Tom Ross Decks For #SCGINDY

Tom Ross didn’t win back-to-back Invitationals accidentally. He knows how to design decks that attack formats with pinpoint accuracy. So will #SCGINDY and #GPCharlotte be won by his Modern specialties? Or will The Boss need to go outside of his comfort zone?

As you’ve likely heard by now, the next two events hosted by StarCityGames.com will focus on Modern. #SCGINDY will set the stage for #GPCharlotte. The format seems aggressively slanted, which has me hesitant to run my traditional G/U Infect deck. The “best” deck of the format, Abzan Company, plays Melira, Sylvok Outcast in its maindeck.

Amulet Bloom and fully powered G/R Tron were two of Infect’s best matchups. They don’t really exist in the metagame anymore. Jeskai Nahiri decks are popping up, and Jeskai has historically been a rough color combination to try to fight through with 1/1 creatures.

I’ve had my head wrapped around Modern for a few weeks now without really getting anywhere. All I can do is keep working on some brews or maybe jump ship to something more established that looks to be well-positioned.

Here’s one that I’ve had in the holster for a while but haven’t gotten around to pulling the trigger on.

This one’s basically trading off the evasive Blighted Agent and some sideboard counterspells for Path to Exile and some cute things. Lost Leonin has a very good rate and is essentially a 4/1 creature for 1W. Rancor works well with Lost Leonin, so we see a few of those here. Priests of Norn isn’t particularly fast but performs well in ground combat. Being Lightning Bolt-proof is also sweet.

Oath of Nissa was already close to being playable in G/U Infect. It’s card filtering similar to Serum Visions and can be cast more easily. Strikes against it were not putting a card into the graveyard for Become Immense and sometimes pumping up opposing Tarmogoyfs.

It’s a little better here, especially when Ajani, Caller of the Pride is in the mix. Double white is pretty tough sometimes and casting Ajani off some copies of Inkmoth Nexus is pretty sweet. Oath of Nissa is pretty good at finding an infect creature as well as useful lands like Pendelhaven. It couldn’t quite find a pump spell before, but Ajani, Caller of the Pride functions well enough as one.

The manabase needs some work and could likely function without fetchlands at all. This takes away the ability to grab Dryad Arbor and to fuel Become Immense. It would be less painful and would not leave the deck open to random hate cards like Aven Mindcensor or Leonin Arbiter

Burn has always been a problem matchup and it’s very likely that there’s a better sideboard plan against them than Wall of Roots and Kitchen Finks now that the deck has access to white cards. Mark of Asylum seems like a good start that stops everything from Lightning Bolt to Pyroclasm and Izzet Staticaster.

Overall I like the idea of G/W Infect as way to sidestep a format that preys on G/U Infect. I imagine it’s a worse version most of the time, similar to how G/B Infect is generally worse but sometimes better when Phyrexian Crusader and Abrupt Decay are really good. The white cards probably aren’t good enough in the format right this moment, but it’s a good deck to have a decklist for lying around.

This is the last version of G/B Infect I had before Eldrazi Winter made Phyrexian Crusader unplayable.

Could be good if people are on a Nahiri, the Harbinger craze and Jeskai decks start popping up everywhere. There aren’t too many Abrupt Decays around, I don’t think, but that could all change if Jund or regular Abzan are good this week. It kinda sucks that Kozilek’s Return kills Phyrexian Crusader, but whatever.

And now a Soul Sisters deck that I wish was good but isn’t really. I’ve been working on it for the past couple of weeks to try to get the problem matchups better but it’s really hard. Check out my thoughts on various Modern white decks from two weeks ago if you haven’t already.

It’s sleek and streamlined. The underperformers were all removed and the overperformers are maxed out.

Serra Ascendant was bad in every matchup except the already good ones. This build is more of a “lifegain trigger” deck instead of one that intends to get above 30 life. It uses life as a resource to justify playing four Horizon Canopy and intends to live long enough against creature decks to get rolling with an Ajani’s Pridemate or Archangel of Thune.

Auriok Champion was another card that was great in all of the good matchups and poor in the bad ones. That is kind of what Soul Sisters is, though: a deck with very polarized matchups. Brave the Elements and Honor of the Pure were taking up valuable non-creature slots, which are very precious as this deck is also a Windbrisk Heights deck.

I’ve bounced around with how many Shining Shoals should be in the list and am currently seeing where the full four maindeck takes me. They’re not bad in multiples and team up well to outright kill an Infect player with their own creature or to do a ton of damage to someone casting an Anger of the Gods or a Firespout. Shining Shoal helps bridge the gaps in the mana curve. There’s a lot that can go wrong when a deck plays twelve one-drops and four five-drops.

Thraben Inspector has been good at all stages of the game. The extra toughness makes blocking easier and lives through various things when the rest of your creatures don’t. Examples are Golgari Charm, Zealous Persecution, and Orzhov Pontiff. Four Thraben Inspectors might be going overboard, but there’s not really another one-drop that I want. Here are a couple of possible tutor targets for Ranger of Eos that I haven’t quite gotten onboard with:

The sideboard is full of high-impact cards to shore up the hard- to nearly-impossible matchups. Graveyards, artifacts, and a bunch of non-creature spells. That’s what the sideboard aims to fight and not much else.

Bottom line: play Soul Sisters if you’re certain that a huge portion of your metagame will be decks like Burn and Zoo. It’s another deck that I like having in my holster for the right time.

Finally, my take on the Boss Sligh-esque Goblin deck that’s been floating around on Magic Online lately.

AKA 8-Whack.

This deck does some powerful things and has draws capable of third-turn kills. Goblin Grenade is a heck of a Magic card. Most list that I’ve seen go all the way up to Goblin Chieftain, a card that I’ve heard talked about in very poor regard. I prefer to run Burning-Tree Emissary to go along with Reckless Bushwhacker, even though the Emissary isn’t a Goblin. It’s one of the most powerful elements out of the Naya Bushwhacker Zoo deck and I like it in Mono-Red as well.

The sideboard doesn’t look like much, nor should it, really. Goblins is a linear deck with no card filtering, so simply play cards that you would like to draw in an opening hand. Get Dragon’s Claw in there if red is big in your area. Another graveyard card, if that’s the flavor. Nothing fancy.

This deck could go ahead and play green for Atarka’s Command. Some Dragon Fodder or Krenko’s Command, perhaps. I’ve not liked any of the Kuldotha Rebirth decks, but I could be down for some kind of R/G Goblins-Tokens thing.

What to Play at #SCGINDY

Look, I don’t know what to play. I wish I did.

Abzan Company looks to be the deck to beat. G/R Tron is better than people give it credit for. Zoo and Burn will be a large percentage of the field no matter what. I think this will be a breakout weekend for Nahiri, the Harbinger, so if she’s not in your deck, be sure you can at least pressure her somehow.

My brews are cool and I do love to enter tournaments with decks that I’ve personally worked on. That’ll be really tough for me to do at #SCGINDY. I think the format is a little too hostile to the kinds of decks I like to play.

I’ll probably just pilot whatever Gerry Thompson plays in the Magic Online Championship this weekend.