Digging Up Modern's Hidden Gems For SCG Columbus
Start your year off right.
Start it with Modern.
It's the beginning of 2018 which means it's Modern season. You know why? Because it's always Modern season.
#SCGCOL will be the first chance to take down a Modern event in the new year before the Modern Pro Tour. With Rivals of Ixalan previews just starting to drop, they will hopefully shake up many formats, Modern included.
I'm thinking the new Rivals of Ixalan card Silvergill Adept is the early standout candidate that could be a great card for Modern Merfolk!
What's that? It's a reprint and already the best card in Merfolk? Well then…
But there are some gems of decks that are already hidden below the surface of the vast Modern metagame. Today we explore them, along with their strengths and weaknesses!
- 1 Avalanche Riders
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Felidar Guardian
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 1 Meddling Mage
- 1 Reflector Mage
- 4 Renegade Rallier
- 2 Sun Titan
- 1 Thragtusk
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 1 Sigarda, Heron's Grace
Lotus Cobra is amazing with Renegade Rallier, effectively allowing you to cast the Renegade Rallier for free if you have Lotus Cobra out and return a fetchland with it since you generate three mana with a fresh fetchland. That's with just one Cobra, considering Rallier can return Lotus Cobra to the battlefield and you can also copy Rallier or Cobra with Saheeli Rai, it's easy for things to get out of hand and onto the battlefield in a hurry.
Speaking of which, Saheeli Rai has a lot of great targets to copy. Felidar Guardian for the win, but Sun Titan is as well if you have two Saheelis in the graveyard. Avalanche Riders, Eternal Witness, Reflector Mage, and Thragtusk all provide an extra chunk of value when you copy them.
Overall the deck has a solid midrange gameplan with lots of value with the explosive combo potential mixed in.
Not doing anything inherently broken (by Modern's standards) and lots of moving parts that need to align for busted draws.
Sigarda, Heron's Grace is a spicy meatball since its hexproof ability is great for Saheeli Rai considerations. No need to worry about a Lightning Bolt disrupting your Felidar Guardian infinite combo by killing Saheeli Rai, since all Humans have hexproof, and guess what, you're a Human. Congratulations! Avalanche Riders, Eternal Witness, Renegade Rallier, Reflector Mage, and Izzet Staticaster are all Human as well, which means Sigarda, Heron's Grace protects them as well. You can copy them with Saheeli freely.
Vs the Gauntlet:
Tron: Solid. Avalanche Riders goes a surprisingly long way when you can tutor it up and reuse it any number of different ways. You also have Acidic Slime after sideboard.
Grixis Death's Shadow: Slightly unfavored. They have answers for everything you can throw at them, but you have a lot of value creatures that will make it difficult for them to deal with everything.
U/R Gifts Storm: Bad. Your interaction is weak and they can combo off faster than you. Storm players will likely expect some shenanigans in the form of Eidolon of Rhetoric after sideboard and be prepared.
Jeskai: Slightly favored. You should have a better value engine and not be too likely to get burnt out.
The deck is fairly cheap, both in mana cost and overall card cost. Your opponents will probably not be very familiar playing against you which will give you a small advantage as well. Martyr of Sands is an incredibly powerful lifegain card that will win you matchups where the lifegain is highly relevant.
There's a reason that we haven't seen much Martyr of Sands + Proclamation of Rebirth in the meta for such a long time; Many of the top decks can just punch through a couple hundred points of lifegain or can kill faster than you can set up. Fatal Push becoming ubiquitous in the format means that even a quick 6/6 Serra Ascendant isn't a surefire path to victory either.
Adding black to the deck allows you to play with Orzhov Charm which is a really nice addition to the deck, as it allows you to kill opposing creatures or return a Martyr of Sands or Serra Ascendant directly to the battlefield. Some other black cards worth considering if you want to go that route are Anguished Unmaking and Vizkopa Guildmage.
I've seen some lists running Aetherflux Reservoir as a neat way to kill your opponent when you get up to 50 life. Surprise! It definitely fits the theme of the deck, but I don't think that it is competitive enough to improve the deck.
Vs the Gauntlet:
Tron: Very bad. You have almost no way to interact with them and your lifegain won't help you win the game. Your only chance is to try and quickly race them down with Serra Ascendant.
Grixis Death's Shadow: Reasonable. Your abundance of creatures will make it difficult for them to attack you without you gaining the upper hand in a race situation.
U/R Gifts Storm: Terrible. They're going to be able to go off very quickly before you can gain a reasonable amount of life to get out of Grapeshot range. You also aren't well equipped to keep Goblin Electromancer and Baral, Chief of Compliance off of the battlefield.
Burn: Fantastic! Here's where the life gain is really just going to win you the game. You always have to be aware of Skullcrack though. Nothing in Magic is an auto-win matchup, but you definitely have all the tools to win.
Jeskai: Favored. Jeskai as it is built nowadays is slanted a bit more to the aggressive side, which gives you the edge. Most Jeskai is just fancy Burn.dec right now so lifegain can negate a lot of the burn spells that they throw at you, and your late game ramps up nicely.
Don't need to worry what your opponents cards are if your opponent doesn't have any cards.
The Rack and Shrieking Affliction present a quick clock and are hard to play around as your opponent is put into a bind of trying to play out cards to win the game or trying to hold on to them so that they don't die and then you can just make them discard them anyways.
The issue of "You Can't Thoughtseize The Top of their Deck". ™ Patent Pending.
I'd like to draw special attention to Delirium Skeins as a way to make your opponent discard cards even when they are protected by Leyline of Sanctity or Witchbane Orb. If your opponent is protected by one of these two cards, you'll likely have useless targeted discard in your hand anyways, so it works out perfectly. Ensnaring Bridge is occasionally just game over for your opponent in some matchups. Take that, Humans! The other nice card is Bontu's Last Reckoning, which gives an underpriced wrath effect against creature-heavy decks.
Vs the Gauntlet:
Tron: Tricky. Tron can quickly get a lot of mana onto the battlefield before you have a chance to properly disrupt them. From there they are usually just one good topdeck away from winning the game.
Grixis Death's Shadow: Reasonable. They are quite threat-light, so if you can prevent them from landing a creature with either discard or removal, you'll have plenty of time to kill them. Also, if they hurt themselves too much, you'll have an easy time racking up wins by burning them.
U/R Gifts Storm: Solid. You have to be careful of them going off with Past in Flames, which, when it resolves with sufficient mana, allows them to undo all your hard work of making them discard. If they resolve a Gifts Ungiven, make sure to take into account what discard spells you'll be casting in the upcoming turns to make sure it's effective when divvying up the piles.
Burn: Not good. All their cards cost one or two mana so they can quickly unload their hand. They should also be faster than you on average.
If you start comboing off with this deck right now, you'll finish killing your opponent next New Years Eve at exactly midnight. All you need is some perseverance and a clan-do attitude.
This deck's good draws are quite fast and it can pretty easily go off on turn 3 with some artifact acceleration into a Krark-Clan Ironworks. You sacrifice artifacts for a Scrap Trawler and each new artifact you draw allows you to rebuy a chain of lesser artifacts while making more and more mana until you can eventually cast an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
Fast, robust, and versatile. It's robust and versatile in that it can do amazing things with Engineered Explosives to clean up almost anything and it can use cards like Scrap Trawler and Hangarback Walker for value even when you're not comboing off.
All the hate in format basically smashes this deck directly on the chin. Splash hate that was targeted towards Affinity and other artifact decks like Stony Silence and Ceremonious Rejection are both amazing against it. Graveyard hate is also very potent against this deck. Even Chalice of the Void is a beating!
- 1 Snapcaster Mage
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
- 4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
- 3 Obzedat, Ghost Council
This deck is very far off the radar. It has excellent spot removal with Fatal Push, Path to Exile, and Snapcaster Mage. Decks with large creatures are going to have trouble keeping them on the table. You get to be a control deck, but can also have excellent combo turns where you return Obzedat, Ghost Council or Jace, Vryn's Prodigy (and flip it) with Goryo's Vengeance.
Without any counter magic in the deck you'll be weak to topdecked non-creature threats, so your only option is try to go over them using reanimation. Since you're reliant on the graveyard, hate can disrupt your gameplan. It both shuts down your Gifts Ungiven package with Unburial Rites and also prevents you from getting five cards in the graveyard to flip Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.
It would be possible to add a fourth color in green, which would give you access to mana acceleration such as Birds of Paradise and possibly even Sylvan Caryatid. The speed boost makes the Gifts Ungiven combo plan even more explosive.
Vs the Gauntlet:
Tron: Wretched. Your cards don't line up well versus this big mana strategy. Reanimating an Iona, Shield of Emeria that can't stop colorless spells is downright tragic. The Esper colors don't give you many ways from preventing your opponent from getting Tron online. Since you're a three-color deck, you don't really have room for Ghost Quarter or Field of Ruin.
Grixis Death's Shadow: Nice. Your spot removal really makes it difficult for them to keep a creature to beat you with, and Iona naming black should lock them out.
U/R Gifts Storm: Reasonable. Spot removal for the creatures and a bit of discard give you a reasonable chance of winning. Iona on red in game 1 should be game.
Burn: Awesome. Four Collective Brutality in the maindeck against Burn is a dream that I want to live one day, and this is just the deck to make it happen.
Jeskai: Tricky. They'll be able to disrupt a lot of your big plays and race you with creatures in conjunction with burn spells to get you dead before you can get established.
That's it for me today, see you next week when there will undoubtedly be some juicy new Rivals of Ixalan to sink our teeth into.