While I won’t be attending
this weekend, I’ve been hard at work trying to figure out what my team
should play at
. Each format has been difficult to tackle, but I like where I’m at for
Modern. I don’t have a single deck I’m in love with, but there isn’t a
shortage of great options either.
I’m going to stay on brand and present my updated list of Mardu Pyromancer
as my first choice.
This list is very similar to the one I used to go 12-3 at #GPVegas.
The only changes I made were swapping Lilianas, cutting Blood Moon for
Manamorphose, splitting Dreadbore and Terminate, and turning a Blood Crypt
into a Godless Shrine. I suppose the sideboard changed a lot though.
Blood Moon had to go. It’s frequently underperformed for me, and while I’ll
occasionally want to try it again, it’s got to go for now. Again Tron, it’s
little more than a speed bump for them. It can be combined with sideboard
land destruction to give you more disruptive pieces in your 75, but it’s
not worth actually devoting maindeck slots to — There are very few decks
that actually care about it.
On the other hand, Manamorphose is a card I keep trying to cut, but
continue to return to. In reality, it’s not a necessity, but there are
enough games where Bedlam Reveler is four or five mana when I need it to be
cheaper that some amount of Manamorphoses should be in the deck.
Dreadbore has been a nice answer to Karn, Liliana, Ugin, Teferi, and the
like, but Terminate can be important. Mantis Rider and Celestial Colonnade
exist, and certainly in higher numbers than planeswalkers. Since
planeswalkers are the more threatening enemies, I chose to hedge in their
direction, thinking I could deal with Mantis Rider easily enough. There
have been enough games where my life total is in danger that I’m willing to
solidify things against Humans and focus less on the fringe aspects of
The Liliana change could potentially be ill-advised. Mardu is all about
efficiency and getting the most out of its resources. Liliana of the Veil
allows you to cash in your useless resources for potentially useful ones
from your opponent, in addition to being good for a removal spell or two.
Liliana, the Last Hope is a completely different animal. She makes it
difficult to grind you out, often functioning as extra copies of Kolaghan’s
Command. Whereas Liliana of the Veil is reasonable against most people,
there are some matchups where Liliana, the Last Hope doesn’t do much.
Both are strong and it’s a tough call overall. Having more planeswalkers in
your deck is excellent against control decks, so playing three or four
copies in your 75 could be correct. Liliana, the Last Hope seems better
overall, at least at the moment, but I tend to win way more on average when
Liliana of the Veil is in my deck. Shrug.
When Liliana of the Veil or Liliana, the Last Hope is in your 75, you will
inevitably encounter a situation where you want to fetch a Godless Shrine.
There’s very little downside to including a second white mana source,
especially since you rarely need or want the second Blood Crypt, but
frequently want black and white mana at the same time. Being mostly land
light means those issues are further exasperated at times because you don’t
know how quickly you’ll draw your fourth or fifth land. Even then, you may
want to discard it to Faithless Looting.
I mostly hate the second Sacred Foundry for similar reasons to hating the
second Blood Crypt, but basic Plains is beyond egregious. If you insist on
playing Blood Moon, your sideboard plans shouldn’t include anything where
you want to cast white cards anyway. There’s the argument for hard casting
Lingering Souls against control decks, but that’s not a necessity.
My deck will tentatively have the second white source in it, but not out of
an irrational fear of Field of Ruin. I mostly wanted a Godless Shrine
already and since I’m swapping a shockland for a shockland, there’s no real
downside apart from missing a red source. That could be remedied by cutting
the second Swamp for a ninth fetchland though.
Collective Brutality and Kambal, Consul of Allocation are a necessity for
beating spell-based decks. Engineered Explosives is the Disenchant /
sweeper split card. Molten Rain and Fulminator Mage aren’t strictly for
Tron, but since I’d want two pieces against Celestial Colonnade anyway, I
have little reason to not put in some remaining effort against it. Surgical
Extraction combos with land destruction against Tron, and outside of
Leyline of the Void, it’s probably the next best graveyard hate card thanks
to Krark-Clan Ironworks. Goblin Rabblemaster complements the land
destruction aspect of the sideboard but isn’t a necessity.
None of this is set in stone, and all of it can and should change with what
you expect your metagame to be. In theory, you could significantly alter
Mardu Pyromancer to handle hostile environments, such as those that contain
only your traditionally bad matchups.
For example (and I mean extreme example), if your metagame was all control,
Tron, and Ironworks, you could build your Mardu Pyromancer deck like this:
Look, I said it’s an extreme example.
Anyway, Mardu Pyromancer is the best Jund-ish deck at the moment, and it’s
not particularly close, nor do I think that will change anytime soon. Many
notable players are picking up the deck, and if anything, it’s only going
to become more popular.
The next deck received maybe the biggest upgrade from Core Set 2019.
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 3 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 4 Mantis Rider
- 3 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 4 Kitesail Freebooter
- 3 Militia Bugler
“Militia Bugler is awful in Humans.”
-Cedric Phillips, 2018
Militia Bugler allows you to grind, find your hate, and give you more
bodies to pump with Thalia’s Lieutenant. It’s the perfect card for Humans
and is a significant upgrade to the deck. Considering Humans was already
among the top decks in the format, it should make quite an impact.
Previously, Humans would struggle against decks with piles of removal, such
as Mardu Pyromancer and Jeskai Control, but I’m not sure that’s the case
anymore. If it shifts the needle as much as I think it does, that’s
terrifying as someone who mostly plays one of those two decks.
There’s also the fact that Militia Bugler can find your sideboard cards and
Phantasmal Images to copy them. Humans’ weak spot used to be the
limitations on their sideboard, but now one of those limitations is
While Mardu Pyromancer and Humans are old favorites and decks I’ve been
generally positive about, my next choice will likely surprise you.
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 4 Wall of Omens
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Stonehorn Dignitary
- 1 Thragtusk
- 1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 2 Reflector Mage
- 4 Felidar Guardian
- 4 Militia Bugler
Saheeli Evolution is a combo deck capable of killing on Turn 3 that isn’t
vulnerable to many of the popular hate cards. It’s also a value deck that
can ignore the combo aspect if the opponent wants to play a game that’s
more focused on attrition.
There are two odd choices in my deck, namely Stonehorn Dignitary and Nissa,
Vastwood Seer. Acidic Slime isn’t a card you typically see in the maindeck
either. Each seem important to me. Stonehorn Dignitary, with so many ways
to blink and copy it, is an excellent Eldritch Evolution target against
aggressive decks like Affinity and Infect since they have very few ways to
interact with it. Chaining Stonehorn Dignitarys could give you the precious
time you need to set up your combo when nothing else could.
Acidic Slime is a maindeck Disenchant stapled onto Tron hate that also
happens to be a nice blink target. Nissa, Vastwood Seer, on the other hand,
might be nonsense, as much as it pains me to say it. In longer games, you
need high impact cards that either win the game on the spot (like Sun Titan
can) or cards that draw you a lot of cards. With as much cycling as this
deck does, it’s not uncommon for you to be able to transform Nissa
I’ve been happy with Lotus Cobras in my deck, but they are admittedly a tad
slow without a one-drop mana accelerator. The focus on Militia Bugler also
leads me to believe that having the maximum amount of ways to ramp to three
mana on Turn 2 is a better way of doing things. Arbor Elf plus Utopia
Sprawl is a broken interaction that I’d like to explore here eventually.
With Militia Bugler in the mix, maybe it’s time to put a second copy of
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker into the deck. Getting additional value is
basically the name of the game, especially since I previously had Tireless
Trackers maindeck in that slot. Militia Bugler does that quite well, but I
worry about the narrow scope of it, especially since it will usually only
find you one of the combo pieces and rarely the other.
Saheeli Evolution might not be the best deck in Modern, but if you’re
looking for an option that’s slightly off the beaten path, you could do
worse. I’ve been enjoying the deck immensely.
My last deck shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone paying attention. It’s
potentially the most broken deck in the format.
- 4 Goblin Bushwhacker
- 4 Vengevine
- 4 Viscera Seer
- 4 Gravecrawler
- 4 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Insolent Neonate
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 4 Stitcher's Supplier
David (CHAR_AZNABLE) has been putting up excellent Magic Online results as
of late, most of which are with this deck. He’s put in the time and effort
to push Stitcher’s Supplier and has the results and reasoning to back it
This deck is the real deal. It’s better than Dredge, despite having the
same weakness to graveyard hate. You win the game faster, but you also put
your opponent into unwinnable positions much quicker. Getting ten power
onto the battlefield on Turn 2 doesn’t seem to be uncommon, and that’s a
problem for Modern.
There are still some kinks to work out, such as what’s the best splash
color (if any) and what goes in those flex slots. I find it difficult to
believe its Corpse Churn, but who knows. There’s probably a missing piece
Another avenue could be merging this with another strategy, like others
have done with Death’s Shadow and/or Hollow One. I don’t particularly like
the Hollow One angle, but Death’s Shadow is an appealing way to tackle
Then again, sometimes a Turn 2 Rest in Peace is too slow, so sticking with
speed might be the best course of action.
Infect and G/R Valakut are also on the list of potential decks that I’d
play, but I have far less experience with those two decks to make any
legitimate claims. The most skilled Infect pilots claim Humans is a
favorable matchup, which makes you wonder why more people aren’t playing
Infect in the first place.
Most of the same could be said of G/R Valakut. In fact, any deck with
Primeval Titan is probably underplayed relative to power level at the
Were I going to
, I know what deck I would register. In my heart, I know I would be
truthful to my one true Modern love: Militia Bugler.
(Sorry, Bedlam Reveler!)
Humans will be an excellent choice, although something with Vengevine and
Stitcher’s Supplier is probably busted. Mardu Pyromancer is a fine choice,
as are Infect and G/R Valakut. You can’t really go wrong with any of the
decks I’ve presented here. If you happen to be a Krark-Clan Ironworks
master, you should also consider that.