Yay Or Nay: SCG Regionals Modern Decks!

Tons of tournaments, tons of options. That’s the big dilemma when it comes to Modern. Fortunately, Ari Lax has already done the hard work for you, and now you can use this to make a much better deck choice! Good luck!


StarCityGames.com Regional Championships

are coming up this weekend, which means there are a lot of Modern decks to
choose from. The format is in a weird flux from Dredge to Amulet Titan to
whatever nonsense comes after, so pinning down exactly what you’re going to
play against is tough. There’s around twenty reasonable decks to consider,
and more than one of them is a reasonable choice.

Which decks are good enough to earn my endorsement?



Halloween month ended last week, and Relic of Progenitus is no longer a
metagame-breaking maindeck card. When that card and Anger of the Gods are
less good, TitanShift is dicey. It’s slower than the other combo decks,
Azorius Control has its number, and its interaction is narrow.

Plus the deck mulligans really badly because its interaction mostly doesn’t
cantrip and it needs six or seven pieces of land cardboard to win. That’s
just not my style.

Amulet Titan


The people of Modern have been reminded by the results of Amulet Titan that
they might want Blood Moon, and oh boy do the Modern masses love Blood
Moon. Playing Amulet Titan against Blood Moon is largely refusing to accept
reality. You sign the match slip after taking five near hopeless draw
steps, thinking maybe next time you win one game against the card and lose

I realize my words won’t stop anyone with an actual affection for Amulet
Titan from running into this wall, but I’ll save some innocent souls from
rounds of misery. Let this be a lesson about intricate combo decks being a
curse as much as winning with them looks miraculous.



I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, because I have had nearly a
decade long experience of retrying Dredge in a multitude of formats and
being constantly miserable, but Modern Dredge is a really nice deck. The
Conflagrate + Life from the Loam engine adds a lot of play to the deck in
weird scenarios something like Rakdos Vengevine could get overwhelmed, and
the addition of Creeping Chill just pushes the deck into actually racing
combo territory.

I think my opinion on this changed about when the deck started including
Shriekhorn to consistently self-mill ten to fifteen cards in the first few
turns. I’m just saying this because Shriekhorn is a stupid card and
definitely would make a sound like a six-year-old Boy Scout trying the
bugle for the second time.



I think Burn was a really bad choice as recently as a day or two ago, but
things move fast in Modern. If the enemy is trying to find room for Leyline
of the Void and Blood Moon, it’s easy to cut into their Collective
Brutality and Kitchen Finks counts. Eidolon of the Great Revel is also good
against an influx of Infect and Storm.

Just show some respect for the graveyard. I kinda dig Rakdos Charm with
Bump in the Night as another black card, but Rest in Peace is fine too.
Molten Rain is probably unnecessary; you either beat TitanShift already or
had no chance against Amulet Titan’s recursive Radiant Fountain.

Also don’t play Risk Factor. Please. If you didn’t listen the first ten
times I said it, maybe you can now realize you would rather spend three
mana on actually winning the game.



This comes with a bit of a caveat. No matter how many cool Unsubstantiates
you add to your deck, Storm is just going to be bad against Humans and
Spirits. I’ve tried, they just start killing you for being too little combo
and too much removal instead.

But Storm is fine against the world at large if you’re proficient with it.
Just be aware sometime between the last round of the Swiss and the finals
someone is probably just going to Meddling Mage all over you, and all your
friends will have their “I told you so” material for a while. Hopefully
none of them were that Humans player you lost to so you can pull the
scoreboard of higher finish.



This was originally a weak YAY, but I’m kinda over it. SCG Regionals are
simply Swiss events, not long fifteen round ones. In a longer event you
have a chance for the metagame to evolve in layers, where the
overperformers do well, then you can exploit that metagame as long as you
get there with a loss or two. In a Swiss event you must be ready for the
broader metagame, which is less impacted by these metagame shifts.

I don’t like Infect against a lot of the at large decks these days. Burn,
Darkblast from Dredge, Humans, various red midrange decks, Jund, and so on.
So even if you do beat the three people who decided to change to Amulet
Titan, there’s another hundred or two people playing whatever else is going
on that you aren’t excited to face off against.



Ironworks is just a strong deck. It also is good against the Big Mana
decks, or at least the one people will be playing. Amulet Titan with Spell
Pierce in the sideboard is a pretty bad matchup, but again, congrats two
more people will be willing and able to play that deck against you.

It also highlights one of my favorite parts of Magic: having an assured
win, but your opponent asking you to explain it again.

Grixis Whir


This deck doesn’t do anything. I’m not actually convinced anyone has
actually won a game with it; they have just convinced their opponents to
concede the third time they replayed Inventors’ Fair to find a Welding Jar
for their second Ensnaring Bridge. I’ve also been consistently underwhelmed
with the random assortment of hate cards in the deck. Chalice of the Void,
in particular, does not shine in Modern.

Just like Amulet Titan, if you want to spend a day hoping you hit your good
hate card fast enough to sit there and make your opponent miserable for
another 40 minutes, you’re too far gone for me to stop you. It’s the other
people I’m trying to help.



Is your name Jadine “The Jund” Klomparens or Reid “Raging Ravine” Duke? Do
you hate yourself and the modern day and age and wish you could go back to
simpler times with Zunes and AOL Instant Messenger?

It’s 2018, we just know better these days. Thoughtseize isn’t the problem.
It’s refusing to play more good cards past those and your Inquisition of
Kozileks. Play a real midrange deck and save yourself the misery of losing
each game by a relevant spell and a half.

Jund is finally just above mediocre again!

Four-Color Death’s Shadow


This is a deck with real threats and Thoughtseize. I’m also excited to run
Death’s Shadow into a bunch of decks that aren’t trying to pressure my life
total like Tron, so I can just pay as much life as I want and battle them
down. Stubborn Denial is just one of the best cards against both of the
rising deck categories of Big Mana and Combo, too. For a deck with such a
wide base of answers against the format, Death’s Shadow happens to also be
really well-positioned.

I do have some concerns about running this deck into a format of more
dedicated graveyard hate. Lots of Relic of Progenitus aren’t great for
Tarmogoyf and Traverse the Ulvenwald, or even if you go with the Gurmag
Angler Grixis lists.

Mardu Pyromancer


I feel morally obligated to endorse at least one Blood Moon deck, so here
we go. I’m kinda endorsing this one.

Mardu is a fine example of a Thoughtseize deck with good threats. The
removal suite is unexciting but does the job against Humans and Spirits.
You have Leyline of the Void and some hope against Dredge. This is the
definition of a medium plus deck choice. I wouldn’t be jumping in to play
Mardu Pyromancer if I had a bunch of other options, but if Mardu Pyromancer
is your jam and you have doubts about your other options there’s nothing
wrong with it.

Grixis Phoenix


The first Arclight Phoenix decks in this format looked a lot like bad combo
decks. Now we are just using the card as a great finisher in a good fair
deck. It’s like Death’s Shadow all over again! This definitely qualifies as
a large upgrade, allowing your fair deck to really go in on Faithless
Looting, just like Mardu with a slightly different shell.

I do think this deck wants to play Young Pyromancer or Bedlam Reveler and
possibly just go full ham for Lingering Souls, but I’m not a Grixis spells
regular. You can find Ryan Overturf for that, I even linked his Twitter
above to pester him with questions about it!

Be sure to send the message right before he would drink his morning coffee.
Or after if you want a real answer and not just snippy Tweet value.

Azorius Control


Somehow, I think Azorius Control is actually a better deck against a wide
open field than a narrow one. Usually control faces the opposite problem,
but Azorius Control is leveraging absurdly powerful answers like Terminus
and threats like Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Anything but a few optimized and
flexible decks have nightmares about something in this deck, and all you
must do as the control player is find it and sideboard into more of the

As a result of a more open field I really like loading up on Terminus. If
you play a Team Trios event and your opponents must worry about letting
other people down by playing Eldrazi Tron or whatever, you need to respect
Meddling Mage a bit more and find a Day of Judgment. But against a random
selection of decks you just want the max number of one mana sweepers they
let you play.



Hard to go wrong here. Humans is a good deck. It reasonably beats most
things people do to try and beat it. Sure, I would rather not play Thalia’s
Lieutenant against Anger of the Gods and Primeval Titan, but if I was
playing Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, I would also rather not play against
Humans every round of an event.

Regardless of whether you play this deck though, you should bring a Whirler
Rogue to the event. Someone is going to decide the night before they need
it and will be asking everyone they know and don’t know if they have a copy
of a random Magic Origins Draft all-star. It was me in Detroit,
someone else this weekend in Atlanta, and it might be your friend next
weekend. I’m sure there’s one that has materialized at the bottom of a
forgotten stack of commons on your desk, so grab it in advance.

Bant Spirits


This deck’s continued success is a real head scratcher to me. The only
thing I can think of is everyone else decided that only decks that can’t
beat a Spell Queller should be played and shook on it, except I know that
isn’t true.

Spirits is more prone to clunky disaster hands than Humans. It doesn’t
really get under one-mana removal the way Humans can with Thalia, Guardian
of Thraben. The clock is slower than the Humans clock against every Big
Mana deck. People are cutting Engineered Explosives numbers for Anger of
the Gods, so that resilience is less important. Honestly Humans might be
even better against three damage sweepers because Champion of the Parish is

I can keep going, and all these event results disagree, but I really don’t
care. Bant Spirits is just new Merfolk, and Humans is a good deck you can
play instead.

Selesnya Hexproof


Selesnya Hexproof has a few things going for it right now that are hard to
expect unless you’ve played the deck a lot. The first is that it’s oddly
good against combo, including Primeval Titan decks. It turns out a million
Leyline of Sanctity, and Rest in Peace are just a pain to handle for combo,
and it turns out the Primeval Titan decks need to attack with their 6/6 to
win which is hard when you have an 8/8 first strike, vigilance Slippery

The other great part is that you just get to put

Frog’s Theme from ChronoTrigger

on loop while testing it on Magic Online, and games only last about as long
as three or four music loops.

[I recommend “Ayla’s Theme” if Kor Spiritdancer ends up with the

Hollow One


I had almost forgotten about Hollow One until Martin Juza’s great run with
it at Grand Prix Atlanta. Then I was reminded that my teammate playing
Hollow One had the best record of the trio at Grand Prix Detroit. The deck
is a bit underrated these days.

Hollow One has a natural edge in graveyard mirrors on the basis of winning
whenever both players have Leyline of the Void. You can play a 4/4 fairly
easily, they have to hardcast Narcomoebas or whatever. I once was able to
tick a Hangarback Walker all the way up and outsize Hollow One, but I don’t
even know if Rakdos Vengevine plays that over Chamber Sentry these days.

Hardened Scales


I think there’s a bit of the same new cool deck hype around Hardened
Scales, and it’s a bit overrated. It isn’t that fast or honestly that
resilient against the real control decks.

But Hardened Scales Affinity has Ancient Stirrings and access to good
colorless hate to find with it in Tormod’s Crypt, Relic of Progenitus, and
Damping Sphere. And it’s fast enough to clock combo behind a single hate
card. And it’s resilient enough against the various black midrange decks to
be an honest favorite.

This is another weaker endorsement, but I love Arcbound Ravager math and
think Hardened Scales is a legitimate reason to get back to doing it.
Congrats to Hardened Scales. You’re barely deserving of more than a “meh”



I’m writing this section last despite it fitting with the first Big Mana
decks. Tron is a bit touchy, but there’s two questions to ask to see if
it’s good: Are you horribly dead if you’re behind a turn on assembling
Tron? And do most decks require you to have a specific colorless threat
over a random one?

I’ve endorsed enough creature and midrange nonsense that I think Tron is a
solid choice. There will be enough people reasoning their way into playing
a deck that Tron is good against, the land hate will drift a bit away from
Surgical Extraction plus Fulminator Mage for a number of reasons, and Karn
Liberated is still as hungry as ever. Just send him and Ulamog to the “your
opponent’s lands” buffet to have a great time.

Your Deck Here!


Listen, if you reached this point and want to know about Martyr Control or
Mono-Blue Living End that you recently lost in the Top 4 of an SCG
Invitational Qualifier with, you’re probably more of an expert on whether
you should play it than I am. Also, probably a little biased.

Every Modern metagame breakdown always has a million one-ofs. That Eldritch
Evolution Copycat deck could be you! Okay, it probably won’t be just based
on ten other people making the same bad decision and the decision being
bad, but it could be!

I’m sure at least one deck I didn’t list is a fine option, but if I knew
which I would just tell you. Maybe someone can just tell me with an actual
event finish.