Ally Evolution

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Post by ISBPathfinder » 4 months ago

I have been kicking around Allies in FNM magic for about a year now. I started out on it in part because it looked really cheap to build and it looked like I could include Collected Company. After having played that for quite a bit of time, I have come to the conclusion that allies don't have enough interaction or speed to just try to race the combo decks of the format.

This new version I have done away with Collected Company. The reason being that I couldn't go fast enough to race more often than not. Utilizing a heavier removal package and Eldritch Evolution to try to be a bit more versatile and interactive. This is mostly untested so far but I have logged a good number of games with allies as a whole. With removing company from the deck I feel like I can have more interaction cards and evolution really lets the sideboard feel like it opens up a bit. With stoneforge mystic packages cropping up all over the place I feel like a copy of Tuktuk Scrapper in the main with evolution might be really fun. Having access to scrapper also helps answer the problem of Ensnaring Bridge not to mention the increase in popularity of Wurza.

As it stands, my mainboard Dismember count might be a little aggressive depending on how much burn / fast aggro I see but that is an archetype I have tended to have good results against in the past.


Last edited by ISBPathfinder 3 months ago, edited 6 times in total.
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Post by ISBPathfinder » 4 months ago

Been playing around with and tuning the list a bit. I haven't gotten a chance to play it yet sadly as I had to put in a few orders for cards. I wanted to make it a hair more proactive in the main with more of the reaction being the sideboard play of the list so I did make things a little more lean.

MAINBOARD
-1 Dismember its possible that three in the main is too much. There are still decks that don't use creatures to win or play control not to mention that three in the main could hurt against burn potentially. I felt that going a bit lighter here in the main made sense and I could instead be a bit more proactive.
-1 Umara Raptor I really wanted to push just a little harder on my one drops.
+2 Champion of the Parish I have played with Champion in the past with my previous versions. Its a good one drop but it kind of sucks later. I am running less copies due to this but I think its still a viable card to throw into evolution so it seems ok. I contemplated using some copies of Noble Hierarch but ultimately decided that the goal of my deck isn't really to ramp into 3-4 mana plays which is why I was more against it.
-1 Firemantle Mage I like this card very narrowly. It tends to be useful against eldrazi tron and a wurmcoil setup from tron. Thats a bit narrow for the main deck so I am going to trim it and just hope for a little more specific hate for them in sideboard.
-1 Jwari Shapeshifter It can be useful to have extra copies of specific allies, that said, its slow and with the tutors in deck it just feels like perhaps maybe not needed.
-1 Akoum Battlesinger I have felt bad in the past having multiple of these at the same time as they aren't always relevant. I figure having just one copy in the main with all of the evolutions might be fine at least to start for testing.
+3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Its a threat that slows down some gameplans. I want to try it out at least to get started.
-1 Unclaimed Territory I noticed I might need a little more green mana in the deck for Evolution. Given that I will have multiple lands that don't tap for green for noncreatures I probably need to up my gameplan a little on this front.
+1 Temple Garden more green tapping mana for Evolution.

SIDEBOARD
-1 Tuktuk Scrapper - Really, having access to two scrappers with the evolutions should be plenty. Three is just way too many slots to eat up for now.
-1 Rest in Peace - RIP is a great card, but I think I have enough grave hate without it to at least start testing. The fact that I cant tutor for this card pushed it down in importance with how I am building my sideboard.
-2 Damping Sphere - This card is great, but that said I can't tutor for it so I am pushing a bit harder to start testing on things I can tutor for first and foremost where I can.
+2 Collector Ouphe - Tutorable and it hits affinity, scales, and tron. I have been seeing tron tutoring into more naturalize effects from side of late so being on a stick kind of helps.
+1 Kambal, Consul of Allocation - Versatile creature vs storm based decks.
+1 Knight of Autumn - All around useful and it can be tutored. I figured I should probably have at least one enchantment answer in sideboard in case someone gets cheeky with worship or something.
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Post by Patbou » 4 months ago

Champion, Ooze and Thalia : 6 cards that will never trigger Rally. You should at least replace Thalia by Unsettled Mariner, Changeling = Ally = trigger Rally ; also, multiples stack), and find some ways to trigger Rally at instant speed (like Aether Vial).

I really don't like Eldritch Evolution in Modern Ally. It needs a board (and right CMC) to sacrifice a creature, quite slow at sorcery speed and only replaces a creature by another, without adding board presence (and is thus pure card disadvantage, which is really bad in a metagame where both Jund and Burn are prevalent with their removals). The toolbox in Ally is not good enough (unlike some other combo decks that benefit more from the Evolution). Collected Company works on an empty board, at instant speed (trigger Rally anytime), and should add two creatures to the board. It's a no brainer, IMHO.

It seems you feel the need to gain life with Ooze and Cleric because your deck is not fast enough. Cleric is only ever good in the SB, unless you have a slow combo and need the life gain to survive until you pull the trick (as could be the case with Halimar Excavator and Rally the Ancestors).

Stay focus on your aggro plan, and play more Battlesingers and Jwari Shapeshifter to copy it. Kabira Evangel should be 4 of, because it grants evasion to your tribe, as well as protecting it if you can trigger Rally at instant speed (CoCo and Vial). Also helps on the block, if you ever are not tapped out during opponent's attack step.

When I played Allies in Modern, I found that Harabaz Druid was one of the most important card in the deck. With it, I could produce a ton of mana, enough to chain 2-3 Allies in play and get enough triggers on Freeblade, Blademaster and Battlesinger to win in one big attack (Evangel's evasion helped there). Gee, there's even a T3 win with Allies :
T1 Land + Envoy or Freeblade
T2 Land + Druid + attack for 2
T3 Land + Battlesinger + either a) another Battlesinger or Shapeshifter + any other Ally (to trigger Rally) or b) Collected Company to put these two in play. Attack for 18 (or 21 if Freeblade instead of Envoy on turn 1), for a total of 20 (or 23).

Druid's fun fact : The 0/1 body can attack against Ensnaring Bridge. With Vial and/or CoCo, you could then get multiple instant speed triggers on Battlesinger to reach lethal. Based on a true story (happened to me).

In the current metagame, you could use Druid's acceleration to hard cast Bala Ged Thief or Tuktuk Scrapper as soon as turn 3. Both cards are very interesting, and I was tempted to insert them in my list last time I checked. They don't fit well with Collected Company, however, and would fit better in the SB when you side CoCo out.

Icon of Ancestry is very tempting for Allies, to at least shut off Plague Engineer and provide some more punch and card advantage.

Personnally, I won't touch Allies until the release of Zendikar Rising in Fall 2020. The name of the extansion suggests that Allies should be more important, and hopefully there will be one or two cheap Allies (no more that 3cmc) that will be playable in Modern (with ETB abilities that can either disrupt opponent's hand or remove/bounce a non-land permanent, or a lord with Flash that grants Flash and some kind of card advantage).

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Post by ISBPathfinder » 4 months ago

Thank you for your response. Please note that I don't have any facts of being right or wrong, my responses only reflect my own experience in playing allies. This tribe is not considered a tiered deck for the most part so I don't really consider there to be a right or wrong card to run in this deck. I might have gotten a little carried away in my responses so sorry about that.
Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
Champion, Ooze and Thalia : 6 cards that will never trigger Rally. You should at least replace Thalia by Unsettled Mariner, Changeling = Ally = trigger Rally ; also, multiples stack), and find some ways to trigger Rally at instant speed (like Aether Vial).

I really don't like Eldritch Evolution in Modern Ally. It needs a board (and right CMC) to sacrifice a creature, quite slow at sorcery speed and only replaces a creature by another, without adding board presence (and is thus pure card disadvantage, which is really bad in a metagame where both Jund and Burn are prevalent with their removals). The toolbox in Ally is not good enough (unlike some other combo decks that benefit more from the Evolution). Collected Company works on an empty board, at instant speed (trigger Rally anytime), and should add two creatures to the board. It's a no brainer, IMHO.

It seems you feel the need to gain life with Ooze and Cleric because your deck is not fast enough. Cleric is only ever good in the SB, unless you have a slow combo and need the life gain to survive until you pull the trick (as could be the case with Halimar Excavator and Rally the Ancestors).
Unsettled Mariner vs Thalia, Guardian of Thraben - Mariner "CAN" serve similar purpose as Thalia but its also a lot more narrow if you want to focus on disrupting spot removal. Thalia slows down a lot more things and on curve can essentially invalidate opponents next turn. Its most often used against combo and control but I like Thalia's effect a lot more against more decks. Its true that the Mariner is a changeling but spot removal protection is far from my concern as if a deck has tons of that, we are probably screwed either way. The Mariner also takes blue which means that it takes one of 8 lands I am running to cast it. It makes the landbase harder especially if you are going to run 3-4 of them. I added both thalia and Champion to my list because I think they help the deck curve better. Having 8 one drops isn't always enough and while Champion isn't as good, we just don't have other options for one drops. Thalia can disrupt and let us get in for damage and her primary place that she tends to be poor against is creature based decks (tends to be one of our better matchups with allies).

Aether Vial - My issue with vial is that you do this instead of a one drop. Its also a terrible topdeck beyond turn one as it becomes a turn three or later play if you draw it on turn two. With allies we tend to have a lot less interaction than a lot of the other decks that run this card in modern. I have been designing allies on the premise that we need to win, or stop our opponent from winning by turn 3 for some time now and Vial seems to have no valid purpose if that is your goal. Its too slow and we lack the natural interaction on our tribe for doing anything by turn three which is part of why I bailed on it. I actually bailed on Collected Company as well in part because I can't even tell you how many of my losses were before I had mana to cast it. Being one less mana with Evolution means maybe we can cast it and our sideboard will give us a lot more consistency against the kind of decks that will kill you by turn three. I have not had the pleasure of playing evolution yet but its part of why I am brewing here.

Eldritch Evolution vs Collected Company - If you plan to play against a lot of 1 for 1 removal decks, its true that company will get you further. My plan here is improving my combo matchup. I will be honest that I usually feel I have a fairly good burn matchup. I have a heavy count of creatures that they have to remove to get through and a lot of lifegain. If I feel like I am having any issue with burn I will just drop a Horizon Canopy for another basic. Personally, I don't think that we are ever going to have a good jund / UW control matchup. Allies really don't have card advantage attached. What allies tend to be good against are decks that do non infinite amounts of damage to win. Its true that swapping to evolution is worse against attrition based decks but against those decks I am probably going to trim evolution and add Return to the Ranks. Lots of my own experience in modern with allies so far have put my losses to combo and tron though rather than an abundance of jund / UW control. I could see logic assuming you see a lot of those decks to try a different plan but its not really where my overall problems have been. The idea of Evolution here is essentially to have a diverse and deep sideboard to slow down or disable a select few type of decks rather than play a value type of game.

Speed (Ooze and Cleric) - It is my opinion that allies aren't faster than the fastest decks of modern. I can god hand a T3 kill with allies assuming I got to pick every card I would have but allies realistically lack enough good one drops to consistently be able to really try this. It literally requires 3x Hada Freeblade, 1 Akoum Battlesinger, and another one drop ally. Savanah Lion is not a modern power card and while I would love another great one drop like Hada Freeblade, the truth is as of right now allies tend to lack interaction AND speed to compete in modern. Scavenging Ooze is slow for the format, but its also a playable mainboard card. I do have some fear about having enough green mana to pull it off as well as I want but I also think that having mainboard Evolutions it made sense to allow for a single copy of ooze. Its something I think I could easily sideboard out for other things but I think as far as a mainboard tutor option its reasonable. Ondu Cleric I have found to be ok in the main and it frees up some space for me to run a few in the main. Its not great all the time but I have also found that just having a few doesn't slow me down too much and there are plenty of game one games where I do want them. In a nutshell, I do believe that allies is slower than the combo decks and lack natural interaction within the tribe.
Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
Stay focus on your aggro plan, and play more Battlesingers and Jwari Shapeshifter to copy it. Kabira Evangel should be 4 of, because it grants evasion to your tribe, as well as protecting it if you can trigger Rally at instant speed (CoCo and Vial). Also helps on the block, if you ever are not tapped out during opponent's attack step.
Akoum Battlesinger - I have gone through a lot of iterations of company allies. My opinion is that allies lacks sufficient one drops to make it really shine. Its also an incredibly weak two drop on curve against a lot of decks unless they don't plan to interact with you or have blockers themselves. It does pair well with multiple copies of itself and it does pair well with Kabira Evangel but it gets worse as opponents interact with your game state. Its still decent, but my experience is that running less of it generally does more against most decks. Some of my few exceptions have been opponents like Tron who tend to do nothing until they do everything.

Jwari Shapeshifter - Its only good assuming you have good creatures in play. You also can't play it out against decks filled with 1 for 1 spot removal because you probably never have a target or they kill your targets as you go to cast it. Beyond that, its essentially a three drop in that circling back again, we don't have sufficient good one drop allies. Where it does shine I guess is assuming you bring in sideboard allies and want more copies of them assuming those allies live more than a turn. I have found it to be largely inconsistent though and I have seen many a hand that block up and stop working because I have 2+ shapeshifters in the face of removal.

Kabira Evangel - Its a good card, but it also does nothing in a lot of matchups and is HORRIBLE in duplicate (assuming you don't just get them murdered turn after turn). Allies are incredibly good against decks that this card is good against generally speaking but I really don't think I would ever run more than three of it now after having played allies as long as I have. Play it against almost any combo deck and it almost always entirely comes out against them. Also, with Evolution in my deck its like I have extra access to them assuming they are what I need.
Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
When I played Allies in Modern, I found that Harabaz Druid was one of the most important card in the deck. With it, I could produce a ton of mana, enough to chain 2-3 Allies in play and get enough triggers on Freeblade, Blademaster and Battlesinger to win in one big attack (Evangel's evasion helped there). Gee, there's even a T3 win with Allies :
T1 Land + Envoy or Freeblade
T2 Land + Druid + attack for 2
T3 Land + Battlesinger + either a) another Battlesinger or Shapeshifter + any other Ally (to trigger Rally) or b) Collected Company to put these two in play. Attack for 18 (or 21 if Freeblade instead of Envoy on turn 1), for a total of 20 (or 23).

Druid's fun fact : The 0/1 body can attack against Ensnaring Bridge. With Vial and/or CoCo, you could then get multiple instant speed triggers on Battlesinger to reach lethal. Based on a true story (happened to me).

In the current metagame, you could use Druid's acceleration to hard cast Bala Ged Thief or Tuktuk Scrapper as soon as turn 3. Both cards are very interesting, and I was tempted to insert them in my list last time I checked. They don't fit well with Collected Company, however, and would fit better in the SB when you side CoCo out.
Harabaz Druid - My issue with the Druid is that generally it just felt too slow. Most of the good allies in modern are two drops unfortunately which puts a LOT of stress on a two drop. The druid has many issues in my opinion in that it is taking up one of our most important mana drops on an all or nothing sort of return idea. Assuming you don't have company on the following turn or a hand full of Akoum Battlesinger vs a completely open board, it just doesn't do enough. In a nutshell I got the feeling that we didn't have enough mana dumps to make the druid all that valuable. I did consider the idea of making a deck with more draw such as running Lead the Stampede with it but in the end I felt like that build was far too all in on having a T2 Harabaz Druid. So I am stuck with Harabaz Druid feeling like I either can't make enough use out of the mana it produces or I am too reliant on it.

Really where the druid shines is when you want to move from 2 mana to 4+ mana. If you break down the loss of damage output for stopping on the druid though its easy to do the math on a 2 drop that grows instead and the ability to just curve attack instead means that you have to have fairly optimal specific hands for the druid to pan out in a lot of cases. Its possible if we got some solid cheap allies with good mana dumps that this could change but with the ally pool we have right now I am left feeling I either over commit to the Harabaz Druid or I slow myself down hoping for too specific of hands. What you outlined there was a very specific hand in a one drop (only 8 decent allies that are one drops) into Druid, into 2+ copies of a specific two drop or company. My issue is that this is the optimal and average expected returns will vary from that.
Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
Icon of Ancestry is very tempting for Allies, to at least shut off Plague Engineer and provide some more punch and card advantage.

Personnally, I won't touch Allies until the release of Zendikar Rising in Fall 2020. The name of the extansion suggests that Allies should be more important, and hopefully there will be one or two cheap Allies (no more that 3cmc) that will be playable in Modern (with ETB abilities that can either disrupt opponent's hand or remove/bounce a non-land permanent, or a lord with Flash that grants Flash and some kind of card advantage).
Icon of Ancestry - it probably does play better into your plan of Harabaz Druid. I haven't had much time to play against Plague Engineer but at the very least its useful that a lot of our allies don't die that were already in play before him. He does kind of completely shut down new allies but several of the decks I have seen playing this card also already have a lot of creature threats that I am keeping my spot removal in for as is. Icon of Ancestry is an interesting card but it is terribly slow and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar might just be a superior sideboard card. In the past I tried running both Gideon and Return to the Ranks both in sideboard but I tended to prefer Return to the Ranks just slightly but with the introduction of Plague Engineer its possible that might have changed some. I will be honest in saying that I hung my head and just avoided modern for the Hogaak experience.

Hopefully we get another one drop that is more viable than Savanah Lion. In my opinion Expedition Envoy is already REALLY weak and beyond it we don't really have a third playable one drop. Interaction would also be nice but I think another playable one drop would actually be the biggest bonus we could get. Beyond that, yea a 3 or less drop that adds some sort of interaction would be great.
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Post by Patbou » 4 months ago

You said that you've lost games with CoCo in hand and no mana to cast it. But, replacing Collected Company (3G) with Eldritch Evolution (1GG) will only make things worse! (even if only slighty) And I say this with 100% confidence, because maths :
  • The odds of having 3G by turn 4 are 53.11% (22 lands, 11 green sources, average of play/draw), with good increases after that (62.83% by turn 5 ; and most of the time by turn 6 at 71.33%).
  • However, the odds of having 1GG by turn 4 are only 51.42% (22 lands, 11 green sources, average of play/draw), with slower increases after that (59.64% by turn 5 ; 66.91% by turn 6 ; and most of the time by turn 7 at 73.14%). For the record, the odds are at 42.43% on turn 3.
Unless you go all in on control to win with Allies via a combo (self mill with Halimar Excavator, then combo with Rally the Ancestors), I'm certain you should go with an aggro plan, and not a Midrange or Toolbox approach.
  • Midrange Allies will only be worst than Jund, as any removals are non-Allies and missed Rally triggers.
  • And you'd be better playing Devoted Vizier as a Toolbox deck than Evolution Allies, because you have no bomb or missing combo pieces to fetch, and your toolbox is not as good as theirs (so you're worst at solving problems or creating ones). Plus, there's embedded card disadvantage in your Toolbox card (Evolution), while Devoted Vizier doesn't suffer from that drawback.
If you really want to play toolbox, why don't you play Eladamri's Call or Finale of Devastation? You'll have to pump a bit more mana in the spell to fetch and put a creature in play, but none of these will put you down a card. I still think the Toolbox plan is the wrong one for Allies, but at least Finale is also a great mana sink if you play Harabaz Druid.

Speaking of mana sink... Mirror Entity should be considered (it buffs the board and turns all your creatures into Changeling, which can be relevant). Also, just so you know, you can win games in topdeck mode with Ally Encampment (recast the Ally you've just topdecked, casted and bounced). Druid makes that possible (while mana flood won't do, because you need attackers), and Akoum Battlesinger is MVP in that scenario (as is Jawri Shapeshifter copying it ; it costs 2, btw, and not 3 like you implied in your post).

If you really want interactions, why don't you play Reflector Mage or Deputy of Detention? Mage is easier to cast (because you can name Humans with Cavern of Souls and be fine with the rest of your deck), and you're certain you won't see the target again for 2 turns, even if Mage gets removed. Deputy has broader use, however. None are Ally, but they can be fetched with Evolution, Call or Finale, or put into play with CoCo.

Maybe Thalia's Lieutenant instead of Oran-Rief Survivalist? It starts with one less +1/+1 counter, but should receive no less after that. Only drawback seems one less Rally trigger. Do the +1/+1 counters across the board make up for it? That buff has immediate usefulness, and won't go away even if Lieutenant is removed...

Finally, I don't understand why you worry so much about your one-drops. Humans and Burn have always played with 8 creatures at 1 CMC, no more. Hada Freeblade is strictly better than Champion of the Parish, Monastery Swiftspear and Goblin Guide. Expedition Envoy is more than a vanilla 2/1, because even if top decked later in the game, it can trigger Freeblade, Blademaster, Battlesinger and Evangel (this can single handedly win the game), while at best a topdecked Champion will trigger Lieutenant or another Champion. In an Ally deck, Champion is a worst top deck than Envoy. In that slot, I prefer Hierarch. At least Exalted can be relevant the turn it is played.



You've renewed my interest in the tribe! :) Here's the list I will bring to my LGS tomorrow :

Noble Hierarch isn't an Ally, but fixes my color needs while making everything happen a turn earlier and with more punch (thanks to Exalted). With my manabase, Icon of Ancestry is strictly easier to cast than Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (and it is cheaper ; can be played on curve around 80% of the time, vs 20% for Gideon). It lacks a body, but does something relevant the turn it is played (anthem) and will provide card advantage.

I've included two copies of Plague Engineer in the maindeck, as a solution against Whirza (naming Thopter disables the combo), Humans, Elves and Goblins (which are all played at my LGS). It's not really good against the rest of the field, but the 2/2 Deathtouch body is always relevant, and the -1/-1 effect can be good even when you least expect it. Like in the UW Control matchup, when you name Wizard to screw Snapcaster Mage and Vendilion Clique.

With Hierarch and Druid both counting as half a mana source (common practice for magic maths, approved by Frank Karsten), the deck has 23 sources, 11 of which can produce green. Odds with CoCo :
  • 21.65% on turn 3 with 2+ lands and 2+ dorks.
  • 46.49% on turn 3, with 3+ lands and 1+ dork.
  • 57.34% on turn 4.
  • 66.93% on turn 5, or 2 games out of 3.
  • Finally, CoCo should hit 2+ creatures 95.93% of the time.
I'm not playing Horizon Canopy in my list, because Ally Encampment does almost the same (and guarantees you an Ally and not a random card), and playing both will be overkill. Also, I don't want to get hurt too much by my lands, adding pain to my Fetch/Shock (of which I only play 6, instead of 8). All in all, this manabase seems more reliable (15 to 19 sources of any color, instead of 8 to 21) and less painful (6 "pain" lands, instead of 11).

I much prefer less removals and more resilient threat in a metagame dominated by Burn, Jund and Whirza. Unsettled Mariner should be very good in two of these matchups, and I hope the Battlesinger and Shapeshifter package will make me win faster than Whirza can combo. Ensnaring Bridge will be annoying, but it can be defeated with Hierarch and Druid (both 0/1 when attacking, then buffed by Exalted and lucky CoCo finds).

I'm tempted to play Halimar Excavator in the SB, if only to attack the opponent from a different angle (in case they side in Worship, Ensnaring Bridge, or something similar). But I guess this would dilute my options too much against the more difficult matchups.

I'll post my results Thursday...
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Post by ISBPathfinder » 4 months ago

Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
You said that you've lost games with CoCo in hand and no mana to cast it. But, replacing Collected Company (3G) with Eldritch Evolution (1GG) will only make things worse! And I say this with 100% confidence, because maths :
  • The odds of having 3G by turn 4 are 51.61% (22 lands, 10 green sources, average of play/draw), with good increases after that (61.31% by turn 5 ; 2 games out of 3 with 69.87% by turn 6).
  • However, the odds of having 1GG by turn 4 are only 46.47% (22 lands, 10 green sources, average of play/draw), with slower increases after that (54.43% by turn 5 ; 61.63% by turn 6 ; 2 games out 3 with 67.96% by turn 7). For the record, the odds are at 37.96% on turn 3.
Unless you go all in on control to win with Allies via a combo (self mill with Halimar Excavator, then combo with Rally the Ancestors), I'm certain you should go with an aggro plan, and not a Midrange or Toolbox approach.
  • Midrange Allies will only be worst than Jund, as any removals are non-Allies and missed Rally triggers.
  • And you'd be better playing Devoted Vizier as a Toolbox deck than Evolution Allies, because you have no bomb or missing combo pieces to fetch, and your toolbox is not as good as theirs (so you're worst at solving problems or creating ones).
If you really want to play toolbox, why don't you play Eladamri's Call or Finale of Devastation? You'll have to pump a bit more mana in the spell to fetch and put a creature in play, but none of these will put you down a card. Finale is also a great mana sink if you play Harabaz Druid, as is Mirror Entity (buffs the board and turns all your creatures into Changeling, which can be relevant).
Let me start with a few things.

1) I have not actually played with Eldritch Evolution so currently most of my testing has been with a company build.
2) I really haven't tuned the lands all that much from where I started which was previously a company deck. Its entirely likely that I might have to change up my lands some to make it work here more consistently.

As for why Evolution, I still think that it gives me a lot more versatility. Its true that its card disadvantage but I could also fetch up one of my two four drops that have value ETB effects on their entry / any ally entry. Beyond that though, it lets me run more versatility in the mainboard and have flexibility to have what I want when I want it. Several of my 1-2 copy allies are very powerful in the right situation but can be poor in duplicate or against the wrong matchup.

Aggro vs Midrange - I don't intend to be midrange. My point is more that I have pushed to be as fast as possible with allies and my end findings is that we just aren't as fast as the combo decks of modern when playing out ideal hands of magic. In my opinion, the power of allies is that they naturally grow, have access to evasion, and access to lifegain. Those advantages will give you a good game against aggro and midrange games already. So, I guess the next move is to see how to improve our game against combo or control matchups. I guess what I am saying is that while I would still consider this to be an aggro deck, yes I have given some room and allotment for disruption because I haven't been able to just turn sideways and be fast enough. The idea of Evolution is to more consistently have access to a few key hate cards rather than card advantage.

Again though, this is still entirely hypothetical for me. I have not gotten to do any testing on this yet. You might be true, but I haven't had the time to test and verify either way. Jund / Devoted Druid are completely different decks so its hard to really compare them. Jund tends to be weak to burn and has much heavier interaction than what I am aiming for here and druid is a combo deck that generally has little interaction from what I have seen of it. Neither of those decks are what I am trying to achieve here.

Eladamri's Call - It can feel incredibly slow being a 2 mana color intensive tutor and then needing to cast the follow up it usually becomes a 4+ mana or split over multiple turn play. I have seen Devoted Druid running it but they also run a lot of mana dorks which probably make it feel a lot less clunky.

Finale of Devastation - I actually had not considered this. I think its a bit slow for the build I have so far but it is more appealing with the idea of Harabaz Druid. I did a lot of analysis with Harabaz Druid in the past before Finale of Devastation was a card so I guess at some point I will have to go down that route of consideration.

In the end, I think both of those tutors require me to be running more mana dorks. I don't think its "wrong" to do that but also keep in mind that in a lot of cases having a bunch of mana dorks can be as big as having card disadvantage as those cards can be dead draws off of curve or if you just kind of run out of gas. Eldritch Evolution is card disadvantage but being a faster way to manuver into the specific card I am looking for becomes a tempo gain in a lot of cases. As an example, if you play against tron, I can't even tell you how many times I have seen them slow play an Oblivion Stone. If you Eldritch Evolution they probably will not respond to it because they want to catch what you are fetching up but if you fetch into Collector Ouphe suddenly they can't activate it. All this talk about Devoted Druid reminds me that I should probably pick up a copy of Phyrexian Revoker for my sideboard. Now I have to figure out what I cut for that...
Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
Speaking of mana sink... I've won games in topdeck mode because Ally Encampment (recast the Ally I've just topdecked, casted and bounced). Druid makes that possible (while mana flood won't do, because you need attackers), and Akoum Battlesinger is MVP in that scenario (as is Jawri Shapeshifter copying it ; it costs 2, btw, and not 3 like you seem to implied in your post).
I do really like Encampments. I have also saved a few games off of the back of the number of utility lands we get to run thanks in part to this land. I have also occasionally had some good games off of the back of Akoum Battlesinger. That said, I have also had a number of games that did not pan out because I have had too many Akoum Battlesinger or Jwari Shapeshifter. While they can occasionally have really good games they can also have really bad games. I think that Akoum Battlesinger and Reckless Bushwhacker could actually grow a LOT if we had a few more playable one drop allies.

Where Akoum Battlesinger can be a good card, it can also be incredibly weak. Its usually weaker board presence on turn two than the two drops that grow and later in the game if you start topdecking it gets a lot weaker. Given I am going away from Company in this build it also loses a lot of power. I can't even tell you the number of times I have had poor games off the back of Jwari Shapeshifter vs decks with some level of interaction. Suddenly you draw from one to three of them with no other allies in play. Its also really weak with our one drops which pushes it to be sort of like a three drop given that a lot of the time you are trying to clone the two drops with it.

I think that Akoum Battlesinger is really sweet. I think it will continue to get better as we get a few more one drop tools for allies as well. When running a Collected Company build it also plays better into the advantages of this card.
Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
If you really want interactions, why don't you play Reflector Mage or Deputy of Detention? Mage is easier to cast (because you can name Humans with Cavern of Souls and be fine with the rest of your deck), and you're certain you won't see the target again for 2 turns, even if Mage gets removed. Deputy has broader use, however. None are Ally, but they can be fetched with Evolution, Call or Finale, or put into play with CoCo.

Maybe Thalia's Lieutenant instead of Oran-Rief Survivalist? It starts with one less +1/+1 counter, but should receive no less after that. Only drawback seems one less Rally trigger. Do the +1/+1 counters across the board make up for it? That buff has immediate usefulness, and won't go away even if Lieutenant is removed...
Reflector Mage / Deputy of Detention - I still do care about how many allies I am running. I don't want to go so far into humans / non allies that my allies get too weak. I am far from sold on the specific non allies that I am running but I felt like it was a starting point to do some testing. The nice thing about Thalia is that she tends to slow down a lot of strategies while also presenting a reasonable clock. She is also fairly good against decks that might be faster than me like burn though too in that she taxes the really fast things they are doing. I can come up with a number of combo based decks that don't really care that much about a creature being blanked like this. These things work in humans but they are also running more disruption and vials. Its possible I could have some of them instead of some of the Dismembers because that would not be diluting my ally count and it would open up some new possible things with the evolution. Maybe that is a good idea to have one copy of in fact for exactly that reason. I suppose its something I could try out.

Thalia's Lieutenant - it is something I have considered before but I think once you start going so far, you start taking away from the reasons to run allies and it just becomes humans quickly. I really only run Champion of the Parish because I want there to be more one drop allies (but there just kind of isn't).
Patbou wrote:
4 months ago



You've renewed my interest in the tribe! :) Here's the list I will bring to my LGS tomorrow :

Noble Hierarch isn't an Ally, but fixes my color needs while making everything happen a turn earlier and with more punch (thanks to Exalted). With my manabase, Icon of Ancestry is strictly easier to cast than Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (and it is cheaper). It lacks a body, but does something relevant the turn it is played (anthem) and will provide card advantage.

I've included two copies of Plague Engineer in the maindeck, as a solution against Whirza (naming Thopter disables the combo), Humans, Elves and Goblins (which are all played at my LGS). It's not really good against the rest of the field, but the 2/2 Deathtouch body is always relevant, and the -1/-1 effect can be good even when you least expect it. Like in the UW Control matchup, when you name Wizard to screw Snapcaster Mage and Vendilion Clique.

With Hierarch and Druid both counting as half a mana source (common practice for magic maths, approved by Frank Karsten), the deck has 23 sources, 11 of which can produce green. Odds with CoCo :
  • 21.65% on turn 3 with 2+ lands and 2+ dorks.
  • 46.49% on turn 3, with 3+ lands and 1+ dork.
  • 57.34% on turn 4.
  • 66.93% on turn 5, or 2 games out of 3.
  • Finally, CoCo should hit 2+ creatures 95.93% of the time.
I much prefer less removals and more resilient threat in a metagame dominated by Burn, Jund and Whirza. Unsettled Mariner should be very good in two of these matchups, and I hope the Battlesinger and Shapeshifter package will make me win faster than Whirza can combo. Ensnaring Bridge will be annoying, but it can be defeated with Hierarch and Druid (but 0/1 when attacking, then buffed by Exalted and lucky CoCo finds).

I'll post my results Thursday...
SWEET looking forward to hearing how it goes. I totally get you on the pain in the ass of casting non allies with all of these lands that fix for allies specifically. I had to cut back on Unclaimed Territory because while it fixes for allies it was hurting me too much on a lot of the other things I was trying to run. My meta is infested with aggro and combo decks.

Mainboard Plague Engineer might be a touch aggressive lol but let me know how it goes.
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Post by Patbou » 4 months ago

I agree with most of your comments. Battlesinger + Shapeshifter is a nice combo, particularly with double trigger from CoCo. But its a fragile thing. Shapeshifter is not worse than Phantasmal Image for Humans. It sometimes fizzle due to removals on the only target to copy. It sure can copy a Wurmcoil Engine, but will die to anything because it's an Illusion, and not a Shapeshifter. In the end, this card is worth it.

Give it a shot with Eldritch Evolution. Maybe it will work better for you than it did for me when I tested it. I just can't imagine myself sacrificing any of my precious two drops to put a vanilla 2/2 Thief in play (only to what? force opponent to discard one of its two worse cards? and hope to repeat Rally next turn?), or anything else, actually (maybe I'm allergic to card disadvantage).

BTW, I edited my previous post with some stuffs, including the right numbers for your green sources (and thus the percentages are different). I somehow counted 10 the first time, but it seems you have 11. Or... did you edited your list?

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Post by Patbou » 4 months ago

Reminder: Just don't forget that Thalia will tax your Paths, Dismembers and Evolutions. This may affect some of your plays (and I would just ditch her in a deck with that many non creature spells).

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Post by Patbou » 4 months ago

It's not legal yet, but full playset of Once Upon a Time will likely be very good in an Ally deck (-2 creatures and -2 lands is what Frank Karsten suggests, so I would remove 1 Plague Engineer, 1 Icon of Ancestry and 2 Unclaimed Territory from my latest list).

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Post by ISBPathfinder » 4 months ago

Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
I agree with most of your comments. Battlesinger + Shapeshifter is a nice combo, particularly with double trigger from CoCo. But its a fragile thing. Shapeshifter is not worse than Phantasmal Image for Humans. It sometimes fizzle due to removals on the only target to copy. It sure can copy a Wurmcoil Engine, but will die to anything because it's an Illusion, and not a Shapeshifter. In the end, this card is worth it.

Give it a shot with Eldritch Evolution. Maybe it will work better for you than it did for me when I tested it. I just can't imagine myself sacrificing any of my precious two drops to put a vanilla 2/2 Thief in play (only to what? force opponent to discard one of its two worse cards? and hope to repeat Rally next turn?), or anything else, actually (maybe I'm allergic to card disadvantage).

BTW, I edited my previous post with some stuffs, including the right numbers for your green sources (and thus the percentages are different). I somehow counted 10 the first time, but it seems you have 11. Or... did you edited your list?
I haven't updated the list since the notes I put previously. I might consider more changes though depending on what I can come up with. The only real options seem to be taking a plains and making it a forest which can some issues with the WW casting cost of Kazandu Blademaster. I am hesitant to go lower on basics as well given blood moon can become a real issue if you don't give it respect.
Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
Reminder: Just don't forget that Thalia will tax your Paths, Dismembers and Evolutions. This may affect some of your plays (and I would just ditch her in a deck with that many non creature spells).
That is definitely something that is on my radar. I will give it a bit more thought but as of right now I am trying to hit combo based decks hard and all of those cards tend to be reasonable against a lot of the combos. While Thalia can make my own removal a bit more awkward she can also slow them down while presenting pressure on board. I can also take a look at both sides as I go to sideboard.

Really, right now I want to get some data. I put in some orders for cards and not all of it has shown up yet, beyond that I also need to catch a modern night FNM to do a little of this testing.
Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
It's not legal yet, but full playset of Once Upon a Time will likely be very good in an Ally deck (-2 creatures and -2 lands is what Frank Karsten suggests, so I would remove 1 Plague Engineer, 1 Icon of Ancestry and 2 Unclaimed Territory from my latest list).
Once Upon a Time - it could be a really sweet card to test. I think it does give a little more reach to having one drops on curve but I think it actually gives interactive midrange decks and creature combo based decks a bit more than it does allies naturally. Keep in mind as well that it creature counts matter more with company decks so if you plan to be company still it also hurts company numbers. The biggest pain in the ass so far for me is that my allies are fully foiled so far so I guess I need a foil set of this card :/
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Post by Patbou » 4 months ago

My collection is a mess, and I couldn't find my Breeding Pool and Overgrown Tomb to bring an Ally deck to my LGS yesterday. I played Humans instead, featuring Big Thalia (for a change). Maybe I'll get to play Allies next week... Or maybe I'll also wait for the release of Once Upon a Time. I'm pretty high on that card, as it can seriously help having a good start in the early game.

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Post by ISBPathfinder » 3 months ago

Patbou wrote:
4 months ago
My collection is a mess, and I couldn't find my Breeding Pool and Overgrown Tomb to bring an Ally deck to my LGS yesterday. I played Humans instead, featuring Big Thalia (for a change). Maybe I'll get to play Allies next week... Or maybe I'll also wait for the release of Once Upon a Time. I'm pretty high on that card, as it can seriously help having a good start in the early game.
I am still not sure how I feel about Once Upon a Time but it just literally came out. It does potentially increase our ability to have a good one drop on curve so from that standpoint I could see it coming in to sort of artificially bolster our one drop count but its one of those cards that I feel like it does a LOT more for unfair combo decks than it does for an aggro deck like this. If you ever need to pay 2 mana to cast it in this format its going to feel REALLY slow. Its a cool card but I feel like its probably going to do more for a deck like Devoted Druid than it will for our deck. Not that I play tron but I could even see it being relevant there as like a second Ancient Stirrings which while it can't hit the noncreatures it could still be something. It also potentially does a little bit of interference with Collected Company if you run them alongside in that its a noncreature limiting space for interaction.

A few updates for my own list. I still haven't been able to play it as I had some vacations and such.

Mainboard:
  • 1 Scavenging Ooze → 1 Champion of the Parish so much has changed since last I played modern but I am seeing a lot less graveyard strategies as a whole across the field. I think for now I will downplay some of the graveyard strategies until I am proven otherwise. I considered adding another ally but right now the allies I could boost up are primarily not GW allies and my 2 drop spot feels like its a bit chunky already. This left me with the option of boosting one drops or three drops. I really cant wait until we get the next zendikar set assuming we get more allies because we definitely need a little more diversity in ally choices.
  • 1 Dismember → 1 Reflector Mage I stewed on this one for a while and the fact that the mage is a human at least improves my options on Cavern of Souls. Also in a lot of cases the tempo is what I need in this deck as it slows combo decks down and it gives me mainboard disruption options for my Eldritch Evolutions. Dropping a mainboard Dismember also potentially helps me against aggro / burn decks and lowers my Thalia, Guardian of Thraben conflict.
  • 1 Dismember → 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar I think I might have gone a little over the top on the interaction given the evolutions and access to interact with them. I did some test hands and I felt like perhaps I needed just a little more pro active elements. I was seeing too many hands that were like removal + evolution and I felt like I might want just a tiny bit more of a proactive gameplan. Gideon fills a similar role to a company effect but now that Plague Engineer is a card I feel like I might want to prep for it just a little more.
  • 1 Godless Shrine → 1 Breeding Pool I originally had a few more black non human / allies in my sideboard. I am cutting the Yixlid Jailer here and while having black for the Dismembers is nice I am also lowering their count right now. Moving this from WB to GU increases my ability to cast Eldritch Evolution and gives me some access for Reflector Mage if drawn as my only other option was Cavern for humans. I didn't feel quite comfortable with Reflector Mage on draw without more than Cavern given that its going to be in my mainboard. I am a little bit more willing to roll the dice on sideboard cards I guess. It does take away from my ability to have WW on 2 for Kazandu Blademaster but its only the second land in the deck that does that so I think its ok for now.
Sideboard:
  • 1 Yixlid Jailer → 1 Scavenging Ooze I looked over the graveyard reliant decks in the meta right now and there seem to be a lot less of them. Lots of them got hit by the Faithless Looting ban and while they still exist, I think I might be ok with having just one sideboard catch for them and trying to race. I can tutor for scooze so we will just start with one and see how things go.
  • 1 Ondu Cleric → 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar I like having a healthy Ondu Cleric count, but that said having 4 after sideboard with tutors for more might be slightly excessive. As a whole I generally have a fairly good game against aggro and burn decks. Gideon is quite decent when going up against someone removal happy but he also helps out against several issues we can have such as Ghirapur Aether Grid and Plague Engineer. I used to prefer Return to the Ranks slightly more but a resolved Plague Engineer can be a real problem.
  • 1 Return to the Ranks → 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar shifting one towards gideon due to Plague Engineer being a card. Its possible I need to bail on Return and just go with Gideon but I want to do a little mixed testing just to see where I prefer what and its possible that I just need to make the change as a whole. Gideon can kind of suck in duplicate though which is why I was going for a mix to start. Plus, its good to do more testing and see how things go.
  • 1 Eldritch Evolution → 1 Phyrexian Revoker I might bring the 4th Evolution back later. I just felt like for now I was preferring a little more diversity to my sideboard over picking up the last evolution. It comes down to how often I absolutely need those sideboard cards so I guess we do some testing and see. Revoker seemed good for a few combos like Saheeli Rai and Devoted Druid where it felt like I didn't have a lot of sideboard options against before bringing him in.


Thats yet again a bunch of changes. I really need to make it down to do some testing and see how things go.
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Post by The Fluff » 3 months ago

in reply to your first post. I've never played Allies, but mono green stompy decks have mainboarded 2-3 dismembers for years and those lists still found some success. Well, looking at your current list at the OP post.. 4 paths as removal is good too. If there is room, maybe add one winds of abandon.. sorcery speed and costs 1 more than path, but mid-late game it's a one sided board wipe that can win games against other aggro.
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