Welcome to What We'd Play! With Grand Prix Atlanta this weekend, 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 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!
Shaheen Soorani - Ironworks
I was all about that Azorius Control last weekend, got called crazy a bit with the rise of Dredge, and Phillip Lorren almost made me a genius! He landed in fourth place at the SCG Tour® event in Charlotte with a version of Azorius Control that resembled a few of the successful lists I was eyeing from Magic Online results. I still think it is a fine choice for this weekend at GP Atlanta; however, I am giving in to my combo itch for the event.
This is the exact list I am playing this weekend and it's very similar to the one I wrote about a few weeks back. Ironworks Combo is the real deal in Modern, utilizing one of the most overpowered mana accelerants that's legal in the format. Mox Opal puts this deck over the edge and the digging power of Ancient Stirrings gives it the consistency that combo decks need to succeed. I truly believe that this is the most broken deck in Modern still and I'm not sure how many more Matt Nass victories it'll take to drive that home. My teammate Eli Kassis is also on the deck and made the Top 8 of GP Vegas with it earlier this year. We modified the deck with additional blue spells to help fight hate when it makes comboing not a possibility. Sai, Master Thopterist and The Antiquities War gives the combo decks alternative avenues that really helps push this deck ahead in the sideboarded games.
Jadine Klomparens - Jund
To absolutely no one's surprise, I'm going to be Junding people again this weekend. My article this week laid out my case for Assassin's Trophy pushing Jund to the top tier of Modern and I'm more than a little excited to prove it this weekend in Atlanta.
I'm only changing a few things from last week's list. The fourth Bloodbraid Elf replaces Maelstrom Pulse in the maindeck to give us a little more game against Azorius Control decks. The fourth Lightning Bolt gets the nod over last week's maindeck Nihil Spellbomb to help fight against the aggressive decks I expect to surge after the dominance of land strategies last weekend.
In the sideboard, the full four Fulminator Mages are ready and willing to destroy any and all Boros Garrisons and Urza's Towers they may come across. I'm a little lighter on graveyard hate this week in anticipation of Dredge seeing less play now that the field has adjusted. The graveyard hate that remains should be enough to give you a chance against Dredge, but you'd rather not get paired against it.
Bonus point in favor of Jund this weekend: it's very good against Infect, which I hear may be on the rise.
Abraham Stein - Humans
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 4 Kitesail Freebooter
- 4 Mantis Rider
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
After last weekend in SCG Charlotte where I played Humans for the first time, I'm a believer. I wound up finishing just outside the Top 16 after losing my win-and-in in the last round and I think a lot of that had to do with being overprepared for Dredge.
This week I'm moving away from my maindeck Anafenza, the Foremost and sideboard Tormod's Crypt for Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Damping Sphere to fight against the deck that dealt me half of my losses, Tron. I wrote this week about how the Big Mana strategies in Modern can be fought against, and while they're the decks to beat, I don't want to lose sight of how creature-based strategies have been dominant as well. A majority of the field I fought against in Charlotte was various creature decks and Thalia, Heretic Cathar on the play is a very easy way to shake up the Bant Spirits matchup as well as the Humans mirror matches.
With control decks like Jeskai being pushed out of the format for the time being, you don't want to miss your chance to play the best deck in Modern while it's in a good position. Make sure to study up on your Meddling Mage names and sideboard plans and Humans is sure to be smooth sailing to a strong finish.
Emma Handy - Infect
All that glistens is gold.
Aaron Barich is a close friend and we've talked about Infect for an embarrassingly long amount of time over the course of us knowing each other, and his list from last weekend is more or less where I want to be this weekend. I may end up changing one or two cards, but Barich plays the deck week in and week out, so this list is about as tuned as things can get.
Storm is another perfectly reasonable choice on the weekend, but the fact that Infect doesn't sacrifice speed for its disruption is what puts it over the top. Couple that with the fact that Damping Sphere could be a tool people look towards in order to fight Tron, and I'm far less interested in playing something that needs to cast a dozen spells in the same turn.
With Dredge and big mana decks pushing out the interactive Lightning Bolt decks of the format, being fast is a good place to be, and Infect is about as fast as something can be while still maintaining consistency.
Bennie Smith - Sultai Ooze
- 1 Spellskite
- 1 Walking Ballista
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Devoted Druid
- 1 Duskwatch Recruiter
- 4 Fulminator Mage
- 2 Mausoleum Wanderer
- 1 Mistcaller
- 1 Morselhoarder
- 4 Necrotic Ooze
- 1 Pack Rat
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Underrealm Lich
- 1 Vampire Hexmage
- 1 Lazav, the Multifarious
- 1 Marwyn, the Nurturer
- 1 The Scarab God
Necrotic Ooze has gotten some attention lately due to the printing of Doom Whisperer. The card seems to be a perfect inclusion, since its activated ability doesn't cost anything but life. I'm not one of those who advocate this approach. Let's think about it—the ceiling for Doom Whisperer activations is putting eighteen cards from your library into your graveyard. While this has a pretty good chance to assembling some sort of combo for Necrotic Ooze, it's not foolproof, and this is assuming you're still at twenty life once you've got Necrotic Ooze on the battlefield and Doom Whisperer in the graveyard, something that seems unlikely given the strength of graveyard decks of late and people likely increasing their graveyard hate.
I also think it's a mistake to lean all-in on the Necrotic Ooze combo. Instead, I'd want the option to play fairly, putting creatures on the battlefield that interact with your opponent. If your opponent fears you going for the combo, playing this way can just kill them fair and square. If they kill those creatures that's okay—that's more food for Necrotic Ooze.
I like a toolbox approach to my creature selection, since Necrotic Ooze can double the disruption. I'm playing a full boat of Fulminator Mage and Field of Ruin to disrupt Tron decks. Mausoleum Wanderer makes opponents' more expensive spells – like Chord of Calling – more awkward to cast. Mistcaller is also a nice way to hose Chord of Calling and to slow down a big Dredge turn. Vampire Hexmage kills planeswalkers dead.
Spellskite makes removal awkward and messes with Hexproof and Infect. Marwyn, the Nurturer in the graveyard means that Necrotic Ooze can tap for four green mana, and that big mana boost can come in handy. The Scarab God can reuse some of the utility creatures in the graveyard or make a copy of Necrotic Ooze that your opponent may have killed. Lazav, the Multifarious can be a backup Necrotic Ooze, or anything else you need. Underrealm Lich's indestructible ability means it can be quite tough to get rid of Necrotic Ooze.
Jarad's Orders is the perfect card for a Necrotic Ooze deck. Casting it onTurn 3 off Devoted Druid, you can put Necrotic Ooze in your hand and the creature with the perfect ability in the graveyard for the Ooze to benefit from the next turn. If the coast is clear, choose Morselhoarder for the graveyard, and when you cast Necrotic Ooze the next turn, burn off Devoted Druid and generate arbitrarily large amounts of mana.
Ari Lax - Ironworks
If the metagame is turning towards Dredge and Big Mana, I expect creature decks to fumble a bit. Amulet Titan is going to be less popular than Tron and Valakut, and Anger of the Gods and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon are not kind to beatdowns. That means less Spell Queller and Meddling Mage, which means it is combo time.
Infect against Conflagrate and Darkblast is a non-starter. Ad Nauseam in general is just a constant disappointment, and if I ever recommend it in the future, please ask me if I've recently reminded myself how bad it is. Living End is off the menu as a graveyard deck. I always expect Storm to be okay, but it just isn't because it can't beat Humans.
Ironworks, though? I can get behind that. The graveyard aspect of the deck is far overstated in the age of Sai, Master Thopterist. It has game against Humans. Ironworks is actually horrible against Amulet Titan, but only maniacs will play that deck. Most normal people will Tron or Valakut you and die horribly. The only thing I might change about this list is finding space for a Firespout somewhere to sweep through Gaddock Teeg.
Ross Merriam - Infect
I was really hoping to Dredge this weekend, because, you know, Dredge, but wow is there a lot of hate around right now. It seems like everyone is reacting as strongly as possible to the re-emergence of one of Magic's most hated archetypes, and while Dredge is powerful enough to persevere I can't in good conscience call it the single best option for this weekend. It won't be long before people are forced to reduce their graveyard hate to handle something else and Dredge will get better. Just give it time.
So what is the best option? After last weekend, it seems like Primeval Titan is on the rise because those decks can go over the top of Dredge while being favored against Tron and the various fair decks like Azorius Control and Jund. I expect the latter of these to fall in popularity at the Grand Prix, leaving a faster, more degenerate format and in that kind of metagame there's nothing better than Infect.
Infect is the combo deck that races other combo decks. It wins on Turn 3 more than almost any other and still has the ability to play through significant hate. As for the list, there's no one I trust more right now about all matters Infect than Aaron Barich, so I'm going with his list, perhaps making a few small, and probably incorrect, changes because I won't be able to help myself.