Choose Your Own Adventure At SCG CON

With just about every Magic format playable at SCG CON, Emma Handy has some tough decisions to make! See the decks she’s considering for all three days!

Old School ’94. Vintage. Legacy. Standard. Modern. Pauper. No Banned List Modern. Battlebond Two-Headed Giant. There’s too much.

#SCGCON literally has too many events. On top of the host of tournaments that are being offered this weekend, there are decisions on what to play, how to play. To have fun or to win? Of all the Magic events I’ve attended, #SCGCON is the first event where I’m sincerely leading towards playing for fun, instead of playing to win.


Because if I scrub out of an event, there’s just something else to play in! In a lot of ways, the worst-case scenario is the best-case scenario. Every single event I feel like I’m pulling the petals from a daisy: “Play for fun, play to win, play for fun, play to win.” Between you and me, in most scenarios, I’m hoping that my flowery fortune teller leans towards playing for fun.

Unfortunately, this leads to me having spreadsheets of decks that I would play and no way to play all of them. I don’t quite have the card pool to play in the Vintage or Old School tournaments, but everything else is absolutely possible, and I’ve spent hours daydreaming about what to sleeve up.

Instead of keeping them all to myself, I’ll share everything I’m considering for the tournament*. That way, the readers who are here to learn something can get my best advice on how to succeed, and I’ll still have the privilege of using my soapbox to gush about what gets my Magic motor running.

*Short of team decisions for the Invitational. It isn’t quite fair to my teammates for me to spoil their 75s on the internet.


Anything with Karn and small creatures in it just looks like an absolute delight to me. The biggest problem that these decks tend to face is their aggro matchups, and after looking at the Pro Tour Top 8 from last week, it feels like ignoring the entire Goblin Chainwhirler archetype is more than slightly irresponsible.

All that being said, there’s something that just feels right about leading on Implement of Ferocity and tapping it to cast Metallic Rebuke on two. So, ignoring the aggressive decks, this is probably the way that I foresee myself having the most fun during the Standard portion of any tournaments I find myself playing this weekend.

On the other hand, if ignoring Goblin Chainwhirler is my thing, I should probably just be completely cold to it and do the wackiest thing possible….

This is my current iteration of the G/B Karnstructor deck that was originally brewed by SCG’s own Gerry Thompson. This list does very similar things but tends to focus a bit more on the mid-game than the blue counterpart. What the deck is very good at is presenting a pile of must-answer threats that punish the opponent fairly hard for letting you untap with any of them:

The synergies themselves are incredibly efficient, and it may be worth looking into borrowing the Implement of Ferocity tech from the blue list to protect some of the squishier creatures in the black deck from the likes of Goblin Chainwhirler.

The biggest thing the G/B iteration of the deck has going for it is that it has the best Karn, Scion of Urza Constructs in the format, and that’s worth quite a bit.


I’m no Tom Ross, but I’ve been pretty vocal about my comfort with the descendants of Giant Growth and Mons’s Goblin Raiders.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so I’ll skip the fluff and rapid-fire the rationale behind the nuances of the list:

Fair decks are on the rise. Having a fetchable creature is frequently relevant.

Distortion Strike is too narrow to maindeck multiple copies, and Apostle’s Blessing is halfway between Spell Pierce (against removal spells) and Falter (against creature-heavy decks).

Very good against Humans, specifically against Phantasmal Image and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which can be some of the more problematic cards. Don’t hesitate to fire this off on an early Hierarch or Champion of the Parish when necessary.

It’s very hard to beat Jeskai after sideboarding without Sanctuary, but fairly academic with it.

For the most fun I could ever hope to have in Modern, we have Taking Turns. My version of the deck is built to maximize the efficacy of Miracles, with Opt, Remand, Censor, and Mikokoro, Center of the Sea all making it easy to draw a card on the opponent’s turn. The sideboard is slanted towards control decks and Humans, with some slight concessions to the more combo side of things.

For those who might not have experienced the deck before, the idea is that once a Dictate of Kruphix or Jace, the Mind Sculptor has landed, it’s very easy to take upwards of ten consecutive turns and kill the opponent with a Jace, the Mind Sculptor ultimate or awakened Part the Waterveil along the way. The deck has some fairly counterintuitive lines and does a good U/W Control impression in the opening turns of the game.

The deck is also surprisingly resistant to many of the hate cards that tend to prey on spell-based combo decks, such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Ethersworn Canonist. The only spell the deck really plans to cast each turn is a Time Warp anyway, so a single extra mana isn’t as bad a tax as it normally would be.

The biggest thing stopping me from playing this deck in the main event is that it can have a very hard time against disruptive aggro decks, meaning that Humans is a poor matchup.

It’s very likely that I end up spellslinging on behalf of SCG this weekend, and these are easily the two decks I’m the most likely to bring in order to fill that seat.


Grixis Delver is the best deck. If I were taking a Legacy event seriously, I would play it and suggest anyone else do the same.

Moving on.

Look at this!

This is a deck that gets me excited. Arcbound Ravager ends up going into overdrive with Walking Ballista in the same shell, and the sizing of the creatures tends to line up well against a fair chunk of what the format is doing.

I would be genuinely surprised if running zero copies of Hangarback Walker is correct, but it’s hard to argue with someone who just made the semifinals of a Grand Prix with the archetype. It’s also entirely likely that the deck doesn’t need much help when it finds an Arcbound Ravager, so playing another card that leans on it is likely irresponsible. All that being said, with Inventors’ Fair in the list, a single copy could provide a ton of utility.

Most of the sideboard seems fairly typical for colorless decks, but all of the Karns being in the sideboard is another choice that is unlikely to have been made lightly and says a lot about how aggressive the deck tends to be in Game 1.

No Banned List Modern

Glass. Cannon. Baby.

I’ve been known to do my fair share of Belching in my day, and this is just a way of porting a similar strategy into Modern. The goal is to ramp something onto the table that alters the way the game is played in such a way that the opponent won’t be able to function.

Nice Dark Depths.

I hope your super-busted deck can function on a single land for the rest of the game.

Oh, is a mulligan to three not quite what you were hoping for? That’s tough.

These are all answers for very specific problems. A deck as linear as All-In Red doesn’t really have room to mess around with interaction, but having singular cards that can lights-out entire strategies is a fine place to be.

If there’s anything wrong in the sideboard, it’s likely that X/1s aren’t going to be as prevalent as I expected, and Gut Shot should be a different spell. Perhaps Magus of the Moon as an extra big spell against Dark Depths and Eldrazi Temple variants or something to that effect would play more to the strengths of the deck. Frankly, it’s difficult to decide if playing zero ways to interact with artifacts is lunacy or genius. Abrade may be exactly what the deck is looking for.

If you want to win the No Banned List Modern Open at #SCGCON this weekend, find the best Turbo Depths deck. Ross Merriam has a great start here, with the biggest change I’d advocate in favor of is finding a way to put Krosan Grip into the 75. It’s entirely likely that he’s trying to be a bit more interactive than necessary, and something more linear is a better direction to take the deck:

While more linear, the overall list is less focused. The draw to Merriam’s list over this one is the versatility, but in a format that’s going to be as wide open as NBL Modern, I tend to err towards redundancy and consistency.

As of writing this article, I still have a few days of playtesting before the event, and you’d better believe I bought a playset of Dark Depths as soon as the event was announced. Now it’s just a matter of deciding on which flavor of linear I’d like to be when the opportunity to play in the event arises.


I’ve never played in a Pauper tournament before. In spite of that, I’m pretty good friends with a big fan of the format and have been able to suss out a few of the important things in the format and what is playable.

When you don’t know what’s going on in a format, just do something linear and powerful.

Linear? Check. Powerful? This deck gets to play Gush. Actual Gush.

Why, yes, I would love to draw two cards for literally zero mana. Thanks!

For those who haven’t seen the deck in action before, the goal is to have a Tireless Tribe, use Shadow Rift to make it unblockable, pitch a pile of cards to grow it to lethal size, and then use Inside Out to put that lethal sizing to good use.

It’s fairly straightforward, even if some of the minute interactions involve layers and deeper rulesets in Magic. On the note of building one very angry creature, my “fun” choice for Sunday shouldn’t be that shocking:

Anything with Ethereal Armor is generally going to be enough to get me hooked, but being so brave as to completely eschew the hexproof mechanic? You had my interest; now you have my attention.

All kidding aside, Heroic is well-positioned against most of the aggressive strategies in the format, what with a bunch of maindeck Yoked Oxen and sources of lifegain. A synergy-based aggro deck that plans to win during the mid-game is right up my alley.

Writing this section of the article almost makes me wanna skip the Saturday events to lock up a slot in the Pauper Classic on Sunday at #SCGCON.


Looking Ahead

Regardless of the formats you end up playing, #SCGCON is on track to be one of the most exciting weekends in the game’s history. If you’re around the event and want to say hi, please don’t hesitate! I’m only blessed with the pedestal I’ve been given as a result of all the wonderful people who read my work week in and week out. I’d love to have the chance to shake hands with some of you and say hi.