Modern is flush with decks representing all the macro archetypes such as Ramp, Control, or Aggro. There are also some decks which are a bit more difficult to classify due to their more fluid nature. These decks include Burn and Infect - aggro or combo? Or Tron - ramp or control?

The deck I want to break down today is RUG Crashing Footfalls which is somewhere between combo and control. I will attempt to show you why it’s so difficult to classify and how the deck operates.

Check out the deck!

First, let’s take a look at the namesake cards. We’ve got Crashing Footfalls and cascade spells - Shardless Agent and Violent Outburst. This synergy uses the Cascade mechanic which states the following:

‘Cascade is a triggered ability that functions only while the spell with cascade is on the stack. “Cascade” means “When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card whose mana value is less than this spell’s mana value. You may cast that card without paying its mana cost if the resulting spell’s mana value is less than this spell’s mana value. Then put all cards exiled this way that weren’t cast on the bottom of your library in a random order.’

In practice, it means that once you put something with Cascade on the stack, you’ll be flipping cards off the top of your library until you hit a spell with costs lower than the original spell and you may decide to cast it. This deck plays 8 copies of 3 mana Cascade so that means that every time it will cascade into a spell which costs 2, 1, or 0 - less than 3. Crashing Footfalls costs 0 so how do you ensure that you don’t flip into other spells along the way? Simple - you don’t play any other spells cheaper than 3. That’s right. The deck spells which cost 3 or more and Footfalls as the only spell that can be cascaded into. It ensures that you always hit double 4/4 Rhinoceri. Clearly, it’s a very strong effect - Shardless basically provides 10 power for 3 mana across 3 bodies. Not a lot of decks can compete with this sheer power so fast.

Let’s come back to the deckbuilding restriction. I’ve mentioned that the whole deck costs 3+ so does it mean the deck starts playing on turn 3? That would be way too slow for Modern. And that’s true. That is why this deck takes advantage of Magic’s rules. Enter Adventures and Split cards. According to the rules, cards such as Stomp / Bonecrusher Giant and Fire // Ice do not cost 2. They cost 3 and 4 respectively. This way the deck can cheat the restriction and play normally in the earlier stages of the game. It can easily play turn 1 Dead // Gone into turn 2 Petty Theft into Cascade. It can interact all the way until it goes off with Cascade.

Most versions now are quite stock and maindeck play 20+ interactive spells. This exact fact makes the deck feel like a control deck. Sure, there will be more goldfish-y draws but most of the time you will be interacting every single turn, be it with removal or countermagic.

The deck also utilises one particular Modern Horizons 2 card very well - Fury. The deck plays around 20 red cards maindeck so playing it for 0 by pitching another card is pretty trivial. It’s another way to circumvent the deck’s early interaction limitations. And it’s quite a strong way to do so, as it gives us access to an early mass removal spell to help us stay alive until the awaited turn 3. There is another often overlooked mode of the card - you can just cast it for 5 mana. You’d be surprised how many decks have a problem dealing with a 3/3 double strike creature which kills one or two other threats on entry.

I’d like to draw your attention to the modality of the spells the deck uses. 

  • Fire // Ice is either a removal spell or a good tempo play, often used to tap your opponent’s land turn 2 and then go off turn 3.
  • Dead // Gone is either an early removal spell or a catch-all which shines against Murktide Regent or Construct tokens off of Urza’s Sagaz
  • Prismari Command has 4 modes to choose from. Frequently we will be interested in the looting effect and then use the removal mode or kill a problematic artefact such as Chalice of the Void
  • Adventure creatures can either enter as creatures immediately or be cast for the spell side
  • Even Violent Outburst has a hidden mode. It’s not unpopular to cast it midcombat to pump your creatures and force good trades or straight up go for lethal.

As we can see, the deck is highly interactive with a nice combo-esque element to it. Every turn will pose you with a question and you have to know when to play more control and when to go more all-in. Even if you don’t intend to play the deck, I highly suggest checking it out so you know how to play against it. The play patterns may be tricky!

And as always - please remember to hold my hand and pass the turn together. Cheers!