Returning with a Vengeance

Hello everyone!

I hope you all have been well, and thank you for taking the time to stop by The Arcane Sanctum to read my articles. Last month I played Jund midrange in Modern (a lot), and while I learned a lot from that time of playing, and saved money, I wanted to play something different. Currently there is way too much hate locally for me to play Tron (THANKS ELDRAZI! Always ruining EVERYTHING!), and was hesitant on what deck to play…until I saw someone playing this in an Esper shell:

Goryo's Vengeance
Vengeance is MINE!

I’ll admit I never paid too much attention to this card when Modern first became a format. I figured I would be the one playing the fair game, and back when Modern first became a format my primary focus was on Standard. I didn’t like that you lost the creature on end step, and it felt like an “all or nothing” strategy. Sure it was powerful, but just not for me. However…

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

Paired with this you can stack the exile triggers in a way that benefits YOU! This is so sweet, and reminds me of the times when we cheated Obzedat in with Whip of Erebos. I wanted to look further before diving in though. I was in the process of building an Abzan Midrange deck, but honestly Jund is my first love when it comes to the BGx midrange decks, so it felt less than desirable to me regardless of it’s results. I poured out all of my card to see what I needed, and reviewed a few decklists online, eventually coming up with this:

Esper Vengeance

4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
3 Obzedat, Ghost Council
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
1 Snapcaster Mage

2 Collective Brutality
4 Serum Visions
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Gifts Ungiven
3 Lingering Souls
3 Goryo’s Vengeance
3 Path to Exile
3 Fatal Push
1 Unburial Rites
1 Thoughtseize

4 Darkslick Shores
4 Flooded Strand
3 Marsh Flats
2 Creeping Tar Pit
2 Plains
2 Polluted Delta
2 Swamp
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
1 Watery Grave

3 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Stony Silence
2 Negate
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Ojutai’s Command
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Detention Sphere
1 Mortify
1 Dispel

Modern is primarily an interactive format first, and then play “broken thing” second. This is mainly due to the power that black has in the format right now. It is far and away the best color with the suite of cheap interaction that it has available. I wanted to play this deck for a few reasons:

  1. I had the cards from my attempt to build Abzan Midrange.
  2. I missed playing Esper Gifts last summer.
  3. I missed playing Jace, Vyrn’s Prodigy


With the cheap interaction, the card selection of Serum Visions, and the fetchlands you can activate Jace pretty early in the game. If he is in the graveyard Goryo’s Vengeance can get him back, give him haste to transform, and (if it’s there) get an Obzedat into play! That’s the kind of Magic that reminds me of the days of Sun Titan based Solar Flare decks.

I went 2-2 in my first go with the deck, but it was still a lot of fun. This deck can be very challenging to play as the lines of play may not seem like they are there from your opening 7, and then suddenly you’re having to remember Obzedat triggers. I haven’t played enough of it yet to suggest cards for certain matchup, but here are a few things from my version I want to point out.

4 Inquisition of Kozilek:

Locally a lot of decks have very cheap spells. The more of these I have, the better. I never sleeve up less than 4.

1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang:

With Eldrazi Tron still a deck I felt Iona was a bad choice maindeck so I moved her to the side. This made room for Tasigur, which was in the Gifts deck I played last summer. Once you start to stabilize you can grind away card advantage, which is helpful if you are sitting on a Goryo’s Vengeance but have no Obzedat in the graveyard. Jace also helps you cast what’s in the yard put there by Tasigur.

1 Thoughtseize:

Probably the biggest adjustment for me was this. I usually play 2-3 in any deck that runs the pair of Inquisition and Thoughtseize. I am thinking of moving this to the board (and adding a second), and replacing it maindeck with a Murderous Cut to have a clean answer to many threats.

The deck seems odd when looking at it online, but in paper it feels fine. A part of me wants to either go full Gifts mode, and drop the Vengeance/Obzedat package, or drop the Gifts package to add Liliana of the Veil. Overall I really like this deck, and look forward to playing it some more at FNMs.

I hope you all enjoyed this brief look at this powerful deck. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below, and until next time…



  1. Nice deck, definitely gives me some solar flare vibes. I’ve always been interested in reanimator strategies, and I like the Obzedat interaction to miss the downside of Vengeance. I just wish it had some evasion.


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