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Egging to Victory

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

The thought of grinding Eggs came to me a few PTQs ago when the Cincinnati crew headed to one in Louisville. I was on a sweet four-color Gifts Ungiven deck chock-full of one-ofs. I only had six empty slots on the entire deck registration sheet (you know a list is spicy when this happens). The deck felt awesome, but eventually would lose to the inconsistencies any control deck faces in a meta full of Turn 4 aggro decks.

Throughout the day, I watched a few matches by eventual Top 8 participant Chris Anderson, who was playing an Eggs deck that looked very well-positioned in the current meta. He ran Defense Grid in the sideboard, which I never would have thought of putting in the deck, and I knew I wanted to scramble some Eggs for the remainder of the Modern PTQ season. In the following weeks, I referenced Stanislav Cifka’s Pro Tour-winning list and put together this fairly stock deck:

Following The Recipe

This deck is not for everyone (I know, cliché right?) and it takes several hours of practice to learn what a keepable hand is, how to go off correctly, and how to play around the hate after sideboarding. I have seen multiple people pick up the deck and fail miserably because they are not gaining as much value as they can with cantripping and sequencing the beginning turns. This deck is also mentally and physically taxing. Every board state needs to be assessed in order to determine whether you have an extra turn. You also need to recognize the optimal time to begin the combo (i.e. what percentage you are likely to draw a Sunrise effect given X amount of draw steps to avoid fizzling). All of this becomes much easier if you know how the other decks in the format function.

Playing the deck also requires an insane amount of deck manipulation, such as searching your library multiple times (fetches, Ghost Quarters and Reshapes), putting all your lands and artifacts into play and into the graveyard each time a Second Sunrise is cast, and casting Sleight of Hand and Serum Visions. All of these interactions involve you moving cards around and keeping track of what you are doing. Eventually, this adds up over the eight to 10 rounds of a typical tournament and can cause sloppy play, perhaps even contributing to a game loss if you’re not careful.

How It Works

The recursion chain that makes up the combo is all about thinning out your deck until you hit a certain threshold, which occurs when you have at least 1WW mana open and enough cantrip artifacts (“Eggs”) to have a high percentage to draw into another Sunrise effect. Generally speaking, once your opponent watches you perform the loop three to four times they end up conceding because of the consistency of the deck.

Thinning The Deck

In order to properly thin the deck when comboing off, you need to perform specific actions to maximize your chance of drawing into more Sunrises or more cantrips. This is done by Ghost Quartering your lands or fetching before you start to cycle through your artifacts, making it less likely to brick by drawing lands.

If you have a Sunrise effect in your graveyard, the proper sequence is to Conjurer’s Bauble the Sunrise to the bottom of your deck before shuffling your library with Ghost Quarter or a fetch. Make sure to do this with any draw triggers from Elsewhere Flasks entering play on the stack to maximize the efficiency of your draws. It is also perfectly acceptable to Bauble in Reshape until you have at least two Lotus Blooms in play. Finally, prioritizing Sleight of Hand over Serum Visions is important. This allows you to always see five cards, whereas casting Serum Visions first may prevent you from digging deeper into the deck.

Win Conditions

It is surprising how many people do not know how the kill works and are perfectly fine accepting that they lost the game after the third or fourth Sunrise has been cast. There are different ways that the kill works, most of which involve that you have drawn your library, have two or more Lotus Blooms, have your kill card, and have at least one Conjurer’s Bauble. The most common kill cards is Pyrite Spellbomb but other acceptable options are Banefire, Bitter Ordeal and Laboratory Maniac (Grapeshot is more prevalent online because of the clock).

The loop works like this: Sacrifice a Lotus Bloom for red mana and use it to blow up Pyrite Spellbomb. Then use the second Bloom to produce white mana and Conjurer’s Bauble a Second Sunrise into hand or play one you already have. This will bring back to play the two Lotus Blooms, Conjurer’s Bauble, and Pyrite Spellbomb. Now you just have to rinse and repeat. Alternatively, you can just Conjurer’s Bauble the Spellbomb to draw it and play it again. Then rinse and repeat for as much mana as you have or until you run out of Conjurer’s Baubles, in which case you just cast a Sunrise to bring them all back. Remember never to crack an Elsewhere Flask when in the loop; when you cast a Sunrise, the Flask will come into play and you will be forced to draw a card from an empty library — we all know what happens then.

Sideboarding

Sideboarding for the deck is fairly easy and intuitive, so instead of giving out exact sideboard plans, I will go through the logic of why a card comes in and what cards should be taken out. Aim for boarding in six cards at most because you don’t want to dilute the deck too much or it will lose consistency.

It should be obvious that any combo deck loses to heavy disruption in the form of discard and counter magic. In order to combat discard, all four Leyline of Sanctity come in. Leylines can also come in for the monored decks. And I even bring in two or three against Scapeshift; they are nice to have, but not really necessary because the deck is faster and has Silence/Defense Grid backup.

To combat counterspells, bring in Silences and Defense Grids. The Echoing Truths and Leave No Trace are for problematic permanents like Rest in Peace, Stony Silence and Blind Obedience. Echoing Truth also has other uses like bouncing an Ethersworn Canonist, Relic of Progenitus or Aven Mindcensor. The Pithing Needles come in for Liliana of the Veil, manlands, Relic of Progenitus, and AEther Vial.

I chose Bitter Ordeal as the second win con to play around Slaughter Games. It’s also a better win con against combo matchups like Scapeshift and Pod because you can remove pieces of their combo from their deck even if you bricked mid-combo.

To prioritize what to sideboard out of the deck, you must ask yourself a few questions. The first is whether Silence does anything in the matchup. Silence should always be the first card cut if your opponent is not playing counters. Beyond that, you board out Elsewhere Flask or Sleight of Hand because they are the slowest artifact and  worst cantrip. If you see Spell Snares from your opponent, it is almost always correct to cut the four Elsewhere Flasks to make yourself as immune to Spell Snare as possible.

Now that you know how the deck functions, let’s go over the PTQs during which I played Eggs:

PTQ Centerville — 10th place

Round 1: B/G Zombies
Round 2: R/G Tron
Round 3: Merfolk (loss)
Round 4: Splinter Twin (loss)
Round 5: Merfolk
Round 6: Mono B Pox
Round 7: U/W/r Variant

Top 8: Merfolk (from Round 3); Merfolk (Scott Ruggiero); Merfolk; Tribal Zoo; Mythic Conscription (Nate McGraw); Burn: Jund; U/W/r Geist (Bernie Wen)

The first two rounds of this PTQ were basically byes. In Round 1, my opponent looked to play a Standard deck from when Return to Ravnica was first released. I still ended up dropping a game by not drawing into a Reshape, though. Tron is also a very easy matchup because they provide little to no resistance to our combo. The worst thing they have against Eggs is Oblivion Stone. If they ever blow up the world, you can just sac all of your permanents to draw more cards and let the Oblivion Stone resolve; then cast a Second Sunrise to bring back your board. I did this twice in Round 2 and the games weren’t even close.

In Round 3, I was easily 2-0’d. He had just enough disruption with Cursecatchers in Game 1 to stop me from Reshaping an artifact into a Lotus Bloom. Game 2 was much of the same; he applied enough pressure to warrant going off and he had a Spell Pierce to stop the combo.

Round 4 was probably the most tilting round of Magic I have played in a while. My opponent leads off with Breeding Pool into Steam Vents and I put him on Eternal Command. I had a natural Turn 4 combo, and when my Lotus Bloom resolved. I thought I was in the clear. He only had two mana open and if he had a counterspell, he would’ve countered the Lotus Bloom. I cast Reshape and cracked all of my Eggs; when I went to cast Second Sunrise, I was blown out by a main board Dispel. I didn’t see that coming and deduced the only deck that ran main board Dispel was Splinter Twin, which was shortly confirmed.

In Game 2, I set up another Turn 4 combo and cast Silence in response to the Lotus Bloom trigger. Everything resolved and I went for it. After casting Faith’s Reward, I started going through the motions of thinning out the deck and cycling only to draw about six times and whiff. I cast Sleight of Hand and found nothing of relevance so was forced to pass the turn with just two Lotus Blooms in play. My opponent passed after missing his land drop, flashing in Deceiver Exarch at the end of my turn. During his upkeep, I cast Silence to prevent him from killing me. He made his fourth land drop and passed. On my turn, I drew Reshape and immediately Reshaped the second Lotus Bloom for a Pithing Needle. I named Splinter Twin … The next turn, he untapped and went to combo while explaining his creature had the activated ability and not the actual card Splinter Twin. I immediately called a judge to verify that was correct. I was pretty frustrated with myself for punting, especially knowing an X-2 would probably not make it into Top 8.

The last three matches were fairly easy and I don’t recall dropping a game. At the end of the final round, I looked at the standings to find it was a clean cut to Top 8 and that I ended up 10th. I stayed throughout the Top 8 to cheer on friends Scott, Nate and Bernie, who came out victorious with a well-deserved win.

PTQ Columbus — 1st Place

Round 1: R/G Tron
Round 2: Summer Bloom — Kurt Crane (loss)
Round 3: Mono U Tron
Round 4: Scapeshift
Round 5: Monored (Trogdor)
Round 6: Merfolk — Terrell Boaz
Round 7: RG Aggro — Kevin Gerhart
Round 8: Scapeshift — ID

Going into the weekend, there was some buzz going around about a new R/G Aggro list and another variant that splashed for Deathrite Shaman and Tribal Flames. I had heard the list was blazingly fast and consistent, so decided to see if there was anything I could change in my board. Eventually, I ended up adding two Holy Days so I could board out the Silences. To make the change, I cut the second Pithing Needle and the second Silence.

Round 1 matched me up with my good old friend R/G Tron. I easily took the match 2-0. As the next round’s pairings went up, I noticed I was matched up against a friend, Kurt Crane. Before the match, Kurt said he killed his previous opponent on Turn 2 twice, only dropping a game because of a misplay. I thought he was bluffing, but when he went Turn 1 Amulet of Vigor on the play, I quickly adjusted my thoughts — nothing in the format played that card from what I knew. Fast-forward to my Turn 3 when I was hit by Primeval Titan for a bunch of damage. I was still alive but with barely any life left. All I needed to do was draw any land to Reshape into a Lotus Bloom and combo. I draw my card and see a spell … scoop. In game 2, I ended up comboing him on Turn 3. In the last game, Kurt was on the play and showed me what it was like to be Turn 2’d in Modern.

Round 3 was a rough match because of his countermagic, but I ended up winning 2-1 with the help of Silence. Round 4 also went smoothly. I was up against Scapeshift and my opponent conceded as soon as I cast my first Second Sunrise; he stating he didn’t need to sit there and watch me combo off when he could be doing anything else.

In Round 5, I felt confident when my opponent went Turn 1 Goblin Guide. Burn is a fairly straightforward match, and I won Game 1 without any problems. In Game 2, I stared at a hand that was decent with a guaranteed Turn 4 combo. My opponent’s hand was a bit faster, though, threatening a Turn 4 kill of his own. To my excitement, I drew Holy Day to prevent him from winning. I forgot to tick down the Lotus Bloom trigger, but it didn’t matter. Game 3 was much like Game 1.

Round 6 blessed me with the most awesome Game 3 I have ever played. I prepare to combo, facing down lethal next turn with very few artifacts in play to draw cards. I don’t find another Sunrise, instead getting a Holy Day to buy myself a turn with just two Lotus Blooms in play and a bunch of tapped mana from Ghost Quarters and cantripping. He swings for way more than lethal and I cast Holy Day. He attempts to counter it with a Mana Leak, tapping him out with no Cursecatchers on board. I sacrifice one of my Lotus Blooms to pay for the Mana Leak and then draw my card for the turn. It’s a Reshape. I run the numbers and the only out is to get a Conjurer’s Bauble and draw a Sunrise. As I draw my card, I see a Faith’s Reward and somehow pull out a huge win with just a bunch of mana and a Lotus Bloom at the start of the turn.

I just needed to win one more match and it was likely I could draw into Top 8. I sit down and see Kevin Gerhart across from me. I didn’t know what he was on initially, but after he won the die roll and cracked a fetch for Stomping Grounds to play a Goblin Guide, I knew he was on the deck I heard about before the tournament. In both games, he said he had drawn the nuts for his deck, which were Turn 4 kills, but in both games I comboed off on Turn 3 to take the match.

Top 8: G/W Auras; Scapeshift; Grixis Delver; B/U/G Midrange; U/W/r Wensanity (Adam Prosak); U/W/r/b (Mark Sun); Soul Sisters; Eggs

Quarterfinals: Bogles

I draw a good enough hand in Game 1 with a Turn 4 combo and Silence. On my opponent’s Turn 3, I cast Silence to prevent him from playing any more enchantments on his Slippery Bogle because I suspected he had Daybreak Coronet in hand. Turns out he did; if he was able to play it the previous turn, I would’ve died. For Game 2, I board out two Silences for two Holy Days and win the turn before he can kill me.

Semifinals: Scapeshift

I make a risky decision in Game 1 by comboing on my Turn 4 into my opponent’s four open mana. He casts Telling Time and does not reveal any counter magic, so I continued with my combo. Once I have two Sunrises in hand, we go to the next game. In Game 2, my opponent disrupts me with multiple counterspells and slowly kills me with natural Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Snapcaster Mage beatdown. On Turn 2 of game 3, I resolve the MVP of the game, Defense Grid. I’m able to Pithing Needle his Relic of Progenitus and combo off the turn before he can kill me.

Finals: Grixis Delver

I make it to the finals with the chance for a Cincinnati player to take down the third local PTQ in a row. After having the usual conversation of “can you go to the Pro Tour?” with my opponent, it is clear one of us will have to earn it. On Turn 4, I realize my opponent does not have anything else to disrupt my combo after his initial Thoughtseize for Second Sunrise into Inquisition of Kozilek, with which he tries to take my Faith’s Reward before I point out its converted mana cost is four, not three. I go for it and the only thing my opponent can do is exile my Ghost Quarter with Deathrite Shaman. I draw a second Reshape and the game is over.

Game 2 starts off with my opponent playing an Inquisition of Kozilek to take my Lotus Bloom. I play a land into Chromatic Star. On my opponent’s second turn, he casts Serum Visions while I take a drink from my water bottle. The next thing I know, my opponent says, “This doesn’t belong here, it goes on top of my deck” and I look over to see him place a card from his hand on top of his library. The table judge stops the match, and after a short pause, my opponent is given a game loss by the head judge for drawing extra cards. It is a pretty lackluster way to win the PTQ and I apologize to my opponent for it ending the way that it did.

After the match, I receive a blue envelope containing an invitation to the Pro Tour and a bunch of forms to fill out. I’m still in disbelief that I actually won a PTQ, but I know that Team Cincy (James Grendell, Bernie Wen, and myself) will give it all that we have to prepare for the Pro Tour in hopes of making a big splash.

Looking back, I don’t think there was a better deck that I could’ve played that fit my play style. The only change I would consider is cutting a Defense Grid for the fourth Silence. And some advice for people who are thinking of picking up the deck for the upcoming PTQ season: Do not play this deck if you don’t feel completely comfortable with it. Expect to have to play around more hate now that Eggs actually won a PTQ.

Thanks for reading and good luck in the following PTQs!

Bill Comminos
@ElComminos on Twitter

Props

  • Jon Medina for showing me how to combo off with the deck forever ago.
  • Chris Anderson for the spicy Defense Grid tech.
  • Brandon Hoogland for supplying me with the Second Sunrises and coming up with the deck name “Huevos.”
  • James Grendell and Bernie Wen for winning the previous two PTQs. #CincyPTQMonopoly (Let’s make it four in a row, Cincy!)
  • Scott Ruggiero for letting Mark Larson, Jason Morgan and myself crash at his place the night before and carpool to the event site.
  • Phil Konkle for letting me in on the Holy Day tech at the Centerville PTQ.
  • Kurt Crane for showing up with the coolest deck by far and smashing my face with it on Turn 2.
  • The most insane game I ever played in Magic against Terrell Boaz.
  • Mark Sun and Adam Prosak for making to the Top 8.
  • The Platypus Egg playmat that was given out for GP Columbus. Gotta smash Eggs with style!

Slops

  • Mainboard Dispel in Splinter Twin.
  • Naming Splinter Twin with Pithing Needle
  • Forgetting to tick down Lotus Bloom.
  • The judge call against my finals opponent causing him to lose the match. Sorry it ended like that.
  • The Columbus Champs for not having $5 dollar apps. Cincy Champs >>> Columbus Champs
  • Mark “The Best Player in the Room” Larson for not upholding our verbal bet to shave his hair if I made the Top 8!!!!!

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