Howl & betray update

by wickeddarkman on 02 March 2023

Main Deck (51 cards)

Sideboard (15 cards)

Artifacts (1)

Enchantments (3)

Submit a list of cards below to bulk import them all into your sideboard. Post one card per line using a format like "4x Birds of Paradise" or "1 Blaze", you can even enter just the card name by itself like "Wrath of God" for single cards.

Deck Description

Updated: 02/03/2023:

9 mutations will replace the 9 missing cards, but a lot more than 9 mutations are locked in battle with each other to win their space in the deck.

4 green mutations and 5 blue mutations will at some point be declared as the winners, but to do that they must score points by being played, and so far only a few mutations have scored more than 1 point.

GREEN MUTATIONS: (gruul mutations is a more accurate term)

acorn harvest
Gorilla shaman
Horned kavu
Plated spider
River boa
Skyshroud elf
Stone rain

Among these, firebolt, mountain and stone rain have been scoring more than 1 point. One more point to any of those rogue mutations and I've got the first readable result for both halves combined.

Blue elemental Blast
Choking tethers
Deep analysis
Killer whale
living airship
Merchant scroll
Ray of command
Rites of refusal
Sea sprite
Slow motion
Veiled serpent

Of these mutations two deep analysis, foil, living airship and merchant scroll are the only cards with a score above 1 point, but this actually form a team of 5 blue cards which means the first readable results are in for the blue half. Over time other mutations may beat these before the goal line, but most of the first top scorers usually make it to the end.

So, 2 deep analysis, firebolt, foil, living airship, merchant scroll, mountain and stone rain are the first early hints at how this deck will be fighting both aggro and control. Just one more of the gruul mutations scoring more than 1 point will give me the first read of the full deck. (Even though there's a lot more work remaining)

Living airship is costly to play, and doesn't exactly have a cheap regenerate payment, but it somehow fits the play pattern that the deck seems to strive at. Without taking ramp into account it will naturally drop after turn 3 where fade away will often be played, and considering ramp I've had plenty of games with 7 lands in play which means it's possible to drop this and have it's regeneration available the same turn.
There is also an odd gap in decks with many creatures where it seems like the majority of creatures rarely have more than 2/2, which is an oddly common occurrence in the designs. They all have a small number of creatures capeable of getting larger, but the number of those aren't very high, so a set of removal spells seem to be sufficient to deal with that. Living airship deals with these as well in a more longterm fashion. In addition to this it's a flier and while this deck walls up with howling wolf, it can go on the offensive. The card has an additional advantage in the games against the 51 testdecks from a 2018 modern meta, and that is the immunity against inquisition of kozilek. Most decks from that era featured 2 thoughtseize and 3 inquisition, which means that this card is usually not discarded.

So far the high score of deep analysis indicates that a focus on foil and rites of denial is a strategy that could end up as the main advantage of the blue half. On the gruul side acorn harvest seems like the best bet dispite arrogant wurm and basking rootwalla being available to that half. I will strive towards planting a discard outlet in the green half (possibly rites of spring which will be a really good thinner) so that madness might become a part of the whole thing. Circular logic is also among the mutations I'm trying to insert.

Among the many mutations there have been some truly odd events occurring, like me topdecking a scrivener while the opponent is tapped out and both of my fade away are in the graveyard, but I have the 8 mana to cast scrivener and recast a fade away.

Or facing knightfall with two relentless tracker, seeing lots of clues hit the table in a few turns which are then removed by a top decked gorilla shaman.

One of my favourite new moves has become to abuse lotus petal to cast a really early slow motion against aggro designs. A turn 1 slow motion can be crippling, and the synergy with fade away is imminent. I expect that fade away and slow motion might become the removal theme of the blue half, and it seems to complement the growing burn in the gruul half really well.

The past plan of using betrayal and flood against aggro failed by being too focused on the opponents side of the table. The new cards that I'm selecting for that purpose will be a lot more flexible. I started out by thinking of how repulse can be used with ETB creatures on my side, but a card like slow motion could also be used on my own stuff if the right synergies are present, as there are some creatures that give you an advantage when they die. (Symbiotic beast is one card that has gotten close to be added in the past)

Things are still at a rather early stage, so there are many ways that evolution can change its focus, but I think I have an overall direction planned out at this moment in time.

I'm starting to test out merchant scroll because it's a thinner and the whole theme of the two halfdecks are centered at thinning out the deck to draw the key cards. Merchant scroll can only fetch instants, but I think it will bring potential to the deck. Against aggro it can fetch repulse and against combo and control it can fetch foil. It may also be able to fetch just the right blue flashback to discard to a foil, or if a flashback is already in the hand it can fetch rites of refusal.

Ray of command and volrath's curse have joined the mutations as well. Ray of command because it has synergy with merchant scroll and might be good against aggro. In a pinch it can be used to untap one of your own creatures if that ever becomes relevant, volrath's curse is also there against aggro, and it also works as a sacrifice outlet. I've mentioned that I sometimes want to get rid of my own creatures, and this is a nice way to do that. I can imagine how I could enchant a creature like tidal visionary to be able to respond to a mesmeric fiend cast by myself to abuse the "sacrifice trick".

For some reason the blue halfdeck has a less varied choice of mutations which means that those it has are in a furious struggle to survive.
Current score for blue mutations:

Deep analysis:#1 3 points
Deep analysis:#2 3 points
Foil: 3 points
Living airship: 2 points
Merchant scroll: 2 points
Rites of refusal: 2 points

This means that living airship and merchant scroll is now falling behind and may be surpassed by a rites of refusal. A lot of blue mutations only have a single point at the moment, so these cards are at the front of the racetrack. In the end only 5 of them gets a place within the deck, so it's actually pretty exciting to see.

My bet is more or less on merchant scroll which can become a very neat problem shooter by fetching for solutions. I expect it to be of extra value against combo by either getting counterspells or the means to destroy artifacts or enchantments when needed. This is a card that I haven't thought I'd need, but the constant hunt for cards that fit the themes evolution prefers is slowly adding stuff to this giant puzzle.

Added to the excitement is the fact that I've crossed over the border between aggro and control, and the gruul half has only two mutations in the lead out of a possible 4. The gruul half is now more or less the joker in this game, and it will likely throw some pretty wild mutations to the front when I least expect it.

Stone rain got points enough to reach into the early results.

How to Play

Evolution has designed this deck while battling against 50 modern decks from around 2018. The purpose will be to beat both premodern and pauper in one strike, but the deck will first be designed from a void, never meeting the actual decks before I've beaten my 50 modern decks with it.

Part of this is called "working in a void" and has been done by some of the older generations of magic players for various reasons.

I work in a void because I've found that too many decks on forums have been corrupted by spammers. And since anyone can create a fake tournament and send it through the dci event reporter, no decks are "safe" from this corruption. The purpose of spam is to manipulate local metas.

Hopefully 2023 will weaken the power of spam by better coverage of the tournaments (so far things are still stale)

This deck isn't just "a deck" it's actually two "halfdecks" being developed simultaneously. As soon as I feel that they can beat my modern testdecks as a couple, I will start to branch out, developing other halfdecks that can be effortlessly coupled with these two. The purpose of this will be to make it extremely hard for other people to predict my gameplan. I can take all halfdecks with me in a large box, take a long look at who is present at a tournament and look at my notes getting a feel for what the meta will be like. Then during the last minutes of registering I hand over a premade decklist containing the couple I will be playing, then seconds before being seated I pick out these two halfdecks and insert them both into a single deckbox, ready to be shuffled against my first opponent.

Sideboards can basically be kept together with their maindecks consisting of 7 cards each, and the 15th sideboard card can be an artifact kept in the "shufflebox" behind a separator.

All that is demanded of me is that I'm a hell of a deck brewer (not really, I got evolution), and that all my cards are sleeved up before tournaments using exactly the same sleeves. (Expensive but it's the price to pay)

Regarding the spam, I'm writing up a larger collection of articles about it. Go look at my mainpage and click on the decktag: spamspotting

Deck at a Glance

Social Stats


This deck has been viewed 96 times.

Mana Curve

Mana Symbol Occurrence


Card Legality

  • Not Legal in Standard
  • Not Legal in Modern
  • Not Legal in Vintage
  • Not Legal in Legacy

Deck discussion for Howl & betray update

to post a comment.