Welcome to What We'd Play! With SCG Worcester 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!
Ari Lax - Burn
Still no respect.
Three Burn decks narrowly missed the Top 8 of GP Oakland, finishing 10th, 11th, and 12th after a rough Round 15. SCG Columbus featured six in the Team Modern Open Top 16 and three more in the Top 8 of the Modern Classic. That is literally 15% of the Top 16 metagame across three events.
The list of things I consistently am losing to with Burn right now is very small. It's maniacs with Jeskai Control, maniacs with Smallpox and white cards, jerks with Stinkweed Imp, literally perfect Tron draws, and sometimes mirrors.
I probably should lose to Selesnya Hexproof, but I haven't. [Don't walk down my side of the street, Pro Tour Champ. I'll fix that real quick. --DWest] Same with Amulet Titan, but their deck is so creature-based you can Searing Blaze them right out of the game. Maybe a Golgari Midrange or Bant Spirits or Humans opponent should have beat me, but they haven't. I literally beat a Kitchen Finks Collected Company deck in my RPTQ win and it was a joke.
Until people actually try to win games against me, I'm showing up with Lava Spikes.
Sam Black - Ironworks
If it ain't broke, don't fix it, or, more precisely, if it's clearly broken and they can't ban it yet, play it until they can.
I'd play the exact deck I played at Grand Prix Oakland . Yes, with four copies in the top 8 it will absolutely be the deck to beat for SCG Worcester, but one of Ironworks' biggest strengths is its resistance to hate. Nature's Claim and Sai, Master Thopterist do so much work to get around hate that it's really hard for anyone to have that much of an advantage against Ironworks.
People have known they needed to beat Ironworks for months. No one just forgot that it was a deck in Oakland; it was just strong enough to win anyway.
Card choices for the deck are all pretty standardized at this point. I view the one Engineered Explosives in my sideboard as kind of a flex slot; I played a second Tormod's Crypt in the slot in Portland. I like having a zero-mana artifact because it functions as a combo piece when you don't need it as interaction, so the cost to including it is very low, which is also why I like the fourth Explosives. In most matchups I only want 2-3 in my deck, but against decks where it's very good and you want a ton of interaction, like Infect, Selesnya Hexproof, and Hardened Scales, it's the perfect card because it's an answer that doesn't disrupt your engine, and it enables a control strategy with Scrap Trawler, so I wanted to maximize that option.
Todd Anderson - Ironworks
This week, we have the same format as last week . And while #SCGCOL was Team Modern, it wasn't unified, so you could effectively play whatever you wanted. This weekend, at #SCGWOR, we have Modern again, and my tune hasn't changed one bit. Krark-Clan Ironworks, get your butt up on the stage. It's your time to shine.
I've seen Ironworks beat multiple copies of Stony Silence. I've seen Ironworks fight through Abrade, Ancient Grudge, Leyline of the Void, and Surgical Extraction. You name it and I've seen Ironworks beat it. To me, that's the sign of a great combo deck, where your opponent's hate cards just aren't good enough on their own. You need pressure backed by powerful disruptive elements, and sometimes that isn't enough either.
For me, the only downside to playing Ironworks is that you have some matchups, like Infect, that are virtually unwinnable. With that said, unless you play against Aaron Barich or Tom "The Boss" Ross, chances are your opponent isn't going to be knocking you out with Glistener Elf.
The true strength of Ironworks is that your entire deck cycles. So even if you're being hit with discard effects or counterspells, you'll eventually find your combo pieces. You have enough redundancy and resiliency to fight through just about anything. And on top of all that, you have one of the most disgusting Plan Bs I've ever seen in a Magic: the Gathering combo deck.
Sai, Master Thopterist is it chief.
Tom Ross - Infect
I've played Infect in the Team Constructed events in Las Vegas and Columbus and at the Winter SCG CON. Modern is full of great matchups for Infect that are trending upwards like Amulet Titan, Ironworks, and Tron. Even Izzet Phoenix and Whir Prison are reasonable once you know what's important. Against the Arclight Phoenix decks, the key is to not play to the stack and make sure you get through Thing in the Ice. Against Chalice of the Void, it's all about Become Immense.
I've been wanting a taste of card selection and information in Infect for a while now ever since the loss of Gitaxian Probe. I've tried Peek and Serum Visions, but those strained the blue mana quite a bit. Mishra's Bauble is nice with Become Immense and the fetchlands and is the next step I'll be taking with Infect.
At SCG Columbus last weekend, our team lost to Bant Spirits four times, all close three-game matches that went down to the wire. I believe for Infect to do well in the near future, a solution to Bant Spirits needs to be found. The best two I've come up with are Skylasher and Kraul Harpooner as cheap ways to pressure them and combat flyers. Going forward, I'll be testing a mix of them in the sideboard to see what mix leads to converting some of those tough losses into narrow wins.
Shaheen Soorani - Izzet Phoenix
My boy did it again! The champion of GP Oakland, Eli Kassis piloted Izzet Phoenix to glory against a field of Scrap Trawlers and Krark-Clan Ironworks enthusiasts. I'm no stranger to the artifact-based combo deck, but I've been all about this Izzet Phoenix deck ever since I saw it trending on Magic Online. The deck is one of the most consistent tempo decks ever used in Modern and provides a similar clock each game. There are some runaway games with Thing in the Ice unopposed, but most of the matches involve a few turns of big burst damage that force your opponent to answer or perish.
One of the big points I pushed when I suggested that you all should play this deck is the inclusion of Blood Moon, which Eli Kassis incorporated to dominate the tournament. Blood Moon is the key sideboard card that locks out opponents in bad matchups and steals games you had no business winning.
If there's an Izzet deck you are looking into for this weekend, I implore you to take advantage of one of the most broken hate cards ever created. Some sideboard cards stop entire strategies; this stops the manabase of most of the format. I hate that the card is Modern-legal, but we don't get to pick and choose what cards are banned/unbanned.
Well, until they release Stoneforge Mystic in a few weeks!
Abraham Stein - Jeskai Control
There's nothing like the classics.
Last weekend in Columbus, I got to take my customary ride into the Midwest with the Jeskai braintrust of Benjamin Nikolich and Luke Purcell. Unsurprisingly, I had resigned myself to registering Celestial Colonnade and Lightning Helix in Columbus before I got into the car with them. This week will be no different.
Ironworks is coming off the back of a dominant performance in Oakland, next to Burn and Izzet Phoenix, as the cream of Modern's crop and all three of those are matchups I feel good about from the Jeskai side. I know it has been a controversial take in the past to choose to register a control deck like this instead of one of its more powerful counterparts, but I think that other than Dredge, it's very well-positioned this weekend.
The Ironworks deck's biggest weakness is countermagic backed up by pressure and answers to Sai, which is exactly what Jeskai Control offers. Just be certain to sideboard out your Bolts and Verdicts in the matchup and to avoid giving them a window to resolve something with Negate backup. If you can do that, you're very favored to take down the bogeyman while being fine to great against the rest of the room. It's the road less traveled, but that will make all the difference.
Cedric Phillips - Burn
Turns out Ari was right last week, so he gets to stay here with Star City Games for a good while longer. Congrats, Ari!
At GP Oakland last weekend, I was 5-1 in the main event before some untimely losses to Bant Spirits and Humans, two matchups I consider to be extremely close and bordering on favorable, to miss out on Day 2. The Sunday PTQ saw me go 5-0 to make the Top 8 (with wins against Izzet Phoenix, Zoo, TitanShift, Ironworks, and Bant Spirits) before losing to the Burn mirror in roughly five seconds.
All weekend long, I felt like Burn was close to unbeatable. I lost four matches total on the weekend so let's recap:
- Burn. Twice.
Last week in this column, I said I hated Burn. And when I said that, I meant it. I've always done terribly with the deck when I test with it for a tournament, which is strange given that I live with Patrick Sullivan a non-zero number of weekends per year and we play it on Magic Online after doing coverage most nights. That all changed during my trip to Oakland. I felt like I couldn't lose in almost every match I played unless I screwed up (which I did in my match against Bant Spirits) or ran bad (which I did a few times, but that happens in the Burn mirror to one of the players). Never did I think I would have that feeling when sleeving up Lava Spike, but I certainly did last weekend.
Be smart and do the same.
Andrew Elenbogen - Azorius Control
After the results of GP Oakland and SCG Columbus last weekend, I think it is no longer arguable: Krark-Clan Ironworks is the best deck in Modern.
That said, most people reading this should not play Ironworks next weekend. The deck is obscenely hard and requires a huge amount of practice. Last weekend, I believed I was prepared to play it, and punted my way to an individual record of 7-7. If you are supposed to play Ironworks in this tournament, you're already aware of that fact because you locked it in weeks ago.
Of the decks I feel proficient with in Modern, I think blue control is the best at beating Ironworks. My experience is that the combination of hateful white enchantments and a critical mass of countermagic is simply too much for the deck to overcome much of time. It doesn't hurt that Ironworks is strong against Dredge and big mana strategies, all of which are the natural predators of control in Modern.
I think straight Azorius Control is a better choice than Jeskai this weekend. Jeskai cannot easily sideboard Rest in Peace due to the number of Snapcaster Mages and Logic Knots it typically runs. That card is amazing against Ironworks as well as a huge swath of the current Modern field. Also, nobody plays Humans anymore, so the days of getting your Terminus owned by Aether Vial plus Meddling Mage and Kitesail Freebooter are over. Lastly, the sweeper is a lot better than Lightning Bolt against the Arclight Phoenix decks that I expect to be popular this weekend.
Long live the one-mana wrath!