Land Destruction In Modern

Sometimes it’s best to just embrace who you are as a player. Chris VanMeter likes casting giant monsters and winning immediately. If you want to see the best way to go about this at #SCGINDY and #GPCharlotte, CVM is here with the goods!

Ah, Modern, the format of possibilities.

Really, anything you set your heart to, you can play in Modern. If you want to just pick up a deck and play it over and over until you’re an expert, just go ahead and do it. Get those Birthing Pods … oh, sorry. Just sleeve up those Treasure Cruises … dang, that one too?! All right, just port your TwinBlade deck from old Standard to Modern and … well, Stoneforge Mystic is gone (rightfully so, though, amirite?) but you’ve still got your Splinter Twin … oh man.

Okay, that’s got me pretty down too. I mean, we all just want to have fun, right? What? You want to have all the fun and not let your opponent have any? That’s what got those other cards banned. Not fun for everyone, warping the format, broken beyond repair, etc. etc. All right, well, I am a man of the people. My beard rarely taketh, but it giveth plenty to thee. Feast thine schadenfreude-n eyes upon this!

Ponza is an old term. I’m sure some of you may remember it, but for those who don’t, it was generally used to describe a deck that had some aggressive components along with a mild amount of mana denial that meant to disrupt the opponent and try to end the game before they could crawl out of the stumble we put them into.

This isn’t something that we see in Standard anymore because the hallmark of Ponza decks, the three-cost land destruction spell, isn’t something that they are willing to print in Standard. Mana denial isn’t fun, and in an effort to make the game more enjoyable and therefore accessible to more people, it has been done away with.

Honestly, it might be viable to come back, now that one-cost mana creatures aren’t being printed anymore, but I digress.

This deck, though, really gets me excited. It’s not just because it has Stormbreath Dragon in it, but let’s be real. It has Stormbreath Dragon in it!

Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl are the main components of our mana acceleration, and both of those lead right into the mana denial: Stone Rain, Molten Rain, and Beast Within. These three cards are capable of destroying our opponent’s land as early as turn 2 if we have some acceleration, but what I really like is that Molten Rain and Beast Within do more than just destroy a land. With Molten Rain we are getting in some chip damage from hitting nonbasics, which, if you haven’t figured out, are all over Modern. This damage can even be redirected to planeswalkers, so something like that Liliana of the Veil that just came down and used her -2 ability to Edict away our Arbor Elf is ripe for the Molten Raining.

Beast Within is even more versatile in that it just turns any permanent into a 3/3 Beast. You can hit your own stuff to make a surprise 3/3 and ambush an unsuspecting attacker. You can use Beast Within to turn that Griselbrand into a lowly Beast or hit that troublesome Thopter Foundry that is poised to make a million Thopter tokens. Just hitting a land on turn 2 so that we can get our chain of land destruction spells going is pretty sweet too. They may have a 3/3, but we’re going to Mwonvuli Acid-Moss next turn into an Inferno Titan on the next. Nice 3/3!

Not only do we have this trio of three-cost land destruction, but we also have what is quite possibly the most unfun card in all of Modern in the maindeck with a full four copies. That’s right, four Blood Moon highlight this deck along with the Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl.

The number of decks that just fall over and die to a turn 2 Blood Moon in Modern is ridiculously high. Even if they are able to draw out of it, we’re still trying to destroy their lands with Stone Rain and Molten Rain, and eventually we’re going to land an Inferno Titan or Stormbreath Dragon. Games end quickly when either one is around. They end even more quickly when we play them in succession.

My favorite part of this deck, though, isn’t the land destruction. It’s not the maindeck Blood Moon, or the fact that I get to crash in with my longtime BFF Stormbreath Dragon. It is the Bonfire of the Damned. You’re having your lands destroyed. You were able to get a small presence before Blood Moon shut off your entire manabase. You’re chipping away, hoping that the Ponza deck stalls or just doesn’t draw anything to interact with what you already have on the battlefield. Then, out of nowhere, right off the top comes the great equalizer.

Modern is a lean format. Decks are trying to be as low to the ground as possible. Things may slip through the cracks, but Bonfire of the Damned sets everything right. There isn’t a single card in Magic that I have lost to more than Bonfire of the Damned. Blood Moon and Thragtusk are both up there too, and look, they’re all in this 75. Again, we’re trying to make our opponents not have as much fun as we are, and does Brian Kibler really look like he’s having fun there?

I am quite the connoisseur of Titans, and as much as I love Primeval Titan, I have to say I am fully behind Inferno Titan here. Not really having a chance to shine since the Temur decks of Zendikar Standard, Inferno Titan does a lot of work here, and in Modern particularly. Having a big expensive threat can be a liability in Modern because of cards like Path to Exile and Terminate, but sometimes they don’t have it.

Lightning Bolt and Abrupt Decay are everywhere and Inferno Titan gets to dodge both of them. Primeval Titan gave you some value even if it dies, because we could get a Tolaria West and then transmute for a Summoner’s Pact, which can find more Titans. With Inferno Titan, we are likely killing a creature or two, which should be good enough even if they do kill it. We’ve been attacking their mana, and can likely just follow up with another threat.

Our sideboard is just an amalgamation of all the awesome hate cards in the format. Killing artifacts and small creatures, attacking graveyard strategies and gaining life: these are all things that we want to be doing against decks that are going to get under our land destruction plan and steal the initiative. That being said, though, when our opponent leads on Celestial Colonnade, they will be sure to miss the stars gleaming in our eyes as they wallow in the sorrow of having all their lands destroyed!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “This deck isn’t real. You can’t play it in an IQ, and that’s my goal. I like to take all the fun, but I also want to get to that #SCGINVI in New Jersey later this year! Also, I don’t think Stormbreath Dragon is even that great and I should probably just be playing Melira Company.”

Well, faithful reader, that was quite the mouthful. I can say that this is a list taken right from a recent Super IQ Top 8, so it does have potential. Sadly, the pilot didn’t take the crown, but they were right there on the cusp of snagging that much-desired Invitational invite. Abzan Company may be a more popular deck, and may even be miles better than this one, but does Abzan Company have Stormbreath Dragon?

Now, if you aren’t already sold on the Stormbreath Dragons alone (sheesh, come on people), just look at it this way. You sit down against your opponent. Oh man, it’s Joe Lossett. He’s at the top of the SCG Tour® leaderboard. He just got second place at #SCGMKE in the Modern Open and is likely to crush me.

Then he plays Urza’s Tower and you look down at your hand of Forest, Mountain, Utopia Sprawl, Stone Rain, Stone Rain, Molten Rain, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss.

Now, I know that Joe is a pretty powerful Tron mage, but I think that might be too much to handle.

Modern may be full of Melira this and Thopter that. Affinity, a-schminity. This is more my speed!

Nothing would make me happier than to turn on coverage on Saturday morning and be as giddy as I was fifteen years ago when I got to watch cartoons. Seeing a Stone Rain hit a Celestial Colonnade. Watching a Watery Grave be overrun by Mwonvuli Acid-Moss. To me, an Urza’s Tower (Forest) will always make a sound when destroyed by a Molten Rain, even if there is no one around to hear it.

I would love to hear from anyone who has been playing this deck or working on it. If there are any new revelations to this “Green Moon” deck, please feel free to share in the comments. I hope to get a chance to play some games with this deck on my stream this week too!

In the meantime, though, I’ll be trying to teach myself some Delver of Secrets. I’m going to channel my inner Noah Walker and see if I can enjoy attacking with 3/2 fliers.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m really playing this deck because of Young Pyromancer, but we can let the unsuspecting think otherwise.

Grixis Delver just keeps winning events. Noah Walker has multiple SCG Tour® wins with it. It took the crown in the Legacy Classic at #SCGMKE, and I think that it’s time I hunkered down and stopped trying to “get people” with Sneak and Show.

Delver decks take finesse. As we all know, I am the king of finesse. My flowing beard sways along with me as I navigate my way through the china shop of Legacy with the grace of a bull.

Bulls can learn new tricks too, though.

I’ve played Delver of Secrets before. Temur Delver, Jeskai Delver, even U/R Delver. That was a long time ago, though, and I’m excited to give it another go.

My biggest complaint about the Grixis Delver decks in the past has been that I didn’t really want to be playing a Delver deck where I would sometimes not want to play Delver of Secrets on turn 1 over another one-drop. In hindsight, this notion was flawed. I mean, how insane is Delver of Secrets? Obviously very. Now we get to play a deck with another one-drop that is just as bonkers and even more so?

That seems more like a boon than a hindrance, and I was just being a stubborn, old bull. I relearned how to Brainstorm when I came back from my break during 2012-2013. I had to relearn Standard formats once my beloved Abzan Reanimator and Jund Monsters rotated. Now I am going to get Legacy right again after they took Dig Through Time away from my Omni-Tell deck.

It may not be exactly the same, but this Grixis Delver deck sure does have some velocity, and I’m pretty good at steering that bull in the right direction – most of the time, at least.