There was a lot of Modern being played this past weekend.
There was #SCGBALT and a Grand Prix in Copenhagen and Kobe.
One of the best things about Modern is the diversity and the strange card choices that not only see play but succeed as well.
Today we will celebrate that diversity by going over the most interesting decks that caught my eye from the past weekend. That means, for today, it's a Death's Shadow-free zone. Let's begin!
- 2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
- 1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
- 1 Gideon Jura
- 2 Gideon of the Trials
- 4 Nahiri, the Harbinger
W/R Prison has taken on numerous different forms, since it's a fairly new deck, but the core of the deck is usually the same. The main idea is to disrupt the opponent with Chalice of the Void, Blood Moon, and removal and then mop up with planeswalkers, namely Nahiri, the Harbinger searching for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
This particular version is sporting some sweet new tools from Amonkhet as well.
Sweltering Suns is an exciting card for Modern. There are plenty of matchups where your Wrath of God effects would otherwise do nothing, so being able to simply cycle it away is a great option. Not exciting, but the matchups where Sweltering Suns is amazing tend to balance out the ones where you're paying three mana to draw a card.
Gideon of the Trials is versatile and cheap for a planeswalker which makes it notable. I imagine locking down an opponent's creature will be its primary use, but disrupting combo decks by not losing the game as long as you control a Gideon or pressuring opposing planeswalkers seems decent as well.
Part control. Part combo. All toolbox.
Versatility is the name of the game, thanks to Bring to Light.
Getting to play four Fatal Push in a Scapeshift deck seems great. Well, the idea of it seems great in theory; usually you can't support it with the manabase. It still seems like a bit of a stretch, but you have plenty of fixing and Fatal Push seems necessary for pushing backing Death's Shadow another day.
Pulse of Murasa is a nice tutor target against burn decks, but it also generates a steady amount of value in the form of lifegain. You'll almost always have a land to get back, but can also return Sakura-Tribe Elder to turn it into an expensive form of ramp, or Snapcaster Mage if you're in need of Kolaghan's Command-style value.
A new Jeskai list is always interesting, especially when it's winning the Modern Classic at #SCGBALT.
Looks like a solid classic Jeskai style that I approve of.
Jeskai has access to plenty of different counters, and the diverse counter choices in the maindeck reflect that.
Censor is interesting to me. Adrian Sullivan makes a case towards its potential in Modern, but I'm not sold yet.
On the one hand, it's incredibly versatile, and your opponents are often tapping out in the early-game anyway, which makes it no worse than Mana Leak. You also might find yourself facing down a Cavern of Souls, allowing you replace Censor with a new card.
On the other hand, there will be many situations where you won't be able to counter spells that Mana Leak otherwise would, even in the early-game. Death's Shadow is the perfect example of a card Censor will almost never get, but Mana Leak often will.
I think in Modern the punishment is too harsh if you're missing opportunities to counter a spell because your opponent has a mana left over. Likewise, there is less time for you to find a mana to spare to cycle it into a new card.
Logic Knot varies greatly in value as well. As the game goes on, Logic Knot becomes much more of a hard counter than Mana Leak does. It will often average out to being approximately Mana Leak, but can easily just be Censor quality (or worse!) the first few turns, or downright uncastable, since it's two blue mana. Logic Knot also gets worse the more copies of it you draw, since you may only have access to limited fuel for delve.
I suppose it mostly comes down to me really liking Mana Leak. Mana Leak is pure gold in the early-game and I find retains a surprising amount of value even as the game goes on. The efficiency of Mana Leak still seems like it's the best option to me.
Once again a tempo Jeskai variant is having success relying on a gameplan of counters, burn, and card advantage. Spell Queller bridges the gap by potentially being all three of these things in some capacity. It's certainly kind of a counter, while also kind of being burn, and kind of card advantage.
I think Grim Lavamancer is an underrated sideboard card that can win games by itself. It's also going to get much better if there are more Devoted Druids popping up in the format for the Lavamancer to feast on.
Once again, Logic Knot appears over Mana Leak. I played Logic Knot in a deck that won a Pro Tour, so I definitely appreciate it, but I'm relatively sure at least one of those should be a Mana Leak. Especially with three Grim Lavamancer's postboard, also hungry for the graveyard.
Spreading Seas is a great way to catch an opponent off-guard and potentially sneak out wins as well. Plenty of manabases are greedy and it's one of the best cards to drop turn 2 when you're on the play.
Now this is a Modern deck!
You might think it strange to find Glory-Bound Initiate maindeck in an Esper Control list in Modern.
I would agree with you.
There are actually tons of ways to incidentally gain life in this list, which makes Painful Truths amazing. Batterskull, Shambling Vent, and Collective Brutality all help you stay alive after drawing a bunch of cards at a good rate.
Devour Flesh is a tech card I like to help punish Death's Shadow, similar to Condemn. The main problem with Condemn is that Death's Shadow decks are packing Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek, which not only allow them to play around it but also just make you discard the Condemn. Being proactive when you can is the name of the game.
Say you cast Devour Flesh against your opponent's battlefield of three Death's Shadows. Your opponent will have to sacrifice one, and no matter what their life total was, it will always set their life total to thirteen and kill the rest. Not bad.
That's what makes Modern great and shows how unexpected cards and decks can prosper.
- 1 Walking Ballista
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Devoted Druid
- 2 Duskwatch Recruiter
- 4 Eternal Witness
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Reflector Mage
- 4 Vizier of Remedies
I think it's safe to say that Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies are here to stay; even if they didn't have the most dominating performance this past week, they definitely made their presence felt. Turns out making arbitrarily large amounts of mana is pretty good.
The basic idea is you use Knight of the Reliquary to search up lands and Retreat to Coralhelm to untap Knight of the Reliquary each time you do so. Then you use Kessig Wolf Run to give your gigantic Knight of the Reliquary trample and smack your opponent in the face.
Knight of the Reliquary doesn't quite make arbitrarily large amounts of mana when you have out Retreat to Coralhelm, but it makes plenty, since you get to tap the lands you search up with Knight before sacrificing them and finding new ones.
The Knight combo is much more reliant on having you naturally draw Retreat to Coralhelm. Retreat to Coralhelm is not a good card on its own, but Knight of the Reliquary is, and it's easy to find once you have Retreat to Coralhelm thanks to Chord of Calling and Collected Company.
The blue splash also gives you access to Unified Will in the sideboard, which seems like exactly what the deck wants in plenty of matchups, as well as Izzet Staticaster, which should crush the mirror and Affinity.
- 4 Devoted Druid
- 4 Dwynen's Elite
- 4 Elvish Archdruid
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 2 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Heritage Druid
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 3 Nettle Sentinel
- 1 Vizier of Remedies
- 4 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
The true beauty of the deck is that Ezuri, Renegade Leader is the perfect arbitrarily large amounts of mana win condition because you're already playing it!
Devoted Druid needs to not have summoning sickness for you to combo off already, so your win condition might as well be pumping it up and giving it trample with Ezuri, Renegade Leader once you have arbitrarily large amounts of mana. No need to dedicate slots to Rhonas the Indomitable or Walking Ballista.
The other nice thing is the opportunity cost is so low, since you're just otherwise a normal Elves deck anyway. That said, I could imagine focusing on the combo more with additional copies of Vizier of Remedies and even Eldritch Evolution being an option.
More Modern, More Decklists
That's all the time we have for today, but if there's one thing that's true about Modern, it's that it's always changing and there will always be new lists cropping up.
I hope you enjoyed this exploration off the beaten path and may have found inspiration from today's lists. What Modern decks are you looking forward to playing? Let me know in the comments.