Now that Todd Stevens has been living in Roanoke for about six months, I'm getting to know him pretty well. In particular, I'm getting to know him as a Magic player, and I now see that he's essentially the exact opposite of me. I like to kill my opponent, and the decks that do that best are aggro and combo. They don't much care about what the opponent is doing because their thing, unimpeded, will win.
Todd is too much of a nice guy to kill his opponent. He'd rather sit down, play for 40 minutes, draw a ton of cards, make sure both players played a healthy amount of Magic, and then finish the game mostly as a formality.
Today's deck is much more along the Todd end of the spectrum than the Ross end. It has lots of planeswalkers (most of them Gideons), good removal including some sweepers, and card advantage from Lingering Souls and Night's Whisper. If the game goes really long, then you can even get Cryptbreaker going like you're playing Standard from last spring. This deck is really great at grinding out long games of Magic.
But there's a problem with doing that in Modern: there are lots of Rosses trying to kill you, and this deck is structurally unfit to answer all of them. You could try to play some discard spells, but combo decks in Modern are built to power through those with ease, so in reality you need something more. You need haymakers and you need them to come down quickly because on Turns 3 through 5 you must establish a clock.
Leyline of the Void and Leyline of Sanctity are common sideboard cards in Modern for a reason. They can win games by themselves and there's nothing faster than "Turn 0." They aren't getting countered. They aren't getting Thoughtseized. They are there. And they are great against Storm, Dredge, Scapeshift, and Burn, the four most popular non-interactive decks.
Is it the most elegant plan in the world? No. But it's a powerful one, and that raw power is enough to steal some matches while you spend the rest of the day beating up on the Grixis Death's Shadows and Jeskai Controls in the room. Even if things don't line up perfectly, you're guaranteed to spend way more time playing Todd games of Magic than playing Ross games of Magic.
- 1 Gideon Jura
- 2 Gideon of the Trials
- 3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
- 1 Liliana of the Veil
- 1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
- 1 Sorin, Grim Nemesis