Brewed Up: 5C Slivers in Modern

I have always had quite the affinity for tribal decks and few in Magic are as iconic as the humble Slivers. They have legions of fans in multiple formats but have never truly been viable in Modern. Many players were disappointed in the Slivers that came with Modern Horizons but a card does not need to specifically say Sliver to boost the deck. Today Luke shares his newest brew that may finally give Slivers a fighting chance in the Modern format.

Decklist
Lands (20)
4 Ancient Ziggurat
4 Cavern of Souls
3 Fiery Islet
2 Horizon Canopy
2 Mutavault
1 Plains
4 Sliver Hive
Creatures (32)
4 Cloudshredder Sliver
4 Diffusion Sliver
4 Galerider Sliver
4 Phantasmal Image
4 Predatory Sliver
4 Sinew Sliver
4 Unsettled Mariner
4 Virulent Sliver
Spells (8)
4 Aether Vial
2 Dismember
2 Force of Negation
Sideboard (15)
2 Chalice of the Void
2 Damping Sphere
1 Dismember
2 Dregscape Sliver
2 Force of Negation
2 Harmonic Sliver
2 Phyrexian Revoker
2 Ravenous Trap
75 Cards Total

The Build
One of the biggest problems for Sliver decks over the years has always been the mana base. Slivers come in every color, so it makes sense that the best ones would be scattered across all five. While this deck does contain all five colors of Slivers, the deck was designed to alleviate some of the mana issues of older builds. First off, we have the standard twelve rainbow lands in Cavern of Souls, Ancient Ziggurat, and Sliver Hive. The deck would not function without all twelve of these so they are mandatory for any Slivers deck. If you are not running Image, you can swap out Ziggurat for Unclaimed Territory. Mutavault is a Sliver when activated and gets all of the benefits from your other Slivers. While it is an incredibly powerful man land in this deck, it is also colorless which is why we were only able to find room for two copies.

Horizon Canopy has been a Modern Staple forever and we are getting an entire cycle of it in Horizons. Fiery Islet is exactly what this deck wants. We have sixteen blue creatures which all appreciate Fiery Islet. In addition, the new hotness, Cloudshredder Sliver, has a very restrictive casting cost but is partially cast of off of Islet. The only issue is that multiple Islets cannot cast Shredder or lords so two Canopy make the cut and Plains is chosen as a basic. There are too many effects that give you a basic land in Modern not to run one. Plains pairs well with Fiery Islet, allowing you to cast both Cloudshredder Sliver and Unsettled Mariner so it is chosen over Island or Forest.  Cleaning up the mana base is not the only reason why the deck is so blue creature heavy.

Another major problem for the Slivers deck is that it has had no reasonable way to interact. At its core, Slivers has always been a deck that tries to run you over rather than interact with what you are doing. The printing of Force of Negation has changed the game. We finally have a way to interact with the broken things that our opponent might be doing in Modern. Pushing the deck more heavily blue had the major benefit of cleaning up the mana base and also giving the deck access to Force. If you have Force of Negation in your opener, there is an 87.8% chance that you will also have a blue card to pair with it. Dismember makes the cut as our other interactive removal spell. Dismember covers the creatures that Force cannot and our manabase is not terribly painful.

Moving on to the Slivers, currently there are eight of the twelve Sliver lords in Modern. Sinew Sliver and Predatory Sliver are auto includes. Lords are good, more at 11:00. Cloudshredder Sliver not only fits the mana base, it also provides two incredibly relevant effects; flying and haste. Diffusion Sliver is one of our main ways of protecting our board. The other would be the off-brand Thalia, Unsettled Mariner. Mariner is a Sliver so it will get all of the abilities from our other Slivers which is very nice. Galerider Sliver is a one drop, blue, and sometimes has text so it gets the nod for this deck as well.

The last true Sliver that we have not touched on is Virulent Sliver. Virulent Sliver gives your team Poisonous which is basically the beta version of Infect. It can be very deadly with the last card we have not touched on, Phantasmal Image. In the past, Image was pretty poor in Slivers Decks. You would not want to copy a 1/1 that gives your team first strike for example. This deck however has tons of abilities that stack. Poisonous, lord effects, and the protection triggers all stack though so it makes for an excellent inclusion here.

Poisonous stacks and unlike Infect is not based on P/T; both forms of damage are dealt. So Image copying Virulent Sliver, or just playing two of them, gives all of your creatures two instances of Poisonous 1. This allows the deck to have some very explosive starts. You only need to get in with five creatures to end the game, which is trivial with eight Slivers that grant flying and eight that grant protection. Copying either Unsettled Mariner or Diffusion Sliver can be great because the abilities will stack. Targeted removal often triggers a free Mana Leak. The one issue with this is that Image is will die whenever it is targeted, even if the triggered ability would have countered it. Regardless, it does a ton of work for this deck and it also helps us to run enough blue cards to support Force of Negation.

The sideboard is full of colorless all-stars. Chalice of the Void is nice in this deck because Cavern and Aether Vial prevent it from harming our one drops. Damping Sphere, Ravenous Trap, and the third copy of Dismember are just good cards that are easy to cast for our slightly fragile mana base. The third and fourth copy of Pact of Negation give us more interactivity in stuff like combo matchups. Phyrexian Revoker gets the nod for our Needle Effect because it helps with the beatdown plan and can also be copied by Image. Harmonic Sliver is great for artifact heavy matchups. Last but not least is Dregscape Sliver. Dregscape gives the deck the ability to stay in grindy matchups. Giving unearth to basically all of your creatures is incredibly good. The fact that the unearth cost is also colorless is awesome since it does not strain our mana base as much.

Play Tips
This deck does not function well without a Vial or one of the twelve rainbow lands in your opening hand. Any six or seven without this should almost certainly be shipped back. The deck cannot support all of the colored slivers without a way to cast them or cheat them into play. It is similar for lords and Virulent Sliver. The deck just is not fast enough most of the time without access to one of these in your opener. You should try to play out your protection creatures before your lords. Your lords are too valuable in this deck so it is important to try to keep them around as long as possible.

Remember that the mana base of this deck is still wonky. We have come a long way from the older Slivers mana bases, but it still hast to be a consideration when you are playing this deck. It will not be uncommon to name Illusion with your Cavern which casts Phantasmal Image and Unsettled Mariner. When sideboarding, remember that you need a critical mass of blue spells if you are leaving in or adding more copies of Force of Negation. In a similar vein, do not over sideboard with this deck. Slivers is a synergy based strategy. Every Sliver that you take out or shave is taking away from that gamplan.

Verdict

I think that this deck definitely has some legs in Modern. There are a ton of good tribal strategies currently, but none of them have the synergy that Slivers does. It is unfortunate that we could not get Muscle or Crystalline Sliver reprinted into Modern. Spirits having better lords than Slivers is ridiculous in my opinion. There are a ton of reasonable things to be playing in Modern and I think this Slivers list is definitely one of them.

When utilizing Aether Vial, do not announce what you are putting into play. When you activate Vial you just say you are activating it and the opponent must respond then. If they let the activation resolve, it is too late for them to respond to effects they dislike. A Vial on two could represent protection, P/T growth, an Image, or a Revoke. You should not let them know what it is because that decision is not made until resolution. This gives them no opportunity to respond to exactly what you are trying to do, make them guess. Note that the protection slivers are triggered abilities though. You cannot Vial them in to respond to removal. The target has already been decided and the window to counter it has passed.

One final note, yes, I know that Collected Company is not in this 75. It is four mana and requires a playing a far worse mana base. Even decks like Spirits, which is only three colors and has mana dorks, can have issues casting it. You will need to cut Ziggurat and will then need to cut Image. Without Image you cannot run Force and will be unable to interact. It just is not worth it from everything that I have seen. Sedge Sliver was not an oversight either. The card is slow and we cannot really mutilate our mana base in order to play a reasonable number of Swamps. These cards force you to run mana Slivers to cast your spells and this just is not viable when you cannot interact. If you are looking to play Slivers in Modern, I would highly recommend you give the 75 above a try.

Wrap-Up
I must be honest. I was initially very cold on this idea. I had tested Slivers in Modern years ago and was very underwhelmed. It felt like a very poor Humans deck. Less aggressive, less disruptive. I cannot say the same for this list. Lords are a viable source of aggression with so much protection and Force is exactly what this deck needed. I do not expect this to dethrone Humans but it is certainly viable. What do you think of this new build? Is there a way to make CoCo work in a Force build? Please come and share your take on Slivers in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. Enjoy your weekend and we will see you on Monday. Until then my friends.

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