Gifts Ungiven | Signature Spellbook: Jace
19, Jun, 24

Unusual Gifts Ungiven Control Deck Dominates Major Modern Event!

Article at a Glance

MH3 has given rise to a multitude of unique archetypes in Modern. While Nadu, Winged Wisdom combo and Ruby Medallion Storm have cemented themselves as elite frontrunners in the format, there are a lot of other interesting strategies that players are exploring.

Izzet control abusing the power of Tamiyo, Inquisitive Student made top eight of a couple Magic Online Modern Challenges. Different builds of Tron have emerged thanks to Ugin’s Labyrinth and company. There’s plenty of room for innovation right now in Modern, and today, we’re going to highlight a very strange deck that seemed to pop up out of nowhere.

This deck utilizing a full playset of Gifts Ungiven made it all the way to the finals of a recent Modern Challenge. This is no Storm variant. In fact, there isn’t even a major combo present. Gifts Ungiven is being used completely fairly, which is rather unusual.

The Role of Gifts Ungiven

Gifts Ungiven

Gifts Ungiven is a very interesting tutor variant that isn’t necessarily the easiest to maximize. This is because your opponent gets to pick two of the four cards you search for and put them into your graveyard. As a result, Gifts Ungiven is not a reliable search effect if you’re looking to get a specific card into your hand. Gifts Ungiven made a name for itself in Izzet Storm in Modern for years alongside Past in Flames. Because Past in Flames has Flashback, getting a bunch of Rituals and Past in Flames off Gifts Ungiven often made it trivial to win regardless of the opponent’s choices.

This Jeskai control shell, on the other hand, is actually using Gifts Ungiven as intended for the most part. The deck plays a bunch of one-ofs, many of which fill similar roles. This allows you to use Gifts Ungiven as a value engine that provides some flexibility depending on the matchup.

For example, if you’re playing against an aggressive deck like Temur Prowess, searching up a pile of Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, Get Lost, and Galvanic Discharge is perfectly reasonable. Now, you have some helpful interaction at the ready no matter which cards your opponent sends to the graveyard.

This deck ultimately plays a good mix of removal, counter magic, and grindy win conditions, ensuring that Gifts Ungiven can be helpful in a variety of situations. In a pinch, you can even grab a hate piece like High Noon or Damping Matrix alongside Sevinne’s Reclamation to have guaranteed access to it. Considering how strong High Noon and Damping Matrix are against Storm and Golgari Yawgmoth combo, respectively, this is a nice option to have.

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Closing the Game

Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury

Despite the high density of cards in low quantities for Gifts Ungiven, this Jeskai deck functions closely to a typical control deck. The goal is still to prolong the game with disruption and eventually close the game with a handful of potent win conditions.

This deck plays full playsets of Galvanic Discharge as well as Tune the Narrative. Tune the Narrative is a low-cost cantrip that makes Galvanic Discharge and Wrath of the Skies more impactful.

The archetype doesn’t feature too many ways to help close the game, but that usually isn’t too big of a problem. It’s possible to win via The Wandering Emperor and Snapcaster Mage beats. However, the strongest threat available is certainly Phlage, Titan of Fire’s Fury.

Phlage is huge and has an excellent enters-the-battlefield effect. Between Fetchlands, cheap removal spells, and Gifts Ungiven fueling your graveyard, Escaping Phlage multiple times over the course of a game is trivial. Because Phlage can be cast from your graveyard, you can always tutor for it in your Gifts Ungiven piles when necessary.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

The One Ring

Overall, this deck has a lot going for it. The combination of efficient interaction, an elite value engine in Gifts Ungiven, and a solid closer in Phlage gives you a good shot against almost any creature deck. The presence of Gifts Ungiven and Sevinne’s Reclamation allows you to run singleton copies of situational cards, but reliably have access to them when necessary. High Noon, Damping Matrix, Ashiok, Dream Render, and Disruptor Flute all have the potential to be devastating.

Of course, enabling Gifts Ungiven does have its tradeoffs. First of all, the fact that Gifts Ungiven costs four mana and doesn’t impact the board means that in games where you fall behind, you just won’t have the luxury of casting it when you want. This is part of what makes The One Ring such a powerful card, which this deck eschews in favor of Gifts Ungiven.

You also run the risk of drawing one-ofs at inopportune times. Keeping your deck much more streamlined definitely has its benefits in terms of consistency. Ultimately, there’s a good chance this new unique technology doesn’t catch on as a result. The deck’s incredible performance is undeniable, nonetheless, so it’ll be cool to see if the deck does pick up steam in the coming weeks.

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