elcome to Conspiracy Week here on DailyMTG!
I must admit, when my editor came to me and let me know that we were oddly devoting an entire week in the middle of May to the Mercadian Masques card Conspiracy, I was a little surprised. But when life gives you unusual punches, you have to try and make a knuckle sandwich (...or something) and soon after that initial surprise came excitement!
Conspiracy is one of those odd cards that people tend to bring up whenever a new tribal card comes around. "Oh man, I wish X card had creature type Y instead!" some player remarks. And inevitably, somewhere nearby you hear the remark, "There's always Conspiracy!" (It's scientifically proven that this is also most often the guy who reminds you about Changelings when listing off all the interactions a tribal card can have.)
After being reprinted in Time Spiral, Conspiracy is legal for Modern play—so, what absurdity has Conspiracy brought to the table today?
Let's take a look at this curious deck, sent in by Tony Youssef:
Tony Youssef's Timber Restoration
The Battle Plan
This deck not only plays the card Conspiracy—it also plays out like it has a Conspiracy!
It's so innocent looking. Kind of like that budding serial killer you dated in high school (didn't we all?), this deck looks so cute across the table: "Oh, Modern Allies. How quaint. Isn't that adorable? Why don't you go run off along with your friends soulshift-with-Innistrad-Spirits and Assassin tribal and try not to get into too much trouble?"
But, like her, this deck has a dark side. A bit of a—if this were a movie, the camera would zoom in now—conspiracy.
It can certainly beat you down like an Allies deck. But it can also land a one-two Conspiracy punch that ends the game out of nowhere.
The first is Turntimber Ranger.
Let's say you play Conspiracy and set it to Ally, then you cast a Ranger. You'll make a 2/2 Wolf and put a +1/+1 counter on the Ranger... but that Wolf is also an Ally, meaning it triggers the Ranger again! That creates another 2/2 Wolf and puts another counter on the Ranger and, well... you might see where this is going. Choose a number and get that many 2/2 tokens plusthat large of a Turntimber Ranger.
The other combo in the deck is Restoration Angel. Now, on first glance, Restoration Angel is just a good fit for this deck. She's the 3/4 flash flier that we all know and love, and she also causes all of your Allies to get another trigger at instant speed.
But there's something else. An odd interaction I've actually never seen mentioned before.
Conspiracy doesn't just give everything of yours the chosen creature type. It's not just Xenograft; it also takes away prior types. Now, normally in a Conspiracy deck, this doesn't matter. But Restoration Angel's ability has an odd turn of phrase.
To avoid flickering itself a million times and creating some kind of combo, Restoration Angel couldn't target itself. Normally, it would simply say "exile another target creature"—but because that would still create an infinite loop with another copy of itself, we looked for another solution. Until somebody found it: non-Angel.
But, if you were able to somehow alter Restoration Angel's creature type... well, then you could just have Restoration Angel flicker itself a million times.
And if it were also an Ally, that would mean... well, a million triggers for all of your Allies.
So, how can this deck be tuned? Well, let's take a look!
What cards in this deck are true Allies and which ones can be left on the bench? Let's take a look at the deck card-by-card and see what can stay and what can go.
As the only one-drop Ally creature (okay, fine, Changeling guy: the only one besides Mothdust Changeling), you are going to want this card in any kind of aggressive Ally shell. The hands with him are some of your best, and the hands without him make you mutter "I wish I had Hada Freeblade" under your breath. I definitely wouldn't cut any copies.
In fact, I really want to add more one-drops into this deck. One of the most potent cards for a beatdown deck with a curve shaped like this one is Æther Vial.
Vial fits great in this deck and even lets you do tricks with deploying Allies at instant speed for surprising triggers. I would like to play four of them as well.
The other card I want to add is a creature that oddly isn't an Ally at all! Fortunately, he happens to work pretty well in this deck: it's Champion of the Parish.
While it is a little awkward that he doesn't trigger your other Allies if you draw him later on, since all of your Allies are Human (unless Conspiracy is on the battlefield naming Allies, in which case you're probably already doing your thing), on the first turn he's basically as good as a Hada Freeblade—and that's one of this deck's strongest cards. I'm willing to take the slight hit of synergy to play another really strong one-drop—and Champion is the additional one I want.
This card is part of what makes the combo part of this deck tick. Not because it's actually part of the combo at all, but because it can accelerate you so quickly! A turn-one Freeblade into a turn-two Harabaz Druid sets you up nicely to cast Conspiracy on turn three, and then combo kill your opponent on the fourth turn! And while that draw won't happen too often (although you can substitute Freeblade with Æther Vial and another two-drop), it's still something nice to maximize. Four Druids it is!
Ah, good old Survivalist. He's only a 2/2 on his own, but he grows incredibly fast. It's pretty easy to attack for 3, if not 4, the turn after you play him. And in an aggressive Ally deck, he's just the card you want.
Another card I'd like to play in this vein is Kazandu Blademaster. While it's a little harder on the mana than Bojuka Brigand, it's worth it: the vigilance and first strike are both very relevant, keeping opponent's creatures at bay while letting you send with your own. I'd like to play the full four.
Ondu Cleric can be strong, especially in multiples. However, in an aggressive deck, I don't need the lifegain as much and would rather have a better-sized body to attack with. While gaining infinite life with the Conspiracy combo is cute, it's not really that much better than the infinite Wolves you're going to get that turn or the million damage you're going to deal with your unblocked Ally.
Cleric can be a fine card out of the sideboard for beatdown matchups, but I'd rather not play them main deck here.
The Evangel was always good for pushing creatures through, and that role holds up well in this iteration as well.
However, something new to the Modern version is Æther Vial putting out Allies at instant speed! It's a nice trick to have access to. Opponent attacks you? Vial in an Ally, give it protection, and block. Opponent casts a removal spell? Vial in an Ally, give it protection, and that removal spell isn't doing much of anything. Especially on your combo turn, this can be nice insurance in the games where you manage to set it up.
I don't want all four because you don't always want these and you don't always want to draw a ton every game, but I definitely like having three around.
This card can double as another combo piece, which makes it pretty attractive. After all, if you combo out with Turntimber Ranger or Restoration Angel with a Hagra Diabolist on the battlefield, your opponent instantly dies!
However, I don't think you really need it. This deck only has room for so many five-drops, and Turntimber Ranger and Conspiracy already suck up more than enough spaces. And, once again, usually the combo will be enough on its own; you don't need to have a long-range kill machine like this up and running as well. I'd rather cut this to make room for some less-expensive cards.
Good on its own in this deck with flickering Allies, and also a combo enabler, this is a card I'm plenty happy with. Keep in mind that it has flash as well, so when you have Conspiracy on the battlefield and it's time to finish off your opponent you can attack and then cast it after blocks—hopefully killing your opponent. I definitely want all four of these.
Strong Ally? Check. Combo piece? Check. At five mana it's a little expensive, but with Harabaz Druid around I'm comfortable enough playing some five-mana cards—and Ranger is strong enough to be worth it. I'm keeping these.
And here it is! This oddly shaped Ally deck's raison de vivre.
It can be powered out fast with a Harabaz Druid, or if the game just stalls out you can always slam it on turn five and hope for the turn-six kill. (Or turn-five kill, if you have an Æther Vial on the appropriate number.) This is definitely a fun piece to have around.
Unusually for me in combo decks, this is actually something I want to go down to three copies of. Every other card in the deck is pretty functional on its own, but drawing an opening hand with two (or more!) copies of Conspiracy can really slow this beatdown deck down. I'd rather have a consistent beatdown deck with an occasional combo kill than something that stumbled too often because it gets loaded with a hand full of these. Plus, with the lower curve I want to trim a few lands, meaning I won't always be able to cast a five-drop. Three copies should be plenty.
With all of those changes made, and some mana base tweaks to account for it all, that brings the deck to:
Gavin Verhey's Conspirallies
If you're looking for a goofy, unique Modern deck to play, you've come to the right place! While I wouldn't expect this deck to take down a huge tournament anytime soon, it's still a blast.
If the idea of Allies is scintillating but you don't care for Conspiracy as much, you can definitely lower the curve of this and turn it into a contender. The only black card is Conspiracy, so you could easily move into red for Akoum Battlesinger—or just go all five colors and include Bojuka Brigand, which Cavern of Souls and Æther Vial let you do pretty easily.
You may also want to consider some other noncreature cards. Thoughtseize and Path to Exile are both good options as staples of the format. But something outside the ordinary to consider might be Lead the Stampede (and, to a lesser extent, Domri Rade) which will have a pretty high hit rate in a deck like this.
What were some of the other neat Conspiracy decks people sent in this week? Let's take a look!
Nekomata-sensei's Triba-Summon Conspiracy
Dav's Rooftop Conspiracy
Brian Neal's The Almost People
Lane Engelberg's Conspirators
Elliott Triebenbacher's Conspiring "Zombies"
The Cabbie's Conspiracy Elves
Nick M's Shadowborn Conspiracy
Myles Schaller's Triple Tribal Triumph
George Wolfe's Memknight
Ryan Garringer's ConspiracyTron
And Now, Back to your Regularly Scheduled Program
Well, that was a fun diversion! Next week is budget Standard, so in two weeks let's take a look back at some normal Standard submissions.
Deadline: May 26, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time
Submit all decklists by clicking on "respond via email" below. Please submit decklists using the following template. (The specific numbers below are arbitrary, so please don't feel a need to use them—it's just an example of how a decklist should look when laid out.)
4 Other Spell
4 Other Spell
I hope you enjoyed this crazy look at Conspiracy! If you have any thoughts or feedback, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to post in the forums, send me a tweet, or ask me a question on my Tumblr and I'll be sure to take a look.
I'll be back next week with a budget look at Standard. Until then, may the conspiracies be ever in your favor.
When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he wanted a job making Magic cards. Ten years later, his dream was realized as his combined success as a professional player, deck builder, and writer brought him into Wizards R&D during 2011. He's been writing Magic articles since 2005 and has no plans to stop.