Saheeli Felidar Combo in Modern

Jacob Nagro

Jacob Nagro

Introduction

Right now Modern is in a weird place with 《Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis》 completely warping the metagame. I expect Hogaak to be banned at the next announcement if not sooner, so for this article I wanted to focus on some decks I’ve worked on in the past few months that I think can shine under the right circumstances, all of which utilize the once Standard dominating combo of 《Saheeli Rai》 and 《Felidar Guardian》.

Saheeli RaiFelidar Guardian

This combo has always been related to the 《Splinter Twin》 + 《Deceiver Exarch》 combo, as the cards have similar mana costs and also end up giving you infinite haste creatures, but there are some obvious key differences that allow you approach deck building with 《Saheeli Rai》 and 《Felidar Guardian》 in a very interesting way.

While not among the best Planeswalkers on individual power level, 《Saheeli Rai》 is still a 3 mana Planeswalker, which means a lot of games, especially on the play, she can come down on a board facing no threats. While her [+1] is rather low impact, her [-2] has the potential to generate value if you control the right artifact or creature. On top of that, she is actually a somewhat aggressively slanted Planeswalker, as pinging the opponent and creating a haste creature both lend themselves to helping out a beatdown deck.

《Felidar Guardian》 is almost exclusively a value card outside of the combo. A 4 mana 1/4 does not lend itself well for a beatdown strategy, but rather a defensive creature that usually can get a card’s worth of value out of its trigger. This creates some tension between Guardian and Saheeli outside of the combo while deckbuilding, but the obvious thing you can share with them is getting value out of copying or flickering your creatures or artifacts.

Jeskai Saheeli

Snapcaster MageLightning BoltRemand

Whenever I see a Jeskai Saheeli list it’s typically modeled after 《Splinter Twin》 decks of the past. Using 《Snapcaster Mage》, 《Lightning Bolt》, and 《Remand》 as interactive tools to eventually buy time to combo kill your opponent, or perhaps just pressure them enough to burn them out.

Narset, Parter of VeilsTeferi, Time Raveler

Since War of the Spark, the deck has gained 《Narset, Parter of Veils》, and more importantly 《Teferi, Time Raveler》. Teferi is an incredible tool in Saheeli combo. As a baseline of 《Repulse》 it can buy you time, but it also protects your combo from instant speed removal, and gives you another value target for 《Felidar Guardian》. Moving forward I expect Teferi to commonly be seen as a 4 of in Jeskai Saheeli, if not all versions.

Here is a list Ben Friedman advocated for recently:

Deceiver ExarchPestermite

As I said before, this list is very reminiscent of 《Splinter Twin》 decks of the past. A key difference however is that 《Splinter Twin》 could gain a lot of value from passing with 3 mana up and threatening to have 《Deceiver Exarch》 or 《Pestermite》, whereas this deck doesn’t have that luxury, making all of the instants a little less valuable than usual. I do like that it’s moving more towards a superfriends strategy that taps out for Planeswalkers since War of the Spark though, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Planeswalkers make their way into the list soon.

Wall of Omens

This list is also lacking ways to generate value from Saheeli’s [-2]. While copying 《Snapcaster Mage》 can give you value, you don’t even have the ability to get a card out of Saheeli’s [-2] the turn you play her. While I’m not the biggest fan of 《Wall of Omens》, I think it would really shine in this archetype, as not only could it allow you to get a card out of a turn 3 Saheeli, but with access to three different 3 mana Planeswalkers it seems like one of the better cards you could have on turn 2 to protect them.

I would consider replacing the 《Remand》s with some 《Wall of Omens》, as in general I think 《Remand》 is somewhat outdated in the Modern format, with mana costs being lower all around.

Given in general I look to be more proactive when playing this archetype, I typically always end up moving to green in deckbuilding.

Four Color Saheeli

Based more on what was once regarded on the best deck in Standard, this archetype is primarily a value/beatdown oriented deck, that threatens the combo kill in order to stress your opponents decisions. Here is a list I have tried recently, though it may be a little outdated as it doesn’t include Modern Horizons cards.

Reflector Mage

I used to like this deck when I wanted to attack fair decks. It generates a lot of value through its cards, and the combination of Teferi and 《Reflector Mage》 is incredibly good against decks featuring 《Tarmogoyf》 or similar threats. Now that Jund seems to be the top midrange deck of the format, playing with so many X/1s seems silly in the face of 《Wrenn and Six》 and to a lesser extent 《Plague Engineer》.

That being said, I think 《Reflector Mage》 is one of the best cards to play with 《Saheeli Rai》 and 《Felidar Guardian》. While 《Path to Exile》 is incredibly efficient, 《Reflector Mage》 offers tremendous upside as a removal spell in the archetype, especially when paired with plenty of other creatures. As I said before, 《Saheeli Rai》 is an aggressively slanted card, and coming down and making a copy of 《Reflector Mage》 is one of the best ways to utilize her.

Thragtusk

《Thragtusk》 in such high numbers may also stand out as an oddball, but in any fair matchup I’ve found it to be one of the best cards. First of all, this deck has a painful mana base, so the life gain is really nice at counteracting that. Second of all, if your opponent is playing fair, it’s incredibly hard to overcome 《Thragtusk》 with either 《Saheeli Rai》 or 《Felidar Guardian》, it somewhat feels like another combo piece.

Teferi, Time RavelerOath of Nissa

This deck also gets a lot more value out of 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, despite not playing any sorceries. This is because even if you don’t have the combo, it still allows you to safely use 《Saheeli Rai》 or 《Felidar Guardian》 on your creatures while you control him. He also can bounce your own 《Oath of Nissa》s to generate a lot of digging power in a matchup where you need to combo fast.

Modern Horizons Updates

There are actually a lot of exciting additions for Saheeli Felidar combo with Modern Horizons. Here is a list I built trying to incorporate a lot of what interests me.

Fiery Justice

This deck would ideally play out more like the Jeskai Saheeli build, but give you a lot more opportunities to grind your opponent out with value. Because we have access to green and we aren’t trying to beatdown as hard, we gain access to 《Fiery Justice》, a card that can potentially have incredibly high upside in the right matchup.

Wrenn and Six

《Wrenn and Six》 is just all around powerful. While she doesn’t have the highest impact modes, she’s just a 2 mana Planeswalker that generates actual value. Given this deck is already trying to protect Planeswalkers, I figured she’d be a good fit. Hitting your land drops in a deck like this is also pretty nice, because once you have 5 mana you threaten to play out your entire combo in one turn with 6 mana.

Arcum's Astrolabe

《Arcum’s Astrolabe》 lets us play all 4 colors with less worries, and gives us a very safe target for Saheeli’s [-2], which every version so far has lacked. Perhaps a shell exists with Astrolabe that is heavier on the artifact theme, utilizing the obviously powerful 《Mox Opal》, and perhaps 《Urza, Lord High Artificer》.

Wall of Blossoms

Lastly, while not the most powerful, 《Wall of Blossoms》 is a new addition to Modern even though it doesn’t really feel like one. It’s a welcome addition over 《Wall of Omens》 when our manabase is already so green heavy. Once again I like the protection it offers in such a Planeswalker heavy deck.


This likely isn’t the best way to build this deck, but like I said, it showcases a lot of what’s possible now with Modern Horizons. With so many options, it’s much more possible to tune a Saheeli Felidar combo deck towards an expected meta, and given the deck will always have access to turn 4 or even turn 3 wins, I think it’s a reasonable archetype to have on your radar.

Conclusion and Thoughts on Modern

I know this deck hasn’t really proven itself as a top contender of Modern right now, but I really believe it’s getting closer. Perhaps a new card ends up giving it the push it needs sometime soon.

Leyline of the VoidHogaak, Arisen NecropolisRest in Peace

Also, I really hope we get some more bannings soon. It seems obvious that Hogaak needs to go, and I’m honestly surprised it hasn’t been emergency banned yet. Having played 2 GPs with decks featuring the card I can say that playing with it isn’t particularly interesting. Most games feel entirely revolved around 《Leyline of the Void》 or your opponent’s ability to kill you on turn 3 or 4, everything else hardly seems to matter. It’s also maybe an eye opener that we need better graveyard hate cards in Modern, because I’ve seen this deck beat 《Rest in Peace》 when on the play many times now, given they cast Hogaak on turn 2 a good amount of the time.

Faithless LootingCreeping Chill

Beyond Hogaak being an obvious ban, I really hope for more bannings or possibly unbannings as well. I’ve been practicing Dredge on and off for about 6 months now, and even though some of the less impactful graveyard hate like 《Relic of Progenitus》 or 《Ravenous Trap》 are more effective against Dredge than against Hogaak decks, most of my games still just come down to either facing graveyard hate, or losing in the first four turns. I don’t know if 《Faithless Looting》 would be the correct card to ban, and personally I would vote for 《Creeping Chill》, but either way I think something will inevitably need to be removed from the deck.

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to contact me @JacobNagro on Twitter.

Jacob Nagro (Twitter)

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Jacob Nagro

Jacob Nagro Jacob Nagro is a pro player from United States. His first appearance was GP Denver 2016 where he made top 8 with UW Flash. He keeps trying hard and his effort was paid off as the Silver Level Pro in the 2016-2017 season. He played a spicy RB Bridgevine deck featuring Greater Gargadon and Bloodghast at the Pro Tour 25th Anniversary. His team went 7th place and he became a Gold Level Pro with the impressive record. Read more articles by Jacob Nagro