Updated: Nov 28, 2018
This deck list was submitted by Nathan Coleman
So, while Jeremy and I play a lot of standard (and I do mean a lot), we do occasionally break into other formats as well. Jeremy seems to be better with the older formats like Vintage and Legacy, I tend to enjoy the other formats like Modern and Commander. Well, today we have a fun fan submitted list by Nathan Coleman, Wave of Walls. I'll be breaking down the deck, revealing its core strategies and then offering some ideas for reasonable upgrades or changes.
So, with a name like Wave of Walls, I'm assuming you can kind of guess where this is going. A defender deck! Defenders, in addition to not attacking, are known for having some really unique abilities, like mana production, drawing cards, etc. Let's take a look at what we have here.
Defenders are truley great about producing a ton of mana. Sylvan Caryatid is a great way to start this portion. Its a 0/3 for 1G, that taps to add mana of any color to your mana pool...It also just so happens to have Hexproof, skirting around all of your opponent's removal. Sylvan Caryatid fits really well in here. Next we have Overgrown Battlement, a 0/4 for 1G that adds X green mana where X is the number of creatures with defender you control. You heard me right. You will literally be able to add 2, 3, 4, 5 green mana, depending on if you have that many creatures out (since they are all defenders). Also imagine if you have multiple out on the field at once, you could produce well over 10 mana in a turn, without even needing to use your lands. We then get Axebane Guardian, which costs 1 more than Overgrown Battlements, but taps for X mana equal to the number of defenders you control in any combination of mana color. We will be drowning in mana production.
For our card advantage suite, we see a play set of Wall of Omens and a play set of Genesis Wave (the wave in Wave of Walls).
With Wall of Blossoms not legal in the Modern format, Wall of Omens has become the default blocker in many xW control lists. Here, it fills a similar role, replacing itself for cheap. We then have Genesis Wave, allowing you to dig deeply into your deck and slam down all of your defenders and lands onto the battlefield. When casting this card, you really want to try to make X equal to at least 8. Why?
With all this mana production, we want to be able to have some strong win conditions, and in this deck we have two.
Colossus of Akros is why we want to hit Genesis Wave for 8 or more. Digging 8 deep, and potentially hitting all four of these could be hilarious. As a 10/10 with indestructible, it surely is a threat to be reckoned with, on top of that, at instant speed for 10 mana, you can Monstrous it for 10, giving it an additional 10 +1/+1 counters, swinging in for a lethal 20 (it also allows him to attack as though it didn't have defender).
But wait, didn't I just mention that he'd be swinging in before using the Monstrosity ability? Yep, we are also playing a play set of Assault Formation.
Assault Formation is one of those super unique cards that allow your defenders to not only attack for G, but also allows your creatures to assign combat damage equal to their toughness. So, your 0/4 defenders quickly become 4/4 attackers, and with all of the mana we produce with our creatures, tapping 1 or 2 of them to give the rest of your team the ability to attack feels really great. Assault Formation also has a hidden mode on it; for 2G you can give your entire team a temporary +1 toughness boost, giving you the opportunity for some overrun/alpha strike attacks. This card is powerful in a deck like this.
Life Gain, Removal, and Lands
Lastly, we have a few other cards that seem to have some decent synergies, and are some direct hate against burn style decks, which leads me to believe Nathan has a lot of burn in his meta. Perimeter Captain does a great job at gaining you back large swaths of life with your blockers, and coming down early, it becomes a great blocker against Monastery Swiftspear or Goblin Guide, and with 4 toughness it doesn't directly die to a Lightning Bolt. Once you get down an Assault formation, it becomes a 4/4 attacker for 1 mana. This is great addition to the deck.
We then also get 1 Tree of Redemption for the list, probably for the memes... It is a good 0/13 defender for 4 mana that can attack in for 13. It can also replace our life total once it becomes near death. 25th Masters heartbreak aside, it can do some really good work for us in this deck, and is a decent hit off of a small Genesis Wave.
For our removal, we see only 4 Path to Exile, which seems a little light to me. Everyone knows the power of Path, but with only 4 of these in our deck of 60 we'll be kind of hard pressed to find it when we need it. With all of our creatures being 0/x's we have some unique opportunities for board wipes that I'll get into a little bit later.
For our mana base, he's running just a quick 10 plains and 13 forests.
For our sideboard we have 3 Natures Claims for those pesky artifacts and enchantments like Search for Azcanta or Affinity lists; you can also use it to kill things like Expedition Map or Wurmcoil Engine if you need too. 2 Stony Silence fits right into this hate against Affinity, Tron, and potentially Aethervile lists. Damping Sphere is also fantastic hate against Tron, reducing their mana caused by those pesky Urza Tron lands. Damping Sphere also hates on Storm lists by causing them to pay an additional mana for each spell after the first. We also have a couple Chokes to deal with decks with a ton of islands, like Storm, Merfolk, U-Turns, and Ux control variants. Pithing Needle is for anything with activated abilities like Liliana of the Veil, Jace the Mind Sculptor, Chandra Torch of Defiance, a flipped Search for Azcanta, many pieces of Affinity, etc. Lastly, we have Spellskite, a way to divert targeted removal away from your win conditions (and it becomes a 4/4 attacker to boot).
Potential changes or upgrades.
All in all, I think the list is fun and fairly competitive right out of the box. I think you should give it a try for yourself and see what kind of results you can put to it. I'd think you'd be able to reasonably see a 3/2 out of five or a 3/3 of 6 matches played. That said, I do think there are some things that we can change to make the deck more consistent and a little more powerful to see some better results.
Upgrade your lands.
I think the first thing you can do (and probably the most expensive thing you can do) is upgrade your land base. Running only basics is cheap, but it can definitely hurt your consistency, and it also prevents you from running some decent utility lands that can help deal with troublesome matches.
I'd personally like to see a play set of Temple Garden, a playset of Sunpetal Grove, 2 Scattered Groves, 2 Field of Ruin, about 6 fetch lands: 4 Windswept Heath, and perhaps a 1/1 split between Flooded Strand and Wooded Foothills. Which leaves us with 3 Forests and 2 Plains. I wanted to give enough basic support to fight through a Blood Moon should it occur. This upgrade should help with potential consistency issues that could arrive from the all basic lands list.
Better Win Conditions.
While Colossus of Akros is fun and flavorful, and can attack evenyually without the need of an Assault Formation, it suffers from the fact that a lingering souls can stop it for 4 turns. I think a better card for this slot could be either Ulamogs, Kozilek the Butcher of Truth, or, my favorite, Blightsteel Colossus. What I like about the old Eldrazi (and to an extent Blightsteel Colossus) is that should you whiff with a small Genesis Wave, either it or your entire graveyard shuffles back into your library for free, allowing for you to try again in the future. Blightsteel, while the most mana intensive, doesn't suffer from being legendary, so you can get multiples down off of a huge Genesis Wave. The others you'd either have to run sparingly or do a split among them. What I additionally like about running the Eldrazis are their cast triggers; drawing cards, blowing up or exile permanents just feels great.
Another win condition is actually a redundancy of Assault Formation, and helps us with our card advantage, the new elder dragon, Arcades the Strategist. He would require us to run a splash of blue in our mana pool (run fewer of the GW sources over some GU or WU like Breeding Pool or Hallowed Fountain, and you could run a 4/3 split on Windswept Heath and Flooded Strand respectively, and drop a Forest and a Plains for an Island), which could open up cards like Negate or Spell Pierce for our sideboard, he comes down relatively early, is a redundancy of assault formation and is much easier to hit off of a G. Wave. And, if we do get him along with a few other defenders, we'd also be able to refill our hand. We could run a 3/3 split of Arcades and Assault Formation, allowing us to have a couple more slots available for removal.
Really, we'd have only 2 slots more for removal (assuming we don't also cut Tree of Redemption), so we'd want to find things that are flexible. Luckily, Standard has given us some great options for one sided board wipes that can help us punch through to win the game.
Slaughter the Strong, Dusk // Dawn, Settle the Wreckage all could be decent additions. Slaughter the Strong I think is the best out of the 3 (for this deck), with Settle the Wreckage coming in second. Dusk // Dawn trails at number 3 but can be a huge benefit to refill your hand if your creatures have been killed. Slaughter the Strong will force your opponent to choose a total of 4 power among all their creatures and then sacrifice the rest. So, anything over 4 power will automatically be sacrificed. After that, its a numbers game. They may only be able to keep 1 or 2 creatures at the most, when you keep your entire board (unless your playing Colossus of Akros, Blightsteel, or any of the Eldrazi, all though the latter will shuffle back in). Settle the Wreckage is dependent upon timing and requires a massive attack from your opponent to really feel good. Dusk // Dawn will kill your Arcades (should you go that route) or any of the non-indestructible win conditions, but can refuel your late game. I think you can find case studies to run any of these, and it gives you good things to board out against the wrong match up.