Faithless Brewing MTG: Modern and Pioneer for the Spike Rogue
Brew Review: Theros Edition

Brew Review: Theros Edition

March 27, 2020

Theros Beyond Death, Episode 11: Brew Review #2


We asked our listeners to send in their spiciest brews featuring cards from Theros: Beyond Death. As always, they delivered. In this edition of the Brew Review, we talk through a dozen slick new lists, spanning the full spectrum of rogue strategies in Modern and Pioneer. Archive Trap control? Check. Soulherder with Avalanche Riders? Check. Ayula's Influence Loam? You got it. Mono-red IMMINENT DOOM? Do you even have to ask?


Join us this week for a walk through the collected creativity of the Faithless Family, and be sure to check out the decklists and writeups in the notes below. Oh, and we also took our Narset Undoing to a 5-0 last week in Pioneer. The deck looked solid across five full leagues; we'll get you up to speed on all the details!



Decklists for this episode can be viewed at


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Flashback: Narset, Parter of Veils




Narset Undoing: 16-9 (5 leagues)

(David’s match vs. Zan Syed can be viewed here)




Narset Turns: 1-4 league


Temur Turns (by Daniel Wong): 3-2 league


Narset Undoing: 0-3 league



Brew Review: Theros Edition



1. Dimir Trap Control (by Soren W.)

2. AyUro's Influence (by Drej)

3. Temur Urzo (by Zach aka ManaCymbal)

4. Soulrider (by Collin aka blak fishy)

5. Heliod Devotion (by Lanny Huang)

6. Soul Sisters (by Paimon)

7. Heliod Company (by Been395)

8. Scarlet Grinding Breach (by Josh aka Auralox)

Bonus: Green/Blue Control (by Peacharita)



9. Here Comes the Doom (by KilgoreTrout503)

10. Spaghetti Flash (by nonstripedzebra)

11. Rakdos Kroxa (by Illsicknasty)

Bonus: Scion of Whirza (by Brian M)

Bonus: Human Revolution (by nonstripedzebra)

Bonus: Red Fell Revolver (by KilgoreTrout503)



1. Dimir Trap Control by Soren W. (Modern)


Soren writes:

My deck is an evolution of a deck from your Vantress Gargoyle Episode that I just can’t seem to put down. It is the Trap control deck that you folks mentioned as potentially “Secretly Excellent.” I’ve been working on it now for quite sometime and I’ve changed the deck pretty heavily as I’ve learned it and addressed changes in the metagame. At this point I’ve played 175 games online with this and have gone 101-74 good for a 57.7% mwp. Enough to keep me from bleeding tickets, but maybe not amazing? I’m really happy with 65 of 75 cards but still feel like there is room for innovation. 

Game 1 the deck attempts to play multiple Ancestral Recalls in the form of Visions of Beyond that are enabled by Thoughtscours and Archive Traps. It's not a traditional Mill build that has a critical mass of library removal as fast as possible, but rather a control deck that aims to drag the game out to the point where you are drowning in card advantage and your opponents are drowning in your Drown in the Lochs. You get to almost completely blank their removal game one and in game two you pull a switcheroo, bringing in Things and Kalitis. 

The biggest change in the meta, was the introduction of the escape-elders, Kroxa and Uro. When these first became popular in the MTGO meta, I thought this deck was finished, I could not beat one G1 since I essentially always draw them for my opponent, and they turn off my Ancestral Recalls, IttS, and DitLs. I lost sooo many matches to those, until I discovered Cling to Dust. This has been a surprisingly amazing card, that has blanked Snapcasters and E-Wits, exiled shrunk Goyfs, turned off Delirium, all while cantripping! That doesn’t even cover the incidental lifegain and rebuying ability from the escape side. I’ve become a true believer in this card and wouldn’t be playing the deck without it. 

Good match-ups include: Control*, Hard Combo (Ad Nauseam, Goryos, Neo-Brand, Storm, Titanshift), Niv :) , Non-“Go-wide” Aggro (Burn, Infect, Red Prowess), Tron, Urza*. 

Average Match-Ups include: Death’s Shadow w/o Stubborn Denial, Druid Combo, E-Tron, Jund, UG Titan Ramp. 

Poor Match-ups include: CrabVine, “Go-Wide” Aggro (Elves, Goblins, Humans, Spirits, Zoo), Death’s Shadow with Stubbs, Mill, RG Klothys Moon. 

* How strong the deck feels, really depends on their build. The more Uros there are, generally the less good I feel even with C2D.


2. AyUro’s Influence by Drej (Modern)

Note: needs to be updated post-Once Upon a Time


Drej writes:

I've been playing pioneer gitrog and have had a blast playing it. One card I've wished I had access to is obviously Life from the Loam. As I was thinking about building a deck around the two, I stumbled upon Ayula's Influence aka Bear Vortex. 

So simple ideas: 1) ramp with lands 2) play gitrog 3) play Ayula's .... ????) Bear-pocalypse. So the play pattern is - play gitrog, discard land to Ayula's, draw a card off trigger, make lots of bears. Lots of bears. Dredging Liam and hitting lands also gives you a second draw. Lots of cute interactions.

Uro is the reason this deck is functional. Full stop. The black green version, I recently piloted and bombed with, can attest to this. So many things that he does, changes burn damage, puts lands on the board, churns through the deck. The game plan with uro isn't to escape him ASAP. It's more growth spiral with late game power. The feeling of getting into the late game top deck mode and having the option to play a 6/6 threat that needs specific removal is amazing. Also blue let's you get mystical dispute... so that's gotta stay. 

My thoughts on the deck - it's awesome. The nut draw of T1 Sakura, T2 influence, T3 gitrog, opponents end step make 10 bears is something that everyone needs to experience. The fundamental fear I have is that it's a "fairish" graveyard deck. It's not dredge, it's not hogaak, it won't blow people out of the water. 

Which is why I made it a land based deck - every card does something, no bad top decks (ish). I recently rediscovered blast zone and discovered the new Labyrinth card. The dream of removing a battle raged death shadow from combat keeps me up at night. Lastly- big shout out to Witch's Cottage - awesome card with Druid of the Willy Wonka Forest. 

Wrenn vs Loam - you can make more than one bear with loam.  Also it fills up your graveyard for uro, and crime and more loams and more of the functional lands. Also 4 color would be tougher, Uro is a must stay


3. Temur Urzo by Zach Ryl aka ManaCymbal (Modern)


Zach writes:

Here's mine from a few months back. If I were to update it for now I'd try to get some trackers into the main, and maybe switch out the rebukes for Archmage's Charms? but it really depends on how I feel about the meta at the moment.

The core concept was marrying my favorite card in modern, from then until now, Wrenn and Six, with the UG fair Urza midrange deck, another joy of mine. The crypts in the main and the EE are definintely debatable, and I'd be interested to know if you guys have any thoughts about how big each package should be. I'm not REALLY comfortable with wrenn and Six being paired with Less than 23 lands, but I wonder if I can go with closer to the 4c snow mana base with a pile of field of ruins, and a couple of cycle lands, instead of playing sanctuary, or if I want to do that too.

Uro is also an interesting thing to try to make work, I think 2 might be the right number. The artifact package's size is also an important design axis. 4 Emry really encourages a high density of cheap artifacts to get her on the board. Also a Saheeli has been nuts at some times.


4. Soulrider by Collin aka blak fishy (Modern)


Collin writes:

If you want to curve Goose into Soulherder into Avalanche Riders and kill 2 of your opponent's lands on turn 3 then this is the modern deck for you! With no conceivable bad matchups except Legacy Manaless Dredge you will be sure to clean up your modern leagues in no time. Warning, this deck may only be safe to play online: Tron players have been rumored to call a judge and ask if Riders is even legal then berate the opponent with such insults as "play a real deck."


5. Mono-White Devotion by Lanny Huang (Modern)


Lanny writes:

Here's a post theros update to Craig Wescoe's mono-white devo. I'm gonna take it for a spin and maybe update it to be more aggressive or more prison-y. Considering a lot of stuff for this, maybe a charming prince/wall of omens/thraben inspector package, maybe a benalish marshall, history of benalia theme package. For historical reference, here's Wescoe's original GP list:

My biggest concern is the 'land tax' effects are too durdly and there's no way to leverage them into an advantage. I think I'd want to cut them entirely for something more proactive but I'm also worried that takes too much away from the devotion package, having not tested yet.


6. Heliod Sisters by Paimon (Modern)


Paimon writes:

I stole a bunch of ideas from the last time you guys talked about white devotion in modern and made: I've played it all of once. Against mono-red prowess. The player was new to the deck, so it might not be as easy a match as it seemed. But then again, it seemed like if I drew my lands on time, I won. It feels greedy, but I want to put Archangel of Thune into the sideboard.


7. Heliod Company by Been395 (Modern)


8. Scarlet Grinding Breach by Josh aka Auralox (Modern)


Josh writes:

A mostly mono-red shell for the Grinding Station+Underworld Breach combo lines in Modern. Splashing black for its fine interaction and removal options. Open to input and suggestions!

Scrap trawler+sword in gy and zero drop gets the ball rolling with a grinding station in play Sword in graveyard and station and trawler in play. Memnite in hand. But you can get there other ways too

The goblin engineer can help set up the sword in the graveyard as well as retrieve needed bits later on. The fallback plan is to rebuy galv blast with breach, but we don’t need as much mana fixing since red is already our base color so I reduced the astrolabe to 2

The Pia Nalaar (which are strangely Legendary) are still in the sideboard from an with experiment where I ran 2 mox amber, but I found that just a bit more than I could fit in…

The last line to mention is the wishclaw talisman line, you can sac it to station before your opponent gets a chance to use it which always just feels great.


Bonus: Green/blue Control by Peacharita (Modern)

Note: needs to be updated post-Once Upon a Time


Peacharita writes:

Here’s my updated mono green control w/ blue splash since oko and lattice got banned. Deck feels lacking without something else like trinisphere to slow the game down that you can jam on t2. Using primal command to time walk the opponent and search up silver bullet creatures that can be looped with eternal witness and thassa is big game, and flickering coatl and acidic slime is sweet value. Just needs something to jam on t2 that impedes opponents gameplan similar to trinisphere or oko.


9. Here Comes the Doom by Jason (aka KilgoreTrout) (Pioneer)


Jason writes:

It needs tweaking for consistency, but man it is fun. When it goes off, sometimes youbjsut clear a board. T2 Soul-Scar, T2 Runaway Steam-Kin, T3 imminent, get a counter on steamkin, T4 cast 1cmc spell, 2cmc spell, attack with 4/4 steamkin, remove counters second mainphase to make 3 Mana for a 3cmc spell

Purphoros's Intervention is way better than I thought. A mainboard answer to a big dumb creature without casting multiple spells has been super useful. 

Not sure on Satyr's Cunning or Escape Velocity. I have played a league with them yet. Put them in here as a discussion point. They allow you to get imminent doom triggers from the GY. Escape Velocity can get you the 1 and 2 CMC trigger


10. Spaghetti Flash by nonstripedzebra (Pioneer)


11. Rakdos Kroxa by Illsicknasty (Pioneer)


Illsicknasty writes:

I haven’t played it against any top tier beside a my friends mono white, but if we in Portland get quarantined / school and work get shut down, It will finally give me a reason to learn MODO


Bonus: Scion of Whirza by Brian M (Pioneer)

(See Episode 46 for Dan's league play-through report of this deck)


Brian writes:

My hypothesis was that Karn, Scion of Urza is basically unplayable unless you want the Karnstructs as there are typically better CA engines available than Karn. The Karnstructs are a bit weak to opposing chump blockers, so when I saw Shadowspear it seemed like the missing piece to make the Karnstructs playable. The goal of the deck is to drag the game long and eventually win through a massive Karnstruct strapped up with a Shadowspear. Alternatively flooding the board with Thopters can be an avenue to a win. 

The area where the deck can suffer a bit is against other decks that can grind well. I've considered a splash into R for some additional interaction and ways to get a bit more aggro. I've also considered Green for Lifecraft Awakening and Uro, but that sort of pushes all in on the GY synergies whereas currently only Emry really cares about the yard.


Bonus: Human Revolution by nonstripedzebra (Pioneer)


Bonus: Red Fell Revolver by Jason aka Kilgore Trout (Pioneer)


Jason writes:

Would love some help optimizing the numbers here: I keep tweaking how many pingers vs spells. Not sure if I want card draw main or if I should play it like burn (no card draw, all gas) The card draw spells are more triggers, which is why I have it built the way it currently is.

Bedlam Reveler has gotten stuck in my hand a few times. Would love to replace it. Was shocks 7-8 originally and that was feeling pretty good in the league



Narset’s Undoing

Narset’s Undoing

March 20, 2020

Theros Beyond Death, Episode 10: Narset, Parter of Veils


It's been a minute since Narset was a staple in Modern. Once mentioned frequently in the same breath as Karn and Teferi, the long and difficult months of 2019 gradually forced Narset to surrender her claim as a top-three planeswalker from War of the Spark. Without Arclight Phoenix decks to prey upon, Narset has taken a back seat to cards like Ashiok, Dream Render, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and even the occasional Saheeli, Sublime Artificer.


It would be a mistake, however, to ignore Narset completely, even in today's metagame. Her static ability may not line up well against every opponent, but it does combine in spectacular ways with certain unique spells and effects. Those same pieces can be found off Narset's -2 activation, making this unassuming three-mana walker both a strong card advantage engine and a deadly prison enabler. Let's see what she can do!


Flashback: Setessan Champion



Selesnya Enchantress (Damon): 2-3 league


Sultai Enigmatic Enchantress (David): 2-3 league



Naya Land-chantress (Dan): 1-4 league


Brew Session: Narset, Parter of Veils



Dimir Undoing (Sketch)

Update: Damon took this version to a 5-0 after recording



Narset Turns (Sketch)


Reference: Temur Turns (Daniel Wong)



Build a Better Enchantress

Build a Better Enchantress

March 13, 2020

Theros Beyond Death, Episode 9: Setessan Champion


The notion of an Enchantress deck has always held a certain timeless allure. Play an enchantment, draw a card. Play an enchantment, draw another card. Maybe your enchantments are enticing mana rampers, or strong prison lock pieces, or possibly even auras that boost your lethal attacker. What's not to like?


If you go looking for these mythical Enchantress decks in the wild, however, you will find they are the rarest of species. Just based on tournament results, you could reasonably argue that Enchantress decks have been extinct at the competitive level for a decade or more. Reasons for this are manifold, and pointing in various directions. It's tricky to strike the right balance between enablers and payoffs; enchantments as a category tend to be a mismatched and underpowered group of cards; and the payoffs (the "Enchantresses" themselves, or equivalent "enchantments-matter" effects) have not been costed aggressively enough to overcome these barriers.


Undaunted, with Theros: Beyond Death and the constellation mechanic, Wizards has gone back to the enchantments fold. What choice do we have but to follow them boldly into the unknown? This week, we take on Setessan Champion, the latest entrant in the "play an enchantment, draw a card" class of payoffs, but with slightly more combat-ready stats than her predecessors. Will she prove her worth as a Setessan Enchampion? Let's find out!


**ALSO: Earlier this week we posted a short bonus episode dedicated entirely to COVID-19. This episode is meant to be a general resource on preparedness, covering topics like basic safety practices, how to adjust to social distancing, and what to have on hand if you are asked to stay home. Please feel free to share this guide with anyone for whom the discussion might be helpful; no knowledge of Magic is required.**


"The View from Seattle: Preparing for COVID-19"



Decklists for this episode can be viewed at


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Flashback: Emry, Lurker of the Loch




Breach Station (Damon): 5-0 league





Jeskai Owl Ascendancy (David): 4-6 leagues


Simic Steel (David): 2-3 league


Scion of Whirza (Dan): 3-2 league



Brew Session: Setessan Champion




Selesnya Enchantress (Sketch)


Golgari Valakut (Sketch)




4c Tallowisp Enchantress (Sketch)




The View from Seattle: Preparing for COVID-19

The View from Seattle: Preparing for COVID-19

March 9, 2020

Faithless Brewing, Special Edition: Coronavirus


For some, COVID-19 is a source of worrisome headlines unfolding quickly on the world stage. For others, it is already a daily reality. Self-quarantine, work-from-home, and cancellations of schools and social events have rapidly taken hold across cities and regions, and it seems likely that there is more to come.


In Seattle, Damon has been tracking developments closely as he adjusts to life in the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. Together with special guest Maria, the two Seattleites share what they have learned about how to prepare for COVID-19 and strategies for living under self-quarantine and social distancing. Topics covered include:


• A short history of coronavirus: symptoms, history, and safety practices

• Tips for basic preparedness: what to have on hand if you are asked to stay home

• Social distancing: what it means and how to adapt

• Strategies for working from home effectively

• How to politely avoid a handshake


This episode has very little to do with Magic: the Gathering (although we do tackle the Big Question: should you attend that upcoming Magic tournament?). Nevertheless, we consider this a very important topic, and hope that this discussion can be a resource for anyone who finds it helpful. Please do what you can to help your families and communities stay safe and informed!


Resources and Further Reading:


New York Times Daily Briefing:

Vox Guide to Covid-19:


Reddit News Aggregators:


Mental Health & Support:


Leading epidemiologists and public health experts are posting important updates on Twitter. Here are a few to start with:





Something Fishy: Back Into the Loch with Emry

Something Fishy: Back Into the Loch with Emry

March 6, 2020

Theros Beyond Death, Episode 8: Emry, Lurker of the Loch


First, there was Stoneforge Fishstick. Then, there was Deathrite Salmon. Coming out of Eldraine preview season, the hype for Emry was considerable, with many ranking her among the very best cards of what looked to be a very strong set. Possible combos with Jeskai Ascendancy, Paradoxical Outcome, and Paradox Engine had us thinking that the lady of the lake might shake things up in Modern, but we had no idea what was coming.


Flash forward several months, and the landscape looks entirely different. Oko joined forces with Urza for an utterly dominant spell atop the Modern metagame, to such a degree that both Oko and Mox Opal were hit with bans. Artifact-based decks in Modern would need to be re-engineered from the ground up. Meanwhile, the Pioneer format was launched, which was merely a twinkle in R&D's eye when we last featured Emry in Episode 22. Pioneer has seen its own well-documented churn, including bans on Oko and Smuggler's Copter that have contributed to artifact-based decks not finding much of a foothold in the young format.


The timing seems right, then, to jump back into the loch and see what Emry is capable of. The escape mechanic from Theros: Beyond Death has added new possibilities to Emry's self-mill trigger, and the value and combo potential of her activated ability remain as tantalizing as they ever were. Can Emry carry the torch for Mox Amber and friends in the new-look metagame of Modern and Pioneer? Let's find out!



Decklists for this episode can be viewed at


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Roundup: The State of Brewing in Pioneer



Daniela Diaz on Brewing in Pioneer (thread)


Number of 5-0 Lists Over Time (via Eric Landes)


Breach Station: Sample Decklists


Article by Urchin Colley



Flashback: Ox of Agonas





Ox Dredge (Damon): 3-2 league


Gruul KiorOx (Damon): 6-4 leagues


Mardu AshiOx (Dan): 4-6 leagues


Jund AshiOx (Dan): 10-5 leagues


Hollow Ox by Kahn_M (Dan): 3-2 league



Brew Session: Emry, Lurker of the Loch



Emry: Lessons Learned (article by Urchin Colley)





Emry Planeswalker Loch (Sketch)





Emry Owl Ascendancy (Sketch)



Blue-Green Steel (Sketch)



Emry Ensoul Herald (Sketch)




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