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Mastering 4-Color Creativity in Modern

Skura
05/03/2024 · 12 min read
guides

Going Back to Creativity

There are a lot of decks in Modern that are strong and playable but they fall into the tier 2 category. Creativity is one of them - despite being the absolute best deck a year ago it fell off significantly.

It has made a comeback recently and MTGDecks data proves that at high level events it boasts a 50%+ win ratio. It’s the perfect time to sleeve it up when people are not expecting it!

the perfect deck for interactive games with a combo-esque finish

This is the list we’re going to talk about.

Five-Color Creativity. Builder: Andrew Vorel.MTG
Top8
(12 - 2)
85%
in U.S. Regional Championship - Laughing Dragon @DreamHack Denver [1331 Players] 10-Feb-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [7]
3  Archon of Cruelty   $13.99
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $20.99
Instant [10]
3  Mana Tithe   $0.59
3  Lightning Bolt   $1.29
3  Reprieve   $1.49
1  Prismari Command   $0.99
Sorcery [8]
4  Indomitable Creativity   $3.49
1  Transmogrify   $0.69
3  Prismatic Ending   $0.35
Enchantment [4]
4  Leyline Binding   $6.99
Planeswalker [7]
3  Teferi, Time Raveler   $7.99
4  Wrenn and Six   $29.99
Land [24]
1  Xander's Lounge   $14.99
1  Jetmir's Garden   $23.99
2  Sacred Foundry   $21.99
1  Mountain   $0.01
1  Steam Vents   $17.99
1  Stomping Ground   $14.99
4  Dwarven Mine   $0.35
4  Arid Mesa   $19.99
4  Wooded Foothills   $34.99
1  Scalding Tarn   $22.99
3  Bloodstained Mire   $29.99
1  Raucous Theater   $5.49
Sideboard [15]
2  Veil of Summer   $6.49
3  Silence   $8.99
1  Flusterstorm   $27.99
2  Terastodon   $0.79
1  Plains   $0.01
1  Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite   $15.99
1  Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines   $24.99
2  Boseiju, Who Endures   $54.99
2  Get Lost   $8.99
Buy this deck:

$311.23 Tix @cardhoarder   $7.78 / Week @cardhoarder   $800.65 @tcgplayer   $991.81 @cardkingdom  


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False Tempo

False tempo is a highly theoretical concept that warrants its own article but let me briefly describe the notion in the context of this deck and how it applies.

In short, it refers to the opponent playing or having to play around something powerful that you have, leading to them wasting mana holding up interaction. For example, when your Creativity turn approaches, they will deploy their three drop and hold up Fatal Push instead of playing a stronger four drop - in order to defend themselves. It is ‘false’ tempo because there will be numerous situations where you don’t actually go for it, do something else entirely and they will have wasted that one mana. The following turn they will have to face the same decision, most likely still holding up that Push. Over time it accumulates and they will have wasted a lot of mana - while you haven’t.

This concept was key when Splinter Twin dominated Modern and still applies to this day, albeit to different decks than back then. It’s also why I love Creativity - you’re an interactive strategy that has this unique angle backed in.

Different Versions

There is a lot of disagreement when it comes to the version of the deck that you run and pros and cons of each. Let me present you with three versions that have the most results and are the most promising.

Version 1: The White Route

Five-Color Creativity. Builder: Andrew Vorel.MTG
Top8
(12 - 2)
85%
in U.S. Regional Championship - Laughing Dragon @DreamHack Denver [1331 Players] 10-Feb-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [7]
3  Archon of Cruelty   $13.99
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $20.99
Instant [10]
3  Mana Tithe   $0.59
3  Lightning Bolt   $1.29
3  Reprieve   $1.49
1  Prismari Command   $0.99
Sorcery [8]
4  Indomitable Creativity   $3.49
1  Transmogrify   $0.69
3  Prismatic Ending   $0.35
Enchantment [4]
4  Leyline Binding   $6.99
Planeswalker [7]
3  Teferi, Time Raveler   $7.99
4  Wrenn and Six   $29.99
Land [24]
1  Xander's Lounge   $14.99
1  Jetmir's Garden   $23.99
2  Sacred Foundry   $21.99
1  Mountain   $0.01
1  Steam Vents   $17.99
1  Stomping Ground   $14.99
4  Dwarven Mine   $0.35
4  Arid Mesa   $19.99
4  Wooded Foothills   $34.99
1  Scalding Tarn   $22.99
3  Bloodstained Mire   $29.99
1  Raucous Theater   $5.49
Sideboard [15]
2  Veil of Summer   $6.49
3  Silence   $8.99
1  Flusterstorm   $27.99
2  Terastodon   $0.79
1  Plains   $0.01
1  Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite   $15.99
1  Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines   $24.99
2  Boseiju, Who Endures   $54.99
2  Get Lost   $8.99
Buy this deck:

$311.23 Tix @cardhoarder   $7.78 / Week @cardhoarder   $800.65 @tcgplayer   $991.81 @cardkingdom  


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First is the one that’s the main focus of this piece. What makes it unique is how heavy on white it is. It could be thought of as a Boros strategy, light splashing Green and Blue. Uniquel, it also runs Mana Tithe.

Version 2: Straight UR

Izzet Creativity. Builder: napoleon_mtg.MTGA - Magic Arena
Other in 13-Feb-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [7]
3  Archon of Cruelty   $13.99
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $20.99
Instant [20]
4  Deduce   $0.35
4  Fire/Ice   $0.35
4  Lightning Bolt   $1.29
4  Remand   $0.35
2  Spell Pierce   $0.59
2  Stern Scolding   $0.79
Sorcery [9]
2  Flame Slash   $0.59
4  Indomitable Creativity   $3.49
3  Lórien Revealed   $2.79
Enchantment [1]
1  Shark Typhoon   $5.99
Land [23]
2  Arid Mesa   $19.99
2  Bloodstained Mire   $29.99
4  Dwarven Mine   $0.35
1  Island   $0.01
1  Mountain   $0.01
1  Raucous Theater   $5.49
4  Scalding Tarn   $22.99
3  Steam Vents   $17.99
2  Thundering Falls   $9.99
2  Wooded Foothills   $34.99
1  Xander's Lounge   $14.99
Sideboard [15]
2  Alpine Moon   $2.29
1  Brotherhood's End   $7.49
3  Flusterstorm   $27.99
2  Hibernation   $0.59
1  Hidetsugu Consumes All   $2.99
1  Iona, Shield of Emeria   $5.99
2  Stern Scolding   $0.79
1  Terastodon   $0.79
2  Test of Talents   $0.35
Buy this deck:

$177.82 Tix @cardhoarder   $4.45 / Week @cardhoarder   $508.71 @tcgplayer   $616.09 @cardkingdom  


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Export & Save: Magic online format Apprentice and MWS .dec


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Another take is to go straight UR. The upsides include being almost invulnerable to Blood Moon, being pretty reactive and draw-go-y, and being able to play even four surveil lands. The mana consistency is there so it can be a tempting choice.

Version 3: Going Jund

Jund Creativity. Builder: aqua4221.MTGO - Magic Online
2nd
(4 - 0)
100%
in MTGO Modern League #7787 09-Dec-2023
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [10]
2  Primeval Titan   $5.49
4  Archon of Cruelty   $13.99
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $20.99
Instant [6]
4  Lightning Bolt   $1.29
2  Fatal Push   $2.49
Sorcery [11]
3  Thoughtseize   $7.99
4  Indomitable Creativity   $3.49
4  Persist   $1.29
Enchantment [4]
4  Bitter Reunion   $0.35
Planeswalker [4]
4  Wrenn and Six   $29.99
Land [25]
2  Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle   $23.99
1  Mountain   $0.01
3  Blood Crypt   $16.99
2  Stomping Ground   $14.99
4  Bloodstained Mire   $29.99
4  Wooded Foothills   $34.99
3  Dwarven Mine   $0.35
4  Arid Mesa   $19.99
2  Ziatora's Proving Ground   $12.99
Sideboard [15]
2  Tear Asunder   $2.49
2  Spiteful Banditry   $6.49
1  Swamp   $0.01
2  Collective Brutality   $1.79
4  Leyline of the Void   $3.49
2  Veil of Summer   $6.49
1  Bone Shards   $0.35
1  Boseiju, Who Endures   $54.99
Buy this deck:

$237.70 Tix @cardhoarder   $5.94 / Week @cardhoarder   $728.15 @tcgplayer   $889.17 @cardkingdom  


Deck Tools: Visual View Similar Decks Proxies Archetype Analysis
Export & Save: Magic online format Apprentice and MWS .dec


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The last one is Jund, eschewing blue and white completely. It utilises Thoughtseize as the main piece of disruption alongside an additional angle of attack in Persist. On top of that, it plays Primeval Titan as one of the payoffs. Nowadays, some Jund versions also run Seismic Assault and Life from the Loam.

Card Choices

Combo

The strength of the deck lies in its one-card combo that’s enabled by Indomitable Creativity. You pay triple red and some amount of X to kill your own creature or artifact, flip cards over until you find a creature and put it directly into play. In order to minimise the variance, we play only the creatures that we want to spin into - in this case triple Archon of Cruelty.

Archon has immediate impact and both stabilises and pushes your advantage. While it can be killed relatively easily, it leaves you 6 life and 2 cards up on the opponent. If it is left uncontested though, it’ll close games in 1-2 attacks. You could play different payoffs but it has to take into account the play patterns. For instance, if you play double Archon and a single Atraxa, Grand Unifier, you get much less predictability on what you spin into as now it’s either Atraxa or Archon.

In order to go off you also need something to target with Creativity. As there are no actual creatures other than the payoffs, you have to play token makers. The most powerful effect that does it is hands down Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. It makes a token, this token makes more tokens when it attacks, and when the third chapter comes round it’s also creativity-targetable.

On top of that, most lists play 3-4 Dwarven Mine to be able to instant speed fetch it out and create a Dwarf. It can be a blocker against a big creature, a chip damage attacker, or a target for Creativity. The fact that you don’t use an actual card on it as it’s built into the manabase is huge.

Interaction

There are two main types of interaction - on the stack and removal. Let’s break those down

Removal

The whole reason to go five colours - genuinely. If it weren’t for Binding, I don’t think anyone would bother and UR or RUG versions would reign supreme.

Binding is an excellent catch-all that gets rid of whatever is problematic - Engineered Explosives, Defense Grid, Amulet of Vigor, big Murktide Regent - you name it. It also helps against other Binding decks as you can Binding their Binding.

The trickiest part is to track how much it costs, as some games it’ll be {W} but some the mana won’t line up as well.

The classic. As Binding is never actually turn-one removal, we need some other tools to combat early pressure like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer or Wild Nacatl.

Bolt also has a built-in function of being a win con with Wrenn emblem, bolting the opponent to death.

We want a critical mass of turn-one interaction and we’re aiming for 6ish total. Prismatic Ending is a great companion to Bolt, as it’s like a small Leyline Binding. It has this catch-all nature and gives us tools to combat early Agatha’s Soul Cauldron or Sigarda’s Aid.

Counterspells

This white Remand has two upsides in this shell. One, it’s white. The manabase supports white much better than blue nowadays so it lines up better in this regard. On top of that, it never actually *counters* so it circumvents uncounterability from, say, Dovin’s Veto or Delighted Halfling.

In blue versions you’d see Spell Pierce here but we’re on Mana Tithe - the most tilt inducing card on the planet.

Modern is so efficient that players will have a hard time trying to delay their best on-curve spells like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker or Violent Outburst and this is how you get them. While Pierce seems to accomplish a similar thing, Tithe also counters cards like Orcish Bowmasters, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Ragavan when on the play, or Scion of Draco.

Planeswalkers

If you’re not going off with Creativity, you can count on Wrenn to win you the fair game. Between ensuring you hit every single land drop, picking up Triomes to cycle them again, and killing creatures with the -1, it truly does it all. At the end of that tunnel, there is also its ultimate that truly wreaks havoc. In postboard games, you can Silence lock opponents with that emblem.

Our static protection that not only allows Creativity to safely resolve but also does it instant speed. It shuts off some decks completely like Cascade which is a great maindeckable hate card. Moreover, you get some more flexible interaction, as bouncing a creature or an annoying permanent comes up frequently.

Mana Base

This deck requires a separate mana base section due to its importance, especially now with surveil lands. Let me go over some key aspects.

  1. You need around 12 fetches
  2. All lands (typically) are mountains
  3. You need two black sources to hard cast Archon
  4. You need two Triomes to get Domain
  5. You need 3-4 Dwarven Mines
  6. You need a basic Mountain
  7. You need one of each shock and two of your main colour

That already puts you at around 24 lands and hence you’ll typically see 24-25 in most lists.

When it comes to sequencing, you’ll fetch out the white Triome first (Jetmir’s Garden) into the other Triome (Xander’s Lounge), unlocking Binding for {W} already on turn two.

Now you also have access to surveil lands which are great for when nothing major is happening. Some additional card filtration is always great. In this version, one of the two black sources is a Triome and the other is indeed a surveil land. If I played a non-5c version, both of my black sources would in surveil lands.

From turn four onwards, every fetch is a proxy Dwarven Mine so when deploying your lands early sometimes you don’t want to use up all the fetches. You do want to have access to at least one fetch on turn four if possible to go for Creativity or at least threaten that you might.

Tips and Tricks

Double Counter

Remember that you can combine soft permissions spells like Mana Tithe, Spell Pierce, or Mana Leak to actually counter a spell, even if it costs you two cards.

Finish Him

Sometimes you can combine a couple of Lightning Bolts, Dwarf attacks, and Wrenn minus pings to finish opponents off over a couple of turns.

Creativity as Removal

With Creativity, you can target opposing permanents as well to get rid of them. A popular target is Murktide Regent. You can also combine it and play Creativity x=2, targeting both your and opponent’s permanents.

Self-reprieving

You can Reprieve your own spell on the stack e.g. when it’s being countered by Dovin’s Veto.

Binding Moon

With Blood Moon on the stack, you cannot just float white mana and play Binding for cheap as you will immediately lose the land types. You will have to recount the number of types, typically Mountains and maybe Plains, and pay a much higher price for it.

Teferi’s Replays

Teferi, Time Raveler can bounce your Leyline Binding to draw a card and replay the Binding on a different permanent.

Lonely Plains

All of your fetches are the same when it comes to what they do except for specifically Arid Mesa that finds Plain - but it only applies to postboard games when you in fact side that Plains in.

Summer Dangers

You can play Veil of Summer preemptively as the first spell of the turn. If it resolves, you know the opponent won’t be able to counter Creativity. However, beware of cards that technically don’t ‘counter’ such as Aether Gust or Reprieve.

Sideboard Guide

Amulet Titan

Thanks to being 5c, you can interact with a lot of their noncreature permanents such as Amulet of Vigor or Defense Grid. You want to interact with them to delay early development and when the coast is clear slam your Creativity. They don’t typically play any counter-interaction but you might walk into Dismember or Boseiju, Who Endures.

Here I side in different payoffs as they line up better in the matchup. I also trim on Binding as they are a liability against Boseiju.

Izzet Murktide

You want to play the control game where you answer their threats, fight on the stack, and keep threatening the combo. You will secretly be pushing your advantage with walkers and Dwarven Mines while your opponent will be stressing about the combo - use it to your advantage.

They will side in cards like Engineered Explosives or Flusterstorm but it’s perfectly fine for us. EE can be played around if you’re patient and Fluster doesn’t counter walkers or Leyline Binding.

Temur Rhinos

We are on the defensive the whole game but a single resolved Creativity should be lights out.

Keep very interactive hands as you will probably have to slog two Footfalls before the game semi-stabilises.

Teferi, Time Reveler is key, as it both shuts their combo down and protects our own


Living End

Similarly to Rhinos, we need to do everything to make their key spell not resolve as we are not able to come back after it does.


Rakdos Grief

Another attrition match, similar to Murktide. Here though it’s going to be less draw-go-y and more of a low resource game. Wrenn and Six shines in those games as it’s a self-contained card advantage machine and win condition. Dwarven Mines can buy you some time and completely shut off late-game Ragavans.

Golgari Yawgmoth

It’s a tricky matchup as Yawgmoth is getting better and better. Fair decks find it very hard to combat it but thankfully we don’t need to use the grindy route. The combination of interaction and the over-the-top threats is exactly what one needs to try to win this matchup. Again white interaction helps out a lot but remember about their Boseiju potentially killing our Binding.

Conclusion

Creativity is an exciting deck that combines control and combo elements. I hope this piece has shed a light on how it works and why it’s so strong. I am excitedly waiting to see which versions are most successful.

Until then, remember to hold my hand and pass the turn together. Cheers!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Monored Anax primer & sideboard guide, The Rogue Corner: Jund Persist Primer, Pioneer 8-Inspector Boros Convoke - Deck and Sideboard Guide, Mastering Rakdos Scam: 5 Essential Lessons

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Skura
Skura - IslandsInFront
Skura, also known as IslandsInFront on Twitter and YouTube, started his career a decade ago and has been passing the turn in all formats ever since. He coaches, creates written and video content, and is a mainstay caster on the European scene, casting the LMS series (GP equivalent), Eternal Weekend, and many other. He's passionate about game theory, decision making, and a methodological approach to Magic

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Published: 2024-03-05 00:00:00

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