The Latest Technology For The Top Modern Decks

Todd Stevens has battled Modern continuously, and he has seen it all! What’s going to be the difference in just another #SCGCOL performance and the winning one? The newest tech, of course!

The final leg of the 2016 SCG Tour continues this weekend at #SCGCOL with Modern. Even though there hasn’t been much change in the top decks of the format in the last few weeks, there has still been plenty of innovation within the archetypes. If you’re planning on bringing one of the top decks to #SCGCOL, then you need to have the key cards that can make or break your tournament.

So what are those cards? Let’s take a look at five of the most popular Modern decks and some cards that I recommend you sleeve up this weekend that may seem minor, but can have a major impact on your results.

Let’s start with Dredge, which is quickly becoming the “best” and most widely played deck in Modern, and for good reason. Both Brian Braun-Duin (at Grand Prix Dallas) and Jacob Baugh used Scourge Devil over Rally the Peasants this past weekend, and I’m completely onboard for that change.

Although Scourge Devil only pumps the attack power of your creatures by one instead of two, it has some other important qualities going for it. First off, you get an additional four power threat when unearthing Scourge Devil, which may be more valuable than the extra power to your other creatures on occasion. Second, Scourge Devil is a threat on its own and you can unearth it by itself to deal four damage by surprise, which can either help close out a game or just get an opponent under ten life, which is critical for future Bloodghasts. Third, if your opponent has graveyard hate or if you draw Scourge Devil and can’t discard it, hard-casting Scourge Devil isn’t out of the question and may come up from time to time. Finally, Scourge Devil can be used as another creature that can enter the battlefield from the graveyard in order to trigger any Prized Amalgams to return as well. Overall, I’m a fan of Scourge Devil over Rally the Peasants in Dredge moving forward.

The other card that I wanted to point out was the two copies of Vengeful Pharaoh in BBD’s sideboard, which is not necessarily a new card to see, but I don’t believe enough Dredge pilots play it. As someone who plays plenty of midrange creature decks, I can assure you that Vengeful Pharaoh can be a hard card to beat. Reality Smasher is usually good at racing opponents, but not so much when it’s turned into Lava Axe. I also really like how Vengeful Pharaoh is still useful when your opponent has a Grafdigger’s Cage in on the battlefield, as you can continue to Dredge and keep it in your graveyard while hard-casting the creatures you are dredging. It’s not the most exciting plan, but it shows that Dredge can still win even if an opponent has a Grafdigger’s Cage, which is scary.

Although these two lists are pretty different as far as Modern Infect lists are concerned, there are a couple of individual cards in each one that I wanted to highlight. Mike Mei has two copies of Rancor, which I think is a must for Infect decks this weekend. Creature decks of all sorts are everywhere in Modern currently, and allowing your Glistener Elf to trample over blockers has never been so important. In addition, Rancor allows each infect creature to be a serious threat without having to use other pump spells on each one. Rancor also allows Dryad Arbor and Noble Hierarch to be a more reliable back up plan when playing against an opponent who may have fetchland-shockland’d one to many times.

Separately in Lance Austin’s list, I really like the use of Wild Defiance, even in the maindeck, for a couple of reasons. Not only is Wild Defiance the perfect card to combat the most played spell in the format, Lightning Bolt, but it also greatly increases the effectiveness of each pump spell you play. Pair this with Rancor, which you should be playing this weekend, and suddenly your opponent is never safe. As far as sideboard Dredge hate is concerned, I think both Grafdigger’s Cage and Surgical Extraction are acceptable, and I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing more Ravenous Traps as well.

Next up is Jund, which I think is an underrated pick for a deck to do well this weekend. I’ve been hearing players say that Jund isn’t good right now, or that it’s in a bad spot, but I think people just need to adjust their deck to the metagame, and Tad Macaraeg and Steve Rubin did just that last weekend. If Tron decks are not a popular option, which they currently aren’t after the rise of aggressive decks, then there is no reason why Jund can’t be tuned to be the best deck in the room.

In my opinion, Anger of the Gods is currently mandatory in the maindeck of Jund as it’s the best maindeck way to fight Dredge, which has been problematic for Jund to beat. Anger of the Gods is currently the best sweeper in Modern because of how incredibly effective against Dredge it is and that it only costs three mana. It’s no coincidence that many different decks featuring Anger of the Gods have been doing well in Modern recently. Both players have even more tools to fight Dredge in the sideboard, from Night of Souls’ Betrayal (which I love) to Rakdos Charm to Ravenous Trap. If you’re going to play Jund, you need to be able to beat Dredge. These two players had the tools.

Since we are now playing more red sources in our Jund list to accommodate Anger of the Gods, then Chandra, Torch of Defiance can enter as the perfect top-end threat. I’ve had more experience than most playing Chandra, Torch of Defiance from R/B Aggro in Standard to Sun and Moon in Modern to Mono-Red Sneak Attack in Legacy, and I can say I’ve always been impressed by Kaladesh’s premier planeswalker, and I have no reason to believe that she is anything less than stellar in Modern Jund.

On to Bant Eldrazi, a personal favorite of mine, of course, and a deck that’s on the short list of what I may play this weekend. The deck has dropped off in popularity from less than two months ago when it was one of the most popular decks, but I think it’s still one of the top performing decks week after week and is a perfect way to attack control decks if they are on the rise.

Daniel Hall played two copies of Rest in Peace, which is something I can get behind. Grafdigger’s Cage has traditionally been the graveyard hate card of choice for the deck, but I don’t think Cage is currently enough against Dredge, and Abzan Company, which was the original reason to have Cage in the sideboard, is all but dead. Sure you can find Grafdigger’s Cage off of Ancient Stirrings, but sometimes you need a sledgehammer to close the coffin shut. Rest in Peace isn’t bad against Abzan Company either, and I would recommend playing a 2/2 split in the sideboard for the two cards this weekend.

Pascal Maynard added in some extra counter spells into his Grand Prix Dallas sideboard, a move I can get behind. Ceremonious Rejection is a wonderful card for the mirror, Tron decks, Lantern Control, and even Affinity. Disdainful Stroke plays a similar but more important role, as it’s still good in the mirror and against Tron builds, but it’s also the best card to fight one of Bant Eldrazi’s toughest matchups: the Mountain Tribal Strategy (any of the various Valakut decks with Primeval Titan, Scapeshift, and/or Through the Breach). You haven’t lived until you counter a Become Immense with a Disdainful Stroke.

Finally, in what my opinion is the most underrated deck in the format, we have Valakut Breach by Zach Voss. Zach came to fight aggressive decks and I love it. Infect is usually the bane of Valakut strategies everywhere, but this deck has the tools to win the matchup starting from game 1.

I love the use of Simian Spirit Guide and Chalice of the Void in this deck, as a turn 1 Chalice of the Void can cripple many decks, especially Infect. Even without that two-card “combo” using Simian Spirit Guide to play Through the Breach or Primeval Titan a turn earlier can be the difference between winning or losing a damage race. I also like the use of three Anger of the Gods in the maindeck with another in the sideboard, as it’s a crucial card against both Dredge and Infect, and I think having access to four total between main and side is absolutely the right number.

I would be worried playing this deck against any deck with access to counterspells as there really aren’t many threats, but besides that I wouldn’t be surprised if Zach Voss’ Valakut Breach deck turns into the blueprint many Valakut players turn to. I think it’s in a great spot in the metagame, and it’s also on the short list of decks I’m considering playing this weekend.

Comments from Last Week

I’m finishing my article for this week by highlighting some comments from my last article, My Legacy Prep for #SCGBALT. If you would like to be featured in next week’s Comments from Last Week section, then leave a question or comment below and be sure to come back next week to see if you made the cut!

This is not Rudy Briksza’s take, he copied it from Noloam, a player from the Netherlands who has been piloting the deck and refining it to this 75. He is an active member of the source and has many 5-0 MTGO results with various changes he has made. Check him out.

-David J Giaccotto

Thanks for letting me know about Noloam and his success with Legacy Colorless Eldrazi. When I wrote that the deck I highlighted was “Rudy Briksza’s take on the archetype” I meant it as the version of the deck he was playing, and not necessarily that he created the deck, but I understand how that could be taken differently than I meant for it to be. Thanks again though for letting me know who was the mastermind behind this deck, and I’ll keep an eye out for his decks in the future.

Thanks for compiling a bunch of Legacy decks for would-be Legacy players. Did you make day two?

-Spencer Huang

You’re welcome, Spencer! Unfortunately, the last couple rounds didn’t go my way, and I didn’t make day two, but hopefully this weekend is a different story at #SCGCOL!