The Modern Bucket List Revisited

GerryT pulls out his Modern Bucket list again just in time for Grand Prix Kansas City this weekend. Get inspired to play something different by checking out these sweet decks!

Grand Prix Kansas City is this weekend, which makes it the perfect time to continue the Modern Bucket List.

You can check out the original Modern Bucket List here.

Goryo’s Vengeance

Much like in my first Modern Bucket List article, I originally wrote about a Modern deck that I thought was good enough to play in a Grand Prix. The details are here and here.

This is where I’m at now:

This deck was originally designed by Stanislav Cifka.

It plays out differently nearly every game, which is something I can truly appreciate. Some games you can attack with Griselbrand on turn 2 and then Soul Spike them out. Occasionally, you put Griselbrand into play by milling into an Unburial Rites thanks to Glimpse the Unthinkable. Then there are the games where you nickel and dime them out with Snapcaster Mage, Deathrite Shaman, and Lightning Bolt.

Those are my favorite.

Most people would add Izzet Charm to this deck, but I don’t think that’s correct. If anything, you’d want Dimir Charm. Remember, your black card count is important for Soul Spike! Plus, cards like Glimpse the Unthinkable dig much deeper than something like Izzet Charm. Most lists play three or four, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Breaking // Entering was good also.

This is another one of those decks that can kill on turn 3 but isn’t entirely stable. However, it is relatively consistent. Of course, the deck is mostly based on finding and casting Goryo’s Vengeance, but I’ve alleviated some of those issues by adding Unburial Rites. Problems truly arise when your opponent presents a clock and disrupts you.

For the most part, Reanimator is the faster deck, so you’ll get a lot of free wins even if they have a good draw. Both Amulet and Reanimator are decks that I feel have a ton of potential, but I think I’d rather play Reanimator versus the field. There’s more card selection, and your nut draws are more frequent.

Tweaking Reanimator wouldn’t be a bad choice for this weekend.

Nivmagus Elemental

I know, I just won’t let it die. I’ve played Elemental Combo in exactly two Magic Online tournaments: a Premier Event where I made Top 8 and a Daily Event in which I went 3-1. Overall, those aren’t exactly insane results, but it’s a deck I’ve consistently won with, which is difficult to find in Modern. I haven’t had enough confidence to put a ton of time into it, but my results have been good.

With Melira Pod being the deck to beat, I would be confident playing Nivmagus in a tournament. Hand disruption and removal was always the problem, but maindeck Clout of the Dominus and Erayo, Soratami Ascendant go a long way. Cards like Leyline of Sanctity, Dryad Arbor, and Flamekin Harbinger fight Liliana of the Veil.

The combo decks have basically been banned, which is a shame since those were Elemental’s best matchups, but there are still some out there. Elemental’s matchups against non-Jund decks were always pretty good, and with Jund likely on the decline, it might be the perfect time to start playing some higher variance decks that the rest of the format isn’t ready for.

Zur the Enchanter

You could go a heavier black route with Deathrite Shaman and Tidehollow Sculler, but I wanted to try this list. Meddling Mage is one of those cards that’s fantastic against combo but mediocre everywhere else. Using Gitaxian Probe and Thoughtseize helps mitigate that a bit, but maybe the Scullers are just better.

Either way, I like what the deck is doing, although I don’t think the "Fish" strategy is particularly good in Modern at the moment. For the most part, it’s an excuse to play with one of my favorite cards.


This deck got second at the last Grand Prix, somehow losing to Melira Pod, which is a pretty good matchup. I would build Scapeshift a little differently, but the important things, like Prismatic Omen and multiple Valakuts, are present.

I like Explore for more velocity, Oracle of Mul Daya to fight attrition-based matchups (and recover from mulligans), and shaving on the cards you don’t want to see more than one of per game. Scapeshift should be a deck all about velocity instead of brute force, although obviously brute force can win games sometimes.

Restore Balance

Sometimes you just want to blow up the world.

The goal of this deck, like the Living End variants before it, is to cast a cascade spell into Restore Balance, gaining a little value each time. Eventually, your opponent will succumb to Greater Gargadon or Ajani Vengeant.

Like the other wacky lists I’m posting, this one is pretty good against the fair decks. If Tron is the "combo" deck you’re worried about, you’re fine there too. Storm and Splinter Twin were the bad matchups, and those are pretty rare to see.

It’s a little slow to get going, but it can reset the board on turn 3 consistently, which helps. I’m also convinced that there is a lot of exploration to be done on the archetype, which has remained roughly unchanged for the last two years. Blood Moon and removal is a potent combination right now, so maybe moving in that direction is best.

Bant Hexproof

Is this a bad Bogle deck? I’m not sure, but I think it’s a little better. For starters, you have Worship, which KOs a lot of decks, especially in game 1. Second, you have turn 2 Geist of Saint Traft plus some counterspells, a combination that beats a different variety of decks in Modern. Finally, you get to do some dirty stuff with your sideboard, including siding in the Gifts Ungiven / Unburial Rites package.

If the only decks out there are the fair decks, this is yet another good choice. However, beating through a deck like Melira Pod may prove difficult. Proceed with caution.

Varolz, the Scar-Striped

This deck would be excellent in a Jund-dominated format, but it falls short against Melira Pod. Breaking through their dorky guys is going to be tough, but playing Rancor isn’t something I want to do quite yet.

Against Jund, this deck can outlast it with Varolz and Ranger of Eos, so it’s a shame that the format actually seems to be shifting. I probably wouldn’t pick this one up, but it’s a powerful option should the format shift again.


This deck is deceptively fast and one that I think could be a real contender. If you’re thinking of playing Burn or something similar as a cheap way to get into Modern, you should consider Goblins.

Hall of Fame

Voting for this year’s Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame induction is coming up, so I wanted to share my votes. This year’s class makes it difficult to figure out who to vote for, but that’s how it should be when you’re voting for the Hall of Fame, I suppose.

I’ve narrowed it down to my five, but it wasn’t easy and I’m not 100% confident I’m making the right choices.

Luis Scott-Vargas

I met Luis nearly a decade ago, and even back then he impressed me with his play. Instead of playing against a random PTQ winner at Pro Tour San Diego like I’d hoped, I played against someone who would eventually be a lock for a first-ballot induction.

I cannot see a reason why you wouldn’t vote for Luis. He sees the game on a different level, is able to process information faster than nearly anybody I’ve ever seen, and has a wide range. On top of that, he’s a figurehead in the community, a genuinely nice person, loves Magic, and is someone that people never seem to get sick of seeing.

William "Huey" Jensen

Last year, he missed by one vote. I’m doing my best to rectify that mistake.

Huey and I officially met this year, but we played at my first Grand Prix in 2001. His table presence was intimidating, it was clear he knew how our matchup was supposed to play out, and he anticipated every move I made.

To this day, it was one of the soundest beatings I’ve ever received.

Huey is neither a self-promoter nor an outlandish human being; he was basically the Josh Utter-Leyton of his time—a silent killer who very few people know how deadly he really is.

He’s just very, very good at Magic. You might not have heard of his accomplishments, though they are many. Huey doesn’t shout from the rooftops about how good he is because he doesn’t have to. He lets his results speak for themselves.

People like Jon Finkel are saying the same things about Huey. Why would you not vote for him? Reasons like "I’ve never met him" or "I don’t know how good he is" are not good answers. You are on the committee, so do some homework.

Don’t let this tragedy happen again.

Tomoharu Saito

This one is going to be controversial.

I do not condone cheating or even angle shooting. I feel like Saito has done his time and is looking to turn over a new leaf. If I’m wrong, so be it.

Aside from the scandals and the "I bet he was cheating the whole time so all of his results are irrelevant," Saito has a fantastic track record in both Pro Tours and Grand Prix. Even if you take his accomplishments away, he’s still one of the best deck designers of all time!

The thing I want most is for Huey to get in because he deserves it. The second thing I want most is to not be wasting my vote here because there are plenty of other worthy candidates I’m putting Saito ahead of.

Ben Stark

Despite what he says, he’s good at Constructed. When you take that into consideration with his results (especially as of late) and his undisputed mastery of Limited, you have someone that barely crosses the threshold of "obviously very good" into "Hall of Fame worthy."

Another PT Top 8 and he’d be a slam dunk like Luis.

Makihito Mihara

Mihara’s six Grand Prix Top 8s and four Pro Tour Top 8s falls a little short of Guillaume Wafo-Tapa seven Grand Prix Top 8s, but Mihara still gets the nod. Wafo is a genius in the realm of control, but I feel like Mihara is more well-rounded. His willingness to play 65 cards in Constructed probably has a lot to do with my opinion of him.

Good luck in Kansas City this weekend. I’ll be waiting patiently for some spicy brews to pop up. The format is undeveloped, so right now is a brewer’s paradise. The StarCityGames.com Open Series in Worchester, Massachusetts should be a delight as well. Last weekend’s Grand Prix Miami provided players with seven good versions of the seven best decks, so now you know your enemies. It will be interesting to see if people can come up with anything that beats those decks.

As for Legacy? Well, Legacy is entertaining no matter what happens.


@G3RRYT on Twitter