While most of the Magic world is waiting for Dominaria to drop, Magic Online is not waiting. There are always formats to break and tickets to be made.
There's also a Modern Grand Prix next week.
10: Inspiration for Grand Prix Hartford
I was already considering playing Bring to Light Scapeshift at Grand Prix Hartford, hoping to have a good matchup against Five-Color Humans and B/R Hollow One while also dodging the rise in graveyard hate. CJ made some excellent updates to his Scapeshift list, including adding Relic of Progenitus into the main deck to help fight Hollow One strategies and cutting Remand for Izzet Charm.
The Remand swap is genius because of how the card is mostly dead against the big two strategies. You still want a tempo tool for fighting the other Modern decks, but Remand is the worst it's ever been. Izzet Charm is a positive swap in this metagame, even if it's a poor choice in a vacuum.
Once I have an idea, like cutting Remand for Izzet Charm in these combo control decks, I can incorporate that into every similar deck out there. Maybe U/R Through the Breach is better? Maybe U/R Madcap Experiment? Hell, maybe it's time to bring back Jeskai Nahiri.
9: In Order to Enter a Tournament with this Deck, You Must Provide Proof of Being in the Hall of Fame
We get it, Guillame Wafo-Tapa, you're incredible. You don't have to keep winning in Modern with Grixis Control to prove that. Counterflux and Think Twice are among the fairest cards imaginable in Modern. Cruel Ultimatum counts at this point too.
Things that are true about Wafo-Tapa's deckbuilding:
He's usually a land lighter than me
He has more expensive, powerful cards
He has more card drawing
He skimps on things like early removal spells
There are lessons to be learned here.
8: My Favorite Card in Standard!
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 4 Carnage Tyrant
- 2 Jadelight Ranger
- 1 Thrashing Brontodon
- 4 Wayward Swordtooth
- 2 Tetzimoc, Primal Death
In case you couldn't guess, one of my favorite cards in Standard is Wayward Swordtooth. Without Evolving Wilds and Ramunap Excavator, you're not going to get full value. Instead, you're using it for incremental acceleration when it comes up, plus it's a Dinosaur for Thunderherd Migration.
These Hour of Promise ramp decks typically aim to go way over the top of their opponents by using Mastermind's Acquisition for things like Torment of Hailfire, but that's the wrong way to go about things in a field of red aggressive decks. Flooding the battlefield with large Dinos is a better plan against most of the field, even if it's less fun and less flashy.
7: Improving Mono-Green Aggro
- 4 Electrostatic Pummeler
- 4 Bristling Hydra
- 4 Greenbelt Rampager
- 4 Longtusk Cub
- 2 Resilient Khenra
- 4 Servant of the Conduit
- 1 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
- 2 Rhonas the Indomitable
What happens when you take a sketchy archetype like Mono-Green Aggro and splice it with another sketchy archetype like Pummeler? I think the answer is that you end up with Larger than Life in your Mono-Green Aggro deck, wondering how in the hell this happened.
Real talk though -- having multiple ways to give Electrostatic Pummeler trample is a good idea. Larger than Life with Bristling Hydra is probably cool too. Overall, this deck needs some help in the card quality department, but Dominaria is going to help with that to some degree.
I'm going to keep my eye on this one.
6: The Red Sea
- 4 Cursecatcher
- 3 Harbinger of the Tides
- 4 Lord of Atlantis
- 4 Master of the Pearl Trident
- 4 Master of Waves
- 3 Merrow Reejerey
- 1 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Silvergill Adept
- 2 Vendilion Clique
Aside from minor things like a horrendous Affinity matchup, Merfolk is largely thought to be a worse version of Humans. Still, that's not entirely accurate.
Merfolk has some advantages, namely a great Tron matchup. There are also various cards you can splash into Merfolk, allowing you to have a great sideboard, whereas Humans doesn't exactly have that option. Red cards like Vandalblast, Blood Moon, Lightning Bolt, and Hazoret the Fervent are all unique additions to Merfolk.
Humans has limited sideboard options because their manabase doesn't give them many options. If anything, that's the one place where Merfolk could have an edge. If you're finding that tribal aggro decks are where you want to be, but you need access to some sideboard cards in order to really cement things in your favor, Merfolk could be what you're looking for.
5: Modern is Collective Brutality: The Format
Quad Collective Brutality is aggressive, and I like it. I'm sure Cedric would have liked to have them when he got clowned by Burn at Grand Prix Phoenix. Outside of the Burn matchup, where does Valakut really want Collective Brutality? Where does it need Abrupt Decay? Does using Khalni Heart Expedition to manually kill opponents with Valakut actually come up?
There are so many unanswered questions. I would stick with the tried and true lists. If you want to have a better Burn matchup, you can always main deck Obstinate Baloths without giving up too much equity in other matchups. For the truly psychotic, there's the Collective Brutality splash.
4: Is Pure Control Viable in Legacy?
The answer is likely no.
Innocent Blood is embarrassing against opposing Baleful Strixes, and while Counterspell is good again, not playing Deathrite Shaman is concerning. You need a good reason not to play it, and Skeletal Scrying is certainly not it. I mean, Skeletal Scrying is underplayed in general, but it's not enough to support a control deck on its own.
I like the idea of this deck, and it would love for a draw-go deck to be viable, but this isn't it. Maybe if Innocent Blood were positioned better or if we could realistically make Standstill work, I could see it, but I'm going to stick with my general skepticism.
3: Standard Creativity Continues
Having a deck that's capable of controlling the early game and then finishing with a powerful combo is basically the ideal scenario for a control deck. Torrential Gearhulks can get Abraded, The Scarab God can lose to a Vraska's Contempt, and you're left with no traction. With Indomitable Creativity, you'll have a large enough battlefield presence that it will be insurmountable.
Having to use cards like Depths of Desire and Hornswoggle to set up Indomitable Creativity is a rough spot to be in, but if you manage to resolve a large Spell Swindle, you should be in good shape for the rest of the game. Since the deck needs a lot of slots for combo pieces, it can't pack too much spot removal, so the Sweltering Suns need to pick up the slack.
Unfortunately, a 9-2 start for Andrew Tolson didn't end well. Still, he took a leap with his deck choice, started strong, and got some good press out of it. Overall, I'd count that as a success.
2: A Shardless Sultai Update
Despite being my darling baby, I've basically written off Shardless Sultai at this point. Paul winning a trial with the deck makes me hopeful, especially with his innovative changes, but I'm still skeptical.
The main changes were removing Tarmogoyf and Abrupt Decay for some newer options in Fatal Push and Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Tarmogoyf itself is a fine card, and one that appears to line up well in the Lightning Bolt / Kolaghan's Command format, but those decks typically play four copies of Baleful Strix as well.
There's no good way for Tarmogoyf to beat Baleful Strix (although Liliana, the Last Hope would help), so removing them entirely is a reasonable decision. Without Tarmogoyf, you don't have much of a clock, so that pigeon-holes Shardless into taking a harder control stance, but that's something it's rather good at doing.
Moving Abrupt Decay to the sideboard was the other big change, but Fatal Push is mostly better. With Counterbalance more or less out of the format, Chalice of the Void not being a huge issue, and Blood Moon being more or less lights out, there isn't a necessity for Abrupt Decay. Tagging the occasional Umezawa's Jitte was nice, but that's another card that's not widely played right now.
1: The Best Legacy Deck in the Universe
This deck is pure genius. Lion's Eye Diamond has always synergized well with the Wish cycle, enabling you to do potentially broken things very quickly, but Living Wish was always the one left out. With various Dark Depths combos, Living Wish finally has its time to shine. Loyal Retainers out of the sideboard even gives you a way to Wish for a reanimation spell!
It just so happens that reanimation effects work well at giving you additional ways to piece together the combo. At that point, Griselbrand becomes the perfect backup plan. A single Griselbrand activation might not win the game on the spot, but you'll almost certainly be able to set up another combo of some sort on the following turn.
Matt Nass also got 12th at Grand Prix Seattle with the same deck the day before, so this deck is putting up some solid results. It wouldn't surprise me if, after some fine tuning, this deck becomes a great choice for Legacy, especially for those who don't want to cast Brainstorm (or shell out thousands for Underground Seas).
This deck is one of the coolest that I've seen in a very long time.