Fact Or Fiction: #SCGRegionals, #PTOGW, And Four-Color Rally

Fact or Fiction returns! In the Premium edition, Todd Anderson and Brad Nelson debate the newsworthy events shaping the Magic world! Who wins this discussion? That’s up to you to decide!

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!

[Fact or Fiction returns with two competitive Magic juggernauts! Todd Anderson, the all-time leader in SCG Tour® success, takes on his best buddy and Pro Tour mainstay Brad Nelson in a variety of Magic-related topics! Each competitor will present you with their facts (and their fictions) and you’ll decide who wins the debate at the end! Let the games begin!]

1.) The results of #SCGCOL’s Modern Classic were incredibly diverse. #SCGRegionals and #PTOGW are going to be a better events now that Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom are gone.

Todd Anderson – Fact:

I am thankful for the banning of Summer Bloom. In many ways, Summer Bloom broke many established rules in Modern. A combo deck that regularly closes the game on turn 2, even if it doesn’t actually kill the opponent, is not a healthy deck for the format. On top of that, Summer Bloom could even grind the opponent out in the late game. Primeval Titan allowed you to search up Tolaria West multiple times, bouncing it with Simic Growth Chamber or other bounce-lands, and transmuting it for copies of Pact of Negation, Summoner’s Pact (for more Primeval Titan), or even Slaughter Pact to kill annoying creatures. While it wasn’t an overly popular deck, it was downright oppressive, and I’m glad to see it gone.

As for Splinter Twin, I’m likely biased here, but I never thought it was “too good,” or even “too oppressive.” A combo deck that allows you to interact with it in multiple ways (hand disruption, creature removal, and enchantment removal) is not exactly a true villain. The upside was that Splinter Twin acted like the Force of Will of the format. Splinter Twin decks generally kept other combo decks in check, giving the rest of the format some breathing room. In actuality, the Splinter Twin aspect of the deck was not even all that good most of the time. The deck’s ability to transform into a control deck was the major problem, as people had no idea how to play against it.

With both of these decks banned, the Pro Tour will probably be more fun to watch. I don’t think anyone wants to see Splinter Twin win another Pro Tour. As for the format as a whole, I think it will be a bit less fun to play. Splinter Twin was always a weird and fun deck to play with and against. I’ll miss it.

Brad Nelson – Fiction:

Bannings are a necessary evil we Magic players must endure. They occur solely for the health of the format. Amulet Bloom was an unhealthy deck that deserved its neutering, but I can’t say the same about the fate of Splinter Twin. Modern is an extremely volatile format where certain checks and balances keep select strategies under control. Splinter Twin was one of the “good guys” that kept many things from becoming too degenerate. It was the safety valve everyone liked, whether they knew it or not.

Without Splinter Twin the format loses out on a very important staple for the format: the Snapcaster Control deck. These decks do a great job at preying on all of the aggressive strategies in the format, such as Affinity, Infect, and Naya Zoo. Obviously Snapcaster Mage won’t be going homeless, but the Splinter Twin combo is what allowed these decks to fight off the big-mana plans or other combo decks. Without the ability to combo kill, the Snapcaster Control decks will just turn into a metagame call instead of a format-defining strategy. With its exile will come very fast and non-interactive Magic, since Snapcaster Mage numbers will go down, causing more decks that don’t like to get Snap-Bolted to frolick on Splinter Twin’s grave.

2.) Infect won #SCGCOL’s Modern Classic. It is the deck to beat approaching #SCGRegionals and #PTOGW.

Todd Anderson – Fiction:

I have played against Burn more than any other archetype in my last two tournaments. I expect that Burn will likely be the deck to beat, mostly because it is so powerful, but also because it is so underrated. Every time my opponent leads off with a Goblin Guide, I’m scared for my life. I know that even if I kill their creatures, it might not be enough. Boros Charm, Searing Blaze, and even Lava Spike can end the game quickly, even if you’re able to handle the early rush of threats.

Eidolon of the Great Revel is also a huge pain for most decks in Modern. Even if you kill it, you’re taking some damage in the meantime. I think that Burn will make a big showing at this Pro Tour, though I am confident that there are a few decks (and sideboard cards) that will keep it in check.

Brad Nelson – Fiction:

Ahh, the old “decks to beat” question. I’ve answered this question many a time in my lengthy Magic career, but finally I believe I have the wisdom to answer it perfectly. No, Affinity and Infect are not the decks to beat at this Pro Tour. They all are. Modern is a vast format filled with so many variables that it is almost impossible to cover all your bases. The decks are played in such low numbers compared to other formats and the games end so quickly that it’s difficult to even sideboard efficiently for any one given matchup. It’s just better to play a more proactive strategy than to try to beat the most played decks, which only comprise of 10% of the field individually.

I will say that Affinity and Infect both are good strategies that capitalize on having a proactive game plan, which might be why they are doing well right out of the gates of post-banning Modern. Don’t forget about Miss Philippines (Naya Burn) though. I expect this deck to only be behind Affinity as the most played deck at #PTOGW.

3.) Four-Color Rally won #SCGCOL’s Standard main event. It’s established itself as the best deck in the format.

Todd Anderson – Fact:

I have thought for a few months now that Rally the Ancestors is the best deck in Standard, though it loses to itself quite a bit. The card Rally the Ancestors generates a lot of card advantage and can pad your life total both with Zulaport Cutthroat and a lot of blockers coming into play at instant speed.

The deck is consistent, powerful, tricky to play against, and the “hate” cards in the format aren’t all that devastating. I was surprised when zero copies of Rally made the Top 8 in Atlanta, and I am not surprised that it won the Standard Open in Columbus last weekend.

Rally is the deck to beat, but we haven’t really finished exploring all the new goodies from Oath of the Gatewatch just yet. Thing could change in a hurry.

Brad Nelson – Fact:

Good combo decks in Standard are hard to come by and Four-Color Rally is a prime example of why Wizards doesn’t dabble in them too often. This deck is extremely resilient against hate due to how proactive it is by playing so many creatures, but it also has a great combo finish in the late game. This combination forces decks to not only have to interact with them but also disrupt them in the process. This doesn’t leave much room for actually killing the deck. I expect Four-Color Rally to be a force to be reckoned with until the Shadows are in fact over Innistrad and the Ancestors are firmly in the past.

4.) Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is required if you want to regularly beat Four-Color Rally.

Todd Anderson – Fiction:

Kalitas is good against Rally, but it won’t beat them on its own. With so many copies of Reflector Mage and Sidisi’s Faithful, Rally decks will be able to find an answer, if only for a turn, to generate a ton of card advantage from their big spells. Kalitas is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to solving the Rally matchup.

It also depends on what kind of deck you’re playing, as Kalitas seems rather mediocre in a black deck where your removal is stuff like Silkwrap and Utter End. Making zombies is key, but you need other ways to disrupt your opponent to make sure that Kalitas keeps the Rally deck from functioning.

Brad Nelson – Fiction:

Don’t get me wrong; Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is an extremely powerful card that does a good job at defeating Four-Color Rally, but it is not alone in this fight. Four-Color Rally is an extremely resilient deck that already knows it has to defeat Anafenza, the Foremost and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. This knowledge alone means that the deck will be built and played with this in mind. Creature combo decks are difficult to disrupt thanks to how many elements they have, which is why any deck trying to beat Four-Color Rally will have to have many angles of attack or multiple layers of disruption.

I would highly recommend researching Tom Ross’s R/B Dragons and Todd Anderson’s Jeskai Black decks if you are looking to attach Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet to an existing strategy against Four-Color Rally.

5.) Andy Ferguson continues to put up amazing results with Collected Company. His new Bant Company deck is the real deal.

Todd Anderson – Fact (Kinda):

I think Andy Ferguson and Collected Company are the real deal. Both of his decks over the last two weeks have shown that Andy has a clear idea on how to attack the format. I mean, seriously, he played Bounding Krasis, and it was awesome.

What I’m not sold on is that he has “broken it” with either deck. Both versions seem like great starts for a fair Collected Company deck, but I feel like both versions could take it a bit further. It isn’t all that hard to splash a fourth color in this format, and I would like to see blue in his original Abzan version for Reflector Mage, or potentially red in his Bant version for Savage Knuckleblade / Mantis Rider.

Andy has a good head on his shoulders, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a mainstay on the SCG Tour®.

Brad Nelson – Fact:

Collected Company is the type of card that gets better the bigger the format is. Given that this is the largest Standard can get, it’s easy to say this is the best Collected Company is going to become. Right now the card has so many different cards to choose from that finding the right combination each week is only limited by the deckbuilder’s abilities. On that note, Andy Ferguson might not be a household name, but anyone who does their homework will realize he is a highly skilled Magic player that has quietly built a very impressive resume on The SCG Tour®. He has done so consistently well at the events he attends that I wouldn’t be surprised if this deck wasn’t actually that good and was carried by his world-class play.

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!