Opt Takes Modern By Storm

SCG Charlotte showcased a wildly diverse Modern metagame! Patrick Chapin takes a deep dive into the results, showcasing his favorite tech and the possibilities for SCG Cincinnati!

One-mana cantrips have typically had a really big influence on the Modern metagame.

Sometimes, a little too big.

Most reprints don’t add anything to Modern, kind of by definition. One of Ixalan’s, however, is new to the Modern format and adds meaningful power to some already strong strategies.

This isn’t inherently a problem. It just shifts the balance of power, (hopefully) demanding players adjust how much of their sideboard goes where. The real question is, how is the format looking?

If this weekend’s SCG Charlotte is any indication, Modern is in an extremely good place.

Not only were there 35 distinct archetypes on Day 2, there were nineteen different strategies in the Top 32 alone. And the spread itself was excellent. Aggro, control, midrange, aggro-control, ramp, Burn, and all sorts of combo decks were present. While Modern is often home to a diverse metagame, this one is well beyond even most good days for the format.

Let’s take a look at the SCG Charlotte metagame, both Day 2 and the weighted-by-finish Top 32 metagame.


Day 2

Top 32




U/R Gifts Storm



Grixis Death’s Shadow



Collected Company



G/R Land Destruction



Scapeshift / TitanShift



W/B Eldrazi
























G/B Tron



Eldrazi Tron



Ad Nauseam












* Misc. = Counters Company, U/R Breach, G/W Hexproof, Lantern Control, U/W Control, Bant Spirits, Amulet Titan, Grixis Madcap, Living End, Ironworks, Four-Color Saheeli, W/R Prison, Blue Moon, Grixis Delver, Death and Taxes

Wow! There’s so much to work with here.

For starters, I think U/R Gifts Storm with Opt was the deck of the weekend, putting two into the final four and taking home the trophy.

Opt fits nicely into the Gitaxian Probe-sized hole in existing Storm decks, but it also helps enable a new style of Storm deck that aims to not shuffle their deck mid-game (save from a typically game-winning Gifts Ungiven). Without fetchlands, Muller takes less damage from his lands while also being able to track which cards are on the bottom of his deck from Opt, Sleight of Hand, and Serum Visions.

Contrast Muller’s list with that of semifinalist Mikael Conrow:

Muller credited his lack of fetchlands for why he could get away with playing seventeen lands instead of eighteen (since there was no more pressure to avoid running out of basics in the deck).

While Opt is at its best in Storm, it definitely left its mark on other blue decks as well. Grixis Death’s Shadow would obviously prefer Gitaxian Probe, but Opt does help fuel Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Gurmag Angler.

One interesting side effect of Opt is an increase in the value of one-mana counterspells like Stubborn Denial, Spell Pierce, Spell Snare, and even Ceremonious Rejection.

With both Opt and Thought Scour allowing us to utilize the mana we leave up, there’s less opportunity cost than there used to be. In fact, Opt’s reliability as an instant-speed cantrip is even more appreciated by dedicated control decks that want to be able to flash down a Snapcaster Mage proactively while still drawing a card. Thought Scour offered minor interactions, but the option of picking up an extra scry is even better.

Note another fine showing for Ceremonious Rejection. Why has the card become so popular? Well, if you look back at the chart from earlier, you’ll notice that the two most popular decks on Day 2 were Affinity and Eldrazi Tron.

However, while these two colorless-oriented decks were similarly popular on Day 2, there was a major divergence in their success deep into the event. Affinity, despite being one of the most popular decks, greatly overperformed…

…Eldrazi Tron? Not so much.

First, though, take a look at the Affinity deck Joshua Smith piloted to the finals:

Josh’s list is fairly standard, with one notable and freaking awesome twist:

Worst-case scenario, Claim // Fame is another threat you’ve got to set up. However, it adds a major dimension to the deck by giving us access to haste. Remember, you can give haste to any one creature (besides Etched Champion, usually), not just a two-drop, so Master of Etherium is fair game. Arcbound Ravager is also another big hit out of nowhere, but it’s also a really exciting combo. When you get back a Ravager and attack with it out of nowhere, it frequently means any unblocked creature is lethal.

Fellow Top 8 competitor Pieter Tubergen also had a pretty cool “fun-of” in the form of Hope of Ghirapur.

Because sometimes you want a little variety in your Vault Skirges?

Originally, I assume Tubergen wanted a fifth Vault Skirge, but seeing as he went with a 3/1 split, I’m guessing the flexibility in not paying life was the deciding factor. Personally, I think I’d rather have the lifelink, but it’s close, and the Hope might be right.

While this was an excellent weekend for Affinity, the Eldrazi didn’t have nearly as good of a go of things. Despite being the most popular Day 2 deck, Eldrazi Tron only barely snuck into the Top 32 at all.

The new twist here is the addition of Sorcerous Spyglass out of the sideboard.

It’s not just a Pithing Needle that lets you look first (although that part is sweet). It’s also a Pithing Needle that costs two, making it compatible with the deck’s primary hate card, Chalice of the Void.

With the printing of Opt, Chalice of the Void on one is even more important. Unfortunately (for Eldrazi Tron), the format is more diverse than ever, making it hard to have the right hate. What’s more, Blood Moon was fairly popular, helping keep Valakut decks in check, as well as those with the Uraztron. For instance, take the list Clayton Vogelgesang narrowly missed Top 8 with:

While some Scapeshift-oriented decks were making room for Search for Azcanta, Clayton’s list featured three copies of Hour of Promise (despite no Deserts), giving him even more Primeval Titan action and earlier. Being able to search up two Valakuts is such a big game, he doesn’t even need to play the full playset of the land.

Notably, Chalice of the Void makes another appearance, providing much-needed fast combo interaction for the two-color combination with the least disruption. Besides, when your deck doesn’t rely on cards that cost one, Chalice of the Void is just too good not to play. It’s one of the draws to these decks.

Well, we’ve already seen Blood Moon out of U/R Gifts Storm and Affinity, but it appeared in quite a range of other decks, including DJ West’s G/R Land Destruction list. This was once a fringe archetype but has since gone on to become a mainstay of the format.

Tireless Tracker is a little exotic, but there’s nothing too out of the ordinary here. I just love how many sweet creatures make an appearance in these kinds of decks. I don’t love the existence of Blood Moon, but it is nice to see it enabling decks, besides the multitude of U/R decks that take advantage of it.

Okay, we’ve got counterspell decks and land destruction decks covered. What about discard decks?

Christian’s list is a deck after Reid Duke’s heart. While he’s got all of the usual 8-Rack tools, he does have a nice new addition in the form of Bontu’s Last Reckoning.

Bontu’s Last Reckoning is an ideal tool for 8-Rack, as Damnation is just too expensive to reliably cast in time (particularly when we want to cast Smallpox and would prefer to discard our fourth land to Raven’s Crime anyway).

That’s a lot of land destruction already.

What’s one more land destruction deck, then?

Okay, this isn’t that much of a land destruction deck, but it does feature Ramunap Excavator plus Ghost Quarter plus Aven Mindcensor!

Ramunap Excavator is a living Crucible of Worlds that can be accessed by Collected Company. It’s also sort of Courser of Kruphix numbers five and six, though I suppose with Knight of the Reliquary and Tireless Tracker in the mix too, we might be talking more like numbers eleven and twelve.

It’s not a big deal, but I found the Eldritch Evolution in the sideboard notable. It helps us get a lot more mileage out of Kataki, War’s Wage; Linvala, Keeper of Silence; Sigarda, Host of Herons; and Eidolon of Rhetoric while being much faster than Chord of Calling would be.

Collected Company is in an interesting space right now, where it’s the engine that enables no less than a dozen different decks, yet no one among them is substantially above the rest. One of the coolest new Company decks was that of Mario Molina, who made Top 32 with the following Four-Color Humans list:

The big new addition here is Unclaimed Territory, giving tribal decks access to eight pain-free five-color lands if they want them.

Interestingly, though, the best-performing tribal deck of the weekend was the Alan Cummings U/G Merfolk deck utilizing lots of Ixalan cards, but no Unclaimed Territories.

Why no Unclaimed Territory or Cavern of Souls? Well, Mutavault and Aether Vial already eat into our colored mana supply, and this deck actually wants to cast both blue and green spells (which Cavern of Souls and Unclaimed Territory do not do). What’s more, when you’re only playing two colors, every multicolor land is like an Unclaimed Territory anyway, and we need Islands!

Kumena’s Speaker provides a much-needed second one-drop for the games where you don’t have an Aether Vial. It doesn’t really do much besides beatdown, but with so many Lords of Atlantis, Masters of the Pearl Trident, and so on, it does a pretty good job of that.

While only Silvergill Adept one-third of the time, Merfolk Branchwalker is sort of a 3/2 with scry 1 the other two-thirds of the time (and that ain’t bad). Having access to this much card flow makes Merfolk deceptively difficult to grind out…

…particularly when they’ve got access to this anti-Terminate, anti-Kolaghan’s Command technology! Once you factor in Harbinger of the Tides bouncing creatures and Aether Vial speeding you up, we’re talking about a lot of potential for high-tempo turns.

This card is legal!?

Yeah, I know Smuggler’s Copter is nothing special in Modern; its power level fits right in. I’m just saying I miss Coptering. It’s such a sweet card! It was just a little strong for Standard. Modern, however?

Hell yes!