The SCG Invitational at SCG CON is nearly upon us and I imagine most people are getting their decks together, tuning their sideboards, or eagerly awaiting the results of the event. It will be exciting to see if players can find something that breaks the monotony of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Standard and whether playing Modern in real life will bring something we haven’t seen on Magic Online.
My record in SCG Invitationals speaks for itself. When the formats are known entities, I can predict how people are going to react and adapt accordingly. It usually ends up with me having a solid edge in at least one of the formats. For this SCG Invitational, the biggest edge to be gained is in Modern, so I’d happily dedicate the majority of my testing time there.
Choosing my deck for Standard is easy.
Despite the recent metagame shifts, you don’t have to change much from Yuta Takahashi’s Magic World Championship XXVII-winning decklist. Pay more attention to Mono-White Aggro❄ and its presence in the metagame and the rest will fall into place.
That starts with cutting Divide by Zero and opening up some sideboard space. By adding a maindeck Cinderclasm and some cheaper removal, you’ll have a better win percentage in Game 1. The second copy of Prismari Command helps against Esika’s Chariot and the Maul of the Skyclaves that are showing up in increasing numbers.
I split Memory Deluges and Behold the Multiverses, similarly to my Dimir Control deck. Getting double blue can be an issue for Deluge; being able to split the mana cost over two turns is usually better against the aggro decks. It allegedly makes you worse against other blue decks to have fewer Deluges, but I don’t necessarily buy that. Opposing Divide by Zeros often mean the flashback doesn’t accomplish much anyway.
The second copy of Heated Debate in the sideboard is mostly for Goldspan Dragon mirrors, which are also more popular following the World Championship results. It’s not like we’re short on ways to kill Goldspan Dragon, but having a way to remove it that doesn’t lose to Negate is important for tempo.
Cast Goldspan Dragon. Profit.
This one is more complicated. I have what my heart wants to play, the best deck, and possible metagame calls.
Here’s what I want to play:
I’d love to register my updated version of Grixis Control. Unfortunately, the format is becoming increasingly more hostile. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem, as a control deck should be able to adapt, but it’s a dire situation. More on that later.
My build removes Dragon’s Rage Channeler, which is also what most of the players on Magic Online have been doing. I don’t want to lean on small creatures in a format dominated by Fury and Solitude, plus there are benefits to adding extra controlling tools to your arsenal.
Here’s what you should play or, at the very least, be prepared to beat.
- 2 Wooded Foothills
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 3 Windswept Heath
- 3 Flooded Strand
- 1 Snow-Covered Plains
- 1 Snow-Covered Mountain
- 1 Snow-Covered Island
- 1 Snow-Covered Forest
- 1 Sacred Foundry
- 1 Temple Garden
- 1 Steam Vents
- 1 Stomping Ground
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 Arid Mesa
- 4 Misty Rainforest
- 1 Prismatic Vista
- 1 Ketria Triome
- 1 Raugrin Triome
Taking Grixis Control into a field full of decks like these is probably a bad idea, especially once they started playing four Spreading Seas. Your best chance to win is probably to dash Ragavan unless you know you can protect it from Wrenn and Six and Fury. You can potentially bury them in card advantage if things go your way, but it’s an uphill battle with how much more of it they have than you do.
The four-color Yorion piles are incredible, even if they don’t look like it. At first glance, it seems like they should be weak to combo, Mono-Green Tron, or something similar, but that doesn’t tend to be the case. Finding a combo deck that isn’t weak to Solitude; Teferi, Time Raveler; and counterspells is difficult. The recent adoption of Spreading Seas means that the big mana matchups aren’t quite as bad as you’d expect either. Any other issues are covered by the sideboard.
If you’re looking for the best deck, look no further. That’s become slowly apparent over the last few weeks and the metagame hasn’t quite caught on yet. I fully expect it to do incredibly well at SCG CON.
Either you play the best deck, something that beats everything except the best deck, or something that’s naturally good against the best deck while being solid against everything else. I tend to prefer the last, and the best thing I can think of is something with Blood Moon. You basically want to dodge Solitude and there’s not a great, obvious way to do that in Modern that doesn’t also fall victim to another portion of their deck.
Keep in mind that Modern has a top tier, yet is still relatively wide open. People have their pet decks, or maybe they only own one deck. The metagame will never coalesce the way a Standard metagame might. Over the course of eight rounds, you might play against the most popular deck two or three times. That’s why, if you’re building to beat the best deck, you still must be solid against everything else.
Initial testing for Blue Moon has gone well.
Overall, the plan for Blue Moon is to punish greedy four-color manabases and dodge their main means of interaction, Solitude and Fury.
We have no shortage of options for these types of decks. It will take some more time to figure out the correct plans for each matchup. So far, I like taking the more controlling approach, but I’ll probably default to that strategy in the dark. I could see a more proactive version, similar to my Grixis Control deck, that also plays Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer or Murktide Regent, at least in a different metagame. Ideally, you’d be able to play something like Jace, the Mind Sculptor in this type of deck, but it’s also too vulnerable at the moment.
Memory Deluge is a fine card advantage engine that will eventually help you take full control over the game. It doesn’t have the versatility, burst, or continued card advantage of Jace, but it gets the job done. There are added benefits in having Deluge in control matchups as well.
Cards like Archmage’s Charm and Cryptic Command are wonderful before you cast Blood Moon and can be awkward afterward. You can play around it to some degree by fetching more Islands, but that plan is out the window if you’re forced to cast Blood Moon early. You could easily be stuck with double blue and be hoping to draw out of it. So far, it’s been fine, but it’s a reason not to play the full amount of Archmage’s Charms.
You want cantrips to pair with Snapcaster Mage, and Consider is marginally better than Opt in this deck. There could potentially be more copies of Unholy Heat because of it. I started with more copies of Expressive Iteration but had to shave them due to how awkward they were early.
Spell Pierce is excellent at the moment, and you could potentially play another copy even though the games will go long. Your counter wars tend to involve plenty of mana investment on both sides, so Spell Pierce can still nab something later on.
Blue Moon isn’t the only option for fighting the expected metagame. Other decks like Wilderness Reclamation, Gruul Midrange, or Goblin Charbelcher combo are worth looking at. I haven’t finished exploring all the options quite yet, but if you find something that beats the Yorion, Sky Nomad decks and isn’t terrible against everything else, I’d happily register it. Azorius Control is a fine option, but it lacks anything special for those matchups. It wouldn’t be my first choice.
If you can’t figure out what to play in Modern, you could do worse than updating whichever deck you enjoy the most or are most proficient with. Even if Four-Color Control is the best deck, the margins are slim; you might be better off playing what you know. I’ve used that strategy in previous SCG Invitationals to reasonable success as well.
As much as I want to play Grixis Control or even Blue Moon, I know I’d be much better off playing Four-Color Control. If I registered Izzet Dragons and Four-Color Control, I’d probably win the tournament.