Saheeli Combo Deck Guide in Modern

Piotr Glogowski

Piotr Glogowski

Introduction

Last weekend I found a decklist of a Copycat combo deck posted by Zan Syed on Twitter, copied it, and took down one of the Magic Online Modern Challenges, which I captured on my stream (and uploaded the final matches to YouTube!). I’ll talk about the thoughts behind some card choices.

Felidar GuardianSaheeli Rai

Most players will be familiar with the combo. 《Felidar Guardian》 blinks 《Saheeli Rai》, 《Saheeli Rai》 copies 《Felidar Guardian》, repeat a lot, attack, win. That combo never really took off in Modern, but there are both new printings and new developments.

Card Choices and Reasons

《Omnath, Locus of Creation》

Omnath, Locus of Creation

《Omnath, Locus of Creation》, being another one in a growing line of (already banned in Standard!) Mythics pushed beyond common sense, translates to Modern quite well. With fetchlands triggering its mana-producing ability, it’s easy to get some explosive turns.

Cryptic CommandMystic Sanctuary

《Omnath, Locus of Creation》 already found success in Control shells, as a Planeswalker-type threat that matches up better against 《Lightning Bolt》 and creature pressure. While it’s hard to go really wrong with a 《Cryptic Command》/《Mystic Sanctuary》 deck nowadays, a good argument could be made that the card is even better if instead of Instant speed answers, you’ll fill your deck with powerful sorcery-speed cards. It makes sense as a pretty low opportunity cost, secondary threat in a deck that can kill out of nowhere, potentially rising the Copycat combo deck from its perpetual tier 3 status in Modern.

《Teferi, Time Raveler》

Teferi, Time Raveler

More crucial than the new card 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》, I think, is to play a full playset of 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 in such a shell. His passive ability becomes worth much more when you have an infinite combo worth protecting. Between 《Felidar Guardian》, 《Oath of Nissa》, and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, you are 0capable of spinning your wheels, interacting a bit, blocking, and drawing cards before you assemble your combo, while also being the best tool against both Control and removal spells.

《Utopia Sprawl》

Recently, I tweeted this:

I was being only somewhat tongue-in-cheek. With 《Mox Opal》 banned, 《Utopia Sprawl》 is probably the strongest mana acceleration left in the format. 《Lava Dart》 and 《Wrenn and Six》 existing successfully prevent people from registering 《Noble Hierarch》 too often, but 《Utopia Sprawl》 conveniently dodges all creature removal, is free to play past turn one, and is not easily disrupted in general.

Utopia SprawlMox Opal

《Utopia Sprawl》‘s strength has been proven by Red-Green Ponza’s success, and recently I have seen players experiment with using 《Utopia Sprawl》 as acceleration in more decks. I expect to see many more 《Utopia Sprawl》s in the Modern’s future, and the Saheeli combo looks like a good home for the card. It even opens up the possibility of a turn three combo, which lets you race anybody.

《Saheeli Rai》

Saheeli Rai

As far as more minutiae deckbuilding choices go, out of two combo pieces, 《Saheeli Rai》 is the terrible card. Ever since the Dominaria rules change, she isn’t even able to deal damage to other planeswalkers anymore, making her little more than just the threat of combo.

Wall of BlossomsOath of NissaTeferi, Time Raveler

Occasionally, you get to copy an 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 or an 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》, but because those are legendary, you only get to draw a card. To make 《Saheeli Rai》‘s -2 ability better, you can play more ETB affect creatures, the best of which seems to be 《Wall of Blossoms》. 《Arcum’s Astrolabe》 would be perfect here but unfortunately is no longer available. 《Felidar Guardian》 is pretty easy to turn into an extra card by blinking either 《Oath of Nissa》 or a 《Teferi, Time Raveler》.

《Remand》

Remand

I have been happy with a few copies of 《Remand》, as a way to interact a little while still progressing you towards your combo, but the card definitely has diminishing returns past that.

It can be really bad on the draw, and since the deck doesn’t include many alternative ways of spending instant speed and if your opponent doesn’t play into it, I’m sure you don’t want to run too many of them, neither I am sure if it’s ideal interaction for the main deck, although with control being the best deck in Modern, stack interaction of some kind seemingly will bring greater returns than just piling more creature removal.

《Wrenn and Six》

Wrenn and Six

《Wrenn and Six》 is an interesting card. For how much bad rap it gets as a “Design Mistake” after it pushed out all the one-toughness creatures out of Modern, it can be fairly poor and has heavy diminishing returns. It’s hard to support all four, as drawing multiples and/or flooding little leads to terrible draws, especially since the deck isn’t as interaction-heavy as a typical four-color control deck – you can’t protect 《Wrenn and Six》 as well on the way to their ultimate.

It can still run away with the games, combo with a cycling land or a Canopy for real card advantage, and supply you with fetchlands for 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》 it’s still a quite potent option, but not a sacred cow – I wouldn’t be afraid to trim more 《Wrenn and Six》s or even cut them entirely if some better piece of technology springs to mind.

Mana Base

Utopia SprawlOmnath, Locus of CreationWrenn and Six

The mana base is very functional, but between playing four colors, supporting 《Utopia Sprawl》, 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》 and 《Wrenn and Six》 wanting plenty of fetches, there is a certain amount of strain on it. I am positive further improvements could be made there.

Breeding PoolStomping GroundTemple Garden
Ketria TriomeForest

You want a hefty amount of fetchlands for 《Wrenn and Six》 and 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》, ideally all or nearly all capable of grabbing a basic 《Forest》. You want little non-《Forest》 lands in your deck in general, to limit the number of forced mulligans.

Sacred FoundrySteam Vents

As for shocklands, 《Sacred Foundry》 and 《Steam Vents》 are the two omitted. Both Triomes contain both blue and red, which makes 《Steam Vents》 redundant. 《Sacred Foundry》 is both not a Forest and a combination of two least desired colors – red mana is the least needed in the deck, and 《Oath of Nissa》 serves as a red source for your Planeswalkers.

Utopia Sprawl

When playing 《Utopia Sprawl》 on turn one, you typically want to fetch and enchant a basic. You’ll name whichever color your hand dictates – common sequences include naming Red if your turn two is going to be a 《Wrenn and Six》 + tapland; Blue if you want to be able to topdeck either three-mana planeswalker; Blue if your hand is going to be working towards 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, or whatever your hand dictates. Always keep in mind that you’d like to have 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》 mana available once you hit four.

The list I originally played in the challenge contained just one 《Forest》, but I advise playing two. As good as 《Utopia Sprawl》 is, it can be weak to land destruction, especially if you pile them on a single land. You can enchant shocklands, but that’s an even more dangerous proposition.

Cryptic CommandCleansing Wildfire

During the tournament, I was a victim of sequences like 《Cryptic Command》 countering my planeswalker and bouncing my double-enchanted land, which was a huge setback. Sideboard 《Cleansing Wildfire》s can be threatening in the same way. Having extra fetchable with 《Wrenn and Six》 (or 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》!) out can come up too.

Latest Decklist

Going forward, I’d recommend a list along those lines:

《Jegantha, the Wellspring》 is a card I got asked a lot about, but as it typically is with 《Jegantha, the Wellspring》, it’s just a freeroll Companion. It comes up, it can decide games, it can help against 《Blood Moon》, but the moment you think of an actually relevant CC card to play, don’t hesitate to cut it or plan not to use it in games where you bring the said card. For the challenge, I was playing sideboard 《Force of Negation》 and boarded them quite liberally. While 《Force of Negation》s didn’t end up feeling great, it’s a valid strategy.

Jegantha, the WellspringForce of Negation

Speaking of which, 《Force of Negation》 seldom ends up being a valid option past heavy control decks. The card feels absolutely unfair at times, but to support it you need pretty ample amounts of card advantage to recoup the lost card and throwaway blue cards. Copycat can ditch duplicate legendaries, but besides that, it’s a little too low on blue, and certainly too low on card advantage.

About Sideboards

As presented, the sideboard is just answers. Traditionally a vulnerable combo deck like this would play alternative threats and card advantage in the sideboard, but with 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 passive being as absolute as it is, a valid plan against interaction is to spin your wheels, cycle through your deck, interact a little and battle for position, ideally ultimately sticking a 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and combo out in a single turn.

Tireless TrackerJace, the Mind Sculptor

《Omnath, Locus of Creation》 already does that in the main deck, but extra cards like 《Tireless Tracker》 or 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 could absolutely be included in the sideboard to supplement the combo plan. I mainly don’t like them because against control, they have inevitability. You can try to grapple with them card advantage-wise, but 《Field of the Dead》 makes it unattractive to try to win the late game.

The main avenue to victory is 《Teferi, Time Raveler》. Because of that, I favor one-mana ways to push him through. 《Mystical Dispute》 lets you counter an early 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》 too, which can be a pain, especially with his third landfall trigger damaging your Planeswalkers.

《Aether Gust》

Aether Gust

《Aether Gust》 was a staple of blue sideboards for so long, I’ve been putting them in new decks just out of inertia, but with 《Primeval Titan》 being weak against your combo anyways, Gruul Ponza being sparsely played, and Prowess decks turning towards Black for 《Scourge of the Skyclaves》, 《Aether Gust》 is at it’s weakest it has been lately and is actually very cuttable from this deck.

《Fiery Justice》

Fiery Justice

《Fiery Justice》 is another card that people love to question, as the card can be pretty confusing to read at the first glance, but it’s just another removal/sweeper effect. Since the deck wins with an infinite combo, typically granting your opponent extra life won’t be a problem. Against Rakdos, it’s actually an upside of the card, making it easier to clear 《Scourge of the Skyclaves》s and 《Death’s Shadow》s. If you are not a fan of 《Fiery Justice》, an argument can be made for playing 《Supreme Verdict》 or any other sweeper.

Sideboarding Guide

Uro Control

vs. Uro Control (On the play)

Out

Path to Exile Path to Exile Path to Exile Path to Exile
Wall of Blossoms

In

Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Veil of Summer Veil of Summer
Dovin's Veto

vs. Uro Control (On the draw)

Out

Path to Exile Path to Exile Path to Exile Path to Exile
Utopia Sprawl Utopia Sprawl
Wall of Blossoms

In

Mystical Dispute Mystical Dispute Dovin's Veto Dovin's Veto
Veil of Summer Veil of Summer
Aether Gust

《Utopia Sprawl》 is significantly less attractive on the draw, as your turn two three-mana planeswalker can get countered by a 《Mana Leak》. On the play, a turn two 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 is a worthwhile gamble. Against some versions, 《Aether Gust》 will be better than 《Dovin’s Veto》.

Rakdos Shadow

vs. Rakdos Shadow (On the play)

Out

Wrenn and Six Wrenn and Six Wrenn and Six
Remand Remand
Oath of Nissa

In

Veil of Summer Veil of Summer
Celestial Purge Celestial Purge
Fiery Justice Fiery Justice

vs. Rakdos Shadow (On the draw)

Out

Wrenn and Six Wrenn and Six Wrenn and Six
Remand Remand
Tranquil Thicket

In

Celestial Purge Celestial Purge
Fiery Justice Fiery Justice
Aether Gust Veil of Summer

《Wrenn and Six》 hardly does anything here. 《Oath of Nissa》 gets worse, as you replace Planeswalkers with instants. 《Veil of Summer》 excels on the play against 《Thoughtseize》 but is a little bad if you don’t happen to match that up (don’t be afraid to cycle it).

Humans

vs. Humans

Out

Remand
Remand

In

Fiery Justice
Fiery Justice

Happy to do just that. You could bring both 《Veil of Summer》 and 《Celestial Purge》 as medium interactive spells, but they aren’t necessarily better than what you already have in your deck.

Conclusion

Overall, Zan has found a pretty nice way to refresh the Copycat combo archetype. I don’t necessarily believe it’s on par with the current tier one Modern archetype, but it’s a contender, and for anyone finding joy in tuning archetypes, it’s a perfect occasion to do so, as it for sure can be improved further.

Piotr Glogowski (Twitter/Twitch/Youtube)

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Piotr Glogowski

Piotr Glogowski Before his first Pro Tour top 8, Piotr "kanister" Glogowski was already extremely famous as a streamer. He kicked off the 2017-2018 season with an impressive record at Pro Tour Ixalan (8th place), then reached the Finals with his great teammates at World Magic Cup 2017. His talent was flourished after all, and he finished that season as a Platinum Level Pro. Read more articles by Piotr Glogowski

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