Kiki-Jiki and the Congregation
Ah, Splinter Twin. A fan favorite in Modern, a deck we hold near and dear to our hearts. But alas, Wizards struck it down (nearly two years ago now), yanking it from our hands with a decree of “No More Fun!” Or...so some would have you believe. But I can assure you, this deck does live on. More so in spirit than body, but hey, you make due with what you can get.
The Twin decks of old were control or tempo-oriented, winning through either inevitability or the hope that the opponent would tap out right before pulling off the game-winning combo. This style of deck, it seems, is no more. However, a variety of decks with a similar combo to Splinter Twin (make infinite tokens, swing for lethal) have popped up since the banning, but with a different angle of attack. These decks, more often than not, are grindy midrange decks, utilizing a beatdown plan A, with the potential to combo for the win. The most popular examples, of course, are Kiki-Chord and 4-Color Saheeli. The former has the “Splinter Twin” combo of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Restoration Angel, and the latter has Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian. As you may notice, both decks use tutors for consistency, with Kiki focusing on Chord of Calling and Saheeli leaning more on Eldritch Evolution. What these decks share though is that they both leverage their tutor of choice in some way. Kiki-Chord uses Wall of Roots to double dip on Chord’s payment, while Saheeli has something of a graveyard focus to make use of Eldritch Evolution’s sacrifice clause.
But what if we could find another tutor? What if we could leverage its strengths in some new way? That’s the question that led me to this deck, which ended up being a real piece of...erm… art. As a lover of both grindy midrange and combo decks, this has been a real treat to work with. So, it’s time for the great reveal. I give you: Kiki-Congregation.
So first, the obvious: The mana base. It’s certainly not the prettiest, but it gets the job done. Mana issues have been few and far between, although admittedly I have not yet had the displeasure of staring down a Blood Moon. In theory, however, Qasali Pridemage and Reclamation Sage should make Moon less of an issue, and if you wanted, you could even add another plains to turn on Angel of Sanctions as an answer. Mana is tight, what with needing GU turn two, GGW turn 3, and triple-red on turn 5, so we aren’t running much in the way of utility lands like Gavony Township. In fact, you’ll see the only utility land I do have is a 1-of Horizon Canopy, giving us a land when we need it, and an extra card when we don’t.
Now let’s look at the meat of the deck. First, we have our mana dorks: 4 Birds of Paradise and 2 Noble Hierarch, pretty standard for a 4-color deck. If it weren’t for the triple-red requirement of Kiki, we might have these numbers swapped, but unfortunately running Kiki demands we warp our mana around him. Following this trend, most of the deck uses the standard grindy midrange plan. We have our Voice of Resurgence, some Spell Quellers, an Eternal Witness, and of course Huntmaster of the Fells. However, we also have some oddities thanks to both our combo and tutor of choice.
Next up, the tutor: Congregation at Dawn. This three-mana instant provides us with a unique effect not seen anywhere else: the ability to tutor up three creatures. The downside, of course, being the hit to tempo that comes from paying three mana to not affect the board. The upside comes in just how effective this tutor can be. Congregation’s biggest strength is its flexibility, getting you 0-3 creatures in any order on top of your deck, with no restriction on Converted Mana Cost. While Chord of Calling and Eldritch Evolution have the advantage of tutoring straight to the battlefield, we get the ability to tutor up entire sideboard packages and combos without restriction. This can lead to some very difficult moments for our opponents, and can give us a nice edge.
Our choice of Congregation at Dawn has warped our deck construction, although not to such an extent that we need it to win. The first, and perhaps most obvious, effect of using Congregation is that it pushed the deck to an entirely creature-based combo. While we could have used the tutor+Oath of Nissa plan like Saheeli decks do, this seemed to go against the main strength of our tutor: the ability to find multiple creatures. Because of this, I stuck to the all-creature combo of Kiki-Jiki and Restoration Angel. The use of Congregation also led to the inclusion of one of my favorite cards from Amonkhet: Vizier of the Menagerie. Our own mini-Future Sight for creatures, complete with color-fixing abilities and a body of its own. I thought our snake friend here had some potential when he was spoiled, and he seems right at home here. Have you ever experienced the joys of casting Congregation on your opponent’s end step, then casting three Voice of Resurgence in a row on your turn? No? Well let me tell you, it feels downright silly. Vizier can “draw” you an obscene amount of cards if not dealt with quickly, and the color fixing is a beautiful thing alongside Kiki.
As I mentioned, we run Restoration Angel thanks to Congregation at Dawn. And thanks to Restoration Angel, the deck uses some extra enters-the-battlefield effects. In the main deck, we have 11 potential targets for Resto, as well as our 1-of Kiki for the combo. And after sideboarding we get even more, perhaps the most important being the one-and-only Thragtusk, a card that was practically made to be played alongside Resto. Along with this synergy, our Angel friend here also has the benefit of being a 3/4 flash flier for four on an empty board, a rate that is acceptable on its own.
- Congregation is not Gifts Ungiven. You can tutor for multiple cards with the same name. Have a Thragtusk on board? Feel free to tutor for three Restoration Angels. Believe me, you’ll love yourself for it (and your opponent will hate you),
- Eternal Witness is very potent with a couple of our sideboard cards, like Pridemage and Fulminator Mage. Don’t be afraid to tutor for 2x Fulminator and a Witness against, say, Tron. This is pretty much your best bet against the deck, and can hit hard at the right times. The same goes for Pridemage in Fulminator’s place against artifact-based decks like affinity.
- Congregation can get you more mana if you need it. Dryad Arbor is there to grab when you have no lands in hand, and you can get either Birds or Hierarch when you have a land to play already.
- Coiling Oracle plays well with Dryad Arbor. You can Congregate for Oracle, Arbor, and a third card to guarantee Oracle ramps you.
- You don’t have to tutor for three creatures. If you wanted, you could tutor for just one or two creatures, or even zero if you can find a good reason.
- Mind your fetches! You may have to hold back on fetching to avoid disrupting your congregation pile, or you can fetch early if you decide you desperately need something other than what you tutored for.
- Don’t get too focused on the combo! Is it sweet to have an infinite (arbitrarily large) army of angels fighting for you? Obviously. But don’t get too caught up on trying to make that happen. Sometimes you just need to tutor up a mix of blockers to stabilize, and sometimes you need some offensive pressure to finish off an opponent before they can stabilize. Landing the combo often takes a few turns, so make sure you’re prioritizing winning over the combo (unless you just want to combo off, in which case go for it!).
Deck not spicy enough for you? I’ve got you covered. Here are some other cards I debated running, but eventually decided weren’t worth it from a “let’s try to make this deck at least look playable” standpoint
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter: It’s just perfect, right? Tutor up Kiki and Resto with this on board, and you just built yourself the combo. Get Oracle, Birds of Paradise, and Arbor for a nice ramp package. Or just go with the old Kitchen Finks into a free Voice plan. All of these sound pretty nice to me
Nissa, Steward of Elements: Definitely could serve a purpose here. Our tutor can’t find her, which is unfortunate, but the potential to guarantee some free creatures certainly sounds nice, and scry 2 every turn never hurt.
Sun Titan: This guy is a bit expensive for my tastes, but if you increased the land count a little bit, I don’t see any reason you couldn’t run him as a finisher. Worst case scenario your opponent has something like a Rest in Peace down and he’s a 6/6 vigilance for six. Best case scenario, you get your silver bullets and value guys back every turn for free.
Well, there you have it! This deck was an absolute blast to play, and I honestly can’t recommend it enough! So many decisions to make, so much fun to be had! At the very least, I would recommend taking it for a spin on Cockatrice. You can tweak this deck in so many different ways that there’s something here for everyone. Yes, maybe Twin is dead in body. But it lives on in spirit through Kiki-Jiki, Magic’s favorite rhyming goblin.
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