Illusion-Mirror Entity Company in Modern
Tribal decks are a fickle thing. To make them work, you need a critical mass of creature spells that belong to the tribe you’re trying to build. Then, you need to scrap 95% of them, because they’re awful. What you’re left with afterwards often ends up being a completely useless pile of junk, or you have just enough playables to make the deck work. The solution, as we learned at GP Ghent, is to just take out the cards that actually go in your tribe.
The deck is a strange Bant midrange brew centering around a few key pieces, to the point that I hesitate to truly call this “Illusion tribal” even though I really want to.
Lord of the Unreal is a weird engine piece but it makes everything go in the deck. It gives us a 2/2 at baseline, and the hexproof ability provides protection for our fragile Phantasmal Images. When Lord is combined with Mirror Entity, you can grant your whole board hexproof until the end of turn for the low cost of 0 mana. The Lord bonus makes our base 0/0's into 1/1's. This lock is brutal to get through against a reactive deck with lots of spot removal, and Collected Company and Chord of Calling provide the opportunity to find one piece to help save the other at instant speed. Not to mention, Mirror Entity can make your team huge with excess mana, which our deck with 7 mana creatures will have. Turning Birds of Paradise into a 6/6 flier sounds great, let alone pumping your whole board. Phantasmal Image on Lord of the Unreal provides both with hexproof and does a good Drogskol Captain team up impression. Hexproof to prevent any opposing targeting on Image is way better than something like Indestructible.
Outside of the 12 card Illusion package, we have a lot of classic tenants of a Modern Company deck. We have our mana dorks, Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch, to help us fix and accelerate us to the point where we can play multiple spells in one turn. Deputy of Detention gives us removal on a stick for any problematic permanents we come across and is our last core creature. The rest of the deck is all "fun-of's." Collector Ouphe gives us a way to handle artifact decks that we can tutor for, and Kor Firewalker does the same for us against Burn. Scavenging Ooze is a bit of maindeck graveyard hate mixed with Burn hate and is just a solid threat against Snapcaster Mage decks and Tarmogoyf decks. Selfless Spirit allows us to protect against the board wipes that hexproof wouldn't cover, and Eternal Witness helps us grind out value, getting back pieces or tutors we lost previously. Knight of Autumn is an incredibly versatile card that pulls its weight against burn, against artifact decks, and as a beater. Mirran Crusader dodges Fatal Push and swings in for a decent chunk of damage, especially when paired with our team captain Mirror Entity.
Our spells are all here to find the creatures we need to put the puzzle pieces together. Eladamri’s Call gives us a cheap, instant-speed tutor so we can float our tutor decision until our opponent's end step. Chord of Calling lets us tutor straight to the battlefield when we need it and secretly has Black Lotus built into it with Convoke. Collected Company (also secretly Black Lotus) puts out a crazy amount of value, finding six mana’s worth of creatures for just four mana, and finally Aether Vial lets us flash in creatures to keep our opponent on their toes. The 1 Aether Vial is a bit perplexing, but creature count for Collected Company is vital and the creator of the deck valued the tutors over the artifact acceleration.
For lands, we have a standard assortment of shocklands, fetchlands, and fastlands, as well as a single Horizon Canopy for some extra card draw. Oh, and there’s a single Swarmyard, which lets us save a single creature of our choice from a board wipe if we have Mirror Entity down. Fun times.
In the sideboard, Aegis of the Gods helps protect us from burn, the extra Collector Ouphe can help against Whirza and the new Paradoxical Outcome builds, and Damping Sphere can fend off Tron for a minute. Gaddock Teeg also helps against Tron, while also stopping things like Whir of Invention and Cryptic Commands or Supreme Verdicts . Melira can allow us to better deal with Infect and various Yawgmoth lists if that is something you're worried about. Rest in Peace hurts graveyard strategies, and Spirit of the Labyrinth and Eidolon of Rhetoric both keep storm from, well, storming off. Stony Silence is a Collector Ouphe without the legs but without the vulnerability. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar shines against midrange decks, and extra copies of Knight of Autumn give us more of its flexibility. Settle the Wreckage clears out swarm decks, and Thrun, the Last Troll can just generally be a pain for a lot of different decks.
- You can surprise the opponent with the above with a bit of untapped mana and a Chord of Calling in hand to tutor for the missing Lord or Entity.
- If you curve out well, you can pump out a ton of damage on turn 4 with Mirror Entity. Turn 1 dork, turn 2 Crusader, turn 3 dork + Mirror Entity. Then on turn 4, you can tap your 4 lands to turn you 4 creatures into 4/4s. This results in 8 from the dorks, 4 from the Entity, and 8 more from crusader, for a grand total of 20 damage. This assumes, of course, that it goes unblocked, but the fact that you have the potential to put out decent damage should at least keep the opponent honest.
- With instant speed tutors, waiting as long as possible before tutoring is often the best thing to do. Every draw step adds more information and you can gain a lot of equity by floating your tutor decisions for as long as possible.
- Lord of the Unreal is a fantastic option for Phantasmal Image to copy. It will give itself the +1/+1 and hexproof, making it a 4/4 as long as the other copy sticks around, and just being a 3/3 hexproof if Lord of the Unreal is felled in combat.
- Jace, Cunning Castaway can help you dig, and creates extra Illusions for you to swing in with. This wouldn’t be my first choice for cards to swap in, but it does seem like a fun one.
- Brazen Borrower could be a fun addition from Throne of Eldraine that would give us more interaction and a nice flying body. Adventure creatures are especially interesting with Eladamri's Call.
This deck does a lot of weird things, but it does them surprisingly well, and at the very least will always be fun to play. It gives you a lot of different lines to take, and provides plenty of interactions that will at least make your opponents pause for a minute before accepting them and moving on. It may not be a true tribal deck, but I think it’s the closest we’ll get to a playable version of Illusion Tribal for quite a while.
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