Welcome to What We'd Play! With SCG Dallas right around the corner, many are unsure what they'd play in such a high-profile tournament. That's where we come in and let you know what we'd play this weekend and why we'd play it. Hopefully this last-minute advice aids in your decision making! Be sure to vote for who you agree with in the poll at the end!
Sam Black - Golgari Midrange
I'm not really the kind of person who looks at a Golgari-based list and thinks, "wow, that deck looks awesome, I should play that!" But, like, this deck looks awesome, and I think I should play it.
What I love about this deck is the curve. Nothing in this deck costs more than three mana, and it has ten spells it can cast on the first turn. Despite this, there are still 25 lands, but Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Tireless Tracker are fantastic mana sinks, as are creature-lands and Field or Ruin.
These types of decks always have good, cheap threats and versatile answers, but I think Assassin's Trophy, especially in conjunction with Field of Ruin really put it over the edge in terms of efficiency and versatility of answers, and I think the manabase is a really brilliant approach to the beginnings of a format that's so strongly defined by effects that replace cards with basic lands from their owner's library.
Assassin's Trophy and Field of Ruin in the format together create the biggest pressure the format has had to play only two colors to maximize the number of basic lands you can find, and Assassin's Trophy really removes the need for a splash, thanks to its versatility. Where I'm not sure about things, I defaulted to sticking with JIsOrange's MTGO Modern Challenge-winning list, but I made a couple minor tweaks. I thought J's list featured too many black sources, and I like an additional creature-land that costs less mana to activate, so I replaced a Swamp with a Treetop Village, and I like a more even split of Lilianas to maximize options on turn 3. The possibility of having both and my chances of keeping a Tireless Tracker on the battlefield in a deck that uses it so well. Finally, I added a Pithing Needle to the sideboard instead of a Nissa, Vital Force, because I've always been impressed with small numbers of the card, and I like it in particular as an answer to Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in this format.
One additional change I didn't make but would strongly consider is replacing Leyline of the Void with Surgical Extraction, because it plays really well with all the discard in the deck and also plays well with the land destruction, especially against Tron.
Dredge has had quite a resurgence since the printing of Creeping Chill and after playing with the card I'm fully on board. The banning of Golgari Grave-Troll robbed Dredge of its trademark explosiveness, and while it was able to adapt for a time by relying on its strong lategame of recursive threats and Life from the Loam + Conflagrate, it became clear that the deck was simply underpowered relative to the rest of the format and became a fringe strategy as decks like Humans, Hollow One, and Azorius Control emerged.
Creeping Chill goes a long way of restoring the deck's fast clock by both representing a significant chunk of damage itself and helping your Bloodghasts become hasty a turn or two earlier. The deck once again kills on turn 4 with regularity while sacrificing little to nothing in staying power. The time to cash in is now because the graveyard hate will come, and while Dredge is resilient enough to succeed in the face of hate, it's nice to have one or two easy tournaments beforehand.
As good as Creeping Chill is, I'm advocating trimming one to keep the dredger count up because nothing is worse than having to actually draw a card and be reminded that you're actually playing Magic and not Dredge. I'm also going up to four copies of Leyline of the Void to combat the mirror and Storm as well as two copies of Assassin's Trophy over two of the Nature's Claims to add more versatility in the answer package and to help contain planeswalkers against control. You don't have a lot of decisions when tuning Dredge, but you see a lot of your deck every game so it's important to be right on with the ones you have.
- 3 Architects of Will
- 3 Curator of Mysteries
- 1 Faerie Macabre
- 4 Horror of the Broken Lands
- 1 Shriekmaw
- 4 Street Wraith
- 4 Striped Riverwinder
A powerful combo option brimming with disruption and redundancy? Now this is how you're supposed to play Modern! I went very deep on this deck in my article today, so if you want to know exactly why I'm so high on this archetype I recommend giving it a read. In short, this is a powerful and consistent version of an archetype that is tournament tested. The sideboard switcheroo takes away some of the pain of playing a linear graveyard-based strategy in a field that may come prepared for exactly that type of thing. If that's not your style, see my article for a version of the deck that instead seeks to answer your opponent's hate with the versatile Assassin's Trophy.
Regardless of which version of this deck captures your heart, don't sleep on the value of an unknown gameplan in Modern. At this point, people know their matchups and sideboard plans for the common matchups inside and out. Throw a wrench into their plans and force them to adapt on the fly by cashing in a little surprise equity.
Cedric Phillips - Bant Spirits
- 4 Drogskol Captain
- 4 Mausoleum Wanderer
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 3 Phantasmal Image
- 1 Rattlechains
- 2 Remorseful Cleric
- 2 Selfless Spirit
- 4 Spell Queller
- 4 Supreme Phantom
It pains me to have to switch from Humans to wannabe Humans, but sometimes you gotta know when to move on. While I don't think Bant Spirits is as good as Humans from a power level standpoint, the metagame dictates what one should be doing. So, what's doing well in Modern recently?
- Burn. Bant Spirits has Mausoleum Wanderer, Spell Queller, Drogskol Captain, and Dromoka's Command after sideboard. Additionally, we can sideboard some number of Knight of Autumns if we really want to.
- Azorius Control. Bant Spirits plays a flash game incredibly well due to Aether Vial and Collected Company but also has counterspells in Disdainful Stroke and Unified Will after sideboard, as well as Geist of Saint Traft and Gaddock Teeg.
- Dredge. Bant Spirits can cast Rest in Peace whereas Humans cannot, but I've also included a few maindeck copies of Remorseful Cleric just in cast this Dredge resurgence is as real as people say it is.
Obviously, there are a ton of other decks to be worried about in Modern, but you can gear Bant Sprits to beat whatever you're most afraid of. The only matchup I'm not in love with is Mono-Green Tron but with Assassin's Trophy and Unmoored Ego being real options to beat Karn Liberated and friends, this seems like a no-brainer and the success that others have been seeing with Bant Spirits simply cannot be ignored any longer.
Dredge is the best deck in Modern right now. Full stop. For a while, Hollow One had usurped the title of "best graveyard deck," but the addition of Creeping Chill from Guilds of Ravnica put Dredge back over the top. The resiliency to conventional forms of interaction is a big plus, and on top of that, the buzz around Vengevine has died off a bit. This translates to a lower respect for graveyards, which in turn makes graveyard decks better. Funny how that works.
The biggest thing that Creeping Chill does for the Dredge deck is that it soups up its ability to race in both directions. It makes it harder to try and kill Dredge before they can establish anything because of the life gain that Creeping Chill provides and it's also harder to try and tank up against the deck because the deck will eventually have twelve points of damage for zero mana.
Play the basic Forest. I've played Modern Dredge off and on for years, and with people jamming Field of Ruin and the primary gameplan of the deck revolving around filtering as much of one's deck into the graveyard as possible, having a green source in one's deck isn't a given. It will win you more games than it will lose you.
Pick up Dredge and gives yourself the best odds for success, or sleep on the deck and lose to it. The ball's in your court.
Abraham Stein - Burn
Since the release of Guilds of Ravnica, I've played exactly one Modern tournament and that was SCG Columbus. I played Jeskai Control and I regretted it big time. Meanwhile, in that same tournament, Collins Mullen went on a tear with Burn making it all the way to the finals of the event which made me green with envy. Lava Spikes in trench coats is my favorite archetype in Magic to play, and I'm not making that mistake again.
Burn has been making waves in Modern recently, becoming the most played archetype on Magic Online eclipsing Humans and Azorius Control seemingly out of nowhere. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about why I thought Risk Factor was amazing, and sure enough, I was correct as the card has made waves in Standard as one of the scariest cards to have cast against you. In that article, I wrote up my first Risk Factor Burn list, anticipating Assassin's Trophy to come out front and center, but with that world not yet being the one we live in, this is what I'd play this weekend.
A clean sleek 75 with a full set of Lightning Helix and Kor Firewalkers in the sideboard so we can win every Burn mirror that comes our way. Something that might be worth considering if you're more afraid of Ross Merriam than Emma Handy would be to replace Kor Firewalker with two copies of Rest in Peace and one more copy of Skullcrack for when you really need it. I'm mostly worried about the Burn mirror because of how many times I've played it and how much it can come down to luck but playing around with those three slots is definitely acceptable.
Good luck and happy bolting!
Jadine Klomparens - Jund
Somehow Guilds of Ravnica has been legal for over two weeks now, and I have yet to play Jund with Assassin's Trophy in a major tournament. Indeed, I won't be able to take Bloodbraid Elf and friends out for a spin until #SCGCHAR, but you, dear reader, have a chance to play it for me this weekend at #SCGDFW. Don't let me down.
I wrote my take on the impact of Assassin's Trophy on Jund right when the card was previewed, but in case you missed it here's the summary: it makes Jund better. Before, you had a bunch of choices. Did you prefer to be weak to Gurmag Angler or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria? Did you want to beat small creature decks or big creature decks? The good removal options all handled a subset of the things that mattered in Modern, and any decision you made left a sizable hole you could be attacked through. Assassin's Trophy fixes these issues.
I have two primary targets in mind with the sideboard: Dredge and Burn. Between Nihil Spellbomb, Grafdigger's Cage, and Anger of the Gods, this list has a whopping five cards ready to ruin a Dredge player's day. That's important, as Crippling Chill seems to have returned Dredge to the big time and you need to be ready for it.
As for Burn, it's really all about being able to take out all your Dark Confidants and Thoughtseizes for cards that play. Collective Brutality is the gold standard, but Kitchen Finks and Duress are also concessions to the Burn matchup. Having this many cards that are good in the Burn matchup is enough to make it decidedly good for you, not just technically winnable.
Ari Lax - Amulet Titan
- 1 Walking Ballista
- 4 Primeval Titan
- 1 Reclamation Sage
- 4 Sakura-Tribe Scout
- 4 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
- 1 Zacama, Primal Calamity
Amulet Titan has low key been crushing it lately, with highlight finishes of winning back-to-back Modern StarCityGames.com® Classics in Baltimore and Columbus. I was on board a month ago, but things have only gotten better for the deck since then.
You might think Assassin's Trophy is a problem, but really, it's just a minor inconvenience. You beat the Golgari decks with card advantage from each Primeval Titan trigger after you eventually hit six actual lands, so Trophy is largely just a Terminate with fringe bonuses. You still hit six mana against them and you still overwhelm them with threat tutor chains. What Assassin's Trophy and a general dropoff in Tron has done is get people to shave actually problematic cards like Blood Moon or Fulminator Mage.
The other gain from Guilds of Ravnica is Creeping Chill improving Dredge. Amulet Titan being a reasonable combo deck that doesn't have Conflagrate issues is already annoying for Dredge. Maindeck Bojuka Bog with a bunch of ways to tutor for it and bouncelands to recur it is a nightmare.