This past weekend was Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir, an event which I was qualified for, but ultimately unable to attend due to work commitments. Magic means a lot to me, but my career in teaching means more and has to be my first priority. I may have lost a Pro Tour invite, but I was not planning on sitting at home and crying about it; instead I played in Spring State Championships! I'm trying to make a run at the Season Two slot for the Players' Championship, which means that every event counts.
The format for Saturday was Standard, and although I'm currently working on a new Sultai Control list, it wasn't ready in time for this event. I opted to instead play Jund, which I piloted to a ninth place finish at the Standard Open in Syracuse. I'd like to take this time to thank everyone again for voting for it in my article from two weeks ago. I've been putting my fate in the hands of my readers a lot lately, and you guys have not let me down!
Here is the decklist I piloted to a tenth place finish this weekend at Star City Games Pennsylvania States:
- 2 Hornet Queen
- 4 Satyr Wayfinder
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 1 Dragonlord Atarka
- 2 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
- 2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
A lot of the matchups you'll face in the current Standard metagame are back and forth grinds. This isn't the type of deck that preys on any one matchup, but rather has game against a wide variety of decks. Thoughtseize is important for helping to fight different threats early while also clearing the way for your more powerful threats later on. I feel with the rise in popularity of the U/B Control and G/R Dragons, four copies of Thoughtseize is very important, and an additional one mana discard spell is just as important out of the sideboard.
The most recent changes to the decklist is the addition of the second copies of Whip of Erebos and Hornet Queen. Even though the deck has access to additional tutors in Sidisi, both of these cards are hugely impactful and warranted the addition of second copies outside of the singletons I had initially made room for. Hornet Queen is one of the deck's best answers to Abzan Aggro since many lists have cut their good answers to it like Bile Blight. Hornet Queen is also one of your best cards against G/R Dragons, which is currently popular and will most likely stay popular for the rest of the season.
Having played Jund in three tournaments, I think that the deck is a good choice for Standard right now. The ten Temples allow you to smooth out your draws, and Satyr Wayfinder proved to be as multi-purpose as I speculated previously. I ended up going 5-2 in the event, but my two losses could have gone either way, as the games were very close. My tenth place finish at States in addition to my ninth place finish in Syracuse leads me to believe that the deck does have as much potential as I initially thought. I'm not sure if this is the best deck in Standard, but I do think that it is definitely a powerful and viable option that could be a great choice for your next event. The sideboard for Jund has been changing tournament from tournament, so nothing is set in stone. As of now, my breakdown looks like this.
2 Reclamation Sage - Whip of Erebos-based matchups and G/W Devotion.
1 Dragonlord Kolaghan - Any matchup where you feel the ground will get clogged up and you'll need a way to break through. Also it is a good way to combat opposing Strombreath Dragons.
3 Bile Blight - Early removal is needed against the aggressive red decks of the format, and since many of their creatures are tokens, Bile Blight does double duty here. Speaking of tokens, Jeskai Tokens is still a fairly popular deck as well, and you want to make sure you have at least three copies of Bile Blight to help in that matchup. Finally, Bile Blight is solid against Heroic strategies since it is an early removal spell, which helps you keep pace with them.
1 Drown in Sorrow - Many of the same reasons I mentioned above for Bile Blight. I originally had two copies of Drown in Sorrow, and depending on how the metagame is looking, I may go back to that number.
1 Crux of Fate - This just works as a catch-all removal spell. The most interesting thing about this is that you want to bring it in against any of the control decks that are trying to win with Dragons!
1 Duress - A much needed fifth hand disruption spell against the control and token decks. I also like brining in Duress against the aggressive red decks since hitting an Atarka's Command will save you a lot of damage.
3 Read the Bones - When you bring in your extra removal spells, you become the control deck in the matchup. Because of this, you want to make sure you out-card advantage your opponent. Read the Bones allows you to do this since you are both getting card selection and card quantity. Read the Bones will also come in against any control matchup. Even though they will most likely still be the control deck in the matchup, Read the Bones will help you keep pace with them. My suggestion is to be as greedy as possible for the most part with them since you see so much of your deck and you are likely to find what you need.
2 Self-Inflicted Wound - With Heroic and Abzan being as popular as they are, Self-Inflicted Wound is a very important card for you to combat these decks. Since Bile Blight and Ultimate Price don't hit every creature in both these matchups, and with Hero's Downfall costing three mana, having access to a two-mana removal spells is extremely important. With Heroic decks having Mana Confluence and with the ability your deck has on putting pressure on your opponent's life total, the two life loss can matter at times. Another upside is that it doesn't cost double black like Bile Blight does. Sometimes you lead off with a Temple of Abandon, which means without an Urborg you won't be able to Bile Blight early. You won't have to worry about that with Self-Inflicted Wound, and you can also bring it in against other matchups like Jeskai and G/R Dragons, which makes me really like having two copies in my board.
1 Garruk, Apex Predator - A very powerful Planeswalker you want in many match ups when you board into more card draw and removal spells.
While Saturday's State Championships was a Standard event, the Sunday event was the Modern format. I ended up making the top 8 with an updated version of my Sultai deck. This is the Modern deck I played on Sunday:
The deck performed really well, and my one loss in the Swiss rounds was to G/R Tron (even though I added Clever Impersonator for the Tron matchup specifically). The match was very close, although I immediately regretted the lack of Fulminator Mage in the sideboard after the end of the first game. Moving forward with the deck, I think that I want to fit three copies of Fulminator Mage into the sideboard. G/R Tron isn't a heavily played deck anymore, but Fulminator Mage is the type of card that is very potent against a wide variety of strategies, and as a result, is a flexible option for Modern. I think that I also want to cut a Tectonic Edge in the maindeck to make room for a fourth copy of Darkslick Shores. The one copy of Remand hasn't performed as well as I had hoped either, and I think that it should be replaced with another copy of Cryptic Command. This isn't really a deck where Remand shines, and if you have been reading my articles the past few weeks, you should not be too surprised about my love for a good Command.
I added a third copy of Thragtusk since you last saw the decklist, which was great for me over the course of the tournament. I'm honestly surprised that more people aren't playing it right now. In past iterations of Modern that were dominated by combo, Thragtusk may have been too slow of a threat, but as it currently stands, Thragtusk is able to shine against other aggressive decks (besides Infect) while providing a great maindeck threat against Burn.
The card that under-performed for me was Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Ashiok is one of my favorite Planeswalkers of all time, but it's only really effective on the play against Jund and Abzan. Ashiok is too bad on the draw and never effective against Affinity or Burn; both of which are very popular in the current Modern metagame, and I think that I'm going to replace the two copies of Ashiok with a Scavenging Ooze and a Vendilion Clique. Ashiok may be better suited to the sideboard, but I'm not sure I'll be able to find room there since I already need to find room for Fulminator Mage.
In the top 8, I narrowly lost to Affinity in two close games, even though I beat the same matchup in the Swiss rounds. In Modern, the matchups tend to be very close, which is part of what makes the sideboard cards so important. Even one additional sideboard card can make a huge difference, and I think another copy of Disfigure in the sideboard would have helped.
At any rate, I really like Sultai in Modern right now, and I am currently considering playing it again this weekend in at the Modern Premier IQ in Providence. I won't be able to make it up to Rhode Island for Saturday for the Standard Open, so I am going to be focusing on Modern this week instead.
Another Modern deck that I am considering is a Merfolk deck that splashes red. I've been working on this take on Merfolk with my friend Gabe Shvachkin, and even though I have had a fair amount of success with Sultai, U/R Merfolk seems to have a lot of potential, so it's still up in air in terms of which deck I'm going to settle on.
- 4 Cursecatcher
- 4 Lord of Atlantis
- 4 Master of the Pearl Trident
- 3 Merrow Reejerey
- 4 Silvergill Adept
- 1 Thassa, God of the Sea
What do you think about the changes I outlined for the Sultai deck? After looking at the Merfolk list, do you think I should stick with Sultai for this weekend or make the switch? Do you guys have any suggestions on the Merfolk list? You've given me great advice in the past, so I look forward to hearing what you all think.