It’s another week writing for StarCityGames.com, and with a lull of tournaments until we get to SCG Columbus, it’s in my best interest to start focusing on Modern, a format that I have expressed distaste for in the past but that everyone else seems to love, whether it’s because they have a deck that they enjoy playing week-in and week-out or maybe they enjoy the sheer diversity the format has. Who can blame people when Standard is one giant Energy slugfest?
It’s Monday night as I’m writing, and I just went 4-1 in a League with Dredge where I made essentially zero decisions in various games of Magic. This card says “Dredge 5” instead of “Dredge 4?” I guess I should dredge this one.
Now, Dredge is a fine deck, and while I’m sure there is more nuance than I am giving it credit, it just didn’t seem right for me. The one deck I lost to was Burn, which seemed like a rough matchup if you don’t hit your Gnaw to the Bone or have a good Dredge start.
Why am I playing Dredge if I don’t like it? Well, Modern is a cyclical format, and right now I think that Dredge is well-positioned in the metagame. Dredge is a proactive strategy that can be fast and quite unfair, so that makes it a good choice to play in Modern. It is obviously weak to graveyard hate, so it reminds me a bit of Affinity, a strong proactive creature combo deck that is very weak to artifact hate. I also think that Affinity is a well-positioned deck currently, and I will certainly be preparing with it for SCG Philadelphia.
If big mana decks are dominating, then we are going to see aggressive decks try to get under them, like Affinity and Burn. I personally think Burn isn’t a very good deck and it loses to itself quite often, so I wouldn’t recommend that deck for anyone, but if we see a rise in those decks, then Jeskai Control seems like a good choice.
If there is one deck that I would guarantee a player will play against at an SCG Open, it would be Jeskai Control. I spoke about this in my last article; people can’t seem to get enough of whatever the best midrange deck is. So if Jeskai one of the decks that is the next level, what is the next next level? The answer would be Lantern Control and Tron. So it seems we are back where we started.
I suspect that Jeskai Control will not appear much, if at all, at the Pro Tour. I just can’t imagine a player deciding to register those cards in a field with Tron and Lantern roaming around. Due to this factor, I think Affinity will be a great choice for the Pro Tour. Patrick Tierney had an interesting proactive version of Jeskai Control that I could see making another appearance, though.
This deck has a proactive strategy similar to Jeskai with Nahiri, the Harbinger. I think this deck can be a good choice, but it is probably still an underdog to Storm, Tron, and Grixis Death’s Shadow, three decks I bet you will see at any given Modern tournament.
Now, last week I also wrote that I hope there will be bans and unbans after the Pro Tour, and I still maintain that statement. For example, I think playing against Lantern Control is a mostly miserable experience for the opponent. After playing against it a few times, I legitimately feel sorry for playing Lantern Control on my Wizards of the Coast account this past year. In fact, if it weren’t for the loss of play points, I would snap concede any match that I get paired against Lantern online.
Tron falls in a similar category for me. While Tron isn’t too powerful by any means, it is very consistent. You can’t walk into a tournament without a gameplan against the deck. This means one of two things. One way to combat the deck is to sport interaction. This interaction can come from a short list of cards that interact with your opponents’ lands. The second way to combat Tron is to completely ignore what they are doing, which is the way I think you need to be going forward.
Tron completely warps the format in a way that not many other decks do because of how dedicated you need to be. Drawing one Fulminator Mage isn’t going to do anything against Tron, whereas drawing one Stony Silence against Affinity is backbreaking. Same can be said for Rest in Peace against Dredge.
Blood Moon is a hammer against Tron, but it significantly strains how you can build your deck if you plan on playing it. That’s my take. You can feel free to disagree in the comments, but I don’t think Tron is too good for Modern; it just puts too hard of a strain on the format.
So what are the other popular decks in the metagame that I haven’t talked about yet? Humans, Storm, Grixis Death’s Shadow, and TitanShift.
Humans, for me, is very much like Burn in the sense that I think that it is a very middling deck that isn’t very good. It can lose a lot of games to spot removal or the opponent combo killing you before you can kill them. I personally think Humans is an awful choice for any SCG Open, considering how prevalent Jeskai seems to be.
Storm seems to have fallen off the radar and I don’t really understand why. I predict Storm to have a resurgence very soon because the deck is very good and is good against the big mana decks. However, it does have a bad matchup against Grixis Death’s Shadow.
Grixis Death’s Shadow is still one of the best decks in Modern, and in all honesty it’s probably the deck that I should learn to play well at this point. Dan Jessup has spoken to me about the deck and how you need to play perfectly, and because of that the rewards aren’t worth it when you can cheese someone out with Dredge or Tron, but I’m not so sure, especially because Andrew Jessup keeps playing it, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s to always keep an eye on what Andrew chooses to play.
I actively disagree with Ari Lax’s article this week and I think that Temur Battle Rage is where it’s at when it comes to the maindeck of Grixis Death’s Shadow. While it definitely isn’t necessary in a good amount of your matchups, I would rather have a stronger Game 1 against the decks where it is good.
TitanShift is still a good deck, and while it isn’t among my frontrunners for decks to try going forward, I could definitely see it eventually falling into my hands. I think there is a good U/G Scapeshift deck out there similar to Jason Ford’s Grand Prix winning deck way back when. Something like this:
The appeal for this deck for me is behind Search for Azcanta. It is a ramp spell in a deck that can use it and it can find any spell in your deck once it is active. This seems like it has potential to be one of the best Search for Azcanta decks out there and I’m surprised I haven’t seen much out there with it. Maybe people have tried it and it just isn’t as good as I think it is, but I’ll try to make it work. Another deck that I want to work on involves Emrakul, the Promised End and Traverse the Ulvenwald.
There are very few decks in Modern that wouldn’t be absolutely destroyed by a Mindslaver in Modern. Including tribal, there are eight different types of cards you can get in your graveyard! Emrakul, the Promised End would only cost five if you can make that happen!
I think there is something in this space. I tried to make Eldrazi Temple work and also sport All Is Dust as the Tribal sorcery, but it’s really hard to make work. Still, against a good portion of the metagame, taking control of one of your opponent’s turns is probably lethal. Let me know what you think in the comments and if you have any suggestions to make it better!