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Back in July I left for Japan to compete at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation. My team Genesis was in second place and just needed to hold strong. We did so on the back of Seth Manfield as he put himself into the Top 8 and catapulted us to the very first Team Worlds finals.
Why is this relevant, you ask? Well this Pro Tour happened right after the Season One Invitational, which was the last time I played a format that wasn't Limited or Standard. That's right: I've been stuck in Standard/Limited limbo for the longest time. I would have for even longer if it wasn't for the fact that Ben Stark is my SCG Baltimore team's Standard player. Yes, we did play for it in Round 15 of Grand Prix Atlanta.
If that's against the rules, then I'm clearly joking.
Now, it's not like I'm straight complaining about playing Standard. Clearly I enjoy the format. It's just not that fun to do over and over again when it's this stagnant. It's also not like I get to escape it altogether either, as half of the upcoming Invitational is also Standard. It's just nice to know my extended knowledge on the format's not going to waste. Here's a few free ones for those who came here for Standard advice.
1) Ben Stark's "Desert Red" will be worse now that it's known. Still good against Temur.
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 3 Glorybringer
- 3 Rampaging Ferocidon
- 3 Sand Strangler
- 3 Soul-Scar Mage
- 1 Hazoret the Fervent
- 2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
3) Don't play Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, as Negate's becoming more popular in the Temur mirror.
4) Bring in Chandra's Defeat in on the draw in the Temur mirror. Only two. Wait, no. Play three.
6) The Scarab God is not as good as it once was. Splashing for it has become more of a liability than a boon.
7) Vizier of the Many Faces is a messed-up Magic card in the Energy "mirrors." Even against Sultai. Running two or three is a must.
So after four months of straight Standard and Limited preparation, I find myself once again diving into Modern. Now, last time I did this, things worked out well. I sifted through all the decklists and found myself liking the look of Grixis Death's Shadow. Little did I know that the deck wasn't super-popularized yet, at least not in live events. I took it to the Modern Open in Baltimore and sliced through that event just like Ben, Brian, and I will this weekend.
I kept on playing that deck through the Season One Invitational, but things didn't go as well for me. I ended up going 2-2 in the Modern portion, and even my wins were struggles. The metagame adapted to the deck, and it just wasn't as good as it was a month or two earlier. That's really how things go in Modern. A high-powered deck shows up and catches the metagame off-guard. The metagame then reacts, causing the new "deck to beat" to become beaten. I believe it was Mufasa who said it best: "All decks will eventually die, and become eaten by the antelopes, thus completing the cyclical nature of Modern."
Jumping back into Modern after an extended absence is rather daunting. There's the "play what you know" strategy, but what happens if the decks you're familiar with aren't well-positioned? You can emphatically test the "best deck" at the time, but the paranoia of being less knowledgeable can be quite real. Not only will the metagame be adapted to the strategy, but also those who have a deck they're familiar with will almost assuredly be comfortable in that matchup. It could be your first time in the matchup, making it difficult to know everything that could possibly happen, especially their specific sideboard strategies. The whole ordeal is just stressful! Especially when every deck will be present regardless of metagame predictions and recent tournament results. What is a person to do?