Here’s the best advice I can give anyone for this weekend’s Modern Open in
Minneapolis. Be ready cause it’s not pretty…
Don’t do anything fun. Just don’t.
If you’re not casting a card that costs one that has an impact on either
the battlefield or hand on turn one, then pack it up, go home, and thanks
If you’re not planning on playing one of these cards, I don’t know what the
hell you’re doing. Outside of some deck that you have to cross your fingers
for the right pairing every round, you should be playing one of these cards
and it’s not particularly close.
Okay everyone, good talk! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in
*checks word count*
Let’s dive into what is still my least enjoyable format to play! While I
did have some mild success this year in Modern, I’m still repulsed by the
idea of playing the format. But hey, I’m a glutton for punishment so here
What is it with people and Modern? You’ve got your basic creature
disruptive decks like Humans and I suppose Merfolk (laugh), nah, just
Humans at this point. There’s the Storm Brothers, Caleb Scherer and Paul
Muller, who will never let that strategy die to fill out the combo
department. Jund is the defacto midrange deck that Jadine Klomparens
somehow wins matches with.
I’m surprised that Jeskai Control is still a thing since the last time I
played a deck against Benjamin Nikolich he said and I quote, “I think the
only way I beat your deck is if I’m playing a different deck.” Dylan
Donegan continues to be the only one playing and doing well with Grixis
Death’s Shadow, but even he thinks that Ben Friedman is crazy for wanting
to jam Faithless Looting into it.
For some reason Hollow One is still legal and I’m not really sure what to
make about WotC leaving a one mana draw three/Dark Ritual/Mind Twist stay
legal for this long in a format where Stoneforge Mystic is deemed too
powerful. Oh, and Mardu Pyromancer just won an event? How did that happen?
Anyway, after that, there’s a whole slew of nonsense that people like to
pretend is viable, like G/W Company, Blue Moon, Elves, Tron and so many
more unplayable decks that people like smashing against the wall until they
win a tournament with it.
So what’s the deal? Why are people still in love with this format?
Despite it still being the worst format to test people’s overall skill
level because matchups can vary the most in percentage points (some games
are won before they’ve even started), it’s still the most widely played and
viewed format by a long shot.
I think it’s because you get to play with the decks that make you feel
good. You get to play with whatever cards you want to and when you win with
them, at times few and far between, you feel smart for doing so since
almost all the decisions you make in deckbuilding were yours. Sure there
will be some, like me, who will just copy and paste whatever they think is
best to win any given weekend and not think twice about the exact card
choices because they’re doing an overall powerful thing.
What are some examples of powerful things, Brennan? Well I’m glad you
asked, intelligent reader of mine.
Death’s Shadow is a powerful thing. It only costs one mana and it can kill
an opponent in one shot when combined with the right disruptive elements
and Temur Battle Rage. Listen, I’ve tried to be cute, I’ve tried innovating
in the format, but I’m here with my trophy from Indianapolis earlier this
year functioning as a horrible cup with all these floating pieces of metal
swirling around (I might wanna get that checked out…) that proves it
doesn’t pay to sacrifice power for cuteness in this format. Do the best
thing, play the best cards, and just do that slightly better than your
opponent and hope for the best.
Bedlam Reveler is another powerful thing. It might have less power than
Death’s Shadow on average, but it’s still very powerful. Drawing three
cards on a body that asks you to play with a lot of cheap interactive
spells is absurd. Think if this card was printed ten years ago. People
would have lost their minds. Granted it might not have been as easy ten
years ago to fill up your graveyard without cards like Faithless Looting
and Lingering Souls, but whatever, you get the point.
Talk about fun and interactive! This is exactly what I hope happens to
everyone who loves Modern every round of every tournament you play for the
rest of their Magic playing careers!
What was that, Cedric? Too aggressive? Meh, they deserve it…
Blood Moon is a card people love and people hate. It’s the great equalizer
in the format. Three-, four-, and five-color decks getting a little out of
hand? Sounds like the perfect time for Blood Moon to come back and remind
people what’s up. Tron, Scapeshift, Jeskai, Eldrazi, Humans, literally
everyone playing a deck with more than one color, and even those who like
playing silly lands in single colored decks get checked by this card and I
Thanks Blood Moon. You’re my favorite forever.
I first saw this card get cast by someone against Brad Nelson at some
random event and thought to myself, “if this is what’s going on in the
format, I don’t want any part of it.” Burning Inquiry is one of the most
egregious cards in existence, and I have no idea why it’s still legal for
play. No, it’s not too good on average, but the games where it’s good, it’s
the best card ever printed and it’s not close.
Yes, it’s better than Ancestral Recall.
Yes, it’s better than Black Lotus.
Yes it’s better than Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Because sometimes it’s all those cards all at once for only one mana.
The play patterns this card promotes and the feeling of dread you get from
playing against this card when you have some sideboard cards in your
opening hand for the matchup getting randomly discarded because of your
opponent’s engine card is just misery if misery was a cone of delicious ice
cream you thought you were about to bite into only to have a bird poop on
it as you’re taking a bite on a hot summer day.
I’m not saying that from experience, but I’m sure that’s what it’s like.
So what’s the answer? I know! Let’s introduce some awesomely powerful four
mana cards that were previously banned for power level reasons back into
the format that people can build around and fight a longer grindy game,
which is what people want!
L O L.
That’s pretty much all I have to say about these two. Some decks have
inserted Bloodbraid Elf into decks with red and green mana, but Jace, the
Mind Sculptor, better than all, has been chewed up, spit out, stepped on,
and tossed into the trade binder once again.
The format is too volatile and too fast for this kind of interaction. Like
I said at the start, if it doesn’t cost one, then you shouldn’t be playing
it. One thing that has come out of Dominaria that has shocked
people including myself is that Jace, the Mind Sculptor is being replaced
as the planeswalker of choice in blue decks.
In a format all about one and two mana spells, the planeswalker that not
only draws you cards but lets you cast them the same turn you play him in
order to defend himself seems to be the direction people are going as of
late. Don’t ask me why or how, but the “effective” three mana you’re
spending on Teferi seems to be the major selling point. I would be
surprised if this is something that will hold up in the long haul but as of
now, it seems he’s the hero we deserve.
So what isn’t powerful and what should you not play if you want to win?
There might have been a time before Humans existed where if your name
wasn’t Caleb Scherer or Paul Muller that it would have been okay for you to
sleeve up Storm, but we don’t live in that world anymore. I know card
availability is a thing, but you’d think someone with the success of those
two could afford to buy into another deck that doesn’t have such a fail
rate in the Top 8 when decklists are posted. That might be a secret I don’t
want Caleb to know until after the Invitational since both he and Benjamin
Nikolich are my main competition for the Season One points race.
So actually, if this whole paragraph could just be edited out to say that
“Storm is great, keep playing Storm” that would be great…
For as cute as this little critter might be, there’s a reason this card
only does well in events once in several years with little success in
between. It’s just not that good. There’s a time and place for a metagame
call like this and yes, there was a point where I respected the deck enough
to register a copy of Back to Nature for this matchup, but this isn’t it.
Take a page out of a hated sideboard card and go back into Hibernation til
the time is right in another year to slip back into a competitive
Okay, my jokes are horrible, I’ll admit it. I’ll be waiting for crucifixion
in the comments.
It’s funny to think that Tarmogoyf isn’t playable. Many Jund aficionados
will give me crap for this, but we live in a world where Reflector Mage
sees a lot of play. How can you tell me that a creature you play for two
whole mana and all it does is attack and block is good enough? Sure, it’s
big, but have you met Death’s Shadow? That creature’s power and toughness
is huge/huge and those are bigger numbers than the Tarmodie can count.
See that little plug there? Do I get a raise now? (Narrator: He did not.)
I’ve learned a great deal from Patrick Sullivan since I work with him now
and I can’t stand up without hearing him and Luis Scott-Vargas talk about
which Alpha/Beta cards they recently bought and will make me
cringe by playing them unsleeved. However, let me tell you: why Patrick
Sullivan thinks that Lava Spike is an acceptable card to register in Modern
is beyond me. Lesson here: friends don’t let friends play Burn.
The lesson here and the only thing that people will take away from any of
this despite whatever strategical and sincere advice I’m actually providing
is that blah blah blah, Brennan hates Modern, blah blah blah. While that’s
not true, I’m ready for it.
For those who I’ve not offended who want to know what I’ll be playing for
this weekend, look no further than the huge/huge I mentioned before,
something along the lines of this list from last weekend in Louisville, a
city whose name I’ll never pronounce correctly.
I do like Opt over Serum Visions, but to each their own here.
See you all next week when I get to laugh at all the trash talk in the
comments with another trophy in my hand!