MODO Learning

I’ve now spent… must be close to a hundred hours on MODO. I just can’t imagine getting back into Magic without this tool. Without a store nearby to play in, it would be impossible. Without being able to test my deck a couple hundred times before Regionals, it would be impossible. Without being able to see what everyone else is working on and how the metagame is developing, doing well at a sanctioned event would be the equivalent of buying a Powerball ticket. And yes, I’m still working on the Elf deck – but that’s not the only deck I’m working on…

I’ve waited too long to write this, so once again this week, there are just going to be too many themes and stories to make a coherent one-subject column. These are the thoughts and stories I thought readers might find interesting and amusing. I hope I’m right.

I’ve now spent… must be close to a hundred hours on MODO.

I just can’t imagine getting back into Magic without this tool. Without a store nearby to play in, it would be impossible. Without being able to test my deck a couple hundred times before Regionals, it would be impossible. Without being able to see what everyone else is working on and how the metagame is developing, doing well at a sanctioned event would be the equivalent of buying a Powerball ticket.

Yes, I’m still working on the Elf deck.

I really can’t fathom the derision people give to decks and cards that have not seen multiple Top 8s. Laughing at cards and decks that are unique and original; all the while playing Tooth and Nail.

And it is all about Tooth and Nail right now.

At least 60% of my matches are against people playing Tooth and Nail. This counts both in the casual “Tournament Practice” room, and in the “Sanctioned Tournament” room. In the sanctioned area, 80-90 percent of my opponents are with Tooth and Nail. In the practice arena, 40-50 percent of my opponents are working on “their” version of Tooth.

Tooth is just insane. Insane. Insane.

(Note – the metagame on MODO evolves daily. When I wrote this four days ago, it was all Tooth, then there was a surge in Red to combat the Tooth, and now many flavors of Blue seem to be the secondary flavor of the day. While no longer 90% of the field, Tooth still is the most popular deck.)

Let me get back to the Elf deck for a second. One of the reasons that I am still working on it, is because 95% of my opponents are playing Forests. When you have the option to play a whole gang with utility, give them all +1/+1 and Forestwalk (which is some good), when your opponents all play Forests. If even 30% of my opponents played Mono-Red or Blue or Black or White, it would not be some good. But the decks I have seen in order of popularity are

Tooth and Nail

Green/Blue Meloku

Green/Black Death Cloud

Anti-Tooth (land destruction) Red.

Everything else

And that everything else is about 5% of the field. Of that last 5th place, most of those decks are using Forests for Sakura-Tribe Elder.

White Weenie is in some far off corner of the Galaxy shouting “I’m still a contender, damnit!”

Having Forestwalk is a very powerful thing.

When Tooth is running Vine Trellis and Sakura-Tribe Elders, it’s needed to win the race. My wins against Tooth can be summed up in one statement. “I drew the Elvish Champion.” If I don’t draw the Champion, I lose. Simple as that. They will block with an Wlder and kill a weenie and go get a land, or they will block with the Trellis and you have to waste a Predator’s Strike to kill it so you can get through next time. Blanchwood Armor just becomes nothing more than a “block me first” sign as opposed to “Coming in for four. Coming in for five. Coming in for six, oops, Predator’s Strike, make that nine and the game.”

Sakura Tribe Elder? Is it really that good? What a silly question.

“Umezawa’s Jitte was the most-feared card coming into Pro Tour-Philadelphia, but the Top 8 was defined by 28 Sakura-Tribe Elders and 28 Kodama’s Reaches” – Mike Flores

You have to get by Sakura to do damage.

If everyone runs Sakura, everyone’s running Forests.

God, I love Elvish Champion.

Speaking of Sakura-Tribe Elder. I started getting excited to read coverage of PT Philly. Vermonter, Green mage, number one ranked in the state, and friend Jeremy Muir qualified for his first Pro Tour in Montreal this season, and he was in Philadelphia. So, I was anxious to track his progress and read what the field was like. For one, Jeremy went 2-3, and trust me, that’s plenty respectable for your first Pro Tour.

Ah, your first Pro Tour. Oh the memories come flooding back to me. Memories like not having enough elimination to take out Skittering Skirge while playing a feature match in PT: NJ. I mean, me, not having enough elimination to take out a Skirge? I mean WHAT… THE…. HELL!!!???

Or going 0-6 in PT: Dallas. Wheeee!

Or going… Hmm… What the… What did I play in PT: LA? I know I didn’t play Green. I know I didn’t play Black. Nope. Didn’t play Red…. What did I play?

One of the greatest things about returning to the game is looking over past articles. Like a little snapshot of my life at that moment in time. And looking back over my PT articles brought back a flood of memories. Like playing White in Pro Tour: LA. PT Boat.


I’ve never had success with White other than a fun theme deck called “The Peaceful Village.” But, there it is. I played White in PT: LA. And then I played at the losers table all day playing Blue/White control and to top it off, lost to a Red deck while my deck had Staunch Defenders and Bottle Gnomes in the side.

Ah, Good times, Good times.

Just for grins, here’s what I played in PT LA for you old timers.

4 Soltari Monks

4 Soltari Priests

4 Knights of Dawn

4 Cloud chaser Eagles

4 Staunchies

4 Avenging Angels

4 Disenchant

4 Winds of Wrath

4 Repentance

22 Plains

4 Wasteland


4 Serene Offering

4 Bottle Gnomes

4 Soltari Foot Soldiers

3 Flickering Ward

There’s one other thing I wanted to share just because I thought it was funny – This is a match in PT: NJ. Remember how I’ve mentioned that I hate losing to Green? “I” am the master of the Forest. Not you, other guy, sitting across the table from me. Even if I’m not playing Green, I’m still the Forest guy and my opponents would do well to remember that.

In PT: NJ, I played Wildfire Red. Quoted from my PT: NJ report. –

My opponent is playing a Green deck. He has out three Albino Trolls and Rancor on two of them. I am playing mono Red in PT: NJ. He has paid the echo on all three of his Trolls. My opponent untaps, draws, triumphantly SLAMS an Absolute Law on the table.

All his Regenerating guys get Pro Red.

My Thran Lenses are in my sideboard

“So you lost right?”

“Of COURSE NOT!! What part of “he was playing Green” didn’t you understand?”


I play out a PIT TRAP and then I play out ANOTHER PIT TRAP and now if he attacks, he loses two of his guys. Meanwhile, I have a Crater Hellion and a Darwin Rider on the board, and if he comes over with the other Troll – I’ll smash him for a bone crushing eight points of damage because he’ll have no blockers. Oh, and did I forget to mention that I have a MOLTEN BROKEN HYDRA on the board? Gaining counters every turn?

I draw an Arc Lightning and throw it at him. He goes from fourteen to eleven. I tap a whole bunch of land and add two counters to my hydra. He looks at his hand. He looks at the board. He looks at my Hydra. He looks at his life total. Eleven is not a lot. Two turns from now I’m gonna throw eleven Hydra heads at you and you’re gonna die.

And he does.”

Have I ever told you there’s a lot of luck in Magic?

I think I have. And when Luck is rolling your way, Magic is a good time. When Luck is about even and you’re not getting screwed, and it’s a real battle of skill, not luck, Magic is a great time.

When luck is pissing on your grave, it is not so fun.

Like Saturday.

I entered 8 MODO tournaments Friday. Yes, its true, 8 tournaments with the Elf deck I’ve been working on. Of those 8 tournaments, I was in the finals five times. Once I made it past the first round, and twice I didn’t even do that.

I finished the day and had 30 tickets in my collection from selling packs, and some extra packs still to be sold. I got up this morning determined to get to 100 tickets by the end of the weekend. It is now 1:48 on Saturday, May 07, 2005 and I have lost all the tickets I was up, and sold my packs to pay for the tourney I am in now.

This game is like Crack. [For some reason that sentence makes me picture Randy Buehler on a street corner, selling dimebags to geeky junkies. – Knut, not sure why]

Yesterday, I beat a couple Tooth decks, lost to a couple Tooth decks. In one game, it took me until turn 9 to kill random dot Tooth player number 8059 and he still didn’t have his combo.

Raw Dogged it right out.

This morning, Tooth guy cast Tooth on turn 4. Here, I took a picture. Notice there is nothing in his graveyard and no Top on the board. He didn’t search for a thing. Had the whole thing on his draw.

My luck continued like that throughout the morning.

I haven’t played much MUC until this morning, and my usual first turn play was “Forest, Go”. That’s not really the way you want to put on pressure with an Elf deck.

The first time I didn’t say “Forest, Go” was turn 4 in most of my matches.

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I just got done playing a Black/Green deck and after side boarding, my opening hand was 6 Forests and a Champion. And I need that Champion for sneaky style Blanchwood lovin’ I’m hoping to give him. Surely in a land light deck I will top deck some weenies? Right? Right!?

My next three draws were Forests.


(22 land in the deck.)

I played mono-Blue guy this morning and sided out all but one Blanchwood, and lo and behold I get it in my opening hand. For those who don’t know the ruling, the Armor continues to count your Forests when a creature gets stolen wearing the Armor.

Here is how the match went.

“Forest, Pioneer, Forest, go.”

“Island, Go.”

“Forest, Blanchwood Armor the Pioneer, Serve for four on turn two.”

“Island, Go.”

“Forest, Champion, serve for six.”

“Island, Threads of Disloyalty. SAY YOU LOVE IT!”




Holy Jank! My God, I thought I was the only one that played with such bad cards!

Yeah, I lost.

At about this time, with zero tickets in my account, a sleeping wife, and a horribly bad attitude, I decide its Molson XXX, sulking, and nap time.

I got up did some chores, bought some more tickets and at seven at night entered the magical digital arena again.

Won the next two tourneys and went to bed with a big smile on my face.

Crackity Crack Crack!

Sluggo says, 'Say you like it!'  Say It!

I don’t see it as one, but my Elf deck just might be a “Win Big, Lose Big” deck. I didn’t make it that way but considering I either win the tournament or am out in the first round, it probably is. Like, here’s a great picture of a “Win Big” moment. My opponent is playing a Red deck and has me at six. I have a Molder Slug with two Blanchwood Armor’s on it. He thinks he is going to chump the slug with his Sorcerer and ping me for one. But Predator’s Strike has other ideas.

Note his life total in the picture.

Awesome Strike?

So Alan comes down. He has a mono-Black Death Cloud deck. I get the impression he has played less than 10 games with it. I am armed with my Green deck that I have play tested and tweaked over a hundred games on MODO.

I don’t win a game.

He show’s me this neat card called “Greater Harvester.” Like a kid in a candy store my eyes go wide. Now that is a fattie!

Both Josh and Alan have been trying to get me to return to Black. Josh constantly makes fun of Green cards and says I need to get back to killing everything on the board.

Alan- “A lot of people see you as a Green mage, but you’ve had your most success with Black. That’s where your real strength lies.”

And he is correct. Some history, not for the sake of bragging, ha ha, but just to refresh my and everyone else’s memory.

Mono-Black – Top 25 PT 1 NY.

Qualified with Mono Black.

Qualified with Red/White.

Qualified with Secret Force.

Played Mono-Black in PT: Dallas, lost every round.

Played Mono-Green in PT: Chicago, won 2 rounds.


Black holds a lot of draw for me. Really really despise Tooth and Nail. Really really despise Eternal Witness. Really really hate mono-Blue. Hate losing to Green. Mono-Black has all the tools needed to smash every dominant deck out there and no one is abusing it.

Whoa b*tch, get out da way!

Alan- “Look at this guy! He’s the new Brother’s Grimm. 5/6! You know what Greater Harvester says to Morinfen?”

Me – “Get out of the way, b*tch.”


Alan – You know what he says to Gallowbraid? He says ‘What are you looking at Gallowb*tch?’ That’s right, look away p***y.”

*peals of laughter*

Looking at PT: Philly just reinforces those beliefs. I look at all the Tops and “Kodama’s Reach Around” (TM Joshie Trash Talker) and Sakura and the engines and the Wrath of Gods and I think “Wow, that’s some engine you got there. Wow, that’s some card drawing and shuffling you got going on there. Wow, all that stupid crap is in your graveyard. Wow, take five and sacrifice two permanents, engine boy. Oh yeah, and rat you.”

Punch punch punch.

Nezumi Shortfang? Some good.

Hideous Laughter? Some Good.

5/6 for 5. Really good.

4/4 for 3? Hmmm, Massive drawback… but maybe.

Punch punch punch.

Based on that, I’m now testing this deck on MODO.

If the Dross Harvester gets to be a problem, you can just sac him to the Bone-Reader or the Greater Harvester. Or get rid of him with Barter in Blood. The fourteen rats in the deck help to set the pace of the early game, and disrupt opponent’s plans. Especially Tooth, who wants to sit there and collect cards and ignore you for six turns until they go off in your face. The Hideous Laughter seems bad for a deck with so many rats, but those guys are fodder. When they’ve done their job, you don’t care if they die. Laughter isn’t going to do anything to the Harvesters and they are teh win.

Much like a Death Cloud deck, the point is to get ahead on permanents, and then play the Greater Harvester. Not only are they sacking two permanents to your one, but with your elimination, hopefully they have nothing to block your 5/6 fattie.

I’m not a good player. I’ll never be one of those guys running 5-Color Green with Tops and Reach Arounds and multiple engines going full bore with a dozen different upkeep effects to keep track of. I can’t even remember to keep my Top alive when I play a Viridian Shaman.

Nope, I’m the guy that Hymns you on turn 2 and then kills everything you have on the board. And if you do happen to get your engine going, I’ll play an Oblivion Stone, blow it up, and play a Harvester. That’s the kind of guy I am.

I was playing a guy in MODO and he recognized my handle and asked if I was Wakefield, and I told him I was.

Two turns later I forgot to attack with some huge guy.

He types “?”

I type “sigh”

He types “Are you sure you’re Wakefield?”

“Are you kidding? I just PROVED I’m Wakefield!”

That’s all for this week. Next week we’ll see how the Rat Harvester did.