Fresh Modern Decks For SCG Philadelphia

The pros may be mostly quiet about Standard heading into the next Mythic Championship, but Magic Online is teeming with experimental lists! Tom “The Boss” Ross covers successful out-there options!

The banning of Bridge from Below is behind us and the populace has had almost two weeks to digest the impact. Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis was the target in question to bring down a notch and the action Wizards of the Coast took has reduced the potency of the trampling 8/8.

The Modern metagame seems to have shaken up. The old favorites like Izzet Phoenix, Humans, Mono-Green Tron, Azorius Control, and Burn are still around. There’s a little bit of aftershock from Bridgevine’s dominance insofar as seeing sideboards with a touch too much hate towards graveyards. That is, if Hogaak is truly dead. (I don’t believe it is.)

The Team Constructed Open in Philadelphia is this weekend where the Modern seat will likely play something safe so as not to ruffle the feathers of any teammates. However, if you’re feeling frisky and have some cooperative (or risk-taking) teammates, here are some sweet Modern lists to consider (in any case, there’s always SCG Columbus next weekend, which is also Modern):

Wrenn and Six has proven much more than just a Legacy Lands card. In fact, Wrenn and Six is good with any lands. Fetchlands are the main appeal and drawing extra cards with Fiery Islet is nice. Then, of course, creature-lands like Wandering Fumarole and Lumbering Falls become recursive threats with the two-mana planeswalker. Who needs Tarmogoyf?

Archmage’s Charm is difficult to cast in a three-color deck, but so was Cryptic Command all of these years. The steep cost is somewhat alleviated by Force of Negation being able to convert any ol’ blue card to some use. It’s been justified in Legacy to just slip an outrageous blue card into a deck because “…eh, it pitches to Force of Will.” While somewhat of a joke, the logic holds true to a degree.

A lot of 8-Rack elements are going on here. This is a Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis deck with a ton of disruptive elements like Thoughtseize, Smallpox, and Liliana of the Veil. It doesn’t matter as much if you’re a turn slower getting Hogaak onto the battlefield if you’re also slowing your opponent down at a reasonable speed.

Cabal Therapist hasn’t found a home yet, but this might be the one. Stitcher’s Supplier may be the best creature in Modern to sacrifice, ensuring you get the full six looks for Bloodghast and/or Hogaak. It’s a bit slow, but it’s just a give and take when compared to something like Carrion Feeder, Insolent Neonate, or Cryptbreaker. Cabal Therapist is particularly nice with the other discard spells in the deck, both to strip away all resources and to have better information when you do exchange a creature for your Cabal Therapy.

Dryad Arbor is a nice way to get your second creature to convoke Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. Most players will wait until you cast your second creature before using Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile on your first creature to prevent you from casting Hogaak. Dryad Arbor doesn’t use the stack in that way – either you play it straight from your hand or fetch it with Verdant Catacombs. It’s unlikely the opponent will respond to the act of fetching and will rather wait to see what you do with the mana you get.

I’ve never been much of a Pack Rat guy in these heavy-attrition decks. I get that it’s a nice outlet to discard Bloodghast or Hogaak and that it works well with Mutavault to bring up your Rat count, but I just never have time to repeatedly spend three mana to make 2/2s and 3/3s.

Tweaking on the above list, this is what I came up with to test:

The deck was already playing four Silent Clearing and some Verdant Catacombs to get Dryad Arbor, so playing actual green spells isn’t too far off when you switch those Silent Clearings to Nurturing Peatbogs.

Satyr Wayfinder is kind of like Stitcher’s Supplier five through eight. You mill over four cards instead of three with the option to take a land if there’s one. There are some good utility lands to choose from in this Golgari deck too. Hitting a third land-drop is pretty key as well, and not always guaranteed when you’re playing cards like Smallpox in your deck.

They keep printing better and better Ambush Vipers every year.

Every card in this Grixis deck is either an instant or a creature with flash, so you’re 100% always playing a reactive game where you opponent walks into your traps and is left with the tough questions of what to play around and what not to. No Gurmag Anglers needed here, as Brineborn Cutthroat grows faster than Quirion Dryad ever could, triggering off any spell cast on the opponent’s turn to become enormous. Again, who needs Tarmogoyf?

As with typical Grixis Control decks, we see the “loop” of “Kolaghan’s Command back my Snapcaster Mage, Snapcaster my Cryptic Command, counter your spell and bounce my Snapcaster Mage.” It’s a slow and painful way to get your opponent to tap out in the face of an avalanche of value.

Flying Man tribal is making its way from Standard to Modern, all thanks to Spectral Sailor.

Curious Obsession is a powerful card that wants to plop down on Turn 2 after onto a one-drop. Before the Core Set 2020 Spirit Pirate there weren’t any other good one-drop Spirits outside of Mausoleum Wanderer. Now with eight total, and Noble Hierarch perhaps a target in a pinch, you can reliably get a crack in to draw a card off Curious Obsession.

There’s enough protection in this plan with Mausoleum Wanderer Mana Leaking spells, Spell Queller exiling spells, Spell Snare snaring spells, and Drogskol Captain and Rattlechains fizzling spells. Selfless Spirit gives the defense too, so how does anyone ever get rid of your creature?

You clock isn’t the fastest, so your opponent will have time to “play Magic,” although they’re mostly getting their stuff countered and their creatures flown over. This deck has certainly piqued my curiosity.

If you’re looking for the reason to run Mono-Green, it’s Aspect of Hydra. It gives your creature +1/+1 for every green pip on your battlefield, which will typically be a minimum of +5/+5 (and usually be lethal when cast.)

Hexdrinker, Dryad Militant, and Experiment One round out the one-drops in this aggro deck. Dryad Militant is surprisingly annoying against all manner of cards like Faithless Looting, Creeping Chill, and Pyromancer Ascension. Hexdrinker is a mana sink that will take over the game if left unchecked, growing up to become its uncle Progenitus. Experiment One just grows to a 3/3 or larger after a while, leaving some amount of Supreme Verdict safeguard on your battlefield. Pelt Collector isn’t in the list, but I think it should be.

With all these green mana symbols, you may wonder why there’s no Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. I like the non-inclusion here because you absolutely can’t afford to stumble with a colorless land in the early-game just to hopefully generate a bunch of mana to feed Hexdrinker. If you have a ton of green mana symbols on the battlefield, you’re winning already.

I really like the simplicity of this prison deck; just two colors with sleek packages for the toolboxes. Goblin Engineer nearly always gets Ensnaring Bridge against anything aggressive. Against graveyards, it’s Nihil Spellbomb. Against control decks, it’s Arcum’s Astrolabe to start drawing cards. Pithing Needle solves anything in between.

Karn, the Great Creator is the actual win condition along with Mycosynth Lattice, a combo we’ve all grown to know and love. Snare Thopter even makes an appearance when you absolutely need to attack a planeswalker or finish off a cheeky Death’s Shadow player.

I’m surprised to not see Blood Moon in the list. After all, you are a prison deck with seven Swamps and another six ways to fetch them out and also have these Arcum’s Astrolabe to filter mana. Maybe the sideboard is too constrained with the Karn package. Maybe it’s a liability with so many Blast Zones in the deck and the number three happens to come up a lot.

The Wild West

It’s the Wild West out here in Modernland. The pros are huddled in their caves, creating secret tech while the masses on Magic Online are leaving no stone unturned when exploring the new cards from Modern Horizons and Core Set 2020. SCG Philadelphia will give some perspective into Modern as the first (at least partial) large Modern tournament since the banning of Bridge from Below. The Open will no doubt influence Mythic Championship IV in some form, and probably induce some last-minute hustling for cards, practice, and advice.

Will one of these decks prove itself on the big stage?