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4 Color CoCo-Vial Allies (69-68-4 match record)

Modern Aggro Allies Collected Company Competitive Four Color

Salad_Thunder

Maybeboard


One-hundred and forty-one matches from Jan 7, 2016 to November 9, 2017
I've stopped keeping track since then (it's more fun without the pressure), but still have it in the rotation because it's my favorite deck to play. It still hovers around 50% at our competitive Thursday night modern.

This deck was featured on the Channel Fireball Modern Monday video on April 4, 2017.

Coco-vial modern allies for competitive play. Currently has a match record of 69-68-4 in twenty-six of RTP's Thursday Night Modern tournaments, a GPT, an SCG IQ, SCG States, seven RTP Modern Ladder matches, and two RTP contender series (including a top 8 out of 60).

Aether Vial, Collected Company, and Harabaz Druid get the allies in play fast, help rebuild quickly, allow for combat tricks as instants (the first two), and make using only 19 lands doable (the first and third).

Akoum Battlesinger (+ Jwari Shapeshifter copying it) make them huge.

Kabira Evangel gets them around (non-colorless) defenders and keeps them alive on defense in conjunction with Aether Vial or Collected Company.

Ondu Cleric, either main-board or side-board depending on the meta (+ Jwari Shapeshifter copying it) puts you out of reach of aggro decks. And you've got white and green for good sideboard choices against the others.

The Flexspots are meta-dependent and get experimented with once in a while. Until recently the deck ran 2x Captain's Claws in place of the 2x Metallic Mimic I'm trying now. The original version also had 3x Oran-Rief Survivalist, 2x Mirror Entity, and some three card combination of Firemantle Mage, Natural State, Ondu Cleric, and Path to Exile. The one featured on CFB had 2x Beastcaller Savant in for what are now 2x Oran-Rief Survivalist. The current one seems the most reliable and makes room for Firemantle Mage out of the sideboard without sacrificing room for Ondu Cleric.

Some of card choices, like having used Captain's Claws for quite a while, are because of how they play well with everything else. A deck that focused on Hardened Scales instead of Aether Vial would probably make different choices in a number of places (like considering bounce cards like Eerie Interlude).

 
Tourney Results and Updates

Sample Perfect Draw

Are Vial and Cavern Needed?

- A first turn Vial serves several purposes, including setting up the turn 3 and 4 kills. It lets you get an extra ally out by turn three. On turn three (with Harabaz Druid) or four you can both vial in an ally and CoCo. It helps against counter spells and blood moon. It allows you to drop in a creature defensively to trigger ETB effects. Along with Harabaz Druid, it supports running only 19 land. And finally, it gives you something to do with your first turn land. The down-sides are that you don't want more than two at the beginning, and you don't want any later (especially when you CoCo - although the fewer lands helps balance that out).

If you want to run a wider ranger of Allies in terms of CMC (fewer 2s than the 19 out of 31 I run, and maybe some 4s) then I can see leaving vial out. Ditto if your deck focuses on Hardened Scales. Similarly, if your meta doesn't feature many counter spells or blood moons, and you don't find yourself relying on turn 3 and 4 kills against things like Storm (and formerly Twin), then you could skip the vials. I don't, I don't, it does, and I do. So I'm using 4 vials. Without them I would focus on Hardened Scales and modify several of the other deck choices to use them to their full potential.

- Running four Caverns (in conjunction with 4 Ally Encampment and 4 Windswept Heath), means you will only rarely suffer for playing four colors. In particular, Cavern saves your allies from counter spells, lets you cast them in all four colors without taking damage (like City of Brass or Mana Confluence), always comes in untapped, and lets you get away with playing a surprisingly small number of lands (so more room for other things). The downside (vs. City of Brass, Mana Confluence, or more fetches) is that once in a while you will be missing both your color-producing lands and your Harabaz Druid and won't be able to CoCo.

All that being said, you can certainly have fun with the deck and win matches without them.

Why White?

- When an ally enters, your allies get protection from color of your choice until end of turn. Gets you around blockers, makes them decide if they want to blow it up immediately (so protects the later ones, and can be vialed in (think carefully before setting vial to 3 though) to give spot protection or suprise blocking. Spectacular against any deck that uses colored creatures, and some extra value when there are colored removal or damage spells. Has a 2/3 body to boot. Only downsides are that it has a 3CMC and the rise of Eldrazi and Affinity. Remember to sideboard it out against those match-ups.

- Enters as a 1/2, gets bigger with future allies, and triggers your allies when it enters. The one you can vial in on turn two, and your first turn play if you don't have vial or hardened scales. The only other 1 CMC allies are white or the blue Mothdust Changeling, and none are worth playing in a deck with Vial (which you'll move up to two) or Scales (none of them are counter getters).

- One of the CMC-2-or-lower +1/+1 ETB allies. The first strike and vigilance put his into a different league than Hada Freeblade (0/1 W), Bojuka Brigand (1/1 1B, can't block), and Oran-Rief Survivalist (1/1 1G). Only downside is that the WW casting cost means you have to think about which lands you will fetch.

- Ondu Cleric is my favorite card against burn and non-poison aggro decks. Cleric or ally on the field and another coming in gives you two live. Each extra ally is another. Add another cleric and start doubling it, with no attacking needed. Something to strongly consider main-boarding if you leave one of the others out. And then there are the usual suspects Kataki, War's Wage, Leyline of Sanctity, Rest in Peace, etc....

 
What else does White bring?

- A vanilla 2/1 is kind of just there, but there are a lot of times early where you have nothing else to spend a stray mana on. Adding two of them in also updates your chance of a first turn play from 65% to 74%. It feels necessary if you're running Reckless Bushwhacker to give you an extra shot at the surge cost, and it also is another free cast off of Beastcaller Savant.

- Midgame, the turn after it comes in, all of your allies are now 4/4 (or bigger) before adding in there +1/+1 counters, whenever you want. Use it to over-run the enemy or pump them in response to a removal-by-damage effect.

 
Why not...

has a bigger body than Ondu Cleric, but you need to attack or block to get the life, and it costs three.

has only a two casting cost, but Kabira Evangel gives an evasion effect and doesn't care who swings first. If you're leaving out one of the other colors and need bodies, this isn't bad.


Why Green?

- It's an ETB deck, and this brings in two allies at one time that see each other (so both trigger twice). This is the card you want to draw when your hand is empty or you need the final push. Can go off on turn 3 if you have the other must-include green card. Be careful when fetching lands though, because Cavern and Ally Encampment won't be casting this one.

- If it comes out on turn 2, you can get Coco out on turn 3 (even after casting a 3CMC ally if you've been vialing along). Mana fixes, can help dig out of a 1-land mull to 4 or 5, and might give you one extra ally after the blood moon (before they bolt it). Lets you get multiple creatures out if you didn't start with vial. Late game it still triggers your other ETB affects if it comes out (including by bouncing it back to your hand by Ally Encampment, could be an emergency blocker, and you can swing with it if you have Battlesinger or Mirror Entity is helping.

 
What else does Green bring?

- One of the backbone 2CMC +1/+1 ETB allies. Castable using every two mana combination you'll have on the board. If you're running Scales, then this is one of your must haves. Part of the reason 2 is often where you want vial to be. On the other hand it is the least special of the standard allies in the deck, so is usually the first one boarded out for Ondu Cleric.

- As a GB elves player, this seemed a bit weak - and that doesn't even consider that the humans deck gets Noble Hierarch. I think the initial impression is deceiving though - it lets you get two allies off on one turn for one fewer mana and it can attack right away off of the coco (making it better than almost anything except another Battlesinger to come in with an Akoum Battlesinger). I think it is especially needed if you're going to try and run Reckless Bushwhacker.

- Brings the instant artifact/enchantment removal in the form of Nature's Claim, Krosan Grip, and/or Natural State.

 
Why not...

- The +1/+1 ETB allies are the backbone of your army, and this lets them get stupid big if its out. You should already be trying to get a green mana source out for CoCo, this just makes that a little more vital. Not your first choice on turn one (that's Aether Vial) or turn two (that's Harabaz Durid), but a solid fill in if you can't get those, and often still useful late game. I haven't found it quite as useful as Captain's Claws though - since that will trigger your all of your ETB allies as long as you have one you can attack with. If you were running a few more +1/+1 allies and not the Battlesingers, I can certainly see why scales could be preferred. It seems sub-optimal in an Aether Vial build.
Why Four Colors?

- This is the kill card (including possible turn 3). One on the field and another enters, that gives all of your allies +2/+0 for the turn, and the newcomer can attack. Get two to CoCo in, or one in a CoCo pair with another on the field already, it's +4/+0 and both attack. Ally encampent it back and recast if needed late game. Castable with the majority of your two land combinations. Only down-side is the one defense, so be careful in blocking or attacking if they have a blocker they don't care about.

- This is how you increase the odds of getting a second battlesinger to come into play and really up the chances for a turn 3 or 4 kill. Like Battlesinger, it's castable on most of your two land combinations - at worst you fetch the UG shock land. Just remember not to put it into play (including off of a CoCo) if there isn't another ally in play already. Can also be useful copying Ondu Cleric when that is side-boarded in against something like Merfolk, or putting another Kabira Evangel on the field with against a colored creature deck with lots of spot removal.

 
What else do Red and Blue bring?

- By itself, this card has some big strikes going against it in a Coco-Vial build - it can't pay surge off of Aether Vial or Collected Company and enters as essentially a hasty expedition envoy. Same if it's the only ally you have with three mana out. The reason to put it in is because of what it can do as the 2 CMC second cast of the turn - give whatever you brought in haste (including a Harabaz Druid or two +1/+1 getters off of a CoCo) and give everyone else on the field +1/+0 for the turn. I think it needs help to be efficient and I don't think I would run it without 2 Beastcaller Savant and 2 Expedition Ennvoy.

- The "three-CMC to make things unblockable spot" is often better filled by Kabira Evangel (which can also protect creatures from other spells and on their turn if you vial someone in), and you don't really need more than four of that effect. However, if there are lots of affinity and eldrazi decks, then this could have a place in the sideboard or even main deck. It also feels nice to have a bit more red against decks that threaten an early Bloodmoon.

 
Why not...

- Shapeshifter and Battlesinger are castable using an Ally Encampment or Cavern, and any other mana. You're already worried about green (for Scales and CoCo) and maybe the second white for the Blademaster, so adding in the extra stress of a non-creature U or R spell seems a step too far.

Play and Sideboard Notes

Aether Vial on turn one. You almost always want to leave it set on two. If it is set to a good place, there are lots of times you want to keep that ally in your hand instead of casting it right away.

"Casting Kabira Evangel. (pause) Enters play, trigger on the stack." "Bolt." "Aether Vial (pause) Akoum Battlesinger, enters play, trigger on the stack. (pause) Pro-red."

If they are playing Blood Moon, I think you almost always want to immediately fetch for a Forest if you didn't start with one. (That's the one you need for Collected Company and Harabaz Druid. Between those two and Aether Vial there is a chance to cast the other things).

Harabaz Druid on turn two almost always feels like the right play.

Ally Encampment can be spectacular for saving someone or getting that extra push if you have the lands to recast. Combined with Aether Vial it can be really devastating.

Think about how your creatures match up against blockers before getting excited about Captain's Claws (and remember your Kabira Evangel when deciding). Don't forget that the Kor Ally must attack the first turn and so can't block next turn.

For sideboarding out (except against affinity or eldrazi) I often remove either an Oran-Rief Survivalist or two, or if more than two are needed the Reckless Bushwhacker and some of its helper cards.. Remember to take out the Kabira Evangel against affinity or eldrazi, and that the damage from Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is colorless.

The key to Merfolk and lots of aggro decks are the Ondu Cleric, and remember the Jwari Shapeshifter effectively double the number you have.

Previous Decks

 


With special thanks to LS for the loaner cards over several months, to DD for suggesting Jwari Shapeshifter much earlier than I started using it, RC for mana base pointers, and to all the folks at RTP for the advice and great matches.

 

Make sure and check out JLenzen's great resource page for the definitive scoop on Modern Allies!!!


Modern Allies - Primer (Updated for BfZ!)

Modern JLenzen

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Finally, the featured card is the Unglued Soldier token that I use for the Captain's Claws' 1/1 white Kor Ally.

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