Maybe I'm crazy, but I have to say, I'm excited about Modern again.
I don't know that that means that I'm going to love Modern once things get hammered out, but I'm pumped about how the matches I've been playing have been working out, regardless of whether or not I've been winning or losing.
And I have had some massive losing streaks in there.
If you're not sure why I'm excited about Modern, I'll sum it up for you in just a few cards:
It doesn't take much of a change for a format to wildly shift. We've seen this be true in Standard, more than once, and it is certainly true in a format as big as even Modern is.
In the new world, Fatal Push feels like the card that really is going to be having the biggest effect on the format; when I think about decks like Grixis Control, especially builds that feel very thought out, like GerryT's or Corey Burkhart's (with Fatal Push added in), I see a deck that is well-suited to taking on a controlling role versus a huge number of decks. In the face of Grixis Control, a deck like Burn used to be a frightening problem. Now, even with just a few copies of Fatal Push, the hyper-aggressive decks take a big hit, leaving only the decks with massive go-over-the-top effects in the mix.
With that thought in mind, I took my old Mardu Planeswalkers list, changed its focus from Eldrazi to Grixis, and brainstormed a more pure B/R build. So, since my list was completely untested, of course I went 5-0.
I took it for a few more runs, going 4-1, 4-1, 1-4, and 2-3. While I did start out with a big splash, I stabilized closer to earth.
This was a really rough build, not intended to be a final list, and I think the deck likely has a few mistakes in it. First of all, I'm not running Fatal Push in the list for a simple reason: I hadn't acquired any yet. Second, the mana definitely feels a bit off. Again, that is unsurprising, because I had put it together quickly. Third, the sideboard feels like a bit of a mess.
Still, the 5-0 included a lot of Grixis Control decks as my opponents. It was exciting to play a long game, especially after sideboarding, when you knew you would be able to use discard to push through a powerful card like Blood Moon, but especially when you could just set up late-game crushing disruption of their mana:
For me, there is a lot to like about this list, despite its flaws. I love how powerful it feels to run Talisman of Indulgence in the current metagame. Especially once the Fatal Pushes are fit into the deck, you get obscene lines like turn 1 discard/Bolt into acceleration and discard/Bolt, followed by four mana on turn 3.
In addition, this is a nice feeling:
While this deck can't get Karn Liberated onto the battlefield as quickly as Tron, it is shockingly consistent at it nonetheless. This is made all the more exciting by being able to set up the play with discard.
It's very possible that this deck wants to be a three-color deck, like my deck from GP Detroit. As far as first drafts go, I'm pretty excited, and know that I'll be developing this one further, starting with the simple stuff like adding in two Fatal Push and ending with complicated stuff like honing the mana (and a whole lot of things in between those two).
Ah, good ol' Rock. B/G Midrange is a huge pet deck of mine, and up until now, it has suffered something important.
It didn't have a card worthy of Lightning Bolt's slot in a traditional Jund-style deck, and so you had to make do with the other cards you didn't really want to run. Fatal Push saves the pure two-color build in a way no card would otherwise be able to.
Here was my first brew of the deck:
It's absolutely exciting to me to be able to play this set of cards together. One of the huge strengths of straight B/G Midrange as opposed to Abzan and Jund has always been that the mana consistency does matter, especially against decks with a strong ability to go after your life total. The other aspect that appeals is the payoff in getting to play one hell of a horrifying card at BBBB:
It cannot be understated how difficult this card is to interact with fairly. I've had numerous games against any number of opponents, from Tron to Affinity to Burn to other B/G/x midrange decks that see this card hit the table and are completely shut down where another card like Pia and Kiran Nalaar or Siege Rhino would maybe get a grimace but not keep the attack from coming in.
I've always liked to joke that this deck is a "combo deck" because of Phyrexian Obliterator and its little friend:
It looks silly, but if it resolves, a Setessan Tactics in conjunction with Phyrexian Obliterator is utterly devastating. It's cheeky, but in some matchups, you literally sideboard in the extra Obliterator and the two Tactics because you aren't likely to win unless you get the combo off. Regardless, in many fair matchups, both cards are simply powerhouses on their own.
It is worth discussing why this deck isn't running a set of Tarmogoyf. Right now, that choice is basically an experiment; to quote Zac Hill, "Tarmogoyf is just a creature with power and toughness. Sometimes you don't need a creature with power and toughness."
Tarmogoyf may well be the best creature with power and toughness Magic has ever seen, but I'm somewhat of the opinion that right now, at this very moment, that isn't the kind of card that we're all in the market for. Lotus Cobra can create explosive draws that will have a lasting effect on the game even after it is dead, Dark Confidant can run away with the game, and Scavenging Ooze can have a deep impact on a lot of common strategies in the game right now.
I've run this experiment in the past. Every time that I do, I do end up with Tarmogoyf in the deck – usually four, though on rare occasion three – but "new" formats are often the best time for experimentation.
I first started working on this deck basically right after it was clear that Nahiri, the Harbinger and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn were the most ironically fabulous couple one could find. The basic concept of "protect the queen and win" was at its most obvious with this deck, although in the Mardu color combination the ways to accomplish this task were almost endless.
Now that we have Fatal Push, here is my current take:
- 1 Ajani Vengeant
- 1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
- 3 Liliana of the Veil
- 1 Liliana, the Last Hope
- 4 Nahiri, the Harbinger
- 1 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
One of the reasons that this deck has just gotten an enormous boost is simple:
You don't need to cast Path to Exile.
Despite all of that, it is incredible to be able to cast Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push and Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize all from the same land. The sheer amount of times that you were absolutely obligated to start the game at seventeen or fifteen life when playing the Path to Exile build of this deck was intense.
With a much smaller reliance on white, you can get away with a few intensely powerful things. First of all, your two colorless lands, Kher Keep and Vault of the Archangel, are able to powerfully defend your planeswalkers while they ramp up. Further, your slightly less stretched life total also means you can push your high-end more, and you get to add a few more planeswalkers to the mix as well.
I'd love to actually run less Liliana of the Veil, but I don't know that I can manage it. Three is definitely the most that I want to run, and now that Collective Brutality is in the deck, I think I can get away with this number so that you can ditch a drawn Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in time for Nahiri to rarely, if ever, be unable to immediately cause a ruckus with the fifteen-drop.
If I did drop that Lili, I'd actually just replace it with the other Lili: Liliana, the Last Hope. In a way, Liliana, the Last Hope is an excellent "fifth Nahiri" in that it plays as a one-card "protect the queen" win. In addition, after sideboarding, I absolutely love Fulminator Mage and Liliana, the Last Hope as a combination of disruption to give Tron and similar decks a rough time.
I'm still honing the sideboard, but the maindeck I'm really happy with. I can see alternate builds that find room for Wall of Omens, Anger of the Gods (or Terminus), or Painful Truths. There aren't many other cards that have caught my eye, though occasionally I find myself contemplating Crackling Doom.
More Fatal Push Brews
There are a ton of decks that I'm thinking about that use Fatal Push. I have a rebuild of full-on Mardu Planeswalkers ("Hellfire Club") that I'm tinkering with, a gentle nudge of Lantern Control with sideboard Fatal Push (and a more radical Spire of Industry build), Esper Planeswalkers, straight old-fashioned Esper Control, Cruel Control, a redo on the so-called "Sullivan Special" (Bloodchief Ascension), and many, many more.
I don't know if I'll get to them all. I just know it's exciting to be thinking about so many brewing possibilities! I hope you're brewing now as much as I am!