Is Orzhov Hammer’s Time Up In Modern At The SCG Invitational?

Is it time to drop the (Colossus) Hammer for the Modern MTG rounds at the SCG Invitational at SCG CON? Five of our authors say what they’d play.

Crashing Footfalls
Crashing Footfalls, illustrated by Dan Scott

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the SCG Invitational at SCG CON right around the corner, many are unsure what they’d play in Modern. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for your next Modern event.

Todd Anderson — Four-Color Crashcade (Yorion)

D00mwake is one of my favorite streamers, and I fell in love with this deck when he started playing it last week. He ended up doing well in the Modern Challenge on Magic Online, losing in the finals, showing that this “meme” can become a “dream.” Where to begin? I’ve been loving Kyle Boggemes’s Temur Crashcade deck, but it just didn’t have a late-game to make sure the Rhinos go all the way.

Since you’re 80 cards, your deck would normally be a little less consistent, but the addition of another color gives us four more cards that can cascade into Crashing Footfalls. That actually makes us more consistent if all you want to do is make Rhinos, but adding another color barely slows us down (since we’re already slow) and actually gives us some late-game tools that obliterate some matchups.

Specifically, Teferi, Time Raveler dominates mirrors and Omnath, Locus of Creation is just another example of “F.I.R.E.” design run amok. The fact that Omnath pitches to all your free spells is icing on the cake, but it actually ends up giving us enough white cards to play Solitude. That extra free spell buys us enough time to make up for not being able to cast many spells in the early turns, which is why we’re playing things like Force of Negation and Fury in the first place!

I’m absolutely in love with this deck, and fully expect to dominate my Modern rounds at the event. Yorion might not add much to the deck, but it adds enough. More often than not, Yorion is being pitched to Solitude or Force of Negation, but blinking Solitude or Fury is quite nice, and you can randomly get some blowouts with Obsidian Charmaw after sideboard. This deck is as close to the Turbo Valki deck that dominated Modern before the rebalancing of the cascade mechanic, acting like a combo deck that can very easily play and win a long game.

Bryan Gottlieb — Golgari Yawgmoth

Tell me you miss Birthing Pod without saying you miss Birthing Pod. Creature combo has always had a place in my heart, but more recent Modern entrants in the genre have all been focused far too much on the combo side of things. I want a real beatdown plan to back up my threat of combo, not a bunch of piddly Devoted Druids. With the addition of Modern Horizons 2 to the format, Golgari Yawgmoth is finally checking all the boxes for me.

On the aggro side of things, Ignoble Hierarch was the missing piece. You now have real aggressive draws just curving into your undying creatures, to say nothing of just how much your mana has improved. Another key pickup for fair games is Grist, the Hunger Tide. A tutorable midrange threat means that you’re happy playing the grindy games against the Tarmogoyfs of the format, and a Turn 2 Grist is also a substantial threat against the control decks gaining popularity in the format.

In the sideboard I’ve gone with a hard focus on Endurance, allowing me to effectively shift to midrange plans in games where opponents target my combo. I’m also happy closing off any of the Reanimator shenanigans that have been gaining popularity.

It probably seems odd to be praising a creature deck in a moment where Solitude is claiming the title as the most important card in Modern. However, Golgari Yawgmoth has solid options for grinding through the removal, the best of which is just beating your opponent down. Sprinkle in a Thoughtseize here, a Veil of Summer there, and you’ve got just enough to get the job done against control while beating up on anyone foolish enough to float to the middle or play slower combo.

Shaheen Soorani — Azorius Control (Kaheera)

Modern has come back to its senses, with Azorius Control being one of the top options in the metagame.  This is not the first time the most resilient control option has risen to the top and it will not be the last.  It has had the elements required for victory against all foes for years, with strong blue disruption and access to the best planeswalkers in the format.  People are now realizing the problem that Teferi, Time Raveler poses to the general well-being of Modern, but it will not be in time for the upcoming SCG Invitational.

Without question, Teferi, Time Raveler is the best planeswalker in Modern.  It has been banned in other formats; however, it remains as the cornerstone for control here.  Even in matchups where it’s fragile, the time it buys, and the card draw attached, give it a very high floor.  The ceiling is limitless, with some matchups completely shut down when they’re unable to interact with you on the stack.  The rest of the deck has evolved to a “Chalice of the Void, abandonment of Path to Exile strategy, which has been the right call for now.  I see the deck moving back to Snapcaster Mage” at some point, but I’m down to ride the popular wave that has had recent success for now.

Dom Harvey — Living End

After spending several hours with Ari going over our predictions and recommendations for Modern heading into SCG CON, I’ll keep it brief here: Mono-White Hammer and Living End are two of the most consistent and powerful decks in Modern and have been successful week by week over the entire lifespan of Modern Horizons 2. You can’t go wrong with either, and if you’re still wondering what to play as you read this, I think Living End is far easier to pick up and play without much experience.

I haven’t played much Living End but I’ve lost to it far too much with decks and hands that seem like they should line up well against it. Living End executes its gameplan with unrivalled consistency, that plan is almost certainly enough to win the game, and free interaction in Force of Negation and Grief means the opponent often needs several relevant cards in the first turn or two to survive. You enjoy combo’s traditional upside of being favoured in most matchups in Game 1 and have a lot of counterplay against the frankly disrespectful sideboard hate that most opponents bring. I would have been more hesitant about this recommendation a week or two ago when maindeck Chalice of the Void was in vogue, but that has died down enough to get me back on board.

The only notable features of this list are Gemstone Caverns — a great way to keep up with Hammer, Boros Burn, and other linear decks on the draw — and the choice of Leyline of the Void over Endurance. You don’t have enough green cards to support Endurance or Force of Vigor reliably, given that eight of those are your cascade spells that you need to win the game, and Leyline lines up better against the mirror as well as tough matchups like Esper Reanimator and Golgari Yawgmoth or anything that can fill its own graveyard to tilt Living End’s symmetry in its favour. Less obviously, Leyline is incredible against Izzet Midrange as it cripples all of their non-Ragavan threats, giving you ample time to find and protect a Living End. 

Ari Lax — Orzhov Hammer (Lurrus)

My article this week was basically a big What We’d Play, so if you want to see the full list of good decks and decide for yourself, check that out. I think any of the Top 4 I ranked there would be on the table for me, and any of the other four would be fine if that’s your jam.

My number one answer hasn’t changed though. Orzhov Hammer (Lurrus) is just the best deck. It’s even better than you think it is, even if you respect the archetype. With the Standard rounds of the Invitational shuffling things up a bit, you get even more margin against a good but broader late-event field. There’s not even a weird concern about “winning the elimination bracket metagame.” You just want the maximum number of wins in eight Swiss rounds. Play Hammer, win matches, easy solution to a tough problem. Or I guess kinda easy, because that “Playing Hammer” part is a bit tricky but well worth the reward.