Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 354 of Against the Odds. We’ve got a bit of a special episode this week. Normally, for Against the Odds, we do a poll, and I build a deck around the winning card. But I’m away in Vegas at the moment, so today, we’re sort of doing a Modern Meme or Dream? version of Against the Odds and playing a wild Rooftop Storm combo deck that was originally played by a player named Franklin Fulks in a small Modern tournament. While they technically got a Top 32 finish with the deck, considering that there were only 48 players in the tournament, it’s hard to know if that really means much. The goal is simple: play Rooftop Storm so our Zombies are free and then cast Acererak the Archlich an infinite number of times to venture through the Lost Mind of Phandelver, one room of which drains the opponent, which gives us infinite damage and life gain, winning the game on the spot. What are the odds of winning with Rooftop Storm and Acererak the Archlich in Modern? Is the combo a meme or dream? Let’s get to the video and find out in today’s Against the Odds; then, we’ll talk more about the deck!
Against the Odds: Rooftop Storm Combo
So, here’s the idea of the deck: play Rooftop Storm and then cast Acererak the Archlich enough times to drain the opponent out of the game by venturing through the Dark Pool room of Lost Mind of Phandelver a bunch of times. While this might sound simple, apart from needing to find both combo pieces (more on this in a minute), there is one major challenge: Rooftop Storm costs a massive six mana, which is a ton for Modern. As such, we need a way to speed up the combo for the plan to have a chance at succeeding…
To get Rooftop Storm on the battlefield quickly, the plan is to stick a Lotus Field and then untap it with Twiddle, Dream’s Grip, and Vizier of Tumbling Sands. Since Lotus Field makes three mana and we can cast Twiddle and Dream’s Grip for just one mana, they essentially turn into blue Dark Rituals, netting us two mana. With our best draws, this allows us to go infinite with Rooftop Storm as early as Turn 3!
Considering we need two combo pieces to win the game (or three if you count Lotus Field, which we don’t technically need, although it’s super helpful), we can’t just trust that we’ll randomly stumble into our combo pieces. So, we’re playing a bunch of tutors and cantrips to find Rooftop Storm, Acererak the Archlich, and Lotus Field. Profane Tutor and Wishclaw Talisman just directly tutor up whatever combo piece we’re missing, while Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand smooth out our draws early in the game.
Our last main-deck card is Thoughtseize, which will hopefully shore up some of our combo’s weaknesses. So, what beats Rooftop Storm combo? Two things, really. The biggest is counterspells. Blue decks can just counter Rooftop Storm, and then we really won’t have a way to win. The other problem for the combo is instant-speed creature removal, which can kill Acererak the Archlich with its “bounce back to hand” trigger on the stack. In theory, Thoughtseize alongside some sideboard cards will be able to protect our combo from our opponent’s interaction, although whether this will be enough remains to be seen.
As we just discussed, we really want to dodge counterspell-heavy decks, which are our worse matchups by far, and also decks overloaded with instant-speed removal that can kill Acererak. Aggro and combo are interesting matchups. They are basically just races, which we can win with our best draws, although that is far from guaranteed.
We ended up going 1-4 in our Modern league, which I guess makes Rooftop Storm Combo a meme rather than a dream. In our experience, matches with the deck go one of three ways. First, sometimes we win, and it’s pretty spectacular. Second, we played a bunch of super-close heartbreaking games where we are a turn away from going infinite (or manage to go infinite but our opponent has an answer) only to end up losing. Third, we play against a deck with a bunch of counterspells, and we have very little chance of winning.
The good news is that Rooftop Storm and Acererak the Archlich are a two-card combo, and two-card combos can be super powerful. Is there a way to improve the deck? I think the answer is maybe. The Lotus Field plan is powerful when it works, although it requires us to play a lot of cards (like Twiddle and Dream’s Grip) that are really bad at doing anything else other than untapping Lotus Field, which means we have a lot of dead cards if we don’t have a Lotus Field. The idea of Lotus Field is to speed up the deck enough that we can keep up with the pace of the Modern format—just casting a Rooftop Storm on Turn 6 is just too slow for most matchups…or is it?
What if, instead of trying to speed up the combo with the inconsistent Lotus Field, we tried to slow down our opponent by playing a more controlling deck with the combo as our plan for finishing the game? This would increase the quality of our cards overall and potentially give us a better chance of beating counterspells by playing more counters and discard of our own. While a less combo-y and more controlling version of Rooftop Storm might still be pretty janky, considering the inconsistency of the combo build, it might be worth trying, at the very least.
Vote for Next Week’s Deck
No poll yet. I’m still in Vegas on vacation at the moment, so keep an eye on the community tab of the YouTube page for a poll once I’m back next week!
Anyway, that’s all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.