Rise Of Aintrazi – Modern Part Deux

Don’t miss the National champ’s cool additions to the Modern landscape, including such decks as 5-Color Control, R/W Control, Reveillark Control, and even a Training Grounds deck! He also interviews Lee McLeod about Pyromancer Ascension.

Here we are yet again talking about Modern. In my last article, I asked you the readers to give me some ideas of what you would like to see. I got a
couple of good responses varying from 5-Color Control to Red Deck Wins :[ ). Let’s get our hands dirty, shall we?

Sorry, Gregory McHugh, I know you wanted a red deck, but this is the best I’ve got… Or rather that magic-league has got.

You want a blazing fast aggressive deck that’s even more aggressive than Zoo and RDW? Play this deck. If you catch an opponent that is unaware of
what you are doing, you will steamroll them. This deck will beat any slow combo/control deck or just any deck that stumbles. This deck is insanely
aggressive, easily winning turn on turn 4. Ghost Quarter is not only good vs. annoying lands, but it can also be used as another landfall trigger to
bury your opponent. It’s not unrealistic to activate Zektar Shrine Expedition the turn it comes into play either.

Let’s go to magical Christmas land shall we? Turn 1 Flagstones; Steppe Lynx. Turn 2 fetchland; bash for four; Plated Geopede. Turn 3 Zektar
Shrine Expedition; play the second Flagstones of Trokair and bash in for 21 points of damage. This deck would most likely beat any deck I brew together
because, much like Justin Parnell, it doesn’t f*** around.

The next deck we look at will be Reflecting Pool Control / 5-Color Control / best-cards-all-in-one-deck control. Whatever you want to call it, you know
what I am talking about. The problem with making a control deck for an unknown format is well… It’s unknown. Not only is it unknown, but
5CC can go so many different ways. I’m going to post two versions: one that is pure control and another that is a little more combo-esque.

I know I have no Preordains. I just don’t want them in this deck. I’d rather ramp with a Signet and start casting Thirsts and Compulsive
Research. We are also playing Signets to not only ramp but also to not die against a Blood Moon. Another thing about Blood Moon: if you have Esper
Charm in your hand, don’t forget to float the mana for it to blow up Blood Moon before it hits play.

As you can tell, this is more of a tap-out style control deck. In a semi-unknown format that we know is fast, sitting behind counterspells is not where
I want to be. This deck is very reactive and has a hard time losing to any aggro strategy. You are not favored against 12post game one, but games two
and three, you will have Thoughtseize to slow them down and Sowing Salt to wreck their mana base.

Against some decks you will have some dead cards. That’s why we have Thirst for Knowledge and Compulsive Research to dig and filter our hand.
Assembling any two walkers is extremely devastating to any opponent. You may want to bring some clean underwear for when you have Karn Liberated and
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker on the table, just saying.

As JVL would say, “Do these imprints make me look vat?”

This deck can easily lock out other Modern decks. Its endgame is pretty much unmatched. You might be thinking, “Nuh uh, Ali, 12post has
Emrakuls.” Well if you are going into the late game with this deck, it means you have them on a land lock, and 12post can’t really recover
from that.

Zoo is running very few lands. One or two land destruction effects followed by some removal and you should be able to cripple them until you can recur
your land destruction. This deck might struggle against fast combo decks unless you can disrupt their mana base or hand with Vendilion Clique early.

Unlike the other version, you want Preordain here because you want to dig for your spells, and the spells you are digging for are not 5+ mana; they are
three or four mana. So we can’t really run Thirst or Compulsive Research here since we really want a turn 3 Fulminator or Lauren… I mean

Moving right along, we have Fish. Now I would love to play Dark Fish with Dark Confidant, but with all the aggressive decks, I want to stay away from
that. If I want to save my guys or generate card advantage, I’ll stick to Lark or Kira, Great Glass-Spinner.

This is a pretty stock list of Fish. Game one, you just want to be as aggressive as possible, while games two and three you will want to react to your
opponent’s Cloudposts, creatures, or combo cards.

Fish has been known to have a bad Zoo matchup, so we have four Threads of Disloyalty in the board. Fish has also been known to beat control or combo
decks by just playing a Vial and protecting their creatures or countering key combo pieces. This deck is solid in Legacy, and I’m sure it will be
the same for my scaly friends in Modern. If you liked Fae or other tempo decks of old, then this deck is for you.

I decided a long time ago I would never play Ascension again. The reason behind this was I lost with an active Ascension. The deck seems to be getting
better and better though. I don’t have much experience with the deck, so I went to Lee McLeod, whose fascination of the deck rivals that of
Stephan Mercatoris.

Ali: Why would you play this deck?

Lee: It’s fun! It also is pretty consistent and very fast compared to the other combo decks in the format; you can generally go off turn 4 (turn 3 if
you’re lucky), and further turns just increase your likelihood of pulling out a win.

This deck looks sweet! You mind giving us some interactions we may not see?

Well, the deck is pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it. Main interactions come in the form of trigger stacking and playing spells in
response to others. Such as playing a Manamorphose with an active Ascension, letting the first resolve, then playing Peer Through Depths in response
because you don’t want to draw the card on top of your library (because let’s say you know it with a Ponder). There aren’t many ‘infinite’ combos in
the deck, though one standout (and my favorite) is a Remand and a Manamorphose with two active Ascensions out lets you draw as many cards you want (in
multiples of two).

I see lack of Cryptic Commands and Time Warps. What’s the reasoning behind that?

Time Warp and Cryptic Command were absolutely amazing in the Extended version of the deck. The Extended version played much like the Standard
one—stall until you can activate Ascension and then use your cantrips as value cards and Time Warp for extra turns so you can Lightning Bolt them
out of the game.

The Modern version doesn’t play out like that at all. Rite of Flame and Manamorphose gives the deck a ton of mana and explosiveness in one
turn—you can win not only much earlier, but you also win in one turn. You don’t want to slow your deck with four- and five-mana cards. Sure,
they’re nice when they resolve, but it’s more win-more in this deck. Cryptic Command in particular—if you want to protect your combo, Remand
usually does its job at half the cost. The other modes are compensated by sideboard cards (it’s not common for people to have specific hate for
Ascension in game one).

What do you feel your good matchups are?

Aggro matchups are fairly easy because you can generally just play the traditional combo/aggro matchup. Take however much damage you feel is safe to
avoid dying to their burn spells, then combo them off and kill them in one turn. It’s a little harder when they bring in fifty million Naturalize
effects like Qasali Pridemage and whatnot, but you can still soldier through them by sandbagging Ascension.

The 12Post matchup just comes down to whoever is on the play, as much as I tell. Your clocks are very similar, so games usually involve them ramping
and you cantripping, and then whoever is on the play needs to win around their turn 4/5, or else whoever went on the draw could just kill you.

There aren’t many control decks yet, so I don’t know how those matchups go. I figure their only mainboard hate would be discard (which sucks) or
Cryptic Command to bounce Ascension (which is far too slow), so the matchup shouldn’t be THAT bad. Combo matchups are a race, but most can’t really
interact with you, while you can Remand their Living End or Lotus Bloom.

What about its bad matchups?

Bad matchups aren’t actually that numerous; it mainly boils down to how much hate they have in the sideboard. However, I have seen a couple of
dedicated discard decks like The Rack decks circa 2006 that are packing things like Stupor and Dark Confidant and Thoughtseize. Those are pretty

Any cards you wanted to try it but haven’t?

There are a ton of cards that are constantly being cycled out and in from the deck. My partner in crime Larry Swasey*, who built the prototype of the
deck for Overextended, is constantly suggesting new cards we should test to try to gain a little bit of an edge. Sometimes they work; sometimes they

I’ve tested things like Fossil Find, Serum Visions, Desperate Ritual, and I even tried Time Warp and Cryptic Command once (didn’t really work). Noxious
Revival in particular is constantly coming in and out of the deck. I’ve wanted to try a Gifts Ungiven package, but all of my Gifts Ungiven on MTGO are
being lent out to friends who are playing control decks, so I haven’t gotten around to that yet. There’s just a bunch of instants and sorceries out

* If you want more about Ascension, Larry wrote a pretty good article on it here.

Thank you, Lee! After reading that, I have an urge to play the deck; maybe I’ll give it another shot!

This deck is made to beat aggressive strategies without fully giving up matchups against control and combo decks since Blood Moon shuts most of them
down. If Blood Moon can’t do it, then a Rule of Law or Runed Halo should be able to get the job done. Armillary Sphere is your Mulldrifter in
this deck, getting you lands early game and late game and hopefully spitting out 5/5 fliers.

Demigod of Revenge is in the board to help you against any control deck that happens to pop up.

Your sideboard is also filled with bullets that Idyllic Tutor can fetch up. Your opponent is playing a graveyard strategy? Wheel of Sun and Moon will
shut that down. Playing against RDW? Fetch up a COP: Red to lock them out of the game. Your opponent has some obscure creature combo that requires
activations like Melira? Then Suppression Field is for you.

Let’s look at a new toy!

John Winters sent me a message about Training Grounds and how it has potential in Modern. I wouldn’t play this list; it’s just here to get
people thinking. Some creatures that also work well with Training Grounds that are not in here are Memnarch, Izzet Guildmage, Kaho, Minamo Historian,
Necrotic Ooze, Sphinx of Magosi, and many more I’m sure I’m forgetting. Hopefully someone can make a better list then mine.

A cool interaction with Izzet Guildmage and Training Grounds is that you can combo off if you have a Manamorphose. Each time netting one mana and a
card, you can simply copy a Lightning Bolt or cast a storm spell for the kill. Just remember that copies don’t count towards storm.

You could also play Aether Vial and just play a lot of guys that work well with Training Ground. I’m sure there are more degenerate combos with
this card; I’m just not sure what they are yet. I’m going to leave it to you guys. :]

Thanks for reading and happy brewing,

Ali, Great Glass-Spinner.

P.S. I’m on Twitter now! You can follow me @AliEldrazi. :D