The Modern Decks You Should Play At SCG Baltimore!

Still undecided? Leave it to us! From the most rogue of brews from Tom Ross to the shameless netdecking of a Pro Tour Champion to an SCG Select colleague, this has something for everyone at SCG Baltimore…and SCG Con beyond!

Welcome to What We’d Play! With SCG Baltimore this weekend, many are
unsure what they’d play in such a high profile tournament. That’s where
we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it.
Hopefully this last minute advice aids in your decision-making! Be sure to vote for who you agree with in the poll at the end!

Cedric Phillips – Bant Spirits

Last time I jumped into this column, I said that it pained me to have to
switch from Humans to wannabe Humans but that sometimes you gotta know when
to move on. It appears many are starting to finally do just that and
realize what I already knew – the lack of a top tier sideboard is finally
too much for Humans to overcome.

Yes, I love Sin Collector and a few other weapons that Humans gets to bring
to the table, but none of those cards immediately win the game if
unanswered like a Modern sideboard card should. If I cast Rest in
Peace against Dredge? Their deck fails to function until it’s taken care
of. If I cast Stony Silence against Hardened Scales? They’re playing very
inefficient creatures that do little to nothing even against my puny
Spirits. Yes, there are plenty of games that an Izzet Staticaster is good
in, but rarely does it have the effect of a game-winning Unified Will or
flexibility of game-altering Dromoka’s Command.

One thing I think we may have forgotten about is how busted Spell Queller
is. Upon being previewed, many thought Spell Queller would the best card in Eldritch Moon, and while that title eventually fell to Emrakul,
the Promised End, I would argue that that’s not really Spell Queller’s
fault. The card, purely by itself, gives you a great Ironworks matchup and
solidifies many others that no other card could.

But the real topper is that Bant Spirits has a good Humans matchup. I fully
expect Humans to continue to be a heavily played deck for a few more months
before it slides down the Modern metagame totem pole. It’s reminiscent of
Grixis Death Shadow in 2017, where the deck was absolutely everywhere and
then slowly but surely, it ended up being positively nowhere. Remember when
we all expected it to dominate GP Las Vegas and it did the direct opposite
despite being played by all the best players in the room? I expect the
exact same fate for Humans and a large reason for that will be the rise of
Bant Spirits, a deck, by the way, that has won two Modern Grand Prixs this

Embrace the flying undead, my friends.

Ari Lax – Burn

This is just Emma’s list from last week with more graveyard hate.
It’s also a pretty speculative suggestion.

I got to Burn by trying to figure out what linear deck best exploited the
current Modern metagame. Graveyards are off limits because Dredge makes
sure they are well contested. Tron and Primeval Titan suffer as the format
becomes less congested. Humans and Bant Spirits are good enough that people
have lots of removal to cut into more linear creature decks like Elves.

That leaves Mox Opal and Burn and I’m just a little uncertain about my Mox
Opal choices. Ironworks is probably the default best one and I might still
play it but it’s weak to Bant Spirits and some of the graveyard hate from
Dredge. I win a lot with Hardened Scales, but it feels more like my
opponents choosing not to win. I still need to try some of the reworked
Prison decks but can’t in good faith endorse them without extensive

So Burn it is. The deck is configured well against creatures, naturally
beats the Big Mana decks besides Amulet Titan, is fine versus midrange and
control, and can show up with graveyard hate. It’s probably not the best if
everyone moves to Mox Opal, but that’s an issue for the Season Two
Invitational, not SCG Baltimore.

Abe Stein – Humans

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of picking the brain of our
newest Select writer, Dylan Hand, about his thoughts and feelings about
Humans and I’ve come to a couple extreme conclusions I’ll share with you

First is that if you want to put Thalia, Heretic Cathar into your Humans
deck, you had better already have a playset of Mayor of Avabruck. Both
cards are trying to enable you to leverage your battlefield position or
alter the speed of the game by a turn, but Mayor of Avabruck is a full mana
cheaper and much better to put onto the battlefield with an Aether Vial.

The second is that Kitesail Freebooter just doesn’t cut it anymore. I was a
big proponent of the Pirate just for having another flying body in matchups
like Bant Spirits or having another disruptive element to combo with
Meddling Mage, but with the speed of the format as it is, I had better be
actionably killing my opponent. The cleaner cut and linear the decks in
Modern get, the easier it is to use a Meddling Mage to shut out the
opponent’s Plan A without having to peek at their hand in the first place.
With enough practice and study, naming correctly on Meddling Mage is less
peering into a crystal ball and more along the lines of studying the

This build is committed to having the strongest chance at a turn 4 kill
uninterrupted. Kessig Malcontents is like the living Temur Battle Rage and
as the brief rise of Grixis Death’s Shadow showed, that card might be okay.
This specific iteration of Humans is likely the best one to be playing in a
field full of Aether Vials and decks that come at you with their blinders
on, so I’m sticking by it as we grow closer to the Season Two Invitational.

Dylan Hand – Ironworks

Ironworks has proven itself as a serious contender at the highest level of
tournament play. It was a very popular choice for Modern players at Pro
Tour 25th Anniversary and most recently finished in second place at Grand
Prix Atlanta in the hands of platinum pro Piotr Glogowski. The power level
of Ancient Stirrings in Modern is undeniable, and with the passing of the

Banned and Restricted announcement

, I think it’s time to focus on playing with the card (along with Faithless
Looting) as much as possible while it is still legal.

Regarding the decklist itself, a couple new cards have found their way into
the deck that change the way it operates in a big way:

Sai, Master Thopterist gives Ironworks an incredible amount of utility. Not
only does it help facilitate easier combo kills due to the mana and card
draw it provides but it also gives an excellent alternative win condition
that’s generally impervious to the hate cards opponents will try to use to
stop you, like Stony Silence, Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, and
Nature’s Claim. Spine of Ish Sah, on the other hand, provides a repeatable
Vindicate effect that allows you to win in a different way: destroying
every one of your opponent’s permanents. With a Scrap Trawler and
Krark-Clan Ironworks on the battlefield, it quickly becomes trivial to
leave your opponent with no battlefield while you attack them for three
damage over and over until they concede.

When I first started playing Magic competitively, Amulet Bloom (Amulet
Titan with Summer Bloom while it was still legal) was quickly becoming the
dominant deck of the Modern format. The deck experienced a strange
phenomenon – even though the power level of the deck was known, it took
many players a long time to pick up the deck due to the reputation the deck
had regarding its complexity. Ironworks seems to be following a very
similar trend. The deck is tricky to master but the power level is through
the roof. If I were you, I’d join me on getting while the getting’s good.
This is my frontrunner choice for SCG Baltimore and beyond.

Bryan Gottlieb – Amulet Titan

I think I’m in love. Spending the last month getting to know Amulet Titan
has been an absolute joy, and I finally feel like I have a Modern deck that
I can call my own. If you’ve never played Amulet Titan before, you’re
probably hesitant to pick the deck up, fearing an execution barrier, and
these fears aren’t misplaced. However, everyone must start somewhere! Why
not let this weekend be the start of your road to Amulet mastery?

Start with a few great primers on the deck by Edgar Magalhaes (found
) and Ari Lax (found
) and then get to goldfishing! Here’s a fun homework assignment Edgar gave
me earlier this week-can you find the Turn 2 kill?

Once you’re putting together complicated kills such as this one, the deck
unlocks. At this point, I really only fear Blood Moon. However, Mono-Red
decks are mostly focused on their Arclight Phoenix shenanigans and the
midrange pilots have mostly abandoned Mardu Pyromancer. It seems like it’s
nothing but sunny days for us Primeval Titan fans presently.

My list makes some controversial changes, but with a ton of games under my
belt now, I’m ready to start tinkering. First, I’m playing a 28th land, and
after testing Halimar Depths, Temple of Mystery, and basic Forest, I’ve
decided on Academy Ruins. Long games happen more often than you would
expect, recursive Walking Ballista, Engineered Explosives, or Tormod’s
Crypt are trumps in several matchups, and it’s always nice to be able to
buyback your namesake card.

I like Ramunap Excavator maindeck for similar reasons. At a fairly low
cost, you gain a tremendous advantage in the Tron matchup and are far
better positioned to play long games against Field of Ruin decks. Plus, you
unlock some mindmelting new kills that usually involve crazy stuff like
Ghost Quartering your own bounceland.

I made room for these inclusions by killing one of the sacred cows of
Amulet Titan – Explore. Explore just never matters. It seems like a card
that fits thematically, but the reality is a large percentage of hands
simply don’t get any better by virtue of having an Explore. As limited as
Adventurous Impulse/Oath of Nissa are, they’re often far more impactful
than Explore, and as such have become the second “cantrip” of choice after
Ancient Stirrings. I’ve gone with Oath of Nissa here, simply to facilitate
the sideboard Emrakul, the Promised End. If you’re more concerned about
Tarmogoyf, you can play Adventurous Impulse, but the impact is fairly
minimal either way.

Shaheen Soorani – Izzet Phoenix

I’ll be at SCG Baltimore this weekend with the hopes of bringing home the
trophy with old faithful, Ironworks. The list above you isn’t Ironworks
because I don’t think that it’s necessarily the best option for this
weekend. I’m intrigued with these Izzet Phoenix decks that have burst onto
the Modern scene due to the amount of synergistic spells that Arclight
Phoenix enthusiasts have access to. I don’t have the time to put my heart
and soul into mastering a new archetype a few days before the event, but I
would play this list if I was able to get the reps in.

Izzet Phoenix in Modern has a great deal of flexibility in terms of card
slots. This list has a heavy emphasis on burn with some Madness flavor. I
would personally up the Thought Scour count, due to the obvious upside. The
only other real change I would make would be to the sideboard. I think that
Blood Moon has too giant of an impact to not have a role in an Izzet
strategy. There are so many decks that are immediately vanquished by a
resolved one and the manabase begs for it as an option. You would have to
play a few more basics and fetches, which isn’t a huge burden at all.

Emma Handy – Ironworks

I’m just gonna keep beating this drum until people listen.

Krark-Clan Ironworks is the best deck in Modern, and when people get over
the fact that the deck has a high learning curve, it’ll have the numbers to
back it up. Despite the deck being difficult to play, it isn’t impossible,
and there are several different resources for people who are just now
picking up the deck for the first time.

Lee Mcleod recently put out an

exhaustive primer

on his Twitter account, and with all of the information provided in a
single place, the excuses to stay off the deck are dwindling.

The fact that the deck can kill on the third turn of the game and is
resilient to most kinds of interaction just puts it on a higher level,
fundamentally speaking, than the rest of the field.

I’ve been testing the deck all week against Jadine Klomparens on Jund, and
let me tell you, the number of times you can just win on the fourth or
fifth turn through multiple pieces of interaction is staggering.

Put the reps in and you’ll be rewarded.

Tom Ross – Mono-White Martyr

I’d absolutely play Mono-White Martyr in Baltimore.

Martyr is a deck that has been doing well on Magic Online over the last
year. It does take a while for players to adopt Magic Online decks to real
life, but it’s been far too long. This is a gem that no one (outside of
Jacob Nagro to my knowledge) has been willing to give a spin in at the SCG
Tour or a Grand Prix.


You have four Field of Ruin and four Ghost Quarter along with a Crucible of
Worlds. That puts a lot of pressure on big mana strategies like Tron or
Scapeshift. Those three Surgical Extractions in the sideboard prevent their
important land from ever really being in the game. Against your normal
creature deck, four Ghostly Prisons shuts them down hard.

There’s the amazing opening of Serra Ascendant into a Martyr of Sands for
twelve or fifteen, which outright wins the game against aggressive decks.
There’s a ton of long-game here with Proclamation of Rebirth, Ranger of
Eos, Thraben Inspectors, Squadron Hawk, and the utility lands of Mistveil
Plains (more Hawks!) and Emeria, the Sky Ruin.

This is what I would play. The critical fault on Mono-White Martyr
is that the games can go really long, and there can be a lot of tough
decisions for yourself and your opponent. Outside of the Martyr + Serra
Ascendant opening your clock isn’t very fast. You need to keep up a good
pace and make sure your opponent is doing so as well to avoid unintentional