This past weekend was the SCG Season Two Invitational and, unfortunately, I didn't do a lot of winning. Part of this reason was my lack of success in Modern. Modern is in a pretty diverse spot, but I actually think there are only a handful of viable decks. This upcoming weekend is Grand Prix Oklahoma City, and while I won't be in attendance, hopefully I can share some of my insights on Modern, as I've spent the last two weeks playing nothing but that format.
The deck that I played in the Invitational was a bit unconventional. I had been doing a lot of testing online and been going 4-1 and 5-0 in Leagues. I was obsessed with the card Field of Ruin, started with B/G Midrange with four of them, and eventually found myself with a different deck. Here is the list that I played:
So why was my record so good online, but bad in real life? I think the answer is that the Magic Online metagame is vastly different from one you will face at a StarCityGames.com® event or even a Grand Prix. Many people in Modern in real life have a pet deck or a deck they choose to play at a majority of tournaments. This leads to a much more diverse metagame. Playing a reactive deck against such a wide variety of decks is always dangerous.
Still, I did like my deck. Despite being a reactive strategy, it was able to play a proactive role by constricting resources with one-mana discard and Liliana of the Veil.
In fact, I played four Lilianas in the Open the following day as well and cut the cheap counters for Spreading Seas. Going forward, I would try playing Esper and cut Field of Ruins. But that is also very disappointing, as I think Field of Ruin is an excellent card in Modern.
Part of me feels a lot of regret for taking a chance on a new Modern deck in such a small and important tournament. Both the Invitational and the Open were just under 300 people, and tournaments like that are a godsend. That being said, I'm happy that I believed in myself enough to play my new deck in an important tournament and I encourage other people to do the same.
Going forward, I will be only playing proactive strategies and putting very little effort into Modern as a format because I think it is kind of a crapshoot. There are just too many decks to cover with any "fair" deck where you can never beat a deck like Dredge Game 1 in a million years.
Here are the decks that I would consider playing if I were attending Grand Prix Oklahoma City this weekend:
- 4 Arcbound Ravager
- 4 Master of Etherium
- 2 Memnite
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Signal Pest
- 4 Steel Overseer
- 4 Vault Skirge
- 1 Hope of Ghirapur
Affinity had three copies in the Top 16 of the SCG Modern Open this past weekend, all three decks just a mere win away from the Top 8. Affinity is a powerful deck that has a very good Game 1 against a large portion of the field. If players are skimping on artifact hate, things don't get that much worse post-sideboard either.
The one area where Affinity has a huge disadvantage is that fact that Jeskai is a bad matchup. Jeskai has drastically increased in popularity in Modern, and if there's one deck I would guarantee you play in a Modern tournament, it would be Jeskai. While Affinity is on my short list of decks I would consider, I think that, considering the previous information, I wouldn't want to register it for OKC.
Dredge is my frontrunner for best deck to play in the upcoming GP. However, once Dredge has a target on its back and people come prepared, it can become a bad choice in a hurry. I think that we haven't gotten to place where everyone is going to max on graveyard hate, and for that reason I think this deck is a good choice. It is definitely the best Game 1 deck in Modern, and having the advantage of only needing to win one of two sideboarded games is pretty huge.
While I don't necessarily agree with a maindeck Lightning Bolt, I definitely support the maindeck Temur Battle Rages. Grixis Death's Shadow is still one of the best decks in Modern, albeit likely the second-hardest deck to play behind Lantern Control. I suspect this deck will rise again; despite the deck not performing well on Magic Online, like I said before, real-life tournaments are very different. If you have a chance to check out Dan Jessup's win-and-in match at the Invitational, it really showcases the raw power this deck can have.
Lantern still maintains its supreme hold on the format, as we saw Sam Black and Brain Braun-Duin have success with the archetype this past weekend. This deck rewards tons of play and repetition and is a very good deck going forward. If you can get in the physical reps with it for upcoming Modern tournaments, I would highly recommend playing with this deck.
This deck is pretty unpopular in real-life tournaments, but much more popular online. I often felt when I would be paired online against this strategy that it was just a gigantic waste of my time. Perhaps that will now change, since two great players showed its dominance this past weekend.
A big congrats to Eli Kassis, whom I've known for a while in the Magic community. His tournament finishes as of late have been quite impressive. Storm is still a dominant deck and Humans, a deck that rose to beat it, is falling off dramatically. If Grixis Death's Shadow comes back to be a huge contender, I suspect this deck's numbers will go down, but it is still one of the best decks in Modern. I also really like Eli's sweet piece of technology with the Madcap Experiment / Platinum Emperion technology in the sideboard to get around both graveyard hate and sweepers for Empty the Warrens.
- 2 Walking Ballista
- 3 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 World Breaker
- 1 Emrakul, the Promised End
- 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Along with Dredge, I think Tron is another great choice for upcoming tournaments. Don't get me wrong, I hate Tron still, but that doesn't mean I can't recognize the fact that I think it is a good deck. You have a good matchup against all of the fair decks, Grixis Death's Shadow, and Lantern Control, so I expect this deck to continue to do well. Brad Nelson mentioned to me that, while he played Mono-Green Tron in the Invitational, he regretted not playing black, so perhaps that's a good move going forward.
Modern is here to stay, whether we like it or not. It is the chosen format for many of the tournaments this upcoming year, and having a good understanding of it is essential. Be proactive, win games, and pressure the opponent to answer you.