Nov 16, 20177089 views

Unclaimed Creature Types

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The big success story of Modern post-Ixalan has been Five-Color Humans bolstered by two new cards: Kitesail Freebooter and Unclaimed Territory. The deck went from a fringe contender to possibly the number one deck to beat as of today with a slightly better tool and a little better mana.
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Nowhere on the card Unclaimed Territory does it say the word Human.
Do you know how many other creature types there are in Modern? Literally hundreds. It’s time to go deep in the tank, brainstorm, and figure out which ones might also have become contenders or at least interesting flings.
There are a couple requirements for Unclaimed Territory to actually be good in your deck: You need a creature type that span three or more colors. Two colors is too easy with normal Modern mana, and getting to play real spells is too good compared to a bit of damage saved. Your blue-green Merfolk deck should stick with Breeding Pools.
You need a creature type that either want to attack fast or have very interactive creatures. Cavern of Souls and Unclaimed Territory only make colorless mana for non-creatures, and Ancient Ziggurat doesn’t do any of that mana for spells thing. Your deck is going to be almost all creatures, so you need to be able to win games against less interactive decks just your chosen type of doofuses. This sadly means no Dinosaurs.


Changelings The Changeling mechanic from Lorwyn means every creature type has access to a few unique options.

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Chameleon Colossus is the best Changeling as Protection from black matters a lot, but Mirror Entity has also been good from time to time. If you can sneak in a Mirror Entity as instant speed, untap, and activate it for four or more that is usually enough and the card does have weird combo applications that might be buried in the format.
Metallic Mimic is an honorary Changeling here. It isn’t as good as a true Lord of Atlantis style effect as it doesn’t provide a boost to your attackers the turn you play it, but sometimes you need another good turn two play. Adaptive Automaton offers a similar effect, but three mana pump without any other upside has me skeptical.


Tried And True Two creature types already had an extra Unclaimed Territory style land: Ally Encampment and Sliver Hive. Well, sorta three, but Primal Beyond for Elementals has some extra hoops.

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Allies existed for a brief moment a couple years ago and was fine. It is an all in aggro deck with almost no interaction. Playing Hada Freeblade into Kazandu Blademaster into more Allies builds up a bunch of large threats. The draw compared to Humans doing this with Champion of the Parish and Thalia’s Lieutenant is Kabira Evangel, which lets you ignore blockers and use Aether Vial to instantly give protection from removal.
The problem with Allies is that the extra fixing isn’t that important. Almost all the good Allies can be played without blue and black mana. Unlike Humans, adding colors doesn’t give you good interactive creatures, so you need the sideboard spells you can’t cast off the creature-only lands. Allies are also extra powerful with Collected Company as both Allies you put into play trigger each other, and that’s yet another spell creature-only lands can’t cast
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Slivers is a much more compelling upgrade as it was already five colors, all creatures. Playing all five colors is a huge benefit when your curve is the blue Galerider Sliver, the white Sinew Sliver and green Predatory Sliver, and then red Blur Slivers or black Syphon Slivers. Having sixteen five color lands lets you go wild and still play Mutavault for more beatdown, even if you lose the Swamps for Sedge Sliver. I think the takeaway from Humans is Collected Company might be wrong in Slivers. Even with Manaweft Sliver giving you reliable mana, the deck might be better off with more one drops, Leeching Sliver as another mass damage pump, and a bit more evasion via Shadow Sliver. I really like Mindlash Sliver as extra one drops as instant discard does some weird stuff against decks you otherwise couldn’t stop.
4 Mindlash Sliver 4 Galerider Sliver 2 Striking Sliver 4 Leeching Sliver 4 Sinew Sliver 4 Predatory Sliver 3 Manaweft Sliver 4 Diffusion Sliver 1 Two-Headed Sliver 2 Blur Sliver 2 Necrotic Sliver 1 Shadow Sliver 1 Bonesplitter Sliver 4 Aether Vial 4 Mutavault 4 Ancient Ziggurat 4 Unclaimed Territory 4 Cavern of Souls 4 Sliver Hive
Sideboard 3 Harmonic Sliver 3 Syphon Sliver 3 Dismember 2 Warping Wail 4 Thought-Knot Seer
Look at those sixteen colorless producing lands for the Sliver-Eldrazi crossover! Thought-Knot Seer is just a great card, and you can Manaweft Sliver to get it out a turn earlier. There aren’t a lot of cards that provide the all around greatness it does when you need to interact a bit. Warping Wail is a card existing Slivers lists have played that got me to this point. It isn’t always the card you need, but it helps out in weird spots.
I did consider Frenzy Sliver as yet another pump effect. It honestly might be better than Manaweft Sliver.


Covering New Ground This is where things get fun. What of the tons of other options can we play with?
After the existing shells, I looked at the four creature types of Ixalan. Sadly they didn’t pan out. There aren’t nearly enough Pirates or Dinosaurs yet to build a full Modern deck. Merfolk is green-blue in Ixalan and was white-blue in Lorwyn, but the only good white Merfolk is Sygg, River Guide which can’t be activated off the five color lands. Vampires is in white-black and was red-black in Innistrad, but none of the white Vampires is great enough to change from two color mana.

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Knights is always popular due to Knight Exemplar, but there isn’t a good reason to play non-white Knights. The narrow situation is when Protection from white is really good and having a bunch of random 2/2s that don’t have Protection from white isn’t a liability.
Spirits is a deck that exists now in a Bant Collected Company form, utilizing Drogskol Captain, Selfless Spirit, Rattlechains, and Mausoleum Wanderer to make their creatures really obnoxious to remove. I’m not quite sure enough from red and black to drastically change the deck. Eidolon of the Great Revel and Bloodghast are the Spirits I found on a search of the format. Bloodghast isn’t that impressive with an Aether Vial and no fetchland mana base, and even if it is good I don’t know if Eidolon of the Great Revel adds enough. The Bant list has enough combo interaction via Spell Queller and other counters and Eidolon of Rhetoric, plus moving to the five color mana costs you Noble Hierarch and possibly Collected Company.

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Wizards is… weird. There isn’t a real Thalia’s Lieutenant-style reason to play Wizards as a creature type, but there’s a solid mix of cards. Cursecatcher, Meddling Mage, Vendillion Clique, Reflector Mage as interaction, Dark Confidant, Pain Seer, and Shadowmage Infiltrator for more cards, and Qasali Pridemage and Izzet Staticaster as reasons to play five colors.
4 Cursecatcher 1 Burrenton Forge-Tender 4 Meddling Mage 3 Qasali Pridemage 4 Dark Confidant 2 Yixlid Jailer 1 Pain Seer 1 Asylum Visitor 2 Stonybrook Banneret 3 Harbinger of the Tides 3 Vendilion Clique 4 Reflector Mage 1 Shadowmage Infiltrator 1 Sower of Temptation 2 Dismember 4 Aether Vial 4 Ancient Ziggurat 4 Cavern of Souls 4 Unclaimed Territory 4 Darkslick Shores 1 Seachrome Coast 1 Concealed Courtyard 2 Mana Confluence

Sideboard 2 Magus of the Moon 3 Izzet Staticaster 2 Yixlid Jailer 1 Burrenton Forge-Tender 1 Sower of Temptation 3 Chameleon Colossus 1 Aven Mindcensor 2 Tidebinder Mage It’s a weird card churny, hate bears pile. The idea is Dark Confidant and the cards like it let you keep playing multiple mediocre yet annoying creatures per turn, which is hopefully enough to let you cross the finish line. There’s a little bit of all the specific answer creatures in the main deck for the hope you draw the right one at the right time, then more in the sideboard to maximize those odds.
Beware the sideboard Magus of the Moons. They are for matchups where you assume your opponent’s deck is even less capable of functioning with them in play, because this deck sure can’t do anything off Mountains.
Wizards did bring me in one cool direction via Stonybrook Banneret. There is a full color cycle of these Bannerets from Morningtide that cover cost reduction of ten creature types. Scanning through those lead me to Warriors.
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4 Bloodsoaked Champion 4 Mardu Woe-Reaper 4 Goblin Bushwhacker 2 Narnam Renegade 1 Zurgo Bellstriker 3 Dragon Hunter 4 Chief of the Edge 4 Gatekeeper of Malakir 4 Voltaic Brawler 2 Spike Jester 4 Goblin Rabblemaster 2 Dismember 4 Cavern of Souls 4 Ancient Ziggurat 4 Unclaimed Territory 4 Blackcleave Cliffs 3 Mana Confluence 3 Horizon Canopy
Sideboard 2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet 3 Chameleon Colossus 2 Dismember 3 Grafdigger’s Cage 2 Relic of Progenitus 3 Gut Shot
This deck is more dedicated aggro than the other options, which makes me a little skeptical of it. There exists a Reckless Bushwhacker green-red deck that might just do what this deck is trying to do better. Warriors isn’t faster than the Hidden Herbalist - Burning-Tree Emissary deck, it has worse one drops than Kird Ape and Wild Nacatl, and Gatekeeper of Malakir isn’t that big of a interactive payoff.
As you can also see, the sideboard here is rough at best. Shockingly Warriors are really only good at attacking and not doing fiddly stuff. Not the best selling point for a deck I already described as too aggressive.
Warriors is almost there but not quite. Probably still a fun deck to try one Friday Night Magic, which isn’t the worst fate for a secondary creature type.

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The other, more promising, creature type Bannerets led me to was Shamans. Rage Forger is a really good Thalia’s Lieutenant style finisher as it provides two extra damage per attacker. For a change of pace, this didn’t end up as a dedicated Unclaimed Territory deck. There isn’t a reason to expand beyond green-red, but the deck is fresh. Metallic Mimic is a good bonus way to spread +1/+1 counters that didn’t exist before.
4 Flamekin Harbinger 4 Birds of Paradise 4 Burning-Tree Emissary 3 Fauna Shaman 3 Bosk Banneret 2 Metallic Mimic 4 Wolf-Skull Shaman 4 Rage Forger 4 Eternal Witness 1 Fulminator Mage 4 Collected Company 4 Cavern of Souls 1 Unclaimed Territory 4 Wooded Foothills 4 Windswept Heath 3 Stomping Ground 5 Forest 2 Mountain
Sideboard: 2 Chameleon Colossus 2 Loaming Shaman 2 Burning-Tree Shaman 3 Vithian Renegades 3 Fulminator Mage 1 Sulfur Elemental 2 Dismember

This deck is solely focused on getting Rage Forger to trigger as many times as possible a game. Almost accidentally this lets you play Eternal Witness and Collected Company as a more resilient long game.
The other cool thing being focused on Rage Forger gets you is a lot of ways to find good Elementals. Flamekin Harbinger and Fauna Shaman let you Fulminator Mage opponents as much as you want when that is good. There might want to be a second Sulfur Elemental to absolutely lock out the Leonin Arbiter white creature decks, but the first one does a fine job against Lingering Souls.
The mana here might be a little over optimized. There isn’t a huge reason to play tons of fetch lands beyond minor interactions where you shuffle away a card after Wolf-Skull Shaman shows you a land. More Unclaimed Territory, some Copperline Gorge, and not taking extra damage might just be better than this.
Or it might be under optimized. Adding a splash is relatively easy with Birds of Paradise, and you might want a better piece of combo interaction like Negate. Or hard removal like Fatal Push, Dismember, or Path to Exile.
Despite covering a lot of options here, I feel like I’m only scraping the surface. Let me know if I missed an important creature for any of these decks, or better yet what your favorite creature type I didn’t cover is that might be the next place for Unclaimed Territory to find a home!

Looking Ahead The Standard action continues with a GP Portland this weekend, with a quick jaunt to Team Limited over in Lyon the following weekend. Some of my teammates will be competing in Portland and I will be in Oklahoma City and New Jersey next month so be on the lookout! It should be interesting to see how the metagame might continue to shift after Pro Tour Ixalan. Soon, the focus will be on Modern in preparation for the next Pro Tour: Rivals of Ixalan in Bilbao, Spain. Thanks for reading, and good luck in your upcoming games!


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That was a great read, thank you for all the effort that went into this. My personal favorite tribe to play around with is Vampires, just because Vampire Nocturnus can be absolutely ridiculous. I recently made this Vampire deck, and it's quite fun if you can slam a Nocturnus on T4. I tried Mavren Fein, but the power level was not quite there. Mana base is not really thought out yet.
4x Bloodghast 3x Captivating Vampire 4x Falkenrath Gorger 4x Gifted Aetherborn 4x Heir of Falkenrath 4x Indulgent Aristocrat 4x Stromkirk Captain 3x Stromkirk Condemned 4x Vampire Nocturnus
4x Aether Vial
1x Ancient Ziggurat 2x Blood Crypt 4x Cavern of Souls 4x Bloodstained Mire 3x Polluted Delta 4x Unclaimed Territory 4x Swamp
Thanks for the Shamans list, I've been toying around with the tribe for a while. All my builds had 4x Elvish Visionary and Bolt so no room for CoCo, but your more midrange list looks pretty good. Wolf-Skull Shaman is a surprisingly strong card and I've always been impressed with it.
pero_o
After a little play with the Shamans deck, I actually think you are right on Elvish Visionary. 23 land, 4 Birds is a little too much mana that doesn't attack. You also have cards that are distinctly better (Forger, Company), so reducing the amount of filler draws in your deck is good (Visionary being a card that lets you just try again). I think I would go -3 Banneret, -1 Bird/Land/Fauna Shaman, +4 Visionary. I also think the Fauna Shaman/Metallic Mimic numbers could be fiddled with, and that the mana is probably better off as fetches, maybe a couple Caverns, and 2-3ish Mutavault.
4 Flamekin Harbinger 4 Birds of Paradise 4 Burning-Tree Emissary 4 Elvish Visionary 1 Fauna Shaman 3 Metallic Mimic 4 Wolf-Skull Shaman 4 Rage Forger 4 Eternal Witness 1 Fulminator Mage 4 Collected Company 2 Mutavault 3 Cavern of Souls 4 Wooded Foothills 4 Windswept Heath 3 Stomping Ground 5 Forest 2 Mountain
AriLax
Thank you for the really thorough reply! I think I have a new player to cheer for, will definitely try your version.