Modern Horizons was supposed to provide players with some new toys to play with, not completely destroy the format. Yet here we are, suffering through Turn 2 kills at the hands of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Altar of Dementia.
If you check out the most recent deck dump (and disregard the various Hogaak decks), Modern Horizons looks like it’s had a positive impact. There are plenty of new cards seeing play, lots of different strategies performing well, and that’s just scratching the surface. Either the format adapts around Hogaak or something gets banned, but at some point, things will be great.
In the meantime, we need to figure out a way to be successful against Bridgevine. Even more so than against something like Dredge, you are going to need maindeck graveyard hate or something very specific to compete. If you have ways to sacrifice or kill your own creatures, that will help against Bridge from Below, but you still have to deal with Hogaak itself.
Let’s start with the deck that won the Modern Challenge that had ten Hogaak decks in the Top 32.
Maindecking Surgical Extraction, Relic of Progenitus, or Rest in Peace has been normal for Azorius Control for a while. However, it’s probably time to turn that up a notch.
You could also make the case for returning to Terminus in order to handle Vengevine, Bloodghast, and Hogaak, but with Carrion Feeder and Altar of Dementia in the mix, it’s unlikely that it would actually solve your problems.
Narset, Parter of Veils is a fine engine and one that will likely define Modern to some degree, at least once all this Bridgevine nonsense settles down. For now, we can play her as a value card, but can’t afford to lean on her. Instead, we should take a more classic approach.
With Force of Negation and Dovin’s Veto, we have good options for countering noncreature spells. However, that can’t be the only thing your counterspells hit, so don’t overload on them. You will learn this lesson the hard way.
As always, the issue with Azorius Control will be nailing the metagame perfectly and having the right configuration. If you do that, you’ll be close to unstoppable, but I’m not confident in my ability to do that. Nailing the Modern metagame is near-impossible.
Humans received many upgrades from Modern Horizons, but that’s mostly fallen under the radar.
Humans used to have just enough cards that you played a bunch of four-ofs and ended up with some flex slots, unless you really wanted to play mediocre cards like Mayor of Avabruck. Finally we have enough playable cards where we get to make tough choices. This is my current list, keeping in mind the potential prevalence of Bridgevine.
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 4 Mantis Rider
- 2 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 3 Kitesail Freebooter
- 2 Deputy of Detention
- 2 Unsettled Mariner
With all the new Modern Horizons toys and the ensuing metagame shifts, you can build Humans any number of ways. Jeskai has already put up a 5-0 on Magic Online, plus I was looking at Bant and Azorius already. It just depends on which disruptive element you’re willing to sacrifice.
If the main offender is Bridgevine, I can see how cutting Kitesail Freebooter or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben would make sense, but you still have to be worried about the other decks out there. For example, Azorius Control will continue to put up solid results, especially when a graveyard deck is the current threat. You don’t necessarily need those cards to beat Azorius, especially with all the new grindy elements. Plus, the other versions of Humans get to play real sideboard cards, so they can potentially beat other combo decks that way.
Anyway, I still favor the multicolored version, at least for now. Going forward, it wouldn’t surprise me if the best version of Humans varied greatly based on the metagame, and that’s something I’m very happy about.
The additional Horizon lands help a lot. I’ve added another land because it makes sense to have more lands that you’d usually need because you can trade some of them in for cards, but so far, it’s led to me being flooded a lot. Maybe staying at nineteen land is correct, at least in this build with very few sources of card advantage.
Unsettled Mariner has been nice for taxing removal and Walking Ballista, but it also has weird upsides like taxing Thought-Knot Seer and other discard spells. It’s also quite good in mirror matches against Reflector Mage and Deputy of Detention. It has the Meddling Mage problem where it’s not really expendable and therefore doesn’t get into combat that often. You don’t want too many of those creatures, but Unsettled Mariner has been good enough that it’s worth it.
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician out of the sideboard is the perfect card for the mirror and grindy matchups. Ideally, you’d play it alongside Militia Bugler, Seasoned Pyromancer, or Ranger-Captain of Eos to generate additional bodies. I’ve felt that I didn’t have enough expendable creatures at times, but Yawgmoth is still incredibly powerful.
If the metagame necessitates it, we could easily sideboard Force of Negation, which makes me very happy. That’s not where we are at the moment, but it could help immensely against decks like Tron.
I have yet to play with this deck myself but have frequently played against it (and lost to it).
- 4 Arcbound Ravager
- 4 Arcbound Worker
- 3 Steel Overseer
- 4 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 2 Scrapyard Recombiner
Modern Horizons didn’t provide too many goods for this deck. In fact, it may have weakened it with cards like Force of Vigor, Shenanigans, and Collector Ouphe. Still, artifact hate was never what this deck truly feared, as you could create big battlefields before your opponents could find Stony Silence anyway. Collector Ouphe throws a wrench into things because many of your opponents will have a Stony Silence they can easily search for, but it’s nothing Dismember can’t solve.
Scrapyard Recombiner is the single card this deck picks up and it has the potential to be very good in grindier metagames. Obviously that’s not the world we live in at the moment, but testing a couple of copies can’t hurt.
The biggest draw to this deck is that it smashes Humans and contains several maindeck cards that are potent against Bridge from Below. Perhaps it’s a deck that isn’t well-positioned against decks that don’t contain Bridge from Below, but when we’re talking about what you should consider playing, a good Bridgevine matchup comes first.
Everyone’s favorite deck is Whir Prison, right?
Thanks to Urza, Lord High Artificer, “Prison” doesn’t accurately describe these decks anymore. They have a powerful way to end the game quickly, including going infinite with Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek. Goblin Engineer provides some consistency, which makes the deck very good at what it’s trying to accomplish. In the meantime, you develop your mana, work toward eventually winning the game, and occasionally search for a hate card that crushes your opponent.
Realistically, this is an artifact combo deck with some disruptive elements, which is a much stronger position for the deck to be in. It also helps that Urza is a fine backup plan against things like Stony Silence. Overall, this archetype got much better.
While there’s always the threat of being milled out on Turn 2, the Devoted Druid / Vizier of Remedies combo has the potential to not care about the slower kills Bridgevine can assemble. In a pinch, you can even kill your own Devoted Druid.
- 2 Birds of Paradise
- 2 Eternal Witness
- 4 Devoted Druid
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 2 Duskwatch Recruiter
- 1 Walking Ballista
- 4 Vizier of Remedies
- 1 Deputy of Detention
- 4 Giver of Runes
Edgar Magalhaes has been crushing with this deck, plus it has the upside of not being in its final form quite yet. It has yet another upside in that it doesn’t use the graveyard.
Finale of Devastation and Eladamri’s Call are exactly what this sort of deck wants. Chord of Calling isn’t great when your battlefield is getting decimated, and Collected Company was a good way to get ahead, but not necessarily good at finding what you needed. These tutors add some much-needed consistency to the deck to the point where you can simply focus on the combo. The fact that you have Giver of Runes as a lightning rod is icing.
You could probably trim on some of the extraneous pieces like the second Duskwatch Recruiter and second Eternal Witness, but what to add in their place isn’t clear. They should be creatures for Incubation, so maybe those cards are the best options, but I doubt it.
Look for this deck to evolve in the coming weeks.
At the end of the day, Bridgevine is very beatable, but only with specific strategies. It doesn’t make me happy that everyone is forced into fighting graveyards, but this will end at one point or another. Hopefully it doesn’t come at the cost of banning something, but time will tell.