Sunbird's Shoal

Modern forum

Posted on Dec. 5, 2018, 2:30 a.m. by ThoAlmighty

The name probably gets you right to it, Sunbird's Invocation and Nourishing Shoal. Your typical Arbor Elf/Utopia Sprawl/Overgrowth ramp package combined with a topend filled with Ghalta, Primal Hungers and Eldrazi, with extra value and maybe an instant-speed Emrakul, the Aeons Torn off an exiled Autochthon Wurm. Thoughts? SI has been dismissed as a 6-mana do-nothing enchantment but it seems incredibly potent if you can get immediate value out of high-cmc, low-cost stuff via Delve and the white or green shoals. Summoner's Pact for consistency. I haven't found much discussion of this kind online, and I was thinking of trying to put it together. It seems like jumping through less hoops than Grishoalbrand, and splashing blue for protection and Jace, the Mind Sculptor for a backup win, digging power, and getting your topend out of your hand and right into a juicy Sunbird's Invocation.

Am I sitting squarely in Christmas Dreamland or is this one of those 'just crazy enough it might even work' deals? SI saw a bit of play with Approach of the Second Sun but has never been all that great at a competitive level, but this genuinely seems like it could break it. I've watched a fair bit of modern but never played it, and I was thinking this would be a fun (albeit costly) way to get into it. Thoughts?

Yes, if you exile a 15 cmc card to Nourishing Shoal, it's cmc is 17 on the stack and for the purposes of SI.

Sounds more like a cool EDH idea rather than a Modern possible deck to me :)

December 5, 2018 3:25 a.m.

ThoAlmighty says... #3

That's the thing. SI is an amazing EDH card but what modern offers is consistency. Consistent ramp, multiple shoals (4 green 2 white?), consistent Sunbird's. It's kinda counterintuitive, but what makes the card good makes it absolutely stomp with a build-around. If I go the Temur Jace, the Mind Sculptor route I can run a bunch of 1-of hate cards mainboard that I can hopefully find when I need and brainstorm away when I don't.

December 5, 2018 4:36 a.m.

Well I like out-of-the-box deck ideas myself (I've just built a crazy one that I will test later today at my LGS and showcase here on T/O if it performs decently), so I'm all in to help you make it work.

The only concern I have is that it's a multiple strategies multiple cards combo. Unlike Splinter Twin back then, which only required 2 cards to win, or Pod that had a great synergy with all the cards in the deck, your idea aims at several things :

  • Ramp

  • Control

  • Combo

Honestly, I don't quite see how you can make all of these strategies work optimally at the same time. The blue splash seems cute because Jace is still very powerful, but is it necessary? Wouldn't you rather be good with looting effects instead, to find your combo pieces and go off asap?

Also if I understand the idea correctly, you want to ramp, resolve SI, THEN resolve Shoal and exile a green card. Sounds like a whole lot to do when you could be playing a resilient aggro deck such as Burn or Humans. Do you happen to have a first draft list we could look at?

December 5, 2018 6:04 a.m.

SIShoal something along those lines?

With big dudes, I think Through the Breach is a must.

December 5, 2018 6:17 a.m.

Boza says... #6

My question is why a 6 mana do-nothing enchantment that barely scraped by in standard considered for a modern deck? But lets disregard that and focus on aiding you.

There are much better ways to trigger this than shoal. Any spell with cost reduction built in is good to go.

Affinity, improvise, delve, convoke, etc. are your best options to trigger this for massive overkill. How about a Jund deck that loots and ramps and plays 4 Gurmag Angler and 4 Sibsig Muckdraggers - sure it does not fetch eldrazi levels of cards, but surely gives you lots of options. Or an affinity deck that actually plays affinity cards and artifact ramp and takes advantage of the improvise mechanic too to get out of the quicker?

Or heck, to guarantee emrakul, you have to play 5-color sunbird invocation ramp into Prismatic Omen and into Draco for six mana.

You can include 4 Trinisphere to disrupt the opponents.

December 5, 2018 6:48 a.m.

RedmundR2 says... #7

I'm going to echo some of the great points brought up here. The biggest problem with combos in modern that require multiple cards and high cmc is that theyre typically too slow and draw dependent to be viable outside of a very casual decklist playgroup. If you do want to make combos like this work, my recommendation would be to play a very control-heavy list with lots of draw. Usually I'd recommend running blue for counters and draw and white for single removal, but since your combos are requiring green and red from what i gather, it would be tough to include 4 colors but isnt impossible.

I do like the convoke/improvise/mana cheating approach as well. To be honest, if your goal is to cheat big things into play quickly and the method isnt as important, there are faster and less card/mana intensive ways to do it. Personally i'd rather try an Elvish Piper list than use Sunbird's Invocation or something similar, even though Elvish Piper is also pretty bad.

If you want to get big eldrazi and the like out quickly in modern, the most efficient ways to do it are the tried and true methods of either Tron, or just pure mono-g ramp decks IMO. Wall ramp in particular is a pet strategy of mine, one of the win-cons is ramping very quickly into stuff like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger which you might also enjoy playing. This Sunbird's Invocation card to me seems exceptionally weak for modern, and will be very tough to make work. Like I mentioned earlier if I was trying to make this individual card work, I would make take a strong jeskai control list and change out the wincons for the combo.

December 5, 2018 10:24 a.m.

Boza says... #8

Additionally, I just remembered there was such a deck that cared about big creatures and their power - Cragganwick Cremator. An emrakul discarded to it is 15 damage, an Impervious Greatwurm is 16 damage. You can finish them off with a Lightning Bolt to the face.

Additionally, there are several other cards that care about the mana cost of something to deal damage - Erratic Explosion, Riddle of Lightning, Explosive Revelation that care for the CMC of the cards. Especially when you can stack something on top of your library like Thunderous Wrath. Seems like a cool way to care about big creatures.

December 5, 2018 10:43 a.m.

ThoAlmighty says... #9

The reason I'm trying to use Sunbird's Invocation is partly because I've never seen it done before, but slamming a T4 one with the help of Overgrowth, or even T3 with Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl, seems absurdly strong. While there are other ways to cheat on CMC, Shoals seem the most consistent, and being able to gain 15 life or redirect up to 15 damage in a pinch isn't bad either. But what makes SI so strong is that you don't need the shoal to resolve, and if I'm hitting eldrazi (I was thinking Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger) I get immediate cast value, and a Kozilek might just draw me into doing it again. It seems insanely explosive at it's best and merely slow at it's worst. Slow can be a death sentence in modern, but I think it's still feasible. I think Elvish Piper and Through the Breach are too easy to interrupt. Yeah, I get hosed by Grafdigger's Cage but most people are running Relic instead of it. I like the idea of having early control pieces once I've played my elves and birds, Trinisphere seems good there.

I'm putting together a list, that I'll link here soon. Anyway, thank you all for your suggestions, I'll try and get back to all of you when I have time!

December 5, 2018 11:12 a.m.

Funkydiscogod says... #10

Instead of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Autochthon Wurm, what about Progenitus?

I think Progenitals makes an ok finisher that can also be exiled to the Shoal. Since its within 2 CMC of Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Worldspine Wurm any of them can all pull any other when Shoal'd.

December 5, 2018 12:53 p.m.

RedmundR2 says... #11

Not trying to be offensive by saying this, but playing Sunbird's Invocation on turn 4 and doing nothing else in a format like modern is basically a death sentence against any competent deck. I can assure you that it is not strong at all. Especially since enchantment removal isn't exactly uncommon. Obviously I dont expect you to think that this could ever compete on a tier 1 level, but even tier 3 decks in modern are too fast and youll be dead after you play it, or theyll have a bunch of answers to a 6 CMC enchantment even if you happen to ramp it out by turn 4. That's why I suggest running a more control style shell that can slow your opponent down while working your way towards the combo in the late game.

December 6, 2018 8:37 a.m.

ThoAlmighty says... #12

That's what's counterintuitive about this deck. I'm tapping out for a do-nothing enchantment, but also slamming an eldrazi titan or Progenitus later that turn or on my opponent's end step. Also, enchantment hate is ridiculously rare. Assassin's Trophy and Destructive Revelry are really the only things people are running right now. Blood Moon is the strongest enchantment in modern and it's easier to play around than remove. And, even if someone does try and remove it, I just Shoal in response.

December 6, 2018 10:18 a.m.

RedmundR2 says... #13

I mean, I see jund players running Maelstrom Pulse and Abrupt Decay, Green tron and Dredge players running Nature's Claim, Bant Spirits running Dromoka's Command and Knight of Autumn, etc. The list could go on. Sure alot of it is in the sideboard but those cards are there for a reason. Artifact and enchantment hate is usually bundled, and people almost always have some sort of answer to those cards for modern in my experience. I personally always include artifact/enchantment hate in my sideboards because so many people at my local run Ensnaring Bridge and other cards similar. You can probably shoal in response sure, but a single edict effect can kill whatever you happened to cheat out. If the opponent hasn't already killed you. I disagree that enchantment/artifact hate is rare in modern, I see cards in a ton of sideboards.

Not to mention any control deck can leave 2 mana open to stop you from playing it. The combo might be strong game 1, but game 2 its not that hard to see coming and stop, like most high CMC combos in modern. You also need to have Sunbird's Invocation, a shoal, and a big creature in your hand to pull the combo off, plus ramp the first few turns while somehow not dying. There are 2 card combos that go infinite in modern that cost less than 6 that can do very similar things as Sunbird's Invocation. Or the OTK decks that actually kill you on turn 4, not just drop a big creature down that then has to swing the next 2 turns to kill the opponent.

December 6, 2018 10:52 a.m.

DuTogira says... #14

If you’re trying to make this as quick and competitive as possible, I’d look at R/G valakut decks, keep the ramp package, and replace prime time/scapeshift etc with shoal and sunbirds.

That said, I don’t think you’re going to get SI to be competitive. What M/U is good for you?
Agro might be ok because they typically won’t stop the SI from sticking, you heal from shoal and then stick an emrakul. That should be gg, if you can get it off by turn 4, but you’re stone dead I’d you don’t ramp fast enough or whiff the shoal.
Any good combo deck will have you dead before on turn 4, and since your combo doesn’t win the turn it’s played, other combo decks realistically can make it to turn 5 against you even on your best draw.
There isn’t a single control deck which you’re good against. Any blue deck will counter SI, tron might be ok if they don’t get t3 tron, any deck with white will path your payoff card, and any deck with black would have thoughtseized SI away long ago.
SI is just such an expensive investment that even in T4 X-mas land, not winning the first time you try to resolve SI is just backbreaking. That means that realistically you’re either dead when you draw poorly, dead if they have disruption, or dead if they’re faster than you. That’s at least 70% of the modern meta that beats you on principle alone.

Go for it if it’s your passion, but... maybe try not to invest 3 grand into cards until you’re 100% satisfied with the decks performance and viability.

December 6, 2018 9:45 p.m.

Funkydiscogod says... #15

I don't think he's looking for a deck that's super competitive, I think he just wants it to be the best possible deck that can be made with Sunbird's Invocation.

December 7, 2018 11:36 a.m.

ThoAlmighty says... #16

@Funkydiscogod: That's what I'm going for. I want it to be as competitive as possible, but I think there's a reason nobody has ever built this deck.

@DuTogira: My goal is slamming SI on turn 4. Two Arbor Elfs, two Utopia Sprawls, or an Overgrowth lets me play it then. An elf and a sprawl let me play it on turn 3. As far as matchups go, like you said, aggro is good. Even if I don't have the Invocation, 5 bolt's worth of life for free is a massive time-buyer. Some combo decks, especially TtB, just fold to sending up to 15 damage back at their face with Shining Shoal. I'm not sure how I do against fast combo decks like storm and KCI, but based on my current version of the deck it seems bad since they can solitaire faster than me. But I don't think T4 is dreamland, unless I'm up against D&T or Ponza, and I think I'm more resilient than a TtB would be because if TtB gets countered I just wasted all my rituals, with this, I probably get the 15 life and eldrazi cast trigger, just not the eldrazi. I think what SI has going for it is consistency, but speed at a cost. How crippling that is, I have yet to find out.

December 7, 2018 11:57 a.m.

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