exarch, but the land of fast Thought-Knot Seer was not as enjoyable or, frankly, as skill-testing. Eventually, like all winters, eventually this new world thawed, Eye of Ugin was banned, and Modern had a chance to regrow.

A Brave Old World

Prior to the banning of Summer Bloom and Splinter Twin, I had been focusing on the Melira Company decks.

While my matchups against Splinter Twin or GR Tron weren’t ideal, I was a huge favorite against Jund, Abzan, Infect, and the non-metagame decks (fringe decks like Slivers, Elves, Goryo’s Vengeance). Decks like Melira Company are excellent at grinding out long games with spells like Collected Company and Eternal Witness and also capable of spewing off an early combo wins against the faster decks in the format.

When I returned to playing Modern earlier this year, I initially started playing Dredge. While the deck is powerful, Dredge receives a lot of splash-hate from the Death’s Shadow decks. The consensus from players is to attack a Death’s Shadow opponent’s graveyard rather than attacking their fragile mana base or their low threat density. I find this particularly frustrating because graveyard interaction is arguably the least effective way to combat Grixis Death Shadow. However, this was the strategy the masses applies so I felt very poorly about the position of Dredge.

Leading into SCG  Syracuse, I messaged fellow Legit Mtg writer Michael Mapson and asked him for a deck suggestion.

“I could legit see you enjoying knightfall though I can’t see myself convincing you to try it.”
“Just build it. I’ll play that. I really wanted to play Knight [of the Reliquary] anyways.”

After reading an excellent primer on the deck from Kelvin Chew (http://www.mtgmintcard.com/articles/writers/kelvin-chew/a-guide-to-vizier-knightfall) and receiving some deck list suggestions from friend Zach Becker, I registered this for SCG Syracuse:

The Full Buffalo

Like Melira Company, this deck has a strong 3-pronged attack. Because the pieces have little overlap, opponents who focus too much on one aspect of your deck will often fall to the others.

First, the Vizier of Remedies/ Devoted Druid combo is the most obvious and terrifying for your opponent. As long as your Devoted Druid is not summoning sick, these two cards can generate infinite green mana which can be put to good use by Duskwatch Recruiter, Eternal Witness, Chord of Calling, or Walking Ballista. Another dump for your excessive amounts of mana is Kessig Wolf Run, which is an important part of our deck’s second feature. The combo is very well-known so expect your Devoted Druid to die basically every time you cast it. Thankfully, it eats the removal spell that should be targeting the other high-impact creatures in the deck.

As I mentioned to Mapson, I have always wanted to play with Knight of the Reliquary.  The card has been criminally underplayed relative to its power level in Legacy and in its Standard format. The “Knightfall” combo revolves around Knight of the Reliquary and Retreat to Coralhelm, which can create a very large, trampling threat along with Kessig Wolf Run and the excess mana from the lands the Knight eats. The Knight of the Reliquary will often grow out of control and, even without trample, can easily threaten to end the game in one hit.

The third means of attack is the much more fair. Fair is a relative term. The deck is filled with silver-bullet cards that frustrate opponents in the right matchups. The deck’s flexibility lies in that these can easily be found from Chord of Calling or Collected Company. While this version omits it, creatures like Aven Mindcensor, Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Spellskite, Fiend Hunter, or Azusa, Lost but Seeking, could all be slotted into this deck if desired. The main condition for creatures in this deck is for it to be high-impact and cost less than 3 mana. Playing 4-drops makes Chord of Calling and Collected Company worse so I try to avoid them unless the metagame demands it.

I could write extensively about the creature selections here but there are two that I want to highlight. First, Reflector Mage is a concession to Death’s Shadow decks. Like I mentioned, their low threat density is an Achilles’ heel and a reflected Gurmag Angler can easily take two or more turns to redeploy. This deck also has a number of disposal creatures such as Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch that can freely block later in the game.

Second, the card I’ve been most impressed by has been Ramunap Excavator. Knight of the Reliquary makes it very easy to find utility lands such as Ghost Quarter or Horizon Canopy. Ghost Quarter is very good in the current Modern landscape where decks rarely have more than a few basic lands. Ramunap Excavator allows you to repeat Ghost Quarter, Horizon Canopy, and fetch lands ad nauseam to grind your opponent into the dust. I’ve had numerous games where I am able to Strip Mine-lock an Eldrazi Tron opponent or draw 2 additional cards a turn with Horizon Canopy and Tireless Tracker.

There is a lot more I can say about this deck but I’m running a little long as is. I plan to be back soon but in the meantime, here is my current list that I used to win a PPTQ:

If you want to try something a little off the beaten path, I can’t recommend this deck more. I am currently testing for the RPTQ in November and I plan on recording some matchups for you all. Expect to see those in the coming weeks. In the meantime, take this deck out for a spin. The deck is absurdly powerful and capable of maneuvering out of some very difficult positions. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for reading,
Billy Mitchell
@badluckbandit on Twitter

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