With the biggest Modern shakeup since, well, the last format-overhauling ban, we are back to a format with fairly little information to go by. Even if Affinity and various Prison decks waxed and waned over the years, Mox Opal was a constant presence in the metagame.
With that huge market share to fill up, where do the numerous contenders stack up in the format leading into #SCGRICH?
- 2 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
- 4 Primeval Titan
- 4 Arboreal Grazer
- 1 Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
- 3 Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
- 2 Forest
- 2 Snow-Covered Forest
- 1 Gemstone Mine
- 1 Golgari Rot Farm
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 1 Gruul Turf
- 2 Breeding Pool
- 1 Ghost Quarter
- 4 Simic Growth Chamber
- 1 Vesuva
- 2 Tolaria West
- 1 Misty Rainforest
- 1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
- 1 Bojuka Bog
- 2 Cavern of Souls
- 1 Radiant Fountain
- 1 Hanweir Battlements
- 1 Field of the Dead
- 4 Castle Garenbrig
You heard it here first: Primeval Titan is overrated. People know it’s coming, and nothing is new. If you’re trying to win SCG Richmond you’ll have to beat some of the Amulet Titan-obsessed SCG Tour grinders, but that is very possible.
You can always beat a Primeval Titan deck if you want to unless it’s killing you on Turn 3, and Once Upon a Time made this more polarized. Instead of traditional flex slots filled with Lightning Bolt or Anger of the Gods or more Engineered Explosives, the Primeval Titan decks just go all-out. They fail less in the face of Tarmogoyf plus Fulminator Mage, but they also have no chance of beating a faster clock or the right disruption.
I don’t think Amulet Titan is a bad deck. It still has a ton of power behind it and nut draws that match the best decks trying to race it. It just isn’t that well-positioned, and you should not be playing any Primeval Titan deck without Amulet of Vigor.
- 4 Wurmcoil Engine
- 2 Thragtusk
- 1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
- 1 Emrakul, the Promised End
- 2 Walking Ballista
If you want to play a big mana strategy, I would take a step down the curve and play Mono-Green Tron. I don’t think I would want to play a big mana strategy, but at least Mono-Green Tron isn’t playing right into the hate people want against Amulet Titan like Blood Moon.
Remember Blood Moon? You probably forgot about it during the Arcum’s Astrolabe era of Modern. There’s probably a small window before we go right back to that card saturating the format, so get your three-mana lockouts in while you can.
Or maybe I would recommend Eldrazi Tron, but I barely consider that a big mana deck. It’s a beatdown deck that can make seven mana. Eldrazi Tron is notably good against Amulet Titan due to a fast Thought-Knot Seer and Chalice of the Void, a similar clock plus disruption suite.
Notice how Karn, the Great Creator is still a great lock piece. Mycosynth Lattice was a loss, but against most of the metagame something else in this sideboard can close up the game. Between Liquimetal Coating, Torpor Orb, and Ensnaring Bridge, you might even have the big mana decks still on lock.
There are two parts of the story that leads blue control from being a joke in Modern to being playable again.
The first is banning all the things that stretched control thin over the years. Graveyard decks and artifact aggro still exist, but you can get away with fewer Stony Silences than you needed in 2019 or even a Dimir deck. New printings have also helped cover multiple strategies at once, like Ashiok, Dream Render.
The second is that Mystic Sanctuary is a broken Magic card. I don’t understand how there is only one copy of the land between these two lists. I can’t imagine River of Tears and Sunken Ruin are better than having fetchable Regrowth that is also a soft lock.
The other 2019 card I’m dubious about the amounts of is Narset, Parter of Veils. What does Narset shut off in this format that isn’t flooded with reasonable early attackers to pressure it? Maybe it’s a mirror breaker that doubles as slower card draw, but I wouldn’t be starting a full playset or even necessarily multiples of the card.
The control deck that has me the most interested is the more proactive Izzet Control. With Modern as wild as it is now, it’s almost certain you forgot to cover some deck which can just be mopped up with a 7/8 Horror or a Blood Moon. Arcmage’s Charm and Magmatic Sinkhole cover most of the things Izzet traditionally has issues removing, and that’s only when Thing in the Ice is too fragile to rely on. The only real drawback is exposure to midrange, and I’m fine losing to those stuck in 2013 with their Jund cards.
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 3 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 4 Mantis Rider
- 4 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 4 Kitesail Freebooter
- 1 Deputy of Detention
- 2 Unsettled Mariner
Humans is fine. My only request is that you don’t play Charming Prince and instead play cards with impact on a game.
Wanting to play Humans comes down to two Modern Horizons cards. Do you expect a lot of things that crush your one-toughness creatures at minimal cost before they grow out of range?
That’s where the second aggro deck comes in. Mono-Red Prowess has proven itself as a contender in a removal-light format, and I doubt enough people will pick up control to change the dial on that.
For those just dabbling with this deck: Crash Through is actually a high-impact spell. You can sideboard it out in specific spots where tons of interaction is key and blockers aren’t expected, but trample does relevant damage in this format.
I think Burn is actually better than Mono-Red Prowess in the general world of Modern, but in SCG Tour Modern I’m wary.
Have you ever seen what happens to a Burn player when their opponent triggers Radiant Fountain? I have, and I’ve seen the Amulet Titan bias the top players on the SCG Tour have.
While I would advise playing Burn in an individual event, SCG Richmond is a much more dubious proposition.
- 2 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Spike Feeder
- 4 Kitchen Finks
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 2 Viscera Seer
- 3 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
- 1 Walking Ballista
- 4 Giver of Runes
- 4 Ranger-Captain of Eos
- 4 Heliod, Sun-Crowned
No one is losing to Kitchen Finks beatdown any more. Collected Company decks aren’t even playing Eternal Witness for the Collected Company and Path to Exile loops that actually overwhelmed Jund. You have built a slower creature combo deck for a “resiliency” upside that hasn’t mattered for three full years.
Just play Infect. Sure, Lava Dart is actually unbeatable, but if your opponents are showing up with Lava Dart, any deck in this category is going to fail. Infect is just way better than Devoted Druid against the first Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile.
Not Dead Yet
- 4 Golgari Thug
- 4 Stinkweed Imp
- 4 Narcomoeba
- 4 Bloodghast
- 4 Prized Amalgam
- 3 Merchant of the Vale
- 3 Ox of Agonas
While the Dredge side against Amulet Titan has historically been rough, I think the added speed of Ox of Agonas and the removal of Sakura-Tribe Scout for instant Bojuka Bog gives you a chance to steal games. Your sideboard games aren’t free against the rest of the field, but Ashiok, Dream Render is a much weaker sideboard card than you are used to beating.
And Urza, Lord High Artificer is still great. Swap the broken fast planeswalker, go back to some earlier shells, and you have the same Jund Blue playstyle of the Oko, Thief of Crowns-era decks. You’re a little less interested in Gilded Goose without needing to enable metalcraft, and Urza is more just a great value card than something that really spins up hard artifact synergies. I’m a little more hesitant to say play this deck since the list is still fairly novel, but there’s still a lot of promise in this archetype.
- Eldrazi Tron is a great choice for this weekend.
- Infect, Dredge, and various control decks are good if that’s your jam.
- Amulet Titan, Humans, and Mono-Green Tron are decent but not great choices.
- Burn, Mono-Red Prowess, and Death’s Shadow are mediocre but not terrible options.
- Terrible options would describe Heliod Company and all similar decks, Crabvine, and Jund.