By Zach Ryl
Throughout the article I will be referring to Emrakul as Spaghetti mom, Spaghetti, and pasta in general. If you’re not in for my silly wordsmithing, too bad!
What’s Cookin’ in Modern?
If you’ve been playing any modern recently you’ve probably noticed that a lot more matches have become food fights! As with the resurgence in Urza decks, I’m here to do a little coverage on all this for you.
I’m not sure about what has caused this situation, but I have some theories.
- General Lack of spell based combo.
- Proliferation of creature focused hyper aggressive decks.
- Grindy Blue Decks. – Esperka – Lurrus Blue (Btl/Grixis Spite Dragon)
Points 1-3 generally have to do with metagame forces that opened a vulnerability to this kind of strategy. Point 4 is here.
This card is something special for these decks. While the looting effect is card disadvantage, your two card combo is so powerful that it’s hard to be concerned. Digging towards it is almost always worth the card.
The card has the best two modes of Kolaghan’s Command in the average metagame, that of “Shock and Shatter.” With this flexibility the card does a lot of good work in a wide range of match ups.
In talking with breach player, and Faithless contributing author Soren “1stTurn_Negator” Wellman (Henceforth referred to by his Discord handle, Grixisism), he wanted to highlight some of the differences between this card and Valakut Awakening//Valakut Stoneforge.
You can find Soren’s fabulous articles here!
Arriving with Zendikar Rising, Valakut Awakening is another strong card selection tool that decks like this have been using for months now.
Prismari Command, if you’re using the looting mode, is going to be card disadvantage. You draw and discard two cards, but you’re spending a card to do so. You can use the shock or the shatter mode to recoup this, or the treasure creation mode to give you a tempo advantage.
Do not overlook the power of the Treasure token! That one mana can do a lot of work, especially in post board games where you have Veil of Summer or Mystical Dispute.
On the other hand, you have Valakut Awakening. While it’s never card disadvantage, its power is dependent on how many cards you can keep in your hand. It does let you put away as many cards as you want, and the way it doubles as a potential land drop is strong. It’s very good in matchups where you have cards that might be of limited use. It is weaker in heavy attrition matchups like black midrange decks with discard.
Keep in mind, the use of Valakut Awkening as a land in an Indomitable Creativity build is lower due to Valakut Stoneforge not being a Mountain.
For whatever reason, Through the Breach and Emrakul have more traction than usual.
Getting Creative in the Kitchen
Through the Breach isn’t the only way that people prepare their spaghetti. Indomitable Creativity has been getting in on the pasta party recently! As I detailed in my article about Velomachus Taking Turns, the way this is largely used is in concert with Dwarven Mine and Prismari Command.
The first time I became aware of this mashup was from Taxes master Spiderspace. He was playing a Jeskai deck, which I’ll mention in detail a little later that really inspired me last week and I’ll provide alternative versions of some of these decks where I can.
Through the Breach Gives your deck resilience against Blood Moon and point removal on the Dwarf Tokens for the cost of playing four Emrakul. Indomitable Creativity allows your deck to take advantage of the Emrakul density in your deck with extra ways to get Spaghetti Mama into play.
You also gain a quicker speed, with turn four or even three being possible. This way, you can end up with game states like this one.
“More like O-no Stone, Right?”
Like too many carbs, playing four Emrakul in your deck can cause some chunkiness. I’m a big fan of exploring more ways to use that chunk though! Polymorph or Transmogrify are other possible options and some people have gone nuts with those, and I have a link to such a list later.
Indomitable Creativity does you one… no two…. Several better than that! Creativity can be amped up to X values of greater than one to play around potential removal, or Spell Quellers. It can target artifact tokens, and is a way to deal with troublesome artifacts from your opponents. Nobody likes having their Emrakul held up by an Ensnaring Bridge.
In attrition matchups, like black discard based decks, you have a “one card combo.” All you need is a fetch, dwarf or treasure around, and you’re ready for dinner.
Playing one or the other is certainly something you can do. Today I’m going to focus on the more controlling style, with only Through the Breach and lists that include Breach and Creativity. There are likely reasonable lists that omit Through the Breach, but there’s already plenty to talk about here.
Stocking Your Pantry: Deck Staples
Opt: The best cheap cantrip in the format, Opt is common in the Through the Breach decks and a little less so in the Indomitable Creativity decks. Creativity decks need the card less since they have a much higher density of action. The selection is very useful especially with a fetch free mana base, and helps my good friend Snapcaster have a pretty high floor. (A high floor means the WORST the card can be is still quite good.)
Remand: Well known for being a part of Storm decks, this card is terrific. Why would you choose to return the spell to the opponent’s hand instead of countering it outright? Decks like Heliod Company, Storm, and Niv to Light actually want to play four and five mana spells. Setting them back on these turns can be brutal.
The card draw is great in this deck since we’re looking to assemble a two card combo as often as possible. Remand is just a great role player.
Mana Leak: You’re unlikely to see 4 of these in any list, and the Creativity decks don’t tend to use it at all due to space concerns. It’s a great card for these decks in general though since the kind of games where Mana Leak begins to fail to be effective are not the kind of games you’re trying to play anyway.
If you are looking for more counter magic then just Remand, Mana Leak is a go-to. This is an important option for decks that can’t handle the blue costs of Archmage’s Charm, Cryptic Command, or the incoming counterspell, Counterspell.
Snapcaster Mage: I heard a great description of this card the other day, Snapcaster is Demonic Tutor in the late game. It certainly feels that way, especially for instants where you can get a huge value play on your opponent’s turn with a Cryptic Command. That said, in builds with 8+ one cost spells, Snapcaster can kick in at 3 mana to start being a good value play. Flexible, but, relative to modern, a little low power, Snapcaster is never the worst include, from 1-4 copies.
Snapcaster is not an option for Creativity decks due to the requirement of no creatures or artifacts other than your payoff creatures.
Lightning Bolt: The Swiss Army Knife of one mana interaction in modern, it kills plenty of creatures, disrupts your opponent’s planeswalkers, and closes out games against decks that have a few pesky life points left after your hit for 15. Lightning Bolt isn’t perfect though, and with the 4x Mutagenic Growth prowess decks running rampant, this card’s value is… questionable as an answer. I still love it though, and include it where it makes sense.
Prismari Command / Valakut Awakening: I talked in depth about these two cards above but they will appear in many if not all of the following lists.
From this point on, there are not really all that many cards shared between all the different builds I’m going to discuss so the particulars will be discussed in their corresponding sections.
Choosing your Recipe
What follows here is a list and index of the rest of the article. Feel free to jump around to the color combination you’re most interested in or read the article as normal.
The non-creativity builds are currently more successful in competitive events but that may not remain so. These decks play a very “Draw-go” style , and play a control-adjacent strategy with a two card combo finish. The strength of this deck is being able to use your mana optimally on most turn cycles. They do this either by countering spells, killing creatures, or using card draw and selection.
The Dwarven Mine mana base opens you up to go even more “All in” on extra polymorph spells. More than that, it gives you a much higher density of cards that get spaghetti mom into play, and at a higher speed. The higher you go on these effects help you become more resistant to discard since there is higher redundancy.
Below is a list of Breach decks and Creative Breach decks. This is not an exhaustive discussion of their relative values but rather, and overview of decks. In some cases there is a proven list of one style or another. Where possible I’ve tried to supply the alternate version if you’re interested.
- Blue Red (Izzet) – The most Straightforward Colour Combination, this allows you to lean into some of the best blue interaction in the format. (Currently the most competitive build based on results) No Creativity build yet exists that is strictly these two colours since playing the Dwarven Mine mana base makes expanding into a third or fourth color easy and worthwhile.
- URg (Temur) – Grixisism has been very successful with this build as of late with a very light splash into green for tools like Veil of Summer. I have a similar build with a few interesting changes to propose and a Creativity build available for your perusal.
- URw Creative Breach (Jeskai) – This was the first Creative Breach build I was made aware of from Spiderspace. I’ll also recommend a Breach Build without our new best friend.
- URb Creative Breach (Grixis) – Player Yumad had success in a challenge with this build which I have yet to experience personally but plan to soon. Additionally I’ll provide a Breach build here with some ideas for how that might look.
- URgw Creative Breach (4 color Blackless) – Here is the build I personally arrived on as an idea for something that could be quite competitive. I’ll also include the CRAZY build I found in the weekend 5-0 dumps.
1. Spaghetti and Breachballs (UR Breach)
It’s not exciting but it’s powerful, consistent, and enjoyable to play. Unexciting construction doesn’t translate to unexciting gameplay as you will often have to frantically dig for a half of the combo as your life total and time in the game dwindle, or your opponent’s board expands to unshakable size, even for a speedy spaghetti monster.
This deck is a perfect example of what this Plain Jane version of the archetype looks like. Blue heavy, clean construction with many 4 ofs, and Snapcaster Mage as your fall back plan should the Emrakuls be removed. This Island-light mana base is Boil Resistant and the colours are almost always excellent in my experience.
This version has a scant 2 Blood Moons in the sideboard but for good reason, as the mana base features only 7 islands and no Scalding Tarns to get them out. It does have the advantage of being painless though! (No free damage for you, burn!)
Reminder: The lack of fetches mean that every scry will put a card “permanently” on the bottom. This increases the power of Opt, Valakut Awakening and Temple of Epiphany by a bit.
It also has the Madcap Experiment/Platinum Emperion package in the sideboard which gives them a blue-red way to improve matchups like Burn and Jund Shadow.
I am not providing a Creativity build for this color combination for a fairly important reason. Playing Creativity basically means you’re playing the Mountain/Dwarven Mine mana base. While it is possible this could be done to some level of value, I really think that at that point the ability to expand into a third or fourth color is too easy and too valuable to pass up. If you craft such a list, let me know. I would love to hear how much potential it has!
2. Carbonara (Jeskai) Decadently Bursting with Butter and Bacon
The first Creative Breach deck I was made aware of was this one by Spiderspace,
Teferi, Time Raveler The best reason to splash into white but not the only one. Giving you a lockout on countermagic is fantastic and so powerful that you can often draw the counterspells or interaction away from your important spells. Sometimes it can even “gain you” life against burn or prowess since they want to make sure they can Lava Dart your tokens. This could give you the opening to hit the Breach and just close the game right out.
Lightning Helix: A speculative choice that is very helpful against Burn, though the jury is out on how useful it is against the newer builds of Prowess with their tilt inducing 4 copies of Mutagenic Growth.
Rest in Peace: As a sideboard slot this is one of the best possible choices against Dredge and gives some small gains against Wrenn and Six or Tarmogoyf decks.
Leyline of Sanctity: I’ve seen Spiderspace pull off a crazy number of “non-games” with this card with opponents on Burn or Black discard based decks having next to no viable spells but I remain wary of the Leyline.
For a suggested build of Jeskai Breach, here’s what I bring to the table. There have been successful Blue Moon decks with this kind of light splash, and I think it could be quite effective here.
This build here leans toward using the white splash a little more aggressively to keep you alive against shadow/prowess variants in game one, and then pulling Teferi in from the sideboard alongside Mysical Dispute to crack open the Control Matchups.
It’s possible I should get the number of Snapcasters back to 4 since the Bolts and Helixes combined with a two power snappy dresser can close out close games against Death’s Shadow/Scourge of the Skyclaves decks without any Eldrazi Interference. Food for thought!
3. Primavera (Temur) Vivacious and Vegetal
This build has recently been very successful for Faithless Brewer, 1stTurnNegator. (Recently top 8 in the May 2nd Challenge, and 5-2 in the May 9th Challenge. His current build is featured below.
Veil of Summer: The biggest reason for the splash, this card provides insane resistance against black discard based strategies. It also assists against countermagic where a pre-Breach Veil can be insane. Force of Negation was extinct from the Modern meta for a little while, driven out by numerous creature based strategies, but it’s been making a bit of a comeback so extra resistance isn’t going to go wrong for you here.
Weather the Storm: A reasonable play against the prowess decks. While on its own it’s not going to win you the game, buying you an extra turn, sometimes two, can be the buffer that allows you to put together your mana for Breach.
Wrenn and Six: This card is a Modern staple and gives your deck play in many directions. I particularly enjoy Wrenn and Six with Prismari Command and in general I love the pressure it generates against some of the ponderous control/midrange decks like the 4-5 color BTL decks and the Lurrus Control decks.
Note: Since beginning this article a 5-0 by balltap has appeared matching some of my thoughts in this space. Though including both Snapcaster AND Wrenn and Six.
Posted below is my speculative list with Wrenn instead of Snapcaster mage, and another one that combines this idea with the Creative Breach deck.
For the Creative Breach style of deck I really like the green adding acceleration in the form of Farkseek or Growth Spiral/Explore. This means you can creativity as early as turn 3, or breach on turn 4. (Though the turn 4 Breach was available already from Prismari Command.)
Note: If you put a Dwarven Mine into play with Farseek or any other effect that specifies the land enters tapped, you CANNOT generate a Dwarf Token from it. For this reason and others I mostly prefer Explore/Growth Spiral.
If only there was a color that had kill spells that worked. Is there no relief from the chafing redness?!
4. Putanesca (Grixis) Salty and Sultry
This list, coming from Yumad3988, attempts to solve the highly problematic matchup of prowess with brute force. Do you know what removal Mutagenic Growth doesn’t dodge?
Fatal Push: Do you know what removal Mutagenic Growth doesn’t dodge? This Modern staple is normally widely applicable with the ability to remove almost every creature from Death’s Shadow Varients, Heliod Company, and more importantly Prowess.
Terminate: Ah. Yes. If you’ve tried the rest, now try the best. Terminate is usually unnecessary in Modern, but there are a number of cards right now that Fatal Push and Lightning Bolt do not kill, Stormwing Entity, Primeval Titan, Velomachus and many more. Adding to this fact you just need a density of removal to have a chance against the Prowess decks, Terminate is low-risk at the moment..
This deck is a Creative Breach deck, with some extra selection in the form of Opt and Valakut Awakening. As with most Creative Breach decks, the reliance on the Dwarven Mine mana base means that you need to respect Blood Moon heavily out of the sideboard, and we see the 4 copies of Aether Gust there that I would expect.
Interestingly, we see no copies of any kind of discard spell here. I believe this is due to the fact that Remand and other counter magic buys you enough time against midrange/combo decks, but it does look to me like this deck might have a bit of a tricky time with control with SO much removal main deck.
Here we have my build for a breach version, no Creativity.
Keeping the maindeck removal quite high is probably the right place to be since in game one against aggressive decks you need to have the answers early, since there may not be a later. I’ve tried including Engineered Explosives in the sideboard as a way to hedge against prowess builds even more, and some Thoughtseize alongside Mystical Dispute to try to deal with control.
Note: Engineered Explosives is not included in Creativity decks since it’s an artifact which will disrupt your combo.
This list is untested but based on the good work that Yumad put in off of the Grixis Creative Breach deck, I have some faith that something like this could be quite strong.
5. The Shape of my Heart (Radiatore with Rosé)
Tomato and Cream is a decadent combination that makes my heart sing, and my taste buds dance. When I first had it as a teenager at a restaurant, I was transported. Getting to set some Vodka on fire is a fun treat as part of the cooking process but it’s actually essential since the liquor acts as an emulsifier, allowing the acidic tomato sauce to mix with the cream without curdling it.
What does this have to do with these decks? Easy! We’re combining elements of several of them, and trying to keep it all balanced.
So, strap yourself in for my favorite recipe.
Some of the finer details here are still being worked on but, Timely Reinforcements helps against the prowess heavy meta, Wrenn and Six and Teferi, Time Raveler team up to provide cards that control decks feel incentivized to deal with, and four copies of Prismari Command tie the whole thing together nicely.
I’m still not sure about Explore versus Growth Spiral. They’re functionally very similar and without Velomachus the big difference is having both non-red colors live on turn 2 in our Dwarven Mine deck. Growth Spiral means you can have Remand ready to go with Growth Spiral available as a backup in case your opponent chooses inaction. However, Explore requires less aggressiveness towards your own life total.
There was also an entry in this category from the 5-0 dump from Newmedicines19.
This “all-in” build has 8 effects at 4 mana to cheat in big spaghetti mama, four breaches, four Teferi, and four… Timely Reinforcements? Yeah. They’re just hedging heavily against aggressive decks. I took this into a league with a group of friends backseating and had a whale of a time. I would HIGHLY recommend working a Ketria Triome and Raugrin Triome into the mana base. It’s essentially no cost and is highly useful.
Oof. That was a lot of Pasta.
Sit back and nurse a tiny cup of Amaro, or Coffee, and collect yourself.
I hope some of these builds have piqued your interest, curiosity or hunger! I have been loving exploring and developing some of these decks and it really feels like there is still more to learn. Each of these builds is appropriate for a different player’s approach, and for a different metagame.
Here I’m including some recipes to go along with the different Pasta Recipes I’ve mentioned since I couldn’t stand the guilt of teasing you with them with the chance for you to enjoy these delicious dishes yourself.
Spaghetti and Meatballs – While it’s simple to do it acceptably, learning to master something like this is worth doing so that you can learn about your likes and dislikes on texture, taste, and preparation. Personally, I don’t love the meatballs that are included here and prefer to make meatballs that are a combination of Ground Pork and Beef, and just add a little bit of your own seasoning.
Primavera (Vegetarian, omit the cheese and it’s Vegan!)
Penne Alla Vodka (Rosé Sauce) – This gentleman’s recipe is A++ but I enjoy adding Kalamata Olives, Crimini Mushrooms, and Sausage to it since I really want these elements and flavours in my food.
Taste as you you go, and after you’ve done a number of different recipes and the same one a few times, you can play around and add what you like.
For example I really wanted to learn the hows and why’s of flaming the vodka as seen in some cooking videos like this, and did some experimentation with how to work it into my recipe. This allows you to burn off the excess alcohol more quickly. Be careful if you’re going to do something like this, and make sure you know how to use your Fire Extinguisher.
The same way I learned to cook is the same way I learned to build decks and play Magic, the same way I learned to play music. Look around for people being successful.
Watch what they do, and how they do it.
Try to emulate that yourself, and when you’re happy with what you’ve done, try to remember how you did it!
Let it take time, let yourself fail, and always enjoy the process.
If you would like any tips on cooking, deck building, play, or magic rules, you can tweet at me, comment on a YouTube video on swing by my stream, 8-late E.S.T. most weeknights, and I’m trying to play at least one challenge per weekend now, so drop by and say hi!
Thanks for reading, and stay Emracool, or even,
Zach Ryl is a high energy, high output, endless creator. When he’s not literally cooking, mixing drinks, or studying them, he finds occasional time to stream or pen articles about magic. Follow him on Twitter @ManaCymbal, and hear about fresh brews he’s working on at the Serum Visions Podcast, available through most podcast providers.