Turning into the Hulk in Modern
I’m sure everyone reading this loses sleep every night because they keep wondering why people don’t play more linear combo decks in modern. I know I do. And finally, after months of painful and sleepless nights, the answer hit me. People just don’t know about them. Upon having this revelation, I knew that I had to find a lightning-fast, do-or-die combo deck for this week. And find one I did.
Okay, so maybe I was a bit dramatic before. But the fact is I wanted a nice, straightforward, buy-a-meal-between-each-match deck. And even if our protean hulks and woodfall primus’ look like the opposite, I assure, you this deck is fast. Turn 2 win fast. Let’s take a look at how everything in this pile works together to pull together a win that quickly.
The most important creature here is, as the name hints at, Protean Hulk. This guy is what allows us to combo off, and getting him into the graveyard as soon as possible is priority number one. Simian Spirit Guide helps accelerate us to that juicy turn 2 win, and Stinkweed Imp helps dig for hulk when everything else is in place. Body Double is a combo piece that’s best left in the deck, and not in your hand or graveyard, as are Reveillark, Viscera Seer, and Mogg Fanatic. Woodfall Primus is an extra reanimation target that helps us survive if we can’t combo off quickly.
Footsteps of the Goryo is our primary reanimation spell since it gets hulk back from the graveyard and sacrifices him for us, all in one card! Faithless Looting helps us ensure that we can get a hulk in the graveyard, with Izzet Charm doing both Looting’s job, and helping us with a bit of utility. Makeshift Mannequin, like Primus, is our back-up plan. If we can’t find a footsteps, this is the next best thing. Collective Brutality helps us pitch hulks and slows our opponent down, with the “secret mode” of being able to get rid of a creature reanimated by mannequin. Thoughtseize can disrupt our opponent and discard our own Protean Hulk, and Cathartic Reunion gives us a couple extra ways to ditch our fatties. The lands are straightforward grixis, with a single Geier Reach Sanitarium for a mini-Faithless Looting.
The sideboard gives us some options for dealing with problematic decks, but honestly isn’t used too extensively given how geared towards a quick combo the deck is. Engineered Explosives gives us an out against affinity and token decks, Pithing Needle helps out against any problematic abilities, and Lightning Axe gives us a discard outlet stapled to removal (no, we’re not going to pay 6 mana for this). Pact of Negation and Boseiju help hedge against control, with Pact having the emergency-only use of stopping some combos. Venser helps against other glass-cannon strategies, Darkblast gives us repeatable removal that digs for hulks, and Caverns is a turn-0 mana accelerant. Finally, Thoughtseize is a good way to help against just about any deck, since it can disrupt other combo decks, and strip the interaction of more fair decks.
- Get a Protean Hulk into the graveyard.
- Reanimate with footsteps of the goryo.
- Sacrifice Hulk at your end step due to the Footsteps trigger.
- Search up Body Double and Viscera Seer with the Hulk trigger.
- Copy the Hulk with Body Double.
- Sacrifice Body Double to Seer, getting another Hulk trigger.
- Search up Reveillark and Mogg Fanatic with the Hulk trigger.
- Sacrifice Mogg Fanatic, dealing one damage to the opponent.
- Sacrifice Reveillark to Seer, returning Body Double and Fanatic to the battlefield. Copy Reveillark with the Body Double.
- Sacrifice Mogg Fanatic for damage, and then Body Double to Seer.
- Return the Body Double to the battlefield with its own trigger.
- Rinse and repeat steps 10 and 11 until the opponent is dead.
- A “perfect opener” would consist of a hulk, a Faithless Lootings or Thoughtseize, a Footsteps, and either two lands and a Simian Spirit Guide, or one land and two Simian Spirit Guides. This enables a turn two kill by discarding your hulk turn one, and then casting footsteps turn two.
- If you really want to go for Magical Christmas Land, you can hope for hulk, faithless looting, footsteps, a black-producing land, and three Simian Spirit Guides. This allows you to win on turn one by playing looting off of SSG, discarding hulk, then playing your land and casting footsteps off of the land and your two other Guides.
Some hands the deck just can’t win off of. Most of the time, this is because the deck has no way to get the combo piece out when it’s stuck in your hand.
- It becomes somewhat harder to win if you have Reveillark in your hand, but not impossible. If the rest of the hand doesn’t enable the combo, send it back. The most important thing to have with a Lark is a Faithless Looting.
- Keeping a hand with Mogg Fanatic requires you to be willing to put off the combo for a turn, but if you’re fine with that, go for it. You can also keep a hand with Faithless Looting to make a Fanatic hand better.
- Any hand with more than three lands is risky, especially without a Looting, since finding your combo pieces quickly becomes more difficult.
- If you do keep a hand with Reveillark, try to get it into the graveyard alongside your hulk before you combo. If you do this, you can pull out the second Body Double rather than Reveillark in step 7 of the combo, as listed above. Copy Reveillark with Body Double, and then go to town.
- Mogg Fanatic can be pitched to Looting before the combo is started to still achieve the combo, just skip step 8.
- Viscera Seer, Mogg Fanatic, Izzet Charm, and Collective Brutality can all start the combo if your hulk was brought back by Makeshift Mannequin instead of Footsteps of the Goryo.
The deck is very fast, and if you like glass cannon combo decks, this is a fantastic deck for you. It keeps your rounds short, and is hilarious to watch work. Admittedly, it isn’t as consistent as I would like, but what it lacks in consistency it makes up for in potential raw power and speed. If you want something quick and easy, give this a shot. It’s fun to goldfish, and finding lines to get to the combo is a lot of fun, even if the combo itself is very much set in stone.
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