The Next Step

The great Mark Nestico is aiming to get back on the Pro Tour! There’s just one problem: he has to figure out Modern. Help him conquer his inexperience with the format by sharing your #SCGDFW deck choice in the comments!

My wife told me to write about cats. She says everyone loves them. I have three, and I’m probably the best cat-dad out there. I dare any others to step up
to the challenge of outdoing me when it comes to cat-daddery. Not the dance, though.

I ain’t about that life.

So anyhow, this week is actually pretty important for me, and I’m sure many of you out there as well. Halloween, as if WoTC decided to fudge with me on my
favorite holiday, is a Modern Regional Pro Tour Qualifier. Instead of dressing up like a character from The Devil’s Carnival like I had initially
anticipated doing this year, I’ll be dressing up like a Magic player who knows what he’s doing in a format I have absolutely no experience in.

I once did battle in a Modern PTQ some time ago, piloting a Jeskai Flash deck to almost a Top 8 berth.

Lost. Got Top 16.

Womp Womp

And then I never played Modern in a tournament again.

A few months ago,
I wrote about why I thought PPTQs were potential harmful to the overall development of Magic
, and then four days later, I won one. Define irony. I felt pretty good until I found out the format was Modern. Sealed and Standard? I’m golden. Modern
and Legacy? I have little idea what I am doing. It’s like a dagger in my brain.

So here we are. I’m probably screwed on several different levels, but it’s a road trip with my buddies, dinner at Fogo, and a five-star hotel that GP
Lincoln Champion Bronson Magnan booked for us. How romantic, right? A churrascaria steakhouse and a great view. Maybe they’ll be dancing.

Thus my quandary emerged of what to play.

Now I have a limited understanding of the workings of most decks out there; I’ve played the format recreationally, I watch streams where people battle it,
read every Modern article, and talk extensively/theorycraft decks and matches. I know what decks are good along with what beats what and matchup
percentages. That being said, there is no substitute for sitting down and playing a game of Magic. There just isn’t. We can’t all be Shaun McLaren and play
games in our head in some sort of Tron-inspired quadrant against ourselves with hordes of mentally created audience members cheering us on as we break the
format with some sort of Jeskai thing-deck or whatever. I’m just not that good.

Also I’m more of a Matrix guy anyway.

Picking a deck is tantamount to taking a dip in ice cold water for me. Everything is shocking, scary, and it hurts. I figured I’d check out the results of
the latest Premier IQ to get an idea of what’s hot in the format when all of a sudden…

…seriously? What the hell? Seriously?

So there were only eight different decks in the Top 8. That’s not even that many, right?

Decks like Jund or Abzan Company were noticeably absent, which leads me to believe that this format is even wider than I thought it would be.

At the top of the heap is my first choice going into the tournament:

My first thought was: “I have played all of these cards before,” so immediately my mind correlated that with the potential for success.

A deck like Grixis Twin allows for multiple dimensions of Magic to be played, and I feel relatively adept at several of them. As a control deck, it has
removal, permission, disruption, and incredible redundancy. As a midrange deck, it has effective removal spells, cards like Tasigur and the Nalaar parents,
and burn. Lastly, there are matches where the combination of Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin can just win out of nowhere ( like the RKO). These are the games I wish to play the most of–the ones where I just accidentally
win and stumble into a Pro Tour invite. Honesty is next to godliness.

The reason this deck appeals to me on such a high level is that hopefully I can levy some measure of play skill with a deck that requires quite a bit of

The downfall?

No experience. Damn, y’all.

So the plan is to jam hundreds of games over the course of the week. By the time you read this, I’ll be knee-deep in testing this deck against the numerous
denizens inhabiting Magic Online. If you have any tips, I’d be obliged.

Aside from this…well…you know.

My illustrious editor battled during the Modern Super League and the minute I saw it I instantly fell in love with it. When I found out Patrick Sullivan
created it, I was sold.

You see, my other train of thought is pretty basic, and I’m sure we’ve all felt it: “You’re not practiced in this format, so you should play a deck that
beats the living bananas out of people.”

Pretty smart, right? Smorc Smorc Smorc.

A take on Naya Zoo, this deck hits extremely hard and fast with the often-forgotten original gangster of aggro decks, Kird Ape. Mutagenic Growth ties the
package together and allows you to be faster than traditional Zoo. It can be a detriment in burn on burn matches, but it sometimes gives you faster closing
speed when on the play. Gaddock Teeg in the sideboard is a criminal exclusion from a lot of lists I’ve reviewed. I appreciate how good it can be against
some of the bigger decks out there. Lastly is Gut Shot…which I strongly suggest you folks head over to Facebook and review some of the numerous pictures
Mr. Sullivan has shared on the subject. It’s an absolute delight.

So there we have it.

My two choices going forward this weekend.

I’m torn because, to be frank, Top 4’ing this tournament is my ticket back to the Pro Tour. For those of you that haven’t indulged in it, by far, it is
Magic’s most intoxicating experience. And I want it back.

This is where you all come in, by the way. I’m terribly prone to absorbing the musings of the audience, so if you believe there’s an avenue I should walk
down, a recommendation that you may have, or a list you’d like to see me try, I’m completely open to testing things out. Like I said, I’m going to be glued
to my computer for a week battling various lists, and I’m happy to take any advice.

It will be a nice break from Standard at least. In the wake of GP Quebec City it’s clear that Jeskai Black isn’t just the best deck in the format, it’s
also dominant in a way we might not be used to. It’s agile, controlling yet with excellent tempo, and it can be customized to fit any metagame. It was even
able to dispatch of its supposed “worst matchup” in the form of G/R Eldrazi Ramp in the semifinals on route to a mirror match in the finals.

At this point, it becomes about finding the deck that can consistently beat it, but at this point even that may prove difficult lest there is an overflow
of G/R Eldrazi Ramp to keep it in check. I’m not even sure that’s the answer, to be frank. Going under them is difficult due to their powerful sideboard
options and going over a Dig Through Time deck that packs Tasigur also proves to be difficult, and the midgame is shored up by Jace and Mantis Rider. All
of this puts together a very effective package with very, very few exploitable weaknesses. I do expect to see a slight uptick of Painful Truths, as card
advantage is increasingly important in the mirror.

One piece of technology I tried out this weekend in my Game Day was an offering by Todd Anderson, who included Ob Nixilis
Reignited in his list. It was exceedingly impressive in the deck when cast and offered the deck yet another two-for-one. I would recommend trying it out
going forward.

Well, it’s back to testing for me. No rest for the wicked.

And cats.