Quick Hits: Because It’s Party Time! All the Time!

Mark Nestico serves up three quick hits: a Grand Prix Atlanta tournament report, his Modern deck and tech of choice, and the Standard staples of the post-rotation future!

He said his name was Popeye. He told us he was awesome.

We’ll have to get to that later.

Today there are tons of topics I want to hit on, so let’s order a nice plate of Quick Hits and feast on them like I just did on Fogo an hour ago. The
parmesan-encrusted pork tenderloin was awesome, just in case you were wondering.

Quick Hit #1- Grand Prix Atlanta

This weekend I did glorious battle in Grand Prix Atlanta. My foray into Theros Block Limited has been rather productive online, so since I was successful
there, I figured I’d put my skills to the test in Hotlanta and work towards that big finish I’ve been hunting for recently. Joining me on my trip would be
lifelong Spiderman impersonator Brennan DeCandio and power couple John and Ashley. It’s the people you travel with that make these trips so much fun. I
picked a crew filled entirely with Rosebuds. Not a single lemon to be found among the bunch.

Our journey took us to the Hilton of Atlanta, which embodied my nightmares on so many levels that you, dearest reader, couldn’t possibly understand. Little
did we know that weekend featured an event called “MomoCon” and that my weekend would be filled dealing with people running around in costumes making
noise, pressing every button on the elevator, screeching the words to their favorite animes over karaoke, and flashing peace signs at me while murmuring
gibberish about the battle to stop the “titans” and “restoring Wall Maria to its former glory.” Thankfully I understood their references. This was when
they weren’t screaming outside my hotel door while I tried to sleep. At one point I almost got into a fist fight with a 40-year-old man wearing fox ears
and a tail who would absolutely not stop bumping into me on purpose while saying “domo.” The seventh level of hell isn’t reserved for betrayers. It’s
reserved for this.

I’m all about people having fun. Cosplay? Sure. I’ve enjoyed my fair share. Sharing hobbies? Of course! I love Magic after all. Being an obnoxious meanie
pants? Check that at the door, yo. There were some people that were very nice, respectful, and just there to have a great time. Those people were awesome.
I hope they enjoyed their Con.

When not marinating in absolute rage, I was lucky enough to spend some time further preparing for the event by immersing myself in a Florida pastime: team
drafting. After cleaning up some locals and collecting a fat stack of rares, I decided to get some rest for the intense day of Magic ahead.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t win.

That being said, I feel like I opened up a pretty strong pool. I was very pleased with the deck I was able to assemble and each friend that saw it believed
that I built it correctly, albeit maybe off by a card.

Here’s what we were working with:

You’ll notice a pretty good curve, some solid removal/burn spells, tricks, ways to trigger heroic, and a bomb or two. With only a single bye, I was able to
jump out to a 4-1 start, but mulligans to four in a Game 3 and my opponent drawing Stormbreath Dragon the turn he needed it (while dead on board) caused me
to check the drop box after my third loss. I applied my lessons from last week. I shook hands, wished them the best of luck, and most of all, I meant it.
The gentleman that handed me the third loss lamented how bad he thought his deck was, but I made sure he knew how good it was and that he could easily make
Day 2 if he kept playing as well as he did against me. I might not have made it, but there’s no way in hell I wouldn’t want my opponent to just because I’m

I spent the rest of the day drafting and relaxing, birding for my friends and helping them with gameplans for the duration of the tournament in hopes that
they could make a deep run. Luckily my good buddy Chris Fennell was able to Top 8. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

The next day I entered the Super Standard Series, and after a win I decided to drop and play Two-Headed Giant with one of my best friends, Cliff. Again we
destroyed the competition with Elspeth, Sun’s Champion; Dictate of Heliod; Dictate of Erebos; and other sick rares. This game is easy as pie when you open
like a champion. I could have stayed in the series, but to be honest, sometimes you just want to have fun. I know you’d rather read about what deck I
played, but it was pretty much a copy of the R/W Burn deck that Top 8’d SCG Somerset piloted by Erin Diaz. A lot
of people were playing G/B Devotion, so I figured the deck was still pretty well positioned and could lead to some fast wins. I think it’s great going
forward, although I’d probably be more interested in a deck like Jund Monsters a la Chris VanMeter. Our bearded sage will get to shave someday.

After leaving the convention hall, we decided to indulge in The Vortex and get some ridiculous burgers. While waiting we met an extremely drunk man named

All he said was “My name is Popeye. I’m awesome. The police love me. I just choked out my brother.” He then repeated those same four sentences about 400
times while shaking every person’s hand.

Only in Atlanta.

Quick Hit #2- Modern Rising

In just a few short weeks, Modern PTQ Season is upon us. I don’t get to play much of the format, but that’s seriously going to change because I’ll be
jumping in head first. I was able to Top 8 a few Extended PTQs back in the day, so I look forward to branching out a bit more and slinging some Modern

The first deck that jumps out at me is, of course, Scapeshift. Despite the fact that it won the last Modern Grand Prix, I just love the way the deck plays.

Recently I’ve been toying around with a few changes to the deck which I thought I’d share with you. Maybe together we can win someone their blue envelope.

There isn’t much about the Minneapolis list that I changed. Halimar Depths was always pretty blah for me, so I cut that for an extra Misty Rainforest to
make getting a relevant land easier. The situations where I’d play the Depths, follow it with a fetch land, and keep the card I wanted were too few and far
between. Also I cut a Serum Visions for a Mountain. It might sound weird, but the extra basic land has been helping considering that, since this deck is
now a prime commodity, people have been doing their best to destroy or screw up your mana base. This has been giving more consistency, which is always

In the sideboard I get a little spicy with Twincast. I expect the mirror to rise in popularity now, so Twincast lets you copy their Scapeshift and kill
them from just about any position. In a pinch you can use it to win a counter-war as well, so I think the multiple functions it brings to the table
certainly warrant some consideration.

One card I’d like to get in the sideboard is Back to Nature. Bogles is still a pretty popular deck, and a lot of decks are still packing Blood Moon. A
cheap and very easy-to-cast way to destroy them might be something we’re interested in. It’s possible you might just want another Engineered Explosives.

This is going to take a lot of work, but I think eventually more changes will be made and the deck will continue to evolve. Look for more work to be done

Quick Hit #3- Looking to Our Future

A Pro Tour just happened and a lot of new decks reared their heads. BUG, Naya Planeswalkers, Junk Midrange, Mono-Black Aggro, Red Aggro, B/G Constellation,
and many others.

It all boils down to one thing: green is king.

Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix are good, and when I say good, I mean outrageous and possibly warping. They are cards I would be investing in,
because, Courser in particular, might not have a ceiling if every deck out there has to run four of them. In the last week we’ve seen huge jumps in their
prices to the point where Courser of Kruphix is being bought for one and a half times more than what it was selling for just a
week and a half ago. That kind of growth is freakish when it comes to Standard staples.

So what do you do? Are you just going to sleeve up your green creatures and decide on what splash works best or are you going to take the fight to them?

I, for one, won’t let Courser of Kruphix win without a fight!

This is a block red deck that a friend of mine was testing heavily for the Pro Tour, and in hindsight believes would have been a very good choice. It was
posting very good results against all of the Temple-based decks, but cold feet made him choose otherwise.

This deck only gets better once you introduce Standard elements to it, especially if M15 gives us some goodies. Thunderous Might is so much more powerful
than people give it credit for, and in conjunction with Prophetic Flamespeaker works like a hyper-Madcap Skills.

Also, don’t forget that Flamespeaker has trample. People often remember the fact that he has double strike, but not that he tramples over things. In
conjunction with all of the red permanents you have, a card like Thunderous Might on your Flamespeaker is going to let you take massive chunks of damage
out of life totals.

Red decks are the best decks in a vacuum, so while your opponent is playing their Temple of Malady and scrying, how about you just kill them instead?

Other factors coming with rotation are what to pick up. Here’s a short list of cards I’d be buying right away because their price is sure to jump in the
coming months:

Courser of Kruphix Eidolon of Blossoms Prophetic Flamespeaker Reaper of the Wilds Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver Elspeth, Sun's Champion Sylvan Caryatid Herald of Torment Hero of Iroas Hero's Downfall

…and every Temple.

My two big buys on this list are Ashiok and Elspeth. In a grindy format, Ashiok is king (queen? Kween? I have no idea). It’s criminally underpriced right
now and my gut tells me that the BUG decks, which were already playing three or four copies, are going to be sporting them for Standard. I expect this card
to hit $15-$20 without a hitch. The other card, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, is sitting at between fifteen and twenty dollars. This might sound expensive, but
she’s the most powerful thing you can do in Block, and decks were playing four of them out of necessity. Expect this card to increase to $30-50, with
something like $45 being normal. I don’t just believe it; I’m banking on it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the effects of the meat coma are starting to take over. I can feel my eyelids get heavy after just putting down such a
ridiculously large meal.

Turn up the A/C, baby. I feel the meat sweats coming on.

Nighty night, kiddies. I’ll see you next week.