Heartless Value Town in Modern

Parker Ackerman
July 26, 2018

For a few years now, Todd Stevens has had success with a brew of his called Green-White Valuetown. The deck abused Crucible of Worlds and Ghost Quarter to blow up all of the opponent’s lands, and had Knight of the Reliquary to tutor from a land toolbox.

More recently, however, Todd has created another, more similar deck: Black-Green Heartless Valuetown. And wow, this list is absolutely fantastic. A blast to play, and honestly almost as fun just to look at. People have tried to make Heartless Summoning work for a long time, and I’m not sure how many of them expected Ob Nixilis, the Fallen and Oracle of Mul Daya to be a part of the deck. But here we are, playing a Heartless Summoning deck that cares about lands as much as its creatures.

The deck, at first glance, looks to be barely staying together. And sometimes, that’s true. But more often, it plays out quickly, efficiently, and absolutely ruthlessly. It plays a sort of combo/prison plan, with plenty of value packed in for when that doesn’t quite work out. Tireless Tracker is one of the most important pieces of this value package, drawing us cards and growing with every land we play. Ramunap Excavator helps us lock the opponent out while also making sure we never miss a land drop in combination with a single fetch. The Gitrog Monster is the main engine in the deck, drawing us more cards than we could ever need once we get a fetch/Ghost Quarter and Excavator out. Even without those, the extra card or two every turn make a huge difference. Wayward Swordtooth gives us extra land drops while also being an under-costed beater when we need it, potentially costing one mana for a 4/4. Oracle of Mul Daya also helps accelerate us, while also letting us play lands from the top of the deck. Ob Nixilis is an excellent finisher, draining the opponent and dealing a ton of damage. If everything else has worked out, you often won’t even need to swing with this, although it is always an option. Azusa, Lost but Seeking gives us two extra land drops each turn, but is very fragile, especially when compared to Swordtooth. Phyrexian Metamorph can give us extra copies of whatever we need, and Vizier of the Menagerie essentially draws us multiple cards by letting us cast creatures from the top of our library.

Heartless Summoning is one of the key components of the deck, giving us a huge amount of ramp for the minor downside of giving all of our creatures -1/-1. Still, the cost reduction is very much worth it in this deck, letting us cast Ob Nixilis and Gitrog as early as turn 3. Fatal Push gives us some base-level removal, with Inquisition of Kozilek bring some hand disruption. Abrupt Decay allows us to hit a wide variety of permanents, and Edge of Autumn offers a little extra early-game ramp alongside extra gas in the late game. Rounding off our spells is Maelstrom Pulse, which can deal with almost any permanent we need it to, and is exceptional at clearing out tokens. For our lands, we have nine total basics alongside eight fetches. This package helps increase the number of landfall triggers we can get in a turn while also giving us lands to play repeatedly from our graveyard. Ghost Quarter is a very important lock piece, allowing us to destroy lands over and over until the opponent runs out of basics. Overgrown Tomb gives us a bit of flexibility on our mana, and Horizon Canopy is a fantastic way to churn through the deck.

In the sideboard, Scavenging Ooze gives us graveyard hate while also allowing us to survive against decks that might have us on the ropes. Obstinate Baloth helps against Liliana of the Veil decks in particular, which have admittedly not been very popular as of late, but also has the benefit of gaining us life and walling off attackers. Ratchet Bomb gives us an out against Blood Moon in the event we need it, and is also a two mana boardwipe for tokens. Collective Brutality is as flexible as always, providing options and being great against burn, and Grafdigger’s Cage helps us fight against graveyard strategies. Notably, we can still play lands from the graveyard with a Cage out. Whisperwood Elemental helps us go wide and get extra card advantage, and Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse give us extra removal against problematic permanents. Liliana, the Last Hope can work against decks with lots of small creatures and decks that generate incremental advantage. Lost Legacy is good against combo decks, and Grasping Dunes gives us a nice out against creature-based decks.


  • Be careful against red decks, since the -1/-1 can often be enough to bring your creatures into range of Lightning Bolt.
  • Be wary of dropping two Heartless Summonings. While the idea seems enticing, often you just end up with a bunch of creatures you can’t play without dying immediately.
  • Don’t be afraid to start Ghost Quartering early on. Sooner or later, most opponents run out of basic lands, especially when you can use the ability 3+ times each turn.
  • The Gitrog Monster has a neat trick where if you have more than seven cards in hand during cleanup, you have to discard down to seven. When you do, discarding lands will cause you do draw more cards, which will cause another cleanup step to happen. This repeats until you don’t discard a land.

The deck takes a unique angle on the metagame, providing lots of value while also being able to attack the opponent’s mana directly. The deck is a lot of fun, and gives you plenty of land-based shenanigans to play with. Take it for a spin, and I can almost guarantee you’ll fall in love.