After the unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf, I don't think the dust has quite settled on the Modern metagame yet. But there are definitely a few trends that we need to be paying attention to. I've talked about this concept before , and I still think that underneath the diversity of Modern there is a cycle of archetype rock-paper-scissors that governs the popularity of certain decks.
When I talk about archetypes, I'm not referring to particular decks as much as I'm talking about the overarching archetypes that these decks fall into--traditionally midrange, aggro, control, and combo. Modern has introduced us to a few more archetypes that I believe deserve their own label. These are big mana decks, such as Tron and Valakut decks; and graveyard decks, such as Living End and Dredge.
When looking at the Modern metagame, it's important to identify which of these archetypes are the most popular. Right now, I think that midrange and control are clearly the two most popular archetypes, if for no other reason than people just want to be playing with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf. There are so many grindy decks in Modern right now, everyone is trying to go over the top and out grind each other. Just take a look at what Brennan DeCandio brought to SCG Dallas last weekend!
Brennan was rocking both Bedlam Revelers and Bloodbraid Elves, as well as a full set of Traverse the Ulvenwald to find them. These cards can both generate massive value, and this deck is insanely good at out grinding the opponent.
So we know that everyone loves midrange and control right now, but how can we use this knowledge to gain an edge in Modern? Since we know that midrange and control are currently very popular, we can look at the archetypes that typically prey on midrange and control. The easy answer right now is big mana. Both Tron and TitanShift have fairly strong matchups with any midrange or control decks, so they seem like good places to start.
Julian John has been crushing Modern lately with Tron, so his decklist is an easy starting point for anyone interested in casting Karn Liberated. Tron lines up very well against Jund and most control decks, but this isn't very new or exciting. The next deck on the list does have some new toys to play with, however!
I started testing Bloodbraid Elf in TitanShift this past week and have loved every minute of it. It seems like the inclusion of Bloodbraid Elf would be rather underwhelming in a deck that is trying to do something much more powerful than a 3/2 with haste. But in my experience the 3/2 body has been very relevant in many of my games. Sometimes it gets in a couple of extra points of damage to allow you to close the game earlier. Other times it trades for a ground creature or even just chump blocks a Tarmogoyf to buy you an extra turn.
The four-mana casting cost even works very well in the curve of the deck. You're typically going to be starting with either a suspended Search for Tomorrow on turn 1 or a turn 2 ramp spell, either of which will allow you to easily cast your Bloodbraid Elf on turn 3. Before, the TitanShift decks were often wasting mana on turn 3 after these ramp spells, but Bloodbraid Elf is an excellent card that fits perfectly in this slot.
In my article last week, I offhand mentioned that Bomat Courier was the most underrated card in Magic the Gathering right now. Well, it's time for me to put my money where my mouth is and show everyone what I've been working on.
In Standard, Bomat Courier has shown up as a powerhouse in Mono-Red Aggro. It's a must-answer threat that will easily take over the game if left unchecked for too long. It works very well in a deck that can quickly empty its hand so that you can cash it in for extra cards.
Given what we know about Bomat Courier being great in strategies that are good at dumping their hand, I decided that I wanted to test it out in Modern Burn. I've also had some other theories about Burn in Modern that I've been kicking around for a while now, and it was about time to put those to the test.
One of those theories is that the best draws out of Burn typically come with a bunch of one-mana spells that deal three damage. Out of the traditional Boros Burn list, the draws that kill my opponent the fastest are when have a creature or two backed up by a pile of Lightning Bolts and Lava Spikes.
So why not try to configure the deck in such a way that optimizes draws like this? It's time to bring back Bump in the Night. While Boros Charm is great and all, having a glut of two-mana spells can often actually reduce your clock by a turn or two by keeping you from dumping your hand efficiently. The additions of Bump in the Night also makes Bomat Courier that much better because you are going to be able to cast all of the spells in your hand much faster.
After testing it, I'm fairly confident that Bomat Courier is insane in Modern Burn, and I'm honestly amazed that I haven't heard about anyone trying it before now. It's a threat that often gets in for a point or two of damage and it demands an answer. This means that your opponent typically has to kill it over your Goblin Guide, allowing your Goblin Guide to connect again. That's insane value and that's not even the best case scenario! If it ever goes unchecked, you can cash it in for an extra three or four cards, an incredibly powerful effect that Burn just shouldn't have access to.
This is what I've ended up on, and I'm pretty happy with the list.
Even though the curve is much lower in the deck, I still think it's correct to play twenty lands. It's very important to be able to make your third land drop to be able to efficiently cast all of your spells on time. I could be wrong about this, however, and the correct number could be eighteen or nineteen lands.
Ramunap Ruins is another card that I believe many people are overlooking for Burn. We're in a pretty grindy metagame right now, and often that means that the games are going to go long, even with Burn. Having a land that can turn into two damage down the line can make a huge difference. I don't think that the manabase can support a full four copies of the card, but it can definitely support two.
I'm not quite as sold on Shard Volley in this deck, because it can sometimes have pretty bad interactions with Bomat Courier if you don't have an extra land to throw away. But Shard Volley does go along with the general theme of the entire deck being very, very low on the curve, which gives you the ability to dump your hand much faster than the traditional Burn deck.
With so many midrange decks running around with both creatures and removal spells, Dire Fleet Daredevil can be a very impactful card in those matchups. Being able to Fatal Push your opponent's Tarmogoyf to stop their clock and leave you with a threat feels very good. And sometimes you even get to snag a Lightning Bolt out of their graveyard for another burn spell. I think we're going to be seeing more if this card in Modern moving forward.
So who knows? Maybe this is the next evolution of Modern Burn, or maybe I'm just taking crazy pills. Either way, I hope more people will give this list a shot, so that we can find out for sure.