Preparing For #SCGRegionals!

Whether you’re hitting Modern hard for #SCGRegionals or you’re just in the mood to continue on your Standard path, Chris VanMeter has some format analysis that should get you moving in the right direction this weekend!

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!

#SCGCOL is in the books, and while it is no surprise that Four-Color Rally is insane, it just took a week for it to claim the crown.

Looking at the meta from #SCGATL to #SCGCOL, we can see that things evolved a little bit. True control decks aren’t even a thing at this point, the closest being Jeff Hoogland’s B/W deck, and it looks like while Atarka Red had a heyday in the first week of a new format, as it always does, things will start to course correct.

Watching the coverage this weekend, I quickly noticed a couple things.

First, R/B Dragons is a real thing, and I am more than thrilled.

I was happy to see R/B Dragons do well last weekend, and when Brad Nelson started championing it I was stoked. I wanted to see just what innovations they might come up with for the deck. As for myself, I did work on the list a bit and ended up taking it to FNM to see just how some of my theories would work out.

The biggest thing being that I wanted to try a bunch of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in the 75. Sadly I was only able to come across one copy of the card, but every time I was able to get him onto the battlefield, things went south for my opponent extremely quickly. I did try out having a full four copies of Goblin Dark-Dwellers in the 75, and while they are excellent, there is some friction at the five-slot with Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury. With Hordeling Outburst in the deck, I would like a couple of Dark-Dwellers; without it I think we can leave it on the bench.

I really like some of the changes that Tom and crew made to the deck. In particular I like the Thopter Engineers. Hordeling Outburst is something that I am pretty high on, especially because of how well it plays with Goblin Dark-Dwellers, but the more I played with the deck, the more I wish that I had some more flying attackers. Thopter Engineer gives us that, along with the small synergy of adding haste to our Thopter tokens that we get from Hangarback Walker and, more importantly, Pia and Kiran Nalaar.

It’s actually a bit interesting to see how the format is evolving and this deck is coming into popularity. Grasp of Darkness seems like this new awesome card that we get to use, when really it’s very close to Roast. See, there aren’t many fliers seeing play that we would need Grasp over Roast to kill. Wingmate Rock is close to extinct, we don’t see any Dragonlord Ojutais roaming the sky, and with the exception of recently with R/B Dragons, Thunderbreak Regent has been absent too. Even Jeskai Black cut their copies of Mantis Rider for Monastery Mentor.

Now, I know that being an instant is huge. I mean, let’s take a look at Ruinous Path. Hero’s Downfall was everywhere while it was in Standard. Here we have the same card with upside if we are flooding out, but at sorcery speed, and it is not even played.

I like Grasp of Darkess, and I really think that it adds a lot in the realm of two-mana removal spells available, but it’s just interesting to look at the alternatives in comparison to the format.

Much like Stormbreath Dragon decks of old, these R/B Dragons builds can be devastating for creature based strategies that are trying to curve out. With efficient removal at every spot, haste threats in Flamewake Phoenix and Thopter Engineer, and the hard-hitting combo of Thunderbreak Regent into Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury, it can be very hard to gain any sort of traction. Getting a creature killed on the end step and then facing down a follow up Thunderbreak Regent is something that no one wants to see.

One of the successful ways to combat that menace is Collected Company.

Last week I talked about how I felt that Andy Ferguson’s Abzan Company deck seemed like it was the deck from the Top 8 that had the biggest potential. Well, Andy decided to go and prove that Collected Company is still busted, but that it doesn’t need to be paired with Anafenza, the Foremost in order to take over a game.

He wasn’t done there, though; he also went and proved to us all that not only is Collected Company busted, but Reflector Mage is also insane.

We saw it last week in Four-Color Rally and Abzan Blue. This week, Reflector Mage shone one again in Rally, but it was absolutely brutal in Andy’s Bant Company deck. As if Dromoka’s Command and Den Protector backed with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy needed more opportunities for tempo swings, Reflector Mage just takes it to a whole new level.

There are many things about this Bant Company deck that I like. Sylvan Advocate is obviously awesome, but imagine getting back a 4/5 with your Ojutai’s Command in the midgame. Imagine attacking with a 5/5 hexproof Lumbering Falls. I can even imagine scenarios where Andy used Bounding Krasis to tap down a Siege Rhino that thought it was going to get to block that turn to even further press his tempo advantage.

The big question though, has to be: “Is all this better than Four-Color Rally?”

That’s a good question, and with the addition of Reflector Mage alongside Sidisi’s Faithful, I don’t think that the traditional methods of hate for the deck are going to be good enough.

The good news is that we have a week off of Standard so we can try to come up with something, but in the meantime we get to gear up for #SCGRegionals!

Modern Hype!

Sweet playmat, SCG Points, and cash, what’s not to love! If you’re like me and love Modern but didn’t happen to qualify for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, make sure you head out to your closest Regionals.

But what do we play? We have this new set with a bunch of awesome cards. Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom were recently banned. What do we want to do in this format?

In situations like this I always have faith in Patrick Sullivan, my Goblin Guide to Modern aggression. I like Zoo, but there is something that I like a little more that I want to try out before we stick to our Wild Nacatls and Atarka’s Commands.

Not just any Eldrazi, but some of the new Eldrazi. There have been a few different flavors of Eldrazi decks cropping up in Modern that aim to take advantage of Eldrazi Temple, Eye of Ugin, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and ever since I saw this card destroying games in Standard, I wanted to see if we can make it work in Modern.

This, my friends, is an Eldrazi. Which means that we can cast it on the cheap with Eye of Ugin and get the extra mana from Eldrazi Temple. It does, however, require that we pay at least one Green mana to cast, but as long as we do we get to exile a Land, Artifact, or Enchantment and then we get a 5/7 reach creature.

Are there any creatures that can attack past a 5/7 with reach?

In order to achieve this, though, we have to add another color to our usually mono-black deck. We also have to figure out if we want to just rely on the lands as acceleration or if we want to dip into some Heartless Summoning action.

I do know that by going into Green, we gain access to Ancient Stirrings and Abrupt Decay, which are both stellar cards on their own. In addition to these, there are also a couple other awesome Eldrazi that I think we might want to cast, and those are Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher.

I really like the creature suite that we have going on here, but I kind of wish that we could be battling with a full four Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. That’s not really going to be possible without Heartless Summoning, and once we go down that route, we can’t really play with Ancient Stirrings and/or Abrupt Decay.

Ancient Stirrings goes a long way towards finding our Eldrazi lands, but it can also just find us threats since all of the Eldrazi creatures are colorless. Abrupt Decay is much harder to cast but also gives us some way to interact with troublesome permanents. World Breaker is going to take care of most of those permanents anyway, though, so it may just not even be needed.

After giving this version a go, I decided to see just how hard we could push Heartless Summoning alongside the Eldrazi lands.

I really like the direction that this deck is taking the Eldrazi squad. Even though they are going to have -1/-1, our creatures are still going to be sized to rumble in the jungle, and most of them do something on cast or once they are on the battlefield, which is pretty huge.

Now, it may be that going with a straight mono-black version might just be better. This makes our mana much more consistent, even though we lose the raw power of World Breaker, but I feel that World Breaker is so good in some of our bad matchups (Infect and Affinity) that it’s worth playing.

Looking over the results from the last couple of Modern Classics, there really hasn’t been anything that out there. With Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom gone, the format does feel like it’s opened up a little bit and we are seeing just about everything under the sun, so what is going to do well this weekend?

Well, I think that Eldrazi and Tron-style decks have the potential to just dominate everything if they aren’t prepared for. Infect and Affinity are generally favored against Tron, and World Breaker slots into that deck fairly easily. I think that some deck utilizing Blood Moon and/or Fulminator Mage to its fullest potential could keep these strategies in check, which would then open the format up to being weak to linear aggressive strategies, like Burn, Zoo, Infect, and Affinity.

Modern is a huge format with too many decks to properly prepare your sideboard for all of them. In situations like that, I prefer to lean on the brute force strategy. This is one of the reasons I was so fond of Amulet Bloom. There are hate cards, sure, but what are they doing against a turn 2 Primeval Titan? What are they doing against a turn 3 Karn Liberated? What are they doing against a turn 3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger?

There are also some decks in the format that can just combo kill you out of nowhere. Abzan Company and Kiki Chord are two such decks that are able to play a beatdown role while threatening a combo kill. I think that this type of strategy is also very potent for this weekend. Maybe we’ll even see some Reflector Mage paired up with Collected Company somewhere.

Whatever you decide to battle with this weekend, I wish all of you luck; unless you happen to play in the #SCGRegionals in Seattle, and then I wish you just enough luck to get second since I’m coming for that flag!

Please feel free to share your sweet new Eldrazi builds for Modern. I think that we are just scratching the surface, and you haven’t really lived until you cast Reality Smasher off three lands and only two of them tapped for mana!

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!