This week is about as exciting as they come. For those of you who have just exited the rock you were hiding under, this weekend is the Season Two Invitational in Columbus, Ohio. Being from Pittsburgh, I find every single thing to come out of that state as an affront to my sensibilities, but for one brief period of time, something will actually happen in Ohio worth giving a damn about! (Here we go Steelers, Here we go!! Sorry Cedric!)
There is so much going on that we're just going to delve into a few different things. I want to talk about a sweet Modern deck, what you should be sleeving up in Standard, why Adam Rose is the best thing ever, and the Elite IQ I battled in this weekend. Let's get started!
Quick Hit #1- The Big Green
So you're sitting around with your friends at the dinner table slinging some spells over fondue, because that sounds delicious in my head so that's what you all are eating.
You've all probably had too many bottles of Smirnoff Ice (I'm assuming that number is in the triple digits) so you get to brewing (pun intended) what you think would be an incredible list for Modern.
We want bigass monsters.
We want to draw cards. Lots of them.
We want a combo.
We want acceleration.
We want consistency.
We want wild spells.
We are like an Adele song. We could have had it all.
This deck you all are making is rolling in the deep.
It sounds like a pipe dream, but it's entirely possible in your drunken stupor that you all have stumbled across something that could be really good.
You all then promptly fall asleep and completely forget what you came up with. Days pass and you all try to spend your minutes recounting the pieces that you put together, but things start to get blurry and eventually you all just give up on the notion that you'll recapture that lightning in a bottle.
I like to think that this is the deck you'd have all created.
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 1 Craterhoof Behemoth
- 3 Eternal Witness
- 1 Primeval Titan
- 4 Voyaging Satyr
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Eidolon of Blossoms
You'd think the obsession with green is going a little far, and I'd say you're jealous.
Perhaps you've been bitten by the Green-Eyed Monster? I'm taking these bad jokes to Carrot Top levels. I only wish I could use oversized props.
Let's talk about what you're seeing for a minute: Mono-Green Devotion was a cute fad a few months ago in Modern, but it was pretty quickly forgotten. Michael Jacobs did some work with the archetype, so his frame is the starting point, but there is an engine that adds an entirely different dimension to this deck. We're going deep, kids. I'm talking Inception.
One of the weaknesses that MGD succumbed to was an extreme susceptibility to the top of your deck. The draws were remarkably explosive, but not even remotely consistent. Cards like Burning-Tree Emissary + Wistful Selkie added a ton to your devotion strategy, but aside from that they are underpowered and bad when you're behind.
How do we fix that?
Let's examine the card choices and their interactions. Maybe that will sell you on this beast.
4 Utopia Sprawl/4 Fertile Ground: These are your enchantment mana accelerators that play really, really well with Voyaging Satyr. Combining these two together can make for some really broken turns, and the good thing about this deck is that it has a lot of mana sinks to go big with. They also happen to combine really well with the next fun card we're about to go over.
4 Eidolon of Blossoms: We identified a little bit ago that this deck had a serious problem with longevity, and in the current state of Modern you don't have the luxury of sitting around and doing nothing. Eidolon is a draw engine that can supply you with a stream of gas to eventually kill your opponent. In the midgame it turns your useless Utopia Sprawls and Fertile Grounds into extra cards. It also has a friends.
4 Courser of Kruphix: With only twenty-one lands it's easy to think that you'll never flood, but you will. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but Courser is one of the best tools in the entirety of Magic for getting out of a flood in the color green. The fact that Courser has a donk doesn't hurt either, because it can block very well if necessary against a lot of the field. Being an enchantment combines very well with Eidolon of Blossoms, and the knowledge of what's on top of your library at all times makes your fetch lands that much more powerful. All in all the two newest additions from Theros block do a lot to make this deck stronger.
4 Voyaging Satyr/4 Arbor Elf: If Eidolon and Courser are the cogs, Satyr and Elf are the little birds that pop out when the clock strikes twelve. These accelerators work together in concert with Fertile Ground and Utopia Sprawl to power out your big spells. Being able to untap a Nykthos for even more bang for your buck is one of the biggest keys to success that this deck can have.
4 Garruk Wildspeaker: This is the card that makes the deck go boom boom. Untapping your lands with him lets you go bigger than anyone else, but another one of his most important talents is making beasts. Against decks packing removal he is a constant source of pressure, and his overrun can end a game on the spot. Without a doubt he's what makes this deck as good as it is.
3 Genesis Wave: You have a lot of mana, but what are you going to do with it? There's only so many ways you can cast a Primeval Titan, but Genesis Wave lets your deck "go off." Putting almost every permanent in your deck into play puts you at an advantage that's almost impossible to overcome. Plus- let's be honest- saying "Genesis Wave for 15" is about the dopest thing you can do in Modern. Way cooler than making a billion Pestermites.
3 Eternal Witness: Witness is one of those cards that just feels right to play in a deck like this. There aren't any counters that remove your spells from the game, so in a pinch it's the kind of creature that can rebuy the most powerful spell that is in your graveyard. Sometimes you can bait out a spell that you know they'll counter, play out a Witness, get it back, and then start pushing through the board state. With Genesis Wave you can get silly or even chain them together for a blocker every turn in a pinch.
3 Primal Command: Garruk might be one of the best reasons to play this deck, but Primal Command makes a serious argument for being a severely neglected card in Modern. Don't ever underestimate the power of putting a permanent on top of your opponent's deck especially when you can chain it with Eternal Witness. Gaining seven life against the Burn deck can give you enough time to close out a game and invalidate multiples of their spells. Searching for a creature is easily the best mode on this spell, as tutoring up a Craterhoof Behemoth wins games. Shuffling a graveyard into a library might actually come up in a game depending on the matchup, although I'm sure it's the least used of the modes. Speak of the devil.
1 Primeval Titan/1 Craterhoof Behemoth: Where's the beef? It's right here! Primetime does his best Deon impression by putting the team on his back. Searching up a Kessig Wolf Run turns all your creatures into little fireballs with legs. Behemoth is a juggernaut and can carve out chunks of life if not just outright kill your opponent instantly. These are your two best win conditions.
Why should you play Mono-Green Devotion? Because we love casting huge spells all time. I really feel like these changes give the deck the shot to be a real contender instead of the pretender it was a little while ago. With PTQ season coming up it's time to dust off those Garruk Wildspeakers.
Quick Hit #2- Standard and You
This weekend seven of the top sixteen decks present in Providence were green-based decks. Whether packing monsters or little men, green was out in force as I predicted.
That side effect means that Master of Waves is back to wreak a little havoc.
- 4 Cloudfin Raptor
- 4 Frostburn Weird
- 1 Galerider Sliver
- 4 Judge's Familiar
- 4 Master of Waves
- 4 Nightveil Specter
- 4 Tidebinder Mage
- 4 Thassa, God of the Sea
Ross, aside from having a sweet beard, made us all remember that Mono-Blue Devotion isn't dead- it was just sleeping. With the rise of green decks, it was only a natural reaction to the metagame that Tidebinder Mage (aka the fun police) was going to start popping up again.
When preparing for your tournaments coming up, I wouldn't shy away from playing green just because this deck won the whole event. A deck like Jund Monsters is still a fantastic option because of the presence of cards like Golgari Charm and Abrupt Decay. Even Junk Constellation packs Doomwake Giant to take out the silver bullet of Master of Waves.
The fact is Ross is a very good Mono-Blue Devotion player. I recall hanging out with him at the Invitational in Las Vegas in December and he was playing it then. I would bet that it was more the perfect storm of him being exceptional with the deck, playing nearly flawlessly, and beating opponents who did not respect the matchup. Kudos to Ross who played like a champion this weekend.
Being a Rangers fan might make me want to punch a wall, but Jim played very well. His feature matches showcased the power of his creation by doling out the harshness with Planar Cleansing.
I thought Sphinx's Revelation decks were on the outskirts, but two copies found their way into the Top 16 proving that they still have some life left in them.
So where does that leave you?
Do what Al Gore says, yo.
I've got a $5,000 tournament this weekend and I'm confident that playing Jund Monsters is the best decision for me.
Quick Hit #3- We Are Elite
I was lucky enough to spend the weekend playing in an Elite IQ in Brandon, FL. It was my first Elite Qualifier, but it turned out to be one of the most fun tournaments I've played in recently.
I never really have gotten a chance to experience the programs we offer at SCG, but it was pretty awesome the way it all worked out. I mostly went to block for some friends who aren't qualified yet, and in the process went 5-2. Nothing to write home about, but I was very impressed with the way the event was conducted.
The event was held at Learn 2 Play Games, and the store is one of the cleanest and most spacious places I've battled in. The staff was awesome and smoothly ran the tournament of about 100 people.
If you haven't gone to one of these, I can't recommend it enough.
For the record, I played Jund Monsters ala Chris VanMeter who was kind enough to ship me his updated list, but I'll leave that to the bearded wonder to discuss this week.
I believe it's the best deck in the format and it's not particularly close.
Quick Hit #4- Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
Until next time, kids.
Don't be lemons.