#SCGNY is this weekend and we're returning to my favorite format, Modern. I really look forward to each Modern SCG Tour® stop because there are so many decks in the format that I want to play. So far this year I've played Naya Company, Abzan Company, Bant Eldrazi, and Infect on the SCG Tour®, and I would be confident in playing any one of them again.
As you may know, I recently finished in the Top 16 of the #SCGBALT Modern Classic with Infect. I do believe that Infect is currently the best deck in Modern, and if you would like to know more about my thoughts on the deck, take a look at my article from last week here.
Because I'm not going to talk about Infect at all today. Or any of the other decks that I've played.
Instead I'm going to share two decks that I have been experiencing success with on Magic Online and that I plan on playing on the SCG Tour®. Neither of these decks were my own design, and I'm not sure who to credit as the original creator for either one, but I have been slightly tuning them and here is where I'm at with each.
- 3 Spellskite
- 4 Endbringer
- 4 Matter Reshaper
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
- 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Ah yes, one of my favorite tribes. The Eldrazi get a bad rap from players that were sick of seeing them earlier in the year, but with Eye of Ugin banned from the format, the Eldrazi decks now just promote fun and fair midrange decks. Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer, and Reality Smasher and the three most prominent midrange colorless Eldrazi, as they all have forms of card advantage built in, and they are the core to the deck.
Joining the party is Endbringer, who is more commonly found in Legacy Eldrazi. Now I'm sure there are many of you who are skeptical about playing four Endbringers, and I absolutely was at first too, but I have been thoroughly impressed with the card so far. I use the card drawing ability most often, but the flexibility the card provides with three meaningful abilities as well as attacking and blocking is what makes the card so valuable.
Chalice of the Void is usually a zero or a ten, and it is the card that I sideboard out the most. There is no acceleration in the deck that allows you to play a Chalice for one on turn 1, which makes it a much better card when you are on the play.
Even though there are plenty of matchups where Chalice of the Void is a dead card in your hand, they can still be an auto-win a high enough percentage of the time. I've considered moving them to the sideboard but I've been satisfied with their role in the main deck as of now.
Warping Wail has been the objectively weakest card in the deck, and there may be a better option for the maindeck, but it is still a versatile role player. As you've probably noticed by now, I prize a card's versatility and flexibility highly, especially in a format as diverse as Modern. Each match you play is drastically different, and I value having cards that are adaptable. There are times that you get to exile a Blighted Agent or counter an Ancestral Vision and Warping Wail overperforms, but I have mostly used the card to make an Eldrazi Scion Token for blocking or mana acceleration.
Sea Gate Wreckage makes the cut for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being too cute and unnecessary over the long term. I have won a couple of games through drawing extra cards from the utility land, but playing an extra Cavern of Souls or Ghost Quarter will probably be more impactful throughout a long tournament.
All Is Dust has been such an all-star against a wide variety decks that I have also moved one to the maindeck.
Overall, Eldrazi Tron fits in a nice spot between Bant Eldrazi and G/R Tron. It's slower than Bant Eldrazi but has Chalice of the Void that can pick up free wins and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger that can go over the top of other midrange decks.
Eldrazi Tron is lower to the ground than traditional G/R Tron and has more interaction if your opponent attacks your manabase. Although it is quite a bonus, Eldrazi Tron does not rely on having all three Tron lands on the battlefield and can operate just fine if an opponent is spending their time disrupting it. This is why I prefer Eldrazi Tron to G/R Tron, as the deck can function well after even if an opponent casts a Crumble to Dust while still having the explosive draws that can cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn 4.
The other deck that I have been having success with and wanted to share was Grixis Death's Shadow. You may be more familiar with Death's Shadow Zoo, and while the decks are similar in name, they are different in practice. Death's Shadow Zoo has more creatures and can play the role of an aggressive beatdown deck, while Grixis Death's Shadow is more “combo”-oriented and is looking to end the game through one big attack on turn 3 or 4.
This fundamental difference is magnified by the different color choices, with blue being utilized for card selection and protection. Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand are the best one-mana card selection options currently in Modern, and they do a nice job finding the piece that you are missing. Temur Battle Rage is the biggest payoff to the deck and the card you want to find every game, and the blue spells help you do that.
Kiln Fiend is an extremely explosive creature that is quite capable of ending the game with a Temur Battle Rage the turn you untap with it on the battlefield. Turn 3 kills are not uncommon at all if you play a Kiln Fiend on turn 2. Imagine the following sequence of turns:
That's twenty trample damage on turn 3! Add two more if you cast Mutagenic Growth. Add in the fact that sequence can have protection turn 1 with Thoughtseize, 2 with Mutagenic Growth, and 3 with Stubborn Denial, and that is a turn 3 kill that is very hard to stop. When you do have Kiln Fiend in hand, it is often correct to wait to cast your Gitaxian Probe to get the additional trigger, although extra Probes or Street Wraiths can be used to find Temur Battle Rage if need be. Don't forget that Stubborn Denial is also always ferocious with a Kiln Fiend on the battlefield.
Some people refer to this deck as simply a “worse version of Infect,” which it may be, but that doesn't mean it's not explosive. I've also been asked many times which version of Death's Shadow I prefer, and honestly, if I were playing one this weekend at #SCGNY with the goal of winning the tournament, I would sleeve up Grixis Death's Shadow. I'll probably be playing Infect again this weekend, though, as when I'm this close to making the Players' Championship I need to be playing what I think is the best deck in the room.
Comments from Last Week
I would like to finish my article out today by covering a couple comments from last week's article. If you would like to be featured in next week's Comments from Last Week section, then leave a question or comment below and be sure to come back next week to see if you made the cut!
Ever think of adding in white to the delirium list and possibly going Hangarback Walker plus Dramoka's Command and using Declaration in Stone as our sorcery? I was getting delirium as early as turn 3 and allowing our Grim Flayer to get in for 5 damage on the turn. I felt white brought a lot to the table and adventured down the route a bit.
It is possible to turn the deck into Abzan Delirium, but that would take quite an overhaul. I don't believe that playing Gnarlwood Dryad and Deathmist Raptor along with Grasp of Darkness would be reliable with a three-color manabase, and so the deck would need to completely change. Besides the addition of more removal, which there is already plenty in black in my opinion, white doesn't add much that the deck was looking for, and I am satisfied to keep the deck two colors.
Besides, in G/W Tokens that has multiple synergies with the card, I don't believe that Hangarback Walker is well-positioned currently. It matches up very poorly against both Reflector Mage and Spell Queller from Bant Company, as well as against Kozilek's Return from the new Emerge decks.
What are you boarding out for Nissa in Modern? Does it vary depending on the type of removal spell deck you are playing against, i.e. Jund/Grixis/UWx?
-Tian Kuang Kai
In the matchups where I'm bringing in Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, I am removing some of the pump spells from the deck because I want more threats over fragile instants. I don't like taking out all of the same pump spell, as it's nice to still have variety in the deck. I don't take out Vines of Vastwood at all because it can still “counter” removal spells, but Might of Old Krosa, Mutagenic Growth, and Become Immense can all be trimmed down, in that order.
Modern is an incredibly diverse format, and if you are looking for something new to pick up for #SCGNY, try out either Eldrazi Tron or Grixis Death's Shadow. I've been having success with both and I plan on playing both of them on the SCG Tour® in the future soon. If only every weekend were Modern!