Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan has come and gone. For me it didn’t go
as planned, but I really liked the deck I had.
How did I end up playing this?
Basically I just rarely ever lost with it while testing, which is a rare
thing to find in Modern. Most games with the deck are very close though,
and you’re often on the razor’s edge of having to play perfectly to win. In
Modern there’s a lot of variance and you just need to plow through the
patches of bad luck as best you can, knowing eventually it will turn
around. Meanwhile there are plenty of games that may appear to be
unwinnable, but with tight play you can barely scrape out.
Unfortunately at the Pro Tour I didn’t quite play tight enough or run well
enough to put up a substantial result. I still think B/G Midrange is one of
the best decks in the format, if not the best, though. Today I’ll discuss
my choices for the deck while going over it in terms of matchups.
VS Five-Color Humans
A solid matchup since your deck is mostly removal and creatures that draw
cards. You can usually deal with their threats that matter before they can
make a substantial run at your life total, although their best draws can
just run you over (which is true of most decks against B/G Midrange.)
The way you lose usually revolves around Mirran Crusader, and a lot of your
decisions in sideboarding and gameplay should take Crusader into account.
For example: I like Thoughtseize a lot more and Tarmogoyf a lot less
specifically because of Mirran Crusader. If they stick Mirran Crusader,
you’re probably losing; if not, you’re probably winning.
Damnation is your best card since it deals with Mirran Crusader and any
sort of situation where they snowball out of control. Ideally you want to
be careful before just jamming Damnation, you don’t have to save it for
Mirran Crusader, but you also don’t need to just always pull the trigger.
Do so if you’re on the ropes and it puts you in a great position (it
A matchup that might seem good on paper but ends up being surprisingly
tricky. The sideboard plan I came up with might look a little odd, but I
think it’s the way to go.
You can usually answer everything they have given enough time and a decent
start, but you run the risk of getting swarmed or outmaneuvered by Arcbound
Ravager, Etched Champion, and Cranial Plating,
Affinity empties its hand really fast, which makes Thoughtseize a bit
undesirable, sometimes even less so than against Burn since once your
opponent is out of cards it’s worse to discard to Collective Brutality
against Affinity, and more detrimental to not be another piece of creature
removal. Thoughtseize is better on the play and can sometimes take a key
piece of their hand, but it’s actually difficult to win a war of attrition
a lot of the time against Affinity if you’re not built to do so, and having
Thoughtseize in the deck doesn’t help in that regard.
My sideboard plan hopes your opponent doesn’t have the nut draw, and plans
to win the long game, where you can otherwise get overrun by Inkmoth Nexus
and Blinkmoth Nexus.
Similarly, Dark Confidant doesn’t actually help you win the late game as
well as you would expect, especially since Affinity functions as a Burn
deck a lot of the time. I used to side out Tireless Trackers instead of
Dark Confidant. but Dark Confidant can’t close out a game let alone even
attack profitably most of the time. It also deals you damage and you’re
usually casting removal on turn 2 anyways.
Liliana of the Veil may seem like a card that isn’t great here, and that’s
true, but even as just a Cruel Edict, it’s kind of fulfilling what we’re
trying to do: trade our cards for theirs when we can. It’s also capable of
killing Etched Champion and occasionally sticks around for a few turns.
VS Jeskai Control
First of all, you may be wondering: why didn’t I play Jeskai Control?
Jeskai is a reasonable choice in Modern and in my wheelhouse.
For a few reasons:
1. I really like B/G Midrange.
2. I didn’t want to go to time every round.
3. I expected more combo and control in the metagame than there turned out
4. I hate losing to Lantern Control.
As for the matchup, four Tireless Tracker is absolutely essential here.
It’s the main card that makes the deck shine against control and midrange.
It really ties the deck together. In a deck packed with four Thoughtseize
and four Inquisition of Kozilek you need cards that can start getting you
an advantage if left unopposed. Before that was Dark Confidant and Liliana
of the Veil, but you now also have access to the fantastic Tireless Tracker
and Liliana, the Last Hope.
Tireless Tracker is also a good argument for not needing any splash colors.
Why bother playing more colors if you aren’t playing a full set of Trackers
first? I think Tireless Tracker is that good, especially with Field of Ruin
boosting its effectiveness.
It’s easy to sculpt a winning line after you get to take a couple cards
from your opponent’s hand. Thanks to Fulminator Mage and pressure from
Liliana of the Veil, it’s difficult for Jeskai to do anything truly scary
to climb back into a game, like Sphinx’s Revelation, Elspeth, Sun’s
Champion, and sometimes even just Cryptic Command.
Just be patient, cast a bunch of discard, slowly put Jeskai on the back
foot by deploying threats they can’t deal with, and get into a position
they can’t come back from.
Game 1 can be tricky, but you can still win without Collective Brutality if
you draw the Tarmogoyf and Inquisition of Kozilek part of your deck instead
of the Dark Confidant and Thoughtseize part.
Things get much much better after sideboard since Collective Brutality
destroys Burn and you have four copies. Meanwhile, the terrible part of
your deck is replaced with “not so bad” parts.
Tron is actually a matchup I like, with their fail rate and stumble rate
being a big factor, and then Fulminator Mage, Field of Ruin, and Liliana,
the Last Hope giving you plenty of land destruction after sideboard. B/G
Midrange is very much a deck that has a lot of great matchups after
sideboard while still being capable of stealing game 1s even against bad
matchups like Tron.
Surgical Extraction is not a card I like, generally speaking, since it’s
often less impactful than Nihil Spellbomb against dedicated graveyard decks
and doesn’t draw a card when there’s nothing else to do. The nice thing
about Surgical Extraction is it essentially wins the game on the spot if
you extract an Urza’s Something or Other or a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
At the Pro Tour I played against Tron and had a great hand in game 3 that
would’ve nicely curved out Thoughtseize into Tarmogoyf into Fulminator
Mage. I said would have, because I Thoughtseized my opponent and saw double
Karn Liberated and natural Urzatron. B/G Midrange is a deck that can
struggle against excellent draws since it isn’t doing anything too
Grixis Shadow can be tricky. They play a similar game to where we are, but
have more access to early card selection and Snapcaster Mage. They’re
playing a more high-risk, high-reward strategy, whereas we’re more “slow
and steady wins the race.”
You have plenty of answers to Death’s Shadow, which makes Gurmag Angler the
scariest card you can see early. If you can dodge a big delver on the
second turn, then your goal is to just grind them out.
The nice thing is you have Tireless Tracker and they don’t, which can allow
you to snowball. Liliana of the Veil is also great since most of their
creatures are big and vulnerable to sacrifice effects.
VS Eldrazi Tron
I’m more afraid of Eldrazi Tron than regular Tron, since they can just beat
your face in with Reality Smasher and actually play cards when your plan is
to destroy their lands with Fulminator Mage.
You have some decent disruption and decent removal, but you’re pretty much
banking on them having a slower start.
Matter Reshaper is incredibly annoying because it blocks a Liliana of the
Veil from being incredible and you don’t really have an efficient answer to
You’re kind of playing playing the aggro game if you can and the control
game if you can’t, but Eldrazi Tron is usually capable of outclassing you
if they get a good mana start.
VS U/R Gifts Storm
U/R Gifts Storm’s best bet is to catch you off guard with Empty the
Warrens, so that makes Maelstrom Pulse a necessary hedge. Be careful they
don’t just Lightning Bolt the Goblin token you’re targeting with Pulse if
you can help it.
Ideally you just draw bunch of discard and land a Dark Confidant or Liliana
of the Veil and never give them a chance to assemble the perfect storm.
Once they’re in topdeck mode the game is usually over, which means you want
to get them to that point as quickly as possible.
VS Lantern Control
Lantern Control is usually one of my least favorite matchups to play
against, but with B/G Midrange it’s actually kind of fun.
It’s nice to have a bunch of disruption naturally built into the deck for
Lantern Control in the form of discard, Abrupt Decay, and Maelstrom Pulse.
After sideboard you’ll often get into a situation where they have soft
locked under Lantern of Insight and Ensnaring Bridge, but you’re able to
get a bunch of Tireless Trackers and Dark Confidants on the battlefield and
just need to wait until you find a crucial Maelstrom Pulse (or possibly
Abrupt Decay) on the top of your library that will topple Lantern’s house
of cards. At that point your Lantern opponent will try and mill it, and in
response you try and draw it by cracking a Clue, then they try and mill it,
and you try and draw it by cracking a Clue again… until eventually one of
you can’t anymore. Thrilling!
Overall I’m still really happy with B/G Midrange, I’m not sure if it’s the
best deck right now, but I think it’s certainly a viable option. I hope you
enjoyed reading and will consider trying the path of making your opponent
discard their relevant cards and then draw a bunch of cards with Tireless