As a format, Modern is in an interesting place right now.
There is a large contingent of people who swear that it is the best format in the game, and attendance at Modern events would tend to indicate that this contingent is the majority. There is also a sizeable group that hates the way the format plays out: broken decks, fair but infuriating decks, and Affinity. Every now and then one of the broken decks gets too broken, something gets banned, and one of the lower-tier broken decks rises up to take its place. Although I belong more in the first camp than the second, I can certainly understand why, at the highest levels, there is some frustration with the format.
Fortunately, the decks we brew up here are by and large not meant for play at the highest level. As I have said several times before, you can get those ideas from any of the professional players right here on this fine website. Here we target fun first, and Ixalan gives us plenty of options for that.
- 1 Ajani Steadfast
- 1 Gideon Jura
- 4 Jace, Architect of Thought
- 2 Jace, Cunning Castaway
- 2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
- 3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
- 3 Tamiyo, Field Researcher
- 1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
- 1 Xenagos, the Reveler
The biggest boon to one of my favorite decks might actually be the change to the rules for planeswalkers. In case you missed it, all planeswalkers are now legendary and abide by those rules instead of having their own planeswalker rule. What this allows that was previously not possible is for two planeswalkers of the same type (for example, two Jaces) to be on our side of the battlefield at the same time. While many people have taken advantage of this with Gideon Tribal decks (and I probably will too, to be honest), there was no way I would pass up the chance to update Doubling Planeswalkers.
Jace, Cunning Castaway is the obvious addition to the deck and the one that brings me closer to cutting red altogether. As good as Nahiri, the Harbinger and Xenagos, the Reveler are in the deck, being able to smooth out my mana and take less damage from my lands is an appealing idea. Not only does the newest (and most stylish) Jace ultimate immediately under a Doubling Season, he also gives you a nigh-unassailable battlefield state that can easily come back from even an opposing sweeper. Unlike many of our other planeswalkers, though, Onesie Jace is not that great without Doubling Season, so we need to be conservative with the number we play.
There are a few other changes to this deck since we last discussed it. Ajani Steadfast has been incredible in the deck and actually displaced Garruk Wildspeaker in the main because of the ability to get other planeswalkers closer to their ultimate. Supreme Verdict might seem counter-intuitive, given our desire to ramp out Doubling Season, but the matches where we want it are the ones against which we will often need to trade off or chump with our mana creatures. It's possible we want Ghostly Prison here instead, but I have been happy with Verdict so far.
There are a couple of other ways to build this. One is to go more Temur, splashing white for Nahiri and Tamiyo, Field Researcher. Another is to eschew mana creatures and Utopia Sprawls for Tron lands, which combine beautifully with Oath of Nissa. While the former is probably quite powerful,l as it gets to play Ral Zarek and extra copies of Xenagos, the latter is quite all-in on Oath of Nissa. Fun idea, but likely bad in practice.
Devoted to Explosions
I told you I was going to do it. I don't know that this is the best way to build the deck, especially with Swans of Bryn Argoll potentially decking us, but I am perfectly fine with that. Draw thirteen, you say? I accept your terms.
The split on Star of Extinction and Blasphemous Act is a hedge against needing seven mana for Star and needing a lot of creatures for the Act. Demigod of Revenge might be optimistic at five mana and with no way to discard the extra copies, but Nykthos does make the cost much easier and they do provide a consistent threat. Spitemare is a much worse Boros Reckoner, yet is immune to Abrupt Decay and therefore can help us against B/G/X decks.
The sideboard is mostly guesswork. Blood Moon is definitely worthy of a slot in the 75, as is Simian Spirit Guide. I can see a case for Faithless Looting and the Spirit Guide in the maindeck, possibly over Spitemare, but I do not want to dilute our principal win condition too far. Drawing cards won't be hard once we find the Swans, of course.
The scary thing about this deck is how hard it folds to Path to Exile. Demigod of Revenge provides some insurance against hard removal like Terminate, but Path just ruins our gameplan. Those decks are the reason we have Seismic Assault in the sideboard, but that might not be enough. Just something to watch out for.
- 2 Aven Mindcensor
- 4 Eldrazi Displacer
- 2 Eternal Witness
- 4 Leonin Arbiter
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Ramunap Excavator
- 4 Renegade Rallier
- 1 Tireless Tracker
- 3 Voice of Resurgence
This is a slightly more "you do nothing" version of Todd Stevens's Value Town deck that adds Field of Ruin to the mix. With added lands that make colorless, Eldrazi Displacer and Renegade Rallier join the party to continue the "no lands for you" party and also recur some of our better cards.
Dryad Militant is one card that might need to be in this list somewhere. Renegade Rallier as it stands does not have a lot of recursion targets outside of lands in this deck, and the Militant has a lot of utility in a format that includes Snapcaster Mage. Aethergeode Miner, believe it or not, is another card I have considered because of the free revolt enabling. Similarly I really like Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit as a way to grow the team.
The great thing about this sort of deck is how flexible it can be. Cards like Lone Missionary and Leonin Relic-Warder can slot into the sideboard to suit your metagame. Inquisitor Exarch gives you some reach if something like Lantern Control is a thing. Resilient Khenra can push through damage. Even Riftsweeper has potential applications.
One card I am tempted but scared to try here is Old-Growth Dryads. Turn 1 Noble Hierarch can lead to a Turn 2 Leonin Arbiter plus Old-Growth Dryads, leaving you with a lot of power and your opponent unable to do much about it. With so many decks in Modern being light on basic lands, the Dryads might not be a bad idea anyway, but the risk is still there. Something to test for sure, especially in the sideboard.
- 3 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 1 Deadeye Tracker
- 3 Kitesail Freebooter
- 3 Mayor of Avabruck
- 2 Meddling Mage
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 2 Captain Lannery Storm
- 2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Human Company is a deck I keep looking at in case it has become viable again. The addition of a few cards has my interest once again elevated, not least of which is Kitesail Freebooter. The body isn't impressive, but the ability is something that this deck sorely wants and has not had until now: hand hate. We used to have to play Tidehollow Sculler for this effect, and now we have the Freebooter to take anything and, in sideboarded games, Sin Collector to eat their removal or sweepers.
Captain Lannery Storm is an interesting card. Treasure is tremendously useful in a deck that needs mana in several colors, especially when we sometimes want to sacrifice those Treasures mid-combat for surprise Collected Company shenanigans. The body might be a little fragile, but then most of them are, so that's not really a drawback.
Deadeye Tracker is a puzzle. I would not want more than one because it does cost mana to activate, but it also helps improve your draws while potentially growing. The one-of is a nod to the speculative nature of the inclusion, but if it does end up being good, I can see extra copies in the sideboard to keep graveyards in check. If we go that route, the manabase will need a small tweak.
Unclaimed Territory is our other addition. Apart from making our Reflecting Pool even better, it helps with the five-color nature of the deck. Lands might not seem terribly exciting, especially when they are just worse versions of Cavern of Souls, but this card led me away from "maybe Bant Human Company is best" and into "all the colors, all the time, please!"
One potential error is not having Fiend Hunter or Banisher Priest anywhere in the 75. Reflector Mage is good, especially against Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang, but sometimes you need something more permanent. I'm also a little sketchy about the manabase, which is not surprising when you play five colors.
Brews for Days
We're a little shorter on the brews here than in Standard, but that's not unusual when you consider that Modern takes a little longer to adapt to new sets. With that in mind, that's all we have for today, folks. As always, thanks for stopping by. I'll be back soon with a requested article: the Soul Sisters Guide. Until next time...Brew On!