Pro Tour Magic 2015 has come and gone and the old schooliest U/W Control deck was crowned victorious felling G/W Aggro in the finals (sorry Shrout and Nick
Miller). Ivan Floch maneuvered his way skillfully through the field playing much more Magic than just about anyone else in the tournament.
Casting Sphinx’s Revelation more than four times in a single game tends to do that.
As a Jund Monsters lover, it breaks my heart to see a deck with four Quicken and three Planar Cleansing win the Pro Tour, but I still feel some small
amount of appreciation that Xenagos and friends were partially responsible for the shift in the control deck design.
If ever there were doubts that Magic wasn’t a skill game, please check out just how stacked this Top 8 was. Pack Rat and friends were approximately a
quarter of the field (be it Mono-Black or B/W Midrange), and we see William “Huey” Jensen and Owen Turtenwald make it into the Top 8 with the exact same
75. Re-hashing an old Tweet that I like to use, I don’t believe that Huey and Owen are just the luckiest people who own four Pack Rats.
Unfortunately, there really weren’t any new and exciting decks that popped up, but there were some sweet new cards that people integrated into their decks.
Nissa, Worldwaker showed up in Yuuki Ichikawa’s Jund Midrange deck in the Top 8. When I was playing the deck last week on my stream I had a lot of people
ask me if I thought the card could work in the deck. I didn’t, since there were just so few Forests, but that was without actually playing with the card.
Yuuki proved that it’s definitely good enough.
I really like the direction that he went with the deck. My biggest qualms with the version that placed second in #SCGKC was that Garruk, Apex Predator just
costs too much mana and that the sideboard felt like it needed something to pressure control decks. I really didn’t like just jamming planeswalkers into
their counterspells and Mistcutter Hydra slides right into that role perfectly.
After playing Jund Monsters for so long I am familiar with just how different games play out when you have a mana accelerant, and I really like the choice
to add Elvish Mystic to the deck. In fact, the other Jund Planeswalkers deck that made Top 8 in the hands of Pierre Mondon also had Elvish Mystic. With
access to another accelerant, we speed our deck up quite a bit, which lets us go under the Revelation decks and go over the midrange decks with Rakdos’s
Return before they can establish anything.
Nissa, Worldwaker definitely plays a unique role here. I imagine the majority of the time Yuuki was just casting Nissa and using her second +1 ability to
just untap a couple lands and use a removal spell to protect her. Getting to a point where you are “double-spelling” is a pretty crucial point in the
midrange mirrors, and Nissa pushes us into that point first and then helps finish our opponents. Turbo charged Rakdos’s Returns and 4/4s end the game
After playing the deck in my Versus video last week against Shrout, I said
that I expected the deck in some form to show up at the Pro Tour. Midrange planeswalker strategies are always a crowd favorite, and the deck definitely
felt like it had potential to do very well with some further tweaking. I had missed Mistcutter Hydra, but cutting Garruk, Apex Predator and adding
Scavenging Ooze to the sideboard were spot on changes that I felt that the deck needed.
Nissa or no will be the big question as we move forward, but whether or not the elf cutie shows up, be prepared for Xenagos, the Reveler fueling Rakdos’s
Return’s until Khans of Tarkir comes out.
I also just want to point out that Matt Sperling made the Top 8 with a R/W Burn deck featuring a full set of Young Pyromancer. Stoke the Flames seems to
have rejuvenated the Burn archetype as it now gives the deck a Mizzium Mortars that can also go to the dome. I identified early that Stoke the Flames
seemed pretty crazy with Young Pyromancer, and I’m glad that it caught on.
Elemental Tokens getting in some work!
This weekend, the Open Series travels to Syracuse for the first post-Pro Tour events. I had initially planned on going, but after some poor planning on my
part, the new plan is to end up at two PTQs instead. We are still in the Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir season so it’s back to Modern I go. I’ve been locked into
Melira Pod pretty solidly, but lately I’ve been having dreams of U/R Delver. Just a quick look through the last handful of Premier IQs show that the
archetype is still alive and kicking, even placing second in the Premier IQ in Kansas City!
I had been struggling with coming up with a list that I had liked and after going over the recent Premier IQ lists I noticed something–everyone had
completely cut Sleight of Hand.
I had initially shaved one in my list, but cutting it completely was something that had never actually crossed my mind. Serum Visions is obviously better
at flipping Delver of Secrets and lets us see a card deeper, but Sleight of Hand also helps us find lands when we need them and plays a pivotal part in
letting us play high-impact one-ofs.
Having Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand in our deck lets us build our deck a bit differently that we normally would, especially our sideboard. Cards like
Izzet Staticaster, Threads of Disloyalty, and Damping Matrix are all very powerful cards, but we usually only need one to impact the board and generate
some sort of advantage. With the ability to fly through our deck with these cheap one-mana cantrips, we can play one (or sometimes two) copies of these
cards and see them pretty reliably.
If we were to get rid of Sleight of Hand, then we would have to streamline our sideboard a little more. I can definitely get behind that. Here’s the
maindeck that I’m starting with:
In one of my previous articles, I talked about going down to eighteen lands since I wanted to cut Thundermaw Hellkite from the original list that I played
in Richmond for the Grand Prix. Now that we have cut Sleight of Hand from the deck, I can’t really see myself playing less than nineteen lands. Not only do
we have a little less card selection (granted, we have a full set of Gitaxian Probe now), but now that we are playing Grim Lavamancer in the main and with
all the powerful three-mana spells we want in our sideboard, nineteen is just right.
The format is pretty high on G/B/x midrange decks which all feature Abrupt Decay. We don’t really have any way to interact with Abrupt Decay, but with
Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer, we are able to overload them with threats for Abrupt Decay. We can even get some value out of Young Pyromancer if
we want a turn or so before deploying him. The saving grace is that all of our counterspells are good against them, and if they happen to fall behind, we
can out-tempo them pretty hard.
With Jund and Junk becoming more popular than straight G/B, Blood Moon can even be effective out of the sideboard too.
Building a good sideboard is going to be the most important step of deciding to play this deck. Let’s take a look at what decks we can reasonably expect to
see and then figure out what cards could be good against them:
– UWR Control
– U/R Twin
– G/B Midrange
This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the decks you might see at a Modern tournament. Obviously there are decks like Merfolk and Storm that some people
might play, but I don’t think they are all that popular, and I’d like to focus on the more popular decks.
There are quite a few decks that are playable in Modern, so having cards that can be impactful in multiple matchups is very important. Since we only have
fifteen slots in our sideboard, we don’t really have any room to throw away on subpar cards. Let’s list out the cards for each matchup that we think will
VS Birthing Pod
Here we want cards that can exile Voice of Resurgence and Kitchen Finks, ways to handle Lingering Souls, and ways to take care of a Scavenging Ooze or
Spellskite. I’ve seen some people want to bring in Blood Moon against the Pod decks. I’m definitely not a fan of this because they do have some basics in
their deck, and they will usually fetch for those if they expect Blood Moon.
VS UWR Control
These decks are pretty vulnerable to Blood Moon. Be aware that if they are able to get a basic Plains, Restoration Angel can still be a problem.
Stopping them from comboing out on us or getting insane value from Anger of the Gods is how we want to attack this match. Their ramp can make our soft
counters pretty useless quickly so I like using them aggressively on cards like Farseek and Search for Tomorrow.
VS U/R Twin
Stopping them from comboing out on us is the key here. If we can get an early Young Pyromancer going, then we can press that advantage. Always playing
around dying out of nowhere is very important.
All of these cards have some utility here. They have Tarmogoyf and Huntmaster of the Fells which give them another angle of attack, but you always have to
be wary of the combo. They have much fewer basic lands that the straight up U/R version, so Blood Moon can also be a strategy.
VS Living End
Our primary aim in this matchup is to not let them ever resolve a Living End. Soft counters are good because they run a lean manabase, and Negate and/or
Counterflux are very good against them post-board.
VS G/B Midrange, Jund, and Junk
I can imagine that this is probably a tough matchup, but I plan on working this week to see what configuration we need to have game against it! Swerve
definitely seems pretty sweet though.
Against Affinity we want to just destroy as many permanents as possible. I’m inclined to think that Shatterstorm or Vandalblast will be better for us over
Shattering Spree mainly because of Etched Champion. We could also play a Breeding Pool and have Ancient Grudge in the sideboard, but I’m not sure if that’s
just better than Shattering Spree.
I’m still not sure what sideboard configuration I want. If you’re interested in this deck make sure you keep an eye on my stream this week as I will be
playing this deck and figuring out my sideboard.
Lastly, I want to talk about my Kickstarter one
last time. By the time this article goes live, there will only be one day remaining. At this point we are well over 6k, which means that the BBD/CVM
playmats are happening. If you are interested in getting a sweet Beard Power shirt and a BBD/CVM playmat, make sure you check out the page and pledge at
Thank you everyone for all of your support, and I can’t wait for it all to end so that I can start working on fulfilling all of the rewards.
Good luck in Syracuse!