Last weekend I registered W/U Flash for an SCG Classic, and I’ll never do it again.
Considering Josh Cho and Chris Andersen made the Top 8 with very close to the same list that I played, it might be a bit premature to say that. But whatever, I’m locking it in.
Here’s what Josh and I played:
While Josh didn’t play against R/W Vehicles until his win-and-in match, I played against it in Rounds 1 and 3. My games were close, but I felt incredibly behind from a strategic standpoint and eventually lost both. Yes, there are some things you could do in an attempt to even up the matchup, but it’s so bad that I’d rather look at playing another deck rather than warping Flash.
I’ve been doing some brewing for Standard, but Modern is what I’m looking at this week. Grand Prix Dallas had some perplexing results, so I’m using those as a template for my #SCGCOL preparation.
Before Grand Prix Dallas, I would have assumed that Modern was still a format of decks looking to kill on turn 3. For a while, I’ve been scared of the inevitable rise of Death’s Shadow Zoo and/or Dredge. That didn’t happen. Infect continued to perform well, putting three copies into the Top 8. Aside from some “kill you” decks, the rest of the format appeared to be a pile of midrange and control decks.
It seems like that format should be easy to exploit, but I’m not about to play something like Ad Nauseam to try to target a metagame that may or may not exist. It could just be that the Top 64 ended up looking that way. It could also be that Columbus will look nothing like Dallas. If it does, maybe Grixis Control is great? It tends to do well against Infect and midrange piles.
While Grixis Control is a solid backup plan, I’m going to explore some other options first.
I played this deck in a video a while back and loved it. Since then, Blossoming Defense and Spirebluff Canal have been released, both of which are great additions to this deck. The deck has finally been unleashed into the real world, and the results were pretty good. Three copies in the Top 64 for what basically amounts to a new deck is very impressive.
While Modern already has more than its fair share of decks like these, clearly there is something going on here that makes this deck playable over Death’s Shadow and Infect. The one downside I see is that it doesn’t have a one-drop that’s truly capable of winning the game on its own. Monastery Swiftspear is capable of doing so, but it requires way more help than Kiln Fiend does. Because of that, you’d think that relying on two-drops was a bug, not a feature, but I’m not convinced.
Both Kiln Fiend and Thing in the Ice have Lightning Bolt protection to some degree. In Kiln Fiend’s case, it takes a little help from Mutagenic Growth, but that’s completely fine with me. With Infect, Mutagenic Growth is good, but it rarely does anything against Lightning Bolt unless Pendelhaven is involved. At that point, you have a spare mana which could be spent on any number of tricks to invalidate Lightning Bolt. The issue isn’t “can we beat Lightning Bolt if given enough time?” It’s “can we beat Lightning Bolt given the fact that Modern is a very fast format and we need to be doing things quickly?”
You won’t get the turn 2 kills from Infect, but the turn 3 and 4 kills are still plentiful. Lightning Bolt is still prevalent, and having some built-in resilience to that is nice. Granted, Death’s Shadow Zoo kinda has the same thing going on, but this deck isn’t reliant on killing itself to get going. In a fast format, I’d rather be on the Spirebluff Canal side of things.
U/R Battle Rage is on my short list of options for Columbus.
Corey was one of the three people (alongside me and Michael Majors) who pioneered a new flavor of Grixis Control in Modern at Grand Prix Oklahoma City. As one of those people, it gives me great pride to see Corey continually do so well with the archetype, even if his version is a little different than what I would be playing these days.
Ancestral Vision and a bunch of counterspells? That’s hard for me to get behind in Modern. Counterspells are generally tempo-negative if your opponents know how to play around them. However, they’re a necessary evil if you want to fight decks like Scapeshift and Tron. Corey went with Countersquall and Spell Snare, which are hard counters against the things you care about, unlike Mana Leak, which goes dead from time to time.
It’s especially difficult for me to want to play Ancestral Vision and counterspells when I can take a more proactive route with Inquisition of Kozilek and Bedlam Reveler. My general failings with the archetype aside, I continue to think something is there.
If I were going to play Grixis Control this weekend, I would probably copy most of Corey’s list, simply because he crushed the tournament. If I built my own deck, it would be rooted in doubts and insecurities. I did have dreams of sideboarding a Madcap Experiments Platinum Emperion package to beat up on Burn, though. Maybe it’s best that I save that for another day.
Before Blue Jund was cool, there was regular old Jund. And regular old Jund is just fine with me.
You could look at Chandra, Torch of Defiance as being a mid-game draw engine or a Flametongue Kavu, and neither would be wrong. As a Flametongue Kavu alone, Jund would consider playing it. As a draw engine, not so much.
Having a draw engine is nice and all, but I prefer my Jund decks to lean slightly aggressive in order to close out games before your opponent can rebuild after your onslaught of discard. Trying to play the control game has always proven difficult. While playing a card like Chandra, Pyromaster in the past allowed you to shift into that role at times, Chandra, Torch of Defiance does that much better. It’s much better to look at it as a Flametongue Kavu first, and draw engine as bonus upside.
Maybe Chandra, Torch of Defiance doesn’t line up well in Standard, but it’s completely different in Modern. There aren’t many creatures that can survive a four-damage hit, which is why Flame Slash saw a decent amount of play before Roast came along. There are some creature-lands that can hide from Chandra, but those are far less common than Vehicles in Standard.
Dredge is a big deal, but it’s constantly being under-represented. I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite his solid finish, Steve was unable to get use out of the majority of his sideboard.
Rakdos Charm is hedge against Dredge and Affinity, which is something I’m completely fine with (even if I’d strongly prefer Ancient Grudge in the Affinity matchup). Ravenous Trap is clearly targeted at Dredge, and is something you probably shouldn’t do.
Anger of the Gods in the maindeck is another nod to Dredge, except one that might actually be good. Looking at the Top 64, Anger isn’t great against the majority of the field, so I’d probably leave them on the bench going forward.
If I were going to play Jund, it would probably be a more aggressive version with more Grim Flayers, but I would certainly steal some of Steve’s tech choices.
I’ve tried sideboarding Blood Moon in Jund before, but that was only in extreme circumstances. In the U/R Battle Rage deck, you can sideboard in Blood Moon more liberally, as it will rarely harm you as much as it can when you side it in with your Jund deck.
And speaking of Blood Moon.
This deck is so cool!
Perhaps the 30th-place finish is a result of Blood Moon being great despite Madcap Experiment being mediocre against the current Modern field, but I don’t really care. I will play this deck at some point.
If the 8/8 gets clogged in your hand, you have Desolate Lighthouse, Izzet Charm, Vendilion Clique, and Chandra, Flamecaller to get rid of it. If you end up discarding one, I’d be worried what I’m going to do with my other three Madcap Experiments (or potential Snapcaster Mage) when the first Platinum Emperion I put onto the battlefield dies.
Maybe three paragraphs about Academy Ruins is completely unnecessary given how infrequently it would matter in games, but who knows? Maybe people have more difficulty killing an 8/8 than I’m giving them credit for. If nothing else, it makes me want to play Engineered Explosives, which this deck should probably have anyway.
Blood Moon is great and blue spells are great, but as always, I highly doubt Blue Moon is great.
- 4 Golgari Grave-Troll
- 4 Stinkweed Imp
- 4 Narcomoeba
- 1 Scourge Devil
- 4 Bloodghast
- 4 Prized Amalgam
- 4 Insolent Neonate
I’ve played Dredge in every format since its inception. Given that, I’m probably all right to pick up this deck cold. Sideboarding with this deck is weird, but I’ve also read a bunch of articles on the deck, so I wouldn’t be completely clueless.
That said, if your opponent wants to beat you, they will, which makes me a little afraid. Then again, most of the decks in Modern have that same issue. You can dodge that by playing something like Jund or playing something that isn’t likely to be targeted. Right now, Dredge seems like it’s under fire.
Cathartic Reunion is a huge upgrade for the deck. While Dredge hasn’t been dominating, it wouldn’t surprise me if Golgari Grave-Troll ends up back on the banned list. Maybe I should play Dredge before it’s gone?
Overall, I think any of these decks is a fine choice. You could make some arguments for which one is actually best, but I’m going to skip all that and let my readers decide.
Let’s assume for a moment that, since you’re reading my article, you might occasionally root for me to win. Given that, what deck do you think I’m most likely to do well with? There are a lot of factors to consider, such as my past performances with such decks, the current metagame, and what the metagame might look like in Columbus compared to Dallas.
So go ahead and vote. Keep in mind that I’m placing a higher value on winning over anything else. My fate is in your hands.