A few weeks have passed since the most recent unbans, and we now have some
data to work off of. The Magic Online metagame has started to redevelop,
and with the Magic Online Championship happening last week we even got to
see a glimpse at what some of the best minds chose to bring. This has been
the very beginning of the newest iteration of Modern, and we are finally
starting to notice some patterns.
Modern’s Recent Trends
Jund is the new top dog.
It’s clear now that Bloodbraid Elf has had the more immediate impact on the
format than Jace, the Mind Sculptor. While this may not have been
anticipated by the majority, it doesn’t come as that big of a surprise that
Bloodbraid Elf has just been easier to slot into existing archetypes. Jund
has always been a solid deck in the format, but it looks like Bloodbraid
Elf providing both card advantage and a quicker clock really has pushed it
over the top. The reason the card has had a more significant impact than
Jace is simple: it does more the turn you play it. Being able to double
spell on turn 4 in a deck like Jund is just everything and really
is backbreaking in a lot of scenarios. With Jund looking to be the format’s
new top dog, it’s only a matter of time until there’s a Jace deck that
figures out to beat it. Being the blue player that I am, I’ll be doing my
best to make sure I figure that out. But how does Jund’s presence over the
format change it? I’m certainly expecting an uptick of linear decks that
prey on Jund’s fair game plan. Decks like Tron, Scapeshift, Burn and G/W
Hexproof naturally have a great matchup against Jund.
G/W Hexproof is likely now tier one.
Speaking of G/W Hexproof, it has now won both of the most recent North
American Grand Prix as well as the Magic Online Championship. Three players
brought the archetype at the Magic Online Championship, which was probably
more than some players expected. Reid Duke even tweeted that he did not
accordingly plan for the number of G/W Hexproof at the event. As much as it
pains my heart to say, I do believe the deck is incredibly well-positioned.
The archetype has never really been a staple of the Modern format, but it
might finally surpass that burden and cement itself as a tier one deck.
Burn got better but might want to change.
Both Josh Utter-Leyton and Brandon Burton decided to bring Burn to the
event. While Burton decided to stick with a more stock build, Utter-Leyton
brought a build featuring four copies of Manamorphose and three Bedlam
On top of Utter-Leyton’s innovation, John Phillip Whetstone finished 9th in
the most recent Modern Classic with a list I’m quite fond off.
This list is excluding Skullcrack to incorporate four extra one-drops in
the deck in Shard Volley. My good friend and Burn aficionado Arya Roohi has
also made this same switch to his build of the deck. I must say I’m a huge
fan, as more one-mana spells are a great way to counteract blue decks and
double spell on critical turns. That said, excluding Skullcrack from the
list when G/W Hexproof is potentially at an all time high might be a punt.
While I’m no Burn expert, I’d be playing something close to this with some
Skullcracks in the mix somewhere.
Alright, so these are the three big takeaways I’ve noticed already from
this format. Now, let’s get on to the fun stuff!
The Jace Brews!
A deck that has peaked my interest as of late in Modern has been U/W
Control. The deck has a powerful top end as well as the ability to disrupt
the opponent’s mana, which is very powerful against a lot of these fringe
manabases in the format. Also, the deck has some flex slots that provide
card advantage that are just beginning to be replaced by Jace. So here’s
what I’d be looking at starting with:
For the most part, this decklist is pretty stock. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
is going to be a huge upgrade to this deck. As fun as they were, I get to
cut the sketchy one-ofs like Glimmer of Genius, Jace, Architect of Thought,
Sphinx’s Revelation, and Gideon Jura. Let’s get into some of the cards I
think improve in these strategies due to the bans.
Wall of Omens looks like it’ll be back in force once again. This card gets
better for multiple reasons. First off, and most importantly, it protects
Jace! Second, it matches up incredibly well versus Bloodbraid Elf, a
matchup that historically Wall of Omens has been on the favorable side of.
Lastly, I believe there will be an uptick of Lightning Bolts and a decrease
of Fatal Pushes, only further increasing Wall of Omen’s stock.
Vendilion Clique is just so great for this type of deck. The deck lacks a
sufficient way to close games often, and it does that while still enacting
your disruptive gameplan. It got even better because of how well it lines
up versus an opposing Jace. Imagine your opponent slams a Jace versus your
deck without Lightning Bolt, so a Brainstorm looks safe. At the end of
their turn, you get to wreck them with a Vendilion Clique by not only
getting to look at their hand, but also finish off the powerful
Don’t forget the beautiful trick of Clique’ing someone in response to their
fetchland after trying to shuffle away cards from a Brainstorm. This not
only snags their best card but also makes them draw a bad card that they
tried to shuffle away with Jace. Lastly, Jace can’t really productively
bounce the legendary Faerie given its flash. As you can see, there’s a lot
to like here.
This is a subtle addition to the deck but something I think is important.
Not only do they function as dual lands that also fuel delve for Logic
Knot, but they also shuffle for Brainstorms! The presence of Jace in blue
decks will almost certainly induce an uptick in fetchlands even if it’s
just a couple copies.
This deck is trying to be a bit more of a midrange tempo deck. I have
played this in about 5-6 leagues on Magic Online and went 4-1 in three of
them. I’m looking forward to tuning it a bit more to see if it has legs to
compete. Tarmogoyf is just a great way to protect your own Jace while also
pressuring theirs. Tireless Tracker, while not particularly good against
Jace, is just the perfect card for long games which we are anticipating
more of in this new format.
Note the addition of Field of Ruin over something like Blood Moon. There
are actually a few reasons for this. First and foremost, I think Field of
Ruin is just a better card than Blood Moon in Modern on the whole. Second,
it works phenomenally with both Tireless Tracker and Jace to shuffle post
Brainstorm. On top of that, it means you don’t have to fetch awkwardly or
be conscious of Blood Moon being in your deck every game.
Whether it be a draw-go Benjamin Nikolich-style control or the tempo
version popularized by Jonathan Rosum and Harlan Firer, Jeskai variants
have become a staple of the Modern format in the past few months. This is a
version much more reminiscent of the latter but trying to add a bit more
value to the equation with Blade Splicer and Restoration Angel. These are
two cards that line up incredibly well with Jund, as Blade Splicer is
always a two-for-one and is a great counter to Liliana of the Veil, and
Restoration Angel is hard to both block and/or kill. Restoration Angel also
has great synergies with all the creatures in this deck, eats Bloodbraid
Elf up for lunch, and is one of the best responses to an opposing Jace in
Lastly, I couldn’t leave without mentioning Lar’s Dam’s Grixis Control
deck. Without a doubt, my vote for the sweetest deck of the tournament.
Lars brought kind of a Grixis Midrange-style list, taking a more proactive
approach to a Jace shell. I must say that Liliana of the Veil pairs quite
nicely with Jace, and discard spells are the best way to force
planeswalkers through. Also, I was happy with the inclusion of Dire Fleet
Daredevil, a card I’m excited to see pop up in lists.
While I won’t be making the trek out to SCG Dallas this weekend, I will be
battling in a local 1k and testing out a new Modern deck. Maybe it’ll be
Jeskai, Temur, or my heart will stay true Grixis. Regardless, I promise I’ll be Brainstorming with Jace.