After the unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf, I don’t
think the dust has quite settled on the Modern metagame yet. But there are
definitely a few trends that we need to be paying attention to.
I’ve talked about this concept before
, and I still think that underneath the diversity of Modern there is a
cycle of archetype rock-paper-scissors that governs the popularity of
When I talk about archetypes, I’m not referring to particular decks as much
as I’m talking about the overarching archetypes that these decks fall
into–traditionally midrange, aggro, control, and combo. Modern has
introduced us to a few more archetypes that I believe deserve their own
label. These are big mana decks, such as Tron and Valakut decks; and
graveyard decks, such as Living End and Dredge.
When looking at the Modern metagame, it’s important to identify which of
these archetypes are the most popular. Right now, I think that midrange and
control are clearly the two most popular archetypes, if for no other reason
than people just want to be playing with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and
Bloodbraid Elf. There are so many grindy decks in Modern right now,
everyone is trying to go over the top and out grind each other. Just take a
look at what Brennan DeCandio brought to SCG Dallas last weekend!
Brennan was rocking both Bedlam Revelers and Bloodbraid Elves, as well as a
full set of Traverse the Ulvenwald to find them. These cards can both
generate massive value, and this deck is insanely good at out grinding the
So we know that everyone loves midrange and control right now, but how can
we use this knowledge to gain an edge in Modern? Since we know that
midrange and control are currently very popular, we can look at the
archetypes that typically prey on midrange and control. The easy answer
right now is big mana. Both Tron and TitanShift have fairly strong matchups
with any midrange or control decks, so they seem like good places to start.
Julian John has been crushing Modern lately with Tron, so his decklist is
an easy starting point for anyone interested in casting Karn Liberated.
Tron lines up very well against Jund and most control decks, but this isn’t
very new or exciting. The next deck on the list does have some new toys to
play with, however!
I started testing Bloodbraid Elf in TitanShift this past week and have
loved every minute of it. It seems like the inclusion of Bloodbraid Elf
would be rather underwhelming in a deck that is trying to do something much
more powerful than a 3/2 with haste. But in my experience the 3/2 body has
been very relevant in many of my games. Sometimes it gets in a couple of
extra points of damage to allow you to close the game earlier. Other times
it trades for a ground creature or even just chump blocks a Tarmogoyf to
buy you an extra turn.
The four-mana casting cost even works very well in the curve of the deck.
You’re typically going to be starting with either a suspended Search for
Tomorrow on turn 1 or a turn 2 ramp spell, either of which will allow you
to easily cast your Bloodbraid Elf on turn 3. Before, the TitanShift decks
were often wasting mana on turn 3 after these ramp spells, but Bloodbraid
Elf is an excellent card that fits perfectly in this slot.
In my article last week, I offhand mentioned that Bomat Courier was the
most underrated card in Magic the Gathering right now. Well, it’s time for
me to put my money where my mouth is and show everyone what I’ve been
In Standard, Bomat Courier has shown up as a powerhouse in Mono-Red Aggro.
It’s a must-answer threat that will easily take over the game if left
unchecked for too long. It works very well in a deck that can quickly empty
its hand so that you can cash it in for extra cards.
Given what we know about Bomat Courier being great in strategies that are
good at dumping their hand, I decided that I wanted to test it out in
Modern Burn. I’ve also had some other theories about Burn in Modern that
I’ve been kicking around for a while now, and it was about time to put
those to the test.
One of those theories is that the best draws out of Burn typically come
with a bunch of one-mana spells that deal three damage. Out of the
traditional Boros Burn list, the draws that kill my opponent the fastest
are when have a creature or two backed up by a pile of Lightning Bolts and
So why not try to configure the deck in such a way that optimizes draws
like this? It’s time to bring back Bump in the Night. While Boros Charm is
great and all, having a glut of two-mana spells can often actually reduce
your clock by a turn or two by keeping you from dumping your hand
efficiently. The additions of Bump in the Night also makes Bomat Courier
that much better because you are going to be able to cast all of the spells
in your hand much faster.
After testing it, I’m fairly confident that Bomat Courier is insane in
Modern Burn, and I’m honestly amazed that I haven’t heard about anyone
trying it before now. It’s a threat that often gets in for a point or two
of damage and it demands an answer. This means that your opponent typically
has to kill it over your Goblin Guide, allowing your Goblin Guide to
connect again. That’s insane value and that’s not even the best case
scenario! If it ever goes unchecked, you can cash it in for an extra three
or four cards, an incredibly powerful effect that Burn just shouldn’t have
This is what I’ve ended up on, and I’m pretty happy with the list.
Even though the curve is much lower in the deck, I still think it’s correct
to play twenty lands. It’s very important to be able to make your third
land drop to be able to efficiently cast all of your spells on time. I
could be wrong about this, however, and the correct number could be
eighteen or nineteen lands.
Ramunap Ruins is another card that I believe many people are overlooking
for Burn. We’re in a pretty grindy metagame right now, and often that means
that the games are going to go long, even with Burn. Having a land that can
turn into two damage down the line can make a huge difference. I don’t
think that the manabase can support a full four copies of the card, but it
can definitely support two.
I’m not quite as sold on Shard Volley in this deck, because it can
sometimes have pretty bad interactions with Bomat Courier if you don’t have
an extra land to throw away. But Shard Volley does go along with the
general theme of the entire deck being very, very low on the curve, which
gives you the ability to dump your hand much faster than the traditional
With so many midrange decks running around with both creatures and removal
spells, Dire Fleet Daredevil can be a very impactful card in those
matchups. Being able to Fatal Push your opponent’s Tarmogoyf to stop their
clock and leave you with a threat feels very good. And sometimes you even
get to snag a Lightning Bolt out of their graveyard for another burn spell.
I think we’re going to be seeing more if this card in Modern moving
So who knows? Maybe this is the next evolution of Modern Burn, or maybe I’m
just taking crazy pills. Either way, I hope more people will give this list
a shot, so that we can find out for sure.